Tuesday, November 21, 2017

One Down

And many more to go! As you have probably noticed, I have an infinite knitting and sewing queue. Anyway this time it’s my Seagreen Seamus Tunic:

Well, you wanted to see it on me! I might add that this is the closest colour match I could get - at least on my screen. Such a lovely soft green. Why do natural dyers say that green is hard to get with plant dyes? I haven’t found it so. Even a good deep grass green just needs a light to medium indigo and a strong yellow overdye. Or weld yellow overdyed with woad blue which is how I did it before I read that it’s better the other way around. Regardless, that time I got a really nice green on rayon mordanted in alum acetate. In this case though, I used a medium yellow (dyers chamomile clippings) on alum/cream of tartar mordanted wool and modified it with a little iron sulphate (just enough to shift the colour). And it’s very stable. Not even a hint of colour leaked into the warm blocking bath.

Now I’m concentrating on the Combers Dress which I actually started before this tunic. All the excitement was in the beginning at the yoke and now it’s just around and around and around in stockinette. Until I get to the hem and get to do 6 rows of k1p1 rib. Oh boy! Great reading and TV knitting anyhow. I did start on the pockets - just for something interesting to alternate with - and I think it’s coming out OK:

I had to take a moment to figure out how to work the Salish Knitting technique in the flat but it wasn’t too hard. No, I’m not going to do these in the round and steek them! Do not even go there. I’ve decided I would rather work with two colours in purl than cut my knitting! Just a quirk of my personality.

However, I’m trying to decide if I should tink back the dark brown and cream part and reverse which hand I’m holding each colour in. You wouldn’t think but it makes a surprising difference! I knit this two-handed: one colour in each, Continental (picking) with the left and English (throwing) with the right. The right-hand colour recedes slightly so it becomes the background and the left-hand colour raises a little so it’s the motif/pattern. I noticed that I must have used the brown in my left hand on the sweater yoke but this time I used the cream in my left.

I don’t know if you can see the difference since the pocket is such a small sample and the older photo of the yoke isn’t a very good closeup. But on the yoke the cream lines are narrow and the brown lines are raised slightly above the surface as if they’re embossed. On the pocket the cream lines are wider and the brown sinks back a little. I kind of like the look of the pocket better but it’s far too late to change the yoke! Maybe I’ll just leave the “mistake” alone and use it as a lesson to myself. Or will it drive me crazy? I obviously worked the brown and green correctly since on both the yoke and pocket the trees/shrubs are slightly embossed. Aren’t these subtleties fascinating?

In other news, I’m still stitching away on my Boro Tea Cosy. I’ve finished the front and am about 1/3 of the way through the back section. I seem to be able to stitch for about 2 hours before my hand gets tired so it takes about 3 or 4 sessions to finish a piece. It’s fun though and really goes relatively quickly. I like that I don’t have to be too fussy about perfection. It’s “boro” after all, which is derived from the Japanese word “boroboro” and means tattered, mended and patched. The stitching is “sashiko” (little stabs) but much more loosely applied than the more formal decorative version. We don’t need no stinkin’ rules! Big stitches, thick threads and small scraps = fun! More details coming.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Testing Testing

Helloooo!! Just attempting to see if the (finally) updated Blogo app, my blog editor of choice, is going to solve the crashing issue that it’s been suffering from since the iOS 11 update. It wouldn’t let me put photos in my posts. Humph.

OK. Here goes...

Yay!!! I’m back in business! As I’ve said before (and I’ll say it again) I despise Blogger’s online editor with a holy passion. Though at least it was sort-of useable until Blogo was fixed. Now I need to get over to to the Blogo folks and thank them profusely for fixing it. Don’t worry, I will draw the line at kissing their feet. But it’ll be a near thing.

Meanwhile, that’s a teaser photo of my Seagreen Seamus Tunic that I just finished. Yes, of course I know it’s pronounced “SHAY-muss” (and means James in Irish). But I liked the “sea” alliteration. Or whatever it’s called when you only type it! I was in Haida Gwaii when I started knitting it so the sea was definitely on my mind. I’ll give you a better view when it finally dries in, oh, maybe several days from now? The socks I just washed took 2 days and they were hanging up so the air could circulate. It’s been a bit damp around here.

It certainly took long enough to finish this big sweater and the Combers one which I actually started first is still on the needles. I’m cruising down the body towards the hem of that dress but I still need to figure out the pockets. That’s not something I can do while chatting or watching the tube! It’ll be an interesting experiment. There may be frogging involved. We shall see.

Off to finish the last corner of this side of my Boro-Stitched Tea Cosy. You’ll see more of this project soon too. So glad Blogo is working again! {clapping with glee}

Thursday, November 09, 2017

New TNT Pattern

First of all I just want to register my complaint to the world: I hate shifting back and forth from Daylight Savings to Standard Time. Blech. Just pick one and stick with it, darn it! My internal clock is all cattywampus still after the most recent one. Plus it gets dark too early! I’d much rather it was dark in the morning when I get up than at 4 o’clock in the afternoon.

So, what have I been up to since last we chatted? I made Thom a shirt!



Sorry he wasn’t available to photograph it on him. Though I guess if I tried hard enough I could have caught him since he’s been wearing it for two days straight now. Obviously it’s love at first wear! I also couldn’t capture the colour correctly no matter what I tried. It’s actually a very dark navy with woven-in narrow white stripes and the buttons were recycled from an old shirt. I’m very pleased with the pattern, the Fairfield Button-Up Shirt from Thread Theory. This shirt has everything: two size ranges (slim to regular figures and larger figures); extra add-ons with sleeve, collar, cuff and pocket variations; separate upper and lower collar pieces so the collar rolls correctly; separate interfacing pieces so you don’t have to trim; and my favourite, the tower plackets. Aren’t they lovely?


The instructions are well-written and super-detailed but there’s also a cheat sheet for quick reference after you’ve made a few shirts and only need a reminder what comes next. There’s even a spot to record your guy(s) measurements which can help choose the correct size. I think the sizes tend to run a little small because a L was the best fit for Thom who usually wears a medium in ready-to-wear. And the neck is still a wee bit tight if he was to do up the top button - which will never happen! I used the pattern pieces for the “larger figures” because he doesn’t like his shirts too tight but I straightened out the side seams because he’s pretty much the same measurements from chest to hip. This turned out to be perfect and with exactly the preferred amount of ease. I also lengthened the sleeves by nearly an inch because they seemed a little short. Thom also needs his cuffs a little tighter than normal so I may adjust the pattern further to bring in the sleeve width and shorten the cuff just a little. Otherwise we have Absolute Pefection and a bunch more Bespoke Shirts will ensue. He needs to replace most of his current long sleeved shirts because they are completely worn out. The ones in the stores were not appealing nor do they fit the way he likes. He’s requesting linen so the next shirt will be in the same linen/rayon blend as my Stormy Dress (aka Marcy Tilton’s V8876) that I made a few years ago.

But first I made him another present:



Spoiled, isn’t he? Heh. Now he has a Pyramid for his iPad too similar to mine! The fabrics are vintage upholstery swatches and I made one pocket on the back for storing earphones. These make it so easy to relax in bed (or rest it on a table) and read without having to hold onto the iPad which can make your hands sore. I use mine every day. Speaking of my iPad, I sadly had to retire my handmade cover because it literally wore out after a year of constant use. Lazily, this time I bought a commercially available cover which is very nice. The only disadvantage is that now it doesn’t fit onto my tripod unless I take it out of the cover, which isn’t easy to do. Ya wins some; ya loses some eh?

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Day of the Not-Dead-Yet

Hola, all my little sugar skulls! Did you all have a lovely Halloween/Samhain? We did - even if we didn’t get very many trick-or-treaters though the weather was lovely, dry and relatively warm. We left home early anyway to go watch the neighbourhood fireworks at the little park near us aptly numbed Grimmett. It was delightful seeing all the folks hanging out together wearing costumes, carrying sparklers and balloons that were lit from inside with rainbow morphing colours, and chatting up a storm. I love neighbourly participation events like this. We even ran into some people I used to babysit 30 years or more ago! So sweet they still remember good times at my house. Awww...

Today of course is All Souls Day, aka my birthday. Some people have it right and celebrate with food and flowers, candles and skeletons, and a party in the graveyard. Instead I had a lovely day with my friends, ate potluck lunch and knitted. Perfect way to spend any day, no?

Bet you want to see my birthday present from Thom:



That’s a wee little office stool to replace my antique clunky stupid chair that falls apart every other time I sit down. This sleek beast zips back and forth from my sewing machine to my serger and slips right under the table out of the way when I don’t need it. Why didn’t I get one of these a decade or two ago? I love it. It’s soft. It goes up to the exact right height for me. I just have to be careful to actually get my behind right over it before I sit down so it doesn’t scoot out from under me. After one day, I’m already getting used to its moves and zooming all over the place. Yay.

So what was I making, you might ask? I was repairing and pimping out my living room chair. First a little history. This chair has been in my family since my parents got it as a wedding present in the 1940’s. It originally had a dark dusty rose jacquard fabric on it. I took it with me when I got married and we eventually had it repaired, reupholstered. I still love the green cotton voided velveteen fabric but it’s been developing some serious holes. The original upholsterer luckily had given me the fabric scraps left over after the job and after some serious excavation in the attic finally found them. First I added some more padding under the holes, stitched the edges of the fabric together as best I could with upholstery thread and then stitched patches on top:




You might notice I didn’t pay much attention to the direction of nap! Otherwise it hadn’t really faded all that much and the difference is just the way the light hits it. After that I still had some big pieces so I made a thin cushion and a bolster for my lower back:



I used a matching scrap of polyester suiting fabric for the back of the pillow and the ends of the bolster. The red piping was somewhat of a PITA since I’m not at all experienced in either making or applying same but I think it gives it a bit of a kick. And the colour matches the drapes. I was worried that the thin batting would shift around in the pillow so I added some yarn ties through all the layers like a tied quilt. Now I’m super comfy while watching TV and knitting on my 70+ year old chair. It’s nice to fix up something that’s actually older than I am. Ahem...

For my scenic photo today, here’s a view of Burnaby Lake looking towards Vancouver’s skyline. We had a really nice walk in the sunshine on Halloween after picking up my new stool. Chatted with the ducks and redwing blackbirds, ogled the spawning salmon below the dam and checked out the sandy nesting ground for the western painted turtles.



Sunday, October 29, 2017

Taming The Chaos

Whew! That was a job. After sorting, inventorying and repacking my sewing patterns and fabrics I'm exhausted! I knew I had a lot of stuff but this is ridiculous. Really. And there's still the attic space with old old fabrics and patterns to sort out. I may just purge most of it. But I'm not ready to go there quite yet. I'm still reeling from this go round.

This is what the studio's sewing area looked like during the count:


According to my Sortly app I have 250 yards (or metres) of fabric there. Plus some extra scraps and remnants that I didn't count. Some of these pieces are quite old - as in decades! Some weren't even purchased by me but acquired from well-meaning friends and family. Most of them have an imagined purpose. A few need to be dyed first. Can you see that a lot of them fall within my usual earthy colour palette?


Browns, greens, rusts, a wee bit of blue, greys and black. There's a lot of white pieces too though I never wear white. I have an uncontrollable compulsion to pop anything white immediately into the nearest dyepot! I've had this affliction since I was a teenager and first discovered the miracle of creating my own colours. What's fashionable or seasonable or "true" colours be damned. Also notice there are very few prints and those are mostly batik and tie-dye or a mottled overdye. Just personal preference. I like to see something of the hand of the maker rather than a more regimented manufactured look. So call me an old hippie. I was actually there. (And I mostly remember it too!)

I also discovered that I use (and wear) knits the most so the majority of these unused fabrics are...you guessed it - wovens! I need to get on that and find more woven patterns that work for me. And speaking of patterns, I've only used approximately 1 out of every 7 or 8 of the 125 in my inventory. Most of my makes are based on my personal blocks and TNTs. I realised this is partly because a new pattern needs a lot of work to fit properly and I'm always afraid it won't look right when I'm done so I tend to fall back on what I know works. Laziness and fear holding me back. Who knew? That and perhaps a hint of FOMO. You know, when you see someone wearing a fabulous make and you want that pattern to make one (only different) too? 

Well, I guess I'm not too afraid of patterns because I just took advantage of a sale on Butterick patterns and some newer Katherine Tiltons are on their way to me. My inventory tells me that I've been sewing more of her patterns lately. (She says, justifying her purchases.) Plus I got a couple of digital patterns too. These are definitely on the sewing list. More on this in another post.

So after a lot of vacuuming and packing away the studio finally looks like this:


You can see two of the pattern bins under the table. The other two are on the opposite side. The fabrics are all either in those 7 boxes under the skylight, scraps in the two big drawers in the old chest beside them, or in the repurposed stereo cabinet under the window:


Now I can get back to sewing the shirt for Thom that I started before I got inspired to make a mess!

I'll sign off now with a few fall photos. The weather has been absolutely lovely for the last several days. True sweater weather. Yay! Gotta enjoy it while it's here before the winter rains set in.





Love the contrasting blue swing and red leaves. Sigh. This time of year is so darn beautiful it makes my heart sing. And I wish autumn lasted longer than just a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Autumn Splendour

Hello! Time has been flying as it seems to do when one is having a good time. I admit I was wrong when I said that fall was going to be dull this year. It just took awhile to get going! We’re a couple of weeks behind where we usually are but I’m sure not complaining. Today was especially gorgeous so I managed to get out in the garden and do some more clean-up. I got the deck pots cleared and tucked away in the greenhouse. And I didn’t forget my potted rosemary this year. I lost a favourite one last winter because I didn’t put it in the greenhouse where I can cover it with an insulating cloche if it gets particularly cold. I also have a more cold-hardy Arp rosemary but I don’t like the flavour as much as the more delicate one. Figures.

I also started cleaning up the dye garden. We plan to expand it somewhat next spring (because I desperately want more madder in particular) but for now we’ll just clear out the annuals and maybe plant a little fall rye in the empty spaces. Just to have something besides bare dirt. Otherwise the dog walkers let their pets use my garden for a toilet. Bleh.

Meanwhile we had a quick visit from my sister and her hub. Too short but they had to get back to Haida Gwaii and their guest house which they can’t leave for long. Hope they got back safely because right now there’s mudslides and washed out roads and power outages and all kinds of bad news coming out of  their part of the province. Yikes.

As if I haven’t given myself enough projects I’ve been inventorying my pattern and fabric stash. I need to keep things in front of my eyes or I forget I have them! The iPad app I’ve been useing is Sortly and it’s quite useful. You could inventory your entire household’s possessions if you wanted! (Useful for insurance purposes.) I haven’t gone quite that far. Yet. I used to have my patterns catalogued in my old iTouch but wouldn’t you know it, that database app isn’t transferable. I think it still exists but it’s completely different and too complicated to use. I’ve used Sortly for a year and although they have gone to a subscription model now (with backup on the cloud) I still have the Premium version which they kindly still support. Yay. I don’t need a whole lot of bells and whistles. Just photos, tags and a space for notes. Good enough. All my spinning fibres, yarns, sewing patterns and some of my craft equipment is all in there. I just need to sort the fabrics now. It wouldn’t be an issue if I only had normal little stashes like most people. Ahem.

I did try out another app called Cora. It’s specifically for fabrics and has more information that you can input. It’s very good for what it does. However, I decided that I wanted something more versatile because I have more than one type of thing to inventory. I especially wanted my pattern information so that if I see some yummy fabric in the store, I can figure out how much I need easily. Sortly keeps its data on my iPad so I don’t need Internet access to use it.

OK enough about that! I’ve also slowly been knitting on my two major sweater projects. Here’s the Chamomile Green Seamus tunic:


I changed the hem ribbing to garter stitch because I like the weight and drape that gives. In which case I’ll likely be doing the same with the sleeves which I’m currently working on. The yarn situation is getting a tad dicey since I’m on the last ball of yarn with most of two sleeves to go. Then there’s still the neckline too, though I have a small extra ball for that. The jury is still out on what I’ll do with the sleeve length and cuff if I’m running short. So far this sweater fits perfectly anyway. It gets knit on while I’m watching TV in the evening after dinner.

And then there’s the Combers Tunic/Dress:


This one is going even slower than the Green Seamus. I’m only knitting on it occasionally when I’m reading. It’s just miles of stockinette with a few side increases thrown in every once in awhile. Perfect for not paying attention. It fits pretty nicely too so far but will be even better after blocking. Hopefully these both will be done before it actually gets cold around here. They’ll be warm and toasty!

Lastly I was working on a shirt for Thom when I got sidetracked by the inventory bug which took over my entire sewing area. The Thread Theory Fairfield Button-Up seems like it’s going to be a good shirt. Proper collar stand! Tower plackets! Burrito yoke instructions! All I have to do is cut the interfacing and sew the darn thing. When I can find my sewing machine again.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

A Finished Object

I’ve been feeling lately like I have far too many things going at once. It seems I can’t juggle a lot of balls at the same time! Not that I was ever much good at it, I’m getting less able to deal as time goes on. Not necessarily a bad thing but one I have to keep in mind lest I become overwhelmed. The biggest issue right now are the knitting projects. Just for starters I have two big sweaters going at the same time, both in fine yarns with lots of stitches. It seems like I’m not making any headway on either of them! Time to resort to the progress markers to keep up my spirits. I feel like I really shouldn’t cast on anything else until they are both finished. Which brings me to the project I shouldn’t have started but did anyway. And actually finished too!

This is my Ripple As You Go scarf. Pattern by Amanda Mannas and available free on Ravelry.


What can I say? I had the perfect yarn from deep stash, although this didn’t turn out as wide as I had hoped because I only had one ball. The finished scarf is in between the scarf and shawl width. Aren’t the colours festive for October? I did end up adding one narrow row of a leftover non-matching yarn because I was running out. I needed enough to work the last joining row that linked the row of medallions to the ripple section. It was a nail-biter but I just made it with about a yard to spare. Whew.



I blocked it pretty severely but superwash wool and nylon sock yarn does tend to relax again rather quickly after taking out the pins and wearing the scarf. Doesn’t matter. I’ve been wearing it pretty much nonstop ever since.

Obviously I’m embracing the Slow Fashion movement rather heartily! At least now that this piece is done I feel better. It was kind of a guilty pleasure! Like eating potato chips. Moving right along with all those other waiting projects. Getting out the progress markers for them now...