Thursday, 29 January 2009

Pattern Review - a great sewing resource

Sewing patterns

I have a much better hit rate when I sew from patterns than when I make up patterns from scratch, but I still get a bit overwhelmed when I'm in the fabric store and I'm trying to choose a pattern to buy, especially a pattern to make a garment for me. It's hard to know from the pictures in the big pattern books which designs fit well or have good instructions. And when they cost upwards of $10 each, I'd rather not fork out for too many duds! That's where I've found that Pattern Review really helps. It is kind of like a Ravelry for sewing patterns. There is a searchable database of patterns and when people make up a garment from a pattern they can post pictures of the finished product and write a review. It can really help you narrow down just which cross-over top pattern or A-line skirt pattern is going to turn out how you want it.

Just last week Pattern Review did a round-up of their most popular patterns of 2008. Read the list here and join up to become a member (it's free!) and get on their mailing list here.

What other resources do you know of that can help us crafters pick out the gems in a sea of patterns?

Sunday, 25 January 2009


Studying is eating into my crafting time at the moment, but I'm still finding time to bake...

oat choc chip cookies .
Oat, raisin and chocolate cookies, recipe adapted from The Joy of Vegan Baking

vegan chocolate cupcakes
Chocolate cupcakes. Cupcake recipe taken from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World (recipe is online here). Icing recipe from The Joy of Vegan Baking

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Long time, no see

Blue sky for Christmas
Blue sky on Christmas Day in Greytown

I think that must be my longest break between posts, apart from when we went to Europe last June. Unfortunately I don't have much to show for it. We've been spending most of our free time finishing up the prep for painting the house (sanding..ugh) and then on Thursday we got to finally start painting. We're about halfway done now, but the weather isn't looking great for the next few days so I doubt we'll be finished by the time I start my classes at teachers' college next Tuesday.

I finished up at work earlier in the week. I'd been there for almost 5 years and it feels a little strange to think I won't be going back again. But it really feels like the right decision and I'm looking forward to the new challenge of being a student again. We bought movie tickets today and I got a student discount - woohoo!

Not much crafting has been done in the past few days - after a day of painting all I've wanted to do is vege out on the couch. I did get to watch a couple of great dramas on TV though. I recorded Lost in Austen when it was on TV a couple of weeks ago and watched it earlier in the week. The premise is that a modern London girl switches places with Elizabeth Bennet. I wasn't sure what it would be like, but I really enjoyed it. If you like Pride and Prejudice and the BBC adaptation (Colin Firth as Darcy), I'd highly recommend it.

Tonight we also finally saw Lars and the Real Girl. It was classified as a comedy at our video store, but it's definitely more of a drama. It's a very sweet story and Ryan Gosling was really good. Another one to watch if you haven't yet.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

New Year crafting

Happy 2009! Hopefully most of you are still enjoying your Christmas break. I cut my holiday short this year and went back to work on Monday since I'm finishing up for good next week. From next Tuesday I'll be an unemployed student for the first time since 1999. I've been accepted into the postgrad primary teaching course at Victoria and I start in a couple of weeks' time. I can't wait!

I promised some finished knitting projects in my last post, and here they are - my first pair of socks and another stripy baby hat.

Soya yarn ankle socks

The socks are knitted using this great pattern and soy yarn (I've christened them my "tofu socks"). This was my first attempt at using vegan yarn - it knitted up really soft, but the yarn was pretty splitty because it has a lot of strands and is loosely plied. I'm not sure what you can do to stop this as I'm guessing that a tighter ply (if that is the right technical term) would lessen the soft smooshy feel of the finished product. Anyway, I'm happy with how they turned out. I would highly recommend the pattern for first time sock knitters - it has a great short row tutorial to show you how to shape the heel and the toe. The only tricky bit is doing the kitchener stitch on the toe, but after consulting my knit aid book, I managed to fumble my way through that OK, with a minimum of swearing and ripping out.

Navy stripy baby hat

This hat is another in the series of stripy baby hats I've made from the wonderfully soft Merino et Soie yarn. This was sitting almost finished in my knitting bag for a couple of months, and I finally got around to seaming it up. It's the last one I'll make using wool I think - I'm trying to use vegan yarns from now on. I'm not sure who it will go to, but our friends just keep on having babies, so I'm sure I'll find someone to give it to.

And finally, here is a picture of my beautiful niece Ella modelling one of the dresses I made her for Christmas. I was worried that they might be too big, but apparently they fit perfectly!

It fits!