My 10th blogoversary

I started blogging ten years ago today, according to my blog history.  Thank you, readers, for making it so enjoyable for me.

One thing I am sorry for is that I can no longer share my creations with my mother, who used to read this blog often, since she has been taken ill with dementia and computers are now too complex for her.  She’s always been a strong supporter of my creative work.

This blog has seen me though getting my PhD, recovering my joy in sewing, the birth of both my children (Charlotte and John), and many other trials and tribulations.  I occasionally review the archives to see what I was doing when!

Thank you all for continuing to support me now, and leading me ever onwards in my work.


Vintage Dutch Skating Caps

I have been knitting a bit, this time a couple of caps for the kids from a vintage Dutch pattern.  These are super-simple to knit on the Passap, taking under an hour to knit and sew up.  Just a bit of racked fisherman’s rib, really.

The caps are done with a relatively thick yarn, merino wool at 350m/100g (Gjestal’s Baby Ull).  The fabric is VERY thick, while still being quite stretchy.

Charlotte is happier now.  It’s light before school, you see.  (But if you look closely, you can see the sweater from Evil Mom under her jacket – she loves it really.)

I love the vintage athletic styling (intensified by the Swedish national yellow and blue I picked) and the ear warming function, the kids love the colours and the ability to put a hood up easily over the cap.


Future cross-country champ

More to come – one for Dr Moreau and one for me, I hope.


Best to wear this kind of cap with pyjamas, really.  And smile for the camera.

A fashionable self-sewn cycling wardrobe

I don’t cycle much.  But Karen (kbenco on blogspot) does.  Whenever I think I am really a pretty good seamstress, I bring myself down a peg or two by looking at Karen’s blog.  She’s both a wonderful seamstress and an independent thinker.

Anyway, she made a whole wardrobe for a six week camping and cycling tour across France with her family, which you can read about here:

Her post is several months old, but sadly for me I did not see it at the time it appeared.

For this trip, her wardrobe consists of feminine pieces in natural fabrics — wool, cotton (including Liberty lawn) and plenty of silk (including a sleeping-bag liner); as well as a bit of rayon and a couple of purchased padded cycling shorts.  Thus, instead of looking like a scruffy tourist or travelling athlete, she looked like a beautiful, stylish woman out with her family.

This is really what I want for my camping and hiking wardrobes: Stuff that is functional, unique, suitable, fashionable.

Her summary:

3 base layer tops – tanks
2 base layer bottoms – 1 batiste skirt/petticoat, 1 leggings
3 light mid layer tops – 1 blouse batiste, 1 long sleeved merino t-shirt, 1 shirt dress lawn
1 medium layer top – merino long cardigan
3 bottoms – 1 pr capris, one wool skirt, one batiste skirt
1 outerlayer rainjacket
2 scarves, 1 buff , 1 sunhat
(cycling gloves and helmet)

PLUS (purchased en-route as the weather cooled)

mid layer top (pullover)
another pair of leggings
another scarf, and a warm hat.

This is another reason to, within reason, avoid patterns marketed as “athletic” and understand the function of each layer of clothing. Here, Karen is cycling through warm weather during the day (lightweight mid layers) and needing to wash often (quick drying), while experiencing cooler temps at night (pullover/cardigan/buff/hat). She also layered leggings over her cycling shorts for warmth when necessary.

Fantasy 6PACs with Ottobre, Burda, and Knipmode

One thing I like to do when I get a pattern magazine is to try to construct a 6 piece wardrobe from the patterns in the magazine and my fabric stash.  I mean, mostly in my head, because my sewing time is limited.  I find that limiting my patterns leads to a more creative mindset for me.  I am someone who can get stuck in a rut, and also someone who can be paralyzed looking for the “perfect” pattern or the “perfect” fabric.  The exercise of working with a small number of patterns and fabrics is really helpful in getting me to use what I have.  I thought I would share my ruminations with you all.

My rule of thumb is: two bottoms, two tops, two layers all working together.

Fantasy 6PAC with the new Spring/Summer edition of Ottobre (2/2016).  In order to use my stash more effectively, I generally go through each magazine and see if I have the exact right fabric to make every item, even if I would never generally look at the pattern.  It’s a lot of fun!  I haven’t got the physical issue now so I thought I’d just imagine a 6PAC from the line drawings.

Ottobre Woman 2/2016 (Spring/Summer) line drawings.

OK, so first up is two layers.  Long sleeved layers.  There’s no jacket in this issue, so I’d have to pick the shirt number four and very likely the very loose top number 5.  It does have zips.  You know, on the side (grr).  To make these more classic, I think I’d choose a pretty denim coloured lightweight wool-silk blend for the shirt and an ivory coloured wool gauze knit for the loose shirt.  I also might forego the zippers.  (I have both these fabrics in stash).  The tone of the collection is quite casual so far.

Next up is bottoms.  The trousers number 14 are a given, ideally in a dark navy/ivory linen combo, and lengthened.  I don’t have those fabrics, but I think I can get them.  Then I already have a bunch of skirts.  It’s too cold in spring to wear any kind of shorts here (seriously, Sweden in April? Cold and rainy). The midi skirt 6 is sufficiently different from my current skirts, so I might make that in linen denim (like they have in the Otto shop) or perhaps a knit – I don’t know what fabric it’s drafted for!

Finally tops.  Too cold for sleeveless tops.  Peplum and midi skirt is icky (right?).  So basic easy top 13.  I think it’s a woven top, if so in a drapey cranberry wool twill with a Laura Ashley print that I have with navy and sage green and ivory in it – warmish and nice under one of the layers (but it might catch the gauze?).  I don’t love the top 1 but it’s the only one that meets my requirements.  I’d make it in green rayon knit, bound with navy.

In short, I do not like this particular magazine for 6 pac.  Not enough separates, too many dresses, too many sleeveless and short garments, hardly any basics.  But it’s doable.  And it’s fun to push your style boundaries too.

Here are the line drawings for this month’s (Feb 2016) Burda.

Burda Style 2/2016 (Feb) line drawings.


More from Burda 2/2016. That flappy skirt, model 120, would make an excellent summer hiking or running skirt.  Just saying.

Burda generally has really nice jackets.  In this particular issue I would like the very long cardigan, no 131 (in the plus section), which I would make in a lightweight sweater knit – perhaps Ottobre’s merino wool, in oatmeal, or my merino gauze.  This super-long knitted cardigan has been a style here in Sweden that I have enjoyed seeing.  I already have a raincoat or I would pick no 117.  So I think I’d go for shirt 108, again in the wool/silk chambray I have in a light denim colour.  This could mix from work to town, not so casual as the Otto wardrobe.

For bottoms, I am in the plus sizes now.  I think I would pick no 130 the divided wrap trouser/skirt thing – I like the funky look.  In a dark chocolate washed linen, I think.  Then the longer skirt 135 – don’t know what fabric they suggest but for cool spring here I might choose a lined fine wool or corduroy, maybe an awesome contrast lining.  Like a sober dark brown pinstripe with a fuchsia lining.  I have some crazy lining fabric somewhere.   I would skip the elastic waist and add a waistband/zipper. And i might not colour block  (note also these are one and one and a half dot patterns — I would always try for simpler patterns with a wardrobe)

Now we have the basis of a funky work collection in shades of cool brown.  Perhaps on rethinking it I would make shirt 108 in a mix of brown/pink cottons, which I bought a while ago, that would be cohesive and funky. And – maybe make the shirt-dress version (109) for greater versatility!

Tops.  Not loving the tops.   The skirt could support a peplum but not the funky wrap-pants thing, weird with the peplum dividing in the centre and the asymmetrical pants wrap.  On the other hand I look quite bad in boxy woven tops.  What to do?  Seems like 105 is nearly the only choice, but I’m not convinced it would fit under the long jacket. OK then, 118, the 60s retro, in pale pink linen. But no, it won’t fit under the shirt.  Grrr.  Fine then, 103, despite its goofy tail, and I have to make two.  Pale pink and white stripes (campan fabric from Otto) and then a taupe knit.  On the plus side, the 118 style will be nice with skinny pants.

And Knipmode finally.  A much more usable issue!

Knipmode 2/2016 (Feb) line drawings. The four for skirts, models 20 and 21, are great basic patterns e.g. for an insulated skirt in winter.

11 peplum jacket, in fine purple wool
26 zip top, ivory merino, huge heart eyes from me

6 yoked jeans, adoration, i suppose jeggings or stretch denim, ideally dark purple
18 skirt with panel, to match jacket

shaping up to a classy spring work collection

Bad tops again.  Why is this so hard?  I am hating hard on the inability to wear these boxy tops with an overlay.
2 knit top (over engineered, not my fave) in a pink/white stripe
1 sleeveless knit top (stupid, but what choice to I have?  I want to wear the jacket sometimes) in purple rose print

Well, readers, a little insight into how my mind works and how I think about constructing collections.  Your reflections are welcome!

Little bits of things

I have been working on some merino long underwear, but have been fighting with the fabric since it has like 125% stretch and I’m not used to that.  Have recut the top down to size 34; it’s still a bit big but I’m living with it.  Just need to add cuffs and hem now.  Then onto the adventure of the bottoms…

Meanwhile for some relaxing sewing I added some loops to some linen towels I just got.   Somewhere in my searching on the hiking series, I ran across a range of people who swear by linen towels for travelling.  Apparently the microfibre towels sold for travelling a) don’t absorb, just sort of squeegee the water off (this is true, mine is horrid this way); and b) smell really bad very quickly.  Their virtues are that they are light and dry quickly, unlike cotton bath towels.  Well, linen towels are very light, very absorbent, dry quickly and don’t smell.  Cons of course is that they are expensive.  Unless you buy them from Belarus off Etsy, like I did (seller was naturaltextile).  I got six full sized bath sheets (two white, four in different colours) and three hand towels (two white, one natural), in waffle weave pure linen.  Very very happy with them and they’ve made my husband’s gym experience much lighter!  Anyway they came without hanging loops, so I fixed that.

Also, I have redeemed myself from Evil Mom status: I hand-sewed fleece into my daughter’s sweater collar to address her complaints about itchiness.  Cut a strip and catch-stitched it top and bottom to the ribbing.  Catch stitch is stretchy, so it still goes over her head…  I was sure that she would complain that it  was choking her, but today she put it on to go to school in without any mommy intervention at all!

I stole this diagram from a website called Yesterday’s Thimble.  Basically any hand stitch that includes a backwards movement of the needle (e.g., backstitch, catch stitch, etc, even featherstitch) will be stretchy to some degree.  Useful to know when sewing knits!

Plus I embroidered a heart on the back of the fleece strip so she can tell how to put it on the right way without a label, which saves time in the morning.

I don’t have pictures of all these things, so perhaps you would like to see a picture of a small frozen waterfall from our little walk in the woods yesterday?  It was a beautiful, clear, cold day, so we took the bus from the house three stops to a little trailhead in the woods.  This is a bus stop we always go past and have never stopped at before.  We took tea and chocolate with us, and the kids had their backpacks on (Johnny, 3,  carried a very important plastic shovel, and Charlotte, 8,  an equally important Basket For Putting Things In).  John was tired and crying as we set out and demanding to be carried.  I foresaw not very good things but as soon as we got into the woods it was like they were in the best playground ever.  We didn’t go on the path but followed the edge of a little stream.

It was cold enough that the water on the ground had frozen and it was easy to walk (otherwise, this area can be a bit boggy).  We challenged the kids to find traces of animals and Charlotte found prints from a forest mouse!

We also saw squirrel tracks (and lots of cat and dog on the way) and a beaver dam with a gnawed tree not far away.

We walked for maybe 45 minutes and had tea and chocolate on a stone. Lovely little outing. Can’t wait for more and longer hikes.

Bad Mom Makes Child Freeze, Regrets Nothing

This morning, before dawn, I insisted my daughter put on her new sweater and indulge me in photographs.  Outside.  It might have been cold.  Colder than I thought.  Maybe -5C.

You can’t tell, can you?


It’s possible that she might have been a bit grumpy about this.


It’s possible to conclude that this sort of thing is why many children of moms who sew refuse categorically to make anything for their kids.

I should feel bad.  But I still think the sweater is really pretty.

Retro hat and sweater combo

I finished up my sweater, which also goes with a hat I haven’t previously shown on the blog that I finished in December.  Both knitted on the Passap DM80.  The hat was knitted in circular fair isle, but the sweater pieces were knitted flat.  Not much difference in the end product.

The pattern comes from an old Passap magazine, or “model book” as it’s known.  These model books are absolutely great — they give excellent techniques and have innovative patterns.  The earlier patterns from the 60s and 70s don’t need much modification to be fashionable today (updating colours and yarns can be all you need to do).  In this case, the pattern photo was black and white, but the colours were listed as yellow, green, and dark green.

©Madag 1967.  From Passap Model Book 12, downloadable at

I substituted grey, white, and a strong berry pink.  The hat was finished in a couple of hours.  The sweater took three evenings to knit but a lot longer to finish since I misunderstood the directions and made it much too long in both body and sleeves!  I had to take it apart, cut it down from the top with the serger, sew it back together, and re-attach the neckband.  And you know how that goes.

Here’s the hat:

I’m getting better at pom-poms, too.  But not as good as the original!  I wonder how they get SO MUCH YARN in their pom?

I don’t have a modelled photo of the sweater yet, but here’s the flat version:

I did get her to try it on.  For like, five seconds.

The stitch pattern is a simple stripe plus every-other-stitch colour work pattern, workable on even very simple machines.  The magazine doesn’t show it graphically but writes it out.  I drew it on a bit of graph paper and painted in the colours I wanted so that I’d have a better reference.

There are 12 rows of grey between the beginning and ending of the pink pattern.

The hat took about 50g of yarn (regular sized sock yarn, about 400m/100g), while the sweater took 250g.  Roughly twice as much of the main colour (grey in this case) as the two contrast colours, and a bit more pink than white.

I actually have more machine knitting projects that I haven’t yet blogged!  I have sweaters for Johnny & Dr Moreau (also me) in the works, but have hit some snags.  Must resolve snags, because it’s fun to finish!

Things I make, and things I think


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