Monday, July 27, 2015

Meetup Madness

The next chapter of the Tale of Last Week involved getting home from Manning Park on Friday just in time to unpack in the rain, pick the beans and squash (luckily the rain mostly quit by then), put a few things away, have a shower, get dressed in my nice clothes (black Mizono Dress, Little Black Cardi, Speedy Gonzales Shawlette, handknit Tulip Socks and my sensible red Blundstone boots) and toddled off on the Canada Line for downtown. Whew! I’m tired just typing all that…

I was headed for the 40+ Blogger Meetup to have dinner with about 25 people none of whom I had ever met in real life before. Yikes! Several of them were familiar from reading their blogs and some actually read mine so I can’t say we were all total strangers. But nearly. And guess what? It was really fun and I wasn’t at all intimidated – which absolutely amazed me! Everyone was really nice, compliments flew everywhere, many photos taken, conversations were crossing over each other and new friends were made. It went like this:


Yep, all a big blur. I think I even had a cider and ate a salad? And then the majority headed for a speakeasy (Prohibition, underneath the Hotel Georgia) for more laughing, schmoozing, imbibing and even some dancing. One single $20 glass of wine later (whatever happened to 1920’s prices?) I was falling asleep so toddled on home. Luckily we were only a block away from the Canada Line Station at that point. We won’t mention the long blocks home at the other end. Nope.

Ooh, I forgot to show you the lovely schwag that darling Melanie (Bag and a Beret) presented to each participant:


It was so helpful to have the name tags and everyone embellished themselves with the rose pins. The Girl Scout badge was a gift from dear Pat (pao of Project Minima) and I discovered through my awesome google skillz that it means “energy saver”. Yay! Very me. (If anyone else wants to attempt to identify a badge, beyond sweet Liberty of Maiwa’s helpful hints, I found mine here.)

On Saturday morning it was back into the fray as we met up at Granville Island for tours, more schmoozing and food:


Photographing the photographers! I ended up leading a little group – just Pat and Anne (the delightful Spygirl) and myself. I dragged them hither and yon, poor things! To Diana Sanderson’s Silk Weaving Studio, the Cloth Shop, both Maiwa in the Netloft and Maiwa Supply, Circle Craft and I forget what else. Then they wanted to go downtown to Dressew and Button Button rather than follow the rest of the group up Granville Street to Anthropologie and Meinhardts.

I have to admit I felt like I was dragging poor Anne and Pat along behind me! They were not used to walking as far as I am (and I had already walked the 4 km to Granville Island before we even started). Oops. Sorry, my darlings! Really! But we did have fun despite the sore feet, didn’t we? At least we got to sit down at the bus stop and in the bus downtown. After some food and drink at the Purebread bakery on Hastings they were more ready to check out the delights of Dressew. Of course I bought fabric! And they didn’t. Obviously it’s been too long since I’ve been there. Heh. Pat did buy 2 zippers though. Dressew has great zippers.

Here’s my haul:


The damselfly quilt fabric I bought at Granville Island at the Cloth Shop. There were less than 2 metres on the bolt but I bought the whole thing hoping to make another Katherine Tilton vest B5891 like my Indigo Batik Vest. I’m not quite sure what else I’m going to combine this with since there’s not enough of it to cut all the bajillion pieces. Either the green cotton left from my LaPine Dress (which incidentally got its inaugural run on this day) or the leftovers from the French Housedress or ? TBD as they say.

Next to that is some more linen/rayon/lycra in a deep chocolate brown (somewhat darker than it appears in the photo). I think I’ll make another Mizono dress only maybe with sleeves this time. Then some really cheap nylon/lycra rib (labelled as “supplex” but who knows?) from the bargain section at only $2 per metre. That will be a couple of pairs of leggings and a sleeveless top B5954 View A. The selvedges are fabulously fuzzy after washing and drying (yes, I’ve done that already) so I just might use them to finish off the armholes and neckline. Lastly is some grey marl bamboo/lycra that will become a Katherine Tilton B5925 View A t-shirt and possibly another more plain t-shirt. Obviously I have every piece spoken for already.

Lest you think I went overboard, I left an awful lot of fabrics still in the store. Just sayin’. I’ve been prepping the patterns ready to cut out a bunch of garments to sew very soon. My big challenge is the Battle of the Leggings or “Marcy Tilton vs Kwik-Sew”. I want a basic leggings pattern with no outer leg seam and since these ones are in the pattern stash, I’m going to test them out:


It’ll be fun. More on this as progress is made.

And we never made it to Button Button at all, sadly. I truly hope that Pat and Anne survived the trip back to their hotel. I’m a little worried since I haven’t heard from them since? Hope they aren’t lost in the wilds of downtown Vancouver. Let me know you got home safe, will you? Love, Damselfly.

So I think the Blogger Meetup was a big success! Folks came from all over to attend. We’re talking places as far flung as LA, Chicago, Florida, London (UK), Holland, Toronto, Victoria and New York! Wow. I didn’t take part in all the events but I had a great time nonetheless. Biggest warm thanks to our hosts: Suzanne Carillo, Melanie Kobayashi and Sue (A Colourful Canvas) for all your work organising this epic blogger meetup. I’m sure my hometown never knew what hit them! I sure don’t.

Family Fun

Oh man! This has been a wild and wonderful week! Driving, camping, family, heat, cold, fish, rain, corn, bloggers, public transit and a whole lot else. Do let me elaborate. It might take a couple of posts to catch up.

First there was the Fambly Campout in Manning Provincial Park. We drove in with Nana (Thom’s mom) and enjoyed the first weekend sharing a couple of campsites at Lightning Lake. Nana had a comfy room in the lodge but spent her days with all of us: two of her three sons, two daughters-in-law (including me), and a couple of grandchildren plus significant others and, of course, one great grandchild, Our Little Miss Rosebud (who’s real name is kept off the interwebs but she’ll introduce herself to all and sundry in person). It’s amazing how one four-year-old can wear out all nine adults!

FamblyCampout2015(Sorry I’m the only one not in this photo since I was taking it.)

The weather was lovely, the bugs were (mostly) insignificant, the company delightful and the campout successful. That Sunday we drove Nana back home, Thom’s younger brother and his wife carried on further with their summer vacation, their son and his girlfriend went home and our daughter and her family stayed on. We stayed home one day to water the garden, wash clothes and re-pack and were back up in Manning Park by Tuesday for another four days of camping with our daughter’s family.

On the way back we stopped just outside Hope to explore the Othello Tunnels.


This series of railway tunnels had been dug (and blasted) out to accommodate the Kettle Valley Railway through a very narrow canyon back in the early part of the 20th Century.

KettleValleyRailway(See us in the reflection? I love that.)

The railway line was decommissioned in the 1950’s due to unprofitable upkeep expenses: avalanches, rock falls and the like. Now it’s a trail system and the tunnels were very popular with visitors while we were there. It was hard to get photos without a dozen random people cluttering up the view! There’s only one original trestle left in this series but replacement bridges for pedestrians and bicycles have been built instead over the Coquihalla River. Only one tunnel is at all dark inside and we managed without our flashlights though it did remind us of some of the lava tubes we’ve explored. We had a lovely walk.

When we got back to Manning Park the weather was somewhat cooler but still lovely. The fisher-persons (Thom and our daughter with the assistance of the littlest grandbeastie) caught two rainbow trout which we ate for dinner Saturday night! (Yum.)

Fishers (So lovely! Now I want to go back again…)

Each night we experienced the wonderful world of the Park Nature Programmes – totally hilarious, especially with Rosebud wanting to participate in everything! She actually did pretty well for a pre-schooler and even asked a few relevant questions. She got to be a moth (for the bat to eat), a wolf (dominant – ears up! or submissive – ears down!) plus a pika and a hawk. Fun! And we all learned a few new things about the park and its inhabitants.

However, grumble… I managed to take a tumble on the second trip and not only broke a plate and a pot handle (I was carrying the clean dishes back to our Westie) but also managed to damage my eyeglasses. So now I have to see if they can repair the nosepiece and make the lens stay in better. It’ll be a few months before I can afford to replace them. Unfortunately progressive lenses are not a dime a dozen. More like $700 for one single pair. Ouch. Meanwhile I’m wearing them anyhow. The good news is that I didn’t really hurt myself much apart from needing a couple of Disney Princess bandaids on my skinned knee but my arthritic hip actually improved afterward. Go figure.

Then we drove home on Friday yet again in a delightful rainstorm. Yeah, I know, but it’s been quite awhile since it rained good and proper! I was so happy that I didn’t have to spend time watering the garden again. It’ll help all the grass and trees too since we’re now on Level 3 watering restrictions which includes no lawn watering at all. We stopped in Chilliwack for some of its famous corn. To go with the trout of course.

Next instalment of the week’s saga coming up. Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

And Another Dress

Yup, I finally finished the French Vintage Housedress (Marcy Tilton’s V8813). It came out OK but not without a few birth pains. When last I posted I was complaining that I had made a couple of mistakes in the sewing. It turned out that I only sewed one seam together wrong because the pattern instruction illustrations were incorrect! Steps 5 and 6 show the back corners of pocket linings matching up with the across-back seam. They don’t. They stop lower down on the body. The other steps are correct though. Whew! For a minute there I thought I had put the pocket linings on wrong but I didn’t. Ah, the interesting complications of a Tilton pattern! They are never straightforward. But I guess that’s why I like the results so much.

I did the shirring on the front piece before I sewed it to the rest of the dress, not after as the instructions would have it. I forgot to do the centre dart first too but it worked out just fine when I stitched it after I zigzagged over the cord but before I sewed the two rows of stabilising stitches on either side. My cording technique that I mentioned last post worked perfectly. Here’s the machine set-up:

Setup for Shirring

Note those scratches on the arm are caused by putting on and taking off the extension table (seen behind the machine) many many times over the last 37 years! I left it off for this technique. And here’s what the back of the shirring looked like after the two rows of stabilising stitches, photo taken as I was serging the seams:


A little wobbly but not bad. I also added an extra row of shirring below the other three because of my low bust line. It turned out that I didn’t need to add extra to the neckline V but I did need to take a slightly deeper dart which had the same effect of raising the neckline a little. I also needed to take in the sleeves and underarm seam about 5/8” tapering to nothing just below the across-back seam. The kimono sleeves were too wide for my skinny arms and caused bra-flashing. Now they’re much better.

Otherwise I sewed a straight size medium which fit just fine. I didn’t even need to adjust the shirring at all. For the pockets I found 2 big plastic buttons in the right colour that have been in the stash forever. Always nice to finally find a use for things, huh? This dress is maybe just a little unflattering in its silhouette for my body but it’s very comfortable so I don’t really mind. Another garment in bright orange-red! Notice I have orange shoes to wear with it.

French Housedress

What’s next in the queue? Well, right now sewing is on hold for a week. We’re off on a fambly camping trip to Manning Park. We’re bringing Nana, Thom’s 87-year-old mom, too though she’s not actually camping but will be sleeping in a nice bed at the lodge. This year will be a slightly smaller collection of fambly – only 10 of us – but it’ll be fun. The weather promises to be perfect and there’s a campfire ban. Yay! No smoke! We have to come back home with Nana on Sunday night but it’ll give us a chance to water everything. Again. Then we’ll be going back on Tuesday for a few more days.

Luckily Manning is only about 3 hours drive and the old VW Westie is running very nicely these days. (Oops, hope I haven’t jinxed it.) Speaking of traveling we’re already planning our usual big September trip. This year we’re heading for Pike’s Peak! I’m already queuing up the knitting projects.

The garden is still producing nicely although the salad greens and peas are done. There’s lots of zucchinis and pattypan squashes, cucumbers and beans, beans, and more beans. No tomatoes ripe yet. I’ve been steadily picking flowers in the dye garden to dry:


You can imagine what my fingernails look like right now! I ended up putting the marigolds in the freezer as usual because they just don’t dry well for me. The perennial coreopsis aren’t particularly prolific bloomers but the dyer’s coreopsis just gives and gives. I pick the equivalent of that pile on the left nearly every day! However I do hope to have enough perennial coreopsis flowers to at least have one little trial dyebath though. Oh and the weld that I grew this year for fresh seeds (even though I don’t need any weld right now) has decided that three of them are biennials and are waiting until next year to bloom but the fourth is throwing up a seed stalk now. Silly thing. The Japanese indigo is finally doing better. I think it just needed time and more water. I still hope to get one harvest/dye day in a few weeks.

Not much else exciting going on right now – apart from the 40+ Blogger Meetup a week from tomorrow and for which I will be sure to be home in time. Can’t miss meeting all those lovely women! Summer is speeding by and of course I’m not getting half of what I planned done. Oh well. It was just too hot and now that the temps have returned to normal we won’t be home. Never mind. Things will wait or other things will take priority. I’m not going to stress. At least I’m never bored!

Off to pack.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Important Piece of Advice

Do Not Sew With A Migraine! Blech. I was working away on my orange-red Marcy Tilton V8813 (aka the French Vintage Housedress) and I screwed it up so badly I could just cry! Luckily the mistakes are not fatal but it means that I have to unpick 3 major seams, one of which is serged and then line up the trimmed seam allowances correctly and stitch them back together properly. For now I quit before I do more harm to my poor dress.

The good news is that I experimented with the gathering technique that is used to shirr the front. I always forget that I have special presser feet for things such as the cording foot which works a treat to hold the cotton cord in place to zigzag over it. You need to absolutely avoid catching the cord so you can draw it up afterward to make the gathers. My elderly Pfaff (a 1222E from 1978) even has a hole in the throat plate to accommodate the cord that helps feed it in straight to the cording foot. Yay! Normally this system is used to stitch corded pintucks with a twin needle but I used a zigzag that just covered the cord with a little room to spare. The instructions ask you to do two rows of stabilising straight stitching on either side of the cord after drawing up the gathers and It seems that they are also easier to do with the cording foot but the lines aren’t quite as even as I’d like. Passable results though at least for my sample. On the real thing I may do that last step with the regular presser foot though because then I can engage the IDF (like a built-in walking foot) which helps the stitches feed more neatly. Hmmm…maybe another sample first?

While I was rethreading machines, adjusting tensions and making samples I was remembering what things were like back in the day. When I learned to sew in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, the world was black and white – well, at least on TV because colour TV didn’t exist yet! In our Grade 9 sewing classroom we even had a treadle sewing machine lurking among the straight stitch and zigzag machines and none of them had fancy stitches or automatic buttonholes or anything. My girlfriend and I liked to use the treadle because it was always available since nobody else knew how to use it! Her dad was a tailor and they had one at home.

There were other differences back then too. Printed patterns only came in one size and my size was usually missing from the pattern drawers in the fabric shop. Obviously it was the popular one. Fabrics were often only 36” (92 cm) or sometimes 45” (115 cm) wide. You had to buy a lot more yardage to make a garment. Fusible tapes or interfacings and non-woven interfacings had only recently become available and they weren’t very good yet. Stretch knit fabrics were rare and stretch wovens totally non-existent. A lot of garments had zippers so you had to learn how to do a centred or lapped application. Invisible zippers didn’t come along until 1968. Everyone cut their pieces with scissors because rotary cutters weren’t around until 1978. Thank you, Olfa!

Many of our sewing techniques have been modernised or changed entirely. For my first cotton shift dress I remember finishing all the raw edges with pinking shears. You can imagine how long that lasted in the laundry! I was very happy when I was able to buy a zigzag machine with my babysitting money so at least I could overcast the edges better. Sergers/overlockers weren’t available for home use yet and even now many sewists make fine clothes without one. Not me however. I love my serger and use it in nearly every project. I’m also extremely grateful for Lycra/spandex, good quality rayon and rayon blends, better polyester and poly blends and 60” wide fabrics. I’m sad though at the difficulty of finding good wool suiting (at least locally) when I think of the lovely stuff I could get back in the day. I was particularly fond of melton cloth, plaids and men’s pinstripes – at quite reasonable prices too.

OK, done reminiscing. Sorry about the lack of photos this time. Blame it on my head. The weather has turned cooler and cloudy. Weird that we have to turn the lights on in the kitchen! Though it was supposed to rain we’ve only seen a few drops but it’s definitely much more humid. I was hoping to get more stuff done around now that it’s not oven-like here but I guess there’s always tomorrow.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Multiple Options

Our nephew’s wedding on Tuesday was lovely! Too bad more family and friends couldn’t attend. The mid-week timing was problematic for a lot of people and even his Nana couldn’t make it because she was in Haida Gwaii. However, the garden venue was perfect, right down to the dancing dragonflies. We will definitely enjoy welcoming another member to the extended family!

Yes, I got my dress finished just in time. I opted to sew the Mizono V1410. This is a deceptively simple dress: only two pieces. I added big patch pockets but the bias binding that I had cut for the neck and armholes didn’t work out because it would have been too thick to lay flat. I just serged the edge, turned it under and topstitched and it looked just fine. This black rayon/poly has absolutely no stretch so it didn’t even need stay-stitching. For the cord, instead of elastic I used a rayon cording from the stash and a black plastic cord lock. I sewed repurposed shirt buttons at the lower two of the three placement spots on the inside side seams. The highest one was in the way of the pockets so I didn’t use it. Besides it would have looked quite silly.

And here she is at the longest length:


Glad I shortened it by 2 inches. I hate really long skirts. And buttoning up to the dress length:


And here’s tunic length:


FYI, I have shorts on underneath! But you can’t see them in the photo. There are a few wrinkles though from wearing this for most of a very warm day but not bad at all. I do like how well my modified shoulder, armhole and neck area fits. No bra straps peeking out. I can imagine this dress/tunic is going to get some serious wear because it’s so versatile. I’ll also be on the lookout for some more suitable fabric to make it again too. It’s too great to only have one of them!

In knitting news I’ve struggled with both of my current projects. The Periwinkle Necklace Cami was a bear to knit the cabled “necklace” part but I finally got it done. Picking up the stitches for the back section went relatively easily and then a straight knit down to the bottom of the armholes. But picking up the stitches for the front went badly – several times. I finally got the side gussets down and am knitting across the front section to match up to the back. After it’s joined it will be smooth sailing round and round! I was concerned about the fact that the width which is perfect for my bust wasn’t going to accommodate my hips. But I was inspired by another Ravelry version that had a hem split at either side. Perfect! I want this longer than the pattern anyway so I can keep going after splitting at the hip to exactly the right length. Problem solved. I love Ravelry.

The other knitting project, the Red Tide Vestigan, also gave me fits. The parts of the lace yoke were pretty much knit twice each and one side of the back is still slightly larger than the other. Sheesh. I had trouble with the older handspun yarn not quite matching gauge or colours and it has somewhat thicker and thinner areas. This pattern (Low Tide by tincanknits) has you block the beejeebers out of the yoke pieces which has the undesirable effect of stretching the neckline. As everyone has figured out by now, I have very narrow rounded shoulders and this sweater is definitely too wide for them! So another helpful hint from a Ravelry knitter: crochet a slip-stitch edge all the way around to snug it up. Yay! You have to crochet buttonholes anyway so I might as well keep going. Oh, and speaking of buttons, I found some perfect small ceramic ones in my stash, handmade by Esther Grav, a fibre artist from Belleville, ON. She doesn’t do ceramics anymore so these are a treasure.

Anyway, I’m currently cruising down the body on this sweater. It’s quite relaxing to knit with wool as opposed to the Periwinkle’s unforgiving rayon. I will stop to knit on the little cap sleeves very soon so that I can just continue on the body as long as I can with the yarn I have available. There is no more of this handspun wool in the stash so that will be it.

The weather has still been hot and dry. We’re on even more restrictive water rationing but we can at least continue to water the flowers and veggies by hand. It was slightly cooler yesterday (by about 3 degrees Celsius, aka not much!) so we managed to get out in the garden for more than just the endless watering job. We actually did a bunch of cleanup and weeding before we both wore out. There are now some empty patches in the veggie garden which may or may not be filled. If we plant new seeds they only have about 5 or 6 weeks to get established before we leave on our annual long vacation. And who knows what will happen to them before we get back? They won’t be getting any mollycoddling that’s for sure!

As far as the smoke from the province’s many forest fires goes, we’re still getting the occasional whiffs but it’s not bad. Not like Sunday and Monday which were horrible! There’s not much you can do about it anyway but endure. And wait for the weather to change. It will eventually! Probably just about when we’re scheduled to go on a family camping trip to Manning Park a week tomorrow, right?

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Catching Up

This will be a speed post today. Sorry, no photos because I don’t have time. We’re going to a wedding this morning! Our nephew is getting married to a lovely lady with the same name as my grandmother. I finally finished one of my new dresses to wear to the ceremony. Not the orange-red French house dress though – the black Mizono one! It was quicker to sew and more elegant. (Hah! As if I do elegant. Ever.) Anyway it turned out fabulous and I promise to model it and post more details soon.

Backing up a little, on Sunday I taught my Very Last Kumihimo Workshop. Definitely the last because I sold all my teaching marudais, except one. Yay! The students were from the Richmond Weavers & Spinners Guild and they were great. I previously only knew one of them, who begged and pleaded organised the workshop with me. It was a weird day though.

I got up early to an odd lemon-coloured light and the sunrise was deep orange. The sky was overcast and there was lots of little white specks all over our “classroom”, aka my back deck. If you aren’t aware, British Columbia is experiencing the hottest, driest weather in recorded history and there are many forest fires burning, some as close as only 60k away. The winds brought all the smoke and ash to our area but luckily held it aloft until my class was almost over. Then it changed direction and plunged us into the smoke for the rest of the afternoon and overnight. It was awful! Like sitting next to a campfire right in my own home! Even though it was hot and stuffy we had to close the bedroom window just to breathe while we tried to sleep. Blech. I was born here and never have experienced such bad air but one Australian in my class said that it was reminding her of the horrible bushfires. Can’t imagine how awful it must be to live closer to the fires or worse, to be on evacuation alert. My heart goes out to all those people from BC to Saskatchewan who are right in the thick of it. And also to those brave people fighting the fires, most started by lightning. And it’s only the first week of July!

At least yesterday and today had better air quality though you can still see the haze from the smoke. Ugh. What can you do? We are now on even tighter water restrictions. My garden is starting to show the strains even though we’re still allowed to water by hand. (So TEE-DEE-US!!) And the grass is brown because we aren’t wasting any water on it at all. It usually doesn’t go crispy until August! I know those who live in hotter and drier climates are chuckling at my discomfiture. But we are really not used to this. And I don’t really want to have to get used to it! I want some rain and my normal maritime climate back.

OK, got that whinge off my chest. Off to get ready for the wedding. More soon!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Slowly Roasting

But I’m trying hard not to complain too bitterly about it. It’s not like I could shift that big blob of HOT that’s stuck just off the BC coast! It is what it is. It also was 32C (90F) yesterday and heading for that again today. At least my hot weather veggies are enjoying it – as long as I can keep them from drying out too much. I picked my first cucumber of the season, the beans are flowering and the spaghetti squashes are bigger than softballs. The dye garden isn’t doing too badly either. So far I have a Ziploc full of nicely dried dyer’s chamomile. The Sauce Hollandaise variety looks like every other daisy-type flower you’ve ever seen:


Their little faces are about an inch or so across. After I picked them they dried very quickly to crisp little buttons:


(Luckily you can’t see the dried aphids!) I picked a bunch more last evening so hopefully now I’ll have enough for at least one test dyebath. As soon as I around to getting some yarn mordanted, that is.

There’s not nearly as much of the dried grandiflora coreopsis:


That is all I’ve got so far. There’s only 2 young plants so I’m not surprised at the lack of volume. Collection is ongoing. 

What’s next? I’ve been avoiding the studio as too hot even with the big swamp cooler/fan on. I’ve managed to cut out 2 dresses though not even begun to sew them yet. There’s the Mizono dress/jumper/tunic/bubble-thingy, V1410:

Mizono V1410

You can see it better in the line drawing:

V1410 line

The 2 views are the same dress but it has buttons underneath so you can adjust the drape to tunic length. I cut a size 12 (again, not remotely my pattern measurements!) and also re-drew the shoulders and armscyes to fit me better. I raised the neckline quite a bit too. You can see it gapping badly on the model! I figure I can cut it down if it’s too high but not add to it if I cut too low. I cut some self bias binding for the armholes and neckline instead of just turning under a hem and cut some big square patch pockets. (Because I love pockets!) Lastly I shortened it at the lower lengthen/shorten line by 2”. It’s still going to be pretty long on my 5’3-1/2” (and shrinking) body but I didn’t want to lose too much of the bubbled side seams. The fabric is a black slightly-crinkled rayon with lovely drape. I’ve had it in the stash for ages and it has changed its mind about what it wanted to become at least 5 or 6 times. Ha-ha! It’s committed now!

The second dress I cut out is Marcy Tilton’s Vintage French House Dress V8813:

MarcyTilton V8813

Here’s the line drawing, View A:

V8813 line

Mine is going to look very much like the photo because I’m using a red-orange stretch linen blend. This fabric tried to change its mind about what it wanted to be a couple of times but I didn’t allow it since I actually bought it specifically for this pattern! Heh. I cut a Medium and raised the neckline an inch. Again I can cut it down if I think it would look better as drafted but I’d rather have the extra fabric there in case. I think I might have to adjust the gathers in front down a little to compensate for my low bust, though I’ll judge that when I get there. Other sewists don’t seem to have messed with the gather height at all though I may also use a different technique to gather them than the instructions say.

Interestingly the Mizono dress is only 2 large pattern pieces but it still took more than 2.5 metres of my 56” wide fabric. (Like the way I slip from metric to imperial in the same sentence? I’m bi-measuremental!) The Tilton dress has her usual odd pattern pieces but this time not asymmetrical ones. I cut the pocket facings out vertically with the stretch running up-and-down thinking that that would stabilise them a little. They are rather voluminous! And Marcy does that with her knit version View C. I’m hoping to finish this dress in time to wear it to a family wedding next week.

Which brings me to a dress that my DIL bought from a thrift shop that fits her perfectly except for where it flares right under the arms. I thought it would be a quick repair but the odd way the lining has been stitched in as necessitated lots of unpicking and possible hand-stitching. I’ve been putting it off but since she’s planning to wear it to the same wedding, I’d best get my rear in gear. Today.

In other news, we took down the display at the Roundhouse Community Centre yesterday. Thom happily got his guitar back and he serenaded us while we packed up the rest of the items. We have re-submitted the cigar box guitar to the Crafts Council of BC for a show in Crafthouse in November. We’ll find out in a couple of weeks if Thom has to give up his guitar for awhile again! Meanwhile, he’s enjoying playing it again while he can. Who knew it would be so popular? On the way home from the Roundhouse yesterday (uphill in 30C heat) we stopped at a shady bench at City Hall to cool for a few minutes and a guy walking by asked about the guitar. Thom let him try it for a bit. (Upside down! It’s a lefty!) He wanted Thom to show him how to build one! LOL!!! Sure thing, bub. Five minutes, tops. Right? Ummm…no. Do your research. Take a class. Put in the time to learn. Just like I’m going to casually teach a total random stranger how to spin and knit a sweater? Just like that.

Anyway, to all my Canadian buddies, hope you and yours have a Happy Canada Day tomorrow! True North strong and free! (Free of Harper would be good too, but I’m not holding my breath.)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

In The Summertime

Thanks to El Niño, we’re having above-seasonal temperatures and below-average rainfall. It’s been soooo hot! Yeah, I know for some places 30C (86F) doesn’t really register as particularly warm but for us here in the Land of No Air Conditioning it’s melting. OK, I admit that some offices, shops, malls, movie theatres and cars have AC but most private homes don’t. We only maybe have a few weeks out of an entire year when it’s really needed. So we just suck it up, aim a fan in our general direction and suffer think cool thoughts. It’ll be back to normal again soon enough. Though the forecast says there’s no end in sight. Yet. Although it rained a little today. Not enough to actually water anything but it did make me drag knitting and my drying dye flowers inside.

Yes, I decided to pick the dyer’s chamomile and try it out. I’ve been hesitating because I’ve only had the plants for just over a year and I was concerned that they were the “Sauce Hollandaise” variety with white flowers so I didn’t think they would have enough yellow dye in them to work. But according to Harald Böhmer in his book, many of the white chamomiles have good yellow so why not these ones? So I’m attempting to collect enough for a test skein and it’s not a particularly fun exercise. This year the dyer’s chamomile sadly has lots of aphids on the stems with their attendant ants. Truly it’s a bad year for aphids on a lot of things. Ick. I chopped the stems down about 6” in hopes of eliminating some of the aphids and also encouraging new buds. It also made it easier to snip the flowers off the tips. (Picture aphid-gooey kitchen shears and ants running all over my hands and up my arms. Nope, on second thought, better not.) I hope some dried aphids won’t affect the dye colour! Happily the ants bailed out as the flower heads were drying outside so luckily I didn’t bring them in too when it started to rain.

Speaking of the book Koekboya: Natural Dyes and Textiles: A Colour Journey from Turkey to India and Beyond, I took it out of my guild Koeboyalibrary for the summer. This is the third time I’ve borrowed this book and it’s really starting to make much more sense now. The first time I read it I was overwhelmed by the chemistry and thought that many of the dyes discussed were only specific to Turkey. But now I seem to have acquired enough experience and read enough from other sources for the detailed information in this lovely book to become much more clear to me. Sadly I don’t own it myself - though for a mere $129.95 Canadian I could get a copy from Maiwa Supply! Nevermind. I’ll just borrow it again if I need to.

What else have I been up to? I finished my Alpaca Tweed Cardi:


See how nice the pockets worked out?


Though as I said before, the pocket lining could have been a little wider. And I used two of the carved bone buttons from India that I bought at Maiwa’s recent sale:


The collar is really nice and high so I won’t need to wear a scarf with it. I can also wear it unbuttoned:


The pattern is the Larch Cardigan by Amy Christoffers and the yarn is my handspun alpaca/wool tweed. I only used about 325g/approx. 1100 yds so I have nearly 200g left. I have a shawl in mind, with beads and I’ve found the perfect ones for the project. There may be enough yarn left to make another hat too. I’ll be well-outfitted for fall.

I seem to be on a sweater knitting kick these days. No socks! I figured my sweater collection needed enlarging and there’s no room in our drawers for more socks anyway. So to give a little concession to the summer season, I’m plugging slowly away on the Periwinkle Necklace Cami. It’s taking even longer than it should because I made a boo-boo and forgot to reverse the cables after the midpoint. Doh. A little trip to the frog pond and we’re back to where I screwed up. It’s getting easier. At least I can listen to podcasts while working on it now. I can hardly wait to get to the larger needles and the stockinette body!

Because the Periwinkle was impossible to work on while watching TV, I started Low Tide by tincanknits. It’s kind of a vest-ish short-sleeved cardigan and I’m knitting it in my recycled handspun Black Raspberry Wool. Thom referred to it as Red Tide when I told him the pattern name so it stuck. I also can’t decide what kind of garment it is so I’m adding Vestigan to its name. I’ve only done the right yoke so far. More to come on this one. You will note that I still only have 2 knitting projects on the go: one easier and one harder. I’m controlling myself from casting on more items from my Ravelry queue.

In sewing news, I cut out a couple of dresses but it’s really too hot to work comfortably up in my studio in the afternoons. These could take a little more time to get done. However I’m feeling quite enthusiastic so who knows? More about them next post.