Friday Favourites: December 1

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A little garden visitor

You have no idea how glad I am that it is December!

December for us means summer holidays, time with family and friends, a more relaxed way of living. We only have two weeks left until work wraps up for the year and then its three weeks of rest and recover. The end of 2017 has been a slog and I’m so looking forward to the time off.

Willow will be going to spend a few days with her grandparents. I’m looking forward to this because it will give me a few days to get my house in order before the holidays. I will be finishing up making Christmas presents, going through all the toys and donating the ones that don’t get played with the charity (I try to do this every year as we get so many toys for Christmas and Willow’s birthday) and just catching up on housework and things that have been neglected in recent days.

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A little Willow then and now flash back courtesy of google photos (left is 10 months and right is 34 months)

Then I’m off to get Willow before visiting with my parents for a few days and then we’ll be having a huge extended family Christmas gathering in the Lowveld. My sister will be here until New Years and its the first time we will have her around for Christmas in years. I’m really looking forward to it.

This weekend we will be off to see my parents. My dad has just had a knee operation and the trouble with living in different parts of the country is that we weren’t able to be there for him when he was in the hospital. Luckily my baby sister was able to come out for a visit and I will be leaving my middle sister with my folks when I head back to Joburg. So they have some backup!

I hope you have a great weekend and that the lead up to the festive season is full of fun and excitement for you. Chat soon! Xx

Purchase of the week: I took my sister to my favourite fabric store and things got a little out of hand. The good news is that I bought everything I need for my Christmas gifts, the bad news is I bought quite a few ‘extras’ that place is my downfall. But what I’m most excited about is this gorgeous grey French terry with foiled stars on it. I may or may not have bought enough to make Willow and I matching sweatshirts…

Product of the week: Yay, for sisters who come bearing gifts! I got some Asian beauty goodies form both of them including two Maybelline Instant Age Rewind concealers, two Kate feather mascaras, two H&M single eyeshadows and enough sheet masks to keep me in stock for months!! #spoiled.

Project of the week: I finished up my second Highlands wrap dress (it’s even better than my first one!) and started working on my Christmas gifts for the little girls in our family. I\’m starting to get in the festive mood now.

Random: Time has never felt more fluid than it does right now. With the holidays looming ahead of us these weeks seem to have slowed to a crawl and I am seriously lagging. But I know that as soon as I am on holiday the days will fly past at lightning speed.

Best moment: I went out to dinner with my sisters on Wednesday, just the three of us and it was so much fun. I don’t think we’ve ever done that. We have always been at such different stages of life and different places (different cities and continents) that we’ve not had many opportunities to just chill as a trio. It was pretty awesome.

Looking forward to: seeing my dad, getting my gifts under my belt (making making, making) and then relaxing! Yay!

 

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Adventures in adult braces: November 2017

I can’t remember if I wrote about my October appointment or not. I think I did, but I’m too lazy to go look through my post history right now.

Long story short I was left very sore and disappointed at the end of that appointment. The date to take my braces off had been pushed back again. The changes they made to the tension etc was very uncomfortable and I left feeling my there had been no progress and the damn things would never come off.

What a difference a month makes. My progress is still much slower than I would like but it looks like my teeth are 99% to perfection. I spoke candidly with my doctor and told him that I was really over this and anything he could do to get this done quicker would be greatly appreciated.

After the examination he got out a mirror and showed me what he was trying to achieve. Basically my alignment has been corrected, but he’s working on getting the tooth placement absolutely spot on. Three teeth in my upper jaw on the right and one tooth in my lower jaw on the left are not playing ball. These teeth need to touch to be in the correctly placement and right now they are so slightly splayed that if I wasn’t told what to look for I would never notice. But being a perfectionist and a professional my orthodontist is not happy to take the braces off with these teeth in their current placement.

He did make a compromise with me. My next appointment is at the end of January. We will do an evaluation on that date to see whether the teeth are touching and if they are the braces will be removed two weeks after that. So send me all the good vibes that my teeth move over the next eight weeks!

As for the tightening etc. the stubborn lower tooth (this is the same tooth that has been out of alignment since the beginning), has been wired to within an inch of its life!. The gauge of the wire on my lower was once again increased and no changes were made to my upper teeth. My elastic configuration has changed again and all this combined has put immense pressure on the two teeth in particular that need to move. But this is nothing compared to the pain of last month, which is disconcerting. I really hope it’s doing something!

So that’s where I am right now. I’m getting quietly optimistic that come February my braces will be removed. I’m practically willing the teeth to move. I have to wear the elastic day and night and I’m trying to be super conscious about making sure they are in 24/7.

Another post about why I haven’t been posting…

Well, hello there. Seriously long time no see.

I’m not going to bore you with reasons justifying my absence or regale you with tales of what I’ve been up to. Because honestly? It hasn’t been all that exciting. I have been in a really weird headspace and blogging was the last thing I wanted to do. Pretty much all I’ve done for months is hang out with my family, go to work and sew. I have done so much sewing.

I love it more than I ever thought I would. That sewing machine scared the crap out of me at first and I had it for almost a year before I plucked up the courage to learn how to use it. Now we’re besties. Just go to show that good things happen when you move out of your comfort zone.

All this sewing means that my closet is being overrun with me made items (I love it!) and I haven’t bought a ready to wear piece of clothing in months. It also means that my wish list of toys has gotten a lot more expensive and my bank account is crying in pain at the thought of it. I dream of a bigger, badder machine, I dream of an overlocker, I dream of an embroidery machine, I dream of a new house with a room for my sewing stuff. Sigh.

I’m also at a crossroads with regards to my blog. All I really want to talk about is sewing and Willow, sometimes sewing for Willow. And I’m not sure if anyone really wants to hear me witter on about that. I don’t have the energy to run two separate blogs and content for both. Hence, the radio silence.

Also, this year has just been long. Is anyone else feeling flat and tired or it just me? I feel uninspired and in need of some serious downtime.

Everything right now seems to be a lot harder than necessary. We’ve had some emotional stuff going on and my dad’s just had a knee replacement o my sisters have been on the country in relay. I’ve been trying to spend time with everyone, get stuff done at work, keep on top of housework and more. 2017, you’ve been real but I’m done now.

I only have two weeks left of work for the year and then we’re on a well-deserved break.

Friday Favourites: October 27

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My Agapanthus are flowering for me this year! I’m so excited

I keep persevering with writing these posts, but then something always happens and I never get the thing to go live. I’m determined to get this post up!

So this is a Friday favourites/life lately post seeing as how it’s been absolute ages since I posted anything. It’s amazing how busy we’ve been. I feel like I’m chasing my tail a bit. Both work and my personal life have been manic and whenever I get some down time I feel like doing absolutely nothing but binge watching tv. Did they sneak an extra few months into this year while we weren’t looking? 2017 has been long and exhausting. I’m ready for holidays now!

In other news, last weekend was my birthday. I turned 31 and despite a horrid week leading up to the event, I had a lovely birthday and it set me up to be in a pretty awesome mood all week. I’ve managed to be productive and that pleases me immensely.

We didn’t do anything spectacular for my birthday. We went out for a very nice lunch, A babysat for a bit so I could go grocery shopping alone (#momlife) and I managed to squeeze in a brunch and shopping date with my bestie. All of which makes for a very happy Kierryn.

This weekend we’re off to see A’s folks in the Lowveld. We haven’t been to visit since August, its long overdue.

I hope you all have a great weekend. Chat soon! Xx

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My lovely new brushes

Product of the week: A bought me this lovely set of oval makeup brushes and I am in love! I really like this kind of makeup brush for foundation especially. It does an excellent job of buffing it in and making it look seamless and it does so in no time at all. These come from Dischem I believe.

Purchase of the week: I managed to get my hands a few bits from the Clarins summer 2017 collection and it is so lovely. Everything from the aesthetic tot he actually product makes me all heart eye emoji. I treat myself to this every year and it sees me through until the next one. I got the bronzer and the eyeshadow palette. If you’re going to spoil your self to one thing make it the bronzer. You can use this for your eyes to complete a look. Its buttery, pigmented and just gorgeous. I’ve been using it every day since I got it and the motif is still perfect!

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This is the perfect casual summer dress!

Project of the week: I made myself Allie Olsen’s Highlands Wrap Dress in this beautiful viscose. The fit is absolutely spot on; the fabric is so light and airy. This is the perfect dress for summer. I got the Fabric from Chamdor in Northriding for R50 a metre and the pattern was part of the Spring/Summer 17 collection on Indiesew but you can buy it stand alone as well. It was challenging in some parts so I would say suitable for a confident beginner onwards.

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Fiona’s Fabric Store in Fernadale. My new happy place

Random: I haven’t bought any clothing since I started taking my sewing seriously. It’s a pretty epic feeling. I won’t lie, I’ve spent a bit on fabric. But I love every piece I’ve made and the satisfaction I get out of wearing my own garments and having someone compliment them is immense!

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The epic burgers we had for my birthday lunch

Best moment: I can’t really decide on one. I’ve had a pretty good week altogether and I’m really grateful for that.

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Ending off the week with pink G&T. I got this bottle from my friend for my birthday. it’s a local brand made in Tzaneen and its delicious

Looking forward to: Sleeping in late on the weekend and having some quality family time.

Adventures in Adult Braces: October 2017

So I had my latest torture session with my orthodontist and I am once again left with tender teeth and a seriously bummed out spirit.

I just want this damn thing to be over and done with now. I’m so over it. I had a random thought while my teeth were being yanked on. I think I’m really stupid for paying someone to cause me physical pain every six to eight weeks. This though was followed closely by: “If I ever have to go through this again I am just going to have all my teeth pulled and fake ones put in.”

On the whole, the feedback was positive. The way my back teeth interlock is now perfect. This was the whole reason for getting such an intensive treatment in the first place. so that’s good. My Dr has even seen a difference in my gumline and I can see from my before photos that my face has changed ever so slightly.

The bone of contention is that my orthodontist thinks that the way my top overlap my bottom teeth is off and he is working on creating more separation there. I’m not sure how he expects to get this right as this is the way my teeth have always been for as long as I can remember.

According to the doctor, I am on track to have the braces removed early next year. Then he said sounding ever so pleased with himself ‘March/Aprilish’. Now that is not early next year. That is a third of the way through next year. There is a huge difference. Early in the year in January, maybe February. early March at a push. But April? April is the second quarter. It also marks being in braces for two years! I was told this was an 18-month treatment. I am very annoyed.

This whole process has been very much like renovating a house. The construction company gives you the quote and a time frame then spends the entire time you’re building pushing the finish date further and further back. All the while you cannot see what they have done to justify this because whenever you do a site inspection nothing looks to have changed.

This month I also got these lovely, comfortable (#sarcasm) wires wrapped all around my top teeth – every. single. tooth. Yay for me. I also got a larger gauge wire for the bottom teeth and have to wear elastics day and night again. So over it.

A small spark of good news is that at least the bloody things are paid for now and I get to go back in November for more torture.

Willow’s Two year swim lessons anniversary

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Willow and I recenlty celebrated our two year anniversary of swimming lessons at Little Fishes swimming school in Bryanston.

Every week I am blown away by her progress. It has been so much fun to watch her grow and develop, get more and more comfortable in the water and have a ball while doing it.

I am asked quite a lot why we started swimming lessons so early. The first thing that comes to mind is that I didn’t want her to be scared of the water. Living in South Africa, we spend most of the year around the pool. Our summers are long and hot, our winters are short and a lot of our social activities take place outside and near water. I wanted to make sure she was comfortable in the water and knew what to do in the event that she should fall in.

But during our journey, I have seen so many other added benefits.

It’s very social. She has some special friends at swimming lessons that she has been swimming with pretty much since the beginning. It is also social for me. When she was very young it was a great reason to get out of the house, see some people and have some interaction with other moms.

It is incredibly strengthening. Willow’s core is incredibly strong. Swimming is a lot of fun, but it is also a lot of hard work. She can climb in and out of the pool all by herself now and that takes a lot of strength for a toddler. I think it helped a lot with her crawling, walking and coordination as well.

It tires her out. Swimming is the only structured outing we have every week, but in the beginning, we would do two lessons of swimming a week and one session at Clamber club. These activities were great for letting Willow play and get her energy out. I have always found that she slept really well on these days. I just make sure I balance it out with lots of rest and free play so that she’s not overscheduled.

Willow’s swimming teacher is incredibly happy with her progress and there is talk of graduating her to the next class in the next few months. It won’t be until she’s ready, what I love about the Aquatots program is that each skill is built upon the foundations they have been instilling since the beginning and moves at the child’s pace.

She holds her breath beautifully and is self-propelling through the water. What is really cool is that she does so in a forward motion with her head down and her body in a straight line. According to her teacher, this is actually really hard to teach kids.

Willow can jump into the water, spin around, come up to the surface and grab onto the wall. It’s one of her favourite games.

She is also experimenting with floating which freaked me out a little bit (She holds her breath and floats face down in the water for a few seconds). She is basically swimming; she just doesn’t have the strength needed to get from one side of the pool to the next.

At the moment we’re working on coordinating her arm and leg movements and refining her propulsion. This has been a lot for her to learn. She’s got the kicking part down pat but struggles to kick and use her arms at the same time.

I’m really proud of her progress and I love that she enjoys it. She is always asking to go swimming and to see Teacher Monica. She also can’t wait to get into her swimming costume and climb into the water each lesson.

I would absolutely do this again with my next child. It’s a vital skill to have and I have seen how much Willow has benefitted from it.

 

Life lately: September 2017

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Wow, long time, no blog. In all honesty, I have been writing quite a few blog posts, but I wasn’t sure if people really wanted to read about me wittering on about stuff, so they never really made it onto the blog.

We’ve had a mixed bag this month. Some of it was really good, some of it was a lot harder than I anticipated. But I suppose that’s life, isn’t it?

We’ve been blessed with some great weather. Johannesburg bypassed spring and jumped straight into summer. Willow and I have already been in the pool a couple of times, the garden looks fantastic and we’ve had some rain! It makes my heart really happy.

Here’s a bit of what we’ve been up to lately.

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Willow seems to be getting a handle on the whole potty training thing (I always knock wood when I say that. I’m not a superstitious person, but I really don’t want to jinx this.) It was both an easy experience and really, really hard. I can’t quite explain the dynamic. We have struggled a bit with number 2s in the toilet – this situation was the cause of the majority of our accidents. But in the past few days, she seems to have turned a corner. She’s made a number 2 in the toilet a few times now and I think she’s learning to anticipate it now. I was speaking with her teacher the other day who says she is one of the children in her class who has clicked with potty training the best and they have paired her up with other children who need to see what to do. That makes me really proud of her.

She’s also doing incredibly well at swimming. Her swimming teacher wants to graduate her out of the Aquatots programme into ‘big’ swimming lessons in the New Year. So we’ve been put in the advanced class. She gets so excited about going under the water and can propel herself really well. She’s learning to coordinate her kicking and paddling with her arms and she’s working on learning the basics of diving. It’s all very exciting to watch.

I’ve been really getting into my sewing and have made a few garments I am incredibly proud of. I’m working towards building a completely handmade wardrobe. It’s a lot of fun to sew and so satisfying to wear something I worked hard to make. A lot of my blog posts that never got published have been about sewing. I’m pretty sure it would bore people to death, but it makes me happy.

I have also been struggling with the strange dizziness again. It leaves me feeling really sick of out of sorts (definitely not pregnant!). I’ve been doing a lot reading up on the symptoms. I know you shouldn’t but when I have an episode I can’t go to the doctor and then to go afterward and say, well, yesterday I was dizzy but now I just feel hung over and tired makes me feel really stupid.

I think they’re vestibular migraines. I get a lot of migraine symptoms: blurred vision, trouble with speech, sensitivity to light and smells on top of the dizziness, trouble walking/standing and nausea (It feels like I’m on a ship in a hurricane, being tossed about.) I often have to lie down or lean on the walls. The only thing I don’t get is the pain. I get a really uncomfortable pressure in my forehead and stiffness in my neck and shoulders. Then for days afterward I feel like I’ve done a few rounds in the boxing ring. They seem to be triggered by changing hormones and stress. I’ll definitely go to the doctor if they get worse.

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So there’ you have it. I’m pretty excited October is here. It’s my birthday month and my favourite month of the year!

Sewing project: The Florence Dress

 

I discovered Simply sewing magazine a few months ago and now I have a full blown addiction to it.

As a novice with the sewing machine (I believe we’re called sewists? What a strange word) this magazine has been beyond helpful. Every month it focuses on new techniques, discusses trends and has interviews with different creators in the industry. Plus it comes jam packed with projects to make. It’s a British magazine, so it’s a little more expensive, about R120. But if you think that a pattern runs you about R90 and more, then I feel like this all balances out.

In the first issue, I bought the discussion is all about mindful sewing – really taking your time with a project to be precise and enjoy the process of creating. The example they used was this gorgeous dress pattern that they included. The whole point was to do a sew-a-long. The pattern was divided up over two issues.

It took me ages to get my act together and buy some fabric to make it, so by the time I started both issues had been released. But the idea of mindfulness stuck with me. Especially as a beginner and I determined to take my time and get it right.

I really enjoyed working on this project. It took me almost two weeks to complete and while it’s still not perfect (I really struggle with straight seams), it is the most accurate I have ever been on a project. I’m so ridiculously proud of myself I could burst!

I used a very beautiful, floaty sateen, which was a bit of an error on my part, as it was very slippery to work with. But I found that going slowly and using a ton of pins meant that I could control things better. I can see a huge difference between my seams at the start of the project and when I finished.

I did things I have never attempted before including using interfacing, making a button placket, making and attaching a collar, making button holes and more. It was certainly a challenge to my rudimentary skills, but the instructions were well written and I was able to follow along.

I did adjust the pattern. I did it very simply so that I would stray too far from the instructions. The original pattern was a maxi length with ¾ sleeves. Living in South Africa means that spring already have 30 degree days and I knew I wouldn’t get as much wear out of a dress with long sleeves. Also, I don’t think that maxi dressed flatter me. So I shorted the skirt and the sleeves. I’m really pleased with the final result.

The dress has a bit of a 40s feel to it (at least to me) and looks lovely with a pair of nude heels and a pair of flats. I’m so, so happy!

August Empties

It’s been a minute since I last posted some empties. But I have been diligently working away at finishing up products in my stash. This post is a little bit of June, a little bit of July and a whole lot of August empties.

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Dr Teal’s Pure Epsom Salt Soaking Solution in Soothe and Sleep – This stuff is the bomb, if you find you’re not sleeping well, your children aren’t sleeping well or you just need a little help to unwind get some of this! A small scoop for Willow and a large scoop for me is just the ticket. I usually get mine from Dischem, but I hear there are supplier issues at the moment.

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Annique Gironky and Friends Rooibos Bubble bath – we use bubble baths are a special treat for Willow. A always makes mountains of bubbles and she loves it. This one smells really delicious. It’s supposed to be gentle on little ones’ skin, but I can’t really attest to that. It still has SLS in the ingredient list (it has to or it won’t really foam and then what is the point?). But we use it for high days and holidays and it’s fun.

Sheets masks! I have finished working my way through my Innisfree sheet masks and I need to get some more asap! This is all kinds of awesome. Having used them all now I can say my favourites are the Bamboo, green tea, rose and blackberry. I wasn’t a huge fan of the strawberry and there was one other that didn’t float my boat, but I can remember what it was now… I get mine from Kokoro Asian Market in Rivonia and they are a must have in my skin care regime. The dark package is a different brand (can’t remember which one!) in the brightening with peony root extract. It’s delicious and really hydrating to the skin. Loved it.

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Batiste Dry Shampoo in Strength and Shine – What is an empties post without a dry shampoo? I enjoyed this one. It didn’t leave my hair as gritty as other kinds have and the shine was definitely noticeable. I did find it wasn’t as effective at soaking up oils. It worked, but others have had more oomph. It did feel more gently on my hair though. I liked it.

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L’Oreal Infallible Mattifying Primer – I enjoyed this. It’s a very silicone heavy product so if you don’t like that then this is not for you. I didn’t use it for its mattifying properties so I can’t really speak to that. But I did find this kept my make up looking good all day long. It’s great under BB cream too.

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Dischem Rosewater and Glycerine – This is what I use to make my home made micellar water and it’s also great mixed with a little witch hazel for a refreshing facial mist/setting spray. I have bought many of this and will continue to do so.

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Concord Acetone free Instant Nail Polish Remover – This is a very fuss free, quick method to remove your nail polish. I really enjoy this and have bought many in the past. I need to get a new one soon. It takes the polish off really quickly. It won’t work on glitter polish though. It does dry your cuticles out a bit, but most nail polish removers will do that.

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Justine Epigran Oil Cleanser – I love this stuff and have used up many bottles in the past. It feels so silky, is excellent for your first cleanse and dissolves pretty much anything including really stubborn mascara. If you haven’t tried it yet you must.

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African Extracts Rooibos Hydrating Creamy Cleanser – I used this for my second cleanse. I didn’t see SLS on the ingredients list and it left my skin feeling soft, hydrated and clean. It’s a lovely little product available in most stores.

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L’Oreal Skin Perfection Advanced Correcting Serum – How many of these do you think I have gone through by now? I obviously love the stuff. I am using up other serums at the moment, but will definitely repurchase at a later date. I love what this does for my skin.

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LA Girl Pro BB Cream in Light/Medium – This is the post for old favourites isn’t it? I love this, have bought it many times. I am trying others, but they just don’t compare in product or in price. Will be going back for a new one soon.

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L’Oreal Infallible 24-Hour Matte Foundation in Vanilla – This is a drugstore gem. If you’re looking for a high coverage perfecting base that will last all day and look good in photos this is your guy. I used this on my friends and me for her wedding and it looked amazing in all the photos (I paired it with the primer I already mentioned). Love it.

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LA Girl Shady Slim brow pencils in Soft Brown and Taupe and essence Make Me Brow in Blondey Brows and Browny Brows – How many brow products can I squeeze into one post? These were used up over three months and I love them all. The essence products are a great dupe for benefit Gimme Brow. I will say that I used up the taupe pencil a lot faster than the soft brown pencil. I think it was a lot softer so it distributed more product with each swipe and got used up really quickly. I actually preferred the effect of the darker pencil and will repurchase that one over the taupe.

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Neutrogena Anti-Wrinkle deep wrinkle daily moisturizer – I really enjoy this range. It’s one of the few drugstore ranges that you can find with retinol in it. It always leaves my skin looking lovely. This is the first time I’ve used the day cream and I liked it. It’s a bit basic though. I’m not complaining, just thought I’d mention it.

Phew! That was a lot to get through. It always feels really satisfying to finish up and throw away products that I got every last drop out of.

 

Knitting project: Striped jersey

I have finished my striped jersey and I love it! I really enjoyed working on this project, as evidenced by the fact that it’s complete.

It was so simple, yet watching the colours come together was such a joy. I love that each time you work this project it will be completely different.

I won’t lie though, finishing it up was a real pain. There were so many ends to weave it! So many ends! But I couldn’t be happier with the final result.

The completed jersey as quite an oversized, boxy fit. I made it in extra small and it is still oversized on me. So be aware of this if you decide to tackle it yourself.

Although I mixed in a lot of different wools, the majority that I used was Elle Gold DK and it has worked into the most luxurious feeling fabric with lovely weighty drape. The jersey has a slashed neckline and dropped shoulders so there is minimal shaping required. In fact, the only shaping I did was on the sleeve at that was a few rows at best.

I am very happy to report that I finished four balls of wool while knitting this up and there are a few that are so close to finished. I really want to make Willow a jersey in a similar vein to this and I think I’ll work on those finals balls so we can finish those up too.

This is a great project and I highly recommend you give it a go.

Find the pattern here.