Baby on My Bike

Well. It’s been a while. I have a very good, very adorable reason. But I’m back! I don’t know if I’m back consistently because divining the future is not one of my superpowers.

Anyway, I am here to tell you all about the saga of getting my Adorable Reason on the bike with me. Since Her arrival into my life, I have not ridden my bike very much. While we shared one corporeal entity, I had some issues so I was not allowed to ride my bike. The medical profession can be very, very mean. After our corporeal entities split, there were other issues, like the fact that there was this new human being who was completely dependent on me for survival. Seriously, who knew?

She has had her own corporeal existence for the entire time that it takes the earth to rotate around the sun and She is very keen to establish that actually She doesn’t need me for very much at all. Except for bringing that favourite toy to Her because She’s too lazy to crawl the whole distance. Or feeding Her yoghurt because She loves yoghurt but is not yet competent with a spoon, and knows I am Her servant so She just opens up Her mouth and waits, and I, mug that I am, dutifully spoon in yoghurt (although not always at a rate that satisfies Her greed). Or sleeping. She needs quite a bit of help sleeping.

Mmm sleep. Sweet friend whom I have not visited as much as I would like. We will meet again one day.

Once I was recovered from the cleaving apart of our bodies, I wanted Baby on the bike with me. I wanted to ride places, like I had in The Time Before. I pictured us blissfully doing our groceries and attending mothers group and playgroup, all by means of bike. I wanted to make us both reflective clothing. But – woe! – I learned that it’s not wise to haul a baby on the bike when she’s a little infant because, actually, they’re really quite fragile and wobbly jelly blob like things and now that I was a mother I discovered I had a fear of EVERYTHING endangering Her and a simultaneous nervousness that I was being terribly irresponsible ALL OF THE TIME, so I parked my blissful imaginings and awaited the arrival of that happy time When She Could Hold Her Own Head Up All By Herself Like A Genius Super Baby.

During pregnancy, I researched and coveted this pram bike things.

But you cannot get them in Australia. Nope.

Here’s a good summary of the options available, in Australia (and elsewhere too) for how to carry your own Adorable Reason on the bike with you. I went back and forth about cargo bikes (SO MUCH WANT), baby bike seats or trailer. I settled on the idea that I WANTED a box cargo bike (oh so very much) but it was overkill for the time being, so I was really just oscillating (or more accurately vacillating) between baby bike seat and trailer.

We eventually settled on a Wee Ride. Partially, friend’s recommendation; partially, succumbing to the marketing spiel. I love the idea that She would be in front of me and in my arms while riding, and that the mount of the Wee Ride is between the handlebar and the seat, so better centre of gravity and less effect on steering. Other front seats are mounted on the handlebar stem, which means they would affect steering. I read everything on the internet and watched a gazillion Youtube videos about the Wee Ride. This is research in the internet age.

There was some drama but in short, while the Wee Ride would fit on one of my bikes (a Trek Belleville ) and on my partner’s bike, neither of us could actually get on our bikes because there was not enough room to stand over the top tube with the seat in the middle. Some people had reported this as a problem, but it was reported as hitting the seat (and hence your baby) with your stomach. It was a bit more extreme for us: not being able to get onto the seat at all. For me, the mounting bar created a horizontal top tube that I simply could not stand over.

We decided to consider back seats. (Although I admit to having a moment of going, To hell with the expense and the overkill nature of a box bike, let’s just get a box bike!)

I set off to the bike shop again. The internet had let me down so now I wanted to explore my options with a real live person. Sadly, though the dude at my bike shop was most helpful, he was relying on the internet for information. He himself had never ridden a bike with a baby seat. I had done a little bit of reading. After inspecting all the available seats they had, and reading information on the internet with the bike shop dude, I left with a Bobike One Maxi seat. The bike shop was very happy for me to try it out and simply return it if it was not suitable. I left with a huge box* and a cheery, “Let’s hope you don’t see me again today!”

And they didn’t.

But mostly because it was a hot and windy day, and our desire to do anything remotely active or brain taxing melted away. Later, Partner did instal the bike seat on my bike and I rode away happily (Baby was asleep so she did not get to test ride it). All was well with the seat; it was not noticeable without a baby in it. We had a test ride with baby a few days later and it simply felt like riding with fully loaded panniers. Minor adjustment to riding style had to occur, like go more slowly and slow down quite a bit more when taking corners, but that was no different to riding a fully loaded touring bike and something I wanted to do while I was toting around my Adorable, but still fragile, Reason.
*I’ve yet to give the cardboard box to Baby, but I think She will like it.

Yay! We are cycling now!



Social Sewing Update

Well … Hello.

<insert profuse apologies for long absences; miscellaneous excuses boiling down to ‘life’; and a bit of misdirection of blame towards Instagram, on which I am more prolific but also absent for various periods of times for myriad Reasons and Things. Really, you don’t read me for my regularity of posting, do you? If so, how very aggravating for you. You should stop.>

If you’re in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, I have just added 2016 dates for Social Sewing on this Page here.  Please come!

If you’re not in Melbourne but you happen to be dropping into Melbourne on one of the weekends when Social Sewing is on … I would be so excited to meet you (probably in a bit of weird way, it’s true, but you know, harmless weird, honest.)

I have blog posts for you.  They are all inside my head. We need better technology.  Who is getting onto this? I need to speak with them. Now.

The Count and Totoro

Many of you have clamoured for the story of The Count and Totoro. (Okay, so maybe just Celia and Maeve.) 

Let me introduce them, and leave it to them to tell you their own story:


This is Totoro.


 Yes, Totoro, but who are you? What’s your history? Why are you here with me? 


 Maybe later? We’re writing a blog post at the moment. 


 Well. Yes. Totoro is a nature spirit. Just watch My Neighbour Totoro. It is a brief documentary of one tiny part of a particular few Totoros’ lives. Totoro came into my life one day when I was wandering around Leeds City in the UK. He called to me from a tiny shop window. 


 I don’t think you said that, Totoro. I think you said — 



Oh. Excuse me.
(Schmaltzy muzak)

Totoro in his happy place.

 So. That is Totoro. Totoro simply is.

Here’s The Count. 

Bonjour, Count!

 Bonjour, Oanh’s friends! I am The Count. 

(executes a flourishing bow) 

Alas, I had wealth but am now an exile and a refugee. You see, I was the blackest sheep in a family of black sheep. We had land, we had chateaux, we had servants. But we were driven from our home in France (I have blocked the memories and do not wish to delve into the whys and wherefores), and I ended in Wales, labouring to survive in a draughty Welsh castle (they’re not as good as French chateaux, believe me), when Oanh stopped to chat. Poor thing, she was so impressed by that ridiculous lump of stone the Welsh called a castle, I could not help but regale her with lavish stories of the chateaux I knew. She rushed off immediately and I thought I had offended this strange Viet-Australian woman. Nevertheless, she came back not long afterwards with Nic – Oanh was bouncing up and down and Nic was looking mildly perplexed -, and they invited me to join them on their travels in the UK and Europe. She neglected to warn me that the travel would be by bicycle! (In my defence, Count, we never asked you to do any pedalling!) She did say we would ultimately end up in Australia and there would be no castles there. Indeed, there are not. 

There were plenty of excellent examples of castles during our travels, though I must say my distant relatives who stayed on through those difficult years for French nobles have not managed the upkeep as well as I’m sure I would have done. My favourite castles were in Albania. The Albanians really can build a castle, and they sure know how to fly a flag. 

 Oanh’s friend came for Christmas one year and gifted me with a darling hat. I was very glad of it when we camped in snow in Montenegro! Oh, there was a castle in Montenegro! It was spectacularly located. Oanh said we could not live there. I don’t understand why. 

 When will we visit more castles, Oanh?

Cheating Post part 2

I am not only the cheatingest cheating blogger, I am also the slackest.

And fond of hyperbole.

Here is part 2 of my guest post on Tin Lizzie’s blog.

One day I’ll return with an actual post on this blog. And then Angels will sing and the moon and the stars will align and volcanoes will erupt (but not hurt anybody or ruin any homes, you know, one of those benign volcanoes).

Miss Bossy’s Avocado Hoodie

Almost May and I’ve just finished my The Monthly Stitch sewing challenge. Well done me! I knew I had to make it a March & April mash-up, and you all chose so very well for me: The Avocado Hoodie by talented Mari of Seamster Patterns / Disparate Disciplines.

Almost finished hoodie (I only needed to overlock all the inside seams)

I did a very analogue vote count, by tallying the comments on my blog post, via Twitter and via Instagram. Unfortunately, I’ve been on a bit of a sewing room organisational spree and tossed out the bit of paper I’d tallied everything up upon, but the winner by a nose was Avo Hoodie, followed closely by Sureau dress, then Thurlow trousers, then Tiramisu dress.  So, they will be the order of my sewing in the near future, distractions permitted.  And I’ll be swapping around Thurlow and Sureau, but only because I need to make a muslin of the Thurlow trousers, and I suspect I’ll work on all losers of the vote intermittently.

(Did your eyes just read what I just wrote?  “Make a muslin.” I don’t think I know who I am anymore.)

{by the way, I’ve finished the Jedidiah trousers; I’m just waiting for my partner to model them… I might be waiting a while …}

{also, also, by another way, I interrupted the sewing of Jedidiah trousers to complete a boring, but still awesome, navy Lady Belladone Skater dress.  I posted her to Kollabora, because she belongs there more than here.  There are reasons.}

Oops.  I’ve tangentialised so much I’ve lost my thought thread.

I showed you a picture of my “blue & brights” knit stash.  And then I went on a wee fabric shopping spree with Elizabeth of Sewn By (can you guess?) Elizabeth and ended up with some grey and green striped French terry from the Alannah Hill outlet.  Plus some other fabric to add to my ever increasing stash.  Interestingly, I shortly thereafter attended another sewing meet-up, in honour of Amanda from Symondezyn, who was visiting all the way from Canada, where there was another fabric shopping spree and I escaped with nothing.  The reason was (and this is the part I found interesting though you may yawn in boredom) I actually felt ill when in The Fabric Store, knowing how much fabric I had at home, and how little time I had to sew it up.  I’ve felt this a few times, so I must have a tipping point beyond which I cannot acquire more fabric without feeling ill.  Actually, physically ill.  Intriguing, no? Anybody else experience this? Is it in the DSMV?

I’ve never successfully stripe matched.  And the avocado hoodie is not a pattern to try it on.  Probably a more experienced and less impetuous sewist than me would have realised a princess seamed pattern, using fabric where the print wasn’t on grain was going to be stripe matching hell.  Well, friends, it was.  First, I made pattern for all pieces cut on the fold, so that I cut everything I a single layer, and very carefully.  Then I hand-basted seams (hand-basted! On a knit!). I’m kind of amazed at how many times I unpicked seams, that I had basted to try to get everything matched, until I realised it either just was not going to happen or I’d be sewing the hoodie as a Sisyphean endeavour for my hubris in believing I could stripe match.  Also, it got cold and I needed something warm to wear, so I just got on with it, matching most of the stripes in the front torso area and accepting that I was defeated everywhere else.  

 So very close.

Next time I’m stroking some lovely striped knit fabric, someone please hit me.  I need some negative conditioning away from striped knits.  Seam matching does not at all suit my sewing style.

I’ve been using Mari’s sewalong posts, which provides excellent additional guidance, especially with the pocket tabs because I did not do them right on my Partner’s hoodie.  Other modifications I did was sew the pocket tabs down, and line the hood. 

I could use some guidance on how to sew this thumb hole bit, but I muddled along reasonably well.

Pocket tab sewn down.

Hood lining, in homage to its origins.

The pocket lining fabric happens to be an old Threadless t-shirt of my Partner’s, and there was just enough fabric to cut a hood as well, except that the print would show.  I contemplated having the hood lining be inside out, and then decided it’d be kinda nice for the hood to pay homage to its origins.  So the print is on display.  I rather like it.

Also, you should all know that I sewed this entirely on a basic sewing machine, which does admittedly have stretch sewing capability.  I’ve wanted an over locker for ages, but a few events have conspired to mean that I don’t wish to currently expend the money that a good over locker will cost, and probably won’t in the foreseeable future.  But with switching out different feet on my little machine, I’m getting pretty good results sewing knits.  Because I sew (& wear) a lot of knits. For the avocado hoodie, I used my walking foot, over locker foot, plain foot and blind hem foot (for top-stitching).  Using the walking foot was a revelation, and though it is a wee bit of a nuisance to switch out, I’m definitely doing this more often.  

The insides, to demonstrate overlooking capabilities of a basic machine, helped along by walking foot and over locker foot.

The Clovers that Almost Couldn’t 

Like so many of my sewing projects, I started the Colette Clover trousers an eon ago.  (Seriously, months and months and months.)  But they are finally done, and perfectly wearable.

(I have decided that I must not look at the camera when taking these shots, because I just end up glaring at you. Sorry about that.  I’ve decided it’s best if I pull faces looking away from the camera.  It’s clearly much more charming.)

These were intended as a wearable muslin, which they certainly are.  I’m just unlikely to make another pair.  Why? I pretty much want to change the entire style of the trousers … So I should just make some other sort.  For example, the leg is too tapered; I don’t like the zip at the side (also, I put it in the wrong side because I got confused); there are no pockets (I’m aware the pattern has a pocket; it’s one of those useless hidden ones that only fits a bank card.  Not my kind of pocket).  I’m not sure if it’s the style or something I did wrong when I sewed, but the crotch area is much too tight.  I cannot take a comfortably large step, and the reason I like to wear trousers is because I like to leap stairs.  Also also, these are pretty much super fancy leggings.  I may as well just make leggings; they are way easier and more comfortable to wear.

I definitely need to make trousers, however.  So in the queue is a pair of Thurlows (but I’ll taper the legs in a bit), and some other pattern.  Just trying to find the right one.  And prior to trousers for me, I plan to make a pair of Jedidiah trousers for my partner.  I cut those out two Social Sewing days ago (which is more than 2 months). They’ll most likely be done before his birthday next year … Maybe.

Lastly, I might go quiet on this space for a while. I think I’m finally becoming a micro-blogger.  I have Twitter, of course, and recently joined Instagram (I’m 1Oanh if you want to find me there). Sewing is peculiarly suited to micro blogging, and I don’t have much wisdom to impart about my sewing.  I also don’t blog quickly enough for my mistakes to help another sewist.  Usually by the time I get around to blogging my completed garment, I’ve forgotten about the mistake or cannot recall exactly how I muddled through.  I just muddled and then,Ta da! Done.  Usually, I walk away and come back later and then, Ta da! Done.

So, I’m signing off here, because I feel like I’m not saying very much.  Undoubtedly I’ll be back because I’ve done this leaving and coming back thing plenty of times on my blog.  I like it here. But I’ll just be elsewhere on the internets until I feel like coming back here again. And I’m still reading you *insert evil cackle*.


Now is the time for choosing who gets the Pattern Pyramid!

But before that happens, these are the people whom I will be gifting some crafty goodness to sometime throughout the year:

Helpfully, only six people wanted a crafty gift from me (what, were the rest of you afraid of what I might come up with, hmm?) and I figured six is 2 months each (minus the fact that one month has disappeared into the ether, but details, tish) and I can totally do that. Plus, after I posted about the pattern pyramid, I had some agonising moments worrying about how only one person would win the pyramid. This makes me sad. I wish you all could win everything, all the time.

Now, I will have to spend some time reading your archives to get ideas. I am one of those people who, when they discover a new blog, read right from the beginning. Frightening, isn’t it?

And I will email you all in the next week or so for details and stuff like that.  Don’t forget, if you want a gazillion paper cranes, you better say so soon.

So, how did I choose the winner?

I printed out all the comments, and removed the lovely Anne who just wanted to comment for the fun of it (thanks, Anne, for still reading me on my detours away from flowers!)

Comments printed out on ex-work paper, then folded in half to ensure randomness. Unfortunately, I have a fairly good memory for details, so I had rough ideas about who posted lengthier or shorter comments. I could not fairly or randomly choose.

I visited Rachel for a spot of home made strawberry ice-cream & sorbet (YUM! I ate both because I am a greedy guts) and asked Rachel to choose from the printed out comments.

The suspense, right? It’s … suspenseful.

She chose:

So, the pattern pyramid is staying in the southern hemisphere but is off to New Zealand!

I will email you, Ms Curious Kiwi, for your details.

Thanks for playing along. Sorry, you did not all win :-/
But there are plenty of pyramids to stalk. Matter of fact, Rachel has one!

Now back to my regularly scheduled periods of silence. Two posts in a week is really overdoing it, no?

Anne, I know you read all the way to the bottom. Thank you. Here are some wildflower orchids from Montenegro. I wish I could give them to you in person.