Damselfly’s Delights

Being the continuing story of my creations and curiosities.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Quick Note

I need to mention that most of my crafting is currently on hold and I’m typing this carefully because my dominant right hand is partially out of commission at the moment. Remember the big wood splinter I got in my palm back on my birthday 3 weeks ago? We were helping set up the Littlest Grandbeastie’s Big Girl room and assembling her new bed (which, ahem, came from That Swedish Store). Anyway, it seems as though there is still a part of that splinter rather deeply embedded in my hand in that fleshy mound just below my right forefinger. It isn’t healing and seemed to be getting ever more tender and sore so I went on Friday to my health clinic’s drop-in to get it checked out. Uh-uh. Doc wouldn’t touch it. She consulted with my family doc and he suggested the specialized hand surgery clinic at the hospital. They’d refer me. Meanwhile I’m taking antibiotics against infection and waiting to hear when they can get me in. It’s just a silly sliver not brain surgery, people! Obviously the GPs figure it’s in a delicate area and too tricky for them to tackle. All I want is a functional hand that doesn’t hurt every time I pick something up. Or use my computer mouse. Or tease wool. Or do just about anything really. grOWl. Hopefully this will be resolved very soon. Meanwhile I’m grumpy and frustrated. Can you tell?

I did manage to do a little knitting mostly because it doesn’t actively touch on the ouchie and I was going a little squirrelly. I’m just supposed to avoid too much pressure and to watch for further infection. OK, I can do that and knit as long as I don’t overdo. A sample swatch of my handspun RomneyX:

SP swatch

It’s a bit fuzzy and not very soft at all but it has a light crisp handle. I do love the colour which is more uniform than it looks in this sunshine photo. I keep getting flummoxed while trying to describe it: kind of a very pale warm gray. Genetically, coloured sheep are usually either black – which can mean anything from palest gray through mid-grays to brown-black and true black – or brown – which is usually described as “moorit” though that is actually a specific shade of red-brown. Sometimes you can’t tell which genetics dominate unless you can see the actual sheep’s face and legs which gives away their true colour. Also some animals’ fleeces fade with age (or sunlight, but that’s another story). I have no idea how old this particular sheep was but at a guess I’d say not young. In the grease you almost couldn’t tell that the fleece was coloured at all! Once it’s carded and spun it’s pretty much what I would call “oatmeal” – neither gray nor beige but something in between. That isn’t a proper fleece colour term though! Probably the animal was a black sheep even with the warm overtones because of the occasional more definitely-gray lock with no hint of brown.

OK, I’m mousing around too much. Must stop. Come back tomorrow for a special post, my contribution to the blog hop that’s been going around. Meanwhile I’m chanting in my best Lady Macbeth “Out! Out! Damned spot.”

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Sewing Icing vs Cake vs…Bread?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t care about sewing the “icing” pieces. The fancy-shmancy dresses. The tailored suits. The highly structured Chanel jackets. For starters, I have nowhere to wear such things. And most importantly, they don’t interest me. At all. Sorry Susan Khalje et al. I won’t be taking a class with you. Not sorry.

I have a fairly active, relaxed and definitely non-business lifestyle. I know what I like to wear but most importantly I want comfort above all. A#1! Secondly, I look for out-of-the-ordinary shapes that are as flattering to my body as possible. I like to have fun with my clothes but I also like to be able to move easily so things have to feel soft and not restrictive or binding in any way. I walk, sit, lounge, bend over, kneel and move about all day. I’m active. I want to wear my clothes – not have them wear me! It’s a compromise perhaps, but one I’m willing to work with. OK, I insist. Or I won’t wear it. So there.

My favourite pieces seem to be knits. Separates. Tops, bottoms, tunics, vests – layering pieces. And we aren’t even talking about my knitting and weaving – sweaters, scarves, shawls, hats, gloves etc. I just love the seasons as they get colder and I’m able to wear lots more clothing layers. I’m just happier when the air is brisk instead of stinking hot! More options. So I’m a crustacean. Yes.

So I can’t be the only one who feels this way? Separates are everything! I’m sure I’ve complained about this before but please tell me why are the pattern companies, indie as well as Big 4 (or 5), still creating so many more patterns for dresses than anything else? And sleeveless ones at that! So practical in my life. Not. How many really formal or even semi-formal events have YOU been to lately. Me: none. Not in years. OK, maybe I don’t run in the right circles. Or maybe I’m too old…errr, born in another era? But my current wardrobe of separates and the occasional rather casual dress seems to fill any bill that comes up in my life. Your mileage may vary, as they say. If so, most likely you work in an office. And go on very hot dates. You have my congratulations - and perhaps my sympathies.

There are more casual clothing pieces that I don’t wear. Jeans, for instance. They don’t feel comfortable on me. I own precisely one single pair of black jeans, purchased years ago and with an elastic waist. Even more egregious than mom jeans! The horror. I wear them when we’re camping, mostly to go caving. I was happy to have thick denim between me and the rocks in the lava tubes, let me tell you! Otherwise, I never think of them. I usually wear leggings, stretch pants (I guess you might call them yoga pants?) or heavier knit (sweat?) pants. I don’t know how the styleista/fashionistas refer to them. I just know what I like.

So what I really look for are those interesting arty pieces. Something that slides over the lumpy bits and snugs my narrow shoulders. Interesting details, fancy collars, asymmetry, seams in unexpected places, funky pockets, dangling hems. I know it when I see it. And I love it when I do! There are quite a few manufacturers out there that fall into my criteria (except that they don’t fit me very well) but there are only a few people making patterns for these type of pieces: Issey Miyake (in the “olden days” especially), the Tiltons, Lynn Mizono, and occasionally Sandra Betzina. Once in awhile someone else, usually anonymous, nails it for Vogue or Butterick. I really don’t think I’ve seen too much of the type of garment I’m talking about from the indies. (We will not mention my intense love for Sewaholic’s Minoru Jacket since it’s not in the same category really. Even if it does have a really dramatic collar! And works really well in my wardrobe. I know because I wear it all the time! Ahem. I digress.)

Recently I’ve had to…been forced actually…to sign up with Pinterest. Forced because they wouldn’t let me in anymore as an anonymous guest! Pfth…For ages I’ve been clandestinely checking out several people’s boards on there but – they wouldn’t let me keep doing it unless I broke down and signed up. Sigh. I still don’t have any boards of my own. And they still don’t know whose boards I look at because I’m not obviously “following” them. My own clips are on Evernote. Privately. So sue me. I prefer everyone didn’t know what I prefer! But I like looking at others’ stuff. Yeah. Conflicted. I’ve recently been really tempted to create a new Pinterest board. Still conflicted. Urgh. And answer me this: why do I already have a Pinterest follower when I Haven’t Done Anything Obvious Yet? A mystery.

Meanwhile, I’ve been beavering away in the Studio. I finished my Cherry-Brown Stretch Pants out of the same luscious beefy ponte fabric as the T-Flare Dress. OK, they’re more like tights with boot-cut legs. Or something like that. Whatever, they are my TNT and I like them a lot! They’re very comfortable and look great as long as the top covers over down to at least the crotch area. Otherwise my Botticelli Belly overwhelms the unwary. Snicker! Here they are hot off the sewing machine:

CherryBrownPants

Over a year ago I rubbed off the pattern from a pair of knit pants that I loved so much. The originals are nearly worn out now after a number of years’ yeoman service (close to 10 perhaps?). From the rubbed off pattern I now have 3 pairs of shorts, 3 pairs of pants and 2 pairs of capri pants. I’d say they are living on in their offspring. Excellent. More to come. I still need a black pair to replace the original one. Oh, and check out the ribbon tag that helps me get dressed in the dark morning:

CherryBrownPants det

Hmmm…that’s the photo closest to the real colour of this fabric yet. At least on my screen.

In the same vein after dithering for several days I finally chose a size from the Sandra Betzina Today’s Fit pattern V1411 pants:

Line Art

View A with the wider legs. Don’t you love the seaming? Surprisingly this is the first Today’s Fit I’ve ever tried and Sandra’s sizes are of course not quite like the standard Vogue ones. (I do love that she has ALL OF THEM in the same envelope. Yay.) The size I ended up choosing is 2 sizes smaller than suggested by my measurements. Go figure. Is this another example of excess ease? Or do I just like to hold in the jiggly bits more tightly? It’s closer to my TNT pants in waist and hip but the legs are still quite a bit wider from just above the knee down to the ankle by at least a couple of inches. (Yes, I know. I’m that rare DIAMOND! AKA skinny everywhere except the middle of me.) I may have to take them in but we’ll see how I like it. Instead of making a muslin/tester garment I’m going to baste and try on first before committing to the final vertical seaming. I think it’ll work fine. If not, that project will be considered the muslin and I’ll move on. Works for me. I’m pretty confident though. The gray ponte is quite stretchy. Of course that first assumes that the darn thing fits on the fabric that I have left after I get Thom’s Finlayson Sweater on there. The sweater comes first! No compromise. T-Man gets his sweater – or else.

And then of course I’ve started a new spinning project. It’s kind of low-key. A gift. (And I don’t give out many of those as I’m sure long-time readers will have noticed.) Not sure how much I want to publish about it although probably the recipient doesn’t read this blog. Not sure however! The wool is a roving from the older incarnation of Aurelia Fibres called Boysenberry Sparkle. (The newer owner doesn’t have it, unfortunately.) Very pretty deep reds/purples/dusk and berry-coloured sparkles:

BoysenberrySparkle singles

Only the flash could even get close to the real tones. These days of living on a fixed income, I’m committed to using up the stash and there may be just enough left of this bag of roving. Or a little more than enough. We’ll see. I’m spinning a medium singles to be chain-plied into an aran-weight yarn. Hopefully to end up with at least 125 yds when I’m done. And yes, knitting will ensue. More on this one later.

I also started hunting in the stash for another fleece to spin for when I’m done with the Boysenberry Sparkle. I have a Romney Cross from New Zealand in a lovely light oatmeal colour:

RomneyX Fleece

Yes, those are sheep on the pillowcase!  Please don’t ask where this fleece came from. All I can remember is washing the greasy fleece several years ago. Somebody gave it to me, of that I am sure. Besides, I’ve never been to NZ! It’s not particularly soft and it’s quite variable in colour and crimp which is kind of a challenge. I’m hoping that some thorough teasing and carding will blend it sufficiently to make a successful outerwear-type yarn for a sweater for Thom. Not everything has to be merino-soft, you know! (Besides, merino can pill abominably.) I have a few ideas on patterns. Yes, he’s getting spoiled. He deserves it! Not nearly as spoiled as I am however…

Ummm….moving right along…

ShiboriScarfPrep

In between the other projects, I’ve been working on our Spectrum Study Group’s current shibori project. It took hours to narrow-hem the silk/wool twill scarf (fabric from Dharma) by hand. I actually enjoy that part though it was really spongy compared to the pure silks I’ve worked with before. I’ve pressed some folds into it in preparation for the shibori stitching. I also tried out at least 3 different methods of marking the fabric on a scrap piece, including a Clover water-soluble marking pencil, a Chaco Liner and a water-soluble felt pen (I think it’s Dritz brand). The first 2 were too damaging to the delicate fabric so only the pen was a viable choice. I think it comes out in the wash! I did test-wash a teensy piece and the results were kind of hard to discern. If not, the indigo we plan to use will disguise any remaining marks. I also have several cotton hankies to play with shibori stitching. This will be an ongoing project for the next couple of months. More later. Again.

Oh, and I had a glitch in my Silken Haruni that took strong light, 2 extra needles and the chart to fix. Urp. Got it finally. Carrying on. I’m now past the 12 required stems and repeating at least one more time and maybe twice before starting on chart B. My yarn is thin and my needles fine – what can I say? It needs more gravitas! Just a wee might too teensy and airy as it stands. I need a new knitting project. Just one is not nearly enough. Especially when things go slightly awry.

Guess I’m done for now.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Few Finished Objects

I haven’t got a properly modeled photo of my latest FO (again!) so you’re going to have to forgive me for the usual murky shots on Debbie Double. This is the T-Flare Dress, like a simple long-sleeved T-shirt that skims and then flares out into a wider skirt:

T-shirt Dress front

(Oops…Debbie is a bit lumpy in the bra area, isn’t she?) It’s based on an old Simplicity 9897 from 1996, View A:

Simplicity 9897

Although I’ve made this up as-is in the distant past, I adjusted the size sm quite a lot for much better fit in the bust and abdomen. The shoulders were still a little loose at the back armscye and the cap had too much ease. (Why do stretch patterns have sleeve cap ease? They don’t need it!) I managed to take it in a little but I’ve made notes for next time. Anyway I do like how the two-piece back fits smoothly over my rounded back:

T-Dress back

The fabric is a beefy rayon/lycra ponte in a deep reddish-brown that I call cherry-brown which my camera can’t capture apparently. I’m hoping this will be a useful layering piece that should work well in three seasons.

There’s also a pair of my TNT pants and a cap-sleeved T-shirt still to sew from this fabric. But I’m distracting myself with cutting apart the pieces for the Sandra Betzina V1411 pants. The entire shape is quite different from my TNT stretch pants so I guess I’m going to have to make a test pair. Sigh. Why do I do this to myself? Make so much more work! Not to mention waste fabric on a test. Yeah, I know it’s not really a waste to get the fit just right but I’m not usually a muslin-maker. I prefer wearable muslins, aka an actual garment. My other alternative is just to go ahead and whack out the TNT instead (if it will fit on the fabric along with Thom’s sweater) and skip the cute stitching lines of the Betzina pants. Or perhaps try to recreate them on my TNT? Dunno. I think I’m going to have to give this some further thought.

Meanwhile, Thom’s Finlayson Sweater pattern is all ready to use. He’s a pretty normal size medium and the only fit change needed was to shorten the sleeve a whopping 1-3/4”. Either this is drafted for someone with orangutan arms or Thom has tiny T.rex arms like me! Although his other similar purchased sweaters fit fine so I doubt it’s the latter. No problem. Easy-peasy fix. Done. Once I figure out what I’m going to do about the pants pattern then I can see whether or not it all fits on my 3 yds of gray ponte. We shall see.

What else? Haven’t touched a weaving shuttle so the placemats are stalled. Knitting on the Silken Haruni is going along but rather slowly. However I’ve memorised the main leaf pattern so I can knit on it while watching TV. It’s pretty simple until you get to the fancy border chart. Haruni is the only knitting project I’ve currently got going because I finished the Glasses Sock Plain Version:

Plain Glasses Sock

This one is 4 stitches wider than the first at 36 around and just plain stockinette in the last of the Ancient Arts Fibre Crafts sock yarn, colourway “Frolic”. This one finally meets with Thom’s thumbs-up approval. So much for fancy patterns, eh? I put a plastic bead tube in the poor rejected sock and stored my Knitter’s Pride Cubics sock needles in it. So there. Anyway now I need to start a new pair of socks, don’t I?

The weather remains clear and chilly though that will change soon, don’t you just know it. While it’s been nice we’ve been kept busy clearing the fallen leaves. The walnut tree is always late but loses them quickly once it gets started. I have to sweep the deck and the front stairs nearly every day. Walnut has to go in the city’s leaf pick-up because it’s not good in our compost. We have enough other stuff to put in there though and right now it’s really full. There’s more to come so hopefully the bottom layers are starting to break down to make some room.

Always something exciting going on to keep me occupied. More soon!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Adaptation

Do you know it was only about 2 months ago that I was frying my eyeballs in Death Valley at 114F (45.5C)? How things change! Recently we’ve been experiencing the Polar Vortex here so it’s been sunny but quite cold (for us) at about –2C (28F) at night. Yes, I’m having a little trouble adapting. Instead of shorts and a sleeveless T-shirt, I’m wearing at least 3 or 4 layers and still feeling a bit chilly. I put the flannelette sheets and another wool blanket on the bed. I’ve been refilling Blodgie, my hot water bottle, every night. Even Thom has been snuggling his cold feet on the Blodge. OK, we’re wimps. We live in the temperate rainforest not the Arctic. Not even as cold as the rest of Canada.

Remember my lovely coleus from August? One frosty night and it looked like this:

PoorColeus

He’s dead, Jim. Compost. Guess we’re done for the winter now. And I just tried to plant some new fall rye seed as a cover crop for some of the empty spaces in my garden. Hah. Wishful thinking perhaps? Or bird food. We shall see if it gets a chance to grow later.

Meanwhile, what have I been up to? On Wednesday we walked downtown to good old Dressew to get a zipper and to hunt for some more fabric for a warm sweater for Thom. I was very controlled for once and just bought exactly what I went for. More about that in a bit.

Then we continued on to the Circle Craft Christmas Market. Many years ago (over 20!) I used to work part-time at Circle Craft, a popular craft coop shop on Granville Island in Vancouver. So whenever I can, I love to see what the craftspeople are creating. This year had lots of interesting stuff: pottery (we bought 2 new octagonal plates to go with last year’s square ones by Mud, Sweat & Tears), clothing, glass, jewelry, wood products, decorations, and lots of specialty food items (we got some yummy smoked and canned local salmon and tuna). We visited with a few old friends with sales booths and then walked home. It was a lovely day but we were pretty tired after being on our feet for such a long time. Good exercise though.

Back to the fabric. I bought Thread Theory’s Finlayson Sweater as soon as it came out. That’s the type of sweater that Thom wears all the time. I was going to rub off one of his current commercial versions (which I may still do) but why not support an indie pattern designer especially one who is almost local and designs for men. That needs encouraging! Anyway at Dressew we found this brown squooshy poly fleece, smooth on one side and deliciously fuzzy on the other:

BrownFleece

It’s exactly like my super-toasty dressing gown (aka the giant floor length sweatshirt) that I made a number of years ago. It’s heavy weight and very warm but the smooth side pills immediately so the fuzzy side is definitely the good side to wear outside. The price was right too at only $6.99 per metre. However, after we got home I realised that it’s too thick to sew the Finlayson’s shawl collar where there would be 5 layers together. Boo. I’m still going to make him a sweater from it but it will be a simpler style. There’s that rub-off that I have to make now! And if I’m really lucky there’ll be enough left for a warm vest for me-me-me.

So back to the first fabric that I bought for this project when we passed through Portland in August:

GrayPonte

A gray poly ponte. I’m now thinking it’s more perfect than I first thought, though it will be considerably lighter-weight and not nearly as warm. I’ve printed out the PDF pattern and assembled the pieces:

Finlayson pattern

I actually like that job! Thread Theory have got their pattern PDFs down to a fine science these days. It printed out without a hitch even on my old inkjet, all lines correct and accounted for. I love the little half-scissors that marks the sides to cut off before assembling and the big easy-to-see triangles that you have to match with number/letter codes. So clear. I use glue stick instead of tape which I think makes a more secure and easy join. It didn’t take very long to finish. I’m trying to decide whether to leave these pieces intact and trace off the correct size or just throw caution to the winds and cut them out directly. If for some odd reason I need a different size later, I can always print out the PDF again. But chances are I won’t.

The only problem is I really wanted a pair of pants out of that gray fabric. Sniff. So maybe I can squeeze both in since there’s 3 yards and it’s nearly 70 inches wide? The pattern is Sandra Betzina’s V1411 and has multiple leg seams which might help it fit in the spaces. I’ll have to get the pants pattern ready and then play tetris games with all the pieces before I’ll know for sure. Wish me luck.

So I have more but that’s it for now. We need to go vote in our municipal election today. If ya don’t vote then ya can’t complain later!

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Thises and Thatses

I’ve been happily ensconced in the studio playing with my toys weaving and sewing, alternately. On the loom we have this:

SummerAndWinter Project

That’s the end of one placemat and the beginning of the second one. I was going to make 2 sets of 4 matching ones but…um…got distracted by all the possibilities on a 4-shaft Summer & Winter threading. Now I think they’re all going to turn out differently! But hopefully relatively coordinating and more-or-less the same size. The first mat, woven with a peach 10/3 mercerised cotton weft, is treadled in a lacy variation. The second one uses a 10/2 mercerised cotton tabby (natural) and an 8/2 rayon pattern weft (orange) and is treadled in pairs. I have more ideas in mind too and it’s a great way to use up dribs and drabs of this and that from the seemingly endless stash. I’m winging it – which is actually quite hard for me! It’s a good exercise.

I’ve also been sewing on the three garments left that I had cut out ages ago. This fabric is a dark cherry-brown heavyweight rayon/lycra ponte knit. I’m making a long-sleeved T-shirt dress with a flared skirt, straight-legged pull-on pants and, just to use up the last scraps, a short-sleeved yoked T-shirt. I’m happy to sew all the garments from the same fabric at once so I don’t have to change threads! The patterns are all my own drafts so I can’t give you pattern number references. They’re pretty basic pieces – nothing fancy at all. I hope to have them finished fairly speedily.

Even though the dress was cut from my standard knit sloper I’m having a little trouble with the fit of the back sleeve cap. Since it’s been awhile from when I cut it out, I can’t think why there’s a problem unless it’s because this fabric is quite beefy and just doesn’t want to smooth out nicely. My rounded back and shoulders don’t fill it out very well and I may try to take the area in just a hair to see if that helps eliminate some of the poof. Just one of the curses of aging, huh? The body tends to rearrange itself in weird and wonderful ways. Not fun but I definitely prefer it to the alternative.

On Thursday, our Spectrum Study Group met to begin a new project, stitched shibori. We’ve tried several types of shibori before but didn’t get into it too heavily. This time we’re determined to stick with it for several months as a group and then set up a quick indigo vat to dye the pieces. I’m working on hemming a long narrow scarf cut from the width of the super lightweight silk/wool twill that I bought at Dharma. Then I’ll fold it and try stitching on it and see how it turns out before I use any more of the two-yard piece I have. Then there’s the handkerchiefs that I got at Dharma to stitch on and I may have some napkins also if I can find them. At least I’m trying to come up with useful samples instead of the bits and snippets I usually end up with. I hope I don’t run out of steam before I get enough stitched. That’s what usually happens because I don’t enjoy hand-stitching as much. I get bored too quickly. Oddly enough I can knit swathes of boring stockinette with no problem.

Which brings me to the fact that I finished the Antelope Canyon Socks:

Antelope Canyon Socks

I’m feeling too lazy to repeat all the details which are on my Ravelry page here. Everyone has a Ravelry membership now, don’t they? You should! My only complaint is that these socks are not as stretchy as they might be not only because of the stitch pattern but because of the cotton content (along with the usual wool and nylon) so they are a bit tricksy to get on and off. Fit fine once they’re on though but they’re also a little harsh under the foot so not good for long walks. Oh well. They do remind me strongly of their inspiration place which was the whole point of the exercise anyway.

What else? I’m feeling the need to start a spinning project soon. I’ve only got one knitting project on the go at the moment (the Silken Haruni Shawlette) which is about 1/3 done now. Then I have a gift to make that involves spinning and knitting but I also want to begin a Major Project – another sweater for Thom. He loves his last one, the Brownstone, so much but that was made way back in 2011 now. I’ve made myself at least 10 sweaters since then! Not all handspun of course but still that’s a lot. I have an oatmeal-coloured fleece (Romney-X, I think) that might work. I know there’s got to be something appropriate in that humungous spinning stash! This will not be a quick make. But it’s the process that I enjoy. Sampling will ensue.

Meanwhile, the weather has still been really changeable. Rain and wind one minute and sunny the next. The temperature is still well above freezing though it’s supposed to head downward soon. I managed to get the dye garden cleaned up and a cover crop of rye and vetch planted in the annuals’ places but I don’t know how well that’s going to grow this late in the season. Also the birds are helping themselves to the seeds! (A fine thank-you for all the feeders we have around here, huh?) I didn’t ever get around to digging up the madder so I guess it’s going to stay until next fall. It’ll just grow bigger and better roots, right? Right. There’s lots more to do in the garden but it’s not calling to me as loudly as the studio is.

Speaking of bird feeders, we’ve had regular visits from several Anna’s hummingbirds to our nectar feeder. They overwinter here and have their babies in early spring before the rufous hummingbirds arrive back from their winter holiday in Mexico. This is our first year with this type of feeder so it’s a new thing for us. I love watching these little jewels dart about and argue over who gets the sugar-water first! Another bigger jewel is the midnight-blue Stellar’s jay who has been nearly emptying our seed feeder along with the usual chickadees, juncos, sparrows and finches. The suet feeder is attracting the daily round of bush tits and I even saw a downy woodpecker try to figure out how to get through the protective squirrel mesh to get at the suet. He has to get his head and beak in the just right way to reach it because his body is too big to fit. Almost as much fun as watching the flickers try to eat at the seed feeder with their tail propping on the pole and their head twisted at an angle to get their long bill in. It’s rather awkward. And amusing – at least to me.

I know. I’m famous for my weird sense of humour. More soon! Off to play work on the dress.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Scary!

Yes, I know it’s already two days after Halloween but I think I got left in the pumpkin patch! BTW, did you have a good one? We did. Lots of cute ghouls and aliens and princesses. Anyway it’s my birthday today and I keep hearing that song, you know, the one by Sir Paul? As in, “when I get older…” Yep, I’m there. Hello! At least I still have my hair.

Meanwhile, I’ve been a busy damselfly. First I got bit by the sewing bug. I finished my refashioned dressy-tunicy-thing:

RefashionTunic frontRefashionTunic side

I ended up not liking the long pointy bits so I chopped them off. Not sure the remainder works the way I originally had in mind but it wears fine so far. We’ll see how often it ends up in the wardrobe rotation. Perhaps more when it warms up again next spring though it seems not too bad with a longer-sleeved t-shirt underneath for extra warmth. The jury is still on the fence with this one.

I also fixed another top that never got worn because the hem band was too tight and pulled in. Of course, I forgot to photograph the thing but here’s what it looked like before:

CrinkleTop

That was back in March! Yikes! I decided it looked pretty awful on me so I picked the band off and added about 8” to it and it looked ok when I put it back on until I did the finial stitching in the ditch. Now it poufs out a little oddly and I’m not sure I like it. But then so does the inspiration piece here, doesn’t it?

InspirationTop

Kind of like a ruffle. The thing is better than it was but still not quite as I imagined. Another “we’ll see” item, I think. Hmmm…too many of those lately.

Next I went back to some of the things I cut out sometime in the past year and haven’t sewn up yet. This is Butterick 5954 View D:

B5954 ViewD B5954 ViewD line

And my version:

B5954D front  B5954D back

I quite like the elegant tail in the back! The overlapping fronts in this view are still under debate however. They are a little drafty and don’t always hang smoothly. I’m questioning whether I should topstitch it down more permanently but I’ll wear it for a few tries first to see how it goes. BTW this is a great pattern! I did some fiddling with the shoulders, armholes and sleeve caps as always to make them fit me properly. But apparently most people who’ve sewn it haven’t had to mess with the fit much at all. It’s quite popular on Pattern Review. I hope to use it again for more tops but with the regular front piece, not with the overlaps.

Oh yeah, I also got a couple more Tilton patterns in the mail:

Tiltons

I’ve found that even if I don’t want to make them right away, I regret it if they go out of print before I get to them. Even if it’s just to see how they are assembled! Fun stuff. There’s so few designers making my style of clothes patterns that it behoves me to support the ones that do, right? Maybe the pattern company will get the hint. Maybe?

So what else? I’ve started on another weaving project:

Threading

Not too exciting yet, is it? Though since I took this photo I’m nearly halfway through the threading already. It’s going faster than the last weaving projects anyway. (Uh-oh. Guess I shouldn’t have said anything?) This will be placemats, 2 sets of 4, on a Summer & Winter threading. One set will be woven in a lacy variation in peach cotton and the other still needs me to locate the right wefts in the stash. More on this when there’s something to see!

Lastly I’ll leave you with these fantastic fellas:

Giants by Osgemeos

There’s 2 more of them to the right but I couldn’t get them all into the photo. I’m not going in the yard with the cement trucks! Gives you an idea how large they are though. These are industrial silos on Granville Island painted with a gazillion cans of spray paint by the Brazilian twins who call themselves Osgemeos. If this is street art I want more! Incredible. And fun!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Changeable Weather

I think it’s definitely autumn here. Day before yesterday we woke up to wind and rain and this interesting pattern of leaves on the back porch:

StormyWeather

There’s bits of all the neighbourhood’s trees all over our yard, including varieties that aren’t really all that nearby. It was a wild and stormy night. And then it happened again at least for awhile the next night too. I’m getting kind of tired of sweeping the deck now. Every time you think it’s stopped raining and the sun comes out so you decide to go outside, it immediately starts sprinkling on you. Yep. Autumn in Vancouver.

Oh, speaking of trees, I found out that our shelter tree in Death Valley was a Tamarix aphylla, aka athel tamarisk, listed as an invasive species although this one isn’t considered as naughty in North America as its smaller relatives are but is more badly behaved in Australia. I certainly was happy for its continued existence. Your weed tree is my saving grace. A rose by any other name…etc.

Meanwhile back at the loom, I actually finished that darned warp! The one I started to weave so long ago before we went away to the aforementioned desert. I was so concerned that it wasn’t going to work out! I was wrong. It turned out very cool indeed:

MountainsValleysScarf

The yarns are Jaggerspun superfine merino and 2/15 natural tweed silk. I actually followed a recipe, Big Bumps Scarf from Madelyn van der Hoogt, former editor of Handwoven magazine. I should have trusted her! It was hard to beat to the equivalent of window screening but eventually I got the feel of it better with practise. My more experienced buddy Kirsten also gave me a confidence boost when she said that it didn’t matter if it was uneven because the fulling process hid a lot of problems. And she was right! You can’t even see my treadling errors. I did try to even out some of the wefts that had slid badly when it wrapped around the cloth beam but even that wasn’t really a problem in the end.

I did have a moment of panic when I was unwinding it carefully off the loom. The sticks that I’d used instead of the recommended paper (because they were there and the paper wasn’t) fell off at an angle and I had to get Thom to come rescue me before the whole thing hit the floor in a tangle. I was actually surprised that the fabric wasn’t quite as delicate as it looked! It survived without any obvious damage. I knotted the warp stripes and tied the beginning to the end before fulling it by hand in a wash pan. I alternated hot soapy water with cold to help it full faster and then spun it in the machine to get out the excess water so it would dry faster. It went from 13.5” wide down to  7.5” and 120” long to 84”. Amazing really! It didn’t shrink quite as much as Madelyn’s version but that could be because I used silk instead of wool as the non-fulling yarn.

With this type of weave I learned that you have to let go of the results. They will be what they will and you really don’t have a lot of control over it. I fulled the scarf until the wool areas weren’t sliding around and they seemed cohesive. The silk areas bumped up (or down) in their own topography. A surprising amount of colour came out of the wool, green at first and then shifting to blue as the yellow was cleared out. I was hoping that it hadn’t stained the silk because I was using Orvus as the detergent and not Synthrapol which is helpful in keeping excess dye from redepositing. Synthrapol is usually used with Procion MX dyes on cellulose fibres so I hadn’t thought that I might need it with silk and wool. However I can’t see a difference now that the fabric is dry.

MountainsValleysScarf_det

The scarf is dense and warm but still fairly light and flexible. Now I want to put on another warp! This time maybe for placemats? The ones I made in the 1980’s are wearing out. Quelle surprise.

What else? Oh yeah. Alternating with the Antelope Canyon Socks I’ve been knitting the Silken Haruni Shawl, probably more like a scarf since it’s going to be pretty small. Anyway, I decided that I didn’t like the look of the lace – too thready and the yarn-overs and the central spine stitch were loose and wobbly. Can you see what I mean?

SilkenHaruni ver1

Anyway, I started again with the second ball of this yarn and 2.75mm needles and not only do I like the results better, it’s actually easier to knit on the thinner needles. It’s pretty small still:

SilkenHaruni ver2

I also knit the central stitch on the right side through the back loop. The twists every other row keep it much more contained and neat. Now I have to sadly frog the first version. Oh well. It’s only knitting!

I spent a goodly part of yesterday trying to catch up on my paper notes of all my recent makes. I was surprisingly far behind! I guess once I’ve blogged it I think I’m done but I do prefer to also have all the notes together in a binder. I have quite a few of these now! It helps me to see at a glance all that I’ve accomplished and gives me a quick reference if I need it to make something again. Ravelry is fabulous to keep track of your knitting (and crochet) but is only recently expanding functionality with weaving, spinning and dyeing. And of course it’s not at all useful for sewing. For some reason although I’ve been a member of Pattern Review forever, I’ve never posted anything to it. I’m a lurker in the sewing forums. I know I should contribute but perhaps I’m just feeling to spread out as it is?

Anyhow, more soon!