Social sewing and my first Renfrew

So I finally made it to Social Sewing! I had a really lovely six hours away from the usual goings on of life. I met some lovely sewists, sewed up my first Renfrew top, traced out both versions of the Hummingbird skirt, started cutting it out and generally enjoyed some time to myself. The very lovely Helen of FunkBunnysGarden was also wearing a hot off the press Renfrew Рso here we are!

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Her version was totally gorgeous.

I was pretty happy with this T-shirt as my first iteration of the pattern.

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My current full bust measurement is 43″ and the largest size in this pattern is a US RTW 16 designed for a 41″ bust. Given the larger sizes are 2″ apart, this puts me at a US 18. I traced the size 16 for the neckline, shoulders and down the armscye to the underarm point, then traced where the 18 would be if it existed for the inner sleeve seam, side body seam, hem seam, sleeve cuffs and waist band. It is a rather generous fit. Perfect for weekends with jeans or general slouching around but a neater, less baggy fit through the body would probably look more polished. I’ll try a more fitted version next.

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The fabric is a cotton lycra jersey from Spotlight. It is a reasonable weight and very stable – good for winter. My favourite part of this pattern is the length of the sleeve right off the bat! So long, so lovely. My RTW long sleeves tops are all 7/8 length at best after a few trips through the wash. The body length is pretty good too, though I’m not 100% sold on the waistband finish. The band is not tight but it causes the hem to ride up a bit. The banded cuffs work well though.

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The neckband was too long to sit well. I cut it as per the pattern and followed the notches. There was enough stretch in the band around the bottom of the curve but you can see that the sides wrinkle up a bit. On a side note, I personally find a 15mm seam allowance overkill on a knit neckband seam, I prefer 10mm seams. I sewed, overlocked then topstitched the seam allowance down. Normally I’d use a stretchy decorative stitch on my machine for this, or a well stretched straight stitch but I thought I try the zig zag. I’m not totally sold. It is a more casual and er, homemade finish.

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Overall I’m really happy with this top and I plan to make several more. A winner at last!

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Dissing the sewing and loving the knitting

I’ve been feeling very meh about sewing but well satisfied with knitting lately.

I spent a sad hour or two mooching around my sewing space trying to find inspiration and a surefire win project. Instead I ended up looking through acres and acres of patterns that I traced and altered but never made, muslined but never made, made but was unhappy with. The big issue is fit. I find it so, so hard to get fit I am happy with. That’s why I’m so unhappy with ready to wear clothes, and why I sew, but gosh the fruitless hours and hours of my life tracing, altering and still being disappointed – well it’s enough to make you take up quilting. Not that I’m going to, but I understand why people do.

But this lovely envelope arrived in the mail today (irritating weeks after the rest of the world got theirs it seems) and I might just give this top and skirt a go.

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There’s even a Cake Hummingbird sew along, not that I need the sewing advice dispensed, but the fitting advice will be right welcome. I also traced off the Renfrew knit top pattern so maybe my sewing enthusiasm will return

On the other hand, the knitting is going roaringly.

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I just love the smell of this merino yarn. It smells so sheepy and is soft but also slightly tacky, like there are still traces of lanolin in the yarn. I just have to give it a lovely big sniff every time I take it out. I’ve always loved the smell of wool, especiallty freshly washed wool jumpers. Mmmmm

I have made the selfish decision not to knit Julian a jumper for his birthday until I have finished this cardigan for myself. I really desperately want to be able to wear this cardi NOW, NOW, NOW and certainly this winter. The leaves are already mostly fallen from the deciduous trees and my winter coat is by the front door, the kids wore beanies to walk to school this morning. It is woolly jumper time and I am so looking forward to this one.

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It will have pockets!

I’m also surprised by how much I’m getting into the garter stitch. Being a fairly new knitter I have tended to avoid it as I felt that it looked too beginner-ish. But the texture is really beginning to grow on me and I am pleasantly surprised. Which is just as well really since I have so 3.5″ of the garter stitch body still to go.

We went down to the beach last weekend and the kids had a fabulous time wading, getting drenched and running around on the beach.

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It was lovely to get away.

Yarn dyeing!

I’ve done a little yarn dyeing lately. I really do enjoy it. I started out dyeing because I wanted to create beautiful hand-dyed multicoloured yarn of the type that sells for much more than I am willing to pay.

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I decided when I started dyeing I chose Landscape dyes and bought a mixing set Chamomile (warm yellow), Wattle (cool yellow), Grevillea (hot pink), Desert Pea (fire engine red), Marine (blue), Kingfisher (turquoise), and Currawong (black). I also bought a how to dye guide from Three Irish Girls. It was well worth the money. There is a lot of dyeing information online but having a well researched, comprehensive instruction set was a great place to start.

The base I used is Bendigo Woollen Mills Luxury 8ply. My aim was 300g of green yarn to make a jumper (sweater) for Julian. I was aiming for leaf green and ended up with this pallid lime.

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I used the Kettle Dyed Solids method with extra measures to increase marbling in the skein – dry yarn, a hot dye bath and no salt. You can see that the three skeins each took the dye quite differently.

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I used 6L of water and 6tbsp of Wattle stock solution and 1tbsp Turquoise stock solution.

The other 100g is earmarked for a hat for Althea. The plan was a red and purple multicolour using the method for Kettle Dyed Varigated Colours which is a low water method. I’ve had a lot of trouble getting good dye penetration into the skein using this method and this was no exception.

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Yuk. I used three different colours using different quantities of Desert Pea and Marine: Red (3tbsp Desert Pea and 1tsp Marine); Reddy Purple (2tbsp Desert Pea and 1tbsp Marine); and Purple (1tbsp Desert Pea and 1tbsp Marine).

I was really disappointed with both yarns so back into the pot they went!

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The green I over dyed using the same method but 8L of water, 18tbsp marine and 16tbsp chamomile. I really much prefer the greens made with a pure blue rather than turquoise. Tealy blue-greens are so much more appealing to me than lime-yellowy greens.

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The purple-red I over dyed using one deeper dye bath with 3L of water and 7tbsp grevilla and 3tbsp marine.

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I think Althea will much prefer this pinky purple than the cool purple I made before. The red patches show through the overdying in a subtle way that I like. Overall I am now very pleased with both yarns.

Even better, I got to play with a yarn swift and ball winder for the first time! Thanks so much Renee and Megan!!

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