Um it’s another Coco… but it’s got polka dots on it!

Yeeees so I seem to only be making Cocos at the moment but shizzly can you blame me? It’s amazeballs!

Coco Polka

So after my Bedtime Coco and my Animal Print Coco I decided that whilst terribly comfy they weren’t giving me the more fitted look that I’ve been admiring on other Cocos around the blogosphere. So I decided on a whim to come two whole sizes down on the pattern and take about an inch from the length. Yikes. Bit of a spur of the moment decision there and I also just chopped straight into my pattern pieces. Oops. Oh well. I think the overall effect is definitely better from the front.

Coco Polka

However this rather fabulous knit from Walthamstow Market (where else?) is extremely stable and doesn’t have a lot of give, which effectively means that my boobs feel like I’ve strapped them down a bit. And I have a bit of tightness across the back of the dress – you can see it here.

Coco Polka back view

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So whilst it doesn’t bother me with this dress I’d much rather perfect the fit so I can go on making Cocos, and I will DIE if I can’t make more, ya know what I’m sayin’? Literally DIE.

So I’ve fiddled with my pattern and with the help of printer paper and sellotape I’ve effectively added a half inch to the underarm and bust area, smoothing out the line to just above the waist. I’ve also added the same amount to the sleeve sides. I hope I’ve gone the right way about it – we shall see with my next Coco I guess!

Oh and here is a new addition which I haven’t done before – the cuff. Very easy to do I have to say – and such a lovely detail with a knit dress.

Coco Polka cuff

That’s my latest installment for you. Have you ever had a pattern you just keep making? I think the last pattern I got so into was the Colette Violet which I made four times, including one for my mum.

A bit of a meh Airelle

Hello campers how are you all on this sunny but quixotic Sunday? We’ve had hailstones and chilly winds in between the sunshine so it was a case of grab yer camera phone and run outside while it’s dry (if not exactly warm) to take pictures of a top I finished last week but didn’t have time to photograph. And to be honest with you, I wasn’t that bothered about taking pics either as this is one of those makes that I know I won’t wear again. But let’s talk this through…       Airelle by StitchandWitter

Airelle by Deer and Doe is one of those patterns that I’ve lusted after for a while. Just look at these by Rachel and Made by 6 if you want to see how gorgeous it can be. I thought it would be the perfect blouse for me – bit preppy, bit sweet etc. Plus it has the cutest collar. After my sewing funk ended thanks to Coco I thought it would be the perfect next project. And it was, after a fashion. No fastenings or tricksy bits which was great. I graded from a 38 at the bust to a 40 at the waist and then back to a 38 at the hip and the sizing worked out pretty good. I used some stash fabric for both collar and blouse and bought some black satin piping in Walthamstow market for 60p a metre. So far so cheap!

Airelle by StitchandWitter

Yet this blouse isn’t right for me. It’s just… I don’t know… maybe draining me of colour or something? Or perhaps it’s the blousey nature of the sleeves. I’m not a huge fan of blousey sleeves and these feel pretty voluminous. On the whole it just feels a bit too billowy for my liking.

Airelle by StitchandWitter

Any suggestions as to what changes I could make, to make it worth another shot? I was wondering if maybe I could do a matching instead of contrast collar, perhaps reduce the sleeves a bit, even make a short-sleeved version perhaps. Maybe just a brighter colour will pep it right up?

Have you ever made something and known right as you finish the last stitch that you’ll probably never wear it in real life?

A suitable cardigan?

So I think I’ve found my next project, knitting wise. Isn’t this adorable?

Armande

It’s another Andi Satterlund pattern which suits me just fine as I so enjoyed making the Miette. Andi writes of her new design, “After binge watching Island at War followed by a bunch of Joan Hickson Miss Marple episodes, I decided that I needed a long, cozy, casual, retro sweater. Big pockets and a collar were mandatory, and what I came up with, Armande, is a delightful 40s- and 50s-inspired mishmash of a cardigan.”

And just like the Miette, it’s free! I’m thinking a rich red or a moss green. Though I love this mustard too. I’ll get to it after I finish knitting up a baby cardigan for number one son. It’s the Baby Sophisticate Cardigan by Linden Down. Here’s what it should look like (if I do it right).

Baby Sophisticate Cardigan Linden Down

Cute, huh? What’s on your needles? Or your sewing table for that matter!

Oh and can I just give a shout out to Jennifer who won the giveaway for the Georgia dress a couple of weeks ago. Jennifer – get in touch!

Completed: A winter Miette

Miette

Knitting. Incredibly calming, hypnotic and fulfilling. Simply check out Karen’s post and the wonderful comments on the pleasures of knitting for more lovely thoughts on its benefits.

Knitting. Scary, frustrating, a lot of WTF and ‘awh jaysus I’ve done this bit wrong but I don’t know what I did wrong and now I’ve got to rip out hours of work and start again waaaah’.

Welcome to my first ever knitted garment! It’s the Miette by Andi Satterlund, a free pattern no less. As a new knitter (let’s disregard the knitted ‘ribbons’ I used to make and wear in my hair until EB from primary school scoffed at me one day while we were sitting up a tree. I was GUTTED I tell you) I had plenty of both reactions to this project. I’ve already described having to rip back about 40 or so rows which was pretty annoying but not heartbreaking but from there on in it was pretty much plain sailing.

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There are mistakes I know. I think using a K2, P2 ribbing technique for the neckline instead of the recommended ktbl2, ptbl2 let it down a bit but I found the latter completely impossible to do. The neckline also seems a little wide to me but maybe just because I’m not used to this deep neckline in a cardigan. I like my knits up round my lugs if ya know what I’m saying. There’s a slight bagginess at the front where the sleeves meet the chest but hey, there’s room to flail.

The wool also isn’t great. I think it was some cut price shit from Hobbycraft or something. I’ve still got two huuuuge balls of it left. It’s really thick and itchy so I’m wearing a thermal vest under it. Yes. A thermal vest. What? Don’t you? You’re missing out mate. Because the yarn is so fluffy I think you also lose some definition on the lace work around the edges. But this is all ok. BECAUSE I KNITTED THIS! Oh and in case you were wondering, yes I can do all the buttons up, but I prefer it half open for some reason.

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Half of me wants to do another Miette straight away in a less fluffy bright coloured yarn. The other half wants to try another style of cardigan. I’m thinking sweet and preppy, ideally with a higher neckline and suitable for a beginner. Is that a tall order? If you have any recommendations do shout!

And the winner is…

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I do apologise my friends, I’ve been terribly tardy in choosing and announcing the winner of this fabulous competition. I got it into my head it finished yesterday instead of a week ago. Oops! So without further ado, our lucky winner is… Jennifer!

”Now if I made the Georgia dress up as soon as it arrived, it would be in the heart of a very cold, windy and just possibly snowy Chicago winter. That means the dress will be worn for a festive gathering of friends, at home. The evening would feature “the Georgia”, (with me in it), champagne & salmon as starters, pork loin and salad as the main dishes with burgundy, followed by a ridiculously wicked dessert and port…”

Well Jennifer that just sounds divine. I do hope I can get the dress to you before the snow sets in. I love the idea of Georgia in Chicago…

Send your details to me at  stitchandwitter@gmail.com and I’ll get it to you.

Thanks to all who entered!

A Christmas giveaway

Dear friends, there has been little sewing round these parts lately. I can blame most of my inactivity on this:

Miette in progress

Yes the Miette cardigan is almost there and the chocolates are almost gone. It’s pretty much the first thing I’ve knitted since school so it’s slooow going but we’re gradually getting there. I’ve had to rip it back once already (from row 45 so whilst a little soul destroying it didn’t out-and-out kill me) because as a totally novice knitter I don’t actually know how to fix my mistakes. Isn’t this the worst? To say the least? Even more, I don’t actually know what sort of mistakes I could make, never mind how to fix them. I don’t really know what a dropped stitch looks like, or whether I’m knitting a particularly fiddly stitch the right way. If it wasn’t for Youtube I’d have given up weeks ago. Isn’t YouTube amazing? I’ve also been following the knitalong that Today’s Agenda staged back in 2012. It’s ace although not necessarily aimed at a total beginner so there are a few gaps that Youtube fills for me – like picking up stitches for the sleeves.

I’ve started with the 34 bust size and not made any adjustments – like how would I even begin to do that? – except that when it came to the ribbing at the bottom I gave up on the ktbl2, ptbl2 malarkey after three failed attempts and resorted to a simple k2, p2 affair. My stitches were getting so twisted and hard to knit I must have been doing something wrong but I didn’t know what. I’ll do the same for the ribbing at the bottom of the sleeves too.

Anyway – yakking on and on about knitting JoJo, where’s the goddamn giveaway I hear you say!

So a while back I got an email from the scrumptious By Hand London gals asking if I’d like a copy of their gorgeous new pattern – the Georgia Dress. Featuring fitted cups, a panelled skirt and some knockout strap variations, the hemline can be raised or lowered depending on your particular fetish.

Georgia Dress

Isn’t it darling? So sexy and glamorous. In fact, too sexy and glamorous for me. This dress would be made up, twirled about in and loved for an hour and then it would languish in the back of my wardrobe feeling unloved for ever. I have nowhere to wear it! I have nothing to go to! This isn’t self-pity – this is my practical side coming out. Hear my brusque no-nonsense nannying tone? Wise up, Joanne – you ain’t never gonna wear this baby to the ball. So… because I’m a kind, loving sort, I told the By Hand London ladies just this very thing, but added that if they were kind enough to shake their diamante-encrusted wands and send the Georgia my way, I would become your very own fairy godmother and offer it up to you guys. And because Elisalex and the gang are the nicest ladies in the sewing business, no I’m not one bit biased that is FACT, here it is! Cinderellas – you SHALL go to the ball (cue some sparkly noises).

Georgia dress pattern

The giveaway is open to all and sundry across the globe and will close at midnight on the 30th of November GMT. Any entries after that time will turn into pumpkins. I will get it posted straight away so that you might even have time to knock it up for your Christmas party! All you have to do is comment here telling me what event you will wear this dress to. Make it special, exciting, daring, raunchy. Give me cheap vicarious thrills why doncha? Winner will be selected at random.

And we’ll all live happily ever after.

Finished: Anna dress, part 1…

Anna dress

Hooray – I finished a dress for the summer just as a storm hit the UK. Doh, never mind. It was always going to be a little stepping stone of a dress in any case. But tis finished and I am fairly happy with it.

This is the Anna dress from By Hand London – if you haven’t heard of them already then you must be living under at least three rocks. If you have, then you’ll know their patterns are the latest craze amongst us stitchers, and with good reason. They’ve got a unique and refreshing style with an urban twist which you can dial up or down as you wish.

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This is a wearable muslin  - I wanted to test the fit before I plunged my rotary cutter into some glorious fabric from Liberty which I’ve earmarked for a final Anna. In the end there was some adjustment – the inevitable gaping back had to be dealt with and I used Ginger Makes’ great tutorial for this as well as By Hand London’s tip (during the Anna Sewalong) for placing the top of the zipper in a few more centimetres in than normal when inserting. I still find the back a bit gapey though so I’ve taken more width out of the back bodice for the next version. I’ve also taken some length out of the v neck as I think there’s a bit too much in this version, using a similar method of slashing and overlapping.

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I’m really tempted to try the boat neck version next time, along with the three quarter length sleeves as well as a full lining. If that all goes to plan and looks good then the Liberty fabric is up next! Here’s a sneaky peek of the Tana Lawn I’ve got…

Liberty Tana Lawn

See the dancing hipsters with the beards? Awesome yes? Love this fabric. It’s called Tiny Dancer which makes me hum Private Dancer by Tina Turner to myself every single time I look at it. You can’t beat fabric that makes you sing, eh?

In my previous post I mentioned I’d done some really STUPID things during the construction of this dress. These included, in no particular order, sewing facings the wrong way round, sewing dress panels the wrong way round, melting some of the fabric with an iron and having to patch it up with one of those little iron on patches and allowing a cat with a shitty bum to sit on the fabric. Tell me, what stupid things have you done recently in sewing? Can you beat the shitty bum scenario?

Oh yah – and I cut off all my hair! Apologies for the poor hairdressing skillz above but it is really very nice when I bother to do it properly. And it’s so refreshing not having to wrestle with long locks every morning, not to mention having little yoghurty hands pulling on my plaits. So nice to have a change.

Stop the friggin press!

You guys. This is so exciting! I’ve only gone and been featured in this month’s Making magazine. Go and buy it to see me. Or skulk in the newsagent, ease off the wrapper quietly and snigger at me on page 74 for nowt. Or check out this pic…

Making Magazine

I did know that at some point I might be featured as they got in touch a while back for images but seeing it now in print makes me so darn happy. Silly isn’t it? But yay!

After all my complaining about ‘not getting enough time to, like, create and stuff yah’ it’s actually been a hive of activity around these parts in the last month. See that zig zag woolly item behind the mag in the pic above? That’s a top secret item I’m crocheting for my sister who is DUE in December. Yep – gonna be an aunty again. Love the fact that it’s not me this time and I can cuddle a little bundle and then hand it back before it explodes over me. I have my own exploding bundle thankyouverymuch.

I’ve also recently finished a gorgeous baby/toddler cardigan but got no photos alas and alack before I gifted it away. But with the mother’s permission I hope to share some pics soon, modelled by an impossibly gorgeous child.

Anna in progress

And I’ve started my Anna dress! Well, a wearable muslin upon which I have already visited some shrieking errors. Seriously – yesterday I must have shouted ‘I’M A DICK!!! WHY AM I SUCH A DICK???’ about twenty times. The pattern is glorious – terribly simple. But dear readers… I also appear to have become terribly simple. But we’re nearly there – just waiting on the next instalment of the Anna sewalong to help me with the invisible zipper scariness.

AND I went to the Knitting and Stitching Show up at Ally Pally last weekend where I saw precisely NO bloggers. Where were you all? Last year I accidentally ran into two of the most illustrious and celebrated blogger beauties all in an hour. This year you were obviously all hiding from me. I went with my crochet teacher and friend Bridie who was elbowed, nearly knocked over and then run over by a shopping trolley, all by a series of grey-haired knitting assassins clutching decorative sampler catalogues from Brian on stall 41. Fucking scary my friends. After said show Bridie showed me round a pair of knitting needles because, deep breath, I’m going to try my hand at the Miette Cardigan. Seriously, why bother with socks when you can drive yourself demented with a cardigan huh? That little square below isn’t my version of the cardigan by the way. It’s a tension swatch. A TENSION SWATCH! What am I getting myself into….?

Miette in progress

Ahhh, I can hear himself stirring. Better go – back soon. xxx

I’m still here… honestly!

George modelling his crocheted cardigan!

George modelling his crocheted cardigan!

Greetings everyone and a very belated but VERY HAPPY new year to you all! Contrary to what you might have suspected I have not been swallowed whole by the mummy situation… although it was touch and go for a while there.

We’ve now had the unutterable pleasure that is George in our lives for five whole weeks and a day and it’s starting to feel more normal, less relentless and much more wonderful than I ever thought possible. I am determined this not to be a mummy blog though so I will say only this to keep you appraised of his situation. I mentioned in my previous post that  there was a bit more drama around George’s arrival. Basically we were discharged on Christmas Eve last year and brought George home that afternoon. An evening of awfulness followed: my milk hadn’t come in yet and George didn’t seem to want to breastfeed. That, combined with my inexperience around breastfeeding (I mean – who knows how to do THAT straight out of the box, eh?) resulted in George losing an awful lot of his original birth weight. All babies lose a bit but he lost just a bit too much and so we were readmitted to hospital on Christmas Day. Yep – the turkey was in the oven, we’d started to open the presents and the midwife arrived and gave us the news after weighing him. So we trooped back to hospital and spent the next few days topping him up with expressed milk along with some vital breastfeeding support for me, and I’m happy to say he’s now thriving! He’s a sturdy hungry boyo and it’s all good.

Thank you so much for all your gorgeous kind and loving thoughts on the last post. I was in tears reading them – there must be some way of printing them all out and keeping them for Georgie to read when he gets older – he’ll be amazed (and probably a bit puzzled) as to why all these lovely ladies are leaving teary emotional messages for him. We are a lovely lot aren’t we?!

This morning I was watching Matt holding George, peacefully watching the Australian Open Final and I thought for the first time: yes this can work and it does feel normal and doable and that was an amazing feeling. So there is life after a baby. I just need to start putting it back in to my days. So far the evenings have been the worst – George is fussy and hungry in the evenings so I’m up most of the night nursing and comforting. But he seems to have turned a corner during the days and has even enjoyed a few three hour naps in the last couple! So if I can get a nap in during the day I’m much more ready to start tackling what I want to do. And with that in mind here’s what I’m planning for starters:

Stick to my promises

Uh-oh. In a moment of madness I threw my hat into Karen’s 2013 challenge and resolved to create a log cabin baby quilt with personalised EMBROIDERY as a feature.  What was I thinking?! The quilt – fair enough. Once you get started it’s fairly straightforward and I’ve already made one for my niece. But I haven’t even begun to learn embroidery. Oh god – I hope Karen doesn’t throw me in the stocks and have people throw craft implements at me if I don’t get on with this pronto. But there’s nothing like public humiliation to get one’s juices flowing eh?

Continue with the joy of Handmade Style

I have been remiss in getting some fab new interviews up on the site. I already have three fantastic features in the coffers and can’t wait to get them out there for you to enjoy. These ladies are the cream of the crop and each have a very unique style. I just know you’re going to love them… when I get them up on the site! Watch out for the first of 2013 later this week.

Get back to making clothes for myself

I’ve still got a baby belly (and a whole lot of stretch marks – gah!) and a bit of a lard arse so it’ll be a while before I’m knocking out fitted dresses but I’m sure I can turn my hand to a tunic or two and I’d love to create a couple more Renfrews (non maternity this time) for my post baby body. I know there are lots of mums out there – any suggestions for great post baby patterns?

Sort out the sewing room situation

So my beautiful sewing room is basically now chock full of baby stuff. And it’s to become a nursery at some point in the future too… so what to do? There might be a way of combining the two for a short while, even in that tiny space, So I need to turn my thoughts to getting that sorted. In the meantime it’ll be a matter of yanking out the sewing machine and setting up on the kitchen table.

And what else – ooh… Watching this little one grow, for a start.

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