Being the continuing story of my creations and curiosities.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Lessons Learned In 2012

So while everyone and their auntie are posting end-of-year reviews and a bunch of new year’s resolutions, I thought I’d jump in too. It’s been an adjustment year in some ways and yet it totally feels like it went by much too fast. I guess time really does fly when you’re having fun! I didn’t get nearly as much done as I planned – but that happens every year. We did get the bathroom refurbishing done so that’s a big one off the list. And a lot of gardening, though that’s kind of an ongoing-neverending thing. Like housework. You really can’t see much difference when you’ve done it, only when you haven’t.

I’ve already posted my year’s makes so I can skip that list. In sewing I learned a lot more about pattern drafting and fitting this year. I now have confidence that I can create things that I see without having to hunt for a pattern that matches that view. Of course it takes extra time, but not that much more than adjusting a commercial pattern to fit me which I have to do anyway. It’s also free! I’m in the midst of developing a bunch of basic blocks that I can use as a base without having to redraft everything from scratch every time. That advantage is really starting to pay off by speeding things up and increasing the likelihood of sewing success.

In knitting, I’ve also started freely adjusting others’ patterns and even branching out to design my own. It’s the same desire as in sewing – I want something that fits and that reflects my own taste and not anyone else’s. Yeah, my taste can be a little odd. So? That’s the beauty of everyone making their own. I give everyone my explicit permission to go make stuff that I hate! Or not. As you please. You don’t have to consult me at all. I’m not the Fashion Police.

Anyhoo. With T-Man retiring this year, it’s been fascinating to watch our lives readjust. In 8 months we’ve shifted from going to bed at 9pm and getting up before 6am to a 10 or 10:30pm bedtime and waking up around 8am, especially this fall/winter when it only just starts to get light then. I think we’re hibernating. We’ve been alternating who gets up first to make coffee and tea and who gets up later to make breakfast which is served in bed. Lazy, I know! It’s lovely. Kind of what we always do when on a camping trip in the van only with more elbow room, plus electricity and hot water.

T has also taken over some of the housework (vacuuming, some dishes, a lot more cooking) and is slowly starting to get dug into cleaning up some of the accumulation of the last 34 years that’s stored around the house, especially the basement. Important ground-rule: he doesn’t chuck my stuff without consultation and I don’t mess with his! It’s a very slow job. This stuff took a long time to collect so it’s bound to take awhile to sort through. Interesting though how one’s needs and wants change over the years, isn’t it? I suppose if you haven’t even looked at something in the last 10 or 20 years, chances are you don’t need it at all. Just a thought. But I’m not one to start pointing fingers. Pot, meet Kettle…

We’ve also been walking more than ever before – at least until the rains hit with a vengeance. We’re still trying to get out every chance we get but I don’t like getting soaked if I can help it. Our two vehicles have hardly moved for months at a time. The weather might be frightful but at least we don’t have to worry about the garden for the next few months. I’m looking forward to getting back in the studio for some serious inventory work right after the New Year’s visiting is over. I’m hoping this stupid cold bug will be evicted by then and I’ll be back to my normal energy level. I feel the need to sort through some stuff up there and update my inventories. Then I’ll plan out the next several projects in a less haphazard manner than I’ve been doing recently. It’ll be fun! My one-and-only Real Job was in inventory control in a craft co-op. I love inventory lists.

Sorry if you were waiting for it, but I’ve decided that I’m not going to do a Word for this coming year. It was amusing for the last few years but I’m not sure I paid it that much attention after stating it. I have no ideas for it anyway. I guess that takes care of any concrete plans for 2013. It will just happen as it always does. Moving right along.

If I don’t get a chance to post tomorrow (that pesky fambly again!) here’s wishing everyone a Very Happy Healthy and Peaceful New Year!! Germy kisses to you all! As grandbeastie Rosebud would say, “Mmmmwah!” Aren’t you glad they’re virtual?

Friday, December 28, 2012

All I Got For Christmas Was…

…this stinkin’ cold! I usually do pretty well at avoiding germs but then I’m kind of a hermit. OK, having T-Man around means I’m not really a hermit but he doesn’t count as Other People. However, several days of family gatherings later and I came down with a sore throat and post nasal drip just as the festivities were winding down. As these things go it’s not very debilitating, just a little uncomfortable. And annoying. I was priding myself on my good luck so far this winter. Bleh.

I also didn’t do a very good job at avoiding wheat (like, you knew that, right?) but I didn’t have any major repercussions beyond a bit of itchiness. I did manage to only drink a mouthful or two of wine. Just a taste. Totally worth it too! It was very fun comparing three turkey dinners in a row. All were yummy, of course! Especially since I didn’t have to cook any of them. Too bad because now we don’t have any leftovers.

I forgot to show you the Christmas stocking that I made the Littlest Grandbeastie:

Stocking

I tried to blur out the letters of her name to maintain her privacy. The materials were all from the stash and I think that the red felt that I made the stocking from is as old as Rosebud’s mom! The buttons (except for the teddy bear) are older still and from T-Man’s granny’s button jar. I hand-stitched the edges in blanket stitch with perle cotton similar to the heart decorations that I made earlier. It turned out OK and was well-received. About time this girl had a stocking! This was her third Christmas and the poor baby came down with a stomach bug to celebrate. I’m not sure who it was harder on, toddler or mom! They unfortunately missed the big Christmas shindig but luckily we had already had our Solstice celebration together. Hopefully they (and I) will all be well for yet another gathering on New Year’s Day.

Anyway. Moving right along. I finished two more small knitting projects.

Fitted Mitts Too

FittedMittsToo

For: gift (or me if I can’t find them a home!)

Begun: December 19, 2012
Completed: December 25, 2012

Yarn: Crystal Palace Yarns Panda Cotton Print, colourway 7185 Sable, dyelot D, 50g = 166m. Used the 40g remaining from the first pair. S.R. Kertzer On Your Toes Bamboo, KOB.0300 Black, 100g = 328yds. Used about 30 yds to finish the mitts.

Pattern: Fitted Mitts by Nina Hyland, free Ravelry download.

Mods: Knit the cuffs to 4” in an unsuccessful attempt to not run out of yarn. Picked up one extra stitch at crotch of thumb and decreased it away on next round. Knit the thumb longer: 7 rounds total before bind-off.

Comments: I made these just to use up the last of the yarn. Unfortunately even with the shorter cuffs I ran out before I was quite finished. The black bamboo yarn was the only similar thing in the stash that would coordinate. Now I have to find a recipient for these things!

And yet another item:

Herbaceous Hat

HerbaceousHat_det

For: me

Begun: December 19, 2012
Completed: December 26, 2012

Yarn: Newton's Yarn Country Happy Feet, colourway green multi, 1800 per lb. Used .12 skein. Got this yarn at ANWG conference in Spokane, WA.

Pattern: Purl Beret by Purl Soho, free download from Purl Bee.

Mods: None.

Comments: Still attempting to use up this yarn. (One more project to go!) I love this tam. It’s just the right size (10” across) and wearable in several ways. This pattern is easy to knit and might just become a regular in the repertoire.

It’s always nice to finish successful projects! A few that weren’t so successful got frogged:

ReclaimedYarn

From bottom left those were the Black Bamboo Cowl, the Red Hedgerow Mitts, and the Many Mosques Shawl. I already have plans for these reclaimed yarns. But first I started a pair of socks for my nephew, who is the last of the immediate family to ask for them. He also has the biggest feet! It’s going to take more than two 50g balls of Regia Design Line Kaffe Fassett sock yarn to finish these beasts.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Peace & Joy

ChristmasCactus

My ancient Christmas cactus is blooming profusely on granny’s sewing machine cabinet. Most of my African violets are blooming as well. They’re providing most of the holiday decorating around here. Lazy, I know. But they’re pretty! And not plastic.

Now we’re into the middle of the family festivities and the Holidays are in full swing. A lovely time was had by the immediate fambly at Milady Daughter’s Solstice party yesterday. Gifts were opened by the Beasties, turkey dinner (absolutely delish!) was consumed and delightful conversation happened among squeals and remote-control toys. More quiet visiting at bro-in-law’s happens this evening and then the Big Chaos at Ninja Son’s tomorrow. At least 20 family members have been invited. I’m bringing the butter tarts. More turkey ensues. Yum!

Here’s wishing every one of my precious friends and readers all the health and happiness, peace and joy of the season and throughout the coming year. Go ye all and make stuff! Even if all you make is someone smile.

And if you can, just find a cure for cancer will ya? I lost an old friend yesterday and another dear sweetie is very ill. It’s just not fair! <damselfly stamps her feet> There’s a cloud on my Christmas. Sigh. Nothing is ever perfect, is it? Sorry about that digression. Back to your regularly scheduled Holiday Happiness.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Hello?

Yup, we’re still here. So much for ancient predictions, huh? What I think is hilarious are all the people who actually take these things seriously! I mean really. A calendar date is just a human construct. It’s really just another day. On the other hand, in the Real World we’ve just passed the solstice and we’re on our way towards more light. Yeah I know. Only a few seconds a day at first. But it’s a positive move and I’ll take it! There’s enough doom and gloom to go with the false sparkle of this time of year. I even saw the sun for a few minutes yesterday. It was lovely! However we didn’t go to the lantern parade last evening. The walking around here is still awfully slushy and cold. Maybe next year.

I finished some knitting:

Leafy Nikolai Scarf

LeafyNikolaiScarf

Begun: November 10, 2012

Completed: December 19, 2012

Yarn: Newton's Yarn Country Happy Feet, green multi, 100% superwash wool, 1800 ypp, leftovers from several projects, used approximately 325 yds.

Pattern: Nikolai by Marysia Nodzykowska, reversible scarflet, free pattern on Ravelry.

Comments: This was a replacement scarf for the Many Mosques Shawl which never worked out properly because it curled unacceptably. I liked this one a lot! It was easy to memorize and easy to knit. Even though I prefer stockinette the results are quite attractive and reversible which makes it easy to wear. Success! Now I have to get up the nerve to frog the MM shawl. Phooey.

The craziness begins! We’ll be running around to various family members’ houses in the next few days. I have a few foodstuffs to contribute so I’d better make sure I have the wherewithal to make them. Probably everyone and their great aunt will be at the shops today so I hope I don’t need much. We’re heading first to the Winter Farmer’s Market on a hunt for more red kuri squashes. T-Man and I cooked our last one yesterday for dinner. Soooo yum!

Ooh. Did I mention we went to see the Hobbit movie? Fantastic. I didn’t think the beginning was at all too slow as others have complained. I loved the detail. On the other hand, I thought the more exciting bits were too much like a video game and took me out of the reality. I kept thinking “But they’d never survive a fall like that without at least a few broken bones”! I’m such a mom. I guess if they make it more realistic everyone would complain that it was boring, right? Sheesh. In the end, I was a little disappointed that I have to wait another year for the next part of the story but at the same time I’m glad there’s more to look forward to.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Tunical Roster

Heather asked which patterns I used to sew the tunics that I’ve been enjoying wearing. Unfortunately I can’t just give pattern numbers because a lot of these are self-drafted from my basic slopers. But I can show you what they look like.

SleevelessTunic

This one is from November last year. Fabric is a polyester slinky knit.

TulipTunic3

This one is from April in a heavy cotton/lycra knit. It gets the most compliments.

ChocolateSlinkyRefashion

This one in acetate slinky is a refashion but is based on the black and white slinky tunic.

Pocket Tunic

This one is also based on the black and white one in a soft novelty knit (not sure of the fibre content). I added pockets.

GreenDress

This one from April last year in sweat shirt fleece was supposed to be a dress but it’s too short so I wear it as a tunic. This one has a pattern (Butterick 5244) but the pockets are my own design and I left off the collar.

Tie-Dye Tunic4

I found another one from July 2011 with a pattern (Butterick 5362, OOP), though I did some serious reshaping of the shoulders and neck. I like it even better now that I added pockets. It’s a me-dyed cotton jersey.

ShiftTunic

And lastly my most recent one, #21 from I Am Cute Dresses in stretch cotton twill.

I’m trying to analyse what I like about these tunic/jumpers. They are somewhat close-fitting in the bodice but the skirts have lots of room for comfortable movement. All but the last blue one are knits though the blue one has some lycra content for stretch. All but the red one will fit over and/or under other top layers which is great for colder months. I can wear any of them with lots of different pants or skirts. I like to hope they actually look better on me in real life than they appear in the photos! But maybe not. Heh.

This week I finished another remake. This one began with a tunic from the 1980’s that I kept through a number of purges because I so loved the corduroy fabric. Unfortunately I didn’t take a before-photo (bad damselfly!) so you’ll have to image that it had loose kimono (cut-on) elbow-length sleeves, a square neck and was too tight in the bust. It also had some bleach spatters, one prominently on the front. I discovered it while looking for something else (as usual!) and had a flash inspiration that I wanted to make it into a skirt:

CorduroySkirt

I chopped it off, repaired the hem where it was coming loose, added pannier pockets cut from the back bodice and sewed an elastic casing. The only hard part was threading the elastic. It wouldn’t slide on the fabric and I was afraid I was going to wear holes in the fabric before I could work it through and get the fullness evened out with my fingers. I obviously made the casing slightly too narrow! Persistence paid off though and I’m wearing it right now as I type. Very soft and comfy and comes just at the top of my knee. I’m crossing my fingers it doesn’t implode in the laundry because the fabric is so old. You can kinda tell I’ve liked rusty red for a very long time, can’t you?

In other crafty news, I finished my Leafy Nicolai Scarf and it’s all blocked but still drying. Takes awhile this time of year! I also started two new projects: a hat (Purl Beret from Purl Bee) in the same green variegated yarn as the Nicolai which should hopefully use it all up and a second pair of Fitted Mitts from the rest of the Panda Cotton skeins. I’m making the cuffs shorter so hopefully there will be enough yarn to finish these which will maybe become another gift. I think I’ve given up on the Red Hedgerow Mitts because they are not going well. I don’t like the way the increases look and the two mitts are too different because of uneven dye job. It’s not mine either! I’ll probably frog them when I figure out what else to make with this yarn. Another hat?

We had a Snow Day yesterday. T-Man had promised to take his mom out to visit her sister in Abbotsford but it didn’t happen. Just as well since the big dump of snow followed by freezing and not-so-freezing rain made the roads into total gong show. Nobody in this city knows how to drive in the snow. Of course it doesn’t help when big chunks of ice fall off the new Port Mann bridge onto the cars below and trucks get stuck trying to go up hills so nobody can get past them. We would have been driving across that bridge if we had been stupid enough to go. And then we would have been blocked from coming back that way after they closed the bridge. So we stayed home, did laundry, read and drank tea in comfort. Crisis averted. Auntie still needs a visit though.

Today I went to my guild’s Christmas Party. We were a few people short unfortunately because the roads were still pretty bad in some places. Those who managed to make it had a great time! We ate goodies, shared little gifts, had show-and-tell and even sang a carol. Very festive. My blue and rust heart decoration went to a new home with my buddy Bonnie and in return I got a cute little needle book with a handwoven cover (more hearts!) from Barbara. Sorry haven’t had time or light enough to take a photo.

Hope everyone has a Happy Solstice – Winter or Summer depending on which hemisphere you’re on! Here it’ll be at 3:12am PST tonight. Guess that’s actually tomorrow morning, isn’t it? I’m looking forward to a little more daylight even though it’s a rather imperceptible shift. Just knowing we’re heading out of the dark is good enough for me. If the weather is half-decent (aka not dumping rain, cold is acceptable) we may be going to the Lantern Parade tomorrow evening which is always fun. Fire dancers, Morris Men, mummers, music and merriment.

WELCOME BACK, SUN!

Monday, December 17, 2012

So Here We Are

Yep, we’re screeching to the end of the year 2012. Was it a good year for you? It was for me. I would use the word “interesting” but one of my dear friends uses that when she really means she can’t think of anything nice to say about something! That’s not what I mean at all. There were changes and adjustments after my beloved T-Man retired. Not difficult or negative in any way – just different. I do so like my tea or breakfast in bed (we alternate duties each day) and now he does the majority of the vacuuming, some of the cleaning (especially the deep stuff that’s been ignored for years) and cooks more than he ever has before. We get out for more frequent long walks. It’s all good.

Anyhow, his presence around the house hasn’t slowed me down any on the crafty front. I dragged out my craft binder for 2012 to see what I’ve made this year. It’s quite fat!

Knitting:

  • socks – 5 pairs
  • mitts/gloves – 2 pairs (last one nearly finished)
  • scarves/shawls/cowls – 5 (last scarf nearly finished)
  • sweaters – 3
  • afghans - 2
  • necklace - 1
  • toddler dress –1
  • Barbie clothes - 3

Crochet:

  • tawashi (scrubbies) - 3

Sewing:

  • dresses/jumpers - 2
  • tops/tunics - 13
  • skirts – 4 (including one I haven’t blogged about yet)
  • pants/tights - 2
  • vests/jackets - 3
  • undies/bras – 6
  • robe - 1
  • sewing aids (pincushion, ham etc.) – 4
  • necklace – 1
  • Christmas decorations/stocking - 4

Dyeing/Discharge:

  • scarves – 5
  • blouse - 1

Weaving:

  • curtains – 1 pair

Hope I haven’t missed anything. The tops and tunics are obviously the most popular makes. Although I would say 3 of them may be considered muslins and might not get worn much for reals. On the other hand, there are several styles I’d like to revisit because they are constantly in rotation. These are the longer tunics with funky hems or other details that take them out of the ordinary. Need more.

I seem to have slowed down on the socks especially for other members of the family. Not that they don’t appreciate them but I’ve just not felt the call. I did just finish a pair of fingerless mitts for an anonymous family member who hinted broadly for something like this. I finally managed to grab some rather dim photos of them.

Fitted Mitts

FittedMiitts

Begun: December 1, 2012
Completed: December 13, 2012

Yarn: Crystal Palace Yarns Panda Cotton Print, 59% bamboo, 25% unmercerized cotton, 16% elastic nylon, colourway 7185 Sable, dyelot D, 50g = 166m. Used just over 1 ball. 40g remaining. Purchased at 88 Stitches, Langley.

Pattern: Fitted Mitts by Nina Hyland, free Ravelry download.

Mods: Picked up one extra stitch at crotch of thumb and decreased it away on next round to avoid a hole. Knit the thumb longer: 7 rounds total before bind-off.

Comments: This yarn is slinky and soft and would be great for those who are allergic to wool. It’s somewhat splitty to knit with but has pretty good stretch and recovery. Don’t know how it would wear in socks but will find out since I have another 2 balls in a different colourway. The yardage is less than regular sock yarn though so must take that into account.

These are lovely mitts! I almost don’t want to give them away. I want to make it clear that these are Not-A-Christmas-Present but a Just-Because-Present. Those are my favourites!

Onward, my friends, into the Holidays and the New Year! I’m so looking forward to Solstice and the return of the sun.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Damselfly’s Protein Pancakes

I got a request for my pancake recipe. (Thanks, Lauren!) I don’t think I ever make it the same way twice in a row but I’ve tried to include at least some of the variations.

Damselfly’s Protein Pancake Mix 
   (gluten-free, low-carb, but definitely not dairy-free)

SquashPancakes

ETA: I know I’m not much of a food photographer, but these ones were yummy: mashed kuri squash (otherwise known as scarlet kabocha) and yoghurt with a dollop of herbed fromage fraiche. Yes, they were that lovely orange colour!

The dry ingredients are mixed in bulk and stored until needed. I usually more than double these amounts!

1-1/3 c ground almonds
2/3 c isolated soy protein powder (not soy flour)
2/3 c whey protein powder
2/3 c ground flax seeds
2/3 c buckwheat
2 tbsp baking powder
2 tsp salt

Mix dry ingredients well and store airtight in refrigerator or (for more long-term storage) in freezer.

Note: If you don’t want to use the soy protein (or can’t find it – it can be elusive!) just substitute something else such as sweet sorghum flour. Alternative/other ingredients I’ve tried include ground chia seeds, teff, quinoa flour, coconut flour and ground hazelnuts. This mix is really forgiving as long as the total amount equals 4 cups or you’ll have to adjust the baking powder and salt ratios.

To make pancakes, mix per person (2 medium pancakes – they’re filling!):

½ c cottage cheese (my favourite!), ricotta, yoghurt, buttermilk, mashed squash and/or yams
1 large egg
¼ c dry pancake mix (yes, only one-quarter cup – not a typo!)

Optional additions: blueberries (thawed if frozen) or sweetened dried cranberries, cinnamon or nutmeg

Batter will be very thick and needs to be spread on hot greased griddle/frypan with a spatula or spoon. If really too thick add a little milk. [ETA: Alternatively, with just yoghurt or buttermilk, you might need to add more dry mix to get the right consistency.] Grease pan with butter, olive oil or coconut oil and don’t use too high heat or pancakes will burn. Cook, turning once, until nicely browned and cooked through. Serve with topping of your choice. Some of my favourites include cream cheese, yoghurt with fruit (half plain and half lemon with pears is nice!), herbed fromage frais (perfect with yam pancakes), applesauce or if you really must, real maple syrup or honey.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

There’s Snow In Them Thar Rains

Yep. Winter is not just coming – it’s here! I know there’s nearly a week until Winter Solstice but I’m calling it chilly enough around here to qualify. I know we don’t get the heavy winter weather like most of the rest of Canada (and a goodly amount of the US) but this is dark, damp, dreary and cold enough for me. My dad, who was from Kamloops which is a city that really does winter up proud, used to say that Vancouver’s rain made you feel even colder than a crisp snowfall but at least you don’t have to shovel it! Handily, today this sprinkle of white stuff is being quickly melted as it shifts back and forth from snow to rain.

So. What has Damselfly been up to? I finished sewing a garment:

Shift Into Tunic

ShiftTunic

Completed:  December 12, 2012

Fabric:  blue cotton/lycra stretch lightweight denim stripe, less than 2 yards and only about 52” wide. Free from Raj’s moving stash reduction.

ShiftIntoTunic Pattern:  #21 I Am Shift Into Tunic from I Am Cute Dresses.

Mods:  This pattern is self-drafted using your bust measurement (including ease) and simple measurements. I added an FBA below the yoke which ended up gathered over the bust, widened the hem a little and fudged the shoulders because I was somewhat unclear on how they should actually be shaped. I also added inseam pockets because I love pockets in everything.

Comments:  This pattern was the first thing I fell in love with in this Japanese sewing book. I drafted this thing twice, the second time going back to the diagrams and starting over. I actually made a muslin of the yoke section and tried it on both Debbie Double and then me which was very helpful. I had just enough fabric to cut this out – turning the yoke pieces to the lengthwise grain was a necessity as well as a design decision! I also had to work around several fabric flaws.

I sewed it pretty much as the directions showed but didn’t line the skirt. I did add strips of non-fusible non-woven interfacing to the armhole edges before turning them under to stop them from stretching out. Worked well and didn’t add too much bulk to the twice-turned hems. The neckline was on the non-stretchy grain so I didn’t think it was necessary to repeat this on those edges. I used three buttons that have been in my stash forever waiting for the right project:

ShiftTunic_yoke

It’s a little hard to see (thanks to dim winter light) but there’s a red, yellow and blue button in the set. The little pop of colour is cute! The interfaced button placket is a little stiffer than the kimono silk used in the book’s example but the drape shows up much better.

This fabric is really ravelly and I wanted a nicer hem finish than just serging it so I used strips of bias from the remains of the poly lining from the Not-Quite-Helena Skirt. Unfortunately I cut the strips somewhat too narrow so I had to top-stitch rather than stitch-in-the-ditch to secure it. Oh well. It doesn’t look too bad but might have been better if I’d used red thread rather than neutral grey:

ShiftTunic_hem

If I was a Good Seamstress I would have used this finish on all the seams but since this was kind of an experimental garment (plus I don’t really care that much about the inside looks), I didn’t. Serging is plenty good enough and probably more durable in the long run.

This tunic/jumper is quite lightweight and will be wearable in pretty much any season. Note that in the photo I’m wearing it with a heavy turtleneck and pants because my house is cold. (What you can’t see are the undershirt and long-johns!) All in all, I think this was a pretty successful project considering I wasn’t at all sure about adapting a Japanese pattern to my body shape. The whole thing cost only my effort – and the book, which has now justified its existence on my bookshelf. 

So what’s next? I’m currently hand-stitching on Littlest Grandbeastie Rosebud’s Christmas Stocking. I’m not sure whether this project is terribly cute or complete cat yak. The jury is still out and since I’m not a huge Christmas fan, I’m not the one to ask. At least she will finally have a stocking for the big day! Sorry I won’t be able to show you a photo because her name is featured prominently and my policy is not to share that on the interwebs. You understand, I know. Maybe I can do a photoshopped…er, Paint Shop Pro’d version. (Just plugging my long-time photo-editor-of-choice!)

Once that’s done, I can root through the pattern and fabric stashes and plan the sewing queue. I’d also like to knit another sweater for me, maybe from some of my reclaimed handspinning. Or maybe spin up some new yarn. And I want to weave fabric for a jacket. Traditionally, I get the most done in the studio in January and February. Have lights, will sew!

Also the Holiday Partying starts in earnest this week and it’s going to be way fun for me to not indulge in the wrong things. I’m currently off wheat (like, who isn’t?) and alcohol (thanks to $$$$Meds) and things are looking somewhat better but it’s going to be reeeallly tough to avoid them when eating out. No stuffing. No gravy. No buns. No little quiches and sausage wraps. No cookies! NO WINE!! Whaaaaa!!!! What’s left? Nuts, chocolate, chips, veggies, dip, turkey (ummm…) It’s not like I’ve been losing any weight or anything. Not gaining either so I can’t complain too much. At least I have my coveted GF pancake, muffin and oatmeal cookie recipes to keep me from really feeling deprived. Hey, let me know does anyone want me to put them on the blog?

One last thing. This one is technical so you can go away now if you aren’t interested in hearing about my Evernote tribulations.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Evernote! Free, versions for every platform, very useful – what’s not to love? However, the latest upgrade (ver 4.6.0) does not play nice with Windows XP, which I am still running on both my computers. (And I’m not upgrading until I’m forced to buy a new computer!) It made the Evernote Clipper in Firefox spit an error message and, although I never use this feature, it greyed out the Evernote button in Outlook. I uninstalled and re-installed the program and the Clipper add-in and the problem still remained. So I went on the boards and read that it wasn’t just me – and the power users were bitching about their Outlook even more than the Clipper issue. Some kind person posted the URL so I could download and re-install the previous ver 4.5.10 and Bob’s Your Uncle. Back in business.

Meanwhile I put a ticket in to Evernote Support and heard back from them in only 2 days. Superior service for a free user, wouldn’t you say? Of course they said to do what I had already done but I wanted them to know that they still need to support XP because, hey! Lots of people (especially businesses) still use it! Support came back that they have reported it as a bug to the programmers so hopefully a fix will ensue. Squeaky wheel, grease and all that. Meanwhile I’m not updating again until I know for sure that it’s going to work ok. Plus I’m hanging on to the install file for the one that really does work just in case. I use this program all the time on everything: Damselfly my big desktop PC, Bluet the Netbook, Ruby the iTouch and directly within Firefox. (Yes, I name my computers. Doesn’t everyone?) It’s great for checklists, inspirations (clothing, my fave!), recipes, notes, receipts, whatever you want to save and then have available anywhere on all platforms. NAYY! I guess it’s kind of like Pinterest in a sense but totally private – unless you want to share. That appeals to me more because I don’t like having to decide if I want the world to know my preferences or if it’s something that’s better kept to myself. I share enough as it is!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Dark Days of December

Now that we’re into the darkest days of the year we’ve been brightening up the house with lots of lights, both inside and out. I especially love the multicoloured ones in the dining room on the wrought-iron railing of the staircase that leads upstairs. I love them so much that they usually stay up all the way to February if I can talk T-Man into leaving them alone.

It’s not that I suffer from the winter blah’s or anything. Actually as long as I can get light on my work so I can see what I’m doing, I enjoy winter. An excuse to stay indoors and play in my studio? Without hearing all the outdoor stuff calling me? What’s not to love? Of course we do get out when the weather cooperates. On Saturday we took a long walk to Granville Island along the seawall. We bought lunch and ate our taco salads on the wharf, carefully protecting it from large marauding seagulls and tap-dancing starlings. We also stopped for tea on the way home at our favourite tea spot, Pekoe. I finally bought a bigger tin of Royal Earl Grey because I got tired of refilling my little one every couple of months. It’s a particularly aromatic blend with both bergamot and jasmine. I don’t drink this one all the time but like a cuppa every now and then and I can’t get it at my usual Murchie’s. Gotta spread the love around, you know. Tea is my beverage of choice. I hate coffee and soft drinks. Bleh. And since I can’t have any wine right now, I’m drinking even more tea than usual.

In crafty news I finished the socks for T-Man:

Winter’s Dark Socks

WintersDarkSocks

Begun:  November 12, 2012
Completed:  December 5, 2012

Yarn:  Schachenmayr nomotta Regia Line Steps Color, colourway 5371 (black with stripes and dots of white), 50g = 210m, 2 balls.

Needles:  Blackthorn carbon fibre dpns, 2mm.

Pattern:  Damselfly’s Plain Socks on 68sts, 9” before heel flap, foot 8.75” before toe.

Comments:  I shouldn’t try to knit black socks this time of year! I dropped stitches a couple of times and didn’t notice for awhile. Ended up frogging back an inch to the gusset pick-up. I also managed to knit one toe too short and had to frog it back, join on new yarn and finish again. Oh well. He likes ’em and that’s all that matters, eh?

What else? Oh yeah. Spectrum Study Group has been making wool felt decorations to exchange. I got a lovely beaded brooch from Cathie of which I unfortunately don’t have a photo for you right now. However, here’s the heart that went to live with Kirsten:

HeartAndBunny

Her adorable angel bunny was also made by me, knit completely out of handspun yarns and won at a guild gift exchange quite a few years ago. I was so glad she went to such an appreciative friend! The mother-of-pearl button on this heart is an antique one from Granny’s Button Box that I inherited from T’s granny. I also made two more hearts:

Hearts

I’m keeping the little yellow and red one and the bigger blue and rust one is for the next swap. These were fun to make. I haven’t done any embroidery in donkey’s years so the first one is a little wobbly but I finally found my skills returning. I’ll need them because I plan to make a stocking for the Littlest Grandbeastie and incorporating some blanket stitches. I like the look a lot. Best get on that one asap.

However, first I want to finish up the project on my table. I’ve been trying to draft this pattern from “I Am Cute Dresses”:

Evernote Snapshot 20121201 120618

You can’t really see from the photo that it’s a little shift with an interesting asymmetrical yoke that is buttoned on the left. The buttons are stitched lower than the buttonholes so the yoke fabric falls in folds. Japanese patterns often don’t fit me well without some serious adjustments since I have a lot more fluff on me than the average Japanese lady! Even though the simple garments in this book don’t have actual patterns but are made by drafting your own following the given measurements and your bust size including ease, they don’t quite work for someone who isn’t quite as angular. I needed more room for my bust so I added some length at the centre front of the skirt piece. I also made the skirt a little wider to accommodate my middle and added inseam pockets. I got confused by the shoulder measurements in the diagram, whether using the cm or inches made no difference. So I winged it and then made a muslin which showed me that the front shoulders still needed to be adjusted for my sloped/rounded/forward shoulders. There still seems to be a little extra fabric at the bottom of the back yoke but I’m hoping the skirt will pull that down somewhat. The muslin results looked somewhat like the photo but with a little less ease and more of my shoulders showing. The armholes aren’t shaped but just a straight line from underarm to shoulder and they fit better when they end closer to my neck anyway.

I’ve cut this pattern out in some freebee lightweight stretch denim stripe fabric that I picked up when my neighbour moved out. There was just enough to work around a few flaws and since it was free I’m counting this as a learning experience. If it works I’ll have a cute casual tunic/jumper (needs a t-shirt underneath to hide bra straps). If it doesn’t, only my time was wasted. And that doesn’t count, does it?

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Another Drive-By Post

I have no photos today because it’s been so dark around here – at least until this morning when it brightened up a little. It’s only temporary I’m sure. However I’m too lazy to drag out the camera so you’ll just have to survive on your imagination.

I’ve been busy in the studio. I repaired the Not-Quite-Helena Skirt hem. So now I can consider it done! I chopped off the offending hem and turned a new one. I cheated on the lining and just took a couple of tucks all the way around above the lace hem which surprisingly worked fine. The length is much better just at the top of my knee rather than below which looks frumpy somehow. I wore it for awhile yesterday after I finished fixing it and although I do like it in some ways, the straight waistband is not especially functional on me. It fits the way I like, not too loose and not too tight. If it’s too loose it falls down and if it’s too tight it rides up to somewhere just under my bust! But because I don’t have an actual waist (at least in the front) it floats around more than my usual elastic waistbands and doesn’t sit quite flat against my decidedly not-flat body. A curved yoke might be better. I’ll have to try that sometime. Or just keep making elastic or partial elastic waists like my favourite Sweat Skirt (a post for which I can’t find. Did I forget to blog it?). It’s not like anyone is going to see the waistband anyway because I never tuck in my shirts.

I also finally got around to putting pockets on my Tie-Dye Tunic. Luckily I still had scraps of the hand-dyed fabric left even after I made a pair of panties out of them. I’ve wanted pockets in this beast for ages and it only took a few minutes to do. I used regular square patch pockets but put them on a jaunty angle. Another item off the list.

Now that I’ve got those few things done that were blocking my further progression, I need to consider what’s next to sew. There are quite a number of possibilities. I discovered that the latest version of Evernote for my iTouch is fabulous for quickly photographing combinations of patterns and fabrics and making notes so I won’t forget what I planned. Because it syncs to the Internet and from there to both my computers, I have the notes everywhere I need them. I love Evernote. It’s even free at the level at which I use it.

In knitting news, I’ve cast on for yet another project bringing the total of WIPs to 4. Yikes! At least they are all relatively small (if not quick) projects. I find myself alternating from one to the other without conscious planning – just whichever one is closest to hand. It may take longer but they will all get done eventually. I will have a couple of hours today of knitting time as we’re driving out to Milady Daughter’s for Rosebud’s second birthday party. Hard to believe the littlest grandbeastie is two already!