Dear friends asked me whether I would be prepared to make their son a waistcoat for his birthday. After some efforts to access a paper pattern second hand, I used the free pattern from mesewcrazy.
I managed to cut the main pattern pieces from a pair of jeans of the right colour. Then I chose some silk I was given for the lining. It was given to me by a friend whose friend had destashed this and other fabrics.
I love a good bundle… in this one, silky merino shows its capacity to take up eucalyptus dyes again. In this dye pot, a cowl that was ready for a dye bath, and a garment that had shrunk enough that I decided to turn it into other items…
My partner had requested a deep, narrow cowl that could be pulled up over her head and ears under her bike helmet. Her friend had made one from cotton knit, so I copied its dimensions. You can see all that remains of the neckline in the image below.
I bought some ‘climate change scarves’ from Beautiful Silks a while back–items that had been damaged in the hurry and chaos of escaping flood. I am just going to assume that I don’t need to explain that the climate crisis is here already and the world’s most vulnerable people are the first to suffer. But if you would like to know more about how this is resulting in floods in India (where these scarves were made): here you are.
As winter set in I decided to dye one of these scarves for my daughter. First I mended the tear in one end using what I know as tent stitch (because I learned it when I learned how to mend torn canvas tents, as a Girl Guide)! Then I looked at the place where a fringe was doubtless the original intention. At first I thought, well, it is OK as it is. And then, I decided I could twine the warp threads to create the kind of fringe I’d prefer. After all, I know how to make string! I am sure I’m not as dextrous, skilled or fast as the folks who wove this beautiful fabric, but I did create a fringe.
Then it was into the dyepot ready for transformation. I have seen this scarf on her several times since so I am going to pronounce it a success. Eucalyptus has even made my mend look rather lovely.
I have accumulated scraps of knit fabrics that are precious–lovely, but also in some cases, expensive. And you know, I always want to use the last scrap, no matter what the fabric is! Anyway, I had the thought that I could attempt the Fingerless Gloves Master Pattern from Natalie Chanin’s Alabama Studio Sewing + Design.
Unfortunately, I fell at the first hurdle, enlarging the diagramme provided by 317%. It was during the period when I was not going out, so when I could not arrange this I guessed my way through it. The first one was too small. It had to go to a very petite friend.
Soon, though, I had a workable pattern and found this was a great use for leftover fabric from my run of undergarments.
So, I started turning them out! I used up a long sleeved t shirt and a pair of leggings that a friend had given me to use, once she had worn them out. Perfect linings for two layer gauntlets!
Once my leftovers were gone, I had the thought that some of my long sleeved home made tops that have shrunk too much to be dignified… could be transformed into these.
It was quite liberating to give up those shrunken tops, which I have been wearing under other things, for years in some cases. I kept the hems where I could.
And, that’s not really the last of it! I’ve not taken photos of some, and others I have made more recently. Some have been made more recently still… I pieced some together from smaller parts! But it might be enough for now.
I have been astonished to realise that one of my friends who feels the cold profoundly has forgotten about the part where you wear a close fitting garment against your skin.
As a child, this was the way I was always dressed in winter–with a sleeveless underthing below my other layers. We called this garment a singlet. So I asked my friend whether she was wearing wool against her skin and her eyes popped. I went home and went to the dye pot with some knit silky merino. It dyes like a dream. I sewed the main seams with the overlocker and then hand finished the hems.
Here is the view from the back.
I made it nice and long, the better to keep her warm. She was so astonished by the difference this made, that I got a message asking how long she could wear it without washing it! So I made some more.
These two are both dyed with E Scoparia, but the two trees have very different leaves, as you can see. My friend’s beloved sent me a message to say she loves these so much she had created a gallery and hung them on the wall, and she is wearing them every single day. And feeling so warm!
In this period a clean up in the front room turned up a wool knit singlet bought from a chain store. Now, did a different friend buy it and give it to me to dye? Did I find it in an op shop and save it for later? Neither of us could remember, but here is the outcome (and I yes, gave it to her).
Have I mentioned the mending? Sometimes one item a day, sometimes two! This is the sole of my beloved’s favourite slipper. But there is so much more.
The winter underthings have had a lot of mending. Some are now pretty ancient and well worn.
This one had a lot of mending after a m*th attack some time back, but this time… so much more.
This is the under arm seam of a long sleeved t shirt. Just a tiny hand stitched patch!
There are also the maxi-mends, this set on another undergarment. These are silky merino patches cut from sewing scraps, hand stitched onto a stretch wool garment. The speckle-stitches are on the right side, and the long stitches are on the inside.
Then there was mending a favourite old jumper for a friend. She had started mending it in red, and I had some matching sock yarn so…
Naturally, that’s just the start! Repeating the cycle of repairing ladders, stabilising holes and then knitting in a patch…
Until finally… and after some a blanket stitch intervention to stabilise threadbare and unravelling cuffs, followed by some crochet crab stitch over the top…
More maxi mending with patches inside… (and old mends clearly visible).
One day I realised these otherwise comfy socks had two threadbare patches and a big hole and were well past darning really, so stitched in some silky merino scraps to keep them in service (this is what happens when you have a lot of Zoom meetings and a lot of holey clothes, I reckon).
And beside all this there has been regular old brown on brown mends in jumpers and the restitching on facings onto collars and all the usual. Mend on, my friends!
Here is the second pair, created entirely from leftover yarn, for the son of a friend. And here is the #tuffsock version recently finished and sent on its way to a happy new home where I thought it would be welcomed in all its wonky glory…
I used to be amazed to realise that other folks could tell the difference between madder and eucalypt dyes just by looking from them. I have recently realised that now I can too (or, at least sometimes).
The lovely Marion from Beautiful Silks sent me two sets of blanks for “moko trews”–trousers for the grandbub. One layer in cotton (the lining) and one in silky merino (the outer).
They were just so glorious! I dyed the outers and set about constructing them. It took a little while and then they were just SO cute!
Into the very slow mail service they went. Weeks passed. At the time, this was not surprising.
Australia Post says they were delivered and left in a safe place, but apparently not, because they have utterly vanished. And so, my friends, has a second parcel.
I made some more baby shoes–graded up in size, insulated for warmth, and hand embroidered, with nice stout soles. Let’s overlook their defects…
I very much hope that these two parcels ended up with people who could use these items so lovingly made and involving such a kind gift to me… and not just in someone’s bin by the side of a road. I wish they could at least have left my cards to the dear ones that I have now not seen in person for months, whose comfort I’ve been trying to raise in times of challenge. But I guess I’ll never know.