Sunday, 15 October 2017

Macro fail

The latest module on A Year With My Camera has been about macro photography.

And it's here that I've found the limitations of my camera (which, as a reminder, is a Canon G7 X). 

I simply can't either physically get my camera close enough, nor can I zoom in sufficiently close, to get a really closely framed shot. 

I experimented with changing the ISO/f-stop/shutter speed to let more light in - and the reverse - but I really wasn't able to get close enough to capture the detail in the inspiration shots from AYWMC. 

Ultimately, I ended up with a series of images, mostly of uninteresting camelias - too close to get any interesting effect with depth of field, and too far away to get the lovely detail of the flowers.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Groove on

Last summer in London, over a year ago now, I followed in the footsteps of my lovely friend Juju Vail and created a knock off of a Cos t-shirt swing dress. I wasn’t thrilled with the result because I thought it needed to be tighter over my bust to avoid the impression of being pregnant! Nevertheless, I still really liked the idea so was excited when a couple of indie sewing pattern designers released patterns – the Groove dress by Made It Pattern (based in the UK) and the even more voluminous Ebony dress by Closet Case Files. The key feature of both patterns was negative ease over the bust and then FLARE. I chose the Made It option, supporting a fellow UK person and the swing was more to my taste than the super mega flare on the Ebony skirt.

As I mentioned in my Make Nine planning post, I intended to create a toile using some grey marle viscose jersey fabric, but I didn’t have enough, so I went straight to the good stuff.  I cut out the straight hem version to a length that I knew would be too long but I wanted options.I loved the neckline treatment in the pattern, I think it’s very neat in appearance and though it’s a little fiddly it was worth it. 

Back in Australia, I’ve since sewn up a wintry version using a seater knit fabric with ¾ sleeves.  I call this one my secret pyjama dress.  The fabric is amazingly soft with good recovery but the fabric/pattern combo doesn’t look like pyjamas – so I can wear it to work on casual Fridays.  And I managed it out of 2m of 1.5m wide fabric. I also sewed a tee shirt version in some black merino jersey. Really comfy with a pair of jeans, or shorts as the weather continue to improve I hope. 

I’ve got plans for one more at this stage – a high-low hem tee shirt version with some black/floral jersey.  Watch this space!

Sunday, 24 September 2017


The concept of ‘flattering’ clothes is problematic. What does it really mean to describe an item as flattering?  It seems as though flattering is a concept that means what you are wearing is something that highlights parts of your body that are conventionally considered attractive – shorter skirt if you have ‘good’ legs, or a nipped in waist to give the illusion of an hourglass shaped figure.

Certainly, I’ve internalised this concept of flattering.  I generally choose dresses and skirts with a defined waist and scoop or v neckline on top as these are styles that I think are flattering.  I find it very difficult to choose an item of clothing that I think won’t flatter me – particularly so when I sew or make a garment.  I want the time invested in the making process to be ‘worth it’, and I want to wear that garment for years to come.

On occasion, I am swayed by a gorgeous photo online, or a pattern launch and I decide to throw caution to the wine and make something that is objectively unflattering. 

I recently made a Blaire Dress and a Blaire Shirt (a StyleArc pattern).  No waist shaping, no negative ease over the bust, not a preferred neckline.  I chose beautifully soft cotton lawn fabric for each version – Liberty tana lawn for the skirt.  I did slightly alter the pattern before I made it (lengthened the shirt) but didn’t change any of the unflattering elements.

I wore the dress on our stopover in Kuala Lumpur on the way back from London to Melbourne, and it was incredibly comfortable in such humidity.  I did feel different whilst wearing it – cognisant that it wasn’t something that another person would consider flattering on me, and I sought more reassurance from Geoff that I looked good while wearing it.

I’ve struggled to find ways of wearing the shirt – I feel that the curved hem is difficult as I don’t want to expose skin of my midriff. I left of the under layer because the print I chose is quite busy, and I didn’t want to create a heavy feeling in such lovely fabric.

Making and wearing conventionally unflattering garments has been a real challenge.  I didn’t expect that I would feel different when I wore the garment. I think it’s a worthwhile issue to continue to explore – if a garment fills a hole in my closet, or is something I’d like to try, I’m going to give it a go – make it in nice fabric, try and wear it in different ways ad challenge myself to think differently.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

AYWMC 30 day challenge

For the month of August I took part in the A Year With My Camera (AYWMC) composition challenge.  After falling behind with the weekley prompts and homework during our move back to Australia, I landed onthis daily challenge as a great way to get back in the habit of trying each week's homework.  

It was also a good opportunity to pay atttentionto composition and to take photos on days other than the weekend.  I can't be the only one who thinks about her camera on Saturdays and Sundays right...

Over the course of the month - well, 30 days, as 31 August was a day off - I only missed 1 day, when I was quite unwell and didn't get out of my PJs. 

I added an extra lawyer to the challenge by restricting myself to taking photos on my way to and from work, or on my lunch breeak, rather than going somewhere specifically to take photos.  This presented particular challenges on some days - like the S curve day - where I had to rely on my surroundings to assume the right form.  Luckily, I came across some benches laid out in a snake shape on my walk home (not the usual way). 

A real highlight of the challenge was the daily wrap up - 4 photos chosen as highlights of that day's chllenge.  I was fortunate enough to have 2 photos chosen. The first was to represent mystery, and the prompt was 'what's leaving the frame'.

The prompt for the second was 'mono'.

Towards the end of the month I was running out of steam and really had to push myself to complete the final few days.  Ultimately, it was a great way to get back to the AYWMC program and I'm looking forward to the next weekly challenge.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Bound for Bendigo

Quite a few people have asked us why we moved back to Australia during the southern hemisphere winter.  Truthfully, it's just the way it worked out.  However, in addition to the Norah Gaughan class at Sunspun, another great woolly reason to return home in winter is the Bendigo Sheep and Wool Show. 

Alternatively called 'Bendi' or 'Spendigo', the Sheep and Wool Show is really the highlight of a fibre enthusiast's calendar in Australia. There are a few other events in Australia, but Bendi is the biggest and brightest. 

Half farm show, half wool festival, Bendi brings wool lovers from all over Australia.  There are sheds, barns and marquees with indie yarn dyers, designers, bag and tool makers and this year I noticed quite  few wool millls in attendane - Adagio Mills, Nundle Mill and Great Ocean Road Mill.

As well as the wool products there are lots of sheep to look at (and book for a stud service if you needed that), fashion shows, and a very impressive sheep shearing demonstration.  Not to mention the delicious food - so much amazing lamb to eat. 

I bought a few things - wool, fudge, jam and chutney, and was sorely tempted by all the lovely yarns and had a lovely day out with some knitting friends.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Spending time with Norah

While I was still in London, I managed to book myself into a lecture and a class with Norah Gaughan at Sunspun in Canterbury - so I had something to look forward to when I arried backk in Australia.  The lecture was really interesting - Norah mostly focussed on the way she builds cable designs, that is the cable stitch pattern itself. Broadly speaking, once Norah has a starting point she then follows a logical flow - looking to expand, carve parts out, contract or flip the stitches, or substitute different cables in amongst an existing stitch pattern. She also talked about taking a dreamier approach - turning the swatches over and around, playing out 'what if' scenarios. 

Norah brought lots and lots of samples forus to try on.  There was the Circlet Shrug from issue 3 of Making Magazine and also the Flared Pullover from Norah's Cable Sourcebook that really caught my attention. 

The class that followed the next morning was focussed on hats - Norah gave charts for different styles of hats and different cable patterns - all interchangeable, and interchangeable with other cable patterns in the Cable Sourcebook.

I came out of the class, and lecture, feeling really inspired to incorporate more cables into my knitting - whether that's simply adding a cable stitch pattern into an existing pattern, substituting cables for others that are more appealling, or even knitting more of Norah's designs as is!

It also encouraged me to incorporate more of the techniques I learned in the Di Gilpin crazy cabling class at Edinburgh Yarn festival to make the cables really pop. First up is a shawl pattern called N-ogee and then a cardigan that incorporates the circlet shrug stitch pattern, but in a garment style that suits me better!