Still Here

And just like that 4+ months disappears in the blink of an eye! I can hardly believe that it's been so long since I blogged. Scary. But I'm not short of excuses – I'm pretty good when it comes to those :)

In the last few months I've done what are alleged to be two of the three most stressful things you can do – I've changed jobs and we've moved house. Since I can't get married again and the hubster tells me that divorce is off the cards hopefully there shan't be a third!

Now we've spent a couple of months in the new place and I'm starting to get into routines it's getting easier and at some point I'll give a rundown of what we've been up to.

There's been knitting:

And sadness:

I'm certainly not sad to see the back of 2014. It's been a tough year for us both in many ways and we are looking forward to the plans we've made and what we hope 2015 might bring. I certainly need to continue working on getting into (good!) routines and procrastinating less – I've got a lot I need to sink my teeth into and I have to be better at managing my time.

It's been lovely reading about other people's plans for 2015 – does anyone have anything special planned?





Colette Negroni Take 2

A little while back I made Trev a Colette Negroni shirt.

Here's a refresh – it was a success, although we thought it was a bit big on him, but we weren't sure if we could scale down to a medium.

I duly set about measuring Trev and pattern pieces with a tape measure and I worked out that while making a medium would give less ease than planned for in the pattern, I thought it should still fit.

I duly got to work cutting pattern pieces. A shirt such as this has lots of flat felled seams…

And ta-dah!

Pretty happy with it! Omitted the pockets this time, but still cut the back yoke on the bias for a more interesting look.

I couldn't get any of the stripes at the front to match up as this was the worst fabric in the world. After washing, it bunched up in some awful way and no amount of pressing or steaming would get it to lie flat again. You can see some of the wrinkling below, but at least the back yoke is sort of central in terms of the check print.

The shoulder line falls much more in the right place – see the terrible fabric!

I did probably sew the collar upside down. You interface one of the two pieces, and on reflection I should have flipped it the other way around as some of the edge has rolled to this side. But not the biggest problem – I think you'd have to be up close to see this.

Trev's worn the shirt several times since and is very happy with it. I'm sure the faults I have with it will be invisible to most people.

The next plan is to make him a more formal shirt with a collar stand and long sleeves/plackets. Unsure when I'll get around to it as I've got a few bits for myself I want to finish and it's likely we will be moving house in a few months as I'll soon be changing job! Too much to talk about in a single post :)

Lots more sewing to report soon!

Sewaholic Renfrew Number 2

Woop remember Renfrew number 1? I love it so much I decided to make a second one!

This new one, which the camera keeps making look a very odd shade of blue, is actually made from the same material as Renfrew 1, but from the wrong side. As it was a double knit it was solid on one side with the star print on the other, so I was just able to squeak out a version featuring the round neck and long sleeves.

This top featured the same “cheater FBA” that I did on the first one. This time round with it being a solid colour, it's more obvious that I need more room above and beyond what this cheat method has added. See those wrinkles? Next time I will try a proper FBA and see how we get on.

It's also interesting to note that I have the same bagginess at the lower back. If I'm not mistaken, this means I need to do a sway back adjustment. What do you think?

I am very proud of some of the details on this top. I decided to use one contrasting thread with my twin needle, mostly because I couldn't be bothered to wind with another bobbin, but I think it looks quite nice with the pink!

This time around I even managed to get most of my seams to line up. Awesomeness.

I also decided I'd twin-needle/top-stitch the bottom band of the top, for a decorative detail. I think this looks quite nice, but brings me to twin-stitching fail #1 with this top:

  • Make sure you don't have your stitch set to zigzag. If you do, you'll manage to break your £4 needle before you've sewn a single stitch. Oops.

So, a fresh twin needle later, I decided I'd also top-stitch the cuffs. This was trickier we even with using my free arm, it was too tight to do easily – the cuff circumference was just too small. I imagine it'd be easier on the 3/4 length sleeve as they would be a touch wider. But they still look good!

This brings me to top-stitching fail #2 which is less to do with top-stitching and more with my being a dope

  • Remember to lower the presser foot before you start sewing. Sounds so obvious, right?

Yeah, doesn't it look lousy? I should probably have torn it out and started again, but it's on the inside cuff and isn't seen that much.

This was also the first time I used my shiny new walking foot. It certainly seems to help with keeping things nice and even and I'll be sure to use it on all knit projects moving forward.

What I find interesting, having now made two of these, is that knits are meant to be more forgiving, yet I can still see plenty of fit issues I'd like to rectify. I guess some of these fit issues will be standard and I will be able to make them easily to future projects without too much hassle. Still so much learning to do though! But lots more knits in my future. It's been so warm these last few weeks, I really regret having not sewn up more of a summer wardrobe. But there's still time to hopefully knock out a couple more pieces before the weather turns.

I hope :)

In Training

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am in training! For what, I hear you ask?

During a fit of madness, we decided that it would be a brilliant idea to join the latest London Brompton Club ride planned for our neck of the woods which happens at the end of September. It will take in a number of West Yorkshire highlights but will include one of the climbs that featured in the Tour de France when it came to town last month.

This particular climb is known as the Côte d'Oxenhope Moor and is rated as a category 3 climb. What this means to those that don't speak bike is that it's 2.5 miles solidly uphill at a pretty mean gradient.

The upshot of this is that without serious training, I'm likely to either a) pass out or b) just die. I'm an overweight asthmatic with a lung capacity further compromised by my sleep issues and I'm determined to either not wind up at the back, or have to get off and push. I don't mind having to do one of these things, but I really don't want to be at the back AND walking up the hill.

With this in mind Trev and I are working on a plan to boost my fitness and our general stamina/hill-climbing ability. Stage One of this plan was attending today's Skyride in Manchester.

Skyrides are fabulous things and I'd encourage anyone who owns a bike to look up the one in their local area. Sky manage to shut down entire sections of city centres so that you get to cycle with thousands of other cyclists on traffic free roads. While there are a tiny minority of MAMIL roadies who seem to view it as a chance to improve their segment times on Strava, in the main it's fantastic and brilliant to be on the roads with so many other people on bikes.

So, we set off bright and early this morning to Manchester, with the aim of getting there not long after the course had opened at 10am. Trev had found a more direct route to Dewsbury station which he warned me featured a bit of a hill (perk of living in a valley – everything is up a bleeding hill) – I wasn't quite prepared for the (I'm certain it was steeper than this) near 7% killer I had to brave before 9am!

It certainly emphasised the need for more training.

We got to Piccadilly in good time and simply joined the stream of cyclists going past when we emerged from the station. We opted to not collect any free hi-vis vests this time as it actually turned out to be easier to spot each other amongst the sea of highlighter yellow as we were both in contrasting colours.

The route was a good one – over 7 miles, taking in the Etihad stadium, the British Cycling velodrome and loads of other fun activities for those who want to try sprinting, BMXing or the Wattbike, or some of the other activities that they have planned.

Our plan had been to do at least three laps, in order to have done 20 miles. On lap one we had a brief stop by the Etihad:

We also took a small diversion into the Velodrome, as you had the opportunity to complete a lap. Why not? While doing this I also learned that I am able to take photos on my phone one-handed while cycling. As long as you don't care about the pictures being in focus of course:

In the end we only managed two laps. The heavens opened and we were rather hungry. The route was also beginning to get quite busy and we had a minimum speed we wanted to try and maintain if possible.

All in all though, we did 15 miles around Manchester and I was able to deliver a 24mph result in the sprint from a standing start (faster than Trev, woo!). The fastest I got up to was just over 28mph, which I normally only ever to manage while going downhill and being scared half to death. Total average speed was 10mph which isn't brilliant, but not awful considering we had to share with 15,000 other cyclists :)

So, the training has begun! We are going to do a test ride of the killer hill next week, as we are going to help check the timings for the organiser. We figure I'll be the slowest there, so I'm a good worst-case scenario from a planning perspective :)

We've got lots of other rides planned too. Thankfully Yorkshire isn't short of hills to practice on, but we now find ourselves looking at all sorts of scary rides including 100 milers. We can but dream :) For now, I'd love to top 25-30 in a single ride!

Hope whatever you all got up to this weekend, it was something fun!