A restyled skirt, a little bit of weaving and the original Bond….

As you might have noticed, I’ve settled into the routine of blogging once a week (doesn’t routine have a nicer ring to it than rut?), which means my posts tend to ramble around several topics, covering whatever craftiness I’ve been up to over the previous week. I always start with the intention of doing a separate post for each topic or project, but it never seems to happen! This week I have the usual hodgepodge of things to write about, but it suddenly struck me that actually there is a common theme uniting them after all! Everything I’m blogging about this week has a connection with the Community Wise charity shop in Eastbourne’s old town and/or the community centre it is attached to.

The Community Wise shop is a great place to find second hand clothes at incredibly cheap prices, and a couple of weeks ago I found a full length blue cotton skirt that reminded me of the kind of thing my mum wore as a primary school teacher in the 80s. I loved the fabric, but the skirt itself was a just a shapeless sack with a drawstring waist, but a could see the potential for a restyle.

So here it is!

Before and after!

Before and after!

Using a red skirt I already had (incidentally this one was also bought from Community Wise!) I made a template for a wide waistband out of brown paper.

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I also used the red skirt to gauge how much fabric to cut off the bottom  of the blue skirt, and from the excess fabric I cut four waistband pieces, two of which I backed with iron-on interfacing.

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I measured from the original hem up to were I was going to actually cut the fabric and marked it with water erasable pen every couple of inches, then all I had to do was cut along the dotted line!

I stitched the four pieces together: the two with interfacing to form the outside of the waistband, and the other two forming the inside. I left the bottom and one side of the waistband open.

Next I cut off the nasty elasticated waistband, being careful to leave as much of the skirt and its pockets intact. I cut a slit behind the left pocket to accommodate the zip, and gathered the top of the skirt in two parts, front and back. I used the sewing machine to do the gathers this time, but all the practice I got in last week with those zakka style pouches certainly helped when arranging the gathers! I found that you really can’t use too many pins when you are working with gathering!

Then it was just a case of enclosing the top of the skirt in the waistband, adding a zip and a button, and whizzing round the bottom with a quick hem!

The pretty button was from charity shop too.

The pretty button was from charity shop too.

I was very pleased with the results, especially as the only skirts I’ve made before this were of the shapeless sack with an elasticated waist variety! I will definitely be reusing the pattern piece for the waistband that I cut out of brown paper again to make more skirts like this.

I managed to keep the original pockets. I love skirts with pockets!

I managed to keep the original pockets. I love skirts with pockets!

And the first time I wore my restyled skirt?  When I went to my textiles group at Community Wise! Everyone seemed to be impressed, which was lovely and reassuring!

I took my peg loom to show the group, which (I promise!) I was already planning to do even before Simply Crochet printed that photo of me with a similar loom. I hadn’t done much with mine since I first got it, but it still had the piece I’d been working on attached, and I’d forgotten that it was quite good! I wove a little more before taking it off the loom and knotting off the warp threads, and now I just have to decide how to neaten the edges.

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By the way, I bought this loom at Fibre East last year, but you can find Fire and Fibre, the company that make them,  online at fireandfibre.co.uk

On the last Saturday of every month there is a farmers market at Community Wise, and Rita, the manager of the charity shop, always organises a stall with a theme stocked with items she has been putting aside from the donations she receives for the shop. This month she had a stall stocked with craft materials, which was heaven!

I’d already picked out this wonderful little stash…

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… when I heard the magic words: “who wants a knitting machine for £3?”

Telling myself not to get too excited, that it was probably only a child’s knitting loom, I nearly bowled poor Rita over in my enthusiasm, saying that yes, I would very much like to buy a knitting machine for £3. And lo and behold, IT WAS A PROPER KNITTING MACHINE! An original 1980s Bond knitting machine in mint condition in its original box NEVER EVEN BEEN USED!

Fortunately Rita was able to decipher my high pitched squealing and wild gesticulating, and popped a sold sticker on that bad boy for me. Even when I pointed out that the machine was worth a lot more than £3 she absolutely refused to accept a penny more, and I went home a VERY happy bunny!

My Bond! I don't have a table big enough so it is currently clamped to my ironing board.

My Bond! I don’t have a table big enough so it is currently clamped to my ironing board.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with knitting machines, the Bond machine is a very basic model, that is often referred to in a somewhat disparaging tone as a hobbyists machine. There are no fancy-pants pattern punch cards, tension masts, row counters or automatic functions, it just cranks out row after row of stocking stitch unless you painstakingly manipulate each stitch one at a time by hand.

My younger sister (the hardcore hand knitter, weaver and spinner extraodinaire) bought a Bond second hand recently, and I was lime green with envy. I knew from watching her that when it is all running smoothly it is a miracle to behold, but that you need the manual dexterity of a brain surgeon to correct mistakes like dropped stitches. I just knew it would be perfect for making items to be felted though, and I wanted a machine of my own…

If I had written this post on Sunday I probably have said: be careful what you wish for. The Bond is not an easy machine to master, even with the invaluable help of YouTube. You need to learn its quirks, not only of the design of the model in general, but of your particular machine. I’ve found I need to exert more pressure on one side than the other, or else it will jam and/or drop stitches (I can’t even tell you how many attempts it took to discover this!). As tempting as it is just to keep going when you are on a roll, you can’t operate this machine if you are tired or distracted because it will chew up and spit out you and your knitting!

Blocking my first (successful) swatch!

Blocking my first (successful) swatch!

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More swatches waiting to be felted.

Despite its very temperamental nature, I already adore this machine, and I completely understand why it has such a cult following online. I haven’t managed anything much more than a few swatches so far, but I have BIG plans for my machine! It can use any yarn from light dk to chunky, so I’m going to do some serious stash busting!

But the first thing I must do is make a thank you present for Rita!

Checking in to HandmadeMonday and Link it or lump it! Plus I’m giving Moogly and My Merry Messy Life’s Hookin On Hump Day a try this week too!

 

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Finished felted foxes and NEW YARN!

The laundry has been piling up over the last fortnight in the the BAM household. Our old washing machine gave up the ghost halfway through a load consisting mostly of my mister’s underwear (I think it lost the will to live), but today it’s replacement arrived! It’s installation didn’t exactly go smoothly. My grumpy upstairs neighbour laid into the delivery men for parking in his space; then the delivery guys couldn’t get at the pipes because they were behind the dishwasher which was wedged in under the counter so tightly they couldn’t get it out without tearing the lino; then they ran out time because the driver had to take his break so I had to get them to leave the new machine in the middle of the living room; then… Well, I think you get the idea!

We did get it sorted out eventually; although there is a small tear in the lino. 😦 I love the new machine, so I still count it as a win. The old machine was pretty decrepit, and I can’t really blame it all on my mister’s pants. I did do quite a lot of felting in it when it was already on its last legs, including an idea I had to crochet felted foxes. The basic shapes came out really well, but they sat in my living room for ages, waiting to be finished… until yesterday!

The first one came out looking sort of angry looking, and there was a small hole where the filling was poking through, so I think I’ll keep him.

Cute, but angry cute!

But the other three are just adorable! I’ll be taking them to the craft fair on the 1st.

Such cute little tubby foxes!

Such cute little tubby foxes!

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Granny hexagons, squares and Fibre East.

My intention to blog at least every few days has fallen by the wayside during what has been an otherwise very productive week.

I’ve made almost all of the granny hexagons I’ll need to make up the birthday present for one of my three nieces. It’s going to be a waistcoat (a gilet or vest to those over the pond) worked in DK acrylic (mostly in Stylecraft plus whatever was hanging about in my stash). I’ve gone for cool greens and blues with a little splash of purple, which I tend to think of as a mermaid/peacock colour scheme.

I hope my niece likes it. At seven going on eight she already has a keen eye for fashion and doesn’t hold back when giving her opinion. I’ve been wearing a lot of light cotton sundresses in the recent heat wave, and twice the little madam has looked at me and said “You’re not going out dressed like that, are you?” I’ve come to the conclusion that it is the sight of my knees that she finds so scandalous. Apparently women over thirty aren’t supposed to have them.

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