I want to be Elizabeth Bennett

I love the BBC Pride and Prejudice – the actors, the settings, and especially the costumes. When I was little my mom sewed for me all the time. My closet was packed with handmade sundresses. As I got older I fell in love with American Girl Dolls and especially the books that came with them. My mom sewed me a Felicity dress which I wore every time I could possibly manage. She also sewed me a Laura Ingalls dress and bonnet, which I wore incessantly. I guess I’ve always loved to dress up and pretend I’m someone different.

Recently in reading Jane Austen Knits I stumbled upon Sense & Sensibility Patterns, where you can buy patterns to make your own Regency Era gowns (I’m drooling over this one in particular). I would love to make one for myself, but I don’t wear a lot of full length dresses. So my plan is to make a short dress. It will have a square-ish neckline and a knee-length (very slightly) hi-low hem. I will wear it with my wedding boots, and in the winter I can wear leggings. Also, I will knit this spencer to go with it.

regency dress

Knowing me, I’ll take forever to actually make it, but it is so fun to dream of projects.

Adventures in Dyeing

Earlier this year I made a long sleeve t-shirt.

shirt

There were some things I liked about the shirt (the construction and finishing details) and some things I didn’t (the colour and fit, since I didn’t measure before choosing a pattern size). Since then either the fit has relaxed or I have lost weight (or both) and I’m much happier with the look. Still, I’m not a huge fan of navy blue. I blame it on the uniforms I had to wear in high school. So I went to the store, bought black dye, and dyed my shirt.

So the lesson is: if you don’t like the colour of your clothes, dye them. Dyes these days are easy to find and easy to use, practically foolproof (as long as you get the right kind of dye for the fiber content of your fabric). You will be so much happier with the clothes you have and more likely to wear them.

I Made a Bra!

bra and bikini

About 2 months ago I bought the Watson Bra and Undies pattern. I made up a shopping list, cut out my fabric, and sewed the undies pretty quickly (more about that here). And then I stopped. I was terrified of making the bra. What if I didn’t cut it just right? What if after hours and hours of sewing it just fell apart? What if it didn’t fit?

The only way to know what would happen was to actually make the bra. So I did it. It fits! It didn’t fall apart. And now I have a matching set.

bra frontbra back

My main fabric is a cotton/polyester blend, and I fully lined it with nude power mesh. I really like the fit of this bra. It gives me good coverage without squishing me or making me a shape I’m not. The instructions are pretty easy to follow as well. In the future I think I would go down a band size, but on the whole I have no complaints.

detail

So there you have it. I made a bra by hand, there are no machine stitches on it. So if you are holding back from something like this because you’re scared, just do it. You might surprise yourself. And if it fails somehow or doesn’t fit? It’s just fabric. There is always more.

Recipe: Chicken Everything Soup

It’s beginning to be fall and that means soup! I love how warm and cozy a bowl of hearty soup makes me feel. Sometimes I don’t have the exact ingredients a recipe calls for, though, so I’ve made a recipe of my own based on what I had on hand. It can’t be that hard, right?

soup1

Ingredients: 

1 1/2 c dried black eyed peas

1/2 yellow onion, diced

4 Tbsp bacon grease

1/4 c all purpose flour

2 chicken breasts

3 c mixed vegetables

4 c chicken broth

1-2 c milk or half and half

Salt and Pepper to taste

soup2

Directions: 

The night before you make your soup (or the morning of), place your dried peas in a pan and cover them with 2″ of water. Bring to a boil and let boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, add more water, and let sit overnight.

Trim the chicken of any excess fat and cut into 1″ cubes. Place in a pot of boiling water, and boil for a few minutes until cooked. Meanwhile, add diced onion and bacon fat to a large stock pot and cook over medium heat until the onions are translucent – about 5 minutes. Add the flour and whisk to make a roux. Add chicken broth, milk, mixed vegetables, drained peas, and chicken. Season to taste. Cook the soup until broth is hot and vegetables are soft – about 20-30 minutes.

Serve as is or with some hot crusty bread.

soup

Thoughts:

  • You could easily substitute pinto beans or a bag of mixed beans in this recipe. If you are in a time crunch, canned beans work well also.
  • I used a mixed bag of frozen carrots, potatoes, celery, and onion from the store because I didn’t want to spend my whole life peeling carrots. This soup would be even better with fresh vegetables, and you can use just about anything you have laying around.
  • If you don’t have bacon fat you can substitute lard or butter, but the flavor will be slightly different.
  • Canned chicken would work in a pinch, and a rotisserie chicken would be easy and add a lot of good flavor.

 

The 4th Try Is the Charm

It is 7:30 on Saturday night: I am dreaming of knitting and starting a new project (For some reason none of the 5 million projects I have going is just right to work on right now. I’m studiously ignoring the fact that I have 5 million projects). I’m browsing Ravelry looking for something in brioche and I come across this cowl that I’ve had queued for months. Perfection. I buy the pattern.

8:30 PM on Saturday: I’ve rummaged through my stash and found the perfect yarn – Hedgehog Fibers Sock in Nutmeg (that I bought on my honeymoon) and KnitPicks Stroll in Midnight Heather. Yummy! I cast on, figure out how to do brioche again, and work a few rows. Exhausted, I go to bed.

yarn

12:30 PM on Sunday: *I pick up my knitting, work a few rows, and make a mistake I can’t fix. I rip it all out and start again. Repeat from * once more. Walk away frustrated. Clean house instead.

6 PM on Sunday: I notice my yarn is starting to show signs of wear. I stop to think before casting on for the 4th time. I decide to use a larger needle to cast on so the top will be nice and stretchy. I ask my husband to kiss my yarn for good luck before I start – he complies with no further questions, bless him. Using a US 6 circular needle I cast on the required number of stitches. I join to work in the round. I switch a smaller needle and work the foundation rounds. I join my second colour and start brioche-ing away. A few rows later I make a mistake, but it’s only a small mistake and easily fixable. I’m sailing away to Brioche land.

brioche!

Tiddly Bits

I’ve been following Treadle Handspun Yarns on Instagram for quite a while now. Robin spins the most beautifully even yarns – they are such a pleasure to look at. Every now and again she also works up a bag of Tiddly Bits to sell in her shop. Tiddly Bits are bits and bobs of different coloured rovings all tied up and thrown in a bag together. They always sell quickly, and I’ve been trying to get my hands on a bag for months.

tiddly bits

The idea is to reach into the bag and spin the next colour, no matter what it is (or I suppose you could carefully lay them out in colour order if that’s how you prefer it). I started spinning my bag of bits last night and oh, I love it!

all the colours

So many colours just jumbled up next to each other, all willy nilly! I think when the bits are done I may spin up something a bit more staid to calm everything down and make a 3-ply yarn like I did with my SkyWool: 2 fun plies, one calming. Or maybe I’ll really go crazy and ply with a cone of crochet cotton!

Who knows. I have the Tiddly Bits, and the world is my oyster.

SkyWool

I finished spinning the SkyWool! It started as the bounciest Merino top I’ve ever spun.

skywool

I spun it quite finely (spun S or clockwise), hoping for a fingering weight yarn. I wanted to make a 3-ply yarn, but I didn’t want to divide the roving in 3 pieces and risk wasting some of my fiber, so I spun the merino from end to end and then spun some natural coloured BFL to go with it. I plied from both ends of the merino, with the BFL as my 3rd ply (plied Z or counterclockwise). About 2/3 of the way through plying I ran out of BFL (I talked more about this here). Oops.

So I spun some more of the BFL and finished my plying. I wasn’t quite happy with how the yarn looked, though. You can see in the picture above how loose the plying is, and I desperately wanted a yarn as bouncy as the Merino Top was. So I decided to run it though my spinning wheel again to add more twist. I am so glad I did this because now I love how the yarn looks!

Technically the yarn is overplied: it tries to twist on itself when hanging, even after a wash. But I don’t care. I have 290 yds of beautiful blue fingering weight yarn!

skywool in the sky

I have no idea what to make with it.