Today I put away my summer clothes, and removed the winter ones from storage. I always find it a bit depressing having to encounter the berloody tights again . . . but it is nice to see warm winter dresses, sweaters, and coats. Anyway, before I pack the summer stuff away, I thought I’d show you various garments I sewed and knit myself over the past few months which, for one reason or another, I didn’t get a chance to blog about. You will note that there is something of a red theme going on — this wasn’t intentional! And apologies for what’s going to be a rather picture-heavy post.

1. Dotty Dress.

I was finishing the lining of this dress when I wrote this post back in June. I was reasonably pleased with how it turned out, so don’t know why I didn’t blog about the process more. It is a “very easy” Vogue pattern (V8319) and was reasonably straightforward — as I recall, it only took a few evenings to make. The only downside about the dress is that it came out slightly large. I was nervy about the rep Vogue patterns have of running small, so made myself the next size up. And then the dress was difficult to take in after I’d finished because of the precise way the body and cap sleeves taper together. But I am being pernickety – it is not too baggy, and I like the pattern very much. I may use it to make myself a winter dress –in the right size this time. I bought the pleasing dotty fabric from here — a site that I try not to look at too often as their stuff is just too damn tempting. Heres another picture. You can blame Tom for the hysterical gurning and throwing of shapes.

next up we have:
2. Boat skirt

I made this back in early June, using some Cath Kidston furnishing fabric I’d been given and some lovely red grossgrain ribbon I received in the badge swap (thankyou, Philippa!). I followed the basic instructions in this book, adding lining and facings to the formula. Its a good fit, quite sporty. I like this skirt very much and have worn it lots over the past couple of months.

And another skirt:
3. Summer swallows skirt.

I bought this Japanese fabric as a birthday treat to myself from the wonderful Rosa Pomar, whose stock is always so lovely — top quality and exceptionally well chosen. I like skirts like this with a lot of fabric — the width of the bottom is about three times that of the top. To make it, I just followed the instructions for a basic pleated skirt in this book, adding facings to the formula to make the skirt hang a bit better. I spent a long time matching up the waves and swallows on the pleats — this was well-worth the effort I think. Finally, I found some wide, black, broderie anglais edging on ebay, and added this to the bottom. Bingo! A skirt for wearing with a sticky-out petticoat underneath. And though its perhaps more of a summer garment, these swallows are going to hang around for winter too.

And finally:
4. Mary Traynor

I knitted this little top while hanging around in hospitals, waiting for surgeons and physiotherapists to finish doing what they were doing to Tom’s hand. The yarn is so lovely to work with — it was quite a comforting thing to have in one’s hands. Mary Traynor was my maternal grandmother — a champion knitter who spent every summer in lacy tops of her own making. She is to blame for my knitting, and lacy summer tops remind me very much of her.

The top is my own design: bottom-up, in-the-round raglan; spiral shell lace pattern; crocheted edging. It took just one skein of ornkney angora 4 ply. That’s right folks! Just 50g!

I love this yarn so much — so light and sugary, and it knits up a dream. The finished top turned out well, but it is wee — almost too wee. My thursday night knitting comrades laughed heartily at the size of it when they saw me making it — the combination of the lace pattern and a 40cm circular needle meant it looked contracted and near-dollsize, but it blocked out nicely, and does fit me — just. Here it is being blown around on the promenade near Funchal.

ye gods, was that really just last week? The weather is so crisp and autumnal here that Madeira seems a world away. So, anyway:

Design: Mary Traynor (my own pattern)
Yarn: Orkney Angora 4 ply. Red. One skein. Ysolda, and her lovely beret, are to blame for my yarn choice.
needles: 4mm addi turbos
ravelled here

Swapping round the warm- and cold-weather wardrobes has reminded me just how many berloody clothes I own, and that, aside from the occasional pair of tights (groan) that I really do not need to buy any more. I’ve found real pleasure in making and wearing all the things I’ve sewn and knitted so far this year, and am looking forward to revamping my wardrobe with handmade items this winter — tweed suits and knitted dresses, here we come.

And for those of you who were kindly asking after Tom: things are starting to improve. Madeira really did wonders for the healing process: he was told the other day by the woman we call “badphysio” that he was doing remarkably well “for his age”. (Note: we only call her badphysio because she’s rather dour and hardchrist, not because she’s at all bad at her job). The poor hand is still incredibly painful–now the tendons have healed, they have to be stretched and punished to prevent him having a claw. He has no feeling in the fingers, and the injuries are still rather fragile. But the evil splint can now be taken off during the day, and he is allowed to go running and hill walking again. This is very good news indeed.

21 thoughts on “all change

  1. That dress is great! I googled the pattern, and must admit that I wouldn’t have given it a second glance, based on the drawing on the front. It works perfectly with the bolero. Good to hear that the hand is getting better, too.


  2. Sticky-out petticoats – i thought that was just me who called them that – I haven’t heard that expression in years – wonderful. I don’t want to change to the winter wardrobe yet- can we just hang on a bit longer? Or do I just give in and stop kidding myself (and stop shivering too). Glad the hand is healing. Hardchrist? – never heard that one before.


  3. I found your blog through knittyvritti, and have to say this post was a great introduction! I love your style and look forward to seeing what you create in the future.


  4. Beautiful making. I’d buy the swallow skirt in a heartbeat, but perhaps I’ll order the fabric and use it for something else so I’m only half a needled copyist.

    For tights, I am an aficionado of Falke wool ones. Painfully expensive but long-lasting and darnable too.


  5. Whoot! I love the wardrobe refashion – its been great to read about. I have done the first stage of the mass clearout (with help from Felix) and I have identified quite a few items for refashioning but this has left me remarkably short of tops. But I’m enjoying having a smaller range to choose from – it has meant that I’m putting them together in different combinations. I used to really enjoy putting clothes away as a child for seasons but its something I’ve never thought of doing since I left home. I might bring this back. Bags are my downfall – I seem to have a huge number of handbags.

    You are so productive – I love all of them. I agree with Jane – seeing this post made me think that handmade is definately the way forward to get a wardrobe that is interesting, chic and flattering. Its enought to get me to dust off my sewing machine and try to start conquering my fear of sewing. Also I had a got a free copy of the “Sew I made it myself” book and haven’t used it much – your swallow skirt is making me look again at it. (Also I might have to sneaky buy the skirt book at somepoint as well).
    My orkney shade card arrived – beautiful colours and the people seem lovely as well. Its on my next wool purchase list.
    Glad to hear that Tom is doing a lot better and can start walking and running again. I hope the next couple of weeks aren’t too painful.

    P.S Tights aren’t that bad, really… I love tights and boots (its the inner goth, I used to love tights and DMs as a fashion combination!) However I’m on the lookout for some really good woolly tights rather than the nylon-lycra bollocks.


  6. I don’t know how you managed not to blog each of those as they happened! I would have been bursting with the excitement of sharing such stylishness! A bumper post which I will return to again for inspiration. Your top reminds me of the stitch pattern of a pink amorphous blob in Wrap Style – I definitely prefer your shapely version! 50g? Really? Lace is amazing stuff!


  7. I am so envious of your sewing ability. Those skirts are just gorgeous. Any plans to write up the knitting pattern for Mary Traynor? Pretty Please? Actually I think it’s time you thought about setting up your own shop :-) Glad Tom is improving. It must be all your good nursing care and cooking.


  8. Wow – I am really inspired by your work. You are extremely accomplished. My 3 year old daughter has a wardrobe full of handmade clothes, but not much for me yet.

    I am really pleased you pulled yesterday’s post. She does not deserve to have her bad manners framed for all to see. I love reading your rants by the way, whether or not I agree.

    I am glad there is progress with Tom’s recovery BTW.


  9. Oh, serendipity is a VERY good thing….just last night I ordered the book you mention using to make that fantastic swallows skirt. Handmade is the way to go; your wardrobe must be positively overflowing with unique and stylish things by now! It’s something I aspire to from afar.

    Oh, and I just love tights… Tights and boots. It’s just such a warm and cosy combination (and say what you will, but tights are great for preserving at least some of one’s decency when cycling in a skirt!).


  10. Oh man, I love that swallows skirt! So many handmade skirts I see are a little plain and cylinder-looking, but this is beautiful! I have to take a sewing class so I can attempt things like this.


  11. So glad to hear that Tom’s hand is improving. The waves and swallows on that skirt are KILLING me. Isn’t great when you spend the time to do something properly, then it turns out great? Love that.


  12. Oh that Swallows skirt is really just one of the cutest skirts ever. And those gray flats in the first pic are über-chic! Glad to hear that your partner is on the road to recovery and that the vacation did him a world of good.


  13. you’ve been industrious and also very chic, i’d say.

    tell stumpy that LOTS of exercise and physio agony helped me focus on positive forward movement. which, since after they took the cast off, there was carpal tunnel syndrome from a phantom hand about six inches off the coast of my real hand to a phantom shoulder, ditto, and thought i’d have to live with it forever, was crucial.

    and, the good news? it went away after some weeks. honest. and the exercise helped with the pain. honest. and crochet helped with the feeling that your fingers are three-pound plaintains. honest.


  14. This is so inspiring, as always. You have such a fantastic eye for color and shape. I was planning on swapping out my summer clothes today as well, and I may sit down and hem some pants. This is my version of spicing up the wardrobe with handsewn items and, don’t laugh, it’s a big step for me. Thanks for showing all of the lovely pretties, and I’m so glad that Tom is feeling better!


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