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.