Winter Shibori Dress

A few years ago I scored a 4 metre bolt end of white pinwhale corduroy. I immediately knew I wanted to give it some shibori love though it took me until now to get around to it. Here it is divided up, pleated and tied. A tedious process, but the effort was worth it I think.

Put it through a dyebath along with a bunch of other things. In this case I used “indigo” coloured Procion fibre reactive dye from Kraftkolour.

I got three 1m pieces patterned like this meant for a skirt, some plain bits for a bodice and a smaller pleated bit for pockets. I undid the end most ties on the skirt pieces after the first long dip on the grounds that i didn’t want too much pale over my tum.

From there I built a fairly standard Montjoye dress. Semi fitted bodice and flared skirt. Except that I made a bunch of errors in the cutting. I’m still quite out of practice with sewing garments! Happily all errors were fixable in one way or another. The first big mistake was failing to allow the needed overlap for the intended buttoned front. Bother. Couldn’t fix that really without creating too much bulk. Never mind, I’ll just do a side zipper. Ah, but that means the skirt sections need to match the bodice waist properly both front and back. The skirt pieces were folded in half lengthways and divided diagonally to give a six panel skirt with the back panels joined in the centre. Guess who forgot to allow for the centre panel seam allowance in the back pieces? Yeh, me. That meant I had to dart the back of the bodice to get everything to fit. Happily that was actually a good thing. Then I found I needed to lift the whole skirt to place the pattern more pleasingly which meant the front skirt waist matchiness didn’t work anymore and the seams were all topstitched already so I wasn’t reseaming them. Botheration. I’m mostly laughing at myself here. I sure hope the next garment runs more smoothly!

The bodice has a fair few extra seams than would have been necessary if I hadn’t changed my mind about what garment to make from this fabric before it was even dyed. I had already divided it up into sections and folded it before changing my mind. Oh well. Because I wanted to make the seam allowances behave themselves I decided to top stitch pretty much everything, which also tied in the extra seams and the white parts of the shibori visually.

I still ended up with a frock. Front then back below. It’s cut to be shaped but still quite loose which is comfy and as flattering as possible for the iso belly I’m still carrying.

The pockets manage to be fairly stealthy, achieved by pleating that piece to match the skirt pieces.

Of course it is really just a winter version of this summer favourite made 3ish years ago, written up here and worn a great deal since.

and proof the new winter version fits on me. Yes I know it’s well off the vertical. I took a bunch of photos and this was the best despite the kooky angle.

Spun Colour Vest

Last October I spun this colourful yarn, written up here

I had been thinking it would be nice knitted up as the front of a vest. Turns out there was nearly enough for a whole vest. I got it into my head that I wanted the original colourway nearest my face, which made finding a pattern more difficult than it should have been. In the end I used a bottom up, seamed pattern (Inez by Emily Nora O’Neil) but made a bunch of changes. I started at the base of the neckline with a provisional cast on, knitted down or backwards for a bit to get a feel for how far the yarn would go.

I put this picture in because of all the ones I took, it shows the colours most accurately.

Then I went back and knitted the front shoulders, introducing some brown merino/alpaca handspun to make up the balance of the needed yarn. Then I returned to knitting backwards to finish the front, introducing the the second colourway and knitting the two in alternating two row blocks until the first ran out.

I changed the position of the body shaping from the side seams to two vertical lines below the bust points. I also widened the body from underarm level for better fit. The back was knitted in the more standard bottom up way. The third colourway got introduced when the plain second colourway matched the height it was in the front.

Eventually I finished both pieces and blocked them. Even after all the thinking and planning about colour placement, i’d do it differently if I was starting over, but this is appealing enough as is.

Then I got the seams sewn. All good. Then it was time to to the borders on the neckline and armholes. I had one attempt, failed and got scared of that. Roadblock hit in January, I put this away and knitted two whole projects before I felt brave enough to deal with it. Last Saturday i swore I’d not start another knitting project until this one was finished, and I wanted to knit, so I just had to do it. After all that procrastination and feeling offput, it wasn’t even that hard. I did all the borders yesterday afternoon and evening. The borders are quite minimal, just a thin line, but they serve well to smooth and stabilise the edges. I had been worried that the armholes were too deep, but the border sorted that problem out.

Here is a pic that shows how the brown hem and shoulders are worked to join to the coloured yarn in a way that looks like it was designed that way, which I suppose it was.

Here is the obligatory picture of it on me. I wasn’t in much of mood to smile at the camera but I do like my new vest really.

That’s one lot of handspun turned into a wearable thing. Now I get to embark on a new knitting project.

Seaweed Shawl

Back in early December last year, I decided to spin up some blended alpaca and silk tops that I had bought on a whim. I wanted something more than a standard 100g skein so I added in 60g of merino in lichen green and indigo blue left over from other projects.

I had a fancy to knit a lace shawl so I spun as fine as I could manage and over 5 weeks, produced 160g of approximately lace weight yarn. Really it was anywhere between cobweb and sport weight but primarily lace to light fingering weight. I was still pretty pleased with myself.

I liked the look of this but felt I might wear it more if I put it through a blue dyebath. So I did.

It was then saying “ocean” to me, so I went looking for patterns that also spoke of this. I settled on “Ocean Scarf” by Eunny Jang but had trouble getting the pattern. So frustrating! I persevered though and found the chart for the body of the shawl eventually. I knitted a couple of repeats of the main pattern and then reluctantly decided I wanted it wider, so I frogged it and started over with an extra motif. Yes, much better.

Yes that is a provisional cast on because I wanted to try my hand at a knitted on border. This was confusing for a bit but fine once I figured out how it worked. Very happy to have conquered another technique. I used a border called “Normandy lace” but expanded it to get a double zigzag to echo the main pattern.

Somehow I ended up in a very tight game of yarn chicken. I had kept records and calculated carefully but must have lost count somewhere. In an attempt to avoid having to reknit the last section, I swapped to slightly smaller needles halfway through the last border.

It was tense there in the last stages but I won!

Having thoroughly proven again that I enjoy lace knitting, I invested in a set of blocking wires which happily arrived a little before I finished. Here she is all pinned out, waiting for the afternoon sun.

I was so pleased with it that I couldn’t resist trying it out even before sewing in the ends. It has come out pretty much exactly the shape I wanted and i love the pattern.

I actually think of it as the Luidaeg shawl, but not everyone has read the Seanen McGuire’s October Daye books

Frilly Gothish Remodel

I had all sorts of plans for making clothing for myself this summer, but none of it happened. I got distracted by a bunch of other projects. This little plan was firmly stuck in my head however and I had a packet of navy dye that needed using before the water soluble enclosure succumbed to humidity.

This tiered frilly skirt was a 90’s Jigsaw brand number that I loved and wore a lot. I don’t wear this sort of warm colour combination any more though and besides, it no longer fit. I nearly consigned it to the opshop bag but the fabric is really lovely, fine and close woven cotton, near Tana lawn quality and all those gathers were already constructed. Surely I could rework it?

I pulled out the leftovers from the shirt featured in Irish linen, orange and grey shot. Really lovely stuff. Stiffer than the skirt fabric but a bodice is allowed to be different. It tones with the skirt so hopefully they would work together after dyeing.

I then put them both through the navy dye bath with a bunch of other things

Happy with the colours. I cut a bodice from the linen, black facings from the leftovers of a different shirt. I chopped off the original top tier of the skirt, which yielded a piece to make the visible part of a button band to tie the two fabrics together and add interest. Hmm, somewhat wonky sewing there. I made a bunch of mistakes in cutting, all of which were retrievable. I’m peeved that I screwed up by making the button band the “wrong” way around, buttonholes on the left. No one else will notice, but it will annoy me.

Here is the whole dress. Of course I put pockets on!

and on me. Maybe I’m too old to wear this many frills? I don’t care. I love the new dress.

Opalised gradient spin

A little over a year ago, I spun this yarn and wrote it up here:

Much more recently, about 6 weeks ago, I gave this to a friend for her birthday and offered to spin some more yarn to go with it, her choice of which source fleece, or combination thereof. These are the two kinds of fleece. Rose grey alpaca and a merino/silk blend from Ashford.

My friend asked for two blends. One with a bit less of the blue mix and one with more than the original yarn. I took that thought, went a bit crazy and made 5 more balls to get a full gradient from one to the other. I had made the less blue ball, then slipped and bought another spinning wheel. To try out the new wheel, I wanted a simple spin. So I did some plain rosy alpaca plus some blue mix by itself. Then I went back to my lovely Suzie Pro and made the slightly more blue yarn. This gave 5 skeins and was the intended finish point, but I thought there was too big a colour jump between full blue and the next one. These are straight off the wheel except the original skein in the centre.

So, well, I was having fun anyway and proceed to make another blend to fill that gap.

Much better. This is post wet finishing. You can tell if you look closely that my spinning has become more even in the last year. Original yarn is just right of centre. I’ve also got better at blending multiple kinds of fibre during spinning. This original yarn was my first attempt at that. I’ve done a bunch more since.

I wound them all into cakes for easier handling. Right to left we have: full alpaca, 1/8th blue blended during spinning, 1/4 blue blended during spinning (the original yarn), 1/2 blue- one ply each of full alpaca and full blue, 3/4 blue- one ply full blue, one ply 50:50 blended, and finishing with full blue.

Here is a nicer photo of the finished set, given away as intended this morning. I’m really rather pleased with these.

Shibori Lap Blankets

These went to their recipient last night so I can finally post about them. A friend wanted a lap rug and she likes both blue and the ink blot randomness of shibori . A different friend had given me some creamy cot sized blanket pieces after a stash clearing. I like dyeing things. Put all of that together and I had a plan.

Two blanket pieces, each pleated up and tied. One horizontal, one diagonal.

Dip them in a blue dye bath and enjoy the resulting patterns. Only pretend indigo this time. Earth palette wool dye in navy. Much easier than indigo and I had it in the house.

Protect the non selvage edges with blanket stitch and pop on a label

and call them done!

Then wait impatiently for 6 weeks or so until birthday and gifting have happened so posting can too.


My goodness. It’s over three months since I posted here. Oops. I knew it had been a while. Do I remember how to do this?

All through winter I was keen on figuring out a design for a jumper out of this big stack of hand spun yarn.

However, said design was elusive. I couldn’t settle on anything particular. Then I found a tentative plan for just the fawn and grey, with a pattern and everything. This released the coloured yarn for other projects. I’ve been wanting a red scarf, these three small red balls form a pleasing gradient and a pattern presented itself with ease. I have a hat already in the middle tone which is polwarth with silk. The darkest is merino bought years ago and written up here The palest is also merino, fleece given to me by friend Holly about a year ago, spun up and dyed with food colour.

The pattern (Mini Solution Scarf by Kelene Kinnersly) is for a triangular scarf, so I started with the smallest ball to get the most even apparent sized segments.

Then I knitted some during a Zoom meeting and made mistakes I didn’t want to live with. Frog and reknit.

There was only 110g all up and on 6mm needles it knitted up really fast. Here it is unblocked:

and all pinned out on a lovely big piece of cardboard that I saved from a moving box 15 years ago and had forgotten about. See, I knew such a big piece was worth saving for something!

The pattern is a good one for using up nearly all the yarn. Here are my leftovers

and here is the scarf all freshly blocked, dry and being modeled, on a day rather too hot for it.

It’s a procrastascarf, because what I really should have been working on is the edgings on a vest. I’d had one go and failed by making the neck edge way too tight. I just wanted to knit something easy, so I did. Now I’ve started a lace shawl. I really must have another go at those edges.

Embroidery Quilt

I had a small stack of under loved embroidered things. Garments, tablecloths, napkins, doilys, tea cloths, pillow cases, handkerchiefs etc. Some have already been turned into new garments but I kept any embroidered offcuts. I had been musing on the idea of making a patchwork quilt to use them up. We were in lockdown here due to Covid, not a bad time to embark on this.

I started in early July by settling on a block size driven by some of the larger motifs that I didn’t want to have to cut into. Anything smaller or awkwardly placed was built up to the right size using the plainer offcuts. I think that first round gave me about 50 pieces.

I have to share this cute puppy with you. The embroidery is not good but it was done by primary school me so it had to be included. There are so many memories in these embroidered bits. Quite a few were done by my grandmother, many by friend’s family. There are also pieces from childhood garments and my cot pillowcases sent over by Mama.

Eventually I came up with an overall design, which said I needed not just 50 pieces, but 144! So I put the call out to family and friends to make up the balance. This is partway through the collection. I think I still needed about 30 pieces.

Then in early September, the last donations came in, much of which was embroidery done by my friend’s family members. Lovely stuff to receive.

My plan was to checkerboard the embroidered bits with nine patches in nice strong colours, a pretty classic design. So I raided my hoarded cotton and linen offcuts, some of which are themselves embroidered.

Then shades of pale for the other “colour” of the ninepatches to blend with the background of most of the embroidered bits. I was in this stage developing a cunning plan for the arrangement of the dark pieces particularly. Way too much thought went into this and many, many rearrangements of the stacks.

Quite some intense time on “the zen of little bits of fabric” as I tend to dub this kind of repetetive construction and I had the needed ninepatches assembled.

A few more days of fun arranging and sewing got the patchwork done. Here it is all layered up ready to pin baste and showing nicely my cunning plan with the nine patches. The colours are arranged to give shades of red/purple on one diagonal and blue/green on the other. I had worried that it would be too hard to manage the orientation of the blocks to make this work but I did it with only a modest amount of unpickery. I’m really pleased with how this worked.

After it was basted, I was a bit over it so it rested for a couple of weeks until I could face the quilting. I was hoping that I could get that done before the weather got too warm to be sitting at least partly under a quilt for extended periods. To my pleased astonishment, it only took me 20 days! Ta dah!

Then another couple of days to do the binding, and now it’s a done thing, less than 4 months since I started. To clarify, it’s machine pieced, safety pin basted, and hand quilted. The binding is attached by machine and finished by hand. All rather quicker than the hand pieced Liberty Lattice quilt that took me a year for just the piecing.

Of course it has to have a label

and proving it fits on the bed.

All the materials were from some kind of stash, both mine and others, except a little of the sewing thread. The backing was from my mother who had been planning a quilt for many years but eventually decided she wasn’t going there. More power to her for releasing herself from that looming non-project. The batting was an opshop find, which I think might be bamboo, it’s a little too shiny to be cotton.

I’m so pleased with this. It’s light and bright and summery with so much interest and many memories to enjoy. The embroidery features so many things: flowers galore, butterflies, birds, deer, fleur-de-lis, cauldrons, shrimp, swordfish, people; a donkey, giraffe and a teacup. Also, all those under loved bits of embroidery have a new and useful life.

Paisley Particolour Gown

Um yes, I like dressing gowns. Besides, they are very 2020 Iso Couture.

I bought 2 metres of this gorgeous paisley velveteen a few years ago intending to make a skirt. However it isn’t where my style preferences are at for regular clothes at the moment and I had recently given away my mid weight dressing gown. There wasn’t enough for a whole gown but I had noticed the reddish colour in the print was a good match for the russet velveteen I have lots of. Then, in order that neither half be allowed to dominate and to put a pleasing colour near my face I liked the deeper of these two blue corduroy offcuts. There wasn’t enough of that, so I dyed the paler one to solve that problem.

See, they almost match now:

There was just enough of the paisley to get half the body, one sleeve and one pocket. Hurrah. I cut mirror images of all these in the russet too of course. The heavier corduroy was cut for collar facing and cuffs. The pinwhale gave enough for a belt.

After I’d cut everything and started putting the collar together, the pattern seemed to have some problems. Oh no! I had a version control issue and had cut the wrong one. Eep! Let’s see if I can describe the history in an understandable fashion

A Tale of Two Patterns

Once apon a time, I made a nice dressing gown from polar fleece and kept the pattern. Some years later, I wanted to make another but couldn’t find the pattern. So I took a pattern off the original gown, which didn’t work very well for the collar because the gown was both stretchy and well worn. By the next time I wanted to make a similar gown, I’d found the first pattern, but stupidly kept the second and worse one. I made up gown number three (Lady Macbeth with a bit of further improvement in the collar. Then, when I wanted to cut this gown I could only find one pattern. I felt that maybe I had captured the good points of both and only kept one version? Um, nope. The collar shape had looked odd to me while cutting and turned out to be bad when I started to try to put it together. I searched harder and found the first pattern, and then had to recut and piecen the upper sections of fronts, backs and collar facing. Argh. Currently, both versions are out on the cutting table. I really must condense them down to one and keep only that!

After all that excitement, I managed to get the collar put together. I’m getting better at this game.

I used very minimal added stabilising. There is no interfacing, the corduroy is stiffer than the velveteen already and I want this to be machine washable. I have taped the roll line, shoulder seams and back neck seam. I’ve also run a line of hand stitching to control the edge of the collar. The picture below shows the upper sides of the collar on the left and the underside on the right. You can also see the stitching for the roll line tape, plus a bit of stitching holding down the edge of the facing.

The collar was the hard part, the rest was pretty easy. I’m loving the colours though I know they won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. Oh yes, it’s unlined, again for easier washing and of course it has pocketses.

My only regret with this is having ended up with the paisley on the left. I’d rather cross the fronts with the paisley on top, but I always wear a wrap garment with right side over left. Oh well, I’ll cope. That preference hadn’t occurred to me during cutting.

Doubling Spun Colour

I’ve written before about craving colour in winter. Well I ordered 100g of this lovely stuff as a sheer impulse purchase. DHG 19 micron merino in “Champs-Élysées” colourway. Yes I know it’s spring! but i ordered this in the depths of winter, i just didn’t get around to spinning it until now.

Buying based on only computer screen colours is a bit dangerous. It turned out to be more autumnal than I had thought.

I thought I’d like it better if it had a bit more blue in it, and I had coordinating merino tops left over from previous projects. I was also pleased to extend the quantity. There is a limit to how many 100g projects one can make use of.

I came up with these two singles, both 50g, or half the original tops

These plied together came out nicely but felt like I had pushed too far to the blue.

So I thought I’d try something different for the second half extension and hope I could work both in together. “Thought” she wrote. SO much thinking. So many options. I thought I’d use just the blue and green with a mixed colour tops from stash to mimic the orange of the original.

Then I thought that including a little grey would come closer:

I spun this up and the second half of the original mix but with the intention of plying some of the original with itself for part of this skein. Original mix on the left, extension mix on the right. I then spun the last of the original mix on top of the extension stuff so I would get a little of the original mix plied with itself, having belatedly decided I actually do like those colours. Argh.

These two plied together gave the middle bobbin in the pic below. Big success. I rather wish I’d done all of it like this. I then went even madder and decided to try to produce yarn that would coordinate with the two bobbins made so far without using any of the original mix, hampered by running low on the blue and green tops.

Fun with multicoloured spinning from stash.

Here are the three finished plied bobbins. Confusingly, the first is in the middle, second on the right showing a bit of the original mix at the bottom, third on the left.

and as skeins. Overall I ended up with 210g, or approximately 650 metres of 4-5ply yarn:

and with the third bobbin shifted to the middle

this last pic shows the colours best I think. My camera really doesn’t cope well with blues. They don’t quite match but I reckon I could manage a pleasing sort of gradient using them all.

I am thinking I might try to use these as the front of a vest like garment in some way. Maybe. The point was really to enjoy spinning colours and I so did, but I’d like to use the yarn too eventually.