The days are getting longer. Lighter. I desperately hold on to this thought, as February and the sudden temperature dip are really getting to me. Naively, I thought we were past the really cold days; I can hear the weather laugh at me in the background... or maybe it's just the sound of my frozen jaw trying to move.
Perhaps this is a good opportunity to finish that incredibly warm crochet blanket I started in 2007. Now that I think about it, that's a great idea and a fantastic way to turn this cold around and laugh in the face of the weather. Who's winning now?
So, the blanket. It's a ripple blanket (more photos here) made with all colours I could find of that particular yarn at the time. I started it in April 2007. I had moved to the UK the September before and was discovering what it's like to part with people forever... when you're far away.
My great aunt Esmeralda was in hospital and I traveled home to say goodbye - the only goodbye I was ever in time for. I spent a week at home or so, mostly with her. And that's when I started the blanket, with all the colours I could find, because life is happy and sad and so amazing and so painful at times. I wanted my blanket to show that through its colours, all of its colours. What I didn't know at the time was that it would carry so much more weight than the lessons I wanted to teach myself.
I must have been about five rows in (and on my third - and final - attempt), and my aunt said to me, out of the blue: "You're so artistic, menina. Who would have guessed you'd ever be able to make something so pretty like that?"
I remember pausing for a moment, and then laughing. We both did. I'll always have that laughter, it was special; laughter is even more special when you don't hear it often, isn't it? Clearly, my path of destruction as a very naughty child had left marks on her, the one who looked after me so many days of my life we both lost count. It felt good to turn that impression around for both of us.
I'm now past all these colours, especially all of them together, but I look at this blanket and I love it, every bit of it, and the memories and smiles it never fails to bring me. There's a bit of my childhood in it, my memories of my childhood forever tangled with my aunt's gentle spoiling and love, and her permanent idea of me as the naughty kid who always had a plan for mischief. And there's a bit of that goodbye, the one you never want to say, the one you don't say, but that you feel so grateful for having had; goodbyes are hard and painful, but important and I feel so lucky we were able to have ours, albeit the silent type.
Right, onto to the sofa it is, under my blankie, crocheting away! Speak soon.
A home needs colour. It needs a bunch of other things too, especially to be lived in, but colour is an essential thing to me. Happy cheerful colour that makes your heart pop with joy at the sight of it. To me, that home colour is largely red.
I also think that a house should reflect who lives in it and let our personalities shine through the decoration we choose. Our house came with nice furniture, perfect to sit quietly in the background and be brought to life by colourful personal touches.
I already had a red ottoman pillow and wanted something to go with it. I used fabric from my stash and sewed the cushions above in my new (and yet to be organised) studio. I love them. They make our house feel like a home, feel like our home, and I love them for it.
As my sewing improved, I wanted to venture in the exciting world of dressmaking. I have booked myself onto a course but it’s only in the Autumn and although I’m sure it will still be very useful, I really could not wait that long to give it a go. And there’s something very special in trying something new without having learnt it before… I believe it’s called a challenge!
One Friday afternoon, I sat in Waterstone’s Costa with a bunch of dressmaking books in front of me.
I fell in love with three and brought two home, thank you Michael for the contribution. The minute I set eyes on the tunic in this book I knew this would be my first project. It just felt right and I clearly believe in *love at first sight* projects. Small setback though – this book helps you design your own patterns and that would be a step (or several) too far for me at this stage, so… I needed to find a tunic pattern that resembled the one in book. I did.
Meet Simplicity 5197 6 easy tunic patterns, View D. It has raving reviews throughout the sewing community and was described as easy to follow, make and adapt (thinking ahead, peeps, thinking ahead!). Could I ask for anything better?
:: The fabric and how cool it looks on.
:: The well-thought out details.
:: How comfy it feels.
:: I didn’t get the sleeves quite right. From reading the dressmaking book above, sleeves are tricky things to attach to the main body and in spite of all my reading I still couldn’t avoid a bit of ruffling. I assume my technique will improve with time and experience, as I have done all the steps to avoid this… probably just not very well. Such is life.
:: I think that while the tunic is lovely and comfy and very flattering on the neckline, the waistline could be better. I cannot work out if this is how it’s meant to look or if it’s due to my sewing or pattern tracing abilities (or lack of). Or if my body covers two different sizes pattern sizes and I should reflect this on my traced pattern. I guess I’ll find out as 1. I learn more about dressmaking; and 2. sew more of these tunics.
Thoughts on the pattern (view D)
Overall: I like it. It gave me a cute wearable tunic.
:: Simplicity knows how to write patterns for newbies. The instructions are very clear and really well explained so I felt I could do it and I did.
:: The pattern is so well written that includes all the little tips I found in the dressmaking book to ensure best look, including how to tackle the sleeves in order to not get the ruffles I end up getting anyway (all fiascos in that department are my doing).
:: The tunic details are lovely and really add to the final garment’s look.
:: Neckline: according to my Mother, it’s too conservative. Her daughter agrees.
:: Adding interfacing to the sleeves ads a bit of unnecessary weight to them, in my opinion.
What I would change in a future tunic from this pattern
:: I would make the neckline a bit deeper and a tad bit wider, turning it into a more obvious V-neck.
:: I would leave the interfacing out of the sleeves, I’m sure this would make them lighter and overall nicer. I would then finish the sleeves as you do the bottom hem.
:: I would look more carefully into this waistline bagginess. Is it meant to be like this? What’s causing it? And then fix it.
Do I recommend it?
P.S. - The photos... well, they have a story of their own really. I left it to the very last day, it was grey, I felt grey (and lazy!), I had just washed my hair the wind was blowing. I also need to work on the pose, it's so unfair on the garment that I look like I'd rather be doing something else... like knitting!
I sew. I would like to say I sew a lot, but sadly that wouldn’t be true. I sew a fair amount though, and a variety of items from bags to aprons to dolls to puffs, my current favourite! I’ll sew pretty much anything I fancy or I’m asked to, but… I have never ever sewn clothes.
In 2010 (or was it 2011), I had a new year resolution to make myself a skirt. Turns out new year resolutions were boo and that never happened. This year I’m setting monthly goals which is really working for me; as a result, July seems to be the month which will see me sew my first piece of (hopefully) wearable clothing.
A Friday evening at the bookshop and I came home with two books. I knew which item I’d sew first before I left the shop - a tunic. That Saturday I found the adorable fabric above and it was magic! Even though my original plan was to use a light coloured fabric, the minute I saw those white flamingos on navy… Yep, you know what happened!
Let the fabric cutting begin!
This cosy small cowl took me less than four hours to knit. It has garter stitch edges and stockinette stitch for the main bit. It was knit in the round and I used no pattern, it's that simple.
Cowl :: I love it! It's cosy and warm and happy.
Yarn :: Manos del Uruguay. Gorgeous colour and softness. I recommend it.
I had an amazing weekend in Bristol. I was myself and a bit of a new me who can wear red lipstick and have fun with it. I laughed and chatted and knitted and barely did any photography but that was ok too. I had a lovely lunch at Harvey Nichols and curry and pizza and mojitos and white wine, not all in one go. I watched the Grand Prix and could not believe how exciting it finally got! It was about time F1 people! Indeed I had an amazing weekend and coming back to the real world this Monday was not a problem because of that. And because Ascot is this weekend and I have lovely visitors.
I write and photograph, and am a lover of natural light and colour. I also sew and make things, all sorts of things. I believe in simplicity and that smiles make the world spin faster!
Originally from Portugal, I now live in the magical city of Oxford, UK.Welcome to my online space, I'm thrilled to have you here.
I'd love to hear from you! Email me.
All words and photos are my own, unless otherwise stated.
Please do not reproduce without my permission. If you would like to use a photo, please link back to this site and give credit.
Profile photo by Vivacious Mel Photography.