Category Archives: Favourite Things

In progress, a sneak peek and a new shop!

Friends, I discovered a new shop today quite by chance. I went to Phibsboro to buy rice at the Indian shop and whilst three, I went up to the post office to post a letter. Coming back, I spied through a window some wool nicely arranged. Then I saw cross stitch kits on the wall – obviously I had to go in! This is what greeted me:


The shop is called Be Creative – Be Unique. The yarn you see pictured is a good mix of cheap’n’cheerful acrylics and some much nicer Bergere de France yarns. They have a good range of crochet cottons and weights from sock yarns up to pretty chunky. Basically, if you’re not looking for something extremely specific, you’ll find something to scratch your itch!

They have addi needles and hooks, as well as bag handles and those awesome little leather soles that you can knit socks on to.


Hmm, what else? Oh yeah, they sell quilting fabrics and some cotton poplins, too!


(There’s a lot more than pictured). And if course there are ribbons, trims, needles and whatnots.


I’m just so happy that if I need lining, thread, interfacing, spare needles…that kind of thing, I don’t have to go all the way into town and support a shop that doesn’t care if I shop there or not (Hickey’s). As it turned out, I needed interfacing and thread but I couldn’t go home without a sample of new things…


I have a deep desire for new socks and incredibly, have nothing in the stash. What perfect excuse to try out a new kind of sock yarn! I look forward to reporting.


I couldn’t resist this fabulous vintage Japanese print! I got some cream flannel to back it with and I plan on making some kitchen cloths. Look at the eggs!

In other news, I just cast on a Seven Sisters Cowl in Malabrigo Rios.


It’s to match a hat I just finished so I hope to show you the set soon. And speaking of sets, I started this shawl over Christmas to match a dress I’m making!


The dress is a lighter version of the same shade and I’m excited to finish it. The shawl is made from the new Fyberspates ‘Cumulus’ alpaca mohair so it’s very snug and warm. I’ll write more about it when I post the outfit.

I hope you’re all staying snug these days, or at the very least, crafting your way towards that state!

Bonne année!

Many happy returns, dear readers, I wish you all a fruitful 2015. I think for most of us it is fair to say that any year, in retrospect, was a mixed bag. I feel like I really progressed in my sewing; I found my knitting mojo again; I travelled loads. I made it to my third year teaching full time and still cycle most places. I had alot of good concerts, one shaky and one fantastic; I played out of my skin in two different competitions, came third in both and didn’t give a damn.

I’ve just been looking back through this last year’s makes, looking for my favourites, but I love and wear them all! I made tonnes of separates over the last two years so I’m naming 2015 the Year of the Dress! Dresses make things very easy. Other than the few wool shifts that I made (quite some time ago now), I don’t really have any simple day dresses. Everyone’s situation and wardrobe needs is different but maybe you feel the same way… I put together some inspiration for you!

As mentioned here, I searched long and hard for a good princess panel dress. I ended up going with New Look 6124, but other options I found along the way include the Aydan dress by Named, which has sleeves and the Attaché dress by Lisette (Simplicity 1666 – I made both the top and the dress version and found the dress just too flared to really want to make again).

But what if princess panels are too busy for you? You just want something simple, maybe to show off a really nice fabric? I found this a while ago – New Look 6302.

I really like the little jacket that goes with this. The only downside to this pattern is that it’s not lined, but if you’ve never sewn a dress, this is a really straight forward sort of pattern to start with. I like this Burda pattern for similar reasons.

It’s a petite pattern so measurements such as armhole depth, torso depth and so on, are more in proportion with a petite height. I really like how you have the option to make only the skirt, and the dress has sleeves. The main reason I haven’t tried this one out yet is because I always worry that this sort of style, with the long sleeves, would be just overpowering.

Speaking of sleeves, I have always loved the Hazel dress by Victory Patterns.

The high collar and bow mean that you can still have attractive details if you leave off the sleeves. I like the colourblock option, too, though I would worry about finding complementary fabrics too much to actually make this up!

Sticking with bows, another that I love (and have and am dying to make up!) is the La Sylphide blouse and dress by Papercut Patterns.

This is a deceptive pattern. For a start, I loathe the way all of the Papercut patterns are styled. I think maybe they’re going for a gritty, cutting-edge sort of look but they all just look bedraggled to me?! It’s a real shame because when their last collection came out, I totally discounted it because of that. I have since grown to really like many of their patterns, though have yet to make one up. La Sylphide is good value for money because you can make a blouse with a peplum, a full dress or just the skirt part of the dress. I really like all three options – the blouse would be lovely with a little pencil skirt, and the skirt is perfect for summer.

Another lovely, more casual option is Colette’s most recent offering, the Dahlia dress.

Like all of their patterns, it is really pretty but there seem to be some fitting issues! I’ve read a good few reviews that say that the neckline is a bit strange and there’s a problem when lifting your arms in any way. Luckily for us, there’s a sleeveless option and I think this version would be lovely for summer.

Speaking of summer, a super hit last summer was Grainline Studio’s Alder.

At first I was a little non-plussed at its release, as it’s quite similar to the Archer shirt. But I do like the ruffle skirt option, I think it’s so quirky and fun! We don’t get much weather for sleeveless dresses, even in the summer, but I think this would be nice with a little cropped cardigan, don’t you think?

Keeping with the shirtdress theme, I can’t leave out Named’s take on it from their last collection, the Wenona.

It’s one of the few shirtdress patterns I’ve seen out there that actually has the option for just the shirt. You’d think it would be kind of an obvious thing to include, right?! I love this pattern. I love the pleating option, and I lovelovelove all the possibilities opened up with the panelling, especially down the sleeve. You could keep it simple but do lots of coloured topstitching to highlight it. Or, you could use up some fabulous precious scraps and really show them off. I think I’m going to need to make one of these next Autumn. While I’m on the topic of the Named patterns, you should really just check out all of their dresses here. They really offer something a little bit different. Having made quite a few of their patterns now, I can unreservedly recommend them; their fit and drafting is the best that I have found amongst independent designers.

Last, but by absolutely no means least, we cannot forget little Bruyere by Deer and Doe! What a smashing pattern! (See my version here)

Now, I know it’s more of a tunic than a dress, but there’s nothing to stop you from making it a bit longer. Like all of Deer and Doe’s patterns, they fit just as they say they will and always have beautiful feminine touches. I love the fitted bodice and the small pleats in the skirt on this one. I think I will definitely be making another one of these! It is such a versatile top to pop on over leggings or skinny jeans.

I hope that has whetted your appetite and that you will join me in sewing up a few!

A rolling Moss gathers no Archer

I have some things to show you! In fact, I have a massive backlog thanks to my photo failure the other day so let’s get going. I am well and truly on the Grainline bandwagon so here is my first of two Moss Minis. Apologies in advance for Asleep Face.

This was a wearable muslin in a way. I only had 80cm of a remnant bought about this time last year. So absorbed was I by the puzzle of squeezing everything out of this remnant, I totally forgot to check the grain. The whole thing is ‘upside down’ but I don’t care. There are a lot of things I love about this pattern. It is a really nice, casual straight skirt. It looks really nice from the back.

It has a great back yoke piece which you could have fun with depending on your fabric.

It has pretty much the world’s most perfect skirt pockets.

And the fly instructions are clear and easy to follow.

To recap the deets – this is the pattern. Mine, obviously, is not a mini skirt. I lengthened it by about 6″. I also tapered between a size 6 for the waist and a 10 for the hip. This took a bit of planning since the pockets are part of the front but it worked well. I used 80cm of 150cm wide olive corduroy, found in a remnant basket. It was about €8 I think. I used scrap fabric for the pocket linings and the waistband facings. It took maybe two sewing sessions so all in all, a neat little project.

There are many, many Moss mini skirts out there in Internetland by now but I think it’s one of Grainline’s more recent patterns, the Archer shirt, that has solidified her reputation for impeccable drafting. Here’s my first take (again, there are others to show).

I had an overwhelming urge to make a denim shirt. For months. And for months, I searched for the perfect chambray but it was not to be found, not even online. I finally found this stuff in Hickey’s.

As you can see, it’s pretty much the ideal weekend/camping/travelling/sickday/beach day shirt. This is not the kind of thing I wear to work, obviously, but I’m not at work all the time!

It’s a pretty good layering piece, and those shirt tails mean that if you tuck it in, there is definitely no draft at the back!

I really like the fit across the shoulders and the separate yoke piece means you can have some biased fun if you wish.

For some reason, it was the idea of a light coloured shirt with dark top-stitching that really had me going. Unfortunately for me, this particular chambray is so squidgy, I did a lot of ripping out, especially on the plackets. I did not expect such a problem. It turned out ok, though, I think. Also – I defy you to find buttons that are a true navy. Holy God.

I love the angled cuffs. There’s the option to sew them straight, too, or I’m sure you could easily make them curved.

The collar is really well drafted and with some careful sewing, I was able to get my stand turned, sewn down and looking respectable from both sides. Easier said than done.

Again, I made some adjustments. After sewing the Scout t-shirt, which has a huge amount of ease, I was wary of this pattern. I have practically no shoulders whatsoever and oversized anything isn’t really a good look for me. After a lot of measuring of the pattern pieces, I cut a size 0, despite it being a good three sizes too small according to the sizing chart. I added 3/4″ total to the front at the widest part of the bust, tapering out from the neckline. On my next one, which I will show very soon, I also added an extra inch at the hips.

It’s not necessarily the quickest project, as shirts always take attention to detail, but I’m hoping it will end up being one of those indispensable multi-purpose garments.

The other thing

This, my friends, is the other thing I mentioned I got at the K&S show. Momentous, no?


It is a Brother 1034d overlocker and I hadn’t really intended on buying one at all. About a week before the show, I was pottering online and thought: if I were to buy an overlocker sometime, what’s a good one to get? Some basic information on the subject could not possibly go amiss. I spent quite a while reading, finding the customer reviews on Amazon (both .com and to be very informative. I explored many different brands and price ranges. I came to the conclusion that about €200 seemed to be a reasonable amount to pay for a reasonable model.

The Brother seemed to score well on a number of fronts: it uses 4 threads but can be used with 3 threads also for different features (like a rolled hem); it has a colour coded threading system which many customers have reported to be very straight-forward and easy to use; it has a good range of ability and is reported to handle both light and reasonably heavy materials well; it comes with extra feet; it costs £189 in the UK. When I went to see what shipping would be, I discovered that the company selling through Amazon don’t ship to Ireland (this was before the Parcel Motel revelation). Curiosity piqued, I googled for other alternatives to discover that there is a Brother dealership in Bray and that there were to be exhibiting at the show.

I investigated the machine fully at the show and was quoted a price of €230. Given that £190 works out to be almost €240, before any shipping, I figured it was probably the best I was going to get.


This is how the front looks when you go to thread it or dust it out. Each thread has a coloured tension knob which relates to the guide along the rest of the machine. Very, very straight forward. I did a lot of fiddling about with it when I got it first and read the manual thoroughly. The manual is extremely clear and helpful and any issues I’ve had so far have been entirely user-related. Here’s a seam I finished this morning. I’m working on a top from New Look 6806.


Obviously, it’s not the kind of finish you want for everything but when you just want to finish something quickly, like this top, it’s nice to have. Before I forget, the feet I got with it are a blind hem foot, which overlocks and does the hemming at the same time, a piping foot (ditto) and a gathering foot. I haven’t tried any of them out yet but greatly look forward to it. To overcome my aversion to sewing with knits, I cobbled together one of these the weekend before last. I didn’t do a muslin or anything so the neck is far, far too wide. If I had cut a smaller neck and a smaller size, it would have been fine. However, it was most satisfying to find that sewing with knits is just not a big deal and the overlocker gave a great finish.

Other sewing includes a plethora of handkerchiefs (handkerchieves?). Scrap fabric too beloved to do anything else with. The fabric on the top is leftovers from this top and on the bottom, a quarter metre I bought a year ago at the Dundrum Cath Kidston shop specifically for this purpose. I have found that my nose gets quite runny on the bike and paper tissues do not cut it whatsoever.


A circular shawl from Malabrigo sock given to me as a present at my hen party.


A brown jumper of endless stockinette for Alb. Exact same as the last one. I didn’t even swatch, which was very bold of me, but it seems to fit fine. The only thing is that he did like the contrast colour I got for the stripe, so I left it out. I think I may run out of yarn as a consequence. I have almost two full balls with still a sleeve and the collar to knit. I might make it! Must knit faster to find out.


Parcel Motel and Bertha

Hi there! I want to tell you all about a new service in Dublin called Parcel Motel. This isn’t a sponsored post or anything – I just used it and found it to be really good. Basically, it’s a delivery service run by NightLine couriers. They have automated delivery boxes located in 24-hour petrol station courts around the city. So if you want to order a parcel but know that you won’t be in when the post man comes, and you know that you can’t get to the An Post depot during working hours, this is a solution. At €3.50 per use, it works out better if your parcel has free delivery to begin with.

Which brings me to the next good thing about it: they have an address in Belfast that you can use to avail of free UK shipping. Your parcel is sent to the Belfast address and then delivered to your Motel box. Again, this costs €3.50 but is still better than paying the sometimes exorbitant delivery rate from UK to Ireland or not having a delivery option to Ireland at all.

I just used it to order some UK-delivery-only items for Alb’s Christmas present and found it really easy. I set up my account online. You can prepay credit into your account (they accept Paypal) or you can set it up to debit your card whenever there’s a transaction. I use the former. You’re automatically assigned an ID number that you use with your name when ordering. You choose what Motel you want your parcel delivered to. I ordered my items on Sunday, using my name, ID number and Belfast shipping address. The first item was dispatched on Monday and I received an email with a pin number on Tuesday night. I picked it up on Wednesday morning.

This is what my local Motel looks like (Bertha for scale). It’s in the carpark for my local petrol station.


On the touchscreen, you enter your phone number and then the pin number you were sent. One of the locker doors pops open automatically.


And that’s it. Check out the website for all the ins and outs and what-ifs.

As for Bertha, I thought this might be a good occasion to give you a brief update. Suffice to say, no news is good news! I ride five days a week to work now. My commutes range from 15 minutes, about 4km, to 40 minutes, about 7.5km. Three days I have driven because of rain and all I can say is: yuck! Driving does absolutely nothing for my well-being. When I cycle, I worry less, I have time to take in my surroundings and say hello to my neighbours, I am in good form, I sleep and eat well, I feel energetic and upbeat. I feel like I am part of my community. It is cheap, fast, easy. I can go at my own pace. Yesterday I felt quite tired and just pedalled along, arriving home a mere two minutes later than usual. I can park right by where I want to be.

Parked at the Botanic Gardens

Sure, bicycle lanes in the city are laughable – sometimes even downright dangerous. And yes, one is vulnerable. However I think the benefits outweigh the dangers. Given the level of pedestrian ignorance in the city, I think perhaps one is most vulnerable as a pedestrian (I don’t know at what point in their lives adults think that it is ok to step into the street without looking). Me, I like to take my time, signal clearly, obey the rules of the road, wear a helmet, reflective gear and lots of lights. I have had good experiences with signalling and merging with traffic when needing to overtake parked cars or buses, rather than trying to squeeze by.

You may notice in the above photo that 1. the Botanic Gardens have tons of bicycle parking. Why pay €3 for parking when you can park your bike for free? They have also planted lots of lavender around the bike parking so it smells divine. 2. I lock my helmet and reflective jacket to my bike. After a one year trial period, I am happy to continue doing so. I should point out that I also have a fixed rear lock. It locks the wheel to the frame of the bike so even though it’s not attached to something external (which is what my U lock is for), it’s handy not only as extra security but also when you want to stop for a quick errand. You can’t wheel the bike when it’s on and can only be opened by sawing through the loop that goes through the wheel (if you don’t have the key…). I bought mine in Belgium for €15 when we were there on holidays but you can get one here and have it retro-fitted through Bear Bicycles.

I have a ton of knitting and sewing to show. Photos at the weekend I hope!