I decided that the first thing I was going to spin on my wheel was a batt of Manx Loaghtan which Liz sent me a couple of months ago. I think it was a good choice – the batt was lovely and airy and drafted really easily, but I didn’t end up accidentally drafting too much as I did with the North Ronaldsay roving I’d used for my first try last weekend.
Spinning on a wheel is so much faster than spindling. I did a little bit on Tuesday evening and then an hour or so yesterday and half an hour today, and managed to spin up the whole 65g of fibre. Unfortunately, I didn’t think to divide the fibre into even amounts before I started and when it came to plying I only managed to get 45g of 2-ply before my second bobbin was empty. Still, I think it’s pretty good 2-ply. Quality over quantity!
I thought I’d try Navajo plying the leftover singles, which was less successful (that’s the left-hand bobbin in the top picture). I think I should probably have treadled more slowly as the yarn just got horribly overtwisted as I was trying to make the loops. I ended up throwing that bit away, along with the last couple of grammes of singles which appeared not to have any end that I could find and had to be cut off the bobbin.
Still, I’m pretty happy with my 45g of 2-ply. Maybe I’ll try spinning from a braid next weekend…
(I have also done some sewing this weekend, the first time I’ve touched my machine in almost six months. I had a vintage skirt with a broken zip, so I wanted to replace the zip but also decided to remove several inches from the top, so instead of being a too-tight midi-length skirt with a fishtail it’s a knee-length gored skirt that fits well round the waist. It went pretty well and I’m looking forward to wearing it again.)
Today was the third time I wore my Cinnamon Girl to work since finishing it, and I’ve also worn it pretty much every evening and both days at the weekend.
Cardigan – Cinnamon Girl
Necklace – made by Helen
Dress – M&S
Vest – Primark
Shoes – Clarks
This is also one of my favourite dresses. It’s actually a bit small for me these days, but wrap dresses are forgiving and I sewed the front of the wrap closed round the waist and down to thigh-level to prevent the reduced overlap causing excessive exposure…
In response to my complaints about too-low necklines in my last post, Spinningfishwife suggested that I could try sewing or pinning a panel of fabric into lower necklines to create a kind of fake-camisole effect. Now, I’m generally wary about trying alterations on clothes I actually like, because I’m not at all confident that I won’t just end up ruining them, but I thought maybe sewing a panel into a v-necked dress would be simple enough for even a novice like me. I’ve had a couple of days off work, so yesterday I had a rummage through the scrap bag for fabrics that would go with the two dresses I had in mind and this afternoon, after a productive morning which included taking two large black sacks of clothes to the charity shop and a bag each of clothes and shoes to the shoe bank, I sat down to give it a try.
First, I cut a triangle of fabric, bigger than the space I wanted to fill. I hemmed the top edge and then pinned the fabric to the inside of the neckline of the dress:
(I measured several times to make sure it was straight!).
I sewed the fabric to the dress from the outside of the dress, keeping the needle as close as possible to the edge of the facing. Once I’d done that, I pinked the raw edges of the fabric to stop them fraying (not hemming was partly laziness, but I also thought that might well add bulk and I wanted the panel to lie as flat as possible).
And then I did it all again with the second dress.
We’ve had a couple of dry days, but it’s still overcast and not particularly warm; the temperatures are in the low teens rather than single figures, but it’s not exactly spring-like. However, I’m fed up with my winter clothes so today I decided to wear a summer dress. With opaque tights and a cardi, naturally.
Cardigan – clothes swap
Dress – vintage shop
Tights – M&S
Shoes – Jones Bootmaker
I do love this dress; not only is it very pretty but it’s a surprisingly good fit. I have a similar one which Franca sent me after deciding it didn’t fit her, but it’s not a great fit on me either – I think the shoulders are just ridiculously wide. I don’t quite know what to do with it; I’m wondering whether I can raise the shoulder line with pin-tucks or gathering or similar, as it’s a pretty print and it would be a shame just to hand it on to the charity shop.
I took the plunge and shortened the sleeves of my People Tree dress the other weekend. I’m actually really pleased with how it’s turned out; it’s much more suitable for summer now.
Dress – People Tree
Leggings – M&S
Shoes – Jones Bootmaker
It was really quite straightforward; I tried on the dress and pinned where I wanted the sleeves to hit, measured the distance from the original cuff to the pins and marked a line across the sleeve and then a parallel line about an inch further down and cut along the lower line. Then I folded a hem along the first line, pinned it and pressed the fold, and sewed a couple of rows of stretch stitch before trimming the hem close to the outer row. Close to, you can see that the stitching is a bit wonky, but it’s not obvious from any distance.
Dresses with leggings really seem to be my outfit of choice at the moment. As a non-trouser-wearer, I really like how leggings keep my legs warm without looking quite as wintery as tights do, and I tend to find them easier to co-ordinate with dresses than with skirts and tops; that sometimes works but can end up looking as though I’m wearing too many disparate elements. Having not worn leggings since my student days, I find I’m very pleased they’ve come back into style, though I am rather saddened by a lot of the discussions I see on style blogs where many bloggers appear to have taken it on themselves to inform the world that ‘Leggings are not pants’.
As a speaker of British English, my first reaction to that is that of course they’re not, because pants are underwear. My second is to channel the lovely Kate and find myself possessed with a strong impulse to tell the speakers to get the hell out of women’s wardrobes. So far, this time round, I’ve tended to view my leggings as a summer tights-substitute, and also taken advantage of their thickness to render slightly-too-short-for-comfort skirts suitable for the office, but still, when it comes to it leggings are basically a skinny version of tracksuit/yoga trousers and while they’re pretty casual and very figure-hugging they are perfectly decent when worn on their own. Back when I was a student my default winter outfits tended to involve leggings worn with a woolly jumper and Doc Marten boots, and while the jumpers were M&S men’s ones and fairly baggy they were definitely jumpers and not tunics. I don’t think I’d do that now, but given how much pressure women are under to hate their ‘wobbly bits’ and worry about whether their bums look big I’m far more inclined to cheer any woman who’s unselfconscious enough to wear leggings without a skirt than I am to castigate her!
I finally got around to altering the sleeves on the vintage dress I bought in Stratford last weekend (it took me longer than I intended to get round to it because the first time I tried I realised my fabric pencils were rubbish, so it had to wait until I could get to Darn It and Stitch for some tailor’s chalk) and wore it for the first time today.
Dress – second-hand shop
Leggings – M&S
Shoes – Jones Bootmaker
It’s a gorgeous dress, and so much more wearable with the shorter sleeves. It also provided an opportunity to wear the little owl brooch Katie from Interrobangs Anonymous sent me – it worked perfectly pinned to my lapel.
By the way, I’m conscious that I started posting pictures of my outfits to show how I wear my handknits, and that I haven’t worn a handknitted item in ages because it’s just been too warm for scarves. I hope no-one minds the shift in focus away from knitting – though at least today’s post does include sewing!
I think there are two main ways to dress for in-between weather. One is to do what a colleague of mine was doing today, and concentrate on making sure your upper body is warm (she was wearing a long-sleeved top, a linen skirts and sandals); the other one is to keep your feet warm and wear summery things on top. Both seem to have the desired effect of managing to look summery while staying reasonably warm. I suppose which you prefer depends on whether you’re prone to cold feet or not. I am, which is why I go for the second. I doubt I’ll wear a long-sleeved top again until autumn, and even most of my summer cardigans have three-quarter sleeves. I did think about wearing my People Tree dress today but the long sleeves just felt wrong. In fact, I am now seriously considering shortening them, as I think it would make the dress much more wearable; it would be good for summer as it is and if the sleeves were short I could layer it over a long-sleeved top in winter, which would actually be better than wearing it as it is with long sleeves as the top is really quite thin. I’m a bit nervous about doing it, because it’s jersey, but there are tutorials online and I can always practice on an old t-shirt first. And if it ends up looking messy I could always cover the edges with bias binding, though I hope I won’t have to. (Sewing people, is this completely insane or does it sound feasible?)
Anyway, today I went for another summery-skirt-and-opaque-tights combination, and even managed to wear something handknitted for the first time in ages.
Cardigan – Hey Teach!
Necklace – Fair Trade shop
Top – Gap
Skirt – Next
Tights – M&S
Shoes – Jones Bootmaker
And I managed to find a pair of sandals I liked – I just hope that hasn’t jinxed any chance of warm weather this summer!
I haven’t worn this dress for a while. It’s actually in two parts, a plain brown spaghetti-strap underdress and then the actual print dress, and the first time I washed it the underdress grew by several inches, with the result that it hung down below the hem of the dress in a way that, if I was a character in a pre-1950 novel, I might be inclined to describe as ‘slatternly’. I was complaining about this the other day and someone suggested that now I have the sewing machine I could take it up, so I thought I’d give it a go.
I didn’t stop to think that jersey is a difficult fabric to sew. I was going to cut the old hem off, fold the raw edge over, press it and re-hem, but the fabric was far too floppy for that to work; in the end I just hacked two inches off the bottom with my dressmaking shears and sewed two rows of zig-zags around the edge to stop it fraying. The end result was not what I’d call professional-looking, even if it hadn’t have been about an inch shorter on one side than the other.
Still, at least it’s shorter than the dress now, and who’s going to know what the underskirt looks like?
Scarf – Milkweed
Dress – Boden
T-shirt – M&S
Cardigan – Per Una
Tights – M&S
Boots – Timberland