Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Happy Leap Day!


We had snow. Not a lot but just enough to make the morning commute treacherous. T-Man now regrets trying to drive to work when he could have stayed home and worked from here. By the time he figured that out he was halfway there. Life is like that sometimes, isn’t it?

Meanwhile I’ve been musing as I’ve been sewing on my next bra. Hoping that this one will actually fit, though I’ve already found a slight glitch in my pattern adjusting. Not a fatal one though. An odd angle on the cup side under the arm. It lines up fine flat but when it’s sewn together, not so much. It’s a 3-D issue. I’m not good at 3-D thinking. My brain works much better in 2-D. Yeah, I know. I somehow manage to get stuff to fit a 3-D body anyhow. Not sure how that happens. I think it’s a magic trick.

I also had problems with cutting out the next bra from the 2 kits that I got from Bra-Maker’s Supply. I was trying to get as many bras as possible but now that I’ve resized the cups, I can’t get 2 from each kit like I thought. Dang and blast. And I am really good at 2-D puzzle fitting too. Yes I know the intention was only for one bra per kit but the fabric pieces were big enough that I was hoping for more. So I’m making one that is brown and black so I can at least have 3 new bras. The cups and straps are black and the band is brown. It doesn’t look too bad actually. But then I haven’t attached the mauve elastics yet! And the magenta channelling. Yes, this is another Franken-Bra. Yay! Trust me – nobody will notice. However I’m still afraid to commit to the Real Thing, can you tell? I also need more wires.

In a way, I can hardly wait until I’m finished with the bra-making nonsense. I want more clothes. Something relatively easy to sew would be nice. Bras aren’t large garments but they are fiddly and use a lot of thread. Not to mention several different fabrics, elastics and hardware. No wonder the ready-to-wear ones are so pricey. Every seam costs.

Too bad that while they’re at it they can’t come up with a better sizing system for bras. It’s just not working for most women. ’Splain to me why we have to add 4 (or 5) whole inches to our under-bust measurement? Why not just use the measurement as it is? My size 36 bra band measures 32” just as my under-bust does. There is no 36” measurement there, unless you are considering my high-bust which is (surprise!) 36”. But that part of a bra that goes over the high-bust isn’t a straight or defined line - plus there’s a lot of stretch involved - so that measurement is kind of irrelevant. What doesn’t change much even if you gain or lose weight is your ribcage. So the under-bust is a pretty stable place to start sizing from. What’s wrong with using that number as it is? Why do we have to do an arcane mathematical dance instead? Who the heck came up with this?

Then there’s the cups. Now that’s a fluctuating and hard to measure area on a woman’s body! The method of just trying on bras until you find one that fits just won’t work when you are sewing your own. You can’t try it on until it’s pretty much done! Even using “test cups” doesn’t really work. It’s like (pardon the simile) trying to nail jello! Ouch! So we poor sewers (sewists? seamstresses? corsetiers?) are stuck with sewing and testing and sewing and testing until we get something right. And then it changes with a different pattern or different fabrics or different elastics. Or we gain or lose weight or get pregnant. Yikes! Crazy. I’m still trying to do it though. I like a challenge.

So what is it about body image for us women anyway? So many of us hate how we look. We’re unhappy about some area of our anatomy that displeases us. Aren’t we just being overly influenced by the media? The media that’s always trying to tell us something is wrong so they can sell us something to “fix” it? So hard to be strong and ignore it all and just be ourselves, isn’t it? We are what we are. There’s only just so much that we have control over. We can diet and exercise (or get cosmetic surgery – ick!) but anatomy, genetics and age have the rest of the control. Get over it already. How can you hate any part of your beautiful self? After all, how can you ask others to love you if you don’t love you? All of you. Lumps, bumps and grey hairs. I only get annoyed when parts don’t work the way they’re supposed to. Right now most of me is cooperating pretty well. <touch wood>

You know what helped me with my body image? Way back in high school (you know, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and the world was black and white) I had 2 friends who were, dare I say it, gorgeous. They were tall and willowy and went to modelling classes. I wanted to be them. But all they could talk about were their “flaws”. They had a complaint about each and every part of their anatomy! I couldn’t believe that such lovely girls would complain about what I saw as perfection. Here I was, short and pear-shaped and kind of plain-jane. If they were ugly then what did that make me? Uglier? Nope. No way. I was determined not to accept that definition. I saw it as a challenge to just be me. A more intense and true version of me. And not to care (much anyway) about what other people thought. Because obviously their perceptions were all skewed!

OK, you might not be able to follow that logic but it worked for me. And I still remember my feelings clearly to this day, some 45 years later. It still works! I believe I’m beautiful from the inside because that doesn’t change. The outside is still a work in progress! Life is way too short to worry about it. I choose to have fun instead.

OK, enough with the Opr#h already. Go sew a bra.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Trouble In Blogger-Land

This is just a quick post to say that many folks have been having issues with Blogger’s “new improved” captcha to foil comment spammers. I am one of those who have trouble reading the so-called words that you have to type and it adds considerable time and difficulty to what should be a straightforward comment post. Yuck. So I have decided to join the movement to Go Bare and have taken off my word verification. We’ll see how it goes. If I get more than a few spam comments, I may unfortunately have to reinstate it. I’m hoping for kindness and consideration – and world peace and an end to hunger and cancer too, while I’m at it! OK. We can only hope, huh?

Meanwhile, I’m doing the Happy Dance! I got a couple of new books in the mail. The one I am most excited about is this book:

perfectfitting The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting by Sarah Veblen, contributor to Threads magazine and PatternReview.

This book has just been released and I’m wondering where it has been all my sewing life! The 650 clear photos are just so helpful. The essence of Sarah’s technique is to make a muslin, try it on, make necessary changes and then transfer the changes back to the pattern. She focuses mostly on the bodice since of course that’s where most garments (tops, blouses, dresses, jackets and coats) begin. Less space is given to skirts and pants fitting - though I’m sure you could easily expand pants into another whole book. However, what I like best is Sarah’s inclusion of why fitting issues happen and the reasons we need to learn to “read” what the cloth is trying to tell us. She maintains that you can’t do that as well using just the pattern tissue.

I’m truly wishing for a good sewing buddy now since you can’t really use this method on a dress-form. And a bolt of muslin would be helpful too. And here I was always trying to avoid making muslins! Maybe a necessary step towards my goal of pattern independence? I can totally see myself haunting the cheap fabric section for super-bargains now.

The second exciting addition to the library is this book:

PrinciplesKnitting The Principles of Knitting by June Hemmons Hiatt. Revised and updated.

I’ve been trying to get hold of a copy of this book ever since I saw it in the public library back in the day. I couldn’t read the whole thing in one lending period or even a couple of renewals! Besides I knew I would want to refer to it often. Unfortunately the original went out of print and became a legend to the point where copies were going for astronomical sums on eBay. I’m so glad that June was finally convinced to recreate, revise and update her work for us oldies who remember it as a treasure-house and also for a new crop of inquiring knitting minds.

This is like the Encyclopaedia Britannica of Knitting at over 700 pages. The style is still a little old-fashioned because it’s only illustrated by a sprinkling of black and white photos and drawings. The text on the other hand is super dense! June doesn’t just tell you how to do something, she tells you when, where and why. This is the key to this book’s appeal to the more academic knitters and designers who want to go beyond just learning a new technique. However I wouldn’t really recommend it for visual learners or those who just want to see how to do a particular stitch. There are much clearer and simpler books with more illustrations for that. My go-to favourite is Montse Stanley’s Knitter’s Handbook. (My copy is the older-named Handknitter’s Handbook and complete with Post-It notes.) And of course there’s always the Internet and You-Tube with videos. Principles is a much chewier meal! And it’s going to take me a number of sittings to digest what this book has to offer. Oh yum!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Bra Saga – Part The Second

Well, my persistence with the seam ripper paid off. Sort of. I picked out all the stitches holding the cups and channelling in and added a curved strip of the cotton jersey fused with tricot knit interfacing. This effectively increased the cups by a half-inch or at least one cup-size which seemed like it would be enough. I had to add some to the top of the bridge also to match. I didn’t remove much of the stitching holding the elastics in place and they went back in place incorporating the extra cup depth just fine. The channelling was now a little short so I tried a pair of the slightly smaller and somewhat shorter underwires and they fit quite well. The only other thing I did was some more seam ripping so I could shave a little off the apex of the cups and tapering to the sides. There was some wrinkling there which was improved after this extra finessing. Now this is truly a Franken-Bra!


Lots of stitching and re-stitching, starting and stopping. It’s not one of those lovely lacey things you see others making! However, it does fit not too badly now – except that the straps still fall down. My narrow shoulders, darn ’em! Nothing I could do about that at this point in the construction to fix it unfortunately.


So flushed with success (finally!), I made up the matching panties and now I have my very first set:


Not particularly attractive I suppose but functional and quite comfortable. I’m wearing them as I type! Yes, I have clothes on top. Anyhow the only person besides me that will ever see them is T-Man. And he’s pretty impressed with my new profile. LOL! I’ve got an extra inch out front and a 1/2” lift up so it wasn’t all for nought. Va-va-voom!

After all that I feel a little more confident that my next bra will be a definite improvement. Hopefully I can solve the slipping bra straps problem as well and I’ll be pretty close to perfection. And then I can quickly produce a wardrobe’s worth of new bras. I’ll have to go get some more underwires first now that I’ve decided I like them. As a side-effect of all this research and sewing, I’m now much more clear on what size bra I wear and how to fit one on myself. They aren’t kidding when they say that most women are wearing the wrong size bra! I’ve obviously proved that point myself. Sheesh. No wonder I wasn’t comfortable with underwires before. I didn’t try on anything remotely in the right size range! I still hate the horribly over-padded things though and prefer something softer and simpler. Preferably with straps that Stay! Up!

In other crafty news, I now have about a square metre of the Ten Stitch Blanket knitted. I’m having great fun with this and the ever-changing yarns keep me quite amused. However, I don’t think I’ve appreciably reduced the sock leftovers much at all. Sigh. Now T is asking for his own blankie too which should go some lengths toward using up more of the bits and bobs. I’ve been knitting a section and then winding and joining new lengths for the next section as I go. A day’s or so worth of knitting at a time. It’s working out quite well. I’m able to plan the colours a little but there’s still a lot of serendipity to the way they fall. Plus it’s really tedious to make all the Russian joins so if I only do a few at a time I don’t get bored. Works for me.

What else? Oh yeah. We went and got our seeds for this year’s garden. Even though it’s feeling like spring with the crocuses and daffodils just peeking out, we still had flakes of snow falling. I’m only going to start the really slow stuff right away. I don’t want to be too early with anything since the garden is still a mud puddle and it’s too wet to start turning the fall rye over yet. It’s starting to grow now though so it will need to go as soon as we have a number of dry days in a row. (If that ever happens.) If I’m a bit more wary than I used to be, the last few years we’ve been teased with signs of spring and then smacked with colder weather again. And the cooler spring weather lasts all the way into June or even July. Weirdness.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

If At First…

Well, I’ve redrafted the bra pattern to hopefully fit but I’m still chicken to cut into the “good” fabric. Cluck. Cluck. So instead I’m using the good morning light to use my trusty blades from Lee Valley Tools to pick out the gajillion layers of stitching on the under-bust line of my first version. I plan to add a strip there to see if I can salvage that bra to be wearable. It might work. At least it did in my imagination just as I was falling asleep last night!

Backing up a little, after T-Man got home from work at 3pm yesterday it was lovely and sunny so I dragged coerced asked him to walk downtown with me to Dressew to get more elastics and such for my bra-making escapades. It didn’t take any convincing whatsoever. He’s always up for a long walk. Unfortunately there were ominous clouds building as we went and we started to worry that we hadn’t brought umbrellas or wore raincoats. Just as we got to the Georgia Viaduct it started to pelt rain but we could see clear skies beyond the black one. So we hid against a Skytrain pillar for a few minutes while we watched the sky. We knew we weren’t going to be waiting long when the sun came out and a lovely rainbow appeared over the downtown skyline! Soaking averted. Whew.

Dressew is always an adventure. I fussed around in the elastics isle matching styles and colours for quite awhile while T patiently held the basket. I filled it up with a bunch of different ones that hopefully equal a couple of bras worth and got 2 metres of each measured out. Wisely I also brought a printout of the underwire charts so I could match the ones that I thought might work for me. They are numbered differently than the ones at Bra-makers Supply so I had to put the package onto the image to check for size. At 99 cents a pair they are cheap enough to try several likely ones. I have never had a bra with underwires in my life. Should be an adventure, no? Maybe I can make this work. Maybe.

Amazingly I got out of Dressew for less than $20 which is perhaps a first in living memory. Maybe because T reminded me to stay out of the fabric isles? (He would never actually try to prevent me. He’s a sweet enabler.) Or maybe because I was so focussed. Besides, I have a plethora of fabrics already which are languishing because of my current bra obsession. I don’t need more right now.

Alright. Back to picking stitches. There’s a total of 4 rows of stitching to remove on each side which includes the channelling. Plus a portion of the elastics. This ain’t gonna be quick. Have I mentioned that I’m stubborn? And determined.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Bra Saga – Part The First

Well I finally got up the nerve to start cutting out fabric and sewing it together! Man, that was hard to do. Harder than it should have been for sure. I was so sure that it wasn’t going to turn out right I was afraid to begin. To get over that anxiety I began with stuff that didn’t matter: leftover cotton knit, the powernet dye experiment and mismatched elastics. I used the pattern for a 36D. I also fused some tricot interfacing to the cotton pieces to hopefully reduce too much stretch in the knit and to add a soft slick surface. That latter move may have been a mistake.

It took the better part of the day yesterday to sew this darn thing together! Teeny little bits of fabric, some elastics and lots and lots and lots of thread. I was a little wobbly in a few places. Needed my trusty seam picker occasionally. But all-in-all I did a pretty good job:


And the inside with its flashy fuchsia channelling:


The band fits perfectly. But the cups…not so much. Phooey. I’m obviously a larger cup size than one would calculate from the traditional bra measuring techniques. I even went up a cup size from the one I calculated thinking I might have needed a little more room and it’s still not big enough. The bridge hangs away from my body about an inch and the straps are a little wide set in front. The back is good the way the straps attach both to the band and the hook-and-eye pieces at the same time. Much better than any of the ready-to-wear I’ve had. But obviously I have not been wearing the right size cups. However, I’m not sure I need more projection but more width? I seem to be more football-shaped than round. No wonder commercial bras never fit me properly! As always, I’m the odd one. I do try to usually be odd in a good way though. Gee, I remember back to when I was a 32A. Really. OK, that was before I had children.

Movingrightalong. Of course the pattern I have from Bra Makers Supply only goes up to a D-cup. Sigh. Why am I always in between pattern sizes? So now I need to redraft the cups which naturally affects the band and the bridge as well. Hopefully I won’t screw up what did work in the process! And while I’m at it, I’ll move the strap attachment over toward the middle a little. That’s my narrow shoulders’ fault. Bra straps never stay up on me. This is all just making me even more persistent. I’m just itching to have a bra that actually fits me. This time I’m going to cut into the “real” fabric and see what happens. Nothing ventured, nothing gained!

Along with the BraMaker’s Manual from here, some good resources for bra-making and fitting:,909,30.html

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Roll Yer Own

Remember my panties pattern that I traced from my favourite pair? I now have a wearable muslin! I used some light pumpkin-coloured cotton double-knit from the stash that I was going to use for a t-shirt. I think there’s still enough left from the 1.5M for one. It was a full 66” wide! And I only used just a smidge over 12” worth of the length so I still have a goodly amount left.

Before starting to sew I did a little sleuthing, both in my library and online. I wanted to be sure I knew how to do the crotch gusset and the elastics. Here’s what I discovered. First you sew the gussets to the back:


Then you attach the gussets to the front piece by rolling up the front and back in between. Like the burrito method for attaching a yoke on a shirt.


Stitch that seam and turn it right-side-out:


Now the seams are enclosed. Next sew the side seams. I pressed the seam allowances to the back and topstitched them. Or you could do a flat-fell. I learned a cool trick with the elastics but forget where I got it. You have to “exercise” them! Before you cut or sew them, pull them hard a few times so they stretch out as much as they’re going to. I found that made them at least 1” longer. No wonder I always have trouble with loose elastics! Sewing through them makes them stretch out even a little more. I exercised the waistband elastic (a cotton swimsuit elastic) and joined it in a circle, marked the quarters and pinned it in place on the outside of the panties:


I put pins in between the quarters also. Then I stitched close to the inside edge with a triple-zigzag stitch (aka multi-zigzag or serpentine), stretching as I went:


I folded the elastic over to the inside and stitched again close to the other edge:


It’s a little wobbly but doesn’t look too bad on the outside:


I did the same thing with the elastics for the legs. At least for this part I had proper lingerie elastic with a little picot edge:


You have to remember to put the picots on the inside edge for the first pass so when you turn it under, the picots show at the fold. And you also need to put more stretch in the crotch and back leg than in the front. Here’s the finished panties:


The leg elastic is a little loose but I like it that way so it doesn’t dig in.  They fit perfectly! No, sorry I’m not going to model them. And Debbie Double doesn’t have a bum to put them on. Now that I have a pattern that I like, I can make as many pairs as I want! Old t-shirts would be a good source of cotton knit too. I need to go hunt for some nicer elastics though. If I made them in production mode I could have lots of new pairs. Yay!

Well. Gotta go. I’m finally getting my hair cut today!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Botticelli Belly

Oh happy day! I have discovered that my figure type is just fine…for about 500 years back. Is it my fault that 21st Century fashion revolves around a different female form? One that isn’t particularly feminine really, with no hips and a flat stomach. Who knew? I have a Botticelli Belly!


(Detail from “Primavera” aka “Allegory of Spring”, circa 1482.)

No, they are not pregnant either. (But I’d love to have their gorgeous hair.) Not convinced? How about this Guercino from a later period:


(detail from “Susanna and the Elders”, 1617.)

Or even better, in honour of St. Valentine’s Day (which I pretty much don’t celebrate, it being one of those Hallmark Holidays) here’s another Guercino:


(“Venus, Mars and Cupid”, 1633)

See? Small bust, round shoulders, thick waist – so totally me. I’m a Venus!

Moving right along. I played in my studio yesterday afternoon and traced off my favourite pair of silk knit undies:


I have to learn to ease up a bit on the tracing wheel! It pierced the paper so much that it almost fell apart and left deep impressions in my foam blocking mat. Oops. But I was able to get a good pattern after tracing and truing:


I’m always surprised at how ginormous pants patterns look without the elastic to draw in the edges. Well, OK. These are huge! Full briefs and supremely comfy. (Those who don’t have a Beautiful Botticelli Belly can wear teensy thongs or boy-cut shorts if you like. I’m sticking with my little-old-lady panties.) Can’t wait to make a hopefully-wearable muslin today. Sure wish I could get some of that lovely Chinese silk knit though. I’ve never seen it available as yardage anywhere.

I also have a Finished Object:

Embers Cowl


Begun:  January 9, 2012
Completed:  February 12, 2012

Yarn:  Jacques Cartier Qiviuk 2/14, 100% qiviut, colour 1065 (dark warm red), 28g = 218 yds.

Beads:  Seed beads, size 8, transparent brown AB.

Needles:  Addi Lace Cliks interchangeable, 3.5mm and 3.75mm tips, 16” cord.

Pattern:  Abstract Leaves Cowl by Deb Muller.

Mods:  My yarn was somewhat thinner than suggested but I used one-size larger needles and cast on an extra pattern repeat. Total of 8. I knit 3 repeats in the larger size needle tips and 3 in the smaller ones, plus an extra couple of pattern rows in an attempt to use up all the yarn. I still had lots left though so I single-crocheted an edging with bead picots every 3rd stitch on top and bottom.

Comments: My dear MIL gave me this ball of yarn for my birthday in November. She bought it in Inuvik on her Arctic trip. I found out later that it’s worth nearly $100! Yikes. That’s twice as much as my bison shawl cost (not counting the spinning part). Guess I had better take extremely good care of it, huh? I still had a few yards left so could probably have knit another 2 rows. But I didn’t want to run out on the bind-off. I blocked the finished cowl without pins.

There surprisingly wasn’t a whole lot of difference in the knitting between the two needle sizes. I probably could have gone up to a 4mm for the large one. The finished cowl is only slightly trapezoid. It’s certainly yummy and soft though. I still hope to get some wear out of it this season.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Stop Thief!

Some jerk has been stealing from us. And over a period of a few weeks too. Not money; not household items; not anything you would expect. The *%&^#$ have been stealing branches from our curly willow!


We might not have even noticed if they’d just taken a few small twigs but no, they took some pretty big chunks out of the poor tree. We could even see the white scars from the house! And not neatly done either. Grrrrr… now we have to prune more than we would prefer to even it out and tidy things up. Yes, I know these things are pricey at the florist but really! This tree is on our property even though it’s right at a very public corner. Man, I wish I could catch the so-and-so. I doubt the cops would come but I would at least be able to give them a piece of my mind! That tree was planted over 10 years ago with a branch from our son’s wedding arrangement. It’s special. Go grow your own, darn it. Oh, yeah. I guess you can now, huh?

Moving onto happier things. Last week I got to spend a couple of (exhausting!) days with my littlest grandbeastie, Rosebud, while her parents attended a conference. We had so much fun!

Unfortunately it was raining so we couldn’t go to the park. We had to find amusements at home. Keeping up with a one-year-old is impossible! Even if she’s not quite walking yet, she can sure get around and into everything. Toss the CD’s, DVD’s and books on the floor? Check. Pull the tablecloth off? Check. Spread toys from one end of the house to the other? Check. Now I know why I had my kids when I was in my early 20’s. I was young enough then to try to keep up.

Rosebud was really good though and had nice long naps in her playpen in my study so I could have a bit of a break. She didn’t even cry when she woke up. I just heard her singing to herself! This kid has sound effects for everything, even crawling. (“Ee-oo, ee-oo, ee-oo.”) So cute. She’s just learning to talk so we worked on “up/down” and “open/shut” along with watching the birds at the feeder. She confused me with “hi, jee-jee” until I realised it meant “hi, cheep-cheep”. The only difficulty we had was when I tried to cut her bangs for the first time so she could see. (Yes, I got permission from mommy and daddy!) I got one chop in and that was that. So they’re just a little crooked. Somebody will have to get her while she’s asleep to finish the job! The first photo shows how long her bangs used to be. At least now they aren’t in her eyes and bugging her.

Of course it took me two days to recuperate afterwards! Plus several shoulder and neck massages. If you babysit all the time you build up to it, but I only get to do this once in awhile. I’m pretty strong for an old(-er) lady but a toddler is heavy. Just try schlepping a 25-lb sack of flour around for 2 days and you’ll have some idea. Toddlers are a lot cuter though.

So what else have I been up to? I finished the Embers Cowl and it’s washed and blocking. I tried to use every scrap of the qiviut yarn but I still have a tiny ball left. That stuff goes much farther than you’d expect! But then it had better do since it costs the earth. It’s quite lovely and I’ll show it off as soon as it dries and I can get some photos.

I’ve been plugging away on the Ten Stitch Scraps Blanket. It was an easy thing to pick up and put down while I was babysitting. I tried winding an super-ball of sock yarn scraps but didn’t get much farther than a couple of lengths before I realised that although I think of this as random, it’s not really. I still like a little control over where things end up and how long the sections are. It does help if I can at least make smaller balls of connected lengths though so I don’t have to constantly stop and join a new one. I’m quite liking the effect but it’s slow going. Good for TV watching but not especially good for reading because there’s constant turning and joining going on. What really surprises me however is that all sock yarns are not the same diameter or texture. Somehow they just go together fine anyway.

No sewing has ensued but hopefully I’ll get to some of that later today. I need to play with patterns for a bit before cutting out my next project. More anon.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Seems Like Spring Already

Thought I’d jump in here with a post because I have to babysit Rosebud for the next couple of days while Milord and Milady Daughter attend to some business. She will get some quality grampa-time too. At least she will be going home to sleep in her own bed at night! Rosebud is growing up so fast. She’s pulling herself up on everything and standing for a few seconds without support. Walking (and then running) won’t be long now. She’s just over 14 months now and obviously the old club foot thing didn’t hold her back much at all. Yay.

Anyway I have two Finished Objects:

New Year Socks

DIL socks

For:  daughter-in-law

Begun:  December 27, 2011
Completed:  February 3, 2012

Yarn:  Regia Design Line Kaffe Fassett, colourway 4055.

Needles:  Blackthorn carbon fibre dpns, 2mm.

Pattern:  My Basic Socks on 72 sts, top-down, 2/2 rib, flap heel, standard toe.

Comments:  These took over a month to finish for some reason. I used the balls of yarn left over from Rosebud’s Sucky Mitts but had to break into more balls to finish these. I think I could have gotten a pair for me out of the leftovers but the White Lady has lovely big feet!

And in the sewing department:

Snuggle Robe


For:  me

Completion:  February 3, 2012

Fabric:  Polyester terry fleece, charcoal, 2 metres of 60” wide. Cotton/lycra heavy ribbing, .5 metre of 44” wide.

McCalls4027Notions:  sewing thread, black.

Pattern:   McCall’s 4027, View A, from 1988.

Comments:  The body pieces still had the crease in them from being shortened 2” but there was no sign of the sleeves being shortened as well. So I didn’t change anything else and of course they’re a little long. At least the cuffs are tight enough that they hold them back!

I only used the sewing machine to complete this garment and didn’t bother with the serger at all. I opened the seams flat and topstitched them down on either side to keep them in place. The pockets and the hem were also double-topstitched. A little wonky on this thick fabric but they look serviceable anyway. The collar is a bit stiff because it’s a rather heavyweight ribbing. Perhaps I should have used self-fabric instead and had more of a cowl neck. Oh well. Maybe it will soften up with washing. It’s merely a minor quibble anyhow.

I’m very happy with this iteration of my favourite snuggly! It’s heavier than the old one and very toasty and soft. I’ll keep the pattern on file in case I need it again in another 20 or so years.

Speaking of pattern files, these Rubbermaid ones were on sale for two-for-the-price-of-one:


They fit exactly in the space under the south skylight in my studio. The patterns used to be in the bottom drawer there in the bureau on the left but once I started putting them in 9x12 envelopes they no longer fit standing up on edge. It was impossible to find the one I was looking for as the stacks slipped and slithered around! Now I’ve filled the empty drawer with fabric – as is one of the bins until I have enough patterns to fill it. I need to sort the patterns a little better still though and maybe add some dividers so I can find things easier.

That was wasted space under there anyway since the ceiling slopes down to only a few feet high. I can’t stand up under there but it makes great storage space and gives me a lot more light. Back when the kids were small each one had a bed under a skylight (Ninja to the north and Milady to the south) so they could see the stars. These little niches were built specially for them by their dad who took out part of the attic spaces, drywalled, put in the skylights and built bed frames on wheels so they were easy to pull out to change bedclothes and clean underneath. He even built a little niche in each space with an electric outlet for a light and a place to put books and other treasures. They had a divider down the centre of the room so each had their own space. This worked fine until Milady hit thirteen and wanted her own door to slam! Then T-Man and I had our double bed tucked under the north skylight and shared the room with my studio, loom and all, while Milady had what is now our bedroom on the main floor.

So what else is new? I forgot to photograph the Barbie Sweater that I made for Super-Princess and her doll collection. It was a royal PITA to get on her too since Barbie insisted on catching her fingers (and her tiara) in the wool but once we’d wrestled it on, it looked pretty good. I doubt SP will be able to do it herself though unfortunately. Maybe a different Barbie will be more cooperative? She has a whole town’s worth of them to choose from. Next I made a skirt:


Cute, huh? And there was a further request for a coat which should be easier to get on and off Barbie’s stiff and non-cooperative body. I’ll put snaps on it.

Whilst I was digging around in the leftover sock yarn bin hunting for Barbie-clothes options, I decided that I was never going to crochet the afghan squares that I started several years ago. I always lose momentum on crochet for some reason. I guess because I can’t read or watch TV at the same time and need much more concentration to work it. It’s also harder on my hands. So then I saw the Ten Stitch Blanket, a free pattern on Ravelry by Frankie Brown and immediately cast on. Just to see what it was like, you know. Uh-huh. I’m now kind of hooked (without a crochet hook! Hah!) and am continuing with that instead. So far it’s looking good:

Scraps Blanket_prog

I’m not really sure I’m doing the mitres correctly, but they look ok. I’m even using some rosewood dpns that T-Man made me many years ago and they’re perfect for this job.

Alrighty then. I’ve got to go do some work around here. T-Man will be home soon, the sun is shining and I need to do dishes and vacuum. I’ll leave you with this photo from Sunday:


This beauty was high in a tree across the street. First clue was the seagulls crying and diving around. Eagle just looked at them and they didn’t come closer. The crows were unusually quiet in contrast. Note the brave one in the tree below Ms. Magnificent. Perhaps he thinks she can’t see him there?

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Did The Groundhog See His Shadow?

Happy Imbolc, Candlemas, Groundhog Day or whatever you celebrate on this cross-quarter day of the Wheel of the Year! We don’t actually have groundhogs around here but I did smell skunk last night. Wonder if that counts? It’s nice today but not as brightly sunny as it was yesterday. Yesterday was so gorgeously brilliant and relatively warm. We put on our sunglasses and walked up to my LYS where I picked up the free replacement 5mm tips for my broken Addi Lace Cliks. I love a company that stands by their (expensive) product and a big shout out to Francesca at Three Bags Full for facilitating! Now we’re back in business again. And I got to keep the unbroken tip so I have a spare.

Next we have a Finished Object. Yay!

Sweat Skirt

SweatSkirt For: me

Completed: January 2012

Fabric: Remnant of cotton sweatshirt fabric left from last year’s Green Tunic, 60” wide by 24” long, olive green.

Notions: 1” waistband elastic; sewing and serger thread, green.

clip_image002Pattern: Self-drafted straight skirt with partial elastic waist. Patch pockets pattern from Lekala 5089 which was my inspiration for this skirt. I left off the back seam and used elastic instead of a waist tie.

Comments: I’m very happy that I was able to get this skirt out of such a small piece of fabric. Now it’s all used up! The pockets gap a little even though I used stay-tape on the opening edge. Likely this is due to the gathers from the elastic that ends at the inner pocket edges but I don’t think it’s really a problem. I always wear my tops outside which covers a lot of sins. The skirt fits well and is very comfortable and casual. I hope it gets lots of rotation in my wardrobe. You can’t tell on Debbie Double but it hits a little above my knee.

Then backing up a little, on Tuesday I went to Dressew. Danger, Will Robinson! I wanted to see what they had for bra-making supplies. Well, good and not-so-good. They have pretty much everything you need – except that nothing matches:


Channelling in only one colour (magenta!), the right elastics in many colours but not a single set of matching ones, bra hooks (black or white), rings and sliders (black, white, clear plastic), and even underwires (which I hope to avoid using). I even lucked into a quite large remnant of white powernet, enough to make many bras. I was really happy to find out that yes, it will take acid dyes as will the white hooks because they are nylon and lycra:


Works too well actually! I meant to get a much lighter violet but I think I went a bit overboard on the amount of dye and got brilliant blue. Also, notice that I take the dye well too:


Hole-in-the-glove syndrome. Ooops. Even after doing the dishes, a shower, hand washing etc. the nail is still blue. Next I need to test dyeing the elastics. If they also dye well then I can get ugly colours and make them coordinate better in the dyebath. Now I just have to make my first Franken-bra! I’m not cutting into the good stuff yet.

Of course I couldn’t just waltz in and out of Dressew without tripping over more fabrics. Besides the powernet, I found these:


At the bottom-left is 2 metres of Italian viscose/nylon in black with a shiny silver-sprinkled face and above it a length of nice woven crepe in a dark brown unknown fibre (probably poly). These were also remnants and very cheap. On the top-left is some fabulous copper/black crinkle that was totally an impulse purchase. It goes with the crepe nicely. I see this lot as a slip in the black, a brown bubble skirt lined in the remaining black and a buttoned crinkle shirt. The other pile on the right is .5 metre of red quilting fabric to make bias binding for an apron, red cotton double-knit destined for a t-shirt and charcoal terry-lined sweatshirt fabric for a new dressing gown.

The latter one was the only fabric I actually had planned to buy. You see, I saved this pattern from 1988:


Yes, that is a size Small. Originally I made this version of the long cuddly cowl-neck sweatshirt (like the one in yellow on the pattern envelope):


Yup. I made it wayyyy back when the pattern was new. Amazingly it still fits. Not So Small! Hmmm…why do you think I might want to finally replace it? I mean, it’s totally pilled and threadbare and sports many claw pulls from dear cats who are no longer with us. It’s been a mere 24 years as my only dressing gown. Yikes! About time for a new one, yes?

Anyway, I decided that the fuzzy side of the new fabric should go on the outside. I think it’s much cosier when my hands can feel it and the smooth side is actually softer in contact with my body. I also unearthed some black cotton/lycra ribbing from the stash for the collar and cuffs. It’s all cut out already and I’ve started sewing it together. The old garment is heading for the trash, poor thing. It’s had its day.

I’m so enjoying all this wardrobe replacing and refashioning. Makes me super-happy to have nice things to wear. Even if I can’t stop buying more fabric. Please remind me that I have enough to last me for at least the coming year of sewing? I’m going to try not to buy any more and to work from the stash. The only legal sewing purchases will be notions (zippers, thread, bra hooks, elastic) for the rest of 2012. And that’s only if I don’t have what I need already lurking about. I promise. I hope. Urp!