Friday, November 27, 2015

Sewing with Attitude

Thank you all for your enthusiasm for my simple coat, my spinning and my birthday.
And your kind words of comfort and encouragement for FL.

Life continues apace.  Another week has passed and I have not hit the "publish" button, despite a few attempts to drag my thoughts out into the world.
So let's have another try.

Sewing... what's next?

I am having kittens about this dress from Poetry.  It is made of impractical lightweight wool and costs £139.
And the more I look at it, the more I fear it looks like a nightshirt.
But imagine the same in a plain teal herringbone flannel...?
Ooh yeah!
I am on to it. 

I had a minor splurge in the Village Haberdashery sale today, and bought some beautiful plain-coloured jersey to make three long-sleeved tops.
Practical, some would say boring.

Rather less pedestrian inspiration has hit me in the form of Vogue 8813:

Have you see what IvyArch has done with this pattern?  Wow!
I am on the lookout for warm, drapey fabric with an interesting print.
Any recommendations?

I am trying not to over-commit myself by building up my fabric and pattern stash.
Sewing feels more difficult in the winter.
But that is the wrong attitude!
I need to let my inspiration lead me where it wants to go.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Fifty First Snow and a Ladybug

I am told that it always snows just before my birthday.
This year, it was a day late.
I took a holiday to celebrate - not by getting inebriated (tempting though it was) but to take delivery of my brand new shiny spinning wheel - yay!

It is a Schacht Ladybug.  Every one has a tiny red and black pin in a secret location - every one is unique.

FL was asleep when it arrived and missed the hilarity of its assembly.  I felt quite proud when I had finished, without the need to refer to a "how to" video.

Actual spinning took me rather longer.  (And several videos.)

But by the end of the weekend, I was producing a passable single in a particularly pungent hue of pond scum green.

The fibre I used was not the best choice for a beginner, but I didn't want to ruin the good stuff.

This only cost me £3.25 for 100g from World of Wool and is a blend of merino, bamboo and soy bean.  It is wonderfully silky to the touch, but very slippery.

I am amazed I managed to spin it at all.
Proper sheepy wool will be a relief after this.


In knitting news, I am storming through my bright orange Angelus Novus cardigan.  I predict it will be finished before the end of the month. 

There is also secret Christmas knitting.  But it is a secret :)


I don't quite know what to tell you about FL.

He is really struggling at the moment.

We are at the hospital every two weeks now.
No Pomalidomide, no dexies.

He is in a great deal of pain, has a chest infection and an eye infection, and is completely miserable.
I don't like leaving him alone, but I can't always work from home.

The Consultant asked me if we were coping and I said "We are managing"... but I know it is not sustainable.

I did not opt for Voluntary Severance and I have been Restructured.
It is not ideal, but I am probably one of the lucky ones.

I have blue hair again.
So life is good ;)

Sunday, November 08, 2015

FO: A Simple Coat

It is 7 years since I made a coat.
Alas, when it came out of storage this time around it was almost bald in places.  I had washed it before putting it away, and the wool had finally given up its fluff.
Time for another.

In the quest for a substitute, I fell for this herringbone wool mix from Sherwoods Fabrics. The fabric is lighter in weight than I expected, with a perilously open weave.  So a fairly dense lining was essential.  I settled on a black paisley satin from Minerva Crafts.  It is soft and drapey and works well with the airy herringbone.

I decided to use the Maya dress pattern, my go-to pattern of 2015, adding simple sleeves with darts below the elbow to control the width.

I wanted to avoid visible stitching, so made bagged hems, slip stitching the lining to the facings by hand.

A coat without pockets is of no use to me, so I drafted a couple of big fellas :)
They are lined.
Those wrinkles are caused by the phone in my pocket... just as well I added the lining or they would have sagged down to my knees in no time at all.

The vintage buttons were an Etsy find, all the way from Vancouver.
That's my carbon footprint thoroughly muddied.
Sorry, planet, but I love them.

I considered making bound buttonholes, but was worried that the fabric was too unstable.
Instead, I followed the instructions in my sewing machine manual for a "buttonhole gimp".  This involved stitching a fine cord into the edges of the buttonhole to add strength.  I am really pleased at how well these turned out.


Pattern:  Maya by Marilla Walker with self-drafted sleeves (with thanks to a vintage Simplicity blouse pattern), in size 2.

Fabric:  Herringbone wool mix from Sherwoods fabrics and black paisley lining from Minerva Crafts.

Other:  Vintage buttons from Etsy.  Black satin bias binding from stash (ebay, years ago).  Thread.


I wanted a "dressing up" coat.
It is of no earthly use to me around the farm, but I work in the city in an increasingly grown-up job and sometimes I need to look like I actually belong there.

Is it the coat of my dreams?
Um...  no... because that would be a shocking pink fun fur yeti coat ;)

Will I wear it?
Oh yes!

Will it require its own library of matching knits?

Absolutely - watch this space!

PS:  Worn here with my subversive schoolgirl Camber dress and neon mirrorball cowl.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Under the Influence

November already!
My socks
Since last I wrote, another pair of Arne and Carlos Regia socks has fallen off the needles.  I squeezed His 'n Hers socks out of 100g of self patterning yarn, plus 50g of plain red.  Bargain!
I am saving FL's pair for Christmas or a time of great need, whichever comes first.  The jury is out on the more likely of those two scenarios.

FL's socks

This left a sock-shaped vacancy on my needles, so I decided to cast on a pair of knee high colourwork socks, Talia by Rachel Coopey.  I probably managed two rows in the Waiting Room on Tuesday before I got bored of knitting 104 stitches in twisted rib on 2.25mm needles.
This does not bode well!

So perhaps it is just as well that I have been struck by an unnatural obsession with another knitter's cardigan, to the extent of emailing her to ask for a custom dye of matching yarn, so that I can be her Northern Scottish twin.

"Shepard's Warning" by The Wool Kitchen
This is what comes of a recent bout of binge-listening to UK-based podcasts.  It led me into a rabbit warren of links:  Curious Handmade, ShinyBees,  the Wool Kitchen,  East London Knit... on and on I burrowed, until I fell upon Helen's version of the Angelus Novus cardigan by Renee Callaghan.
GASP!  It shall be mine!!!
And lo, it shall indeed :)

Hospital Update:

The doctors are still pondering what best to do for FL.  He has 12% myeloma cells in his bone marrow (bad, but not as bad as it could be). However, the main problem is that his blood cells are "dysplastic".  I understand this to mean that they are not regularly replacing themselves with healthy new cells. Instead, the proportion of dodgy dud cells is increasing, making FL less able to fight infection and less able to cope with chemotherapy.

So, although there is an intravenous  chemo drug called Bendamustine (forever lodged in my brain as "Bendy-Bus") it is far too toxic for FL's system to cope with, so is off the menu.  There is another called Idarubicin, which can be taken in tablet form and they are considering this one.  However, a cursory Google search tells me that 9 out of 10 patients experience a wide range of side effects including vomiting, exhaustion and generally feeling terrible when taking this delightful drug.  I honestly think they will have to rule that one out on the grounds of reduced quality of life.

Which leaves us with...?
The doctors have no other ideas at the moment, other than to give FL a steroid boost.

So this week FL has 4 consecutive days of Dexamethasone to look forward to.  He is still taking Pregabalin to try to combat the nerve pain, but it doesn't seem to be making any difference yet.

We go back to the hospital in another 2 weeks for the results of his latest Freelite test, to see if the Myeloma is sneaking up on the outside lane in the dark with its headlights off, since there is nothing to stop it.  They still haven't ruled out going back to Pomalidomide, but I would be surprised if they manage to justify it to the NHS funding panel.

Just keeping on knitting.