About Me

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Currently, I'm a stay-at-home mum to an inquisitive and often rambunctious three year old girl and her sunny little brother. In a former life, I was a lawyer. I know which I prefer. On the odd occasion that I get some downtime, I knit, crochet, read, sew, sing badly, dance even more so, enjoy a glass of wine and watch bad TV, sometimes in varying combinations of the foregoing and not necessarily in that order of preference.

Friday, 1 May 2015

{this moment}

It's been a while.

Joining in with {this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savour and remember.

To see more, check out the comments to Soulemama

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Me-Made May

My recent class with Zoe Edwards has led to me discovering her blog, her amazing talent for refashioning and upcycling and the rather wonderful Me-Made-May challenge.  I have a feeling my friend Julia did this last year, after she had been bitten by the sewing bug.  The idea is, basically, to wear as much handmade stuff as you can during the month of May.  You can shape the challenge in any way you wish and Zoe offers loads of great advice on how to do this, and on what the challenge is (and more importantly, isn't about) here.

It got me thinking.

I don't have many me-sewn garments - running total currently is 1 skirt, 1 dress, 1 top and a rather hastily made and poorly constructed headband.  BUT, I do have quite a lot of knitwear accumulated over the last ten years of knitting regularly and I don't really wear any of it as much as I should (or would like to).

I need to be realistic about my challenge - I don't have tons of time on my hands and we're going away for the second half of the month, so sewing lots of new garments just isn't going to happen.  We're also going somewhere pretty sunny so most of my knitwear is not going to be making the trip with me.  So, with that in mind, I am making the following (admittedly conservative) pledge:

"I, Lyn of Domestic Witterings, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '15.  I endeavour to wear me-made garments at least 3 days per week for the duration of May 2015.  I will also endeavour to complete one of the two WIPs I currently have sat on my sewing table."

The things sat on my sewing table, in case you are interested are my Cappuccino dress (see my last post) and a skirt that I've been playing around with since last summer - it is based on the Delphine pattern from Love at First Stitch (you can see it on there on the cover), but taking inspiration from a very lovely Boden skirt I saw a lady wearing while out and about in Ealing.


I've been bitten hard by the sewing bug in recent weeks.  Watching The Great British Sewing Bee really inspired me, and I've been having fun making nighties, a skirt and a dress for Birdie.

The nighties have proved very popular, the skirt remains unworn (despite being declared to be "beautiful" when it was first produced) and the armholes need re-binding on the dress after it turned out that the sleeves were too tight.  It has been that way for a few weeks now.  Hmm.  Really should do that.

Then I finished off the Butterfly Coco that I started planning over a year ago (!!!!!) but procrastinated about endlessly (and it turns out unnecessarily, as it was very easy and I'm really pleased with the end results).  I may, or may not, manage to blog properly about all these things at some point in the future.  Who knows.  I'd certainly like to.
Please excuse the awful photography, frowny face, roly-poly tummy, laundry and small boy trying to push me over - I'm crap at taking pics at the best of times, I had to crop this one heavily so you couldn't see the rest of Mount Laundry, I haven't been running anything like as much as I should and it is really hard to concentrate when a small boy is trying to push you over.

The success of the Coco go me thinking seriously about sewing for myself and before I knew where I was, I'd signed up for the Cappuccino Dress Sew-along on the Oliver + S blog.  That didn't work out so well in terms of timing and it is still sat on my sewing table, collar completed but not much else.  Oops.  It does look pretty though:

But the ideas kept flowing and the fabric and patterns kept being gorgeous.  More collecting, not much sewing.

I soon realised part of the problem was nerves.  I'm largely self-taught - my gran taught me a bit when I was younger but the more I do, the more I realise she did the tricky stuff for me and I did the easy bits.  So she'd cut everything out, she'd sort the fitting, she'd handle the zip, and I'd do seams. Consequently, I can sew, finish and press a seam like nobody's business but I worry endlessly about cutting things wrong, not adjusting my patterns properly and fiddly things like buttonholes and zips.  It is one of the reasons I enjoy sewing childrens' clothes, particularly girls' things - I've never yet needed to add a zip to anything or found a buttonhole that couldn't be replaced by a press-stud.

I realised what I needed was a class.  I love books and learn well from them, and I'm sure I could do all sorts of things via YouTube videos, but what I really love is learning from another real-live human being.  I've toyed with sewing classes a couple of years ago, and even extracted a promise of a class as a birthday present from Hubby.  I never got round to booking on, partly because of babies and small people and life in general, but mostly because I couldn't find one that was going to result in an end product that I really wanted in my wardrobe.  I'm a stay-at-home mum.  I don't get out a huge amount without at least one small person in tow and, no matter how much I try to kid myself otherwise, a prom dress, a pencil skirt or a 1940s dance dress aren't really appropriate for grubbing around in the park or crawling on the floor at playgroups.  The garments may be lovely in and of themselves, but they would languish in the back of my wardrobe and it felt like a lot of money and effort for something I would hardly wear.  I know the skills are transferable, but I get so little sewing time (or me-time in general), that I'm loathe to use it for anything less than a fully-functioning part of my wardrobe.

Then I saw The Village Haberdashery was running a course to sew the very lovely Deer & Doe Sureau dress in the company of Zoe Edwards, she of the fabulous (but I will concede new-to-me) blog, So Zo' What Do You Know.  It was only a couple of weeks before the course. Before I could second-guess myself, I booked.

Best decision I've made in ages.  Not only did I have a fab weekend, meeting some lovely people, not least of them Zoe, but I also came away with this! (It looks better on me than it does on the hanger, I promise!)

To say I love this dress is an understatement.  Is it perfect?  No, but what handmade garment will be?  It fits, in all the right places.  It looks nice on (I will try to get some pics next time I wear it).  It features a zipper that I installed myself (and that you can barely see). I've already worn it twice and I can't wait to make another one.

I've also come away with bags of confidence about my sewing in general and tons of ideas for future garments, both for me and for the kids.  Of course, since the workshop, almost two weeks ago, the kids have conspired to be utterly rubbish at sleeping so I haven't managed to sew a stitch (other than to add the buttons to my dress), but I remain hopeful that garments will soon be appearing.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Last Year

It  has been a while.  What have we been doing?  Being swamped by life mostly.  Caught up in the day-to-day and not noticing the weeks drift by.  Almost a year has passed since I last blog.  My, how the children have changed.
March - June 2014, if I'd managed to keep up with the 52 Project, would have looked something like this.

Sunday, 9 March 2014


The sun has been shining this week and it has made a big difference. The mornings are now getting lighter and the evenings feel positively glorious despite it still being two weeks until the clocks change. It feels like spring is here and my mood is lifting along with the clouds and rain. 

We spent the first couple of days of the week visiting some friends who left London at the end of last year. I was sad to see them go, particularly as it is fairly rare to find another family where the kids gets on as well as the parents. We had a huge amount of fun.  One of the highlights was definitely blowing bubbles on the deck in their garden.
I just adore the expression on her face here. 

The rest of the week was less good as Birdie has been poorly. It's a non-descript kind of poorly characterised by a cough and large amounts of grumpy and poor behaviour so there isn't much we can do except ride it out. I confess my patience is wearing thin. I'm aiming to get some me time this weekend in the hopes it gives me more energy and compassion for dealing with her.  I'm feeling rather tapped out at the moment. 

But, despite being poorly, we've still managed to get out to the park for a run around in the sunshine most afternoons. I find it is the only cure for the screaming that seems to set in after the post-lunch lull (for all parties). As you can see, the sunshine fixes everything. 

A portrait of my children: one a week, every week, for one year. 

My contribution to the beautiful 52 project, hosted by Jodi at Practising Simplicity. Her photography is infinitely more beautiful than mine and there are many fabulous photographers sharing their moments through this project. Do drop by and check out the linky in all it's glory. 

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Preparation is key

I've been watching the Great British Sewing Bee and it has really got me itching to get back to the sewing machine.  I've been flicking through my patterns and books, reading blogs and wondering what to make.  I've even been pondering my wardrobe thanks to Sarai's thoughtful posts about building your look over at The Coletterie.  There's lots of ideas brewing and the fabric stash has been well-thumbed recently.

But I've also been doing shopping.  I mentioned the other week that I'm probably a better collector than user of sewing materials and the collection has grown again since that post (despite all those projects remaining unsewn...). However, there is a plan.

You see, the thing I'm hankering after the most is Coco.  My friend Julia is planning one and I've been enjoying reading the sew-a-long over at Tilly & the Buttons, and for once it is a project that would actually enhance and fit in with my regular wardrobe and so should get a lot of wear.  It will be my first foray into knit fabrics (ironic for a knitter?) so I am planning carefully and thinking about things.  Tilly did a great introduction on her blog, particularly useful for those of us who don't have, and can't afford/justify the expense of, an overlocker, and I was very excited to read this post from Sarai at The Coletterie as I love her Sewing Handbook.  I've been thumbing my sewing books and learning.  As I don't get much time to sew, I therefore want to make the most of it and, for me, that means making sure I do the best job that I can.

So far, I have thought a lot about fabric and actually only bought about 10% of what I liked (progress!).  I have thought a lot about needles, thread and notions, dug out the walking foot for my machine, ordered ballpoint needles and found my double needle should I wish to add some topstitching.  I have come up with about a dozen different riffs on the pattern in my head and even remembered to write some of them down before I forget them (progress).  And now I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of the pattern, some fabric and some bits and pieces.  But the fabric for the first one that I want to make arrived this morning and so I am doing some preparation.

Yes, I'm actually prewashing my fabric before I sew it for the first time ever.  I can see Julia's eye roll from here.  It looks much like the eye roll she gives me when I make a tension square before starting a jumper. Still, I am glad I did it and I will live with the mockery because, much like tensions squares, this annoyingly time-consuming precursor to starting a project can really save you a lot of time and heartache down the road.  I took the opportunity to also wash the fabric for the kids' Quick Change Trousers (from Handmade Beginnings by Anna Maria Horner) and the flannel came out about two inches narrower and an inch shorter than it went in, despite being done on a 30 degree wash.  If that had happened to finished trousers, I'd probably have cried. After all, double-layer trousers where one layer shrinks and the other doesn't do not exactly sound like a recipe for success.

It just shows that, much like tension squares, all these random and seemingly fussy steps before you actually get started really are worthwhile.  It also got me thinking that maybe I approach them wrong.  Maybe I should look at all this planning, thinking and preparing not as a series of hurdles to be overcome before I can get started but as what they really are: the first steps of the project.  That shift of emphasis makes it all feel much more positive, exciting and constructive.  There's obviously a fine line between planning and procrastinaton and definitely a place for the mantra "progress not perfection" here too, but I've been cutting corners recently with lots of things (including with the knitting of tension squares and it hasn't really paid off as I've had a few slightly wonky shaped results). I'm starting to think it is not really helping.  The half-completed and shoddily executed abound.  That coupled with general mess and disarray are really starting to get me down.  I think it's time to go back to "less haste, more speed" and trying to plan and prepare properly. It might mean I get less done but hopefully I will be happier with the results.

In other news, if you want a recipe for success, look no further than these delicious cookies - we made them this morning while Granddad was fixing my DIY disasters, using a mixture of white and dark chocolate chips for a bit of variety. Yum.

Perfect for eating while you wash perfectly clean bits of fabric, instead of the mountains of dirt towels and sheets you should be washing, and contemplating sewing.

8/52 and 9/52

Oops, what happened there?  I fell into a bit of a black hole on the blogging front.  Just not enough energy left over at the end of the day string together my thoughts (and yes, I do actually try to make this stuff coherent, despite all appearances to the contrary!).  A couple of weeks slipped by without me even noticing.

So here, very briefly, are weeks 8 and 9 in my 52 project.

Week 8 - a.k.a the week of the big birthday party

 and here is the birthday boy enjoying his cake. That is actually a carrot cupcake with cream cheese frosting from the rather lovely Cooking for Baby by Lisa Barnes.  
It's a little tricky to find this book sometimes but well worth it.  There's lots of recipes that translate really well to adult food and Lisa adds more flavour to her dishes than the ubiquitous Annabel Karmel.  Also, being an American book it offers a slightly different range of veg and grains than you might find in other books, encouraging you to branch out a bit more.  The cakes in the final chapter are all delicious and the carrot cupcakes and cranberry and orange scones both make regular appearances in our kitchen. The full birthday party menu will hopefully feature in its own post along with some snaps later in the week.
Birdie meanwhile spent a lot of that week making Splatterflies - more on those later.

Week 9
I don't remember much of what we got up to that week, save that the week culminated with Hubby's birthday.  This involved a Friday night pre-bathtime present wrapping frenzy that saw the boy wrapped up in large amounts of wrapping paper and slightly more sticky tape than is ideal by his very enthusiastic sister, a lengthy search to find where Birdie had hidden Daddy's presents, a lovely meal out with friends, much hilarity on my part, and pain on Hubby's, due to the combination of Hubby's massive birthday hangover and Birdie's massive enthusiasm for it being Daddy's birthday, a very tasty brunch of buttermilk pancakes, bacon and maple syrup that did not really receive the reception it deserved from the rest of Team Collett, a much needed trip to the park for some sunshine and fresh air and a very tasty fish & chip supper at Kerbisher & Malt to round off proceedings.  The birthday boy seemed suitably impressed once his hangover had subsided and declared 36 to be not as bad as he expected.  Here's hoping.

So, pictures wise, we have Birdie showing off her ever-growing climbing prowess in the park.  She's now mastered virtually every piece of equipment in Ealing that she's physically big enough to tackle (and a couple that she probably isn't).   
And not to be outdone on the climbing front, Mr Man go stuck in to climbing the stairs.  He's been able to for a while but has suddenly shown increased enthusiasm for them and shins up at top speed the moment the living room door is opened.   
There is no hope for us.