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The “January” episode of my podcast is now live, a little later due to a rogue fire alarm and  a few days away to celebrate my 10th wedding anniversary.

The podcasts will also be available on iTunesPlayerFM and other podcast catchers within the next 24 hours.

As always, I can be found on Instagram and Ravelry. There is also a Ravelry Group for the Mrs M’s Curiosity Cabinet podcast.

In this episode I announce that I’ve been selected as one of the podcasters to participate in the Edinburgh Yarn Festival‘s Podcast Lounge. I’m thrilled, honoured and slightly stunned at this and look forward to meeting and chatting to listeners and fellow podcasters, whether during the Meet the Podcaster sessions or during the festival generally.

I also talk about my latest sewing project, which is really stretching my sewing skills as well as proving an exercise in body kindness: a smart top. I explore the trial and error of finding the right pattern for my body and my skill set and also the key challenges I faced, in particular learning how to tailor the 2D pattern pieces and hypothetical measurements to my unique body shape. I explore the language of fitting and the power of a properly fitting garment and call upon us sewers to talk about fitting more, rather than less. I also share some insights that are helping me to cultivate body acceptance.

The patterns I mention are the Mimi Blouse in Tilly and The Button’s Love at first stitch and Colette’s Aster shirt.

Toiles 1.3 and 2.2 in pursuit of a properly fitting top

Next up I answer a listener’s question about the relative impact of paper patterns versus PDF downloads. I talk about how a Life Cycle Analysis could technically help us evaluate the relative merits of each but how ultimately the difference is likely to be minimal. I do suggest several, very practical ways that we can minimise the impact while still enjoying our sewing.

In the knitting segment I am also focusing on tops and fitting. I talk about how my fitting experiments in sewing are influencing my knitting and making me much bolder to change or even completely rework knitting patterns to suit my taste and body. The patterns mentioned are Amanda B Collins’ Talavera, Caitlin Hunter’s Tegna and Megan Nodecker’s Mount Pleasant, which I am knitting for the Blacker Podcast Knit-a-long. The wools are Woollenflower‘s madder dyed organic Shetland wool and Blacker Yarn’s Lyonesse linen blend. I mull over my surprise at this shift in my attitude to knitting patterns, re-working and self-designing and conclude it’s down to the agency that making cultivates.

Being more critical about fit means more frogging and re-knitting

I announce the winner of the This Thing of Paper giveaway.

Finally, I review Making Stories‘ e-book Socks 2018, a publication that features seven sock patterns designed in nylon-free, non-superwash wools, as well as profiles of the designers, yarns used and a couple of essay. I was given the publication free of charge but in light of my own nylon-free sock experiment would have bought it anyway. Although I share practical details about the publication, like the types of wool and designs, I also approach my review based on the insights and experiences from my own nylon-free sock experiment as well as questions and conversations arising from this exploration. As Making Stories has also offered me a copy of this digital publication to give away, I explain how to enter to win this copy and why I am asking three short questions.

Some of the yarns used in Socks 2018 by Making Stories*

The Origin socks from Socks 2018 by Making Stories*


* Photos are the property of Making Stories and are used with kind permission.

Music: As I figure by Kevin MacLeod on FreeMusicArchive and licensed under Creative Commons By Attribution 3.0 License.





  • Anne Howe February 8, 2018, 12:19 pm

    The podcast is so informative on my journey however yes I can do most of the things you talk about but I wonder about the balance between time and making. Most people today struggle to manage their time and then are too exhausted for making buying everything and increasing the need to buy quickly without questioning the origin etc. Keep exploring its very appealing me. Thank you

    • Mrs M February 12, 2018, 1:15 pm

      Thank you for your feedback. Time is most definitely an issue. There are different demands on time and energy and many of the products that are most damaging to the environment but also our health are ones that were developed and marketed for our convenience. In some cases, yes that convenience has made a massive difference to people’s life, in other cases the ‘net benefit’ is more questionable.

      For me the key way I navigate the time and energy is just by wanting less and working out what are my real priorities. Stripping out more and more of the time and energy sapping stuff there is some time/energy for making, for enquiry, for research… For example rather than having a repertoire of 30 patterns, recipes, garden crops…, an endless array of fabrics, ingredients, seeds …, I will focus on a core set that I use again and again. I don’t like the term ‘minimalist’, but I increasingly regard novelty as a treat. Something to pop in occasionally as a palate cleanser. I have lapses of course; there are days when I want to say “Oh, blow it” but these are occasional strops… and more of a release valve. The time/energy budget (like the money budget) is a topic I shall weave into future episodes.

  • Isa February 9, 2018, 12:13 pm

    Hi Mrs M!! I’ve been listening to you latest podcast and I do have to say ahmen to your rant about people not speaking enough about pattern adjustments!! I do try to allways refer my modifications whenever I post on my blog about a new pattern, even if there’s one or two more dry and technical paragraphs. Yet an adjustment I do allways forget to mention is the combination of different sizes at bust, waist and hip, as this is something I do so early on I forget I made it. I used to be happy with how the patterns fit out of the packet, but lately I’ve become pickier, maybe its a sign of my increase proficiency as a garment maker. Other adjustments I started making are front shoulder adjustments as I realized I’ve become a bit slumped, sway back, and often (if the pattern is not loose enough) full bust adjustments. Still I very rarely muslin my patterns, and prefer to make my first version in a not too fancy fabric, and wear it despite its small flaws – I wouldn’t have such a nice garment if I bought it at a shop.

    • Mrs M February 12, 2018, 1:22 pm

      Thank you for the feedback. I have been struck by how this topic has resonated with listeners. I think becoming pickier is part of becoming more proficient at dressmaking. I remember my first skirt. I was just delighted that it looked like a 3D skirt, I managed to attach the zip and I actually fitted into it (rather than it fitting me properly). In my case, it was definitely a matter of not knowing what fitting questions to ask until I had made a few garments, understood what the oddities and discomforts were and also grasping how fabrics wear.

  • Liz (Go Homespun) February 18, 2018, 12:40 pm

    It was interesting to hear about your experience with pattern adjustments. I too have much adjusting to do when making clothes. I’m always adjusting for what, I think is termed hollow-back (slightly different to sway-back?). Before I even get to that point though, I’m fiddling around with shortening lines on the paper pattern as I’m short (4’11”). It was this time-consuming process that brought me to making my own paper patterns as another option. I don’t know how well this would fit in with where you are at with pattern fitting because, as you say, it is a learning process. I would say that it’s not as hard as it sounds and it has the advantage that you create basic building blocks that have your idiosyncrasies built in, from which you can create different styles. The two books I have are Rene Burgh – Make your own patterns: an easy step by step guide…, and Chinelo Bally – Freehand Fashion: Learn to Sew the Perfect Wardrobe. Chinelo was runner-up in the 2014 Great British Sewing Bee – she was inspiring and engaging on that show. In blog post I wrote a little while back, I compared standard pattern drafting and freehand cutting methods from my dabblings so far.

    • Mrs M February 18, 2018, 8:37 pm

      I suspect I may end up making my own paper patterns so thank you for those recommendations. As I lived in suits and wrap dresses for years, I am now not only learning to sew clothes from scratch but also what kind of clothes (preferably without elastane/lycra) I enjoy wearing. I am therefore building up my wardrobe and skills garment by garment. I am starting to distil what lines and fabrics I like wearing and how patterns work so I can definitely sense that my interest/eagerness to do make my own blocks and draw my own patterns inching nearer. As you say, it’s a learning process.

      I have to admit, I’ve never seen the Sewing Bee as I don’t have the patience for TV*, so in many ways I am developing my sewing skills based on what tools and techniques I saw mum use and fill in the gaps thanks to other knitter-cum-sewers, YouTubes and blogs.

      * That said, I was away a few weekends ago and Mr M had tuned into the Nigel Slater programme on cooking in the Middle East and it was a complete joy. Local ingredients, local preserves, simple dishes, and almost no plastic in sight 😉

  • Maria Cristina Duarte Ferreira March 21, 2018, 1:15 pm

    I found the conversation about the sock yarn very interesting. My skin cannot tolerate nylon. It causes rashes and actual wounds. So I’m always on the lookout for 100% wool, or wool with other natural fibres. I have recently made a pair of socks with Mondim. It’s ver warm and confortable. I love the yarn. I cannot attest to its durability yet because they are pretty new. I have washed them in my machine, in the wool cycle, and they have come out alright.
    I have in the past knitted socks with 100% merino. They didn’t last long. Well, they did last, but eventually they got holes. I have a pair of socks that I made in 2009 and still survive. They’re 100% BFL. I love BFL, probably my favourite wool.
    I cannot unfortunately wear mohair. I’m completely intolerant. I’d like to find some sock yarn with silk. Any advice on that? I understand that mohair and silk are pretty strong and are better than nylon because they don’t cut the wool.


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