Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Gillian dress by Muse Patterns

Gillian Dress by Muse Patterns.

I have found sewing nirvana!  I cut a size 40 for the yoke and a size 44 for everywhere else and no other alterations and it fits me!!  !!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I'm going to make the dress version in a blue polka dot fabric next, and then I have a grey fabric and black contrast to make a winter version after that.

This is my first ever pdf pattern, and I took the plunge because I loved the pattern AND I found that Kat, the designer was a New Zealander and wanted to support her.  The instructions were great and I was really happy with the finish I achieved (I speak as someone who has done quite a bit of basic sewing, but is not an advanced or highly skilled sewist).  It did take absolutely ages to tape and cut the pattern pieces, so I'm thrilled that I have a good result from my efforts and will use the pattern again soon.  I do have my eye on the other Muse patterns - the Jenna cardigan and the Natalie dress.

It doesn't gape when I bend over, but I am going to put a hook and eye in at the crossover point to be sure that I have secure cleavage coverage for work.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

sewing dreaming

I made the peplum cardigan work in the end, by cutting the seams off and re-sewing.  I'd cut it too big first time round, so that worked.  Pictures to follow once I have gotten someone to take them.

This weekend I made alterations to the pattern pieces of my Style Arc Issy top.  I'd no chance of altering them until I'd sewn it once (which I've done - pictures will be forthcoming of that too).  Next step is making it in a narrow red and white stripe fabric.

I've found a new pattern to fall in love with:  McCalls 6898.
That's the pattern photo.  Even more gorgeous is this one.I think I could make it up in a stretch cotton.  There are some gorgeous ones around.  The pattern rating is "easy" and it comes with a,b,c & d cup sizes.  Princess seams, which will be a new challenge.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

fitting clothes again

So now I have a better fitting cardigan, the McCalls 6844 which everyone else seems to whizz up in five minutes with no fitting issues.  It is still not a great fitting cardigan though, and when I ran some elastic through the back to bring the back waist in, I didn't spread it evenly (even though I tried) which has made the cardigan look rather home made which I'm not so happy about given I paid $90 for the fabric (really lovely merino).

I either have the narrowest shoulders in the whole entire world or I am doing something else wrong.  After taking the shoulders in by 4cm already (each) and still having the garment hanging off my shoulders by another centimetre, I've had the brainwave that maybe I have cut a size too big around the neck.

Wow wee.  Imagine getting that clever after 85 hours of alterations to the pattern, one wadder and now one that is wearable but not great.

I also have very short arms.

Still no pictures.  Beyond bed time already.

First world problems for certain.

Friday, July 25, 2014

fitting notes

Blimey what a project.  I only want a cardigan/soft jacket which fits me well. 

I've been working on McCalls 6844 for a long time and tonight I sewed the jacket neck band on, so although there is pressing, top stitching and hemming to go, I do have a completed shape.

It's all baggy under the arms.  Also, I don't think I have quite the line at the waist (there is a peplum falling from the waist) which I want.  I can see I did need to do an FBA, but possibly a length only one.

I might be able to alter it at the sides a bit - I'll try that over the next few days.

Also, it would appear that I have extremely short arms and narrow shoulders.  I took 2.5cm off the shoulders and need to take 2-3cm more off.  I took 9cm off the sleeves and need to take 4-5cm more off.

No photos.  Just notes as I think through what happens next.  This was the wearable muslin, out of marked down fabric (yet to find out just why merino was marked down from $24/metre to $8/metre.  I have some heavy-ish weight black merino for the next rendition.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

McCalls 6915, books & rain

This is the fabric and pattern Brighid and I chose in Christchurch a few weeks ago, while the boys soughed it out at a kung fu tournament.  It's black velvet, and really beautiful fabric.  The pattern is McCalls 6915, and while it is easy to put together, the actual pattern is ridiculous.  I had read that the pattern comes up large on Pattern Review, but the reality was quite stark.  The top is loose enough to be made in a woven (the pattern specifies moderate stretch) and the skirt is unhemmed and falls above her knees.  I favour loose dresses on Brighid, but this is just bad pattern making I think.  It is entirely my fault that I ignored the band and folded the neckline over and stretched it out really badly.  So I made some tucks in the front and then added the neckband after all.  The next step in fulfilling Brighid's specs for this dress is that she wants pointy bits around the hem and arms...

She added some socks and gumboots and a hoodie and off we went to see Tinkerbell and the Pirate Fairy at the movies.  Appalling gender constructions, but I tried to leave that at the door and I did really love seeing Brighid's pleasure in the film.

Recent reading:
1. A Girl is a Half Formed Thing by Eimear McBride.  I think it is worth the prizes and acclaim it has won.  Not happy reading, but more worth it than I had feared given I had read some plot info already.  This White Review interview with McBride is thoughtful and much better than most interviews with authors (or perhaps I usually read in the wrong places).
2. The Cleaner of Chartres by Salley Vickers.  Vickers once again manages to win reasonable literary acclaim at the same time as writing a deeply satisfying curling up in bed restorative story.
3. I've just started The Collected Works of A J Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin.  Fabulous so far.

In the garden, everything is wet.  Soaked to the core and out to the rims again.  I think my tulips have all rotted in it.  Shame, given that this is the year when I splashed out on more than ever before.  The daffodils and irises are obviously made of tougher stuff, and the snowdrops are looking lovely out the front already.  I do still have coriander in the garden, and lots of kale, spinach, silverbeet, mesclun, some rocket and masses of miners lettuce.  Not bad for the middle of winter.

The main triumph is that the illness which laid us up for eight days has finally departed.  Good bye and good riddance to that series of gastro disasters.

Monday, June 23, 2014

yellow yes, mellow, not so much

So, it's quite bold, and yellow.  It's my Issy top, from Style Arc.  I threw caution to the wind as it was a freebie pattern and made it up without any alterations.  Funnily enough it fits in the bust and is too big everywhere else except through the hips.  Who would have thought that all that reading on altering patterns and several years of experimentation would yield yet another proof?

It's not completely unwearable once I have taken an extremely deep hem (size 18 tops, I am reminded again, are not drafted for persons who are 5'4").  I may try and take the shoulders in, something I'vve never tried before.  I am taking the sleeves up to be 3/4 sleeves.  Bold yellow flowers all the way to my hands is tooooo much.

It will, no matter the alterations, be very bold, and very yellow.  I'm not sure I will wear it every second day.  I had the red version of this print and I was wise to make it as a dress with plain black for the bodice.  This yellow fabric would have made great tights, but you have to wear a lot of plain colours to be able to slot in tights like these.  Too late for tights though...

Anyways, I'd also like to record that meat bone soup is easy to make, lasts more than one meal, is nutritious and my children even like it.  I mucked around with mutton flap soup last weekend, and this weekend made lamb shank soup.  Lots of home grown kale and garlic in both versions of course.

I'm reading A girl is a Thing Half Made.  I will say that I am reading it, whereas my previous attempts at that unpunctuated stream of consciousness Irish novel known as Ulysses have all stopped before the end of the first page.  I find myself simultaneously both drawn in and scared of what might happen next.

I planted some garlic in the weekend.  Eating rocket, miners lettuce, giant purple mustard and some nameless mesclun straight from the garden.  Now the shortest day has passed, I shall be able increasingly to see my greens as I pick them in the morning for my lunchbox.  Mostly I try not to will the days faster though, as 7 and 11 seem such precious ages and I want to be with them now, not rush them to be older.  We are now up to reading book four of the Harry Potter series.  And they are in a knitting phase and I am the knitting tutor.

It's so precious to be with them when I am at work all day and time with them is not assured.  Not so much blogging now compared to seven years ago when I started blogging so I could have a thinking space that wasn't centred around babies and small children.  Not giving up just yet - still charting the sewing projects.  You may or may not be pleased to know that the next fabrics in the cupboard are plain, not prints.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

the renfrew red velvet dress with no velvet in it.

I've been sewing.  Above are four photos before I took a piece out of the bodice to take away the droop and hemmed it.  One day I might have better photos, but equally, one day may never come.  I was harsh on myself at first, but I suspect I shall come to like it a lot.  The skirt and midriff is from the Cake Patterns Red Velvet and it is beautiful.  I mustn't have concentrated properly, because my scissor pleat isn't exactly central in the front and not exactly symmetrical in the back.  My husband picked this, demonstrating that he was concentrating when I asked him what he thought.  I've made this skirt part of the red velvet pattern twice before and got it perfect without major effort those times.  I speak as someone for whom sewing and perfect almost never meet.
The top is the Renfrew top from Sewaholic, cut at just below the bust. I was looking for a combination which gave me modesty at the top (achieved), set in sleeves (achieved), winter-suitable (achieved) and a lovely fabric (achieved) .  I'd not anticipated the hint of early 1980s primary school teacher pinafore which it has though.
The difficulty of fitting clothes was what led me to sewing, and the difficulty remains.  The more I sew, the more particular I get about fit.  I think that if I'd pursued the Red Velvet top half, making alterations after my muslin last year, I would have had a really lovely dress.  But I wouldn't have had a dress which fitted all of my criteria above, and it is my winter wardrobe which needs augmenting right now, not summer.
So I've decided it's time to sew something straight from the envelope.  I'm a bit over spending hours making pattern alterations and then still not being quite happy with the final result.  Tonight I cut out the fabric to make a Style Arc Issy Top.  The instructions look sure to pose a challenge, with crossing and draping and asymmetrical necklines and hems.  But it was deliciously easy to cut the pattern when it was only three pieces and no fba or other messing.  I would add that the pattern is totally beyond me to add an fba to, so that sorted that aspect out.  The Issy top was a freebie when I ordered a Clara skirt  pattern earlier in the year.  No Clara until I've made a top though, as there are more skirts than tops in my wardrobe.
p.s.  I was thinking about making a dress suitable for a ball, but I have deemed that insane.  The multi-use options for a ball dress in a small wet town like mine are nil.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

New definitions of precious

Tomorrow the marathon begins.  Not running, not that much of a sea-change has been going on at the not-quite-so-messy house.  Just the marathon of working full time with extra work responsibility whilst simultaneously parenting and attempting to fit in sleep and books and rest home visiting and garden and sewing. 

Today I eschewed my plans to go to work and instead cleaned the lounge.  Really cleaned the lounge, including sorting out all my sewing gear.  I found three tape measures, three packets of new bobbins, countless packets of curtain hooks and more packets of sewing machine needles than I was prepared to count.  All bought because I couldn't find the pre-existing packets in the mess.

The finished result is a thing of beauty.  Of course if a camera was charged and I took a photo to share on this blog, you would wonder what all the fuss was about.  A bright yellow room with some old furniture and lots of books and hobby paraphernalia... but you would miss the fact that the sewing machine sits on its old wooden school desk and you can see all the wood around it.  You could miss the snaplock bags and the jars of carefully sorted notions and sewing tools which are stacked on the shelves.  A photograph wouldn't capture the glee of my husband and children that they can actually sit on the rocking chair.

I've put the camera on to charge.  The next step is to see whether it still looks splendiferous tomorrow.

Things I have read lately:
1. Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things by Randy Frost and Gail Steketee
2. Underground by Tobias Hill
3. The Last Days of the National Costume by Anne Kennedy
4. Dark Sparring by Selina Tusitala Marsh

Stuff got me moving on clearing clutter.  Turns out I don't qualify as an OCD hoarder in need of professional intervention by a psychologist just right now, but there were some thought processes described in the book which were a little too familiar.

Underground was good.  Not quite as gripping as Hill's What was Promised which I read not long ago, but still worth it.

The Last Days of the National Costume was wonderful.  I'm surprised it hasn't had more publicity.  I guess we were all swooning over The Luminaries when Kennedy's book was released last year.  It deserves a proper review, and the clock is against me on that.  Post-modern theory and sewing and an Irish connection and the blackout in Auckland in 1998 and the most beautiful language.  Ask your library to order it.

Dark Sparring is Marsh's second collection of poetry and I loved it.  Buying it and The Last Days of the National Costume in Auckland made both books more poignant as I read them either up there or on my return, when I was full of the love for the vibrant city, the beauty of which not enough is said.

Things I have bought lately:
1. fabric
2. more fabric
3. gumboots
4. A layby beginning of more boots.  I wanted red.  Proper red.  I'm making do with wine-coloured boots.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

lawns or thyroid? hard to contain excitement

Well well well.  I didn't write for weeks because my life has turned into a workfest, and then blogger/google/gmail got so mixed up I couldn't access my account and now, wonders unexplained, I can access it again. 

1. sewing.  I made a renfrew top which I appear not to have photographed.  I made a pile of alterations to the pattern before I made it up, and I think I'll make some more yet, and turn it into a frankpatterned mix of renfrew top and red velvet midriff and skirt.  I made another circle skirt for a 7th birthday present.  Brighid is modelling the twirl factor on it above, before we wrapped it and set off for the party.  I didn't have any bias binding and so hemmed with a single fold (looooong hem circumference) and zigzagged it which actually looked quite good.

I hemmed two tiramisu dresses which have been worn unhemmed for ages.  I used steam a seam lite for one which was really good, except unbuyable at the moment as the factory burnt down.  I used a trendy trims supposed equivalent for the next dress, and that was only very marginally better than nothing.  Hand pinning skirts which have 3+ metre hems is not something I'm willing to do without a short cut.

2. sleep.  elusive.  not very interesting.

3.  thyroid.  bothersome.  refer 2.

I've been trying to understand the relationship between liver and thyroid health.  There is a documented connection, but I'm not making much progress understanding what and how.  As for which affects which, the chicken/egg conundrum persists.  Still, I have purchased livatone plus with turmeric and that seems to be doing some good.

4. Tobias Hill.  What Was Promised.  A wonderful novel.  Took me back to the magic of London all over again.

5. Winter sport.  It has started.  Boots and raffle tickets and mouthguards and shin pads and all manner of other smelly or soon to be smelly equipment are flying around.  Our money is mostly flying out the door.

6.  Lawnmower.  If buying a new lawnmower of a very good quality as an investment in reliability given the partial demise of the old lawnmower and the prognosis of expensive and imminent full demise of said previously trustworthy machine is not full blown suburban sensibility, I don't know what is.  If I don't blog again for more months, it may be because we have no money to replace the old computer because we spent it on a machine to make our lawns accessible (I started with the r--ble word, but couldn't complete).

Monday, March 3, 2014

sewing & books

New patterns:
Sewaholic Renfrew
Image 1

Style Arc Clara skirt
Clara Knit Skirt

I still haven't got my fabric buying and pattern buying and wardrobe needs in synch.  So I have gorgeous fabric in the cupboard in bold knit print for dresses or leggings.  But I have enough dresses and leggings for the moment and a need for cardigans in plain knits.  But I have wanted a cowl top for a zillion years to echo the RTW one I bought four years ago.  I tried a Khaliah Ali one and it wasn't successful.  The review and pics on the internet suggest the Renfrew could be the one for me.  This tutorial on doing an FBA on the Renfrew is going to be my mini-bible for the Renfrew project.

I read Deborah Challinor's Girl of Shadows and loved it.  This would make a fabulous mini-series.

Special find of the week: the digi-poem Hinemoa's Daughter.  Very beautiful.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Anne Else: The Colour of Food

I've long been a fan of Anne Else's writing.  Her books on womens history and particularly on the history of adoption in New Zealand, were really important to me as a postgraduate history student in the 1990s.  Last year I read Else's PhD online and for the last several years I've been reading her blogs http://elsewoman.blogspot.co.nz/ and http://somethingelsetoeat.blogspot.co.nz/ .  When her food memoir came out only as an e-book, I was disappointed, but ethically opposed to getting a kindle or other device as it reduced the pool of books to be sold second hand thus available to people who could not afford new books.  But all those concerns fell away last week when my lovely husband surprised me with a kindle for my birthday.  There is no going back!  The books are so cheap and to be able to choose exactly what I want to read at 11pm or 3am or Sunday morning or whenever feels really close to magic.  The very first book I downloaded was Anne Else's The Colour of Food: a memoir of life, love and dinner...

Anne writes beautifully, and I think her tying in of food, love and history is very successful in this memoir.  In her Elsewoman blog she has detailed the challenges of eating alone and adjusting to living alone in poignant detail, and now I get to learn of the rich experiences before her loss.  I enjoyed the section on Albany particularly, as I'd not known anything of this experience beforehand.  Anne writes of Elizabeth David and afterwards I was looking for Lisa Chaney's biography of David.  The Colour of Food reminded me of the pleasure of reading the lives of foodies, without having to get out of bed and actually cook.  Anne's writing oeuvre has been an important contribution to writing the lives of New Zealanders and in particular to stamping out the reality that domestic work is significant and worthy of its own story. After reading The Colour of Food, I felt prompted to make more effort to get back writing and recording my own life.  Anne reminds those of us who teeter round the writing fringes as we live our lives that everyone's story is significant, and in turn gently suggests that we all owe it to ourselves to think and act carefully and share those acts for posterity.  A national taonga.

Since then (mere days ago), I've had the even more divine pleasure of reading Tim Winton's Eyrie.  At $48 in the shops, I had no idea when I would get my hands on this treasure, but with my magic kindle, I had it downloaded for about $8 (NZ).  Tim Winton writes like an angel.  I practically swooned at times.  I'm still thinking about Winton's anti-heroes but I can't say too much for fear of ruining the end for those who have yet to read Eyrie.

I've been looking for Deborah Challinor's next book after Behind the Sun, called Girl of Shadows, for a few months now.  I was supposed to be released in November 2013 in New Zealand, and I've yet to see it in a bookshop.  But never fear, I downloaded it today for only NZ$6!  Best I go and do the dishes and other jobs now so I can go to bed with my kindle as soon as possible.  It's like my childhood when the local library always had something to love.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Beautiful letters

These letters from the working mother to the stay at home mother and from the stay at home mother to the working mother are beautiful.  I want to print them out and post them everywhere.

I haven't blogged about my fiercely intelligent brother who writes wonderful letters to the local paper.  The paper have gone a bit shy on him lately and I'm keen for him to blog his letters. 

I haven't blogged about the wonderful book Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

I haven't blogged about the garden, or work, or the alterations I've made to the stripey cardigan I rashly bought one cold day on holiday in summer.  I haven't blogged about our adjustment as a family to me being at work most of the time and how this week is better than last week because my kids are happier and how Favourite Handyman is the bestest support to me I could dream of.

But when I read those letters via a facebook link tonight, I couldn't let them sit without sharing them every way I could.

Saturday, January 25, 2014


When I started blogging, Brighid was seven months old.  Now she is seven.  She loves dressups and so I made her a princess dressup dress for her birthday.  This morning (day of the party), I was working on finishing the dress when I discovered I had nowhere near the right size zip.  In a small town where shops are closed on part of Saturday and all of Sunday, I was very grateful to get there in time for an appropriate zip.

The party was a wonderful success, and after a short rest, we went to the 21st birthday party of a special young woman who has babysat for us, whose mother is my right hand woman who cares for our children when both of us are at work and who is a fabulous mother in her own right now.  All the celebration of youth and hope and joy and exuberance is so special and I'm appreciating it so much more as the flip side to the stories of struggle and decline we have been witnessing and sharing in our family in recent months.

Super Uncle has been visiting, and had the audacity to comment on the decline in posts and intellectual comment on this blog of late.  Don't you worry, there is a post just for you coming up soon.

Friday, January 17, 2014

golden days full of hobbies

The New Zealand Journal of History is online (bar the most recent two issues) and so I don't have to be a student or employee of a university to indulge my history desires.  Today I found this article:
which I found completely fascinating.

I also sent off a draft of my review of Susan Upton's book on barmaids to an historian friend.  In and around ineffective attempts to get my daughter to eat her dinner or clean her room, I removed more rubbish to the dump, booked her birthday party venue, weeded more of the garden and sewed more of my hummingbird skirt.  I now have an almost complete skirt - it just needs hemming and a button and buttonhole.  It looks quite nice, very wintry but that will come quite soon enough.  But nothing presses my finished object buttons so much as a dress.  I need some more cardigans or jackets but the fabric in my cupboard is all winking and whispering d*r*e*s*s at me.

I ordered Half of  a Yellow Sun off trademe following a respected recommendation.

Last night was craft night and it was awesome.  A room full of intelligent and wonderful women, none of them concerned about tidiness, analysing local issues and thinking beyond local politics (we fitted a bit of crafting talk in and some of the multitaskers even crafted while they conversed).  They even all bought yummy food (I forgot to do that in my anxiousness to actual vacuum the lounge) and it was gorgeousness itself.  I can report that even if you do not have a coffee table (they are terrible things which mostly result in bruises apart from when you are hosting a feast in the lounge), if you upend a laundry basket (yes! empty laundry basket!  that's an achievement as well) and cover it with a tablecloth and then put the feast on your best inherited cake stands and slice plates, and all will be both accessible and delicious and not in the least laundry-ish.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

nesting for workers

So very soon I start my new job, a job which I anticipate is going to involve 60 hour weeks with startling regularity.

Beforehand, I'm all about the kind of nesting which prepares us for the long hours of me away by making food which cannot be bought, and planting food which cannot be bought at the same quality and freshness.  Last night I made another batch of muesli and put a chicken on the slow cooker to make stock.  This morning I made eggy courgette muffins from The Edible Journey Cookbook and then strained the stock and chopped up the chicken meat.  The kids and I did errands in town and then bought punnets of silverbeet and cavolo nero seedlings.  While Brighid danced, I took bags of things we have grown out of to A, the very wonderful leader of our local Tongan community.  After our town lost a mother and teenage son in a car accident before Christmas, my eyes were opened to need I had been far too oblivious to beforehand. 

I weeded and watered and fertilised and planted before and after tea.  I started to organise Brighid's birthday party.

I did squeeze in a trip to work and did some related errands, but for the greatest part, this week still belongs to family and nesting time.  Tomorrow night is crafting time with some of my favouritist and most fabulous crafty friends in Wetville.  We'll be setting the world to rights and planning what to move and shake next.  The craft is, arguably, a political smoke screen.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

various sprouts

I tried sprouting quinoa and it didn't work.  Not a single sprout.  I figured it must have been heat treated on entry to New Zealand.  Today I bought some organic red quinoa and the second quinoa sprouting experiment is on my windowsill now.  O bought a healthy heart brassica and mustard mix for sprouting as well today.  I declined on mung beans.  There has to be a line in the sand somewhere.

Bonfires are special.  Bonfires on the beach with family from across the oceans and fireworks to boot is extra special.  We will all remember last night for a long time. 

New haircut.  I look like my Mum.  Not terrible - my Mum looks very nice.  I like the cut but wish I had been more adventurous with colour.  Brighid suggested purple, but I'm not so sold on that.  I've made the exact same comment before, so next time needs to be action time!

I tried clothes on in the sales at the flash clothes shops today.  I would have been better off spending the time sewing.  I want a tailored or semi-tailored jacket, and I'm not going to get one to fit both my shoulders and my boobs at the same time unless I make it.

I've emailed off the final draft of my chapter on goldfields women hotelkeepers and sly grog sellers.  Next stop, a book review on Susan Upton's history of barmaids in New Zealand.  The weather is wet and wetter again, so I should be able to procrastinate from sewing by writing the review, instead of the other way round.

As is normal for this time of the year, I'm thinking about colours to paint the dining room.  This has been going on for at least three years.  We want to keep the wood panelling in its original state.  This is deeply unfashionable, and even for wood panelling, the traditional accompaniment is wallpaper.  Favourite Handyman isn't into wallpaper, and when I showed him the fabulous wallpaper I found, he didn't see the fabulousness of it at all.  All this means we are making it up entirely as we go along.  I bought a deep pink test pot this afternoon - royal heath as below.  Expect another paragraph on similar lines in 12 months' time.

Resene Royal Heath We finally moved Daisy the ostracised chook onto the old sandpit tonight.  I'd only been planning this since last Easter!   Her job is to eat up all the long grass and weeds and get it into a state where it can be rebuilt - probably into a second large chook run which can double as a greenhouse.  Yesterday Favourite Handyman dug trenches and put punga logs and driftwood around the old chook run garden to make it into a raised bed. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Comfrey fertiliser for rainforest conditions

Comfrey fertiliser for rainforest conditions: Step one: pick comfrey from front garden, where I foolishly planted this wonder plant at the height of my hippiedom.  I'd rather have flowers there now, but comfrey never leaves.

Step two: rinse and cut central stalk out.  Even at the leaf end, the central rib is too tough for the food processor.  Chop into halves or thirds.
 Step three: whizz in the food processor.  Add a little water if the leaves do not behave.

 Step four: you now have a bowl of chopped comfrey.  Don't make it into liquid fertiliser if, like me, you live in an area currently under deluges of rain almost every day.
 Step five: sprinkle chopped comfrey around the kale plants.  With enough love, including the killing of white butterfly caterpillars, this will grow into a fine forest of kale and feed us all winter. Yesterday I sprinkled quash pellets around the edge of the garden as half of the six lettuces I planted round the kale had succumbed to the ravaging snails.

I've been sewing.  I sewed together some overlay ribbon rose fabric I fell in love with at a remnant table years ago and some cheap drill from the sale table at Fabric Vision and am making a hummingbird skirt (Cake Patterns) with it.  Tonight I mostly unpicked the mistakes I made last night and now have the pockets in the right place.  I've finished the front now, and holding it up to me, it may be a snug fit.  But I checked my measurements and I should be on track.  No need to to fret just yet.
We have relatives from the US visiting Wetville at the moment and they very kindly agreed to bring over some fabric I had shipped from fabric.com to their place.  It's in the tumble drier as I type.  Really nice and quite exciting.  Photos later in the week. I could happily sew for weeks more.  Especially if the skirt above turns out.  I've been reading posts about wardrobe planning and sewing with a purpose.  It's definitely what I am trying to do.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2014: the sewing and gradening begins

Above and below: Cake espresso leggings: successful.  I've a second pair awaiting elastic and plans to make more.  I like wearing dresses more than trousers for work and I don't like faffing round with pantyhose (nor does the work dress code require them), so leggings are perfect for winter.  Usually I can only buy plain black from the cheap shop and they pull apart at the thighs long before any other part has worn out.  I'm looking forward to a longer life from these made to measure leggings.  For details of the pattern and why the customisation makes it brilliant, see here.  In case you are concerned, I don't plan on wearing the leggings as trousers - but the photo does allow you to see the leggings in some of their glory.

Less successful: McCalls 6408.  Very comfortable.  Like a tent at the back, so I put elastic in all the way round which would have been quite good except I didn't put in straight (I was under the illusion it was straight all the way until it was too late).  I also managed to have mismatched seams and wonkiness in several places, and my excited attempt at using the overlocking stitch on my ~30 year old machine resulted in an unplanned-for frilliness to the hem.  Destined for a round home jacket only.  The style is very loose.  This is a medium straight out of the packet (except I put the sleeves and side seams in with a narrower seam allowance to give a little more bicep and bust room), and the shoulders are too wide (as indicated in the pattern picture, to be fair).  My measurements would have me in the XL size if I hadn't read the size issue in many Pattern Review reviews of this jacket.
I'm now hankering for a jacket with shoulders that fit me.  This is something I only have a chance of getting if I make it myself, and indeed the tailoring involved would be a big step up in my sewing skills. 
 I buried pumpkin scraps with the bokashi.  Now I have a forest.
 In place of the soldier poppies, spinach for autumn/winter eating.
 This is the view from where we buy our local raw milk.  The view beyond the trees is the ocean.  One of my favourite vistas in Wetville.
 Some of the garlic harvest.  I've a few problems with rot/disease this year, so won't be able to store all the heads.

 Marjoram, sage and feverfew.  I love the colours.
The punga raised bed, newly dug of its garlic crop and weeded, and now ready to produce a kale forest for winter.  The big challenge is to beat the white butterflies.