Sunday 28 March 2021


This was a little knitting adventure that was love at first sight when I saw it in a book, Ten years in the Making by Kate Davies. I rarely knit with 4 ply for I am more of a speed merchant - you may have noticed - but the preamble at the front of my Kate Davies book was all about time; the joy of crafting a beautiful item that takes all your mindful time. 

I digested the sentiment of the prologue and started to look for a yarn to knit the short sleeved pullover Paperdolls. My favourite yarn is Drops. I had a ball of Drops flora in my basket left over from this Loki project so while mulling over the time/cost/want conundrum I knit up a gauge square in it. I am a loose knitter so the Flora 3ply yarn was spot on for the 4ply measurements. I then had to decide how badly I wanted the top to allow myself to knit an adult garment in 3 ply yarn...very badly it turns out.

I ordered a beige, coral and turquoise to start the pullover. The patterned rib is sluggish to knit but indulgent to look at when it is finished. The colour of the coral yarn was brighter than I expected so I used the turquoise for the dolls as the main focus and later added in some cream to lift and also limit the coral colour.

Because I am a loose knitter, I have quite loose floats at the back of my kitting which are ideal for the yoke which needs to be stretchy. It is sometimes hard to maintain consistent gauge knitting over your plain and stranded work but I get better every time.

I found the crucial round of joining the sleeves to the body extremely difficult. This is where I drafted in my bloke to read through the pattern with me. He can't read a pattern so he asks lots of annoying questions like, "Why do you do that?; What does this mean?; Surely you have the wrong amount on there and What are you actually aiming for?" In the end they are not annoying at all because they help me to see where I have gone wrong by exposing and scrutinising my every interpretation. He's good like that.

I wish I trusted my sizing more. I added rows to the body because Kate Davies knits are always short in the pictures but I am short in the body so why do I always add rows? I wish I had left it a bit more cropped, it is a little oversized for my perfect fit. You live and learn.

I wanted to wash it to let the stitches fall into place but with 65% wool and 35% alpaca yarn content, I felt dubious. Washing the gauge square on a 30 degree machine wash (with some tea towels)was a good experiment. The gentle machine handwash finished the feel of jumper really well and made the natural fibres bloom a little and fill the colourwork spaces. Washing also granted me time to block the hems for the best finish. Maybe I should try washing the gauge square on 40 degrees and see if I can get some gentle shrinkage to help with the overall sizing. Mmmmm....

I love my new pullover and the beginnings of some spring weather in which to wear it.

Thanks for dropping by. Jo xxxx

Sunday 21 March 2021

The One Hour Top is Getting Faster!

Evening folks. I hope I find you well at the end of a restful weekend. We have been gardening, eating a Sunday a dinner at lunchtime (rare), going for a long dog walk and of course, I squeezed in a little sewing.

This is my third version of the One Hour Top from Fancy Tiger Crafts and I can say that I am getting faster! The pattern is a free download and well worth the printer ink. 

This time I added 5cm to the hem and 5cm to the sleeves at the cutting stage which made for a better fit than the last two. I kept loosing my sleeve up inside my cardigan but not anymore.

The added length meant that when I stretch up it doesn't reveal my midriff which you can only count as an alteration improvement.

The last alteration I made was the neckline. The last two had very wide necklines constantly showing my bra strap so I moved the shoulder/neckline in on each side.

The fabric is a good quality jersey which I bought from Dalston Mill Fabrics. The print does not appear to be there anymore but I did buy it in May 2020. You need 1.6m. The top is cut in two pieces without facings which is what allows it to be a quick make. The hems/cuffs and neckline are simply folded over twice.

I used a stretch needle and a stretch stitch on my sewing machine. You can get a stretch stitch by having your zig zag stitch width on 0.5 or 0 and your length slightly longer than normal on 3.

My first one is now in the rag bag as the navy polka dot viscose had faded and the neck had stretched even wider but I have worn it regularly for two years and the fabric was from a charity shop - it owed me nothing! The second one lasted about a year but the synthetic fabric was never really a winner for me. This one however is perfect.


Have you ever tried this pattern? It is a great way to start sewing with jersey. 

I had some strange shaped pieces left over which you always do with this fold over cut so I used them straight away to make little one a T-shirt. I lengthened the pattern with some plain green. Two happy females.

Just completed our census and now it is time to sew the underarms of my latest knit. Have a good week. Jo xxx

Monday 15 March 2021

Doodling for Grown Ups

 My friend gave me a very personal poster about four years ago for Christmas; she had me spot on in just a few words. When we came to move house however, I noticed how much it had faded. Look at the original egg yolk colour at the top and the faded colour below.

Before we had moved all of our furniture in July but were staying randomly at the house on camp beds with no TV I decided to spend my evenings doodling the poster. I had no idea if it would look good, just that I had to give it a try.

Using a range of black pens I found around the place I started to doodle over the lettering. It was very relaxing but it did take a few evenings.


Some are a bit shaky because it was harder than I thought and like cutting a fringe, the more you meddled the worse it got but in the end, I was pleased with it and have hung it in my studio.

Thank you for all the supportive comments on my last post, they really cheered me on. I love teaching, but it is time to start teaching about the things I love.

The picture really is me in a frame. What would you have on yours?

Stay Safe. Jo xxxxx

Tuesday 9 March 2021

Knitting - a mash up of a Kate Davies hat pattern from her new book 'Ten years in the making' I could not continue the pattern to the crown because I was using up a ball of blue drops Paris to marry up with some raspberry drops leftovers from my sleeveless top but it was a success all the same. This girl can not wear wool across her forehead so a cotton beanie was perfect.

This is the join line but hey, it is still good.

Watching - My youngest, aged 12, really hone her embroidery skills. She is a demon stitcher. 

Sewing - I have started to make video tutorial content for the Minerva website as a freelance position so there are items of clothing popping up all over the place as a by product of sharing a making process. This is a needlecord Grainline Studio Scout Tee.

Leaving - my position as a teaching assistant and part time primary teacher. I went back to it after teaching adults part time thinking I would be preparing myself for going back full time when the children got older but all it taught me was that I didn't want to do it anymore. Who wants to teach subordinate clauses to 7 year olds and have parents constantly scrutinising your best efforts on social media platforms? Not me.

Patching - the rear of my jeans. This concoction has been holding out well.

Feeding - my family really well now that I am not going out to work. That extra little bit of time you gain from working from home is  perfect for cooking, which makes us all really happy.

Fixing - a casualty of home-schooling. Meg knocked a lamp off the office desk while working in her book so I glued it then got out my map book and collaged the vase. It sits rather nicely with the maps on the wall.

Messing - up my studio with copious amounts of sewing. Did I mention I was doing a lot of sewing?!

Tidying - it up again ready to shoot another video tutorial.

Wearing - wellies a lot. The last few sunny weekends have driven us straight outside not only to feed the sheep which we have to do but also to enjoy some relaxing time together.

Growing - Some herbs inside on the window cill before it warms up properly to  grow outside; getting itchy fingers to garden.

Getting - out and about in local places for a walk, this was a 2 hour up hill one which we all loved.

Feeling - really happy with our family choices.

Waving - both girls off to school today. I have mixed feelings.

Thank you for dropping by. Jo xx

Friday 5 March 2021

Slow Sew Garments

Once again I am sharing some sewing projects with you. They belong in two camps: tried and tested and revisiting a failed pattern.

My first project is a beautifully made pair of Carolyn Pajamas using Rose and Hubble fabric. I have made these in mindful stages, enjoying the process of making something carefully. They were a birthday gift for my friend in March but I couldn't resist modelling them for you for five minutes! She loved them.

The pattern is an investment in time and money but the more pairs I make the better value the pattern becomes and really, it is timeless style so when would you ever need another pattern for PJ's? This is my fourth set. I have a short and long sleeved set for myself and I have gifted the other two sets since having the pattern three years ago.

This beautiful top is again a careful sew. I have made it for another friend's birthday present. She is younger than me so the on trend balloon sleeves will be swooned over. The fabric is a light jersey and the pattern is the Billie sweatshirt and dress pattern by Tilly and the Buttons.

 I also entered it into the 'Top of The Tops' competition over on the Minerva website. I was really pleased with this sew up.

Next up is a faster make. A one tunic wonder from one metre of cable jersey. I mean it was a squeeze to get it out of one metre but I am short and I cut the sleeves separately to find enough fabric, however it worked out OK in the end. This is a brilliant stay at home tunic to wear with leggings which will see me through all of the transitional weather which comes between the seasons. The pattern is essentially a lengthened T-shirt which kicks out a bit. You could also use the Tilly and the Buttons Coco if you are not confident enough to draft something.


Devotedly, I made a pair of viscose jersey trousers (anything that wasn't jeans was requested) for Heidi. Even though it is an easy pattern, it was not easy fabric to sew with. I seemed to turn a beginner project into an advanced one simply with my fabric choice. I was glad when they were done. These are the Luna pants which again is expensive but now Heidi is moving into size 6 and 8 adult sizes I am seeing patterns as double value if we both get something out of a pattern purchase. My turn to have a pair of these next...

Lockdown time has afforded me some opportunities to revisit some patterns that have been less successful in the past. Alongside this, I have also bought a shed load of cheap fabric from an online seller called pound a metre. This has meant that rather than choosing safely with patterns I know all the time, I have used the cheaper fabric to try out some things that went wrong in the past without worrying that I am wasting fabric. Enter the pattern revisits...

The first pattern to retry was the Tilly and the Buttons Marigold peg leg trousers. My first pair were huge in the crotch, the waistband was too deep and the overall fit was not comfortable - the waistband was nearly touching my bra band!

I measured the pattern piece against my actual front and back crotch measurement and took out a whopping 2.5 inches off the shorten line on the back, front and pocket pieces. No wonder they had a saggy bum. Also I made the waistband half the size and used 20mm elastic.

The resulting trousers are exactly what I wanted. The viscose was £5 for a 3 metre piece so I was happy to give it a go. 

There was plenty of this fabric left to retry the Hello Sailor top which was too small across the shoulders and the bust darts were in the wrong place first time out. This pattern alteration was more risky but worth it. I made a fabulous top with the lovely tie back feature. When worn with the trousers it makes the ideal faux jumpsuit with easy toilet access!

The fabric I had from pound a metre was not top quality but as good as any ready to wear clothes. The spotty viscose is just fine. I have lots more because I bought a 30m for £30 jersey bundle which was better than I expected it to be - there were not any patterns at all, only solid colours. I have already used some to line my three coats, make a T-shirt for Big girl, PJ's for small girl and make some underwear so I have had my money out of it already. What it does give me, more than budget clothes, is a permission to just have a go at something new and I think that is kind of priceless.

The girls are back to school next week so I can connect with you all  once again. Maybe the sewing will calm down a bit! Stay safe.

Jo xxx