December 28, 2014

Good tidings of comfort and joy, comfortandjoy!

Filed under:News! — Aileen @ 15:38

Hi folks! I hope everyone is having a cool Yule! My pre-Christmas period was typically busy with concerts and, as a result, I didn’t have much making to share here. I did, however, receive a request for mittens! Well, who am I to turn down such a request?

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They’re for my dad and I made them using leftover Jamieson Shetland wool. They should be pretty warm and sturdy.  I used a free pattern I found on Ravelry, the Podster gloves. I used it as a base – after knitting one, I needed to make the wrist narrower and increase between the thumb and opening for more room. I left out the thumb opening.

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In fact, even though the pattern is written for about a 4-ply yarn, you could easily adapt it for any other weight. As you can see, you just work a normal fingerless mitt and then pick up for the flap. They went down pretty well!

The rest of my holiday so far has looked a lot like this:

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Cutting out some new sewing patterns and knitting out of my new knitting bag that I made at the beginning of the month. The last time I was in This is Knit, I fell foul to a new alpaca-silk yarn from Fyberspates called ‘Cumulus’. It’s a bit like Kid Silk Haze only fluffier and not so much of a sheen. It is a more substantial yarn and much more suited to garments and hard-core accessories. Kid Silk Haze is beautiful but much more delicate.

Anyway, I decided to get 3 balls – they’re about 150m each – and make a woolly shawl. I love the colour palette of this yarn line, with plenty of saturated colours as well as super-useful neutrals. In the end I went for a dark teal. I’m about half a repeat away from the edging.

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The yarn is quite a saturated colour so some dye comes off on my hands. However, it washes off without soap so I’m confident that a good soak will be adequate when I finish.

As for the sewing patterns I’ve been chopping up, they’re for my January plans. I have rather lot of winter skirts but not so many dresses. I have three heavy wool sheaths that are perfect for very cold, damp weather but nothing in between. I acquired two wool crepes – navy and dark pink – and a turquoise thick knit to make some simple dresses. I think a princess panel dress is very flattering but boy, did I ever have to search for a suitable pattern! The one on the left is what I went for in the end.

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See the orangey model on the right? It has a vent in the back but isn’t lined. That was the closest I could find. Ideally I would like instructions to line it but a quick Google found me plenty of tutorials, so I feel confident enough to give it a go.

The blouse pattern on the right – phffff isn’t the cover art unflattering?! I would never have given this pattern a go if not for Lladybird‘s many reviews and high recommendation. I bided my time and pounced during one of their 99c sales. Did you know that these online sales are available to consumers outside the US? The same goes for Simplicity, Vogue, McCall’s etc. There is, unfortunately, a $15 shipping fee but that seems to be a fairly flat rate. So let’s pretend you buy four patterns, it works out to be about $20 in total and still far cheaper than buying them within Europe. It’s even better value if you order with a friend and order a good few to dilute the shipping. Just FYI!

That’s all my news for now… As you can see, even when I’m busy, the wheels keep turning! It’s been a lovely holiday and I’m looking forward to the new year, whatever it may bring. I hope you all enjoy the dying days of 2014.

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August 9, 2014

Belated July outfit

Filed under:Blouses/Tops,Finished Objects,News!,Skirts,Stash Down,Tops — Aileen @ 17:26

Hi all! Last month was a busy one as I was preparing for and then away on my usual course in Switzerland… And when I came back, I needed to continue preparations for a lunchtime recital which I gave yesterday.

Anyway, it’s good to be back! I have lots of things to show you. First up, here’s my wee July outfit. Not the most summery but perfect for a day like today.

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The skirt pattern is from an Ottobre magazine. Have you heard of these guys? It’s Finnish magazine. They put out about four issues a year for kids – which seem great but I’m no expert – and two for women. They tend to focus on nice basics. What I love most about their magazines is that they use normal people as models and give their dimensions. So there are lots of short and normal sized people in it! This wrap skirt is from an old summer issue. It’s unlined but has a total overlap at the front and pretty substantial facings, which I took the liberty of binding…

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It fastens with a button on both sides – a flat one on the inside and a decorative one on the exterior side. You’re supposed to put a decorative button on each side of the front but I didn’t bother.

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As for the top, it’s the Alexis pattern that I downloaded from the Tessuti site. I’ve used this a few times now and it’s just perfect. I bought the flannel with a massive discount at Hickey’s. I don’t know why it was reduced so much, but I’m glad! It’s so soft and snug.

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That’s it for now but I’ll be back soon… I have TWO knitted garments to show you as well as a dress and my August outfit!

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June 28, 2014

Liverpool Shirtdress

Filed under:News! — Aileen @ 13:36

Happy weekend! Did you happen to notice how today seems a little brighter than usual? That the planet is somehow better aligned…? That would be because, after a whole week of (thinly disguised) patient waiting, I finally received the replacement part for my sewing machine! Thank the heavens. There was a LOT of cutting out this week. You’ll see the fruits soon, I hope, but for now, here’s something I finished a while ago.

The ‘Liverpool‘ was the very first shirt pattern I used (see here!) and I have to say, for a total shirt novice, it was perfect. At the time I bought it, I never, ever considered that a shirtdress, which is a variation offered in the pattern, would ever be on my agenda… but here we are.


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For this, I used a lightweight denim found in Hickey’s. I think it was about €12/m and I needed about 2m. I made the same adjustments that I made for the other shirts – I added an inch to the centre front and I took about 2cm out of each sleeve cap.


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A feature of this design are the double darts on both back and front and I really like the fit it gives. That said, I think a dress this dark benefits from a belt.


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When this was in the planning stages, I had an idea to use a fantastic little fat quarter I picked up a while ago. I was thinking to use it for the inner collar stand to give it a bit of life. In the end, I decided not to, as it would be more versatile if it remained plain. Since I wear neck scarves a lot (usually when cycling), I decided to just hem the fat quarter and use it this way.


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I think the pattern is based on maritime flags.


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And yes, the end result is a little zany BUT it can be removed!

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April 28, 2014

Catch up

Filed under:News! — Aileen @ 12:41

Hello! It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Since I last wrote I’ve been busy with music things – first some concerts with Con Tempo quartet, then with my saxophone partner, then competitions, then playing for exams. All of these things are not hectic in themselves but when you add in a normal working week, it’s a bit mental.

Anyway! Everything went well and come Easter, we headed to Japan. We’ve been talking about going there for years now. When we first discussed it, the yen was very strong and it was too expensive to go for any satisfactory length of time. Now, things are different with rates as good as €1 to ¥135, and it became clear that we had to take our opportunity. We spent the full two weeks of Easter break there and returned late Saturday night.

As luck would have it, my phone broke on the first day, which is why I didn’t share any photos whilst on the move. So what I’ll do is, as I work my way through them, I’ll share little groups of pics and share what we got up to and what it’s like. We travelled around a lot. Tokyo in itself took a full five days. We went north to a smaller place called Kanazawa where we caught the end of the cherry blossoms. Then west to Kyoto, from where we travelled on to places like Nara and Hiroshima on day trips.

As I am in the throes of unpacking, allow me to share some spoils that I brought back. I did a lot of research while I was there to try and find things unique to Japan – most main stream things are the same as at home.

On one of our first days in Tokyo, we found ourselves at Shibuya, that enormous crossing that you see in most photos of Tokyo. Close to there, I stumbled upon a place called Loft which I found out later is a popular chain store for this kind of stuff:

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And these type of things:

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I got some rice moulds as well, since they are expensive to buy online. You know how much I love bento so this place was a lot of fun!

When we returned to Tokyo on our last leg, we ended up staying in a hotel right in the fabric district. I may or may not have encouraged this hotel choice. Again, much of what was on sale were fabrics that I could buy at home, and even though they were a lot cheaper, I still passed them by. Suitcase real-estate was at a premium by this stage! Here’s what I went for:

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From the bottom up, the spotty green is a sheer rayon, enough for a top; the anchors is a cotton lawn, enough got a dress obviously!; and then a glossy polyester in the most subdued Japanese print I could find. It’s still a bit crazy but I think it’ll make a nice dress. All of this I got from ‘Tomato’ for about €30.

In Kyoto, I found these in a tiny little shop hidden behind a curtain near the Ninja temple (yes, for real).

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I thought they were fat quarters but they’re hemmed hankies!

Lastly, the mandatory silly print.

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I think I need a new kitchen apron…although a summer bag would be pretty amazing too, right?!

I got one more small thing in Kyoto that is very special so I’ll save that for a post of its own!

It’s great to be home but I’m wrecked. I walked a pair of shoes apart.

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February 6, 2014

Classic Worsted Cabled socks & a review

Filed under:News! — Aileen @ 08:00

(ETA: I wrote this over a week ago and forgot to hit post! I’m all better now!) In hindsight, I’m not surprised that my last post was full of little frustrations because immediately after that, I got sick. Today is the first day in over a week that I haven’t woken up dizzy with a headache. I’ll be glad to see the back of January! Although I still managed to struggle in to work, I also managed to do things like pick up a puncture on the bike and not close the car boot properly so when I went to go to work on Sunday, the battery was dodo. Luckily for us, a friend was able to give us a jump so the car is ok. I’ll be able to retrieve my bike from school and fix the puncture tomorrow.

All this to say that there are times when one really needs a good pair of comforting socks – to knit and to wear.


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I used Patons Diploma Gold DK which is a 55% wool/25% acrylic/20% nylon blend and very soft and squishy. I was really pleased with the definition in the cables considering the high artificial content. I tried out a new cast on, a stretchy rib cast-on that I found in the ‘Cast on, Bind off’ book (reviewed here). It worked very well but I would prefer a neater edge. It is very stretchy though.

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I used a new (to me) type of heel – eye of partridge – and I love it!


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They have star toes as well. They’re ok. I’m not sure if I like them or not. They’re very comfortable but since my toes turn my foot into a sort of triangle at the top, I’m wondering if I should stick to the wedge toe I usually make.


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The pattern is one from this magazine, a seemingly once-off edition of ‘Hand Knit Socks’ from the publisher of Threads magazine. Here it is listed on the publisher website. I paid €6.94 for it in Easons (O’Connell St) and they had a big stack of them about two weeks ago so they still might have some.


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It’s more like a book than a magazine to be honest. They cover pretty much everything you would want from a sock. It starts with tube socks in a variety of weights and sizes. Most of the patterns range from childrens (sometimes even babies) sizes all the way up to large mens.

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There are sections for textured socks…

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…lace socks…

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…as well as colourwork socks and more crazy-looking socks with bobbles, beading or thrumming. There’s a big variety in terms of yarn weights used so the possibilities for shopping your stash are high. The other thing I really liked about it is that at the back, there is a comprehensive reference section for heels and toes. They give the numbers and methods for all of the toes and heels used, such as short row heels, flaps and gussets, wedge toes, star toes and so on. The patterns refer you to this appendix according to what size you’re knitting. It’s quite clear and a really handy reference to have if you’re knitting a different sock but want to change the toes or heels. You can match up your stitch count to the reference and continue on.

I found an error in the written instructions for this sock – one or two of the twists are reversed. In this instance, a chart would have been clearer but I just adjusted my knitting so it looked like the photo.

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