Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Spring in the fall

After the long, drawn out fiasco that was the dolphin project, I picked out a tiny little kit from my stash as my next project. Years ago I signed up to receive a little kit every few months from an online cross stitch store. I got 5 or 6 before they just stopped coming (my credit card also ceased being charged, so it was all good). This easter-coloured one is the second-last one I need to stitch up. In the center will go a little robin's nest charm that came in the package.

I started it in August in the middle of a wilderness canoe trip. Nothing like sitting and stitching by a campfire, listening to irate chipmunks rustle in the bush behind you. It's the perfect size for travelling.

As for stitching notions, when I travel I keep all the essentials in a little tin:

Seriously, Altoids tins are super useful for the travelling crafter. I have another one that holds all my stitch counters and markers for knitting.

Inside everything lives like this:

Clockwise from the top left we have: Thread Heaven (for keeping threads from tangling -awesome stuff), needle case, my cappiest pair of embroidery scissors, and a little finger thingy to make picking up beads easier.

My regular stitching kit has a lot more odds and ends in it, but the Altoids tin holds the basics perfectly. Really need to find a candy store and get some more mints...

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Nothing to do with crafting

Moving is always such a brutal reminder of just how much stuff you have. I've managed to relax more this time and accept that I will never be a minimalist like a good friend of mine, whose sole possessions are a bed, tiny side table, clothing, toiletries and a computer. Mind you, I never mind when he asks for help moving :)

Pictured above is my entire tea stash. Grouped from left to right there are the herbal teas, the greens, and finally the black teas. Luckily the new roommates are also tea lovers and didn't look at me like I was insane when I unpacked all this.

Soon, very soon, I hope to be curled up on the couch with a knitting or stitching project and a hot mug of tea next to me.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Moving, moving, moved

Here I am blogging from my new house. We've only been here for three weeks and it already feels like home. Awesome new roommates, awesome home with room for gardening, cooking, hosting dinner parties, and even space for a craft room - if it ever stops being the storage room.

It's been a stressful month though, packing, moving, an-out-of-the-blue job offer, and a very traumatic pet illness and loss in the middle of it all. I'm still kinda blown away by how much my life has changed in such a short time.

No crafting or creating has gotten done yet, it's taken all I've had just to stay sane and meet my most basic obligations. But I thought I'd show you pictures of my smallest stash all packed up. Yup, all of my yarn hobbies (knitting and crocheting) fit into a wine box, with my active projects in a small bag (not pictured). In the top picture I've got my needles on top of my tiny yarn stash, which is on top of my few books and leaflets.

The filled box:

Three lovely yarns that were in lovely balls in my project bag. Then my parent's Goldendoodle came along and decided to cuddle them (when he misses a person he finds and cuddles soft objects that belong to them - usually socks or underwear). He is a very enthusiastic cuddler as you can see. None of the yarn is actually damaged, just tangled. Seems like a visit to the yarn winder at my LYS is in order.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Super, big, giant, awesome Happy Dance!!!!!

I started this blog with a post about this project, so it's really only fitting that I break my long silence with another post about it :)

After 9 years, my oldest UFO is finally finished!

9 years of picking it up, putting in a few stitches, and putting it down for months on end. 9 years of loathing the fabric, disliking the pattern, but persisting out of sentimentality and my own masochistic desire to never give up (seriously, ask anyone who knows me irl about my master's thesis).


It feels good.

This hasn't been the only cross-stitch project I've done in the past 9 years, but awhile ago I decided that I wouldn't let myself work on anything else until this one was finished.

And now I'm free.

Well, crafting-wise anyway. There is still that pesky thesis...

I still need to wash and press the piece, but here are some more pics in the meantime:

It's good to be back :)

Saturday, 24 March 2012

A restrained trip to Fabricland

(Sorry for the picture quality! Not my best work and the light is terrible for re-shooting right now)

I nipped over to Fabricland today to take advantage of their big members sale. Wasn't intending on buying any fabric, but ended up coming home with 2 pieces...which at $3/m and $4/m wasn't remotely a budget-breaker.

My haul (clock-wise from Henry's nose)
- Steam-a-Seam 2, 1/2" width
- glass headed pins (I learned that you can't drop a textbook on a pincushion and expect your pins to stay straight)
- 4/$1 handful of zippers for a mod I want to do to some of my running pants
- quilting foot (ok, not from Fabricland, it was a birthday gift I forgot to blog about)

And of course the two pieces of fabric.

The blue is a cotton stretch mesh that I'm envisioning made into a drape-y pullover to wear over a cream camisole.

The orange print isn't nearly so violently orange irl....more of of a muted rust colour. It's a lovely soft stretch fabric with some spandex in it that has a wonderful drape and feels amazing to the touch. In theory it will be made up into New Look 6648.

Photography was hampered by Henry's absolute fascination with the orange fabric. He kept snuffling it, licking it and growling at me whenever I tried to shoo him away. Little bugger.

If you can't beat 'em, use 'em for scale:

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Digital Sewing Date follow-up

Behold the most psychedelic, seizure-inducing
pajamas ever!

So Heather and I's sewing date last night was a huge help. Finally motivated me to get the collar sewn on these pajamas. Even did some hand-sewing along the neckline.

The to do list for the rest of the project looks like this:

- attach sleeves
- sew up sides
- add sleeve cuffs
- hem
- buttons!!!!

All things I'm comfortable doing, so fear shouldn't be getting in the way of finishing (anymore).

P.S. Yes, I'm aware the pajamas look totally crazy. I didn't have enough fabric to cut out all the pieces from the main print (45" wide fabric with a 7" border print and cutting an XL size from the pattern doesn't leave much to work with), so I cut the collar, facings and pocket from the extra-psychedelic border print. Very cheerful, possibly nauseating. Best. Pajamas. Ever. Or so I keep trying to convince myself.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Wednesday Night Digital Sewing Date

Heather and I were chatting this aft about the cleaning (and sewing) we want to get done. As it turns out we both have the evening free (after some thesis-ing on my part)...so spawned a Wednesday Night Digital Sewing Date.

We are both beginning our evenings by tidying up our sewing spaced, and then moving on to finishing up projects that have been hanging around our necks for ages. And trying not to distract each other *too* much :P

My task list for the night is small but important:

1. clear off my sewing table, thus unburying the pieces of the pajama top.
2. nuts up and get the collar sewn on the top. Me = giant chicken.

Anything else I accomplish tonight is gravy.

If I can get this freaking collar on, maybe I'll even let myself splurge a bit at the big Fabricland sale tomorrow <evil grin>

No one around but me? Check!
Gmail chat open? Check!
Mug of hot tea? Check!
Bunnies sleeping right where I need to walk? Check!

All the ingredients for a productive sewing night are present!

Friday, 16 March 2012

A newbie's pattern stash

Tanit-Isis' post a few weeks ago got me thinking about stash storage and also left me feeling a tiny bit grateful that I'm not faced with her problem (yet! When we buy a house all bets are off!).

I love seeing pictures and reading posts about other people's stashes, am grateful for them even. THV only muttered once about the size of my cross stitch stash - I promptly showed him some pictures online of other ladies' hoards and he hasn't uttered a peep since. Smart man.

So while it is still adorable and tiny I thought I'd share my pattern stash with you guys:

Yup, thats it for individual patterns! I can fit the entire stack in my purse if I really needed to for some bizarre reason (Armageddon?). Not pictured are some Burda magazines and 2 books have some patterns in them. That subject might be fodder for another quick blog post :)

Lets see whats in the stack...

The "good patterns" aka. the ones I'm seriously interested in making (well aside from that tote bag, it just needed to go somewhere).

The aprons! I went through a phase apparently. Although in my defense two of those were gifts. Number of aprons I've made? 1!

The WTF patterns. Top two were scrounged from my mom's long unused stash. The best of a pile of 1980s patterns. The dog bed pattern I bought right when I started sewing and was terrified to sew a straight line without a pattern holding my hand. Hmmm, well I'm really not much better now, but I can at least figure out how to make pet beds without a pattern!

Randoms. Top two my grandmother bought me at craft shows. The Amy Butler Heather and I bought together at a quilting store with the idea of time-sharing it and I seem to have held it hostage ever since. Ooops. Sorry Heather!

Bottom left is actually one of my favorite patterns of all time. My awesome sewing aunt has made me two muumuus from this pattern. Never to be worn in public, perfect for super hot summer days at the cottage or an un-airconditioned apartment. After the last muumuu she just gave me the pattern to make my own :)

And finally, my newest pattern! A birthday present even! Can't wait to make it, assuming I can ever find 60" wide knit fabric that I: 1. like and 2. can afford

Thats it! All of my patterns. Not many now, but it's a slippery slope I've started down....

Do you collect patterns like candy or slowly and carefully add to your stash? Anyone else have a "wtf was I thinking?" pile?

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Hearts for Heather's mom

Last Friday Heather's mom went in for surgery for breast cancer. Her family made and sent heart pins out for everyone to wear on that day in support and love. They are an amazing family! Some were headed to me, but Heather warned me that due to a Canada Post "issue" they wouldn't arrive on time.

Well that just wouldn't do. A heart pin was needed!

Then I remembered a crochet pattern I was noodling about with around Valentine's Day:

Just needed safety pin:

A bit lopsided, certainly not the official "breast cancer pink" but it's a heart worn with love and pride and support for the woman who brought one of my best friends into this world.

Project notes:

Pattern: Mini crochet hearts (free!)
Yarn: Bernat Handicrafter cotton in a pinkish-red. I learned I am not a fan of using cotton yarn with my metal crochet hooks.
Hook size: various. Try a few and see what works best with your yarn and unique tension abilities.
Comments: super, super quick pattern to do (its less than 20 stitches, including the starting chain), but tension really really matters if you want it to look like a heart. Hence why mine aren't close to the perfect hearts seen in the pattern.

I've made 5 so far, the progression is kinda amusing. My first attempt looks more like a real heart than a symbolic one:

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Birthday bracelet

Spent a lovely day with my longtime friend Bug. She patiently read a magazine while I got my teeth cleaned (living in the boonies + snowstorm = you have to be efficient about your trips into town). We hit up a yarn store where she picked up some Estelle Frill Seeker to knit her very first scarf. Yay Bug! Visited a tea store. Ate an unhealthy lunch. And then back home to sip some new tea, chat and knit. Now that's friendship.

And she gave my an (early) birthday present. A gorgeous Swarovski crystal bracelet she made for me. You can probably tell by the colour :) Beading is one hobby I've managed to not pick up (so far), but Bug does amazing things with it.

Such a delight to be gifted with a beautiful piece of her work.

Check out a closeup:

Of course it had to travel home with her for some adjustments. Totally my fault. When she asked for my wrist measurement I used my second-best measuring tape (my good one appears to have disappeared with those blasted pattern instructions)....and thought my wrist measurement was 8". I thought it seemed rather large, but trusted the tape. Then the made-to-size bracelet turned out to be far too large:

Apparently the 6 and the 8 look very similar on my now-deemed-evil measuring tape.


Sorry for the extra work Bug!

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Sea Cozy Tea Cozy (I hope)

Started a new knitting project last weekend while slumming it in a cabin in the Laurentians. Hot tub, pool table, fireplace and lots of big squishy couches perfect for curling up with a mug of tea and a crafty sort of project.

This is my first time knitting with two colours of yarn and it's turning out to be easier than I had expected. I've been knitting off and on for a good 10 years now, but it's been far more off than on, so I've accomplished little more than a few scarves. Knitting isn't my first, or even second or third favorite creative/crafty activity so it often gets pushed aside in favor of other things.

Eventually, hopefully, this will becomes a tea cozy. I'm using this pattern I found on Ravely.

I've added a few rows of single-colour garter stitch at the bottom on the recommendation of various Ravely people - apparently it keeps the strands that get carried across the back from peeking out.

Hopefully I don't have to frog this and restart - I'm worried about my tension now that I'm on the stripes. The pulling of the yarn across the back to make the ribs stand out seems to make me want to knit very tightly.

Yarn: Cascade Pacific
Colourway: 23 & 66
Pattern: linked above. 

Friday, 24 February 2012

When the weather outside is frightful....

.....let's sew, let's sew, let's sew!!!!!

This was the view across our backyard this afternoon. Normally at this time of year I'd be sulking, but we've had such pitiful snowfall (and too much freezing rain) that I'm almost giddy with excitement. More snow means more cross country skiing!

But you can't ski while most of the snow is still in the air instead of on the ground. So I did the next best thing and worked on my pajama top. Surprised myself by getting a good chunk done. Realizing I don't have to switch feet every time I switch between straight and zig-zag stitch has sped me up a fair bit (not that changing feet takes a noticeable amount of time, more that I think it does and end up futzing about when I should just be getting on with the sewings).

I made a pocket!

I attached a pocket (after several bad starts...I suck at edgestitching)

Attached the facings!

Made the collar!

"I like mah collah popped yo!"

"Less pictures, more pets plx"
Also got the big bits sewn together at the shoulders. That's a lot of progress for a glacial sewist like myself!

Hopefully I can finish this weekend, but that depends how distracted I get with skiing and nerdery.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

So Project: Pajamas has been moving forward at a glacial pace - although I suppose the eulogy I had to write and give last week is a legit reason to not be sewing.

After cutting out the pattern pieces on Saturday night, I left everything carefully laid out on my sewing* table for Sunday. When I went back to it Monday night I couldn't find the pattern instructions! Extremely frustrating since my sewing area** is abnormally clean right now - there are only so many places I even have to look, and I've checked those places multiple times.

I bitched.

I moaned.

I sulked.

I did all three over gmail chat with the ever patient Heather and she didn't disown me as a friend.

In the end I went out and picked up the regular-sized version of the pattern. I was going to buy it any way since the 1X in the Plus version was big on me - and I've lost weight since I bought it. I love this style of pajamas and fully intend on making many more.

I do feel like a bit of a sewing wuss for not just trying to put it all together myself as Heather suggested. This is my first time making a garmet of any type - I've never done sleeves or collars before. At all. So I kinda want the safety net of instructions to keep my perfectionist self from freaking out.

Well, I think that's enough justification, don't you?

Less justifiable, but I will share just the same: these two patterns just happened to come home with me too:

The one on the left looks exactly like a beach cover up I drooled over in Bikini Village last year - and didn't buy because it was $75. The dress/top on the right might not be perfectly in fashion right now, but it's a bit more interesting than other patterns that are suited to my skills, and gives me practice sewing with knits and coming up with creative fabric choices. I like the look of the red variation, the other two with the white banding - not so much.

* also thesis table, board game table, art table, plant care center and to the bunnies: Pedestale On Which The Most Honoured And Glorious Receptacle Of Noms Rests.

** also office, bunny room, games room, storage room, art room, wannabe greenhouse and lounge.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

A small step forward

Whew, finally got around to working on the pajama top. It's been a sad, stressful few weeks - just wasn't in the mood to tackle a sewing project. Particularly one whose next steps are my least favorite steps. Pinning and cutting out the pieces. Ugh. I'm anal retentive so all futzing and shifting and finger crossing you do to get everything lined up properly, pinned without messing it up, and then cut out, is just nerve-wracking.

So aimed low and accomplished a small goal today: cutting out and ironing the pattern pieces.

Tiny mission is accomplished.

Tomorrow I'm going to aim to get the pieces pinned to the fabric and cut out.

Or maybe some of them.

Just one?

Along the way I encountered a few wtf moments. Maybe they aren't anything worth commenting on to an experienced sewer (sewist?) but they gave me pause for a bit.

Like, why are the pockets different sizes? I get why patterns come in a range of sizes (duh) but why pockets? Does Kwik Sew think larger people need to carry more?

Ok, there is only one wtf moment. The other one I figured out as I was uploading the picture. Derp.

Have you had any wtf moments with patterns? Were they beginner mistakes or was the pattern designed by a flock of toucans hopped up on hallucinogens?

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Found it!

Woot! Found the missing crochet hook.

Was doing a Downward Facing Dog and admiring the upside-down view instead of concentrating on finding inner peace. Spied the little bugger waaaay underneath a couch. Yoga fail is a crafting win.

And now my anal-retentive self is no longer twitchy when looking at the gap in my crochet hook roll.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Fabulous scarf for a fabulous friend

Finished a birthday gift for a friend last night - only 9 months late! I really don't have any excuse, these types of scarves knit up stupid fast. I was just intimidated by this particular type of mesh, which is a fair bit finer than what I normally use (Katia Triana). Turned out not to be a terrible experience once I got the right needle size and tweaked the pattern. Don't think I'm going to make another anytime soon though.

In my excitement to give the scare to my very patient friend, I totally forgot to take a picture for this post. Silly me, not looking out for good blog opportunities 24/7.

Leftover yarn to the rescue!

Made a quick scale-model scarf this morning, worn by the surprisingly tolerant Nicnic.

Yarn: Estelle Frill Seeker
Colourway: 701 (such uncreative nomenclature)
Pattern: I started with the free pattern recommended by Estelle, but found it too dense. After some Ravelry-browsing  and examining a similar scarf my grandmother has, I modified the pattern to 7 knit stitches across instead of 9, and increased the distance between each stitch to 2-ish-inches. (The model scarf pictured is only 3 stitches across). This makes it more flowing and frillier.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

The last Christmas present

Shortly after Christmas Heather mentioned needing to finish making my gift because I had "already ruined one part of it" and was on my way to ruining the second. Needless to say, I was puzzled since I hadn't been making anything for myself that I could remember. And felt a bit guilty at having accidentally participated in the "ruining" of anything. I'm only a destructive person in video games. But Heather didn't seem genuinely upset with me, so I didn't worry. Much.

Then it was in the mail! Squee!

I stalked the post office daily. Have I mentioned I love getting packages?

Then it arrived and I had the biggest grin preparing to open the padded envelope. She made me a gorgeous holder for crochet hooks. I'm so blown away and touched that she considered me a sew-worthy friend. Crochet is a very new hobby for me (I picked it up accidentally in December) so aside from a set of hooks, and stitch markers bummed off my grandmother, I really have no crochet "stuff" to speak of.

A little tour:

It is long, with tons of room for more hooks, and adorable little pockets for notions. She knows my favorite colours almost better than I do.

I apparently ruined part of the present by going out and buying a basic set of hooks before Christmas - in my defense they weren't on my Christmas list and I'm not at all used to anyone in my life thinking to get my crafty supplies unless I specifically and repeatedly ask.

Personally I don't think the present was ruined at all.

She tucked all kinds of useful notions in the pockets. I'm particularly enchanted with the large grey needles with the loops - they look so useful for sewing in the tails of bulky yarns.

The entire thing is beautifully made, far better than I would have done.

I'll be putting that claim to the test soon. Like the awesome enabling friend she is, Heather included the rest of the fabric in the envelope. So of course now I need to make a matching holder for my knitting needles.

Post Script

In getting the lovely model to pose for the picture we heard a clatter as one of the hooks fell out. It's large and purple and shiny and didn't sound like it fell far so we finished with the photo shoot before beginning to search. Well now we can't find it anywhere, and it's in a pretty uncluttered room. We've hunted high and low - nothing. It's not like looking for a needle in a haystack; it's a freaking purple crochet hook on a floor.

And then there were 7....

Where Fuss is neither creative nor makes anything

Heather is to blame for this post :)

I wasn't going to post about these new shoes since I didn't have anything to do with their creation. But she reminded me that it's my blog and I can post whatever I please. Or whatever my friend pleases since she wanted to see a pic.

Teal suede heels from Naturalizer - cost me a whopping $30. Regular price: $100. I love sales. I love sales even more when they have my tricky-to-find shoe size. The colour is a bit more green-ish than the picture shows.

I guess this means I should think about sewing some dresses to go with them. I really love them with dress pants, but I really don't think I'm ready to sew any of those. Yet.

Ah, thats my excuse for posting about these - they aren't just a good deal, they are a sewing muse.

Friday, 20 January 2012

An unexpected gift

My grandmother is one of my favorite people in the world and an amazingly crafty woman, particularly when it comes to knitting. She is incredibly generous with both her time and tools. We were over visiting earlier this week and she was helping me make some decisions about a knitting project I'm working on. We determined I was using the wrong needles, and she dashes upstairs to her stash to find me better ones, and also comes down and quietly hands me a pouch with this guy tucked inside.

Her MP Handy Guide. Bought in the 1950s when she was a new bride learning to knit (her first pair of socks came up to her husbands thighs...thankfully she has improved since then).

Talk about a touching gift, from one generation of crafter to another.

Some more pics:

I love how you can tell that she used the "rows" and "times" counters a lot and the "increase" almost never.

Handy dandy ruler on the bottom. This thing it mostly metal with a beautiful weight to it. I love things from a different era, before scads of cheapo plastic products.

The instructions on the back, too faded to easily read. But for the curious, Wikipedia to the rescue!! Scroll down a bit to find this guy, and the instructions are part of the article.

Awesome grandmother is awesome and am so touched that she considers me knit-worthy. I also came home with a pair of socks from that visit :) She is going to teach me how to make them soon; I look forward to spending the time together more than learning a new knitting skill.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Proof of pants!

Apologies for the cruddy photo, apparently taking pictures in the mirror of yourself is a lot harder than photographing plants.

Anyway, just a quick pic to prove to Heather that the pants do indeed exist. They just need to be hemmed - I had considered cutting out the border print from the fabric and using it for the cuffs, but a pinned-on test looked like I had crazy floral hooves....too wacky (even for me) to justify the additional work.

Now onto the pj top!