Wonder Woman

Today is not a long story more photos: A couple of years ago all the excitement about female super-heroes finally got me into knitting. So with the help of colleagues and a pattern from Ravelry I managed to cobble a pullover together.

I have a legacy of strong women to uphold, and try to be a good role model, so a bit of a moral boost now and then when wearing this pullover cannot go amiss.

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Eyeballing a Pattern

I found a mind running wild.
I fed it chocolate and ideas,
and send it on its way.
I found a heart running wild.
I fed it strawberries and love,
and send it on its way.
I found a soul running wild,
I fed it light and rain, fire, earth, and wind,
and send it on its way.
You wonder why?
Because that’s what my garden grows.
My garden grows, earth, light, rain and wind,
and trees full of chocolate and strawberries.

From my poetry blog

When sitting in the kitchen we can see out of the glass-front into the garden. Watching ‘garden TV’; the trees changing, camellia blooming, leaves growing and going, the birds, the creepy crawlies and occasionally neighbour’s tabby, a fox, or the odd deer nudging her nose at the kitchen window. Now when I saw the fabric below, I wanted to make a dress, which was like wearing our garden. 

There are kingfishers on the canal around the corner from home. And most of the plants on the fabric can be found in our garden.

Now I decided to experiment and take a pattern off one of my favourite dresses. The outcome was so bad I never even took a photo. At this point there was no chance of making or using another pattern so I literally eye-balled the pattern, pinned the dress around myself, stay-stitched the seams, cut bits and pieces off and added a zipper. After I had tailored the dress directly onto myself, it kind of sort of worked. 

This was the original idea. The teal coloured top, was supposed to be a double layer above the floral part. It didn’t work out well at all. So I took this section completely apart and rejiggled. Results below. 

Barbara Branches

Every year on 4th of December, Feast Day, devoted to St Barbara, mum would cut branches off apple or cherry trees and place them in a vase. If the branches are in full bloom on Christmas eve the year ahead will be prosperous and happy.

A while ago I read one should hit the branches with a hammer (the bottom of the branches) and put them in warm water, this will enable them to bloom for Christmas. I am not keen on the hammer method and our branches usually bloom anyway – not always on Christmas though.

Thinking about walking barefoot through rows and rows of blooming apple trees as a child. Cold morning dew numbing my toes. I want to wear that feeling. The magic of a spring morning. Maybe it’s time to try out one of these ‘design your own fabric’ companies?

German Winter Lore—Brownies

I am digging up old blogposts from when I was writing to improve my English. I was curious to see how my English has changed. Besides I thought the long winter nights are a good time to retell some of these stories. 

German Lore: Brownies

’twas the times before even dial up modems!

When I was a teenager, I became really interested in exploring where family (and local) traditions and superstitions came from. Luckily with a historian mum and a well-stocked library at home, there were plenty of resources available. There was a whole set of old ‘historical society’ magazines from the the early 1920s where I found a small reference to Kuppelchen (Unfortunately this was before I learned how to reference)

The Kuppelchen

The Kuppelchen or Kupelchen seems to be a Saxonian dialect derivative from the word Kumpel, which means pal.  The Kuppelchen is a house spirit (a puck or brownie)—not entirely sure which classification would be the most appropriate. 

A Kuppelchen very much reflects the character of the inhabitants of the house it lives in, so it can be mean-spirited and evil, or caring and nice. If you have a Kuppelchen you leave a little bit of food over after dinner, or never entirely finish your drink. The lore goes that if you are a good person the Kuppelchen will protect your home from burglary and fires. However, if you are a mean bean grump-machine the Kuppelchen will cause you all sorts of serious trouble.

I was told that the farmer’s wives, when making the rounds from farm to farm, during feather stripping season would tell tales and determine if there was a Kuppelchen in someone’s house. Abilities such as second sight, and healing hands would usually mean you were likely to have a Kuppelchen. Apparently, Kuppelchen, if they like you will also move house if you move.

Now the all-important question is: How do you know you have a Kuppelchen? So the lore goes: if you regularly ‘lose’ objects although you exactly remember that you placed them in their usual place, and went searching high and low, only to find it exactly where you left it; that’s a sign of a Kuppelchen. Are things going bump? Not necessarily at night, and preferably in the kitchen. Are things falling over, or toppling down, without nosy cats being the culprits? Are small things moving about (without draft, or any other logical reason)? Then you just might have a Kuppelchen, according to Saxon lore. 

I have some family examples: 

The Student Dorm Disappearance Paradox

Roomie and me made midnight pasta, as so often when assignments were due or exams to be sat. Before calling it a night we brought all the dishes and cutlery to the kitchen, including our big sauce ladle. The next morning the ladle was gone, we searched for it everywhere—and this is important, we searched our whole room, under beds, desks etc thinking it had fallen down. But the ladle was lost, we could not find it anywhere. Three weeks later, I vacuumed under the bed as usual, and bumped into something. The ladle was right there, peaking out from under the bed. And it was all clean and shiny! No, we checked it was not a joke from another flatmate. Secondly, no one could have accessed our room while we were out. Besides, neither of them where practical jokers, or had any sense of humour we would know off. 

The Right in Front of you Paradox 01

I have to run to school and am looking for a paper I have to hand in. I cannot find it, despite having it placed on top of the pile the night before to make sure I won’t forget. I am searching for about 20 minutes, went through the pile 5 times, it was not there. I was stressing out and running late. Close to tears I sat on my bed saying out lout, I really, really need this paper. I go to the desk intending to sort through the pile one more time, the paper is right on top.

The Right in Front of you Paradox 02

Mum’s car keys are not in the key basket, she is tired and exhausted and has to leave. So she sits down perplexed as what to do next. Mind you this was after granny and her sorted this key basket (which has no more than 5 keys in it to begin with) several times together. Then each on their own, while the other one was running around trying to find the keys elsewhere. After her exhausted sit-down mum decides to try again and the keys were in the basket, innocently as if they had waited for her all along.

The Scottish Spooky House Paradox

A friend and I met up in a B&B on the Outer Hebrides, the B&B must have had some very active Kuppelchen. When we came up the landing my room was to the left and my friend’s room to the right, in the middle between the both rooms was a small bathroom. No one could have come up without us realizing it. While I took a shower, my friend unpacked his stuff. He had his room door open, no one came up. When we went into my room (which was the bigger one) to have our dinner, the knives all had fallen off the tray and lay in the middle of the room on the floor. Mind you several meters away from the tray, too far to simply have dropped down. Also the tray had a lip so the knives could not just have slid off. There were no cats in the house, either.

My friend became really spooked, while I thought it was funny. Kuppelchen have the reputation of being cheeky and they like to play tricks—never anything serious (if you are a good person). After he had his shower, he came out really angry with me, asking me what I did do this for. ‘Did what?’ I asked. He said that while he was showering someone was constantly opening and closing the bathroom door. Which I had not heard, because I was rummaging in my room unpacking. He got so freaked out that he left the light on sleeping. Mind you the weirdest is yet to come. During the night there were strange noises, which I was still not concerned about, because I thought these were seagulls on the roof or mice or something. After all we were in the country side and I grew up on a farm so I am used to noises and wee gritters bobbing about. I just fell asleep.

Yet, my friend spend the rest of the night wide awake, and when we went to breakfast the owner of the B&B asked us expectantly, if something had disturbed us during the night. My friend looked at me questioningly but I said innocently: No. Upon which she looked at us astounded asking: Really, are you sure that no one disturbed you? – That was the point I got suspicious. No one?

Kuppelchen tend to be what we call Schlawiner (little rascals), whilst they love to hide things and play little tricks; these tricks are never mean (as long as you are not mean either). 

The Paper-bag Skirt Saga

Making a pattern

Paper Bag Skirt Sketch

So I went step by step through the pattern making process but kind of ignored that the amount pleads in the paper model actually was the best amount. When I did the maths on the actual pattern I thought the pleads might end up too small for the fabric I wanted to use.

Calico Model

I didn’t have proper calico fabric so I just used some plain cotton to try and make up the model. Of course this fabric acts entirely different than the heavy winter fabric I used for the actual skirt. So I tried to keep this in mind.

Anyway, the skirt:

I realised much later that I should have added way more hemming for this skirt, here in the first stages the material falls quite nicely. Yes, it is very structured but has some movement. Once I hemmed it, due to the weight of the material it became just too structured and rigid.

Also something that didn’t show in the calico model the transition between the front and the back panel doesn’t work quite right, and I do not yet understand enough about patterns to figure out why this happened.

Google here I come!

Anyway, a photo shoot hides all kinds of sins

 

The mistake: you can see the weird fold it makes particularly on the right hand side. And I need to do something about the darts in the back as well. So keep an eye out I will try another paper-bag skirt version soon. Maybe ending the sides with a half fold would change this … hm … I didn’t want to wrap the pleads all the way around to avoid making the skirt stand out too much in the back.

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One of my favourite patterns

The Autumn Dress: Macaron

I thought for Halloween I share my favourite autumn dress.

The pattern is by Colette called Macaron. The fabric I bought in a small shop in Helensburgh (Scotland) and it is environmentally friendly.

Trying to shoot these photos with my camera’s self-timer and some of the results are more hilarious than stylish:

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If you pay close attention you can see the mistake I made sewing the back and front together. The waistband is not the same width front and back, not entirely sure how that happened.

What I really like with the pattern is: how easy it is to wear. I didn’t extend the length of the arms, to make it suitable for cold temperatures, so there is room to combine it with different coloured undershirts, picking up any of the hues from the patterned fabric. The best of course are the pockets! I was thinking of making a version with a hood. hm …

Tip: I didn’t like the lining feature around the neck, it tends to develop a life of its own, not looking neat. In the next iteration I would just make full lining for the red top section.

More about Halloween adventures and the magic of autumn later.

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This is the first version of the dress I made before final fitting

The Magic of Stone (2): Hoodie Dress

And that’s it. The stone dress with elephants. Body armour for bad days.

Fake Pockets

fake elephant pockets
No. It’s not fake news, I cut out circles left and right to the waist and placed the lining in as design element and to make it look like pockets.

Of course it needed a hood.

Hood details with elephant lining
The lining for this dress is a maxi skirt I bought in ASDA. It looked horrible on me so I just cut it up, because I loved the elephants, and used it for lining.

and bell sleeves

I have a thing for bell sleeves
and as the original pattern’s arms were way too short for me anyway, I thought this was my chance to add some bell sleeves. I also placed more elephant lining into the bell part of the sleeve for a nice two colour effect.

Oh yes and sleeve extensions for long arms.

bell sleeves
You can see the sleeve has an extension just before the bell part. This was a mistake from my side I didn’t realise just how short the original pattern was, but it turned into a nice design element. I created the hood in such a way that it looks like a wide collar from front and the elephants create a visible contrast

Too short?

Do I need to make these dresses longer?
My friend today pointed out one of my dresses might be on the short side; and I realised they are mostly the same length. But I don’t want to look like my great-auntie either. Hm. Maybe adding a hand-width but keeping it above the knee? Length below the knee looks horrible on me, I tried that before.

It’s all about details

Adding little details brings everything together. It’s not quite straight though.

Sleeve details
I added some details to the dress

I am using the selvedge details as design element

selvedge details
The fabric has some really interesting selvedge details so I left it as it was and used it as design feature for the dress

The original pattern was a pullover.

I used a jumper pattern
and extended it with the French Curve. Hence the long darts that look like seams in the back, they came about during the final fitting.