Category Archives: Uncategorized

Why I have gone all quiet

It has been a while, – not for the first time, I know – but this time it is for a reason other than laziness or lack of time. Writing silly things on a blog about crafting has become a bit meaningless lately. Things have happened, rather close by and further away.

Almost a month ago, I switched on the computer and saw a post about a tower block in flames. It looked like one of the many tower blocks in the area where I used to live in London. So I clicked on it. Grenfell Tower. For a few years, I have passed there daily on my way to nursery. I am sure you have all seen the pictures so I do not need to explain. Whilst I didn’t consciously know anybody who had lived in the tower, I know a lot of people who live right at its foot.

As shocking as I found those pictures, imagining all the people who could not get out that night, I am even more shocked about the non existing response by the Council of one of the richest boroughs. The same people I had to face when we were fighting against the closure of our nursery a few years back. It was the volunteers of a very strong community, or different communities coming together, who did all the work.

I could be sure that whilst I did not consciously know anybody who has lost his life in the blaze, I would definitely know some faces. From nursery, from the playground, through friends.

A few days later I saw pictures of missing people. And there she was, the lovely lady who was in one of my first knitting classes. She and her whole family had lived on one of the top floors and they could not be saved.

As I do not know if her family wants her to be featured in my blog, lets just keep her name out of if. She was from Morocco and she knew already how to knit. Whilst I struggled with the task to teach this skill to people who had never even hold a knitting needle in their life, with linguistic and cultural barriers (not every one gets my sense of humour). She remained smiling and waited patiently for something more interesting than my attempts of teaching a simple knit stitch. And helped the others around her. And this is why I do not only remember her so vividly but also used her as an example in all my classes later. Because she knitted “the wrong way round”.

Before I had met her, I knew that there was English and Continental knitting. But that was it. But thanks to my own classes, I have met so many knitters from different corners of the world and have realised that there are as many ways of knitting as there are cultures. Approximately.  And that there is not just one “right” way of doing it. But I have also realised quickly that mixing styles leads to trouble. If you do the knit stitch the Moroccan way (through the back loop, at least it seems to be the case after my extensive experience) you should do the purl the Moroccan way too, not my way. And this is why that lovely woman became so famous in all my classes. Even at a stage where I had to ban her from helping! Just by sitting next to her people started to change what I had just shown them! I always joked that she was messing up my classes and made her “sit by herself” and luckily she let me make these jokes.  As I said, not everybody gets my sense of humour. Thanks to her we had quickly something to laugh and talk about, the atmosphere became relaxed and fun and on a bigger scale she remained for me the perfect symbol of knitting as something that brings us all together, onto the same level, no matter who we are and where we come from. In that sense, knitting is community and unity and I guess, this sense of community is what I am missing most from my previous life in London. I am optimistic that the community affected by Grenfell will be strong enough to finally overcome the pain but life in the area will certainly not be the same anymore. I just hope that finally all the families affected will get the support that they need.

So, whilst having her in my class was kind of a short encounter, it has become rather meaningful to me and it also reminds me that I had once set up the knitting classes and later chaotic group-rather-than-class in an attempt to bring people from different corners of society together. And it had worked well, hasn’t it. I hope I will be able to create a similar place here, too. I will help me feel at home.

RIP lovely lady and all victims of the Grenfell tower blaze.

 

 

Me Made May round up: a tremendous success

Me Made May is over and I haven’t once managed to blog about it. Clearly I was too busy Me Made Maying. Or whatever.

So lets see if we can tick a few boxes:

I pledged to wear one me made piece every day and I can assure you that I have succeeded tremendously. Well, apart from the very last day and that wasn’t my fault. Really. Apart from that. Tremendously. But this part of my pledge had been easy anyway.

So let’s have a look at the slightly more difficult part: Decluttering my wardrobe and identifying my needs. Also tremendous success. I looked into my wardrobe once every day thinking that I will have to throw away this or that (things with holes for example) before putting it back again. So, the main part of the work is basically done, all I need to do now, is to take the things I don’t need any longer and put them into different piles, one with things that are still good for someone else (like thinner and younger people) and one with things that are still good for a new life as cleaning devices.

Another important point of the whole Me Made May experience this year was to identify my problems and needs. Well, surprise surprise, my parrot wardrobe needs a few items that are…. what was the word for it again? Monochrome? No? Neutral? No. Boring! Yes, that was it! It is almost impossible for me to combine two me made items because the all have different patterns and colours. Which came to me as a total surprise, I have to say. Sure, I always hated “twin sets” (a German! expression for these matching T-Shirt – cardigan combos sold by catalogue businesses) and I really don’t understand that lady in my local haberdashery shop who keeps telling me that she always sews in sets: Trousers, top, cardigan, coat, belt, handbag all in 1 (one!) colour. But should I have taken from these experiences that I do have a problem? I don’t think so.

Anyway, time to tackle the problem and make a few items that could go with my many colourful skirts, dresses and tops. Lets have a look into my fabric stash, surely I will find something to get me started.  Or not. But there are a few other nice fabrics just waiting to get turned into dresses. Lovely floral organic cotton jerseys by lillestoff for example.  That could be a useful time filler before magically some of my clothes turn into simple black and white trousers and tops, no? And anyway, I am wearing dresses every day.

So I started with a lovely mustard-purple-orange jersey by enemenemeins and lillestoff which is not only totally unsuitable for my skin type but also as close as one can get to black-white-grey as possible (at least out of my stash).

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The pattern is Gloria by Milchmonster (what a fantastic name) and it is actually suitable for breastfeeding even though I don’t normally like this style of top exposure. I am more of a pull up girl. But it is good to know that in theory I can actually breastfeed if necessary.  And to be honest I have already been wearing this dress at home. A lot. It is very comfy. Probably also because I chose not to do the darts at the back to accommodate my wobbly tummy (according to my lovely children and my mirror).

Those of you who keep focussing on the negative sides of this blog or even life in general might think that this little project is against my Me Made May pledges. Well, at least it doesn’t add to the number of uncombinable (I don’t care if this is in the dictionary or not. It definitely is in my wardrobe) items as I do not actually have to combine it with anything anyway as it is a dress.

And if you absolutely must know, I also have started my announced trousers project. I have already purchased an online class at Tilly and the buttons and printed about 60 pages of pattern. Since this seemed a lot to stick together I have started with a trial project: Two pairs of Sachensuchershorts by fabelwald for my children.

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I love them and they look even better when worn but the children run too fast in these for me to catch them on camera. And for those of you who are still complaining that I got once again side-tracked: You are really starting to annoy me and I am refusing to show you the promised Zsazsa coat. Even though it is finished since aaages. And looks amazing. Not until you apologise and promise to stop being such smarty pants!

 

 

 

Me Made May challenge

The lovely Zoe of So, Zo… What do you know? is once again hosting the Me Made May challenge and I am happy to say that I just about managed to sign up on time.

I was really looking forward to this as I have made quite a few clothes for myself over the last year. So I was ready for this. However, now that the day has finally come, I wasn’t sure what to pledge. The basic pledge would be to wear one me made item each day. That is not challenging as currently I do that anyway. Mainly because the only T-shirts without holes are the ones that I have made a couple of weeks ago here and here. And there is of course my hoodie. So, I do wear at least one me made item every day anyway.

Another pledge often used in this challenge, is to wear each garment only once or to wear each garment at least once. For the first, I would not have enough yet, for the latter, well, I do not have appropriate occasions to wear all of them. Unfortunately I have a tendency to make lovely dresses although I do not actually wear dresses in my everyday life.

So, I feel that this year, I can not actually do the challenge properly. Being at home without any likelihood to dress up nicely limits the choice in my wardrobe. On the other hand, it is also unlikely to get many new items done in the next couple of weeks.

I have therefore decided to take the challenge as a step forward towards a bigger goal of becoming self-sustaining wardrobe-wise. I am not sure if this will ever be possible or if this is what I really want. What about underwear and things like tights and leggings. Or more functional outdoor wear? I am not sure about that.

So for Me Made May 17 it will be one me made piece of clothing everyday as a base plus I will actually declutter my wardrobe in order to identify my needs and following this, I would like to start eventually adding more useful pieces (rather than just “colourful and fun but unfortunately not matching  with anything else I already own” kind of items). I will also try to finish two projects.  One would be a Zsa Zsa coat as I kind of started this project already. Unfortunately it will fall in the “colourful and fun but unfortunately not matching with anything else I already own” category. The second project will be a pair of trousers. Probably using a pattern by Tilly and the Buttons. I really feel that this will be an important step forward. I have been sewing simple tops and dresses for children for far too long. Time to get out of the comfort zone again and learn something new.

 

Modern urbanisation: turning parking space into living space

Don’t worry this has not suddenly turned into a blog about architecture and area planning. Although this might be interesting, too. As long as it is an expert talking about it, not me. This one is still about knitting and sewing. Not that I would be an expert in these fields either. But aaanyway.

It is probably not wise to start with the highlight of today’s topic rather than building up tension but I do know for a fact that some of my readers get quickly bored and never make it to the end of my in-depth analysis of things. So let’s jump right in.

This parking site has recently been transformed:IMG_5744

into this beautiful home  (still without a roof in this picture) surrounded by a moat:

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to be completed with either a golden roof for a beautiful castle…

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or a dark roof full of spider webs, cracks and bats (yes, these are bats, no weird letter “M”s) for a witch house, dangerous castle or whatever you want to imagine.

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The attentive readers amongst you (for all the others: no need to look away in embarrassment, I am ignoring you anyway), this is not really a transformation as clearly it is a totally brand new development which happens to have the same shape as the afore-mentioned parking space.

It is finally time to reveal the long-awaited portable magic play mat:

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Rather by accident, I must admit, the pocket looks very castle-y but unfortunately it is not as deep as the pocket of the original car play carpet.

But lets unfold the secret inner life of boring spotty bag (trying to rebuilt tension here):

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So there is a deep looking cercle in the centre, made of bricks, could be a tower or a well in the middle of the wood, depending on the story you are developing.

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and a deep dark cave, possibly home of a dragon, a gnome or a captured prince (trying to break up stereotypes)

But enough teasing. Lets have a look at the carpet in its full glory:

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So, we have different areas, a dark wood at the top, a dragon forest in the right top corner (I know, they are dinosaurs! Could you please make a little effort and switch on your imagination?!), a wolf wood, a park with magical looking birds in cages, a pink unicorn forest (I know, they are not unicorns. You are starting to bore me with your negativity), a pond (the BLUE bit of course. I mean seriously!), a bed of lollipop flowers (on request. I’ll leave it to you to guess which ones are the lollipops, but I’d try those round lollipop shaped flowers if I were you), a few other lawns with magic looking flowers and plants and a big meadow with cute little magic people, possibly fairies and elves living in there. There is also a silver / breadcrumbs trail leading from the house to one of the lawns/forests or vice versa. Who knows. Up to you.

I meant to have more dangerous, dark looking areas but strangely (and I really can’t explain this at all), I do not seem to own many dark or dangerous looking fabrics. Apart from an endless variety of dinosaur fabrics. Nevertheless, I am more than pleased with the result, I have to say.

As you can see, similar to the car play carpet, there are poppers everywhere to stick on magic items.

We have…

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… a magic key,

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… a magic ring,

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…. a magic wand (clearly! But you can also pretend it is a log or whatever else),

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… a treasure chest

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… with real silk lining – would you expect anything less?

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….um… a bottle of magic potion (not my finest work, I have to admit. And I did get told off for this one)

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… a magic book. Clearly my favourite. If not the only one out of the set I really like.

I guess my main problem with these “props” is their inconsistency. The treasure chest is really 3D, the book is beautifully “drawn”, similar to all the decoration on the house, the bottle is just nonsense, all the others are much more simple. I guess they should all look a bit like the book. With embroidery as a main feature. Even if then the treasure chest would lose its main feature. What do you think? Which one is your favourite?

Also, would you prefer playing on the car carpet or on the magic one?

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In any case, after a very slow start I really enjoyed the project, especially the free hand machine embroidery. Remember when I did that 3 hours course at Tilly and the buttons back in London? I really want to explore this technique even more and finally invest in a proper embroidery foot for my machine. Plus, I have realised that I have to take the “using up my fabric scraps” project a little bit more seriously.

But it is almost May, time to focus on Me Made May, so the scraps will have to wait.