Wassup?

Nothing much really.

I have lacked energy lately, partly from having a head cold and partly because I am not at my best in the depths of winter. To be frank, I would rather be in my pyjamas drinking hot chocolate and reading, than going to work, being a taxi to school teen, making dinners, washing clothes and keeping the menagerie (human and non-human) happy.

I want a cave to escape into..

Apart from that, at the moment (and usually couple of times a year), I get a feeling that something momentous is going to happen. I recognise the signs these days, but in previous years the feeling was disconcerting to say the least. I get a hankering for nostalgia, I start thinking what ifs and I get generally fairly discontented with my life. This is not a great place to be. One of the states I strive for is contentment and on the whole I am fairly successful. I am grateful for the comfortable circumstances in which I find myself, I am healthy and really I should not complain about anything.

So where does this anxiety come from? When these feeling of change happen, I get a bit jittery, and bad-tempered, I long for younger years and different choices, it is a real “Sliding Doors” feeling, I fantasise and I wonder what the me in a parallel universe is doing right now.

MV5BMTI0NjExNDg2N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwMDMyOTA5._V1_SY317_CR4,0,214,317_AL_ Is she healthy? Did she pursue her ambition to specialise in Oncology and live in Melbourne?? Is she married, does she have children???

It’s all a bit silly I know and this little episode has been kicked into gear by watching a doco on Joy Division,

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… ah I miss the days of clubbing 3 nights a week and having the energy to keep going all night and still go to work in the morning!

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dressing gown 2

Don’t look at the pocket!!!

I mean it, just don’t (or if you do, wipe it from your memory!). dressing gown

My son at the ripe old age of 21, has decided his dressing gown of the last 7 years is too small and he asked if I would make him a new one, I mean, how much leg does a young man really need to show?

The problem was, he wanted it long and the patterns for men’s “bathrobes” were all cut off just below the knee. I know I could have just bought one and lengthened it, but that was not part of the plan…instead I bought the Lekala (women’s) kimono pattern! Of course, I had to put in “my” measurements and I cannot imagine what sort of Amazon they thought they had as a customer! One with a height of 185cm and an almost straight up and down body, I reasoned that a kimono can be worn loosely and so measurements did not need to be accurate.

The fabric is a heavy poly fleece from Spotlight, 3 enormous metres of it. I don’t like synthetics and I especially don’t like cheap synthetics, this was $10/m and I think the price was about right- it feels horribly plastic to me and very different to some fleece I bought from Knitwit years ago that was more than twice that price. Still, it was what he wanted and he is happy with it.

Men’s sewing is boring. There, I said it.

Lots of very long, straight seams, there was no challenge and little enjoyment in this project. It all came together quite boringly straightforward, except that dear son is ill and refused to get out of his sickbed and try the thing on. Eventually I guesstimated arm length, body length and (unfortunately) pocket placement. The pattern had in-seam pockets, but men’s robes have patch pockets, so I thought I would do the gender-specific thing and go with a patch. It is ridiculously low (yeah, I knew you would look at it). My problem now, is that he won’t let me unpick it and put it in the right place :(  He just doesn’t care enough about it, but I don’t want him telling anyone I made it either!

On the upside, the dressing gown is roomy, warm and soft, what more does it need to be?

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The Lekala 5088 skirt, working with wool and a bit from Claire Schaeffer

So I made the skirt that Thornberry blogged about recently. 

I think Lara (Thornberry) and I have similar fitting issues; lack of height, lack of waist and a bit of a poddy tummy. I am not a fan of skirts for the very reason that my lack of waist means they ride up or slip down. For Lara to recommend a skirt pattern (and for it to be FREE!) was a great opportunity to deal with my skirt issues :)

It is Lekala 5088 and I just happened to have some lovely checked wool given to me by Mum’s cousin, all ready for the Monthly Stitch July Challenge. image4

image3 (evidence of poddy tummy with unfinished waistband)

The pattern looks very simple and it is, but as is my way, I made things a little more complicated for myself. Firstly, I wanted it completely lined. I have skin that is prone to itch, especially with wool right next to it, so not lining was not an option. I had some colour-matched poplin in my stash which worked perfectly. lining and hem

Secondly, I decided to finish it a la Claire Schaeffer’s book (Couture Sewing- Tailoring Techniques) which I purchased recently. Unfortunately, I had almost finished the skirt by the time I had bought the book, so this isn’t really a couture garment, more of a hybrid.

The wool frayed amazingly! I only had to look at it and it would shed threads, so all the edges had to be zig-zagged (I don’t overlock any more) prior to construction. On the plus-side though, it is very stable, there was no stretching anywhere and being yarn-dyed, meant that keeping to the grain was a piece of cake.

The construction was straightforward, I didn’t look at the directions as skirts are not rocket science. As far as Claire Schaeffer’s book goes, well I am very happy with the finish I used from the book, but I am also very glad that a DVD was included as the pictures are not that easy to follow… I used what she calls a Tailor’s Hem at the bottom, it is a hand stitched blind hem, a really nice finish. tailor's hem

I also pick-stitched the invisible zipper and am pretty happy with it. Invisible zippers are my nemesis, but I am getting better with each that I do, only hand sewn these days. skirt back The waistband has hooks and eyes, the button is purely decorative (but a nice touch methinks).

So here is my low-down:

Lekala pattern- easy and well-fitted at a great price ;)

Wool fabric- lovely to work with but prone to fraying

Claire Schaeffer’s book- a good resource that I will use to hone my finer sewing skills, thank goodness for the DVD!

All-round it is a winner!

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Ah, books…

What are books to you?

To me, they go into the category of “wish never to have to do without”, along with cheese, blackcurrant juice cordial and vegetable soaps.

Yesterday I needed to go into Perth to get a book for my daughter (for school- she is a literature student) and I found myself in Boffins Bookshop. The smell, the courteous staff, the colours… ah heaven.

Times are a bit tight atm, but who can resist the magnetism of a good book or two? I had to choose, books Claire Schaeffer or Johnny Rotten? Both classics in their chosen fields, it was almost overwhelming… I bought them both (and put them on the plastic).

John is making me giggle and Claire is opening up new possibilities for me :)9148_2 (John by Richard Corman)

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Gilgamesh- thoughts on a book

This was going to be a tirade about a crime fiction book that I read, y’know the sort, lots of machismo and guns…I finished it only because I wanted to know what happened. But, here in Oz we don’t much care for, or about guns; so reading about a whole lot of specs about different weapons and how many people they can kill, well…yawn!

So instead of boring you with that book review, I thought I would tell you about my thoughts on a real cracker, “Gilgamesh” by Joan London. gilgamesh It was her first book written a few years ago, set in the South West of Western Australia. The title comes from the epic of Gilgamesh, a poem which has a profound effect on at least two of the main characters.

It starts in post WW1 London with two characters who seem ill-suited but get together anyway, they move to Western Australia to take up the offer of the Group Settlement Scheme (more info here).

They have two daughters and live in poverty, isolated from the community and unsuccessful at farming, barely scratching a living. Time moves on and after “he” dies two young men (one a relative) visit them. The younger daughter, Edith enjoys their company and is intrigued by their tales of the world past her isolated patch, after they leave she discovers she is pregnant and the story really starts from here. It is on the cusp of WW2 and Edith decides to find the father of her child, an Armenian (and that is almost all she knows). Reading this, it sounds ridiculous that this novel would be believable; but there it is. So much of what happens to Edith and her son Jim is almost serendipitous, but it all comes out at the end, how these events melded together into a plausible scenario where coincidence played almost no part at all.

I couldn’t put the book down, there was always a need to find out what happens next, as a lot of the events seemed so fantastic. It took me two days to read this and I was sorry when it finished, there were so many questions and it begs for a sequel (but it is unlikely to get one). If you are curious about the Australia that isn’t found in Sydney, Melbourne or the Gold Coast, this book throws out little tidbits which may whet your appetite for discovery, or totally put you off ever visiting.

Whatever your thoughts, I enjoyed Gilgamesh and encourage you to have a look at it for yourselves.

If you want a more comprehensive review read the transcript of this discussion it covers aspects of the book quite well and is entertaining to boot!

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Stash gifts

(… or Thankyou Karen)

Mum and I visited her cousin Karen yesterday, Karen left the room and went hunting through a cupboard, she said she wanted to show me something…she beckoned me into her sewing room and told she needed more space as she is having an exhibition soon of her latest paintings and was running out of places to store stuff…

Karen travels extensively for her art and is always buying fabric…

I have always envied bloggers who post photos of Aunty So-and So’s stash which has been bequeathed to them etc etc, but I can be jealous no longer…

Here is some of it

DSC_0238 silks from India and Thailand

DSC_0239 checks and plaids from India, Australia and history (the end one belonged to her Mother who died 35 years ago!)

DSC_0240 cottons from Africa, India and Japan

DSC_0242 batiks and cotton prints from Indonesia

I have run out of space and the pile is HUGE, never, ever, ever again, will I have stash-envy; I feel as if I am drowning in great swathes of beautiful (and not so beautiful) fabric… gurgle…gurgle…gasp

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Flogging a dead horse?

When do you call it quits on a favourite garment? Do you patch and refashion until there is little left of the original?

My son went on a school trip in Year 9 and spent 1500 Yen on a yukata from one of the hotels he stayed in. It is his preferred lounging around the house clothing (how appropriate!).

Seven years later it has been ripped and repaired on countless occasions and the last mending job I was a bit lazy and just used iron-on mender… unsurprisingly it didn’t last.

So, the dilemma was do I patch or does it get cut up for dusters?

Because it is sooo special to him, I decided to bring out the big guns and do a decent repair job this time.

right side darning darning:quilting

I initially started darning by hand, but gave up fairly quickly as the fabric was so fragile, you may be able to see the glue that was left after the iron-on mender fell off, it made the fabric very stiff and unyielding. Anyway, I decided to patch and darn…

This was my first attempt using my free-motion foot and I found it quite challenging, still it did the job and the end result is a very stable patch.

To cover the unsightly mess on the outside, I decided to go with a Japanese theme and so embroidered my son’s name in Katakana (alphabet). The attempt was to emulate the use of lettering in Japanese art, a bit like this…

 

251r53f (This lettering is Kanji alphabet and my son’s name doesn’t really translate, so Katakana was used) and this is what we ended up with

katakana Huw his name only has three letters (phew!).

So, here we are, the final result. Unfortunately, the navy fabric is a knit (pilfered from my stash), so there was a bit of stretching when it was sewn to the yukata, but he is pretty pleased and I am just glad it’s over. finished yukata

 

The plan is that he is going back to Japan at the end of his undergraduate degree, he plans to teach English for year meanwhile honing his Japanese language; after that who knows- the world is his oyster :)