Thursday, 26 March 2015

"My experience in Amsterdam is cyclists ride wherever the hell they like and aim in a state of rage at all pedestrians while ringing their bell loudly, the concept of avoiding people being foreign to them."

Morning all.

I'm back from Amsterdam. It has a reputation which frankly I tried to avoid most of. Did wander past the outskirts of the red light district to spot a few ladies of the night sat in the windows eating their packed lunch. Now if that doesn't do it for you I don't know what will.
Amsterdam canal front in the sunshine

So we stayed in the Hotel Arena a lovely art hotel in the eastern part of Amsterdam. It used to be a psychiatric hospital which is just typical, no matter when I go I seem to always end up in a psychiatric hospital. We spent most of our days wandering around the various streets and canals ogling the various beautiful buildings and wondering why as fellow Europeans our houses don't have that same sense of style.

One of the many gorgeous staircases in the hotel

I had looked before I went for fabric shops in the area as I quite like the idea of making an item from the places that I visit. This being said there are still two meterages of fabric from Cyprus last year that need using... We looked around the Albert Cuyp market which I had read had a number of fabric stalls and in which we found Gobelins fabric which is a type of tapestry which would be lovely as curtains.  Turns out having googled it though that it's actually a French style of fabric ah well so much for the local flavour.

The place I bought most of the fabric I returned with was A. Boeken which apparently translates to A book. I do not understand this reference either but they have the prettiest business cards shaped like a button. As I've a number of patterns lined up for the making my shopping was very much with specific projects in mind. I loved some blue and white print of a dutch boy and girl kissing and an almost canvas like material printed with a map of Amsterdam but had to keep in mind I was very unlikely to actually use them. As mentioned previously although I like fun prints I just don't wear them.

So my shopping list consisted of buttons for the shirt I'm making for my Dad's birthday which I was given the design brief of 'as bright and colourful as possible'. Some of my loved ones scoffed at this request being made to me saying that I was a girl who considered olive green a bright. Well who's laughing now?!?!?!?

Hard to see from this angle but these are shaped like clogs. CLOGS I TELL YOU!

I love these slippers. Truly truly love them. They're ridiculous and bright and the fella says that they make me look like an Oompa loompa, do I care? Do I hell.

Though returning to normal service these are the fabrics I bought. The black mesh and jersey are for a pattern hack I'm putting together for the Simplicity blog competition (I'm going a little bit out there). The purple for a leggings pattern and the check for a Deer and Doe Bruyere shirt.

In terms of frivolous, just-cause-they're-pretty-purchases I did buy some buttons. I figure at 20p a pop there's worse ways to go wild in the aisles.

Last but not least here's a pic in the glorious sunshine that graced us for two of the days. I am so damn proud of my Cascade duffle. It was warm and comfortable and nothing made me feel cooler than wandering around an European city in a handmade duffle and sunglasses. Oh yeah.

James Dean eat your heart out

Sapphire feels buttons can't be photographed without an appropriate kitty prop. 

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Grainline Cascade Duffle: I made a coat!

I did it! I made myself a winter coat. The rather lovely Cascade Duffle Coat by Grainline Studios. This adventurous beginner did a Samwise Gamgee off to Mordor.

My Cascade Duffle. 

Looking at it now there are a number of small mistakes that I could list out and focus on obsessively but what's the point? I made a coat, I worked methodically through a pattern above my skill level and it paid off, why mire myself in each little mistake that's just a learning exercise anyway.

I think it would be much more productive to list the new skills gained:

  • Lining
  • Interlining
  • Bagging a lining 
  • Using waxed cotton
  • Using rayon bemberg
  • Using thinsulate 

The pattern itself and additional sewalong mean that this pattern is definitely accessible to a sewist with only basic experience (and a willingness to disregard the indicated skill level). I'm not sure I like a sewalong being referred to as 'hand-holding' though. I am not afraid! I am a foot soldier in fibre based battle taking my orders from my general. This is no little girl's tea party this is outerwear construction.

Sapphire seems to like it too
I chose the thinsulate as I'm not a big fan of wool but I still wanted my coat to be warm. I have since learnt of a fabric called kasha which is flannel on one side and satin on the other. I think a repeat of this coat would be lined with that as the thinsulate does make it quite bulky. Little bit Michelin Man bulky. Just look at the flannel I did line it with though? I adore this pattern and I especially love it on the zipper band.

This is why you stitch on the tag before you stitch the lining to the shell 

Making it out of waxed cotton was tricky due to the limitations it places on ironing. Everything I'd read had said DO NOT IRON IT. One helpful resource likened it to ironing a wax crayon. I didn't want to not iron it at all so I used some spare flannel as a pressing cloth. There are still some spots that I'd like to go nuts with steam and heat but I'm not sure I can???

I made a coat!
The hood and me had words and I must have done something wrong as my notches just didn't match. I went for the route of easing the living daylights out of as after the 50th time of pin, baste, stitch and it still not being right I'd had enough.

I love the buckles. I know the buckles will be faff to do and undo and that most of the time I will wear this coat open but having trawled Pinterest for ideas I really liked the way the buckles looked as opposed to toggles. I also went for four rather than three as when I have my hands in my pockets I didn't like the way the bottom would splay out exposing the zipper bands.

I cut a straight size 18 as I was incredibly pleased that an indie pattern had my measurements straight out the bag with no grading up to do. The sheer number of pieces is easier to manage if you label each one, I pinned a piece of paper with the number to each and undertake a like fabric pile system.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Kat Goldin's Waterfall Shrug: crossed shell stitch helping hand

On my Ravelery wanderings I came across a distress beacon. A fellow hooker was in peril from a pattern based perplexity and had called on me for aid.

Me? Village idiot me? A girl who's ironing board looks like she's been dousing it in Newcastle Brown and nicotine (I promise I did neither I don't know how it happened, does anyone else's ironing board cover get weird brown stains?).

Well I had to leap into action... though on my leaping I realised it highlighted one inexcusable flaw. I had not bothered to swatch my waterfall shrug. For the uninitiated this is when you do a little test square to make sure it'll be the right size not comically huge or doll size teenie.

I'd like to say this was based on a conscious decision of the type of garment and the likely importance of gauge (how many stitches per given measurement). It wasn't. I'm lazy. I will pay the price for this one of these days.

Anyway on looking at the image of the test swatch of my Ravelery compadres it appears to me that I've spotted the problem. The crossed shell stitch was demonstrating dastardly defiance. This is the same stitch that for the first row had me starting goggle eyed at the pattern wondering how, HOW it could be considered easy. Then I came to Humbug's 8th rule of Crochet: The set up row is a pain in the particulars.

So without further ado my solution. Once you've done the 29 chain, set up row, 1st row and nearly completed 2nd row you'll get to here:

Now it looks to me that this is the point that the work is being turned and 3rd row is started leaving only three crossed shell stitches. This of course will not do. I believe that the last two instructions of the 2nd row are being missed out. Namely the three trebles in the missed three chain space. Basically into the gap where my finger is pointed. Once you've done that you do a double into the very last stitch and then continue your merry way into row three. 

The six chain then goes into the 2 chain space between the first cross shell stitch. This leaves you with three full cross shell stitches and an edge type one. 

DISCLAIMER: This is the way I made Kat's shrug, it is quite possible I have completely misinterpreted how it should be but it did work for me. Plus edging covers a multitude of sins ;) 

Any further questions please feel free to comment and I will do my best to help where I can.