Craft, stitchin' and sustainable living

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Cropped Jacket

You can all be very proud of me... I got myself over my sewing 'hump' and finished my cropped jacket.

I bought this pattern from Salme Patterns a few weeks back, and bought two types of fabric to try it in.  One, a heavy blue-ish grey fabric with a bit of stretch and a bit of sparkle, and the other a purpley jersey.  I started with the former, happily cutting and sewing, thinking to myself "this is too easy!  I'll have this finished in a couple of hours!"

Alas, I got caught on a tricky bit of the pattern - a mitred corner in the front of the lapel.  The instructions were like reading origami ("you want me to put which bit where?" "this doesn't look like the picture!") so I took the pattern and half finished jacket along to Browls (otherwise known as "stitchy night") to ask some fellow stitchers.  Between three of us we were able to figure it out, and thankfully I came home and finished the jacket.  Really, this was the only tricky element, and the rest of the pattern was quite simple to read.

The jacket itself has come together very well - look at how nicely the shoulder sits with the lapel and all.  I think it will get worn for work and play, which is something I have been wanting more of in my wardrobe recently.

Monday, July 23, 2012


Today I would have liked to show you the cropped jacket I've been working on recently.  Sadly, I recently hit a snag when I couldn't figure out one of the origami-like instructions, and my jacket-making came grinding to a halt.  I have since figured out the mystery instruction with the help of some of my stitchy night crew (also affectionately know as the Browls, as in like, Brown Owls), alas, my sewing mojo has not yet returned.  Soon, I keep telling myself, soon.

With no inkling for sewing, I continued knitting my slow/now fast socks and again spent some time in the kitchen.  This weekend's bounty included lemon marmalade (with a hint of ginger) and pickled beetroot.

I absolutely love pickled and preserved goods, and I have always have good stock of glass jars ready to be filled should I have a glut of fruit or veg that need the preserving treatment before they go bad.

Next post: a finished cropped jacket.  Hopefully.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

One sock in

You may remember a while back that I started knitting my slow socks.  The idea was that socks take a long time to knit, so I should treat it as a relaxing, non-deadline based activity.

Recently I finished the first sock.  After 12 weeks.  Yes, it took me 12 weeks to knit one sock.  Sure I did some other stuff inbetween (move house, for instance), but that seems like a bloody long time to knit one sock.

And I starting thinking that knitted socks are really only nice to wear in winter, and if it takes me that long to knit another sock they won't get worn this year at all.

So slow sock mode is officially off, and I've set myself some deadlines so that the socks can be finished before winter is over.  I know that goes against the idea of having a slow-paced project, but in reality, I knew it would only last so long.  What can I say?  I'm an impatient knitter.

Other than knitting, I've been cooking up a storm of late.  I got the urge to cook this weekend just gone and ended up stocking up the fridge with quite a few meals.  I made:

Pumpkin, ginger and red lentil soup
Veggie lasagna/bake - using whatever veggies were in the fridge, and homemade pasta sheets
Slow-cooked beef cheeks (6 hours) with roast veg
Spicy chickpea loaf - recipe from this book which I borrowed from a friend
a loaf of bread
and let's not forget Dark Chocolate Brownies with sea salt

We still have loads of veggies in our fridge so I can feel a preserving session coming on.

What's been cooking in your kitchen lately?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

No plastic packaging challenge - six months in

It's now half way through the year (yes! already!) so I thought this would be a good time to give an update about my pledge of going a year without plastic food packaging.

One of the best parts of the week - our veggie box arrives!
To quickly recap, I wanted to cut down the amount of landfill I was generating just by eating food that comes in plastic packaging.  One day late last year I had scoffed down a quick takeaway lunch (as you do) and was about to throw the plastic container in the bin when it occurred to me that that plastic container, which took a heck of a lot of resources to produce and which would be around for eons to come, was actually used for about 10 minutes.

Image from here
So how am I going with my challenge?  Generally I would say pretty good.  It certainly helps that we are members of a veggie co-op so a large amount of our food is bought in bulk (in cardboard boxes) and shared between a number of households.  We also have a refill co-op shop (the kind where you fill up your own containers with grains, pastas etc) close by, which also helps.

We take our own reuseable bags and containers with us everywhere, which can be a pain, but it's easy to be caught out.  We've found we have to be hyper-aware when we are shopping, because food manufacturers will sneakily use lots more packaging than needed, and it's common to find plastic wrapping inside a cardboard box when it is totally unnecessary.

Things we are doing differently:
- Eating butter instead of margarine
- Baking our own bread
- Making our own yoghurt
- Buying other dairy in glass containers or other packaging
- Taking our own containers when we get takeaway meals (some restaurants will look at us funny, but they will still fill them up for us)
- Asking for my takeaway sushi in paper bag and refusing the little plastic soy sauce fish
- Having a go at making our own whenever possible - pizza bases, pastry... whatever else - we'll give it a try!

Elgaar dairy comes in glass containers, and you get a refund when you return them

Food that I miss:
- Marshmallows
- Packets of chips (crisps)
- Mexican burrito and tortilla wraps - I tried making my own, but haven't really got the hang of it yet
- Puff pastry

We're not perfect and there are still small bits of plastic packaging that sneak into our house, and I've mentioned before that travelling for work makes the pledge extra tricky (especially aeroplane meals!).  But we're definitely reducing the amount of landfill that comes out of our house, and as long as we continue to be aware of packaging and try to reduce it, I think that's the main thing.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Leggings for winter

There's nothing more comfy and easy to wear in winter than leggings.  I needed to boost my casual winter wardrobe, so I bought three types of fabric for making leggings.

Now you're probably thinking that leggings are not a very exciting sewing adventure to be blogging about, however I did draft the pattern myself from an existing pair of leggings.  There is an element of risk in doing this, because you need to be sure that the stretch of both the original leggings and the new fabric are the same, or could end up with one tight pair of pants!

With my first draft of the pattern I made this black pair. They weren't perfect but were definitely wearable.  So I tweaked the pattern a bit and then used the new pattern to make this patterned pair.

 I quite like the fun colours in this pair.  The fit was better, but still needed a bit more tweaking.  Then with the final changes I made this silvery grey pair.

And there you have it - three new pairs of leggings, and a self-drafted pattern to hold onto for future legging making.  I guarantee these will get good wear this winter!