Wednesday, July 11, 2018

A Wash and a Brush Up

Hello! Yes, I’m still here! We’re having a perfect summer with gardening, walks, creativity and relaxation. Here’s the comfortable spot that we fight over take turns enjoying in the afternoons:

It’s my turn today. Hah!

After sorting through all my clothes, I gave all the woolies a going over with my Gleener to clean off the pills. It works pretty slick! Then I washed the worst offenders to freshen them up. I can only do a few at a time due to space constraints, especially with the shawls that need blocking after washing. I only have just so many blocking wires and the mat only holds about 3 at a time. Here’s the red batch:

And today, the black batch:

These are all shawls that I wear regularly and so need a bath at least once a year! Besides these and half a dozen sweaters, I also washed a lot of my mitts and gloves which get really grubby and a couple of hats. There’s still 2 more shawls to go but they’ll have to wait until these are bone dry. This whole procedure has taken at least a week to finish since we had a couple of days with some rain. Not that I’m complaining when the garden gets a better soaking than I can give it with a hose!

Speaking of the garden, I’ve got empty spaces in some of the beds now that the garlic, potatoes and early greens have been harvested. I just started some new seeds indoors in the Grow Op because if I try to direct sow them in the garden they will be eaten off the second they come up. There’s only a few veggies that will survive including swiss chard, arugula and carrots so the lettuce and other greens are relegated to the flats under the lights until they’re big enough to survive outdoors. I would have had some all ready to go in but things finished earlier this year than I was expecting so I’m running a little behind. No biggie. We aren’t planning to go away this September as we usually do so I can try some fall-into-winter gardening for once.

So of course while all that was going on I haven’t accomplished much else in the studio. But that’s OK. It isn’t a contest, right? I’ve been knitting away on my two projects, the Lacca Laneway tunic and the Linen Trillian shawl whenever I get a chance. They’re coming along at just under 50% completed each. I also bought the new men’s Cargo Shorts pattern from Wardrobe By Me for Thom and have it printed out, assembled and cut out in his size ready to go. It took me a little effort to figure out what size to choose. His jeans have a 34” waist which fits the way he likes but the pattern sizing says a size 31 = 34” finished waist. Huh? The size 34 is much too large. Are these European sizes? Why can’t the pattern size be equal to the waist size? Anyhow, I’m hoping the 31 will fit since the waistband facing does actually measure 34” after subtracting the seam allowances and overlap. As usual I’m considering this first pair as a wearable toile so I’m not pulling out the good linen or hemp for them. I know I have something suitable in the stash somewhere. It’s going to be fun to choose the pocket lining fabrics too! I have lots of exciting options there. More on this when there’s more to tell.

Meanwhile, the hammock is soooo comfy....

Sunday, July 01, 2018

Fresh New Month

We’ve been rather suffering from the June Gloom around here for the last 10 days or thereabouts. So I’m happy to have July show up and hope that things imrove. Not that I mind the lack of stinking heat or anything! I get to wear sweaters. And socks. But I would prefer it didn’t sprinkle rain on me every time I step out the door. Just usually not enough rain to actually water the garden. Which means I have to manually finish the job. Sigh.

Instead of gardening, I’ve amused myself by tossing all my clothes about and assessing them for wearability. It hasn’t been that long since I did my drawers and closet so that wasn’t too big of a deal. But the storage closet in my study where we keep the non-seasonal or rarely worn garments has been mostly avoided for at least a decade! Apart from swapping out items like short-sleeved shirts for long-sleeved ones and vice versa, the back section was holding things that I had difficulty getting rid of. Garments that I wove, made for special occasions or just plain had sentimental value but never wore because of fit, style (honkin’ ‘90’s drop shoulders, anyone?), or hope that one day they will magically find a purpose. I managed to reduce the lot by 4 garbage bags worth of thrifting and recycling, which for me is pretty good odds. And of course unearthed clothes that I can hopefully mend, refashion or use for the fabric content. There’s still one or two items that I just can’t bring myself to part with. Hopefully more about those in a future post.

There were several garments that just needed mending including a pile of Thom’s old Levis with the cuffs shredded. He doesn’t wear out the knees, seat or crotch of his jeans, just the back hems and sometimes the back pocket that he keeps his wallet in. Unfortunately, he doesn’t want highly “visible” mending. I’m disappointed. I need to find a way to patch them more subtly using pieces from one of the most worn out pairs. I have some ideas. But it would have been super fun to use funky bright prints and sashiko stitching, wouldn’t it? Men can be so dull sometimes. :)

The garbage bags included some of Thom’s rejects as well. At least a half-dozen worn-out shirts went in them or into my “good for bias binding or other scraps” pile. I took off all the buttons and now don’t need to buy any shirt buttons for quite some time! Good thing since now he needs me to make more shirts. Luckily he has plenty of short-sleeved ones for the summer which gives me more time to get to it. I did finish his black linen-blend Fairfield Button-up finally:

The tweaks that I made to the pattern worked out really well. I lowered the neckline in the front and cut a larger collar and stand to fit it. Now he can button it up to the neck. Not that he ever does! Ties are very very rarely worn. But I wanted him to be able to anyway. I also sized the cuff down to better fit his slim wrists. While I was at it, I used the cuff pattern addendum with the cut-off corners. He likes it! I’ve already added all the tweaks to my original pattern pieces so that becomes the new TNThom Shirt pattern. More to come.

In knitting news I finally got annoyed enough with the Kilimanjaro Shawl and frogged the darn thing. In nearly a year I’d only gotten this much knit:

There’s nothing really wrong with the pattern (Good Day Sunshine by Amanda Bjørge, from Knitty, SS12) but it just wasn’t right for this yarn. Too many very fancy Estonian star stitches which got lost in the Prism Hand-Dyed Euroflax lace yarn and just try doing 3/3 star stitches in linen. And we won’t even mention the dreaded 8/8 which I never even got to! I also was afraid the linen didn’t have the necessary stretch to block out into the sunray shape properly. Needs wool. ‘Nuff said.

So I hunted down something that works with variegated yarn and that might look okay in linen. If complex didn’t work, go simple! I fixed on Martina Behm’s Trillian shawl, one of her Hitchhiker series which I already own. I’m really liking the look and especially the knitting! After the set-up there’s only 2 easy rows to alternate before the final edging. Fine linen on 3mm needles is tricksy enough to knit without making it harder on myself. It’s already longer than this:

Obviously I’m liking this version much better. Why did it take me so long to frog it and try again? Must be my Scorpio stubbornness, huh?

The Lacca Laneway tunic is coming along too. I’ve just divided for the sleeves and the body after knitting the yoke:

I’m not a huge fan of horizontal stripes but these are subtle enough to please me. I’m hoping the pattern is accurate in the yarn calculations are correct because I sure don’t want to run short of yarn before I get enough length. There ain’t no more! At least knitting from the top down there are easy ways to just stop if necessary: shorter stripe section, shorter body, shorter sleeves. Hopefully though there will be plenty to finish. I’d love to have enough left over to make matching socks. Is that asking too much? I’ve gotten this far and haven’t even used up that first ball of the main colour. There’s 4 more skeins, a total of over 1700 yards left to go. Socks sound promising anyhow.

What else on this now happily sunny Canada Day? I thought I’d start throwing in some random outfit photos for your perusal. This one is my “I’m wearing red for Canada Day but I don’t have anything white to go with it” look. Also I was cold. After this I added socks and switched to my closed-toe Birkenstocks. Heh.

Happy Canada Day to all my Canadian readers, eh?

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Parsley Cilantro Rosemary & Thyme

Okay, I don’t have any sage because it’s not a herb I use much and my last plant croaked one extra-cold winter. But there’s bronze fennel, oregano, lemon balm and mint instead! The garden has been monopolising much of my time for the last few days so I smell rather fragrant now after pruning and tying up everything in sight. Mmmm...rosemary! Apart from the tomatoes, which are not pleasant so I washed rather carefully after working in the greenhouse this morning. The veggies are growing rather well this year thanks to the warm and sunny spring we’ve had. Now that the solstice is passed I’m picking peas and zucchinis and lettuce and raspberries nearly every day. The garlic will be pulled up soon. Impatiently waiting on the potatoes to finish and the beans and cucumbers to start setting fruit. It’s so inspiring - and delicious - to make meals with home-grown produce. Yum.

Meanwhile, between the weeding, I finished another knitting project: the Cholla Tank. The pattern is the Notched Hem Tank Top from Purl Soho. This was mostly pretty mindless knitting with doubled yarns from the weaving stash. I’m pretty pleased with it. I made a few modifications for fit, starting with a larger size at the hem and decreasing extra times to get the right number of stitches before the armhole split. I also shortened the armhole depth but still had to redo the armhole and neckline bind-offs to tighten things up more. I had already picked up less stitches than called for but also ended up finishing it quite snugly with the smaller needle size and a stretchy lace bind-off. Much better though I’ll probably wear it over another top anyhow as I did here. It’s not as bad as it’s namesake, the prickly cholla cactuses, but it’s not particularly soft even after washing and blocking! It’s rather light and drapey however and fits the way I like so I’m calling it a win.

Naturally I’m not short of more knitting projects. The linen Kilimanjaro Shawl has lost my attention again in favour of the Lacca Laneway Tunic which I’m totally loving so far. More about this soon. You need to see how nicely the subtle stripes are coming along. And of course there are 3 more projects in the wings waiting their turn. I do love the process of knitting at least as much as wearing the finished items. I’m beginning to think of myself as a Knitter, as opposed to just a knitter. It’s the one craft I need to do pretty much every day.

Up in the sweat shop (it’s been pretty warm in the Atelier these days!) I’m rather slowly working on the black linen blend shirt for Thom. I made some recent tweaks to the Thread Theory Fairfield Button-up pattern and this is the wearable muslin that I hope will fit even better than his first one. I have the collar, cuffs and buttonholes/buttons yet to sew. Since those areas are where the tweaks happened we won’t know if I got it right until I’m done! The suspense is not killing me enough to sew faster though obviously. It’s a long-sleeved shirt although lightweight so not a huge priority. He has lots of wearable short-sleeved shirts still.

I had better sew faster anyway because I was very naughty the other day after my weavers guild meeting. I walked from our new meeting venue in Chinatown over to Hastings Street. I was only going to get some thread from Dressew but noooo...I popped into Atex across the street first. After oggling and drooling a lot, I told the owner I would likely be back shortly. Not sure he believed me! I went over to Dressew and got my thread. And some buttons. And a length of cotton jersey in a speckly charcoal grey. Then I went back to Atex and got the last of a bolt of on-sale wool plaid and some natural linen crinkle. I didn’t really need these fabrics but I’m still pretty pleased, especially with the wool after I washed and dried it. Yes, in the washer and dryer! I’m brave. It came out so soft and yummy. Not sure what I’ll be making yet but you’ll find out eventually. Probably when I do!

At least they’re all natural fibres, no synthetics. She says, justifying her purchases to herself. Hah.

Now pay attention, everyone! I am putting it out there where I can be called accountable. I’m officially declaring a Yarn and Fabric Diet for the foreseeable future!! Thread, other notions (like buttons and zips) and patterns don’t count if they are truly necessary but first priority is using up what I already have. I finally feel, over-supplied! This feeling doesn’t happen to me often because I’m not really a crazy shopaholic. (Quit laughing, you!) But I have definitely amassed more supplies recently than I can use up in a reasonable time frame. So I’m calling a complete halt on acquisition right now and I’m not giving myself a concrete ending date. Let’s just see how long I last. All summer? Into autumn? Over winter? Your guess is a good as mine.

Meanwhile, I have a couple of fabrics from that stash that need scouring and mordanting. I have dye plants (weld, dyers chamomile) in the garden and needing to be used. Even if I don’t get around to sewing these things up for awhile it’s good to use the dyes when they are fresh and ready. I’d love to have a whole bunch of naturally dyed handmade clothes to wear. Extra points if I grow the dyes myself, right?

Saturday, June 16, 2018

A Good Yarn

Another pair of socks has jumped off my needles. This time it’s a not-quite-plain sock using my usual Damselfly’s Basic Socks pattern but with a baby cable ribbed cuff and an Eye of Partridge heel stitch.

I apologise for the rather dismal quality of the photo - I really should have taken another better one - but I hope you get the idea anyway. The yarn was 2- 50g skeins of the sadly discontinued Phildar Preface that was originally white but I dyed it in an experiment with snow dyeing with acid dyes two winters ago. I thought it was kind of boring but in the end I kind of like the wee splashes of purple and orange and brown on a darker brown base. At least they’re pretty evenly distributed! I made the legs quite long so the cuffs would show above my Blundstone boots. I hate it when all my hard work knitting socks is hidden completely plus the wooly padding is nice to have on my shins. I’ve been reinvigorated with the idea of knitting more complex socks after a long run of plain-plain-plain and these ones are kind of a push in that direction. I already have the yarn and pattern picked out but I’m not ready to start them quite yet.

So I never finished the tales of the last yarn dyeing episode. (Unless you’ve seen my Instagram where I told part of the story.) Backing right up, at least a month or so ago, Thom pruned our purple smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria) and gave me some bark peelings to play with for dye. I soaked it in water with added soda ash to somewhere around pH 10, covered the bucket with a lid and just ignored it completely! When I finally decided it had been hanging about much too long, it was surprisingly not furry with mould but definitely somewhat slimy. And stinky! The pH had gone down to about 5 so I added soda ash water again to get it back up to neutral or just above and simmered it (outside, of course!) for awhile. After I seived out all the plant matter and sludge it didn’t look especially exciting but I dipped a skein of white previously alum-mordanted Cloudborn Highland Fingering wool into it. I didn’t leave it in the pot for more than a moment because I wanted a very light colour and it was turning a tan colour quite quickly! When I pulled it out of the pot the tan colour shifted quickly to yellow and I immediately rinsed it to keep it as light as possible. I’m sure it would have been considerably darker if I had let it simmer longer and left it to dry as usual before rinsing! I think the dye in smoke bush is similar to that in weld where the dyepot itself looks rather unprepossessing but it contains a strong fast colour anyway, especially with a slightly higher pH than usual.

The end result was pretty:

The colour is even and perfect for my intended use (along with a skein of the same yarn in Espresso Heather), the Study Hall shawl from the latest First Fall 2018 issue of Knitty. The only difficulty was I had to wash the skein several times in Orvus and rinse to try to get the foul stink of the well-fermented smoke bush out of it! Now that it’s aired and dry though it doesn’t smell any more. Whew!

But that’s not all I dyed. You’ll remember my pretty lac-dyed sock yarn from the last post. I decided that I wanted the other 5 skeins of that sock yarn (more about the brand later) to be a more muted brownish-purple. Also using lac but with the addition of my old friend cutch to tone it down. I didn’t realise how intense the lac can be however! Even with only 2% lac and 10% cutch it was definitely too bright so I threw in the rest of the stinky smoke bush pot as well. And then I used some iron modifier to tone it down even more. Better but the skeins are somewhat uneven though I suspect that might be my rather slap-dash mordanting. Anyway, those 5 skeins are now a pretty dark lavender:

I’ve already started a project using both purples, Veera Välimäki’s Laneway:

With the single burgundy skein for the stripes and the lavender skeins for the main colour, the yardage called-for is perfect! And of course I love the asymmetrical shape of this tunic. So nice when these things turn out, huh?

Plus there’s 2 more wee skeins of the Highland wool that I dyed in the exhaust pot after the sock yarn had sucked out nearly all the colour and before I added the iron modifier.

The top skein was pink before it too got an iron modification and now is a lavender grey. The lower skein shows that there wasn’t much lac left in the pot by that point. It’s a pretty light peach. Again they needed lots of washing and rinsing to get out the stink! These last 2 are destined for a yoke sweater project that I’ve been working on. Details to come eventually. I have a full palette now.

So I’d like to talk about the sock yarn I was dyeing in this latest round of dyepots. Cascade Heritage Sock Yarn is a 75% merino superwash/25% nylon put up in 100g skeins with 437yds/400m. Over the last few years the manufacturer has changed where this yarn is produced. I have a skein from 5 years ago that I haven’t yet used and it was labelled made in Peru. The feel is a little different from the recent skeins I purchased that are labelled made in China. The new yarn is slightly softer twist. But the reviews on Ravelry for the Chinese version are very uncomplimentary to say the least. I thought I’d made a big mistake when I ordered 6 skeins of white for dyeing. Perhaps the quality has improved again since the reviews were written because I thought these skeins held up really well to being scoured, rinsed, mordanted, rinsed some more, dyed, washed and finally rinsed at least 4 more times. Plus then I started knitting and made a major mistake so frogged and started again. The skeins haven’t fuzzed, pilled, shredded or anything else from all that. As you might see from the ribbing of my new sweater’s neckline, the twisted stitches are crisp and defined. There’s a pretty sheen too, probably from the nylon content, which doesn’t show in the photo. (No, I’m not getting into a debate on synthetics right now. I’m absolute death on any socks without nylon content. And yeah, I know this project isn’t socks.) Anyway I’m hoping there’s enough left from the Laneway tunic for a pair of socks so I can test them in wear but so far I’m not at all disappointed in this yarn. Believe me, I’ve seen worse and for a lot more than I paid for these from Craftsy, including exchange and postage. I’m always on the hunt for a good-quality sock yarn that comes in a solid dyeable colour: white, natural, light grey, or medium grey. Trust me, not that easy to find! And often, like the Preface I mentioned above, they disappear. Or you can’t get it undyed. And the Heritage already comes in skeins so I don’t have to rewind it.

Anyway, I’m good for yarn right now. Hopefully I can control my urge to buy more? I need to spin some! It’s not like I don’t have fibres waiting for me.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Tales From The Back Yard

It just started to rain but I’m not complaining. I really hope it actually rains enough to water the garden. It was starting to get dry. Again. Luckily it held off long enough for me to finish the dyeing I was playing with this morning. Though I had to hustle to get off the hammock (where I’d just relaxed) and take in all the equipment and the skeins off the closeline. I haven’t got a photo of the colours I got yet so I’ll hold off on my report until the skeins are dry. Which will definitely be a slower process in the basement.

However, that’s not all the dyeing I’ve been doing. At my guild’s monthly weave/spin/dye day on Saturday, we had a community pot of lac dye going. I included a skein of Cascade Heritage sock yarn (75% superwash merino/25% nylon) in the pot. When it came out I added it to a small bucket with 1/4 tsp copper and got this lovely deep burgundy:

Lac is one of the insect dyes, Kerria lacca, found in India and southeast Asia. It’s a scale insect that hosts on trees and exudes a resin that is ground up and the colourant extracted. It also is the source for shellac. Lac gives crimson, reds, burgundy and purples and is somewhat more muted than cochineal but still very pretty. It’s sensitive to pH (especially acid so we added 3% tartaric) and gives the best most colourfast results on protein fibres though it will also dye cellulose as well. Just not as dark or as washfast. To prove it I threw some gungy-looking handkerchiefs in at the end and they are a much more pleasant rose pink now. The sock yarn practically sucked up all the dye in the pot and was by far the darkest of the yarns we included. The superwash process somehow opens more area for the dyes to affix and nylon, although it’s a synthetic, is easy to dye with anything that works on protein fibres.

I also finished sewing the second tunic from my latest self-drafted pattern. The weather hasn’t been particularly conducive to photos until the sun came out finally yesterday and I got these pics:

I modified the original pattern slightly by adding 2” length to the peplum. I like it better! Also this version is sleeveless. The fabric is some of the black linen blend that I used for the Leafy Metamorphic Dress underlayer. It’s quite airy but not revealing and it doesn’t crease much thanks to the polyester content (I suspect that’s what it is anyhow). I also used some scraps of black cotton sateen leftover from the underlining of my Marcy Skirt to make the pocket bags and the armholes’ bias binding. I quite like this top and wore it several times before photographing it and it doesn’t look very crumpled at all. I suspect there will be more of these tunics in future.

So now I’ve been sewing on the same black linen blend but this time it will be a shirt for Thom. I was a little concerned that my white interfacing was going to show through the black fabric which is fairly loosely woven but it doesn’t. Yay. I bought a whole 10-yard bolt of my favourite Pellon SF101 fusible woven interfacing but I could only justify one colour so I went with white. I wish it came in more of a neutral but only white or black is available. If it hadn’t worked out I was tempted to use fabric paint on it to tone it down! It’s 100% cotton so chances are I could even use a cold-water dye if I was careful. But I’d rather not if I don’t have to. I plan to use it to make a lot of shirts for Thom and I’ve also used it on the collar and button placket on my Batik Alder Shirtdress. I love this stuff. No puckering, bubbling, curling or other shenanigans. Just nicely crisp results. Use it just on the top piece for a softer more casual effect or both top and bottom pieces for a more formal shirt. This one is getting the more casual treatment mostly because a) it’s quite a lightweight fabric and b) he just doesn’t do formal! More on this one soon.

Well I haven’t been keeping you informed on my knitting progress either. I have 3 projects on the go currently: one portable and easy (nearly-plain socks), one not-so-portable (Cholla Tank), and one complex (Kilimanjaro linen shawl). The socks are nearly done, just the toes left to knit. The Cholla Tank (pattern “Notched Hem Tank Top” from Purl Soho) is nearly up to the armholes. This is the one I’m knitting on while reading since it’s mostly plain. And the Kilimanjaro Shawl (pattern “Good Day Sunshine” by Amanda Bjoerge) is coming along slowly. Those Estonian star stitches (3 into 3, 3 into 4 etc.) are definitely not-so-fun to do in non-stretchy linen yarn! After putting it off for the better part of a year I’m determined to finish the darn thing. Scorpio stubborns for the win! I hope.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Moving Right Along

How did it get to be June? I swear it was just the beginning of May only yesterday. Obviously I’m having fun!

I’m still on a mad sewing kick and consequently I have another sewing FO:

I swear this has been one of my fastest pattern-to-garment makes ever! The York Pinafore is a brand new pattern by local indie designer Helen’s Closet.

Helen is modelling here. Isn’t she adorable? I think she has really hit it out of the park with this one. Beginner sewist simple; works with pretty much any fabric you throw at it, particularly the heavy bottom-weight stuff like denim and canvas; doesn’t take much yardage either; flatters a whole range of body types including potatoes like me; and is a truly practical as well as a stylishly modern garment! The instruction booklet has a whole lot of great information in it as well including sizing charts, fitting adjustments, bias binding info and detailed sewing steps. What’s not to love? Thank you, Helen!

The pattern was easy to print out and glue together. It has layers so I just printed it in size L and XL so I could morph between the narrower size at the top and wider at the waist and hip. I took 1/2” out of the bodice area divided between the lengthen/shorten lines and because the fabric was short I also took an inch out of the hem (which I will put back next time if possible). I tried to do my usual shoulder slope adjustments but this time it didn’t work very well. I ended up picking out the shoulder seams 3 times and repinning it until it hung properly. Otherwise the chest area kept folding up. I’m now not sure what exactly I did so the changes haven’t been transferred back to the pattern. The next pinafore will be a new adventure! Heh. I may need to reprint the shoulder pages and frankenstein them onto my pattern. Then I can compare them with the finished pinafore and hopefully get it right this time. At least I fixed it in the end for this one.

For fabric I used a wee remnant of soft but very heavy indigo blue denim that had been lurking in my stash ever since I rescued it from a neighbour’s free box. I was just able to squeeze out the pieces for the shorter View B but ended up with a small back yoke cut crosswise. Works just fine. Also there’s a faded fold line in the kangaroo pocket but that just adds to its jeans flavouring, don’t you think? I haven’t worn jeans in decades because they aren’t comfortable on me but this hangs from the shoulders and is loose in the waist so no restrictions. It’s even better than a skirt on my body because skirts want to ride up unless they are very loose and elastic.

For the bias binding I didn’t use purchased double-fold binding. Instead I cut my own out of a scrap of the blue/brown batik left from making my Batik Alder Shirtdress. I made the strip 1-1/4” wide and used it as a single-fold binding. It was less bulky on my thick denim. All the main seams in the pinafore were proper flat-fell seams and the pocket edges serged before folding under because this stuff frays like the dickens.

Iwill definitely be making more of these pinafores. I want a dress-length one next with the big side pockets. However, there are still quite a few garments already cut out that have first priority.

The weather has been somewhat cooler and cloudier over the last week or so. The garden is still doing very well. The garlic scapes are just starting to develop their curls, the peas are finally starting the flower, the tomato plants in the greenhouse are up to my chest in height and the beans are starting to climb up their poles. The Asian greens are finishing (though I have lots in the fridge!), the arugula and mizuna are bolting but the lettuce is coming on beautifully. I’m giving credit to the good weather we’ve had and all the manure and sea soil we’ve spread for the excellent results. We haven’t had much finished compost this year so the manure (from the Boy Scouts) was a very beneficial substitute.

We walked over to the local farmer’s market yesterday too. I can’t grow strawberries or root vegetables (except garlic and spuds) so there’s still goodies to be bought. We also had a yummy taco from the Brazilian Roots food truck made with gluten-free cassava bread and filled with smoked turkey and other delicious things. It was kind of like a cross between a taco and a pizza in flavour.

And that wasn’t the only yummy thing that happened yesterday. I got some absolutely the freshest beets and made a beet greens side dish for supper. Believe it or not, I’ve never cooked beet greens before. Only eaten the baby leaves in salads or roasted the beet roots. I didn’t used to like cooked greens or beets either come to think of it, but then we cook rather differently now than our parents’ generation did. I think my mom’s philosophy was “boil it until it’s completely dead”! Bleh. For these perfect greens, I chopped the stems and leaves separately in 1” pieces and steamed the stems for 3 or 4 minutes to tenderise them. Then I fried up some garlic (the last of my 2017 harvest) in bacon fat and added the greens and stems and cooked everything until just tender. A splash or two of balsamic vinegar and a little sea salt and pepper grated over and! The leaves from just 4 beets made lots for the two of us but we ate every bite. And I still have another bunch in the fridge. Can you imagine just composting or worse, throwing away all that leafy goodness? Sacrilege.

Oh, and I almost forgot! I got new glasses:

Kind of owl-y huh? In a good way, of course. They remind me of some of the glasses I wore back in the ‘90’s. Heh. The frames are indigo and brown tortoiseshell, made in Italy and very lightweight. I really like that I can see through the lower section of my progressive prescription without interference from the frames. Very important when you do as much close-up work as I do. Unlike some people I can’t afford more than one pair of progressives at a time so I don’t have lots of stylish pairs to switch around. These will be my “look” for a year or two now.

Sunday, May 27, 2018


Here’s the latest project out of the sweatshop atelier, the Leafy Metamorphic Dress:

The pattern is by Sew Liberated, the Metamorphic Dress. It’s two dresses in one, both with pockets - patch pockets on the top and inseam pockets on the under dress. The top layer is cut away front and back at the hem (I only did that to the front instead of both) to let the underlayer show. The two dresses are sewn together at the neckline and armholes using the burrito method. It’s an interesting way to assemble a lined bodice that I hadn’t tried before, though I’ve used burrito on shirt yokes and pantie gussets. The instructions supplied in the pattern were barely adequate but you might want to google a tutorial if you haven’t experienced the burrito method before, especially on something like this where you have to roll the dress up twice, once for each armhole seam. It would also be difficult to impossible with thick fabrics to pull the dress through the narrow shoulder so keep that in mind. My choices were fine if a little fiddly.

This dress is more like a jumper since it is too loose and low under the arms for bra coverage. I’m really glad I moved the shoulders inward however or they would have been much too wide on me. When I flip the dress over to the dark side, a sliver of the leafy layer shows at the shoulders and neckline as well as glimpses of the wrong side of it at the hem. It’s not a deal breaker but I wonder how often I’ll wear it this way. We’ll find out eventually, huh? BTW I originally wanted the leafy layer underneath but then the wrong side (which is obvious) would show at the front. I definitely like it better this way. The heavier and more stable underlayer supports the soft limp rayon very nicely. It was fun using the black for the patch pockets too.

It was really great to finally use up this rayon fabric that’s been lurking in the stash for a number of years now. I overdyed it at one of our Spectrum study group meetings using Procion MX dyes because the leaf pattern had glitches in the printing (manufacturer’s defect) and I didn’t want it to be quite so noticeable. I managed to cut around most of it but there’s still some ghosting on the back. Meh. Who cares? The black layer is some of that linen that I bought in March at Fibres West. I’m now suspecting that there’s something else mixed in with this. It doesn’t crease easily unlike pure linen and smells a little odd when ironed. A burn test was inconclusive so I’m going with a blend with synthetic. It feels ok and behaves nicely when sewn anyway. Just as well since I’ve already cut out a shirt for Thom and still have a little left for something else. Obviously it shouldn’t have been labelled 100% linen though.

So what’s next? Not sure yet. I saw the brand new pattern from Helen’s Closet, the York Pinafore:

Yes, I bought the pattern PDF already. I like both views! And I might have several fabrics in stash to choose from. I can see making quite a few Yorks.

However, I still have other things already cut out. If I jump the queue will I get back to them anytime soon? Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, with gardening every morning, sewing every afternoon, reading and knitting every evening - no wonder I’ve been falling into bed every night exhausted! It’s a glorious time of year though so I’m making the most of it while it lasts. Green leaves, warm sun, cool breezes and flowers practically springing out of the earth on pogo sticks!