My 2016 summary in Instagram photos

So...last year went by fast! I remember writing my summary of 2015. It doesn't feel long ago at all. And yet it does. It has been a busy year, and overall quite a good one. Well, for me personally. What has been happening in the world around us is a whole different story.

So for the second year running, my summary of the previous year, in Instagram photos:

January last year was kind of miserable. SAD struck with quite some force. My mood was low, I was sluggish, it was just an unhappy couple of weeks.

Towards the end of January my mood was improving. I decided to do something fun to start the year off in a more cheerful way and went to Coworth Park with two friends for afternoon tea. It was so lovely that we are doing it again in a few weeks.

February came and with it sad personal news. Spending time with friends and family helped. The photo above is from a visit I made to Welford Park with a friend to see the snowdrops. The ground was white with them, it was really quite beautiful. It's also the place where the last few seasons of the Great British Bake-Off were filmed.

I knitted my first pair of socks in February. I wrote a post about them and how switching attention from big problems to small challenges was helpful during this time. These socks are so ugly in real life, one is a lot bigger than the other and in the first wash the colours bled and now they are mostly just grey, but I absolutely love them.

Things got a lot better from March onwards. The days got longer and brought sunshine and I started running regularly again. Running has always been my anti-depressant.

One of my closest friends has her birthday in March so we had brunch at the Shard one sunny weekend to celebrate. The view was completely ok. :)

I went to Australia in April. Finally, after intending to for the 4 years my friend had lived out there. It was incredible. I loved everything about Australia. If it wasn't so far away from everything I would be tempted to migrate. This photo is of Manly beach, taken shortly after getting off the 22h flight.

May was incredible. The weather couldn't have been better, everything was blossoming, and I started training for my next half-marathon. After one 10 km Sunday run I laid down in the grass among the buttercups and cows in this meadow and contemplated how ridiculously idyllic life is some days.

June was all about running and spending time with friends and Josh. The evenings were balmy and I'd often come home from work and go straight for a run in the afternoon sunshine. In the photo above I had finished one such run and gotten dressed to go to the movies with Josh. My top is a refashion of a shirt I had originally made for him.

We drove down to Devon for a wedding. The weather was appalling. Relentless rain and floods. But we had fun on the way down, listening to football games on the radio and eating strawberries. And the wedding was beautiful, as love always is.

The weather improved again in July and I spent most of my free time either running or reading books on various lawns.

And August brought some guessed it, running. My friend and I upped our training for the half-marathon and in the photo above we had covered 15 km. Unfortunately we also got lost in some fields, which wasn't fun at the time, but we laughed plenty at it afterwards.

August also saw me do a couple of day trips with a friend. I love day trips, they are such a good way of actually doing and seeing something in a weekend. The photo above is from one such day trip to Bristol. We went specifically for the Bristol Balloon Fiesta and were lucky to see the balloons as every prior planned ascent had gotten cancelled due to strong winds.

On the last day of August we moved! This was kind of unplanned, but when our rent for a teeny tiny apartment went up to an extortionate amount we started looking around. We found an adorable cottage in the most charming location. This is the kind of place I will be looking for when I'm ready to buy a property.

Because of the move September was stupid busy. It was made extra busy because we were making a trip to the Lake District (planned before the move) and because I was going away for 5 days with work to a conference in London. By the time September ended I was exhausted. But happy. I'd seen a lot of beauty and learned a lot of science.

I didn't take a great deal of photos in October. It was a busy month both at work and outside of work. When I had a free moment I spent it reading in bed.

While I don't have any pictures of it, I ran the Oxford half-marathon for the second time in October. Improved my time and finally broke the 2 h mark.

November was also busy. So busy. I went for walks in the fields near my house every free moment when there was daylight, visiting the sheep and watching the leaves change colours and ultimately fall off the trees. I didn't sew a lot, but I made about three of these turtlenecks. I've blogged one of them.

And December was...busy. Until the 16th anyways. Then me and Josh hopped on a flight to Sweden and took a well-deserved break. We visited our friends in Swedish Lapland where we spent the days riding snow scooters, reading books, playing board games, eating good food and just enjoying each other's company. Then followed a super-lazy week with my family. And we came back to the UK rested, refreshed and ready to take on 2017.

A love for turtle necks

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I lööööv being comfy! I also love my Hunter boots. And a third thing I love are turtle necks. So naturally I had to combine these three. Enter the Paola turtle neck tee from Named Clothing.

I have to admit that while I exclusively use indie patterns, I didn't try a Named pattern until recently. No reason, except that my sewing queue was near-infinite and my free time non-existent. But I couldn't resist the Beatrix dress and once I had made that I became OBSESSED. Like, I want ALL the Named patterns! The fit is out of this world. I've never received so many compliments on a dress, handmade or otherwise. (A post about Beatrix will definitely come once I've taken some photos, but it's my favourite me-made dress to date, so I have to do her justice.)

As mentioned, my free time is incredibly limited at the moment, so I had to pick something quick and easy for my next Named pattern. I chose Paola.

So, the big question, is Paola as good as Beatrix? YES! 100% yes. So easy to make, such good (COMFY!) fit, so perfect.

In fact, I liked Paola so much I made two. One is the straight up tee, the other a frankendress with Moneta. Both from the same lovely Milano jersey from Fabric Godmother, in my favourite colour for November, soulless grey.

The other day I was in a horrific, full-on SAD mood. So I paired the tee with some jeans, my Hunters, my lacy shawl and a big heavy coat for a November walk in the fields behind my house. And felt amazing after. Fresh air cures everything.

I think these guys had a proper giggle over me posing for the self-timer.

I picked some rose hips during my walk. Had I been at home in Sweden I would have made some jelly with them, or maybe some rose hip soup. But I have neither the equipment or the time, so I made a cake with completely unrelated ingredients and used the rose hips as props for the photo.

The recipe is from my favourite cake blog. Mine is nowhere near as pretty, but it tastes amazing. I can definitely recommend giving it a go. The butter frosting in particular is spectacular! I hate normal buttercream but this one I could have happily eaten with a spoon from the mixing bowl.

Hope everybody is having a good Sunday! I'm off on yet another walk. This time without the tripod. :)

Autumnal Darling Ranges Dress and A Lacy Shawl

Almost two months ago I moved from an urban apartment to a rural cottage. And my quality of life went through the roof! In the country there is so much space, it is so quiet, my one (!) neighbour is lovely, he gives me crab apples and sloe berries and I give him some blackberry jam I made, the air feels clean, there is a field of sheep a few hundred metres down the road looking cute every time I cycle past them, the view out the window is always pretty and the local pub serves fantastic food. Did I mention how quiet it is? So quiet!

I have fully embraced this country bumpkin lifestyle and shortly after moving in bought a pair of Hunter wellies. Partly out of vanity, partly necessity. The necessity is that it is kind of muddy here when it rains, so wellies are the most sensible footwear. The vanity is that it could have been any wellies, but for me they have to look good enough to wear in public (the public clearly being the flock of sheep and my one neighbour).

Next up I needed a girly dress. You see, ever since seeing the film The Edge of Love in which Kiera Knightley and Sienna Miller walk on a Welsh beach in dresses and wellies, I've had been obsessed with that type of outfit. Now that I had the boots, making the dress is easy.

Especially as I had the fabric! A friend gifted me some fabric about two years ago and I haven't quite known what to make with it. I asked the sewing goddesses of Instagram, and got some good suggestions. But something told me to save the fabric. And a few weeks later I realised - the fabric would look perfect as a Darling Ranges dress!

I had made one ages ago which I loved. But I remember having issues with the darts. As luck would have it, I was looking at the pattern online and noticed that it now had waist darts instead. I emailed Megan about the new pattern, and with my response I got a copy of the new pattern. And guess what? No issues with the darts this time! Thanks Megan!

(Btw, that wasn't the reason the pattern changed, my issues with the chest darts were because my body type is simply different from that for which the pattern was designed.)

The dress sewed up fairly easily and quickly. The pattern is a delight and very easy to follow. I made no changes with this version.

The fabric presented some issues when it decided to slide all over the sewing table, or not press, but we got there in the end.

The shawl is a separate story. I had made one before, for my mom, but liked it so much I wanted one. So when I went to Australia earlier this year I decided that this pattern would be a good form of entertainment for the 22 hours of flight time each way.

I made a lot of mistakes in the first few rows due know, sleep deprivation and jet lag and all that. But you won't see them if you don't know they are there.

I made one big and impactful thing differently with this shawl compared to the previous. I wet blocked it. And while it was a huge pain in the backside the result is fantastic. I am a complete convert.

Now I just gotta work on that Range Rover to go with my country lifestyle....

Rachel wrap dress

I have loved jersey wrap dresses since I bought my first. It is such a fantastic wardrobe staple. In the right material it doesn't crumple and it looks put together and feels relaxed at the same time. Three major wins right there.

Yet I never made one. Until this summer. I don't know why I didn't do it sooner, but when I saw Rachel's namesake dress by Maria Denmark in an Instagram photo I couldn't get it out of my mind. So I ordered the pattern and the fabric and put it together in a week. And I have looooved it ever since.

Josh took these photos for me back in August but unfortunately we experienced quite an unpleasant incident of racism when they were being taken, which has made itself associated with the photos so I have been a bit reluctant to post them. Simply because I don't want to post them without addressing the incident but at the same time I don't want to make a thing of it.

In summary - these photos were taken in a deserted car park around 8.30 pm on a Sunday night, on our way to the movies. We chose the car park because we wanted a blue and orange kind of look to match the dress and my hair. The car park has an open top level and is surrounded by streetlights, which we thought would look good. By the time we arrived there was only another car parked there, far away on the other end of the top level and there was nobody around.

Josh had barely set up the photography equipment when a security guard came walking towards us with an air of self-importance and hostility. He told us we were not allowed to do photography in the car park without prior permission and threatened to confiscate Josh's camera, without any provocation from us. I asked him where the information about permissions to carry out photography is available and how one should go about to apply for permissions. He ignored my question and in a condescending manner said something along the lines of 'Madam, in this country we have certain laws and rules which must be followed.'

Inside I exploded but externally I asked why he is assuming I'm not aware of the laws and regulations of the UK. He referred to my accent. (Which is your standard continental English.) ARGH! So angry!

I'm not often subjected to racist remarks but when it does happen I'm just a sea of emotions. In the past it was sadness. Now it's mostly anger. So. Much. Anger.

We left. And then filed a complaint with the council. To their credit they took it seriously.

Anger over. Back to the dress.

The fabric is a cotton jersey with blue feathers on a grey background, from Backstitch. It looks beautiful, but doesn't have a lot of stretch. Which means that the sleeves on my dress feel a bit tight. It is not a major issue, just something I should have adjusted for when cutting out the dress.

I left the hem of my dress quite long so it would be work appropriate, but after a few weeks of wearing it like that I decided I didn't like it and chopped a good 10 cm or so off.

The hem looks uneven on the above photo but it's just the way it was tied.

The construction was very, very easy and I have no comments at all on the pattern. This is one of those patterns where you put in minimal effort and get maximal result.

I have got my next dress planned already. I bought a couple of metres of amazing New Zealand merino jersey when I was in Australia earlier this year, and I think it will be perfect for this cold season which is now upon is.

Hemlocks and Bristol Balloon Fiesta

Anybody who follows me on Instagram will know that my two favourite patterns are the Deer & Doe Plantain tee and the Grainline Hemlock tee. Not because both patterns are free and I'm cheap (though they are and I am), but because I looooove being comfy. And I have yet to meet a pattern comfier than the Hemlock.

So all that to say that I have just made another.

This one is in the softest viscose slub jersey from Minerva Craft. It's so soft and fine that it's almost transparent, and on a hot summer day almost has a bit of sexiness about it. Despite its boxy and slouchy shape. But that's good drape for you.

I cut it one morning before work, which took all of 20 min. I sewed it up the same day after work. In 1 h. And that's kind of it. It's so quick and easy and I've already made so many that I have nothing really to say about it. Except that I lovelovelovelove it!

So I might as well move on to some photos from its first outing.

My day trip partner in crime and I hopped on the train to Bristol this last week to see a bunch of hot air balloons float over the city in the annual Bristol Balloon Fiesta.

What a delightful day it was! We got an upgrade on the train and whizzed our way through the country in first class, sipping on coffees, me knitting a sock, her admiring the landscape.

Arrived, admired the train station (seriously, everything in this city is pretty!) and made our way into town with no particular target in mind. We came upon a gothic church, St Mary Redcliffe, which was really rather grand. I'm not religious, despite experimenting with religion at university the way some people experiment with drugs (I think they probably had more fun), but I like churches. I love how welcoming they are and the tranquility in a church, but most of all I love the architecture.

And luckily for me, my friend quite likes churches too. But then again, she was doing a degree in Theology when we met.

Why I am spending so much time talking about churches? Oh, because we also visited the Bristol Cathedral. It is nowhere near as grand as St Mary Redcliffe, but is has some pretty magical stained glass windows.

Churches visited, we went for lunch by the harbourside and then walked along the water for a good hour or so, overdosing on fresh air. It was like being on holiday.

Ahh, both of us in handmade tops. Lika barn leka bäst, as we say in Sweden.

Can you see where I dropped food on my white trousers and then tried to wash it off in the restaurant bathroom?

As it was approaching 6 pm and the time for the ascent we decided to find our way to the Clifton Suspension Bridge and go look for a good spot for a good view of the balloons. This was stupid easy, as all of Bristol was doing the same and we just had to follow the crowds.

Viewing spot found, the waiting began. The whole of last week had been windy and five balloon ascents had already been cancelled because it was too windy. By 6 pm the next scheduled ascent had not been cancelled, but neither were there any balloons. So we took about 14 000 photos of the bridge. And waited.

And then, close to 8 pm, the first one showed its chubby top! Followed by many more.