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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Sunday, April 26, 2015


It turns out this two month stay in Florida has been about two things: teaching my classes and learning new things.

One of the new things is golf. 

My husband would rather golf than eat (he once did 72 holes in the rain after a course was closed and they said he could keep playing). I like being outside and particularly enjoy the Florida landscape. When many outside the state think of Florida they think Daytona and high rises, but we stay in a small place where nothing is more than two storeys and the locals still far outnumber the tourists. 

The lushness and the wildlife make the visit for me.

I decided this year however to start working on being a good golfer. 

You see I started to think about sewers I know who have sewn for a long time. Some will say things like "I have sewn for thirty years" and then complain that things still don't fit. 

I have finally figured out that having done anything for a long time does not mean expertise, in fact it can just mean repeating the same mistakes a whole lot of times. In fact some of the best sewers I know are young women who really worked at it over a short period of time. 

It's about application.

So I had this sort of epiphany after yet another wild shot, that I didn't want to be golfing this exact same way for 20+ more years. I don't want to be one of those women who can golf only with their husbands.

My ambition is to be good enough that I can join in on the Wednesday night scramble where they put you with anyone and you just golf. 

You see they have a buffet for the players after the scramble every week. I have seen them setting up the tables through the window.

It looks pretty good.

The second thing I decided to do is really learn to crochet beyond making crooked dishcloths. I really like any kind of knitted top because they are so comfortable and you don't need to iron them. 

Trouble is I am a really slow knitter. So slow in fact a lady in the waiting room for bloodwork even offered to show me how to knit faster but unfortunately her number was called before she could do that.

I figure in the snippets of time I have available I am good for one sweater a year, which is a pretty depressing number when you consider I have 400+ patterns favoured on Ravelry.

Then I heard crochet was faster.

That was it for me.

I have never really liked the look of crochet however which was a bit of a problem. Then I figured out that crochet culture seems to have involved a high proportion of really stiff polyester yarns and a lot of orange and brown stripes. However the newer designs (you seem to have to look in the crochet magazines to find anything fashionable) are much better.

So I started.

So far one top in three weeks made between teaching and golf and another is halfway there. 

The fast thing is true.

Mind you what I am making is not loopy hole free and it is super simple, but I am starting. I figured if I hadn't just gone on and worn things I had sewn even with the mistakes I would never have kept sewing. 

You have to just do it.

So here is my first project, essentially two giant dishcloths sewn together, but at least the sides are straight. It hasn't been blocked but here it is:

Not a masterpiece but the main thing I enjoyed doing it.

That really counts.


Sox said...

I am a horribly slow knitter too. Maybe I should give crochet another shot. I expect the library will have some current magazines. Something to definitely ponder.

Louisa said...

I really like that top! Congrats on finishing a whole garment. Crochet is definitely faster but for me it takes more concentration watching where I put my hook. Also I like the lighter weight and texture of knits better. However it's good to know how to do both! My current project is knitted with crochet edgings.

Katherine said...

Congratulations on your beautiful sweater.

You are a sage! Your comments on what it takes to master any skill are right on.

Donna W said...

That top is a winner, the color looks great on you and the style is stylish. I love to crochet also but I still have problems keeping the sides even.

Tracy King said...

I just started to crochet in February. Yours looks so much better than mine. Thanks for posting this, I have been looking for a first garment to make. This one does look like I could manage it so I will look for similar. You look great in the Florida sun!!

Nursebennett said...

Totally agree with your thoughts in this post. For a first sweater, that's a beautiful outcome, IMHO.

Linda said...

I am a horrible knitter. My mother was great at knitting and crochet. My grandmother was a seamstress but did not knit well either.

You did a good job with this top! Lovely color

SuzieB said...

Your crocheted top is beautiful! I am impressed. The last thing I crocheted was a shopping bag-

You have been such a prolific blogger lately that I can't keep up, but wanted to tell you how much I like both your mock wrap dress & navy pique dress. Love the blue print fabric - and I'm totally stealing the zipper treatment you used on the navy one.

Since you mentioned Florida wildlife, you should have been with me last week while I was removing an enormous snapping turtle from my neighbor's deck. Fun times!

Anonymous said...

That is a very nice top, well done.
Ria in Oz.

Gill Merrey said...

Sometimes it is not about the finished item but the enjoyment of the process. I have been sewing for a couple of years now and have only just reached the point where I am happy to wear something I have made. I could have easily given up so many times but learnt from every garment I made.

Laceflower said...

Golfing for the food afterwards my type of sport!

Anonymous said...

Aloha Barbara,

Thanks for sharing. I have been reading your blog for a while. I enjoy reading about compression socks, crochet, and more so 2014 post about summer dresses.
The compression socks. You are right, people can really get a DVT if seated for a long time ( a true fact).
Now, the sewing inspiration based on your blog. I made a Hawaiian print dress with pockets.
Mahalo for sharing
Josie RN, MSN

Anonymous said...

Have you discovered Aran Crochet yet?
Now that really grows and doesn't even look like crochet - very satisfying.

Ruth Gregory said...

I love your crochet top. What pattern did you use? I agree with your comments about crochet. I learned when I was a child but never have made anything to wear, also, because I normally did not like the way it looked. My mother always said that wearing crocheted items looked as if someone were wearing a doily. In most cases, I agreed. However, times have changed, and with the beautiful yarns that are now available, beautiful crochet garments can definitely be made. I struggle to knit, and I knit so slowly that knitted garments are not an option for me. I would love to try something that would be easy to fit in a simple pattern. I also love the process because crochet is something I can do when sitting on the couch watching a good movie. Thanks for showing this.

Barbara said...

Here is the top pattern, much lengthened by me: