Almost Time: This Thing of Paper Wraps Up & An Everyday Make


Behind the scenes work may already have commenced on This Thing of Paper, but the campaign still has a few hours left. If you want to pledge your support, be aware that one reward level has gone and only a few slots remain on others. People have asked me how I am feeling - it is difficult to explain but I will try once I have summed up what a most extraordinary community has achieved.

Thanks to people:

  • This Thing of Paper will go into print!
  • I will have a small, awesome team of people working on this project.
  • The overall quality of the printed book has been enhanced.
  • Sample knitters will help me cut down the production time of the book.
  • I am able to apply to be a vendor at key UK knitting shows.
  • We will have book launch parties in Central Scotland and in London, UK with periscope feeds.
  • We will have a trunk show with Q&A in Manchester.

Isn't that incredible? When I launched the campaign, I hoped we could achieve the first two action points, but we've managed seven!

Answers to a few queries:

  • LYS owners will be able to preorder This Thing of Paper approximately one month before publication.
  • I already have a small army of sample knitters assembled, but thank you for thinking of me!
  • I already have a technical editor and a copy editor onboard, but (again) thank you for thinking of me!
  • You will see me less over the next six months or so, as I have a book to make! I am currently fully booked in terms of events and workshops until April 2017.
  • If you weren't able to pledge support for This Thing of Paper, the book will be in print next year (estimated date: April 2017).
  • Unfortunately I am not able to accept pledges outside of Kickstarter.


So, how do I feel? I keep going back to that word: overwhelming, but it fits. The whole experience has been very overwhelming. People have been so kind, so supportive, so generous, and so lovely.

The financial side of things is obviously fantastic (as you can see above!) but the emotional support has been equally amazing. And I think that's what you get from a crowdfunding effort: you get the emotional support too. And the emotional support is equally important to creatives like me who forget sometimes that we are not working in a vacuum. We are connected to a community of extraordinary people who like what we do - and something like this campaign has really brought that home.

Thank you so, so much. It means a lot as you will be able to tell by the next section.


One night last week I sat up late reflecting. The world has been a terribly bleak place of late, and my thoughts were swirling around the fact that my tiny, tiny corner is filled with the most extraordinary people: you are makers, knitters, writers, artists, lovers, dancers, thinkers & doers. And so I asked myself : how can we spread the goodness and kindness I experience in my everyday life? I don't pretend to have any answers, but I believe that we need to carry on being good, kind and open-hearted people. We need to challenge hate and fear when we see it - and to do so with love and compassion.

And then I went off to make myself a dress because I needed to create a space where I could refocus and recharge. Making stuff means that to me.

dressaThe dress is New Look 6262 - pardon the awful photo! It's a very straight-forward make, and I added pockets plus lengthened the sleeves. I used cotton lawn I had purchased from Abakhan when they had an excellent post-Christmas sale. I had three yards  but despite longer sleeves and pockets, I found I only used around 2.5 yards - with the fabric costing me around £3 per yard (I've seen it for sale elsewhere at triple the price!), that must be said to be quite a bargain!

Having said that, I don't find my lifestyle lends itself particularly well to cotton lawn dresses. Scotland is probably a bit too cold for this dress to be entirely practical and I nearly had a tear in the fabric when the brooch in the photo caught the fabric. I tend to get caught on stuff, so I'll be wanting to use slightly heavier fabric in the future.

The dress itself is fine, though I'm not crazy about gathered skirts. It was a quick make and it went together without a hitch. I opted to make fancy-pants facings, but that only took about fifteen minutes extra.

Would I make this pattern again? Probably - it is easy to wear, easy to make, and doesn't take much fabric. It is not the most exciting project ever, but that's okay. Sometimes you just want to make stuff and lose yourself in the process.

Cardigan is Hetty by Andi Satterlund knitted in Cascade 220. Everyday wardrobe for the win.



Making & Doing: Shawl, Skirt & Teaching

pshawl Happier times ahead. We had a photo shoot yesterday for this asymmetrical shawl knitted in three colours of Ripples Crafts BFL 4ply. I'll be writing much more about this shawl later (including my source of inspiration, why it's the next instalment of Authors & Artists, and how it is constructed) but for now let's glance downwards..


Hello skirt! This is one of the first things I've whipped up since I started dress-making again. I made this skirt in just a few hours and it worked perfectly for the photo shoot.

I use the super-simple Burda 6682 and made View B. The fabric is a slightly stretchy cotton poplin I found in a remnant bin in Glasgow's Mandors. I had around 0.75m and still managed to eke out a knee-length skirt. The construction couldn't be simpler: darts front & back, side & back seams, zipper, waistband, hem, done. I had never inserted a regular zipper before (it's always been invisible zips until now) but even that went without a hitch. I'm not entirely happy with how the waistband was attached - it was easy but looks a bit sloppy on the inside - so I'm going to try a slightly more fiddly waistband next time. I think my perfectionist tendencies are rearing their heads again..

.. but the skirt is super-comfortable and fits well. Its no-nonsense style makes it a good, basic pattern that I can see myself making again and again. Well, I am trying to make an everyday wardrobe, after all! The next skirt will be made of a medium weight denim that I picked up at the same time as the pattern. I have a bit more fabric to play with this time, so I might add a bit more length.


I'm off to Manchester this weekend for the Joeli's Kitchen retreat. There are going to be all sorts of amazing people there and I cannot wait to see everybody.

Next Wednesday I am going to be at Kendal's finest wool establishment, Williams Wools. I'm teaching a class on colourwork and how to design it yourself. I know people have lots of ideas in their heads, but it can be difficult translating those ideas into a project. I'll also talk about how to find the right colour combinations because that is probably one of the questions I get asked the most!

Then Saturday the 6th I am back up in Dundee's Fluph Shop doing c-c-cables in the morning (sorting out those C2R, CNB, and T3R abbreviations!) and Shetland lace shawls in the afternoon. It's never dull teaching at Fluph and I expect a fair amount of difficult questions flung at me!

I'm late updating my workshop page due to Life Happening, but hopefully that'll whet everybody's appetite! I'll return with more details about the new pattern and some Edinburgh Yarn Festival lowdown!

FO: Klimt Skirt

Klimt SkirtI could get addicted to making my own clothes. This green corduroy skirt is ridiculously Just What I Like & Cannot Find in Stores, that I cannot believe I did not do this dress-making lark years ago.

One pattern from a Danish sewing magazine One and a half yards of green corduroy One yard of green poly lining One invisible zip One spool of green poly thread Selection of Liberty fabric scraps & vintage buttons

One happy seamstress & wearer.

I altered the pattern (of course I did). The appliqué was done different to the pattern suggestion, I added lining and did away with the slightly clumsy bias binding around the waist.

Klimt? Why not. In fact, look at Gustav Klimt's "The Kiss" and tell me that you cannot see it. Just me? Okay then..

And I'm wearing my own handmade St. James sweater with this skirt. Oh, wardrobe love.

In other crafty news, I spent the morning trying to decipher a crochet pattern written in Afrikaans using a Dutch crochet glossary, Google Translate and reverse engineering from photo. Adventurous! After an hour and six rounds, friends kindly pointed me to an online English translation of the pattern.. and I felt a bit silly.

Finally, a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to one of the loveliest people I have ever met, Paula. This little video is for you..


Many of my regular blog reads are participating in Self-Stitched September. I  did think about it, honestly. I love how people show off their handmade goods looking incredibly stylish and proud in the process. Maybe I will do it next year when I have more self-sewn items in my wardrobe and a few more essential knits under my belt. I really need a black cardigan in my wardrobe, for instance. Every winter I wear a £10 cardigan from H&M I bought eleven(!) years ago. It is black with a high ribbed neck, trinity-stitch fronts and big buttons. It should have been retired several years ago, but I'm still holding on to it because I have been unable to find a suitable replacement in the shops. I should just buckle down and knit its replacement.

Right now I am putting the final touches to my green corduroy skirt. I just need to insert the zip, put in the lining and hem it. A couple hours, max? I do not know why I am dragging my feet so. Maybe it is because my next project will be a pair of utilitarian grey trousers for work. Do you sense a recurrent theme?

I think my state of mind is all about trying to delay the inevitable and trying to dodge doing the sensible thing. I'd much rather do the fun, creative, colourful projects than the things that'll see me through another chilly autumn day. I'm sure I am not the only one.

A few links: + Modern personal styles - more thoughts on building a wardrobe and defining what works for you. + A short'n'sweet tutorial for 15th century braiding + Bowie's Space Oddity is turned into a children's book. + Goodreads is really having an impact on my reading habits.

Of Petals and Parcelforce

I spent the evening sewing again. I'm making a much needed lined corduroy skirt and I had this idea in my head. I am using remnants of Liberty fabric swatches for the embellishment. Let's see how my idea looks when the skirt is properly assembled, though. The pattern is from a Danish sewing magazine my mum sent me earlier this year. I love receiving parcels from my family. Tiny presents and unexpected treats. My partner gets his beloved Danish marzipan, I get craft magazines and licorice. Win-win .. except when Parcelforce messes up and they do mess up quite frequently.

Add another Parcelforce failure to my bunch of stories - this time my story guest-stars my gran who sent me a lovely surprise parcel in July. Of course the parcel just happened to be picked up by a driver who 'forgets' about collection cards and just dumps parcels in the local post office rather than try to deliver them. And of course the post office gets tired of undelivered parcels taking up space and returns them to the Parcelforce depot where they disappear.

I have never lied this much to Gran over so short a timespan. Of course I knew where the parcel was! Unfortunately the post office was closed just as I made it there. Oh, I am just waiting for the delivery man to confirm when he's going to pop by.. If you have ever had a gran whose worried silence speaks volumes, you will know how I have felt these past two days.

Thankfully, Parcelforce does have nice people working for them. Steve found my parcel tonight after trawling the depot. And he is going to make sure that the parcel is being delivered tomorrow.

It better be. I cannot deal with Day Three of Gran being worried.

In other news, I was rather underwhelmed by BBC4's Elegance & Decadence: The Age of Regency. The subject matter is so interesting - the early parts of the 19th century were filled with radical ideas, grand geopolitical events, and amazing cultural upheaval - but despite an enthusiastic presenter, the while thing got mired down in cumbersome details about marble tables and gilded tableware. At least Beau Brummell was briefly mentioned (to my great geeky delight) but why he was to be singled out among the rarified set was never really fully explained beyond a brief dressing-up session. I shall keep watching but my hopes are slightly dampened.

Off to read some Russian literature. As you do.

Sewing FO: The Art Teacher Outfit

It's blustery and windy outside. I think autumn has just hit Glasgow in a big way. We never really had a summer this year - just a few sunny days and temperatures around 21C interspersed with torrential rain. The past two years we have had very hard winters. I hope winter will be milder this year, but with autumn arriving early .. who knows? I finished my dress - cue awkward posing in our stairwell (it's too windy to take reasonable photos outside).

I had my Other Half help me with the hemline - which is why I shall no longer refer to it as a dress. This is henceforth a tunic which irritates me greatly. I had made it to wear to work but it is definitely too short for that purpose. To hell with "but it shows off your legs!" - I needed a practical dress and this is not it. I'll try wearing it with work trousers, but I do not have great hopes for that.

The pattern was very easy to use and easy to adjust. I'll definitely use it again (and maybe even try making the trousers).

I like the raglan sleeve construction which is done with several pieces and results in a very flattering sleeve. I note that several people on PatternReview said that they felt the sleeves were too tight. I have Big Girl arms and the sleeves fit just fine - they are maybe even a smidgen too loose.

I altered the yoke slightly and sewed down the gathers about 2 inches below the neckline as I felt the dre tunic would benefit from a bit more structure. I understitched the facings too in order to combat the floppiness reported on Pattern Review. I did away with the ruffles on the sleeves (just not my thing) and simplified the pockets.

The pockets are super-cute, if slightly impractical.

I will probably do the same mods next time I sew this - but I'll add an extra 3 inches to the length. As it is not a hugely flattering shape for my body type, I might try and draft a slightly more A-line body next time. Or possibly do a couple of pleats empire-style underneath my bust. I do have a waist, you see, and while I'm a big fan of comfy dre tunics, they can be comfy and show off that waist at the same time. So there.

Did I mention I had an ironing accident with this fabric? Cunningly I fixed things so you cannot tell. Despite its tendency to fray (and melt), I do love the fabric. It works with everything in my wardrobe and is really nice to wear.

New things learned: making ironing accidents disappear, adding extra length to whatever hemline length my partner suggests, sewing patch pockets (super-easy) and dealing with flimsy and slippery material.

With autumn here already, I think it's time to address my urgent need for skirts.