Friday, February 12, 2016

Matryoshka at the Fair

Well hello there first post of February! I'm sure I've already seen this on other blogs lots since the start of the new year, but can you believe how fast 2016 is flying by? My birthday is in less than a month, ack! I have been adjusting to a new semester, with brand new courses. The workload is brutal, but the courses are amazing. Which helps a lot, when you have to pour so much of your time, and yourself in things. Some of them basically have my name written all over them, and I had been looking forward to starting them for months. As you can imagine I'm very pleased that so far they are living up to my expectations (huzzah). That said, I'm glad the weekend is here and I can catch my breath somewhat for the new week. Enough small talk though, nobody is here for my uni ramblings. Instead let's have a look at my latest make!

I have a new cardigan to show you! The project has been a long time coming, but I found she was definitely worth waiting for. The pattern is Jenny at the Fair by  Mary Jane Mucklestone. When I saw this pattern it was love at first sight, I wanted to cast on right away! But...since I tend to have that with more patterns *ahum* it had to wait a while. But now it's done and ready! The pattern is part of a collection, 'the Rhineback Sweater', edited by Ysolda Teague. Initially the patterns were only available in this collection, but later they were released as individual downloads. Admittedly I was not as sold on the other patterns in the book as I was on Jenny at the Fair. Many designers worked on the book, the patterns reflect this and are very different in style.  Most of them are not garments I could see myself knit or wear. So instead of buying the book, I waited for the single patterns.

 The yarn I used is Drops Nepal. Incidentally it is the same yarn I used to knit my very first sweater with, which I still wear and which holds up pretty well. Working on it, I sometimes had these waves of nostalgia, thinking back on how much has happened and how much my skills have improved since that first sweater way back in the day.

The cardigan is knitted in the round, with a steek at the front for the opening. I use steeks regularly in my knitting, but often with a sticky yarn, such as Shetland or Icelandic wool. Drops Nepal is a smooth yarn and I was eager (and a bit wary) to see how well it would hold a steek. I've steeked superwash yarn before, so I wasn't too scared to put me off doing it. Steeking smooth yarn is entirely possible, but I will say that I'd recommend reinforcing before cutting. Once you start cutting the yarn next to the cut, that isn't reinforced, stitches will swiftly disappear before your eyes. I steeked, and knitted the button band before blocking. With these types of cardigans it is impossible to block them to certain measurements before the steek.

The cardigan was as fun to knit as it looks (which is a lot!). I loved working the colourwork borders and breezed trough them while knitting. The colourwork motives made for very addictive knitting and I couldn't put it down before knitting "just one more row". The cuff and border have slightly different patterning, presumable to make the chart and numbers add up, but it gives extra interest to the patterning.

The colours remind me of Matryoshka dolls (In Dutch we call them 'baboesjka', an all together different Russian word, for some reason). The bold colours, particularity the combination of dark blue, red and yellow brought them to mind while I was working on the cuffs. My grandmother gave me such a doll when she came back from her travels in Russia when I was about eight years old. The doll has lived on my shelve ever since, looking down on my knitting progress.

I think this cardigan will get a lot of wear. Even though it is a heavily patterned cardigan, the colours are those that I wear a lot. I think the navy and red will tie together with the rest of my wardrobe quite smoothly. I own a similarly (but store brought) heavily patterned cardigan which I have worn to bits, this was the final nudge to start this pattern. It has certainly wet my appetite for more all over colourwork projects. First I have to finish what I'm working on now, and then I'll see what my knitting hearts wants to make next. Might make it into my summer project, when I'm not sucked up in uni work.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, January 29, 2016

What's looking so alien?

When I first began to inhabit the Treehouse, I soon found out I was not the only inhabitant of this dwelling. I shared the Treehouse with a small tribe of Gnomes, whose civilisation, in a sort of time paradox, had only recently reached the Iron Age. Somewhere along the years, the Gnome-people developed changing rituals and identities, at one point even taking to worshipping an awe-aspiring Monkey God. Maybe it was because of the strict guidance of this deity, the absence of natural enemies, or the comfortable living amongst cakes of yarn, but for whichever reason, the Gnomes never developed into a very war-like people. Indeed, it is safe to say that few of the gnomes are eager warriors at all.

Maybe that is why human film industry has proven so incredibly incapable of predicting the gnomes' first contact with aliens.

There is really quite little to say about the whole business, as all those involved considered the matter to be rather amicable and uneventful. Although the extraterrestrial visitors were received with all due hospitalities, including the proper banquet, the composed civilities the gnomes offered their visitors did not extend beyond the welcome that was usually reserved for the gnomes' neighbours, or the mail man, or pixies, fairies, wood trolls and other such mundane visitors.

Obviously, this all changed when the Gnomes turned on the Baumholm Evening News on their tiny television sets: after all, the results of the elections in the Faroe Islands where expected, and events like that concern gnomekind all over the globe. In a harmless, but certainly not consequenceless, instance of cultural miscommunication, the aliens understood this as the start of a ferocious technology-based bragging contest. Seeing as how the Gnomes had not yet upgraded their television from antenna to cable, the contest turned out to be a short one. The space-age technology imported was shiny and magnificent: sleek, white armoured suits, made of a material that was not quite metal, nor quite plastic. In the boots, rocket thrusters propelled the unearthly space-gnomes to a distance above the Treehouse floor, where they hovered and displayed magnificent images of their home planet on holographs emitted from the wings of the flight suits.

Most surprising was a little ball, which the aliens placed on the floor. To be more precise, that which attracted awe was not the ball itself, but what happened after it was activated. It started first to glow, then to pulsate. Bright images flashed through the room, and a gust of wind blew everything out of place. Soon, the whole Treehouse started to change. Clutter and dark matter was vapourized. Colours changed. The natural light seemed to become amplified. Huge projections materialised high upon the walls, changing -along with the colours of many details in the Treehouse such as the doorknob and the windowsills- on the mere whim of a change of collective will of the gnomes. The shelves in the right corridor were ordened, and replaced into futuristic hologram-cabinets sliding soundlessly out of the left wall.

It is said that afterwards, the aliens left. The gnomes now vehemently claim that yes, they did politely offer the aliens a place to stay for the night, but the aliens refused even though they promised to cash in the offer at a more convenient moment. 

This is one version of the story of how Whatsinatreehouse changed its looks. In all honesty, it's as unreliable as any part of the gnomes' history, legend and mythology. Nevertheless, I've learned never to contradict the gnomes when they are telling a story, as in any case, it often makes a far more interesting narrative than that of a young lady and her friend, neither of whom know how to code, sitting at a desk, trying to make a template work on her blogger account. Whichever version of the story you prefer, I do hope you like the new look. 


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Craft Ambitions 2016

Well here we are in 2016, I hope the year finds you well thus far. I had meant to post this sooner but I'm in the midst of more exams, and have been busy picking, planning and arranging courses for the upcoming year. On top of that I've been feeling under the weather for the past couple of days, but in between that I've found some time to think about what I want to achieve in terms of crafting this year. If you want to see my ambitions for last year you can do so here. Like last year, I'm not going to be super strict with these things: if I get distracted with something else that I simply like better, that is fine, but I like to have something to work towards. In the same vein I like making to do lists, they keep my wandering mind focussed. Especially after last year's busy schedule.

While I made quite some projects that I really liked, overall last year's knitting felt rather dry. I'm especially sad with the amount of time I spend knitting (i.e. lack of knitting time). Therefore I'm determined to focus this year on creating the things that I love most, which means to focus on colourwork and jumpers and cardigans. Last year it was a specific goal to make some non-colourwork projects for example; this year I give myself the green light to just do what I like best, as much as I want.

- Knit a sweater from my Norse book collection. I have a couple of Norse pattern leaflets and books. They are chuck full of wonderful colourwork patterns and I have been admiring them for a long time. They are written in Norse but deciphering the patterns has actually not been too hard. Deciding which pattern I'm going to make first has actually been the hardest so far, there's so many that I would cast on in a heartbeat!
- Knit a long anticipated project. I have a couple of things in my Ravelry queue that have been there for quite a while, it has become almost like a ritual scrolling past them when searching for a new project, and then pick something else. Even so, most of these I'd still like to make. I just need a little nudge.
- Focus on jumpers and cardigans. Most of us have a specific thing that, when stripped to the bare bones, we identify with more with than other things. You might be a sock knitter, or a hat knitter. For me, when it comes down to it, I am a sweater knitter. I like to make and frequently do make other things, but sweaters always take centre stage when it comes to my knitting. So because I want to centre my knitting around things I like doing most: I'm going to focus on cardigans and jumpers this year. I shall expect to make a bunch of different things as well, but I want the focus to be on sweaters.
- Focus on colourwork. For much the same reason as my sweater goal, I'd like to focus on colourwork this year. It is my favourite knitting technique, and the type of projects that I wear most. I mean I know that I already do quite a lot of colourwork, but last year it was a specific goal to make some non colourwork projects (and at least one sweater without colourwork). This year I'm going to indulge in as much colourwork as I want. Again I will probably make some other things as well ( especially now I've given colourwork the green card the itch to cast on..., oh I don't know, something with cables, will be steadily increasing) but the focus will be stranded knitting.

I feel I took some major steps with my sewing skills in 2015. I tackled sewing with knits, upped my serger game which massively improved my projects, sewed with lace fabric and made a proper backpack. But there is a lot left I still want to learn and do. These are my goals for 2016:

- Make something from a PDF pattern. As of yet I have not sewn with a PDF pattern, except from the bowtie I helped my boyfriend sew for the holidays. I (think I) prefer paper patterns, but I want to try a PDF just to be sure, and also to sooth my fear of them. Some pattern companies only offer PDF patterns so I'm going to have to try them at some point anyway.
- Make a pattern from a sewing book or magazine (as opposed to a separate pattern). It is easy to forget there are so many beauties hidden in my pattern books and magazines when picking out a new pattern to sew. I want to remedy that. My brother gave me Boundless Style by Kristiann Boos for Christmas and it might be just the thing to tick both this and the previous goal of the list. 
- Master buttonholes.  Shirt dresses and blouses are high on my to sew list so this really has to happen this year.
- Sign up for The Fold Line and learn how to use the website. I don't want to sign up and commit to a lot of websites but I have heard a lot of good things about this website (including: "It's like Ravelry, but for sewing"). Indeed, when I was briefly looking at the website it does seem to have modelled the website after Ravelry, and it looks pretty good. I'm eager to find out for myself how good the website is.
- Sew more projects for everyday wear. I don't have many sewn projects yet, so really this is just an excuse to make all the dresses and walk off into the sunset with a happy handmade wardrobe. 
- Find a tried and true pattern. In the same vein as my previous goal I want to find a pattern that suits me, my style and my body so well that I want to make it over and over again. Basically a pattern I can bore you to death with.

- Make something with chiffon or similar fabric.  I started working on a project in chiffon about a year and a half ago and it was an absolute disaster. It threw me off sewing with these kinds of fabrics for a long time. But this year I want to sew a project with it, and then record how many wears it will take my cats to destroy it.
- Learn more about different kinds of fabrics and sew with them. I don't know, but in my experience so far, it seems that fabric content is less of an issue for the sewing community than yarn content is for knitters. In webshops you see descriptions like 'poly mix', or 'linen and cotton mix', or even 'Wool with Polyester', but not the exact fiber content. In any case, I want to sew with a diverse range of fabrics this year and learn more about these fabrics. Denim, corduroy and tweed are high on my list for winter.
- Make a pattern hack/modification. I sometimes see these in the sewing blogosphere, and wish I would be confident enough/have the skills to attempt one myself.
- Make a : Sixties (style) dress
                  Folk inspired dress
                  Flanel dress


 Quilting is something I've never done before. Nevertheless, it is something I've been interested in since I started crafting seriously. Even as a child I quite liked quilts; I can blame Pippi Longstocking for that. I've wanted to try my hand at quilting for a while now, but always got 'distracted' by knitting or sewing. What seems odd to me is that I've never been interested in making knit or crochet blankets. But since I've never tried quilting, I would like to do so this year and see how the craft suits me. I like scrappy looking quilts, with a lot of colour and fabrics with motives. Those who are familiar with Sara Fielke's work will know what I mean. I also like the look of simple patchwork square quilts, which is good, because something like that seems like a good place to start. So my goals for this year are: 

- Learn how to quilt: i.e. learn the basics of quilting,  the most used techniques, the anatomy of a quilt, things like that. 
- Try hand quilting: hand quilting and machine quilting are two very different things. I think machine quilting is more common these days than hand quilting, and both have their pros and cons. Personally I like the look of hand quilting better than machine quilting. However, as you can imagine, hand quilting is a lot more laborious and slower than machine quilting. So before committing to a hand quilting a whole quilt it is smart to try it on something smaller first.
- Get some basic quilting tools: as a beginner I don't need a lot, especially because I'm a seamstress already, but I do need some things that are missing at the moment. Time to go shopping!
- Start my first quilt: you read that right: start, not finish. I'm going to be kind to myself and give myself lots of time for this one. Since it is a totally new craft for me, I've lots to learn. I also need some new crafting tools and learn how to use these. Who knows, I might even find that I like quilting less then I thought and since knitting and sewing are my primary crafts, I will devote most of my free time to these, so there is that as well. So I'm going to take this nice and slow, and just starting my first quilt seems like a sensible thing to achieve this year.


- Blog more regularly: This was  an ambition last year as well. It went well for part of the years, but not so good at other times. Ideally I'd like to blog once a week, but I'm not taking an oath on that (ahum, that didn't go so well this year already!) . I mainly blog about the things I am making/have made and I don't want to pressure myself in to just making stuff for the sake of having something to blog about. It would be nice to explore writing some different kind of blog posts related to my crafts, and maybe bringing the book posts back. As most of you will probably know, blogging soaks up quite some time (and always more than I think when planning blog posts!) and while I admire those bloggers who post multiple times a week, my time is limited and there are a lot of things that take priority over blogging at the moment. But let's see were good intentions will take the blog this year. 
- Reach out more.  Reach out to other bloggers, instagrammers, ravellers etc more often. Be more social on the various platforms I am a member of.
-Change my blog layout. Although I don't dislike my current layout, I feel it's time for an update to the layout I've been carrying around for a while now. I actually got very close to updating my layout last year, but technical problems and lack of time to figure out what was going wrong (this was during the height of thesis shenanigans) scrapped the plans. This year, however, I'd like to make it happen.

It will be interesting to see come 2017 how I did with my ambitions. I'm sure my partner is delighted with the prospect of yet another hobby that could take off in which I make stuff from other stuff and cram the treehouse with more crafty goodness. The cats are fine with the prospect though, they are always highly encouraging with my crafty pursuits. It means more fabric to sit on, yarn to chase and, gosh darn it, blankets! For, for who else but for them, could I be making them?


Thursday, December 31, 2015

Year wrap up: Knitting and Sewing

The year is coming to an end. Everywhere year reviews are starting to pop up. I like to wrap up the year by looking back at various aspects of my year. Buckle up guys, this is going to be a long one.

As will become apparent when reading this post, 2015 was a tough year. It was my busiest year at uni, I took some difficult (but fulfilling) courses and of course there was my thesis research which took up most of my life for a considerable part of the year. Unsurprisingly this had effect to other parts of my life; for crafting it mainly meant that there was simply less. Not all was bad though: I'm absolutely positive that the knitting and crafting that I did made the year considerably better, and perhaps most important I'm just really happy with most of the things I did manage to make this year. In general 2015 was the year in which I knitted less sweaters than I wanted to, got back into sewing big time and made my first socks.

First I'll look back to my year in crafts, then I'll make it a bit more personal for those interested. If you're not interested, feel free to scroll further to that ultimate accountant-cum-judge of years: the final check list of last year's resolutions....

☆  Knitting   ★ 

It has been a very dry year for knitting at the Treehouse and it shows in the amount of finished knits, especially compared to last year, which was a wonderful year for knitting. This has everything to do with my life at uni. This year's coursework was incredibly intense, but most importantly my research and thesis soaked up a lot of my time, and basically took over my life for a while. A whole month could pass without me having picked up the needles once, something that would have been unheard of before this year. Only since September things have picked up again, though I still don't feel I'm back at my old level. But that's okay, I'm just glad to be knitting again.

Favourite makes this year:

1. Freydis (Grettir)
2. Foxglove
3. Nikka Vord

1. Follow Your Arrow II
2. A Hap for Harriet
3. My First Socks

Favourite knitting Books Published this year:
1. Autumn - Marie Wallin
2. Kofteboken 2 - Sandvik & Samsoe (This was on my wish list only two weeks ago, but the Christmas Goat has brought it to my door!)
3. Penguin: A Knit Collection - Anna Maltz

Most used yarn:
1. Lopi: 4 projects: one sweater, 3 Accessories
2. Old Maiden Aunt: 2 projects, both Shawls
3. Shetland yarn 2 projects: 1 sweater Jamieson's, 1 sweater Jamieson's and Smith.

☆  Sewing   ★ 

Even though I had as little time for sewing as I had for knitting, 2015 feels as a much better year for sewing. Part of this is because when I finally had time for crafting again the sewing bug hit with a vengeance. So far the bug is still here! Most importantly I now feel much more confident in my skills with a sewing machine and therefore dare to tackle a lot more projects. I think I learned many new sewing techniques, and progressed a lot. I'm also able to balance sewing better with my the rest of my life; enabling me to sew for small amounts of time in between other things I have to do. All in all I feel al lot more positive about this year's sewing than this year's knitting.

My patterns and fabric stash has grown considerably over the past half year. I'm very happy to have discovered some new pattern brands, while at the same time some of my older favourites, like Colette and Deer and Doe, have continued to make gorgeous patterns to fawn over.

Favourite makes:
1. Cooper Bag
2. Seda Dress
3. Flora Dress

☆  Personal Bits or what else happened this year ★  

2015 was a big year for the Treehouse. When I look back on this year I mostly think about academic things, everything else is pretty much a blur. I know it has come up here on the blog a couple of times but the past year was easily the busiest and most draining year of my life. As has been mentioned several times *cough*sorry*for*the*cough*repetition*cough*, my thesis did occupied most of my time and energy this year. It's been an extremely interesting process, and considering how much I was both dreading and looking forward to it in my wrap-up post of 2014, it is a strange sensation to have it behind me now (Oh, hullo there, master thesis!). I'm still fascinated by the subject of Irish modern and early-modern literature, but between the thesis and other coursework, it has also cost me a lot. Even now, almost four months since turning it in, I still feel like I haven't regained the levels of energy I had before. Nevertheless, I do feel like I have learned so much over the past year. I've read so many books from sources I hadn't been able to imagine. Irish farmers, cosmopolitan Nigerian female academics, Canadian Native Americans and Japanese-British novelists: the things I read have certainly diversified and reached across the globe this year. A part of this is to thank to a course on post-colonial literature I had, but from this has sprung a wider interest in literature from across the world.

My boyfriend graduated earlier last summer, got his first proper job (in local government), finished that job (it was a project that only lasted for a couple of months) is now jobless for a month or so but will start a new job around the end of January, at Loesje, a creative writing/activism organisation. He did an internship there during his studies and it is basically his dream job so we are all very happy about that. It was a bit of a roller-coaster, and I'm glad that the uncertainties of the past few weeks are over. He has been very lucky, getting a job that soon after graduating and after that project a new job straight away. Many people, especially in the past couple of years, have not been that lucky, and we have several friends who had to deal with unemployment for a year or longer.

☆  Books   ★ 

Because, even if I do this succinctly, I can't do this post without a list of my favourite books I read in 2015:
  • A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man - James Joyce
  • All Quiet on the Western Front -  Erich Maria Remarque
  • Americanah - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
  • The Islandman - Thomas O'Crohan
  • Fortunately the Milk - Neil Gaiman
  • Peter Pan - J. M. Barrie

Social Media and blog

My goal for the blog was to post a wee bit more and post more consistently. I did not make this goal. Things started out pretty well in the first few months, and even though uni was very busy I tried to keep up with the blog as best as I could. I think the Follow Your Arrow II KAL helped with this, as it offered me a steady supply of topics to post about. But in the end, when thesis madness really took over, the blog just slipped away, with august being the ultimate low point. While it makes me a little sad, I've accepted it. It has been a rough year and a lot has had to give and unfortunately blogging, as well as knitting and sewing were snowed under. It makes me sad, but it is the way it is.

One of the things I've let drop away was the monthly book posts I experimented with between December and March. I did like writing them, so maybe I'll bring them back in one form or another. Books are an important part of my life, and I read quite a lot, so I'd like to give them a spot here.

Another goal was to comment more on other people's blogs, and to be more 'social' on social media. I've started commenting more on other blogs in the beginning of the year, but as with everything things started to go downwards once the uni work started to pick up space. Since I haven't kept the resolution up all through the year, this resolution stays.

As for other social media; I signalled a slight shift from twitter to instagram in 2014, and I think the trend has continued. I've become much more active on instagram over the year. I  participated in my first photo challenge on Instagram; a 'photohop', a challenge similar to a blogweek. I had a lot of fun with that, and overall I think I feel much more in my place on instagram.

☆  Resolutions for 2015   ★ 

So... the end balance: Let's see how I did with my goals.

Make one project from the book Yokes by Kate Davies - Success: Foxglove.
Make one jumper/cardigan with colourwork all over - Success... though it is yet to be blogged (sorry!)
Make one jumper/cardigan without colourwork. - Success: Sibella Cardigan.
Make a jumper/cardigan in Icelandic yarn - Success: Grettir
Make a jumper/cardigan in Shetland yarn - Success, foxglove again!
X Make a garment using my colourwork motifs books - Failed.
X Finish one shawl by Lucy Hague - Failed, though I did make several other shawls that I'm very happy with.
Make a pair of mittens - Success, but is yet to be blogged 
Try new yarns - Success: Old Maiden Aunt, Buchaille, Jamieson. 
X Knit with beads - Failed, though I did sew with beads, and I liked it!
Make four (or more) projects with yarn from my stash - Success! Grettir, Foxglove, Mullspice, FYA2, Hap for Harriet, and Sibella were all made with yarn bought before 1-1-2015. This didn't mean I went cold-sheep, though.

Other crafts:
  Sew more, and try to pace sew time - SUCCESS!
  Sew with knits - Success!
X Make a doll - Failed.
X Try making jewellery - Failed.
  Do some small embroidery projects - Success! 

That's it! 2015 was an odd year for me personally, It was both incredibly fulfilling and at the same time a very rough year. Ah, well, onwards and upwards! I'm quite excited that 2016 is here and hopeful that it will be a grand year!

Thank you for reading my blog this year, thank you for your comments here and on instagram, and thank you for sitting through this year wrap-up with me. I'll be with you in a few days, with a list of my ambitions for 2016! Until then:


Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas Ornaments

Hey there,
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. I just got back from a couple of days back in the south at my parents' place with my family. I stuffed myself silly with Indonesian food and Christmas pudding, got spoiled rotten with books, yarn, fabric and other crafty notions ( I finally own a blocking kit) and spend boxing day outside getting muddy feet in Belgium. Since it is over, I can show you some of my secret makes.

I don't often make any "big" handmade gifts for Christmas, and this year is no exception. But I do like to craft some small things to tag along with my gifts.  This year I spotted these ornaments on the Grainline Studio blog and thought they would do well for this year's Christmas. For gifts, knitting is usually my craft of choice, but this year playing with felt, beads and sequins was a nice change.  Also you simply cannot go wrong with whale or owl inspired gifts.

I did most of the sewing on my sewing machine. I started out with hand sewing, but my stitches are just so much neater on my machine that I soon switched over. Some parts were a bit finicky on the machine, because they are so small, and this felt isn't the sturdiest of fabrics but it all worked out fine.

I particularly enjoyed sewing on the sequins, especially when I found out how fast you can attach them if you use beads. I'm not particularly drawn to beads, glitter or sequins on clothes or in shawls, but I do think they look charming on these little guys.

I'm happy with how it turned out. I gave these guys away, but I do think I have enough felt, beads and sequins left to make some extra for next year's tree.


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

December Dress

This is my December dress. Also known as my "fancy-ish dress", or the "don't let the cats near the lace-dress" and the "if all fails I can always become a romantic heroine in a Gothic novel-dress". December seems to be the month in which a lot of makers either start to make tacky over-festive Christmas outfits, or fancy party wear. This year I decided to jump on that bandwagon.

Initially I wanted to make the Ava Dress by Victory Patterns. It is one of the patterns that caught my eye when I just started to get interested in dressmaking, but was way (WAY) beyond my skills at the time. It wouldn't be stretching reality too far if I said that Ava is one of the reasons why I wanted to become a better seamstress. So I decided that this year I would take the incentive of a Christmas dress as an opportunity to actually make it. But then Pauline Alice released the Seda dress in November and turned my plans upside down.While both have a lace yoke, the rest of the dress is considerably different. After a couple of days turning it over in my head, I decided to go for the Seda Dress, as it had the sleeves in favour and a more casual neckline which I felt slightly more comfortable with. Also: I tossed a coin and Seda won. Ava will have to wait for a little longer.

I ordered the Seda Dress directly from Pauline Alice. The pattern was swiftly brought to my door. Two days after I ordered it, it landed in my mailbox. I was impressed, I've waited longer for patterns ordered in my own country. The package of the pattern is beautiful! A large cardboard box, with a pretty illustration of the pattern on the front and pattern details at the back. Inside you'll find a multi language (Eng, Fra, Esp) pattern instruction leaflet and pattern sheets. The pattern pieces are printed on sturdy paper, which makes tracing the pattern much more pleasurable. I'm always happy to find pattern companies that print their patterns on sturdy paper instead of the see-through paper most companies use. In my experience, European pattern companies are most likely to print on sturdier paper, and American companies on the other variety. My guess is it's because tracing patterns is more common in Europe, and in the US most people just cut out the actual pattern. Aside from all this paper excitement, I think the overall package is just really beautiful. I can see that a lot of care and though has been put into it and just as with a pretty book or LP cover, I appreciate that. 

 Pauline's patterns had been on my radar for a while, she has a couple more that I'd like to make such as the Cami dress and the Turia Dungarees. I was anxious to try one of them, so I could see how I'd like her instructions and such. Sewing the pattern went really well and I didn't  run in any problems. The pattern is classed as intermediate, but I think that view A (the off the shoulder look) is harder than view B, which I made. The pattern instructions are not overly extensive, for some of the techniques she assumes that you know them. This wasn't an issue for me, but beginners might need to google a couple of things here and there.

I picked a medium weight cotton to sew my version. I wanted a thicker fabric, because it's a dress for winter temperatures. Or it's supposed to be, today we hit 15 C making it the most unusual winter I've ever experienced. Finding suitable lace was harder. I wanted a lace that with a lot of motives and would give some more cover. I found lots expensive bridal lace online, but didn't really liked most of them. Eventually I went with this cheap lace that I found at the market. It works well, and because the dress bodice is high cut, modesty isn't really an issue.

I'm really pleased with the end result. I think it can be both dressed up for fancy wear and dressed down for a more casual look. I'm a big fan of the fit and flare dress silhouette and wear it quite a lot. I think the dress has the best finishes of all my sewn projects so far. I upped my serger game and overlocked all the seams, which has made all the difference. The inside just looks much more professional. Finally, any dress that has big pockets is worth an extra star.

That's all I wanted to say about this dress. Now all that is left for me to say is send you warm wishes. I'll be popping back in here before the end of the year, but in the meantime, I hope you have a lovely holiday and want to wish you and yours a very merry Christmas.


Friday, December 11, 2015

Wicky's Sokkar

Last week I finished the socks I was knitting for my boyfriend. I made these socks twice before.
He specifically asked me for plain Icelandic socks in a natural colour. You see these are not to be normal house socks, these are to be Viking socks!

Let me backtrack for a bit. Ever been to a reenactment/living history fair? Think fields filled with tents of people recreating whatever time period they're into. There's people wearing period-correct clothing, made using period-correct crafts and resources, doing period related activities and making music on period-correct instruments. Now, my boyfriend isn't a die-hard reenactor, but he does enjoy visiting living history festivals every now and then, and he's been gathering a wardrobe of late iron-age to early viking age clothing.

The one thing missing in his wardrobe has always been the shoes. This summer he started working on a pair of Iron age shoes, although the project went in hibernation when his graduation and new job came up. Now, in addition to the above, he's also quite the fan of Viking saga's and medieval legends, so when he saw an announcement that one of the winter fairs was going to have a "Vertelþing", or, a storytelling contest, he signed up immediately. Only when his participation was confirmed, he realised:  a) he still needed to finish his shoes an b) they were woefully unsuited for winter. So that's where I come in. He was in serious need of a pair of thick woollen socks!

I choose my beloved Icelandic Lopi, which is both perfectly warm and conforms to the look and feel of the kind of thing he wanted. There's a few things to say about the historical correctness of these socks. First of all, medieval clothing needn't necessarily be natural, bland, grey or brown colours. As many natural dyers know, there's a wide range of bright colours to be made with natural dyes that have been available for centuries. According to several sources I found however, socks were usually made using undyed wool, while the dyed wool was reserved for more prestigious garments.

Now for the obvious: did Vikings knit? No, they did not. Or, at least, no evidence has thus far been found to prove it. They did used Nålebinding, a craft similar to but predating both crochet and knitting. Archaeologists without proper knowledge of needlecrafts have often mistaken nålebound finds for knits: although the technique is quite different, the result looks remarkably similar to the untrained eye. Because of this, knitting seems to be close enough to produce 'Viking socks' that are comfortable to wear, simple to make and look convincing. My boyfriend isn't super particular about the period-correctness (hence "not die-hard"), and he likes warm feet so he's very happy with these socks. It helps that my boyfriend cannot needlebind, and I am not motivated and/or keen enough to learn it.

Finally I want to mention that I've been participating in my first ever photo challenge on Instagram. Those of you who follow me there will have noticed that it undoubtedly increased the amount of posts from me. It is a crafty photo challenge in the days leading up to Christmas. Each day has a theme, and participants post sewing or knitting related photos in accordance with that theme. I've seen these challenges before, and enjoyed browsing through the pictures posted there, but wasn't convinced I could keep up with posting everyday. Most of these challenges take a month, but this one was a lot shorter, so seemed a good way to test my endurance. There are only a couple of days left but you can see what I've been posting on my Instagram profile or in the daily photograph widget in the sidebar.

Have a great weekend!