Friday, 28 February 2014

one of those friday link lists

I'm trying to write a knitting follow-up to my sewing supplies post but it's not going too well. You know when you just can't shape the words right? I'll keep at it. In the meantime, here are some good bits of internet - not necessarily hip new bits:

Ballet dancers do sewing [video]

The secret of the British cycling team's success seems like it might work for all kinds of things, including crafting

Some stuff that everyone in Britain needs to know about the floods (hope you're keeping dry)

Dudley Moore, always and forever [video]

One of north London's best-kept secrets was named Museum of the Year 2013 - and it's free to go in

A Buddhist take on perfectionism [audio] (and a crafter's take on it as well)

Just in case you, too, forgot to go to Harvard

Obligatory cat video

Have a good weekend, people!

Friday, 31 January 2014

happy new year!

Becky says you can wish people a happy new year throughout January, so I thought I'd sneak in under that deadline this evening and say a quick hello. [Not that I'm hugely into the whole New Year thing because it all seems a bit arbitrary; was it a Roman emperor or someone who decided we'd change the numbers at that point every year? I would get much more into it if we celebrated on the solstices.]
Pipes in a back corridor of Ally Pally
It's been a while, hasn't it? I haven't done a huge amount of sewing for myself lately, although I did do a lot of very last-minute Christmas gift-making. I also pulled all my fabrics out onto the floor, re-folded them, and put them back in the sideboard, and I might have bought a pattern or two in the sales... As ever, lots of dressmaking plans and not much actual dressmaking. Have you seen Sarai's Wardrobe Architect series on the Coletterie blog? I'm following along with interest but not always entirely doing the homework. I want to be someone who doesn't spend too much time thinking about clothing, fashion, etc. But I also don't want to be someone who looks like they never give a thought to what they wear. Is there a sweet spot somewhere in the middle, where you can have nice clothes, that suit your life and feel good and maybe even express something positive about you to the world, without having to put a huge amount of time and energy into it? To what extent is fashion/style an acceptable preoccupation for a feminist? I think there's probably room for these kind of questions in the process Sarai's suggesting, and if it can lead to more well-directed crafting then it's got to be a good thing. Sometimes all the ideas and possibilities for sewing can feel overwhelming (and lead to no sewing at all, or half-finished projects), so I'm interested in the Wardrobe Architect project as a way of working out what I really want to make and which ideas might best be let go.
Some of the lovely scraps Megan gave me (she also brought
a gorgeous handmade tile from a pottery in Ann Arbor)
This month I had the chance to meet an internet craft friend in real life - the first time I've done so. Megan got in touch to say she'd be in London for a few days, and would like to meet up if it wasn't "too weirdo". We already knew that we were both sewing, baking, music college graduates, and Scorpios to boot, so it seemed a safe enough bet - and we were right, it wasn't weirdo at all and in fact we met up twice. Megan also did some piano practice at my parents' house (she was here for an audition) - quite a treat for that poor piano that is usually subjected to my and my dad's amateur clatterings (cello is my main instrument and I just dabble in piano; Megan's a proper pianist who dabbles in cello!). All round a very good first experience in meeting up with craft buddies from the interweb - have you met online friends out in the real world? How did it work out?

Friday, 20 September 2013

Organic Textiles Weekend

Apparently it's Organic Textiles Weekend - part of the Soil Association's Organic September, and they've published a really good infographic which explains the benefits of organic cotton all the way from the field to your wardrobe. The theme for Organic September this year is 'small changes, big difference', and you're invited to share the small change you plan to make on the website (I think there's a Twitter hashtag too, #SmallChanges, for those who do that). It bothers me a bit that a lot of the suggested changes are about things you could buy - buying a pair of organic cotton jeans if you don't actually need new jeans right now doesn't help anything! Neither does adding some overpriced organic luxury snack item to your supermarket trolley. These supplements should not be used as a substitute for a balanced diet, if you know what I mean. You have to buy organic instead of the other stuff. Then it's really a change, and not just more shopping.

I'm not exactly making a change myself, just continuing with the never-ending process of trying to buy less/use what I have/keep it simple... Being able to sew is so helpful on this front! It's incredibly satisfying to turn something I already have into something I need. Lately I found myself in need of a nightie, but couldn't find one (an organic one) I liked and also am a bit impecunious. Then I thought of the huge piece of lovely organic cotton interlock that's been taking up so much space in my stash cupboard for years. Perfect autumn nightie fabric! I lengthened a self-drafted/rubbed-off raglan top pattern and added pockets. (No photo for you: it doesn't look good on a hanger and I'm not putting myself in my nightie all over the interwebs.) It was quick to make, is super-cosy, and the stash is (slightly) reduced - win win win - but I'm getting popped stitches all along the hem, which I stitched with a twin needle. Anyone know why that is? Is this just not a strong enough finish for a nightdress hem, or is it to do with my thread, or what? I used free-with-my-machine polyester in the two needles and organic cotton in the bobbin; it's the bobbin thread that's breaking. Should I have matched all 3 threads? Would a wider twin needle produce a stretchier hem? Advice gratefully received!
While you're advising me, what do we think about velvet leggings? 'Washed' velvet, at that (crushed velvet's marginally more sophisticated sister)? Just far too 1995, or that magic combination of stylish and warm? I mentioned in my last post that I was thinking of buying some organic velour to make leggings, but then remembered I have some filleted trousers in my stash that could be re-purposed instead. Black washed velvet (or velour because it's knitted??). The trousers were made for me by my mum in, yes, the mid-'90s...