Every once in a while I am summoned North to ensure our somewhat mad golden retriever is fed, watered and exercised while the usual inhabitants of the house are elsewhere. This tends to involve lengthy train journeys and using up some annual leave, but what I need to remember is that actually, it is also a series of days of freedom in a beautiful setting, with no other demands on my time than those of the dog's routine.
In fact, my most recent visit has been particularly revealing in terms of how a negative could be turned into a positive, and how looking on the bright side can really transform an experience.
Problem the first: the dog and knitting do not work very well together. She likes to be fussed, and in particular sees the times in which the humans are in soft chairs as times for putting her head in your lap and licking / investigating whatever you may be holding.
Solution: Pack a sewing machine. It might seem a little crazy, but actually, my sewing machine does fit in my suitcase, and I'm (thankfully) strong enough to carry heavy things.
Problem the second: the planned project I had thought I could whip through on this long weekend has a significant decision outstanding on it, and was not ready to bring.
Solution: Let's start all the things! I have a fabric and pattern stash for exactly this sort of eventuality, and in fact very rarely buy that fabric without a pattern / project in mind for it (otherwise I end up with the wrong amounts of stuff), so out came the box of fabric, and the box of patterns, and with a quick notions check - I have a zip stash too, and a collection of thread, I was all set.
Problem the third: I forgot to pack my dress-making shears.
Solution: turns out I'm in a house where I can put my hand on shears, and tape measures, without much difficulty!
Solution: after 15 years of sewing experience (but not considering myself particularly accomplished - I make it work, and the first 5 years were characterised by student theatre, where if it will last the week of the show, and pass muster from the auditorium, you're golden), I discovered that I can actually draft waistband pieces and neckline facings without much difficulty. I can also sew a skirt and dress without instructions. Woot!
Pins travelled surprisingly well in their pincushion, and cutting out
was straightforward - barring the fact that my knees don't like the
floor as much as the pins and scissors do. Sewing up was actually very enjoyable, and the dog seemed quite content to remain under the table while the work was being done above it!
So at the end of the weekend, what do I have to show for it? A new Belcarra top for work, which fits and will hopefully serve me well if summer has in fact actually arrived; the front (with pockets) and two back pieces of a skirt from Burda style, which needs the waistband interfacing and lining, an invisible zip and a hem (turns out the zip I found in the right colour and length was not an invisible one, and for this pattern, it would make a difference); and a third iteration of my trusty Burda style dress, to refresh the Kaffe Fassett model which I'm shocked to discover I made 5 years ago, and as a more colourful, breathable alternative to my black 'office' version.
Not bad, when considering it was combined with at least 3 hours of walking per day, and a tiny bit of knitting did also get done!
Now to address the question I don't yet have a definite answer to: why do I have to travel 300 miles to get any sewing done? Yes, knitting is easier to turn to in odd moments at home, but I do have occasional stretches of time, and weekends are just as prevalent in the Midlands as the North... I need to tidy. My sewing table is well set up, but it gets used to put things on, and I really need to remember that I need that space clear if I'm to get a project out, work on it, and put it away again.