December 30th, 2016

A year of weaving

A year ago, I ordered my Saori loom and decided to try and learn to weave properly. I decided it was about time I had a look back at what I’ve played with over the last year.

These first two scarves were done on the Ashford knitter’s loom while waiting for the Saori loom to arrive. Two skeins of Wollmeise and a little handspun. One sett at 10 epi, the other at 12.5

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Then the Saori loom arrived, woohoo! I immediately threaded the pre-wound warp that came with it, and wove and sewed this:

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As soon as that was off the loom, I put the 4 harness kit on, and immediately put another warp on for a twill gamp and some tea towels, and started weaving. I did a little on it in March and April, and then it sat. And sat. I don’t really know why I didn’t work on it, I was busy with other things and of course dealing with health stuff, but that’s not really the reason, I guess I just didn’t feel motivated. Whatever the reason, I didn’t touch the loom again until November, when I took off the twill gamp:

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And a couple of teatowels:

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Once that was finished with, my motivation returned, and I tried out waffle weave on a set of facecloths:

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Then tried some twill with a fine warp and heavy weft to make these teatowels and an apron. I really like the fabric this makes, and it weaves up so fast. (oh, and there’s a waffle weave cloth there that was the end of the warp, it uses the same threading as for the twill, just a different tie up)

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Then I decided to try something a little harder. A scarf in a fine yarn with a more complicated draft, which I made a little harder by adding borders and short top and bottom sections. While at the time it seemed to be slow going, it was still hundreds of times faster than knitting a scarf in fine yarn:

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Next up was another more complicated draft, my first attempt at overshot. I did enough to make a couple of project bags:

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I then went for something simpler and faster, a scarf from sock yarn scraps

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Working with sock yarn made me want to use some of my lovely Wollmeise stash, so I then wove this very simple wrap using WM as the warp, and a laceweight wool as the weft:

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Finally, I decided I wanted to make a towel for my hair. Having hip-length hair means I need to use a bath sheet sized towel to dry it, but regular terrycloth towels are so bulky and heavy they fall off at the slightest movement, and hurt my neck. So I decided to weave something much thinner. However the loom is only 60cm wide, so I needed to learn how to do doubleweave. It wasn’t actually that hard to figure out, and I made a towel that works perfectly. The fabric at the fold line is a little dense, but you can’t really tell from a distance:

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Oh, and it seemed a shame to waste the end of that warp, so I wove a warp faced teatowel:

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Phew! that is 2016 in weaving. For 2017 I already have planned a couple of long yardage projects for making clothing, and I want to try crackle and some more overshot.

February 25th, 2016

First Saori piece

My WX60 arrived! I ordered it from The Saori Shed in Diss, which fortunately for me is only 20 minutes down the road. It’s in a really nice building and is a fun place to visit and try out Saori weaving for a couple of hours…which is what I did the summer before last, and why I decided to get one of these looms! Unfortunately I wasn’t feeling well when it arrived, but my mum is awesome and went to pick it up for me.

Out of the box it looked like this:

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Putting the other bits on wasn’t hard, the instructions were pretty clear. I can’t actually remember everything I did, but I think it was just putting in the back warp roller, the harnesses and reed, the shelf, and the bobbin winder. I just needed a screwdriver for the shelf, and a hammer for the bobbin winder. Nice and simple. And because it came ready warped, it wasn’t long at all before it was ready to go!

And yes, my helpful helper also likes helping with weaving:

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The warp that came with it was 6 metres x 150 threads of black cotton. This is 30cm wide on the loom. I figured with that much fabric I should be able to make a garment, so I picked a bunch of coordinating colours and got to weaving.

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The initial plan was the grey non superwash coned yarn, and some teal leftover sock yarn. Then I decided it needed a bit of magenta, so found some sock yarn in that shade, and also shoved in some bits of merino fibre I had in teals blues and purple. There’s also a teeny bit of leftover handspun in grey and teal in there.

The final fabric off the loom was 5.15 metres long. And very hard to photograph on a windy day.

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After wet finishing, the fabric was about 26 x 475cm. I say ‘about’ because my selvedges weren’t especially neat, so the width varied a little, and the length was very hard to measure cos it was so long!

After a lot of sketching and calculating, I figured out the easiest way to make it into a top. Unfortunately there wasn’t enough fabric for a hood, but I still love it.

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And because someone asked how I made the pattern, here’s the basic info:

Each piece was zig zagged on both sides of the cut line before being cut, all sewn seams were somewhere between the width of my sewing machine foot and the 10mm guide, depending on how neat my selvedges were. Seams were ironed open between each stage of sewing.

I cut 4 pieces 40cm long, which I then sewed together into a tube for the body.

The remaining length was folded almost in half, with one side a couple of cm longer than the other, and cut. This gave me 2 pieces approximately the same as my arm span.

The longer piece was again cut in half.

The raw edges of this last cut were folded under and stitched to finish the front neck opening.

These two pieces were then joined to the body tube making sure the V was centered. The back strip was joined in the same way, making sure it was all lined up. The top sleeve seam was sewed, leaving a gap 5” either side of the centre for the neck hole. Finally the underarm seams were sewn.

Then I went round and folded under and sewed all remaining raw edges…the collar, the sleeves, and the bottom hem, and folded in and sewed the corners of the top front slit to give the neckline a shape I liked.

It took me about 3 weeks to weave the fabric, and less than 3 hours to sew it. I’m not 100% sure I like the big baggy sleeves, I may well taper them if I find the extra fabric gets in the way, but that’s an easy change to make.

And pretty much as soon as that was off the loom, I was planning the next thing. I did this!

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Yup, my loom now has 4 harnesses. Adding the extra 2 harnesses was a lot simpler than I expected, but I needed help, partly because there was a screw that was too tight that I couldn’t undo, and partly because it’s a lot easier to hammer a cap onto the end of a rod with someone else holding the far end of the rod to stop it shifting rather than having to do it all myself. Still, it didn’t take long to do.

Then I figured out the easiest way to wind a warp while sitting down:

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368 ends, and while I did need to take breaks cos my arm got tired, it’s way less tiring than direct warping the rigid heddle on top of the table. Although of course, now I have to actually thread all that onto the loom.

January 25th, 2016

Facing my fears – Ginger Jeans!

I do not like sewing very much. I think about sewing, and my brain image is of me sitting at a sewing machine stitching, and I think ‘oh that’s not so bad, I like that!’. This is true. However I always forget that this accounts for only about 20% of sewing. The rest is ironing and pinning and cutting and playing furniture tetris because my room isn’t quiiite large enough for the table fully extended and the ironing board and space to easily move between them, and I find this part physically exhausting and quite boring, there’s too much stopping and starting to get into a good rhythm with it.

However, this time I am going to persevere with it, as I want some jeans. I find jeans very hard to buy as I have a 12″ difference between my hip and waist measurements, so I end up eventually finding a pair of jeans to fit my hips (which could be anywhere between a size 8 and a 14 depending on brand and cut) and having to ignore the fact that they are too big at the waist and gape horribly at the back.

I’ve been aware recently of the internet hype over Ginger Jeans (well, as much as there CAN be hype over a sewing pattern) and decided to give them a try. The pattern is fairly expensive, but it is SO worth it, and for relative sewing noobs like me it’s a perfect pattern to try as it was also done as a sew-along on the authors blog, so there are extra hints, tips, and photos for bits that are harder to figure out.

I am making the size 12 to fit my hips, and took a couple of inches out of the waistband in two darts before cutting the pattern, and also did a full seat adjustment as explained in the blog post to add extra butt space and hopefully stop the back waistband pulling down when I sit. I added about a centimetre to the back seam, though from having quickly basted and tried them on, I think next time I’ll add two.

While waiting for my fabric to dry I cut and taped the pattern together, then it was time for cutting!

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The pattern said I would need 2.1m of 60″ fabric for my size. I was only able to buy in 1m increments, so I had to get 3m. On examining it, due to the fact that I’m not making the largest size and the fact that my fabric is actually 62″ wide, I realised I could amend the cutting layout so I can actually get two pairs from the fabric I have. Score.

I cut all the denim, interfacing, and lining. I picked a pretty pink and blue fat quarter for the pocket linings as although they won’t be visible when worn, it looks fun as I am putting them on.

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The process took longer than anticipated as I had to stop many times to remove the cat from the fabric, or from the ironing board, or from my chair, as well as having to take lots of breaks to stop myself getting too tired. Here is my helper helpfully holding down my pattern instructions so they don’t get lost.

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And here’s what I’ve got so far…pockets! It’s the first time I’ve done topstitching with a thicker contrasting thread, and the first time I’ve used my serger for curved seams, but it’s going okay so far without any major disasters.

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The topstitching could be neater, especially around curves, but I’m sure I’ll improve with practice, and a few wonky seams are worth it to have jeans that actually fit me!

January 20th, 2016

Preparing for loom arrival!

So provided nothing horrible happens between here and Japan, my loom should be here within the next couple of weeks. I sorted all my ravelry stash and added the colour tags so I can easily sort by colour to remember what yarns I have in various colour families. While doing so, I realised that I don’t have very much cotton at all, pretty much only a load of dishcloth cotton, which is wonderful and makes awesome squishy teatowels, but is fairly limiting as it’s rather fat. So I hunted around the internet for some cheaper cottons for practicing 4 shaft patterns with. I ended up buying this surprise mixed box from yeoman yarns. 4 kilos of cotton for £30 including delivery!

They allow you to have some input in what you get, so I said it was for weaving so I’d prefer mostly finer weights, and that I like natural colours and bright jewel colours, please no pastels.

This is what the postman brought me!

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It is all unlabelled, so I have no idea what it is, and many of the items are mill ends or otherwise unrepeatable, so it’s not a great thing to buy if you want to know exactly what you’re getting and be able to order more, but for learning purposes without spending a lot of money, it’s perfect, and I’m really impressed with the great value for money.

In closer detail:
random small cones given as freebie
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bright red. very fine. 2 ply, approx 44 wpi, 2 cones, 282g each including cone
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raspberry, purple, green, and beige. 2 ply yarn cabled (2 x 2ply) approx 515g including cone, 30wpi
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natural, about fingering weight, 22 wpi, 3 ply, 595g including cone
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turquoise, 4 ply, 18 wpi 553 g including cone
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natural, singles, thin with thicker slubs, 515g including cone, 30wpi
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I also got bored of reading and thinking about weaving, so decided to actually DO some. I got my rigid heddle out with a couple of skeins of wollmeise (campari orange and herzblut), a ball of my very first handspun in coordinating colours for texture, and made these two scarves:

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Fingers crossed the saori loom gets here soon, and that it’s not too hard to assemble, then I’ll be doing all sorts of twills and other fun things soon!

December 26th, 2015

I have too many hobbies (the great unfuckening)

I am getting a new loom in a month or so. It’s a Saori WX60, which is pretty small for a floor loom, but it still required I tidy my craft room to make space to use it in there, as over the winter it had become a dumping ground for xmas presents, clothes, and empty boxes. I managed to get a bag of rubbish, a bag of recycling, and a box of stuff to donate out of there, but it’s still pretty packed full, and I can’t really get rid of anything else because I love all my stuff! I just have too many hobbies. So I thought I’d give you all a quick tour of the room while it’s mostly tidy (but still uncleaned, the vacuum cleaner is rather heavy to carry upstairs, so please ignore the messy floor and the cobwebs).

Firstly this is what you see as you enter the room. Shelves stuffed full with fabric. These will be cleared and all the fabric folded, but it’s a rather long task, so it can wait for a while. There’s a mix of clothing fabric, quilting fabric, old sweaters and shirts to reclaim, and a few bits of handwoven stuff I’ve not found a use for yet. And an interested littlecat.

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Actually inside the room. Ahhh, much less messy.

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And working around the room in a clockwise direction: Dressing table area –

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1. Passap knitting machine. It’s awesome, but takes up a lot of space, so it’s currently disassembled
2. Knitting needles, spindles, blocking wires, pens, and scissors
3. Bits for my current quilting WIPs
4. My desk ‘inbox’ of stuff i need to deal with. Has a jumper in that needs frogging, some pegs from a peg loom, and some mini skeins of sock yarn.
5. random bits and bobs. Lint roller, lens caps, lighting gels sample books.
6. Plastic bags for putting spinning fibre in
7. Zips and small bits of fabric for making doll clothes
8. Sewing things. Threads, feet for the machine, scissors, chalk, rotary cutter etc
9. Blocking mats

Above the dressing table:

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1. My dad’s old meccano set!
2. Old crappy loom
3. Doll boxes
4. A box of bags. That I don’t really need. But maybe one day I will!
5. The rest of my current quilting WIPs to go with the bits on the desk
6. A bag. With nothing in. But it has owls on.
7. A box of boxes! I culled my cardboard box collection somewhat, but kept a few cos they are useful for spindle WIPs, storing rolags, thrummed knitting WIPs, and probably other things
8. Coned yarn, mostly silk.

Drum carding shelves:

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1. Strauch drum carder. It is awesome
2. Bag of bags that I do actually use, small foldable project bags
3. Carder stuff, one box with accessories like batt pick, brush, and flick carder, one with angelina and nylon sparkles
4. Dyed merino
5. Stuff that isn’t merino, some dyed, some not, all ready to spin/card
6. More stuff that isn’t merino but in larger quantities, again all ready to spin/card.
7. Cutting mats and rulers

Top of bookcase:

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Coned yarn, mostly wool

Inside the bookcase:

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1. Wollmeise Molly
2. Sanguine Gryphon Bugga!
3. Wollmeise Lace
4. Wollmeise sock
5. Other sock yarns
6. Boooooks
7. More sock/lace yarns that aren’t in skeins
8. Ironing board and knitting machine table, that I don’t need for my current machine as it has a stand, but its a really useful narrow folding table.

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Even more books and mags at the bottom of the bookcase. Mostly handknitting, but a few machine knitting, weaving, spinning, dyeing, and a couple of random ones on other things like basketweaving and home brewing.

Under the table:

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Loom bag for my Ashford knitter’s loom containing spare heddles, lease sticks, warping post etc, and a huuuge bag of drumcarder waste and leftovers for making fun batts.

On the table:

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It’s clear! it’s a miracle! Just the sewing machine and a couple of pots of pins/bobbins etc. The table is older than I am, it was our dining table when I was a kid, then got relegated to craft table status, then eventually was given to me.

Yarn cubbies

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1. Knitting machine bits and bobs
2. Doll clothing and wig making stuff
3. Fibre that is washed but not ready to spin, wool and alpaca mostly
4. More fibre, including 4 colours of Jacob that I combed last year
5. A leather case that I bought at a jumble sale cos it was cool, but never use
6. Long term knitting WIPs that I’ve not worked on for a while
7. Acrylic and mystery (alpaca maybe?) yarn
8. Acrylic
9. Single balls and yarn i have no plans for
10. Sweater quantities
11. Undyed yarn. Sock, lace, and gansey yarn
12. Leftovers, mostly sock weight
13. More sweater quantities, but in various colours for fairisle/stripes
14. Handspun – large skeins
15. More sweater quantities, and a sheep
16. Handspun – samples, small skeins, and leftovers
17 & 18. Fibre, luxury and hand dyed.
19. Super awesome bright light, holding a felted scarf

Small shelves:

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1. Overlocker
2 & 3. ‘Inboxes’ where I put stuff that I bring into the room before I put it away, at the moment has my swift and ballwinder in, and some socks that need darning. Also used for new yarn that still needs entering into my ravelry stash.
4. Art supplies that haven’t made it to the art cupboard downstairs yet either because there’s no room, I’m too lazy, or I don’t want anyone using my stuff.
5. Iron
6. The only box of crap! random stuff that needs sorting out and putting away, old pens, cables etc
7. Spinning stuff. Bobbins, 2 sets of carders.
8. Spinning and weaving stuff. Standard and jumbo flyer for my wheel, and all this stuff that came with the crappy loom. Such cute mini shuttles!

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The reason I don’t want people to use my art supplies, they might mess up my colours!
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In the built in cupboard:

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1. Enormous cushion pad and bag of fibrefill
2. bag of really really old wips. In crappy yarn. That i will never finish or wear. I will throw them away one day.
3. Curtain fabric left over from my bedroom curtains
4. Tripods and light stands. And an easel
5. Yarn that I was going to destash but the post office is sooo far away and I never know when I’ll be well enough to drive there. So maybe I will weave it instead.
6. Random odd balls of yarn with no projects planned, but too nice to get rid of. I will use them eventually.
7. More photography stuff, lights and cables and reflectors and things.

And that is the tour of my craft room and all my things! There are also many other things not shown as they dont live in there. My knitters loom and a box of kitchen cotton live under my bed, my current knitting WIPs and my interchangeable needles live in my bedroom, my spinning wheel, wool combs and niddy noddy live in the dining room, and my dyepots, dyes and other related stuff live in the utility room. Oh and there are more raw fleeces than I can count in the garage/loft. SO MANY HOBBIES AND SO MUCH STUFFFFF. But I don’t think I’ve reached the point yet where my stash will last longer than I do.

June 8th, 2014

MSD onesie pattern

Yeah, so I am a baaad blogger. But rather than rectify that by talking about all the things I’ve done in the months since my last post, I’m just gonna forget about it and get on with explaining how to make a onesie for a MSD (42cmish) BJD. My doll is a ‘vivi’ by Xinmeng, purchased from Mirodoll.

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This pattern isn’t for complete beginners. Not really because it’s hard, although there are a couple of slightly fiddly curved seams, and putting in a zipper needs a bit of practice if you’re not done it before, but mostly because I have never written a pattern before and don’t really know what I’m doing, so a bit of background sewing knowledge will be helpful so you can understand what I’m talking about!

Things you will need:

Old t-shirt, or similar fabric
Matching thread
Zipper long enough to reach from your dolls crotch to an inch or so above the top of her head (longer is fine, it is trimmed to fit) I believe I used a 10″ zip
Pins
Sewing machine with regular and zipper foot
Iron

Pattern notes:

The pattern is made to be sewn on a machine, so there is a 1/4″ seam allowance, you can reduce this if you’d prefer to hand sew. The outer line on the pattern is the one you should cut around, the inner line is the size of the piece without seam allowance, if you’d prefer to draw your own. Due to the software I used to make it, the edges are rounded, you don’t need to cut them like this, square corners are fine.

Unless otherwise specified, all seams are to be sewn with right sides facing, and pressed open.

The pattern covers two sheets of A4 size paper. If you live in a country where other sizes are standard, then print it at 100% and allow cropping, hopefully nothing useful will be cropped!

Get the pattern by clicking on each of the two below images, then click more actions > download/all sizes and choose the ‘original’ size.

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Instructions

Print out the pattern, and tape it together, making sure the lines for the legs match up

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Roughly cut out the pattern pieces and lay them out on your ironed t-shirt. If you are using fabric, then fold it half, each pattern piece is meant to make two symmetrical pieces. Cut another pattern piece that is a little wider than your zipper, and 4″ long.

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Pin your pattern pieces to the t-shirt, and cut them out, cutting through both layers of fabric. You will end up with 10 pieces, 2 backs, 2 fronts, 2 hoods, 2 sleeves, and 2 zipper tabs.

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With right sides facing, pin the two hood pieces together, and sew around the curved top/back seam.

With right sides facing, pin the two back pieces together, and sew along the seam from the crotch to the top of the neck.

Press seams open. It’s a bit fiddly to do the inside of the hood, but as long as the top and back part are flattened, the middle doesn’t matter too much.

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Pin the front pieces to the joined back, and sew along the shoulder seams. The lines you should sew are marked below.

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After ironing these seams flat, pin the hood into place. Line up the centre hood seam with the centre back seam, and pin in place around to the front. Make sure you pin the shoulder seams flat. Sew this seam.

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You should now have a crazy robe looking thing!

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Take your zipper, and cut off the bottom, just below the stopper

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Line up the zipper with your onesie, starting at the crotch, and cut off the top level with the top of the hood (I actually cut mine a bit shorter, but if I did it again I’d err on the side of longer so the zip comes closer to the top of the hood)

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Take your zipper tabs and fold over 1/4″ on each end, and iron.

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Fold them in half, and iron again

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Put the zipper inside the tab, half an inch or so deep, pin, and sew across to attach the zipper to the tab. I forgot to take a photo of this, but it’s relatively simple. When this is done, cut across the fold line at the bottom, open it up, and trim the end of the zipper.

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Repeat for the top of the zipper, you will have to do this with the zip open to stop the pull getting in the way of the sewing machine foot, so make sure you pin carefully.

With the right side of the zip facing the right side of one front, making sure the zip is the right way up, pin in place, deciding how much tab you want at the top and bottom (excess can be trimmed after sewing).

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Using a needle and waste thread, baste the zipper in place (some people can get away without this step, and sew a zip in that is just pinned in place. I am not one of those people)

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Put the zipper foot on your machine, and sew the zip in. Start with the zip in one position, then stop half way through (leave the needle in the fabric and lift the foot) and slide the pull past, so it doesn’t get in the way. When you sew the tab on each end, sew a diagonal line from the line of the zipper stitching to the edge (so a triangle will be visible on the front when finished).

Repeat for the other size of the zipper.

Press, and top stitch all the way round the zip.

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Put the regular foot back on your machine, and prepare to sew the arms. Pinning them is a little fiddly, so just take your time

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When both sleeves are sewn in, fold over the ends of each arm and leg 1/4″, iron into place, and sew

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From here, I got so excited to be on the home straight, I forgot to take any more photos. It’s pretty simple though.

Make sure your zipper is open, or you won’t be able to turn it the right way out at the end!

Line up all the edges, pin, and sew. There are three seams: wrist to ankle on each side, and the inside legs . Nothing complicated here, just nice straight lines.

When you’re done, turn it inside out and give it a quick press, then try it on your doll!

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August 16th, 2013

Garden evolution

So yeah, I’m an awful blogger, I’ve done a million things and not blogged about any of them. So, in my usual style, here’s a quick round up of what’s changed in the garden this year.

My previous lodger was very anti-garden, he used to say that given the choice he would concrete over the lot, so it’s been so nice to have someone who can actually help me do things. All the manual labour in the following projects has been provided by J, but I did all the things that can be done while sitting down, the planning, planting of seeds, and the ‘supervising’!

First, we relocated the chickens. They’d turned their area to mud, so we moved them onto a clean area of lawn, planning to re-seed their bit. The plans changed somewhat as we went along, so the layout is different now, and we’ve still not moved them to their final place, but the garden is looking nicer now, and we have an extra small raised bed.

The area has gone from mud to being covered in grass and overrun by a giant pumpkin plant in just a few months.

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Our major project has been a new greenhouse (shut up, we DO need 4 greenhouses!). I saw this one offered on freegle, and while it needed a lot of work, it was freeee, so we went and picked it up. It wouldn’t fit in the car, so we had to saw each panel into 3 and reattach at home, but it was totally worth it. We also managed to score some extra bits of glass on freegle to replace the ones which had been broken.

All it needs now is a bit more putty round a couple of the windows, one pane of glass adding to the door, and for me to design and build a vent. I have the timber for it, but I’m still procrastinating about the best way to do it that’ll let it open easily and still be watertight when it’s shut. I finished building the bench in there today and moved my Abutilon, chillis, and a grape vine in there. Hopefully it’ll be the least drafty of all the greenhouses once it’s finished, so I can keep my non-hardy things over there in winter, and maybe move the heater in there if it still gets too cold.

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The front bed which is home to my cherry tree had a makeover and was turned into an alpine/succulent bed. It’s filling out really nicely now, and I made a little succulent wall hanging to go above it.

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I also got to see a sempervivium flower for the first time. Of course it was one of the ones in the wall hanging that decided to do it, so the flower went all curvy trying to get vertical, but it still looked pretty.

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We harvested lots of things, and even remembered to photograph a few, including my first ever honeyberries!

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We are currently overrun with cucumbers and trying to give them away to everyone we know. But hardly any tomatoes yet, only a few cherry ones, the late winter has set everything back, and it’s not faaaair, I want my tomatoes now, they are doing SO well. There are also baby peppers and melons hiding under the mass of foliage in the greenhouse.
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The pond was looking very unhappy earlier in the year, there’s a tree behind my garden which fills it with leaves every autumn. I had the gross job of pulling out piles of rotting leaf muck, and then I put in a water lily and some oxygenators, and the water is now clear, and the newts are very happy. This autumn I must remember to put a net over it.
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In unrelated news, I finally got a new car. I loved my old car, but the windows didn’t work, the locks didn’t work, and every MOT it needed more and more work. My parents are getting a new car and decided to give me their old one, but in the end they swapped their old one for something that was cheaper for me to run. The man at the dealership was unsure as to whether I’d be able to fit an 8ft length of timber in, which is clearly of prime importance, so I made sure to get some roof bars too. And now I have a cute little mazda 2 that has working windows! and actually locks! and has a CD player rather than a tape player! And, my absolute favourite thing: air conditioning!!!!! I looooove my car.

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And my final new thing, bought with a combination of birthday money and destash proceeds…a 20″ ashford knitter’s loom. I’ve only had it a few days, but I’ve managed to make a teatowel (best teatowel ever!) and a scarf. I was concerned that it was going to be too physically hard for me, and using it on the stand was very tiring and hurt my back, but I figured out a way that I can use it while sitting in bed, by propping up the end on a plastic box, and it’s much easier to use that way.

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November 14th, 2011

No rest for the wicked

Yeah yeah, so I was all ‘woo, it’s autumn, no more garden work, yay!’. And I was sooo wrong. I ordered some trees from the interwebs, and we planted them in the garden. And when I say ‘we’, I mean J did all the hard digging work and I busied myself with stuff that wasn’t too tiring. I kinda failed at the not getting tired thing, but it wasn’t toooo bad. And now I have braeburn apple, conference pear, and morello cherry trees in my garden. And a victoria plum tree in a pot that I’ll give to my dad because they are his favourite fruit ever.

This is my apple tree. Not hugely exciting, but it’s planted and looks happy and hopefully will have made me lots of fruit by this time next year.

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Littlecat also had autumn garden fun by climbing my birch tree.

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We’ve done lots of work on J’s plot in the last few weeks too…and it was very much needed. This is what it looked like after a summer of neglect.

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After a couple of hours of strimming (him), and weed pulling (me), we’d got it looking much more like a vegetable plot and less like a patch of weeds, and also picked loads of potatoes, onions, and beetroot. 3 weeks later it was still looking much better, though some naughty weeds were trying to return.

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We wanted to get a head start on planting and put in as much as possible to extend the cropping season next year, so we put in onions, garlic, asparagus, peas, and broad beans. That’s pretty much all we can get in the ground now until spring, but it’s a good start. It gets dark sooo early these days, so it was hard to get a decent pic, but trust me, this area is all dug and planted and looking awesome.

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I just realised I’ve been very bad at blogging about fibrey things. I have still been knitting (a lot), and spinning (a little), I’ve just not got round to talking about it, but I should probably share this as I think it’s the biggest project I’ve ever done.

Sometime in the dim and distant past (march I think), I was all full of planning and enthusiasm, and decided that for my mum’s 60th I’d spin, design, and knit her a jumper. Because November is sooooo far away. So I grabbed a pile of fibre, mostly in natural colours, with a little blue for fun.

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I carded it all up on the drum carder, which took approximately a million years. I think I did 3 passes to get it mostly-blended-but-not-too-even. Littlecat thought it was the most fun thing in the history of the world.

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I then took each batt, split it into 4 lengthways, and rolled it up into a little bump, planning to just keep them in a box and grab them at random to further mix up the colours. When i ended up with 52 of the things, I was starting to fully realise just how long this would take. Oh well, it was March, November was soooo far away.

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And I spun. I was good to start with and got through a lot, and wound my singles off onto a cardboard core on my ball winder so I could ply the first singles with the last and minimise any differences in spinning over the time it would take. Then at some point I forgot about spinning, as is often the case in summer.

THEN IT WAS OCTOBER ARGH.

So I brought the spinning wheel up to my room so I could spin while watching tv, and plied some of the singles, so I could spin when I had the energy, then knit in bed once I got tired. And I spun, and I knitted, and I doodled, and I found some nice contrasting handspun in my stash, and when I finally applied myself to it, I FINISHED IT.

(yes it’s a terrible pic, it was dark and the lighting was poor, but she likes it, so yay!!!)

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August 3rd, 2011

I know I’m fucking awesome, but I can’t change the weather.

I’m sorry littlecat, I know it’s really hot outside and you really want to play but instead you have to lounge around doing nothing, but I promise there is nothing i can do. Howling and looking mournfully at me before flopping down in a huff will not make any difference, I promise. And I can assure you I hate this crazy heat just as much as you. In fact, probably more than you, because I can’t even open my bedroom windows fully at night because you think it’s fun to climb out.

I forgive you though, cos you are super cute.

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So, yeah, it’s hot and I hate it. My body hates me anyway for thinking that hooping on and off all last sunday afternoon was a good idea, so I spent a week pretty much constantly in bed recovering from that. And now I’m feeling kinda better, it’s way too hot to do anything. At least my garden is happy with the sun though. I have a gazillion beans and courgettes, and the tomatoes are juuuust starting to ripen…in fact, this pic was a couple of days old, the ripe tomato in the pic was eaten today, and it was lovely. In another couple of weeks I will be overrun with tomatoes.

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Sadly the blueberries are no more. To start with I thought that some birds must have somehow avoided Snargle and eaten them, but then I realised the day they disappeared was the day that Rocky escaped. Fucking chicken. She kept jumping on the food storage box then over the fence, so I moved the box. Then she managed to fly from the box over the fence. So I clipped her wings. Then nothing for a week or so, so I thought it was all good. Until yesterday, when I looked out the front window and she was staring at me from the patio. I have no idea how she managed to get out, but it was very irritating, especially as she was desparate to get back in, but hadn’t realised there are plenty of things on this side of the fence to climb on and get back over. I think I might have to grab her again and cut the feathers back even further, or maybe do the other wing too. Or perhaps shoot her in the head. Fucking chicken.

I guess one thing about the hot weather is that it makes me want to eat healthy food. I just don’t fancy eating junk or heavy fatty food. So today I went to the shop and bought a buttload of fruit and veg. Nom nom nom! I’ve spent most of the time feeling hungry, nauseated, or both, so I figured if I get lots of quick and easy food I might actually manage to eat something and hopefully not feel ill afterwards. And I looooove salads and fruit.

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Oh, and I finally got round to getting gren to take some pics of stuff I’d knitted recently. My favourites are this vest and hoodie. Unfortunately the sun was too bright and the hoodie pic is rather bleached out, but trust me, it is awesomesauce, sooo comfortable, and has pretty cables on. In case anyone cares, the vest is a slightly modified razor cami, and the hoodie is my own design, there are instructions on my rav project page.

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May 13th, 2011

Failbread, and other tales of domesticity.

I found some french flour at the local farm shop, which made me decide to make french bread. And I did (several months later). It turned out really nommy, but I was slightly afraid of breaking my mixer, and I couldn’t knead the dough by hand unless I wanted to suffer for it for days. So I decided to try a no knead recipe for my next attempt.

I used this recipe, pretty much, after reading a few things online and deciding to change it up a bit. My dough was too wet after the, hmmm, 16 hours it spent rising, so I used a wet spatula to try and fold it over in its bowl, then gave up and dumped it straight into the bowl with the floured towel. Then the plans went a bit wrong, i put it in the airing cupboard just before my parents came over to take me to the garden centre, thinking I’d be back in time to get the oven hot for it to go in after 2 hours. Well, i forgot that ‘do you want to go to the X’ from my dad, means ‘do you want to go to the X and then the pub’,  so we were out considerably longer than expected. When i got home the dough had fallen inexctricably in love with my teatowel, despite the copious amounts of flour used. So i just dumped it in the cold cast iron pot, pulled as much as i could off the towel and chucked it on top, then stuck it in the cold oven. I turned the oven to 230 degrees and set the timer for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes i removed the lid and stuck a thermometer into the dough. I have no idea how long the next stage took, maybe 15 mins, but when the internal temp of the bread reached 99 degrees, I took it out.

Looking good!
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Then. I looked over to my left and saw the untouched roll of greaseproof paper. I had PLANNED to put some in the base of the pan to stop it sticking. or at least some flour, but in my teatowel unsticking frenzy, i forgot.

Still looks pretty good, right?
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Untiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiil
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YES MY BREAD HAS NO BOTTOM SHUT UP. There was no way in hell i was getting the thing out of the pot, so I waited until it was cool and then realised i had to sacrifice the bottom crust.

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Ignoring that huge fail though, it looks pretty good, really light and airy, tastes like a cross between ciabatta and french bread, but with the BEST CRUST EVER. Seriously, it’s incredibly delicious. Next time I will use a liiiiiittle less water, remember the damn greaseproof paper, and probably borrow a smaller casserole dish from my mum so it makes a taller loaf. Oh, and try not to ruin any teatowels. Still, failbread is yummy, so I’m happy.

Another fail i experienced lately was that my beans didn’t grow. Considering the seeds were 10 years old, I pretty much expected it. So today i bought some dwarf french bean seedlings, which are now happily sharing a bed with my peas.
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The tomatoes I am growing from seed did rather too well, i have 20+ plants, but i am expecting at least a few cat-related losses. The watercress in the front large pot has suffered at the paws of mummycat, and the carrots in the back pot have been sat on a couple of times too. Still, stuff is growing. There’s 4 chili plants in there too, which are doing very well.
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The courgettes are getting biiiig, and i got a couple of tomato plants from someone down the road (one Alicante, one Gardener’s Delight) for some variety, as the ones I’m growing are all Moneymaker.
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And fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinally. The most unflattering photo of me EVER EVER EVER.

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I finished this dress the other day. The top is based on this pattern but at a tighter gauge because I wanted to use a 100% silk yarn and knew it would stretch, and then i added the skirty part. I don’t like orange, but i had 4 skeins of Debbie Bliss Pure Silk in orange that I bought aaages ago cos it was cheap. I thought i actually had 5, but maybe one has gone on a stash adventure. I also had a skein each of the pink and purple, so made that hideous creation. AND TODAY I DYED IT. I was going to dye it red then overdye it with black, but i decided i liked the red as-is, so it can stay this way for at least a little while until i am bored with it. Red is notoriously hard to photograph, but here it is, it’s a really bright yummy cherry red colour.

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Once it’s dry I’ll beg Gren to take a pic and hope I don’t look as chubby as in the above webcam pic. I may also have to sew an underdress thingy for it, cos it is raaather nippletastic, and while i have no qualms normally about my nipples showing through my clothing, this is a little much even for me.