Wonderful Wool

Life is a little stressful at the moment, to say the least. We’re meant to be moving in just over three weeks, and we have nothing organised – we don’t even have anywhere to live. So I’m finding solace in nice things at the moment – like the lovely Rennaisance Dyeing wools that showed up in my letterbox today!

I ordered the Elizabethan range, which is created using the natural dyes that were used during Elizabethan ranges. The yarn is beautifully soft, and the colours are so rich and gorgeous!

It’s really interesting reading the information about the various dyes on the website. But the bit that made me laugh out loud (at work, no less!) was hidden down the bottom of the page:

We have named the crewel hand embroidery thread where possible as they would have been called in the time of Elizabeth the First. Azure and Blue Regue being but 2 of the 15 woad blues produced at the time. We have spared you the dubious honour of producing your hand dyed wool or embroidery thread work in colours such as ‘puke’, ‘dead Spaniard’ and ‘goose-turd-green’.

I can’t wait to get stitching with it! Fortunately I have just the project too. Laura over at Mason Bee put a shout out the other day for test stitchers, and I was lucky enough to be selected. I’ve got the design traced and mounted in my hoop – now I just have to finish up the last bit of stitching and construction on the biscornu I’m making for a swap, and I can get started. Bring on the weekend!


Engagement photos and other scary stuff

We had our engagement shoot yesterday (only 13.5 months after we got engaged). It was very awkward and strange, and I’m scared about how the photos will turn out.

By white_wall on Instagram

I should probably apologise in advance if posting is a bit sparser than usual over the next month or two. It’s only four weeks until we do the big move to Brisbane, and there’s a lot to get organised. How do you organise the logistics of a move like this anyway? We have to work out how we get up there, find somewhere to live, get the cat up there too. I don’t think there’s going to be much time for wedding dress sewing!

Weekend Round-up: 20 October

Earlier this year I got a free packet of nigella and sprinkled them down one end of our garden bed. I was beginning to think they’d never bloom, but a sudden mass of flowers has appeared. I love going outside and seeing their spindly blue blooms.

One of my most exciting finds this week was the University of Wisconsin’s Digital Library for the Decorative Arts and Material Culture. It’s packed with scans of public domain books, including the stunning Examples of Chinese Ornament by Owen Jones, which features some amazing designs.

Mary Corbet over at Needle ‘n Thread has a post on the new stranded cottons by Jenny Hart at Sublime Stitching. Some of the colours are really gorgeous, although I think I would find the palettes too limiting.

I succumbed and bought my first copy of &Stitches this week. It’s a great embroidery blog, featuring lots of different styles of stitching (this issue focuses on Scandinavian embroidery). If you’re quick, you might be able to take advantage of the 10% discount code here.

Actually, I’ve spent a lot of time this week looking at Scandinavian embroidery blogs. My favourite would definitely have to be Karin Holmberg’s blog – she does some gorgeous stitching, and features some really interesting crafty stuff – plus each post includes a summary in English, for those of us who aren’t so great with Swedish!

The reason for my fascination with Scandinavian embroidery is that I’ve been playing around with Hallandssöm embroidery after seeing Annekata’s post on it. I’m loving the effect! (Apologies for the blurry Instagram pic)



Wedding Dress Wednesday: bodice fitting

I feel like I should apologise in advance for the decidedly unglamourous backdrop for the photos in this post. Unfortunately the only mirror in our current home is in the bathroom, so you’re going to get lots of lovely views of toilet paper.

I spent the weekend working on fitting the bodice to my dress. As much as I was keen to keep working on the skirt, I realised I couldn’t appropriately figure out the length of the skirt until the bodice was sorted.

I took my measurements and, being a Japanese book, I sat somewhere between the medium and large. Thinking that I’d be pretty miserable if I cut out the medium and it was too small, I decided to go with the large.

It positively swam on me. Also, it made it clear that the gathering wasn’t going to work with my plans to embroider the bodice. Fortunately the front lining in this pattern is provided with darts, so I could use that. I cut out the medium accordingly, and this time I basted in a zip so it would be easier to fit myself.

(The cat isn’t a very good fitting assistant.)

This was a much better fit around the waistband – in fact it’s a little on the small side here, but I’ll see how that changes with a softer fabric. The upper section was still way too large, though.

My next attempt was to cut out the small in the upper section, grading to medium in the waistband. I was feeling a bit better about this version, so I took the time to press under all the seam allowances, and insert the zip properly.

Getting there! At this stage I was beginning to think I would have to add side darts or some sort of princess seam, which I was a bit nervous about, especially as it would make the embroidery more complicated. But first, I thought I would just try taking in a bit extra at the shoulder and side seams.

I was so happy with this! You can see it’s still a bit gappy on the back, but the other side was much better – it’s not just because I’m holding up the camera. It’s also a lovely fit around the arm. So it looks like I need to take in an additional 1.5cm at the shoulder and side seams – I’m not sure what’s going on here, and just how weird my proportions are.

The Mister comes home tonight (sadly it looks like he’ll only be here for a week), so I probably won’t get any work done on the dress this weekend. But we’re having our engagement shoot done on Monday, so hopefully I’ll have some pretty pictures to show off!

Weekend Roundup: 14 October

Needle and Thread by Philippa Willitts

I’ve been busy working on the wedding dress this weekend, so I almost didn’t get around to this post! But there was some lovely stuff I really wanted to share.

Firstly, for the stitchers out there, Kathy over at The Unbroken Thread shared a discount code for Renaissance Dyeing that is valid for the next two Wednesdays.

I love the effect of this DIY paint embellished dress – it’d be great to incorporate embroidery into it!

On the DIY trend, I’m seriously considering these dried herbs for use in our wedding.

Last but not least, this buttermilk cake with blackberries sounds divine. I might have to give it a go when blackberries come into season here.

Foodie Friday: Tonjiru

While we were in Sydney last weekend, we visited my favourite bookstore ever: Kinokuniya. A while ago a realised that I didn’t have a single Japanese cookbook on my bookshelves, so I was on the hunt. I eventually settled on Everyday Harumi by Harumi Kurihara.

It was difficult to decide what to make first, but I eventually settled on tonjiru – miso soup with pork and vegetables. I love the taste of miso soup, and it’s great to add to it for a complete meal. The great thing about tonjiru is that you can really add whatever you want. I picked a mini cabbage, heirloom carrots and a baby leek from my garden.

The leek was left to one side, and I chopped up the cabbage and carrot, together with two potatoes. I reconstituted some wakame seaweed, and sliced some pork. Then the cooking was simple, but apparently fascinating to my cat Kaylee.

First I browned the pork. Then I added the vegetables, and covered with dashi stock (in hindsight, it would’ve been better if I hadn’t added the wakame until the very end, as it went a bit slimy). I simmered this until the potato was tender, then stirred through a couple of spoonfuls of red miso paste. Then it was simply a matter of serving it, topped with the sliced leek and a sprinkling of shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven spice).

This was such an easy, satisfying weeknight meal. If you’re looking for a recipe to use up any leftover vegetables you’ve got rattling around in your fridge, this is a great option.

Fabric shopping

No wedding dress updates this week (although I don’t have anything on this weekend, so I’m hoping it will be a different story next week). I spent this past weekend in Sydney with my mum. The original plan had been to find her a mother-of-the-bride outfit (I swear she’s put more thought into it than I have into my wedding dress!). Then she went to Bali and bought some gorgeous sheer embroidered fabric, so the weekend turned into a fabric shopping quest instead.

From Tessuti I bought a gorgeous teal cotton sateen for my bridesmaids dresses.

Why yes, I am crazy enough to decide to make my bridesmaid’s dresses as well as the wedding dress. Fortunately there are only two of them! I had originally thought about making them infinity dresses, but I realised that finding a suitable knit fabric in a colour I liked would be difficult, and the price pretty crazy. So instead I tasked them with finding a pattern they both liked, and they selected Simplicity 2692 (variation B for one, and F for the other).


Over at The Fabric Store I picked up a couple of remnants. First was a small piece of linen in a soft, earthy burgundy colour.

I’m thinking of using this as a pair of shorts. I really love the Maritime Shorts from Grainline Studio, but I think I’ll use a pattern I already have in my stash, such as these Burda shorts:

I also scored a larger piece of stretch linen in a lovely soft grey (one day I might grow tired of grey clothing, but I don’t think it’s going to happen any time soon).

I had originally planned to turn this into a skirt, until I stumbled upon the gorgeous Belladone dress from French sewing pattern company Deer and Doe.


Lastly, I bought 1.2m of a really pretty border print cotton in yellow. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with this – probably a skirt, although I might be able to squeeze a simple little summer dress out of it.