Sunday, May 29, 2016

Finished Object: Yes, I have Made Another Kielo...

It's hotter than hell outside and I LOVE it! So easy (if sticky). I went for breakfast on a patio, natch, then for espresso on another patio. Then walking to the grocery store. When we got home, Scott and I did a really lively yoga practice - the kind where you sweat so much that you have to be careful.

Brief side-note: I find that yoga is most exuberant when it's hot out, even though I'm not into classes where the temp is artificially raised. Natural heat is organic - as one's body adjusts to the temp in the outside world. Piped in heat, when it's freezing and/or damp outside, is quite another - and it's not good for my biochemistry. Makes me feel sick. The kind of energy you generate in a hot class, because it's actually hot outside, is distinct from that which is foisted upon you. Never mind that fake heat is dry and often includes undesirable particulate matter (in older buildings). This is why I can get with the "hot" nature of Ashtanga or fast vinyasa - you make that heat for yourself - and not with Bikram. (Well, there are so many reasons why I can't get with Birkram...) Every summer I'm reminded of how easy it is to be a yogi in a warm climate.

Yesterday I did make my latest version of the Kielo Wrap dress, tie-free:

It's an interesting story: I did not have enough of this bamboo fabric to cut it on the grain (so that the little knit stitches form vertical wales). Having said that, I had more than enough to cut it against the grain. Given that it's a 4-way stretch fabric with good recovery (and of good quality), I figured it wouldn't hurt to give it a go and cut against the grain. And, except for the fact that the back on this version is hanging differently and slightly longer than the front (I fixed it while hemming), it's ok. Whether this dress keeps it shape in the long-run remains to be seen.

Of course, I'm driven by order so the fact that this fabric sits horizontally, rather than vertically, drives me a bit nuts. I suspect, no one else will be able to tell and, natch, it's a design choice. But I'm still rule-bound.

It's a bit observable below, if you know what you're looking for, mainly because of the slightly marled nature of the fabric.

On the plus side, I do think my top stitching is improving - largely because I've slowed the fuck down. I used a single needle on my sewing machine for the neck and armholes, but I did coverstitch the hem. Ever since I started coverstitching "correctly" my stitches seem to want to fall out when I finish, despite my careful stitching over the stitches made at the beginning of the hem. Gotta look up ways to avoid that because re-sewing over those stitches, with a sewing machine, to secure them, is time-consuming, a bit ugly and perhaps not the most stable technique. I should also get one of those clear presser-feet but I'm not spending money on gear 3 seconds before a reno and, really, the coverstitch accessories are not cheap.

I lowered the neckline (and next time, I think I might go a bit lower still). The arms fit better since I scooped them out slightly, to account for the bound armholes, but I think I can go scoopier still.

You can see my Hudson pant fabric cut out in the background. I've got 2 pairs ready to go but I cannot bring myself to sew them in a heatwave!
This was not a quick process and I did encounter a few blips, albethey fixable. Took me 5 hours to make the dress, though that was from start to finish - threading my machines with the right colours, altering the pattern again slightly, cutting and marking the fabric and then sewing. Just hemming takes a good 30 minutes when you want to achieve a really nice finish.

I wore it out this morning and it works quite well. And it'll be perfectly fine for the office too.

What do you think of my off-the-grain strategy? Would it drive you nuts? Do you think I'm merely practical and not crazy? Whatcha think of the latest version? I swear, I won't inflict any new versions of this on you any time soon. :-)

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Arboreal Splendor

People - my dwarf lilac tree has bloomed!!!

Given that this is a month behind schedule, and a month behind all the others in my 'hood that have bloomed, I worried it go straight to leaf. This is bitter-sweet, especially since I've been advised by my builders that we will not be able to leave it where it is during the reno. We thought we might be able to cut it back extensively and keep it in its happy spot, but it lives where a bin will go shortly.

Not that I can bring myself to think about this reno, much less talk about it, but there's a possibility it will be rescheduled till next spring, if the anticipated duration of work will run longer than August 1 till end of December. Our former project manager assured us that it could be complete by then, but delays with approvals and a new project manager (who's perhaps more realistic) has advised that this could take 6 - 8 months. If that's the case, we're waiting. I will not go through this - no kitchen, no laundry, no half of my house - through the depth of winter. I mean, I can barely function in winter as it is. But, Lord, I want this done. It's as if I don't live here now - and I haven't for at least a year.

There are many ways to contend with attachment and as many ways to practice non-attachment. Destroying things to fix them is one I really struggle with. The alternative is walking away - and I'm way too attached for that. :-)

So I'll look at my tree (the only part of the backyard that isn't a maze of weeds - I cannot garden in transition) and be grateful to have inhaled its fragrance - transmissible vibrancy. I'll focus on the things I can enjoy in the moment. I won't think too far ahead because, really, what's the point?

I wish I were better at this.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Make Hay While the Sun Shines

Two weeks ago there were no leaves on the trees. Today, it's 27C before the humidex. It feels like 34C! I snapped this photo on my walk to work:

I am not complaining.

Tonight I'm going out with friends and we will sit outdoors all. fucking. evening. Because, when the sun shines and the heat's on, you don't mess around. Carpe solis and all.

I'm wearing my new Kielo wrap dress today and it's fab. The ties stay put entirely  (I was concerned they wouldn't); the drape is great. I'm so enamoured of it that I intend to make another this weekend. Having said this, I sense I need to lower the armholes just a bit more and to alter the neckline. I'm feeling slightly choked by the very high crew neck. Instead, I'll copy the neckline of my t shirt sloper because it's perfect for me. I'll use some stashed, grey bamboo jersey and, in this version, I'll omit the ties. I really do love the geometric shape of the tie-free version and I left my other one with my mum. Nothing like filling a wardrobe need!

Here's hoping I have some happy tales to share soon.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Finished Object: Kielo Wrap Dress - The Wrap Version

I'm pretty happy with my second version of the Kielo Wrap Dress. This one actually includes the ties:

Named Patterns - Kielo Wrap Dress
Stupidly, I didn't get a shot of the full dress before my flash gave up the charge. I'm particularly happy with the length from armpit to natural waist. I removed 4 inches from this bodice in 2 places and I managed to do so such that the drape was maintained.

It falls about an inch above the knee and it's quite elegant in this mauve-meets-aubergine modal:

I did narrow the front collar width this time - I removed about 0.5" total, so not much but it hangs better. I also stitched the binding on with more negative ease to give it a bit of additional tension.

I'm very fond of the back construction. The darts are really well-placed both vertically and horizontally (I did modify them) and my waist-ties are actually aligned with my waist.

I'm even improving my coverstitched hems:

I'm not giving up my day job but this is better than my previous attempts.
Admittedly, this hem took an absurd amount of time (30 minutes?) as I:
  • Serged the raw edge.
  • Folded the hem and pressed on both sides.
  • Aligned hem tape on the raw edge side. Pressed.
  • Removed upper paper from pressed hem tape. Pressed the raw edge to the main fabric - to make the hem. This keeps both sides of the fabric easily attached while you stitch. (This tape is more useful than I'd imagined, fyi. It totally prevents that easing issue that can occur between the raw side and main fabric side of the hem as you sew.)
  • Set up the coverstitch machine.
  • Added a marker made of scotch tape (with a pen-line) to ensure I'd be able to stitch straight.
  • Stitched the hem.
  • Figured out how to stop the hem from unravelling (even though I coverstitched over the ends). Note: My coverstitch hems NEVER unravel cuz they're usually knotted all to shit. So I'm taking this as progress.
  • Pressed the finished hem on both sides.
This time I serged the raw edge of the hem before coverstitching it (because my fabric edge was a bit more jagged than usual).

The modal drapes beautifully and is adequately weighty.

My workmanship was in good shape as I put this dress together. Phew.

My mother got my previous, tie-free version because I couldn't fit it in my suitcase after buying a batch of new bed linens, as well as a new pair of shoes and a bunch of yarn. Gotta say, I almost prefer the Kielo without the ties because it's much more mod. But this version will work well for days when I have fancy briefings and I can't bear to wear sleeves since it's 30C. (Note: I will not complain about that weather cuz it's a gift from the gods.)

I could almost see myself making this in a maxi length - if I could find a light enough (but hefty enough) fabric - something like a stretch linen (if such a thing exists).

I also downloaded the free sleeve pattern piece. I'll have to alter it substantively (to meet the dimensions of my highly altered armscye) but I'm hoping my sloper will keep this relatively clear and simple.

All in all, I cannot recommend this dress enough - and I was seriously on the fence about its potential to begin with. It's easy, it's fast, it's chic, it's modifiable, it's multiple styles in one pattern. It's really wearable and will work with a topper for extra warmth. You just have to ensure that you modify it for your vertical proportions and ensure that the armscye works. That's easier said than done, I realize, but it's worth it (if you like this dress) because it's actually scalable. It will simply take a bit of knowledge and effort, on that front.

So, whatcha think?

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Long Weekend Musing

Where to begin? Just got home from Charlotte and, let me say, the weather SUCKED! That's never happened. In all of my years of going to NC, there has never before been a moment wherein I've been grateful to get away from its weather and/or to go back to that of TO. It was totally weird. My mother did, at one point, suggest that I have to stop taking the weather so personally - apparently it affects everyone and not just me?! - but, really, she's in the cheap seats.

The benefit of rain and cold (it was only cold if you live there, for me it was sandal weather) is that it makes for a nice backdrop to knitting. This visit I taught my parents - who are due to retire in about 1 year - how to knit. Turns out that they're likely moving to Asheville when they do retire, you know, land of the fiber arts. So no time like the present.

We went to the 2 local yarn stores and spent some time talking about wool and needles and everything else. I was reminded by how huge the world of knitting really is. At this point, the craft is a kind of language I take for granted (unless I encounter an issue, of course). But for newbies, this can be daunting.

We only breezed by Ravelry - my parents are not social media types and they love to hate the computer. I did show them some motivational blogs (Brooklyn Tweed amongst them). They loved Heather's latest post about her new, aunt-made sweater.

For my parents, we bought some beautiful Peruvian worsted-weight yarn (of course, I didn't write down the info so I have to wait for my mum to send me a pic of the tag). My mother chose a grey mauve and my father a charcoal grey. In retrospect, it would have been easier to teach on light yarn so we went back and bought a ball of light grey/blue acrylic stuff, just for practice. I put together a pattern for simple rib bordered, stockinette scarf for each of them to use up 500 yards of said yarn. So far they're still practicing their stitches.

FWIW, in 4 days, we focused on this:
  • Cast on and bind off
  • Knit stitch
  • Purl stitch
  • How to pick up a dropped knit or purl stitch
  • How to knit or purl back stitches (tinking) when you make a mistake
  • How to "view" the fabric to understand what's going on
  • Stockinette pattern
  • Garter pattern
It's enough info to make a scarf and we can build on these basics next time.

I will corroborate (yet again) that one's knitting style is, fundamentally, a metaphor. My mother was quick to learn and easily frustrated. She "gained" a few extra stitches every few rows. Her tension is naturally even. My father was very serious and technical. He always maintained stitch count and made perfect stitches - at the peril of momentum, natch. Of course, one's initial approach in no way dictates one's journey. It's just a moment in time. But it was interesting to observe (and to manage as a teacher) and it makes me want to remember how I felt about learning this craft. Fortunately, I've got it all on this blog so I think I'm going to take a trip down memory lane. Knowing me, I treated it like a test - and I LOVE tests - cuz, apparently, I'm a bit competitive with myself. Hmmm...

Hilariously, whenever I was upbeat and gave positive feedback, they laughed at me and told me I was acting like a kindergarten teacher.

They kindly bought me some gorgeous yarn (that I'd never before come across):

Classic Elite MountainTop Chalet
It's absurdly soft. It has awesome drape (as evidenced by a great bias-knit shawl pattern on display). I believe the pattern used was the Color Block Bias Wrap by Suzanne Shaw. It's designed with this yarn in mind and it's just fantastic:

The yarn is quite reasonably priced, IMO, given its quality but to make this shawl will set you back about @75 USD. So it's not a cheap garment. Mind you, who needs a freakin' soft, bias-knit wrap more than me?!?

My mother wanted to make this but we convinced her to wait until her second project. The combo of the chain-stitch construction of the yarn (which is in NO way visible in the final knit garment, btw) and the need to understand how to create increases and decreases - not to mention the very drapey nature of the wool - would have been a recipe in frustration, I suspect. Happily, this yarn is readily available in beautiful, natural colourways, so my mum has her next project sorted.

It's a mark of how lovely it was that I was bamboozled into bringing it into the stash - esp. since it's bulky-weight (a yarn-weight I like in principle, but that I don't gravitate towards in practice). The chain construction really does give it an airy quality so it's not a heavy yarn, even given its gauge.

But to totally switch gears...

...I'll leave you with a small story about a very exciting purchase, my newest Arche sandals:

Arche Exor Sandal
These are FREAKIN' gorgeous and I have already worn them to walk miles cuz, yesterday, when I returned from Charlotte, our weather in TO was sublime. Way to start the long weekend.

Let me just say, these shoes are not cheap and cheerful. They're a current style and I'm not in Europe during the July sales. They set me back $375 USD / $450 CDN, which is a totally absurd price for a pair of sandals, I realize. But here's the thing: They are totally sexy. They are elegant. They work with EVERYTHING (jeans, check / dresses, check / pants, check / skirts, check). They look perfect on my feet. Really. And they're like walking on fucking clouds for 5 miles - first time out. I took them off after a night out - and a day of air travel - and my feet were in perfect shape. Not the slightest sign of friction, let alone a blister.

To have such perfection, one is inclined to pay.

I need shoes that I can walk to and fro in with ease (my ever-maturing feet are my car, peeps) and I cannot bring myself to look anything less than chic as I amble down the street with my cute outfit and a cappuccino. Look, perhaps I should be more chill about things, but this is a time in my life when I'm not feeling particularly comfortable in my skin. If a pair of pricey shoes can up my game, then I'm going to pay and walk on.

But here are today's questions: What was your learning-to-knit personality? Has it changed over time? Did you hate learning to knit but now you love knitting? Have you worked with the Chalet yarn? Did you like it? (The reviews on Ravelry are universally positive.) And what about pricey shoes? Where do you stand on that? Let's talk!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Finished Object: Kielo Wrap Dress - Wearable Muslin

I went a bit off-road with this sewing experience - and (much as one loves woodsy clean air and fresh water) I have nothing but enjoyment to report.

Here's my new dress. It's a total muslin (albeit a wearable one) - made in a cotton/poly blend jersey that cost me 5 bucks a metre at FabricLand, a while ago:

Kielo Wrap Dress by Named Cloting - Non-wrap version
No, it doesn't look like the version on the website:

I'm not 5'10". My waist is not 9" long. I am not going to a wedding.

My version is hemmed at knee-length, omitting the back vent (unnecessary with a short tulip skirt). You might also note the sheer absence of, um, the ties that make this dress a wrap.

Here's the thing: I deliberately opted to muslin - I know, not very "quick and dirty" of me, but I had no idea how my vertical adjustments were going to land and I couldn't bring myself to spend 50 bucks in fabric on something unwearable. But my muslin fabric is NOTHING like my final fabric. It's cotton-y. It has mediocre recovery. It holds its shape because there isn't much in the way of drape. It's a cheap-ish, non-flimsy fabric that one might use for a casual t shirt. I bought it cuz it wasn't too special and it wasn't too pricey. But it IS a great colour and it does the trick excellently as muslin fabric.

Alas, though I spent 30 minutes making those ties and pulling them inside out (with a fabric that loves to stick to itself), I sensed that the dress was not going to fare well with them. Again - no drape. Not slinky.

I recall having read a review the Kielo Wrap, made without the ties. In truth, even if I hadn't seen that review, I would have known not to attach them. It was obvious. This version of the dress, in this fabric, did not want ties. Its boxy line is SO Scandi-chic, peeps. It's got all the side-seam appeal of that Toni Dress and none of the potential detractors.

This pattern is by Named Clothing, a Finnish line, and I am freakin' impressed. I'm impressed because it's awesomely drafted - the best evidence of which is that, when I shortened it vertically (and to some extent horizontally) - respecting the laws of alterations - it scaled beautifully.

You'll recall my pre-construction alterations. They were a best guess but I'm more confident about those vertical adjustments than ever I have been. I did end up making the wedge-alteration in the low back (one I always do to account for the extra length I require in the front body piece re: the boobs).

I could tell, just by looking at the model (never mind the pattern pieces) that this thing is drafted, not only for a tall person, but a person that's tall in the torso. The span between the armscye and the waist is LONG. The span between the waist and the hip is LONG. The armholes, as drafted, are LONG. These dimensions work very well for a tall, lean, small-breasted person. They are terrible for a short, short-waisted frame with sizeable breasts.

But because the pattern is so well-labeled with info about where the armscyes end and where the waist and hip sit, it was pretty clear about how to shorten the armscye / upper back length and the waist length above the hip. In addition to yesterday's alterations, I decided to lower the side wings (which should be at actual waist height given that this is where the ties attach) - that is to say that I removed some of the fabric above them which resulted in a) lowering the waist tie zone and b) removing some of the bulk at the upper (diagonal) part of the wing. I suspect, when I do add the ties to the next version, this will put them where I want them and diminish unnecessary bulk at my under bust (where I scarcely need it).

By making the armscye depth (and under armscye width) identical to my sloper's, I was successful in producing a well-fitted bodice that does not require a bust dart. Woohoo - since I don't love bust darts and I particularly don't love the ones that point downwards.

What I like about the pattern:
  • It's totally easy to put together (esp. in a jersey short version with no lining). I didn't follow the instructions, which is just as well, cuz I'm better when I work intuitively. The fact that this is marginally more complicated than a t shirt helps. The fish-eye (diamond) darts are very well applied.
  • It's multiple dresses in one: There's the long fancy version, a version you could make with sleeves (if you drafted the sleeve, it doesn't come along with the pattern apparently there's a free add-on sleeve - check out the website), a short version, a version with ties, a version without. Very versatile. Moreover, it looks totally different when made in different fabrics, having different properties of drape and hand.
  • It's elegant. Perfect with bare legs or denim leggings.
  • Not to be gauche, but it looks expensive. It's very sack-like in that French way.
  • Made to fit the shoulder/arms well,  it's very flattering. Note: Badly fitted, I imagine it would be awful.
  • It took me 3 hours to put this together - and I was figuring it out as I went along. Next time I suspect it will take 2 hours. That's pretty unheard of quick for me.
  • A newbie could make this. I mean, a few knit projects under her belt would help, but it's not complicated - especially with a serger (which I realize, most newbies don't have).
Things I don't love (but that aren't deal-breakers):
  • I don't love making the ties but I can't blame the pattern. Turning ties is a pain in the ass and it's got to be done. 
  •  I also think that the front neck may be a bit too wide for me so I'm potentially going to have to alter that next time. (It might be that I just didn't affix the neck binding with enough negative ease.) I did consider this possibility when I was cutting the pattern, but I didn't want to start messing with this on top of everything else.
  • And, on the topic of neck binding - the pattern doesn't come with binding pattern pieces for the neck and armscyce. This is because the instructions are pretty neutral about how you are supposed to finish these areas. Turn-under is the proposed option - and I do find that so meh. Mind you, if ever it were going to work on an armscye, it's this one cuz it's almost flat at the underarm. The neck, though. I don't know how you'd turn that under to any good effect.  I've made enough knits that I just cut out my standard 2 x 1.75" wide / 15" long (for armscyes) and 1 x 1.75" wide / 30" long for neck. Then, I cut off any excess length at the end of the seaming (after stretching the binding to produce a snug hole for head or arms).
  • Alas, and this is TOTALLY my fault: while I won't abide bad fit, I feel far too little shame about wonky top stitching, particularly when I'm making a muslin. This fabric didn't love the top stitch and I wasn't in the mood to thread the coverstitch machine and get all into that (I'm not awesome at it yet). So shoddiness ensued. Since I like this muslin a lot, I'm probably going to rip out and redo the neck stitching (of course, I fucked it up right along the front neck). But I'm bringing it to NC so that's not going to happen till next weekend at the earliest.
On the topic of top stitching, I'm rather horrified by how mediocre I am at it. I mean, I work carefully, I have good motor coordination, I follow a marker. And still, I make some garments with very amateur-seeming, visible seams. Top stitching's never been my strength, but I'm going to have to start paying it more mind. I sense that this is where my multiple repeats of projects will stand me in good stead. Most of the time, my first version (often a wearable muslin) is the worst. As I get more comfortable with a garment's specific sewing process - esp. if I'm working with a malleable fabric - my stitching improves. No surprise, I suppose.  Also, when I'm making the muslin, I'm always so focused on the preceding pattern alterations and the fit. I'll take the garment off 10 times to examine the line produced by a basted stitch. But by the time it comes to sewing the actual thing, I'm tired and I'm sure I rush. I tell myself that no one notices this but me, but I notice it on others, all the time, and it would be pretty stupid to assume I'm the only one.

For what it's worth, I will not wear a muslin - even if the fabric is GORGEOUS and my work flawless - if the fit is even slightly off. But wavy or jagged stitching is a secondary concern. I suppose it's because, much of the time, I know I could actually fix the issue (even if I tend to be too lazy to do so in the long run - really, it's just that I'm onto other things). It's also because this craft is challenging. It takes a lot of mediocrity to yield eventual, beautiful technique. It's taken me years to get even the small distance that I have with fit. Technical workmanship is its own art form and one can only focus on so many things at once without blowing all her circuits.

I leave you with one more pic:

Do tell me if you like this sort of dress. Would you make a version without the ties? What do you think of my version? What do you think of Named Clothing? Let's talk!

Saturday, May 14, 2016


I have a problem which is reasonably pronounced. Apparently I am incapable of not altering things:

This is the Kielo Wrap Dress - really.
Even before (perhaps, especially before) I make a first muslin, this is what happens. Every time.

Sure, part of the issue is the inevitable scrap paper heap that comes of putting together a pdf pattern.

But if you look closely, there's more:

It occurred to me that there would be little point in just altering the armscye curve (which isn't particularly straightforward with this pattern, even if there are lines that delineate it for you).

It's drafted for a gazelle or a woman of 5"9'. With a long waist. Whatevs. I cut a modified Eur 40 / US 8.

Pre-Construction Pattern Alterations:
  • I removed 1 5/8" length from the waist (waistline is marked on the pattern). 
  • I also removed 1 5/8" of depth from the armscye (also marked on the pattern but tricky to feel comfortable about in advance of constructing the garment).
  • Then I hacked off the bottom (it's a maxi dress) so that the end result should hit slightly above the knee, once hemmed.
  • I had to shorten the back dart by lowering its upper start point, because I took the length out of the upper back by removing it from the armscye depth. 
  • I don't know if I'm going to need to dart the front because I worked hard to get the necessary width at the full bust by comparing it against my sloper. If I do need to dart, I'll prob pick it up on the fly, first time around, cuz I can't predict how long or deep it will need to be - nor do I know where to put it. 
  • I trued up the sides to maintain the size 8 width.
  • It occurs to me that I should probably remove a wedge of 1" from the lower back, tapering to nothing at the side seam, to account for the additional front length I need to deal with the boobs, vs my short waist and back body. Since the back piece isn't cut on the fold, this won't be an issue. It might also be overkill given all of the other alterations I've already made, on spec. Mind you, I've seen some versions of this that are too long in the back - albeit, more in the upper back than lower, given that there are waist ties at the low back to obfuscate that issue.
For starters - way to cut down on fabric consumption! I bet I'll be able to make this with 1.5 yards of fabric. I'll let you know.

Secondly, it's not a quick sew if I spend 2 hours modifying the freakin' pattern. (Now I've got to wait a while to ensure that I consider what I've done because I've cut into my fabric, immediately, too many times not to realize that I generally need to fix something after letting things sit for a while.) No question, I'm not quick at sewing, but I'm that much less quick because it takes me forever just to get to the point when the sewing begins.

You may say: Kristin, you're so considered. This will make your finished garment so much better. The truth is that, yeah, sometimes that's true. And other times, it just turns into its own sort of mess. So I can't really rely on that assumption - though in some ways I do or I wouldn't bother to constantly amend things before I start.

At any rate, wish me luck.

And while you're at it - please tell me whether you do this insanity too.

(PS: I do this crazy sort of alteration with knitting ALL the time and I still manage to be relatively quick at the craft. I wonder what it is about sewing that keeps me slow??)

Make Do and Mend

Nothing like driving rain and 11C in mid-May, no? This spring has been cold. I'm sick of cold. I'm sick of not knowing that I can count on a bit of sun and warmth. One day it's 22C and bright and I feel my spirit relent. The next, there's chance of flurries. (Just want to keep up with my hateful TO weather diary - don't want y'all to feel that we've got lucky here.)

Of course, it predisposes one to sit on the couch and knit (or to make up a new quick dress). A propos of this, I'm hoping that I can print out the Kielo Dress this morning. Scott's printer is acting up so keep your fingers crossed. If I can, then it's likely I'll be able to make the dress before I go to see my parents in NC on Monday. One thing I'll say about NC - it's well situated for freakin' gorgeous weather. Note: I'm not suggesting that it will be gorgeous when I'm there because I'm superstitious.

As mentioned, if I'm able to print the pattern, I'll hack it off above the knee (I mean, carefully ensure that I maintain the tulip lines while shortening it by a good foot). I'll also follow my own knit sloper armscye (and bust width). What I'm wondering is whether I'll need to sew the dart at the bust if I actually cut according to my T shirt bust (which doesn't have darts). I suspect yes, cuz without a sleeve I'll need the shaping. But I'm not thrilled at the prospect of downward slanting darts. Here's the thing, this project is about not overthinking - not creating an artificial issue. So I'm going to get with a down slope dart if that's what's called for.

I'm currently working on 2 knitting projects - neither of which I can photograph because the weather is dusk-dark given the rain.

One is my second version of the Circular Vest (aka Balboa Waistcoat), which is a joy to knit. The other is a CRAZY pair of socks.

How and why are the socks so crazy? Well, it's not because I'm using a new sock pattern. I'm still attached to my Simple Sock (stockinette, top down, basic). It's that I've opted to do more freakin' colour striping. And, this time, just to make things more lively, I've used 2 self-striping yarns that have fuck all to do with one another - except that they are of the same brand.

These yarns, Regia war-horse which last forever (I know, I've been wearing the blue pair weekly for 3 years), aren't the most gorgeous colourways. To wit - here are the socks they produced originally (1 yarn, 1 sock):

I know - not my best choices from a stripe perspective.

You'd imagine that to combine them in a 1:1.5 ratio (I have 33% more of the brown/teal than the blue/grey) would be horrible. But I want to practice my yarn carry-up on socks and there's no better way to do it than with a 2-row / 3-row split in yarns that are so freakin' busy you can't tell what's going on. (Mind you, I'm still so bad at carry-up that I may never do this stripe ratio again because, if in future I don't carry up, I'll have to weave in ends and I will not do that every 2 rows.) Furthermore, when the universe throws you the perfect amount of yarn - well, slightly less than perfect but workable - you go for it. This is a stash-busting dream.

Yeah, I also know - hideous socks are hideous even if you do use up all your yarn.

Here's the amazing thing, and you'll see this when I take a shot of the final result: These self-striping yarns are less hideous, when combined again in manual stripes, than each is on its own. Don't misunderstand, they're skirting a "socks only a mother could love" vibe, but I love the integration. I love the practicality. Whenever I knit socks to use up stash, I am transported mentally to another time and place - specifically WW2-era England.

Those wartime ladies knit the shit out of scrap yarns and created warm, necessary things for their families and soldiers in a time when everything was scarce. (Note: Apparently by WW2 there were standards about how these women knitted for the soldiers - which seems a bit obnoxious, frankly - but the point stands.) And I wish we felt this way about resources now.

Hilarious and weird side note: When I lived in England in the 80s, I went to visit a co-boarder friend at her home in London. It was a totally amazing place (though I cannot remember the neighbourhood). Let's just say, the house was huge, over multiple narrow floors, but the 'hood was having a bad moment. I'm sure it's been so gentrified at this point that their home would sell for 6 million pounds today. At any rate, my friend lived with her parents and grandparents there, when she wasn't at school. Her gparents had lived through WW2, natch. While were were looking around (cuz I LOVE to look around fantastic houses), we went into the coach house at the back of the garden (it was ancient) and found a tin of salmon from the wartime, wedged between some shelves. It had been there for 40 years at least. I was amazed, in that way that only new-world people can be, and my friend brought the tin into the house to show her grandfather. No word of a lie, he opened it on the spot - it did look entirely normal, fwiw - and he ate it!! I was ASTOUNDED and horrified. But the guy was fine. BTW, I'm sure this place was one of my formative architectural influences. The tall, skinny Victorian is still my fave.

So that's my weekend so far. Here's to wasting not.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Can You See A Pattern Here?

The benefits of pattern-surfing can tell the story of one's current sense of style.

Theoretically, I could make any of these purportedly simple projects using fabric I already own:

Named Kielo Wrap Dress
I'd definitely shorten this above the knee, and make it in a knit.

Papercut Patterns Bowline Sweater
Sure, I've got a lot of tops that already work this asymmetrical angle (ha!) but who can't use another?

StyleArc Jessica Dress
This one is cute but runs the risk of being bulky at the twist and I don't know that it would be the most flattering .

StyleArc Pamela Dress
Interestingly, I own a rayon that would probably work well with the Pamela Dress (it calls for a stretch woven).

Special mention goes to the Toni Dress, for which I have a decided soft-spot, despite the fact that this dress is very "of a style" (and that style's name is science-fiction hippie). The likelihood that this would be VERY difficult to fit on me is high. I mean, if the shoulders are drafted wide or long, I'd pretty well have to start from scratch. And that collar could go all kinds of wrong...:

StyleArc Toni Dress
Of course, I also have a bunch of appropriate patterns in my stash which, according to Felicia, I might be using in lieu of online shopping. While I completely agree with her in her latest (really interesting) post, that window shopping catalyzes desire, not gratitude, I find it hard to begrudge the activity when it comes to pdf patterns. I mean, yes, this activity may have derailed me from using patterns that I already own, but it's also sparked my current creativity and it allows me to connect with things anew. I'm not necessarily in the same mood today as I was six months ago when I bought my last batch of patterns. I don't have to pay (or use resources) to ship these and they take up veritably no space (unless I use them). Not to mention that it allows me to support independent creative business owners. (Update: Apparently, the Pamela Dress isn't available in pdf...)

So these are some things I'm thinking of making up. Any preferences?

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Any Ideas?

Hey - I've decided to change up my sewing plan a smidge. I'm still going to make 2 pairs of Hudsons but other than that, I want to think a bit more creatively about how best to use these fabrics:
  • 2 yards of lavender meets aubergine modal - quite drapey, on the heavy side, great recovery
  • 2 yards of "sweatshirt" grey bamboo jersey - also very drapey, a bit thinner than the modal, great recovery, in truth, this is more of a winter colour...
  • 2 yards of electric blue bamboo jersey - also very drapey, a bit thinner than the modal, great recovery, spectacular colour that really should shine
These are all very luxe fabrics. My only complaint is that Chu Shing seems to consistently short-change me. Like - to the tune of a third of a yard per piece. And all the fabric is in yards, not metres, so the prices are that much higher. Paying $24 a yard and getting 0.75 yard is very irritating. It means that I can't actually use the fabric purchased in some instances (that's why I had to go back for more of the electric blue jersey - I bought a yard, got 0.65 of a yard...) Part of the issue is that one of the SAs doesn't use a ruler (as far as I can tell) so it's not like I can measure it for myself before buying. The service is very polite and the stock is awesome, but this is stealing. If it hadn't happened multiple times, which I've tried to overlook, I'd keep my mouth shut. Mind you, I'm almost at the point that I'm going to bring in my own measuring tape into the shop. And that may seem offensive. If only the stock weren't so good...

As luck would have it, EweKnit has started selling solid jersey knits - I cannot wait to check this out. The prices are right in line with good knit fabric and I have every confidence that I'll receive what I pay for.

But back to the question at hand: I want to make something fun - and maybe new - with each of these fabrics but here are my parameters:
  • Would prefer to use in 1-yard increments to maximize what I can do with the remnants
  • Wouldn't mind something a bit dressy to wear to meetings - or something casual
  • Don't want to have to go insane with fitting. I'm looking for something that I can more or less compare to other knit slopers I've got and make my alterations that way
  • Would be happy to make a top, dress, jacket - anything, really
  • I like interesting lines
  • Has to work with boobs
  • In a perfect world, it would be an intermediate project - not looking to take on something advanced right now. I need some quick wins.
I'm thinking of oversized things with fitted shoulders or things that skim over the midsection.

Please provide any fab pattern ideas - preferably ones that can be downloaded! Thanks!

On another note, I hemmed the stripey V1179, from yesterday, and it seems much nicer than it did yesterday. From the outside, the workmanship isn't bad. So it's a keeper, I suppose. Good thing I didn't go nuts and throw it out on a whim...

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Finished Object: V1179

I've made V1179 enough times now to tell you that it never fails to fuck up big time. Do not believe the 25ish other people who've posted about this DKNY dress - who all say: This was a piece of cake! Three pieces, 2 hours, done! Any beginner could manage this with no problem. It's actually so fun to make.

No it's not. It is not fun. It took me 8 hours to put this fucking dress together (as it has done every other time I've made it) and, once again, I took a gorgeous piece of fabric and veritably wrecked it. I do not understand it. Truly, this pattern should be totally easy (pleats aside) but everything seems to go so, so wrong whenever I wade in.

I'd just throw the pattern in the bin if I hadn't actually worn my other versions into the freakin' ground - despite the fact that a) this dress pattern makes a sack b) I've sewn it crazily - and observably - poorly each time and c) I loathe sewing it.

But have a look, why don't you:

Vogue 1179 - DKNY

It's not actually black-striped (as it appears). Photo below shows it's true navy colour better, even if it is over-exposed...

Look, I realize that these are shitty photos that do this dress no justice but I can scarcely be bothered to show this to you at all. That's how much I hate it right now.

Weird side note: Swearing asided, my current level of exhaustion is really taking the edge off my vitriol. I'm almost over these 8, head-down hours that may have been all for nought cuz honestly, it takes energy to be angry. Did I mention that it was sunny outside all day (gold!) and it's probably going to rain starting tomorrow? Not my best planning but, really, I couldn't be bothered to leave the house.

Other, totally unrelated side note: I believe that my dwarf lilac is going to go straight to leaf this spring. It still hasn't bloomed (although you can see little mini buds) and many trees have suffered this same fate this year, due to a bizarrely warm winter and a crazily cold, drawn-out spring. Outrageously, I hear that the cherry blossoms in High Park did not bloom this year for this very reason. So sad.

But back to the topic at hand, the jury's out on whether to keep this dress (right now the garment is hanging, pre-hemming). And let me tell you why...

Let's Lead with the Good (It's a short list):
  • The fabric is truly gorgeous. I spent a wad of money on it from Blackbird Fabrics but it did not disappoint. The drape is terrific. It recovers beautifully (trust me, I know cuz I hacked at it incessantly). It's soft. It's light, which is what you need when you're wearing a cowl in a heatwave. If only I'd done it justice...
  • The dress is easy to wear, all the time. It's comfortable, you can eat dessert, it's cool.
  • While most of my stripe placement went sideways (see below), I did manage to position the stripes on the cowl very well in conjunction with the stripes on the dress.
  • It only takes 1.5 yards of fabric (60" wide).
 But What Went Wrong (this time)?
  • For starters, the pleats were as freakin' hideous to actualize as they always are - maybe even moreso this time because, with stripes, you have to be considered. This took me a good hour to sort out.
  • And, a propos of stripes, I spent a ton of time making sure that I would be able to match them all spectacularly, but my serger (and gremlins) seemed to snuff out the dream...
  • ...Because when I went to serge the body and cowl, I forgot that I'd removed one of the spools of thread (for left needle) and put it on my coverstitch. And by the time I figured out why my poor gorgeous fabric seams looked like they had been sewn by drunk mice, it was too late to fix things. Honestly, you might wonder what's holding these seams together, that's how sad they look.
  • Did I mention that my time-intensive coverstitched armscyes look like shit. Not joking. A five-year old on Gravol could have done a better job. The problem is that coverstitching takes actual practice and I'm a total novice (despite the fact that I own a fancy machine). But how will I ever get there if I don't wreck some pretty armscyes?? I know, first-world problem but when you have OCD these things can become the subject of intensive rumination.
  • And, on the topic of the armscyes - well, for once they would not fold under to form a hem (not that this slap-dash method hasn't almost failed with each previous version). No go. This fabric isn't as stretchy or as thin as the others I've used and the underarm curvature requires more fabric ease than I could wrangle. So, after spending an hour ripping back stitching and coverstitching etc. I opted to sew a band around them (the likes of which one sews onto a t shirt sleeve at the hem).
  • That worked well enough (thank God) but it means that the shoulders are slightly wider than I'd generally prefer and the armscye managed to get very high. Even higher than it usually is and most people have to alter the pattern, as drafted, to be able to fit their actual armpits in the armhole. I've never before encountered this as I'm small of shoulder. Moreover, see stripe issues (above).
  • But here's where things went totally strange (as they never have before): Somehow, the seam where the cowl joins the pleated front body was set too low in this version. While it's the kind of thing that might have gone unnoticed in a busy floral, everything is so apparent with stripes. I ended up raising that seam (by serging another 3/4 inch off the seam at the front where the pleats meet the cowl). This alteration gives more visible lift at the bustline but I still feel that it should be higher. Damned if I'm going to push my luck by pulling it up anymore - you only get so much wiggle room with on-the-fly fixes. On the plus-side, I have more than enough length in this unstructured dress to do this.
  • I made the exact same size as I always have and this dress still fits well - I mean, it's a freakin' sack. But I wonder to what extent, 1" horizontal stripes are not the natural friend of the sack dress. There's a lot of width going on, people. Particularly at the bust. This is what might actually turn this thing into lawn fodder in the end. Cuz while I can deal with bad stitching and unmatched stripes and wider-than optimal shoulders, I cannot deal with a dress that makes me look fat.
At any rate, I've decided to let sensibility prevail - and this isn't a common thing for me. I'm hanging the dress for the night, to facilitate even hemming. I'm going to shorten it more than my previous versions because I sense that I need to minimize the stripey volume still further and the easiest way to do this is by cutting off a whack of fabric. Thankfully I have good legs.

I really don't see myself making this dress again. Oh, who am I kidding - if I pull off a decent hem (and I'm going to coverstitch it well this time) I'll probably give this dress another go next year.

Just goes to show that the sewing goddess is fickle and there's nothing like staying in practice to maximize the likelihood of successful outcomes. I'm doing what I can but I'd happily settle for some dumb luck right now.

Finished Object: A Simple Sock (Made Less Simple)

If you want to take an easy knit and make it difficult, add some striping. Specifically, add stripes to a small diameter tube (i.e. socks). Because, in addition to making sure that you switch up your colours appropriately (and this is somehow harder to remember than you'd imagine), you need to do special things to ensure that your yarn colour will carry up (or else you're going to have to cut the yarn and weave it in at the end). You'll also want to ensure that you won't get a jog at the stitch where the stripes change colour.

I'm not going to go into too much technical detail.
  • Lots of blogs will tell you how to do the jogless jog (just google it). 
  • Lots of blogs will tell you how to carry up your yarn as you switch colours. Intriguingly, the process of wrapping the yarn as you carry up seems to be very personal - and almost a kind of magic. If you wrap in one direction, with one yarn over the other, you'll see the wrong-colour yarn peek through to the front of the work. But there doesn't seem to be any clear way to prevent this. It's person-specific. Trust me, I've read a lot (even the instructions that tell you that there is one way), and they didn't work. You'll be able to do this, but it'll probably take practice (unless you get lucky).
What I am going to do, in this post, is talk about what it's like to make striped socks from 3 different skeins of yarn (having 3 different, solid colours).

Guess I might as well introduce the main event:

Some things to note:
  • I actually did math to ensure that I'd use up every bit of the relevant fingering yarns. I know that I consistently use 75 grams of fingering yarn to make a pair of socks. I had 34g of the Tosh Sock, 25g of the Koigu blue and 16g of Koigu purple. I know. Freaky. (Of course, it would have been easier to have had the same amount of each but c'est la vie.)
  • Alas, this means I couldn't stripe evenly and I actually had to think about how I wanted the striping to pattern out.
  • I messed up on the first sock, which meant I had to improvise a bit. Not sure I love the outcome, but I just ensured to match the second sock, round for round, with the first.
  • Striping with yarns of radically diff colours is challenging, esp. if you're going to carry up more than one strand of yarn per round. What I mean is that, when you have 3 colours in your stripe pattern, that means you are always carrying up 2 colours per round - and that, twisted, vertical line of carry-up yarn can get thick and ropey feeling on the inside of the sock. 
  • Furthermore, dark colours are likely to show through at the join when you switch to the light colour. To carry up 2 strands of dark yarn behind one strand of light yarn is a challenge, no matter what your method. It's the difference between one person to standing behind a narrow wall vs two. You've only got so much wall before you become visible to those on the other side.
  • That's why I opted to cut the yarns and weave in the ends. BUT... This didn't exempt me from needing to wrap the yarns before I switched from one colour to another. Otherwise, I got a little hole where the colours shifted. (That hole can be wrapped and tightened after the fact but it's smoother to close it as you work.)
  • I figure that, if I'd been working with only 2 colours in total  - and my stripes were uniform - and no more than 2-4 rows thick - then carrying up the yarn would have made sense. But to be all over the map with stripe thicknesses AND to have 2 colours to deal with carrying up means that the sock looks and feels better with woven ends. Note: I'm not bad at weaving in ends but I struggle with dupicate stitch (the best method for doing this). I think it may be because I'm left-handed and everything is explained for right-handed people. Usually, I just follow the right-handed method (my brain is fairly plastic like that) but with this particular technique, it's not working so well. I should look up some left-handed techniques online - wonder if there are any... Not that it matters, particularly, cuz I am good at using other methods of weaving in ends. It just bothers me that I haven't been able to get with duplicate stitch as yet.
  • I learned that thicker stripes work better if you're not going to carry up the yarn (i.e. weave in ends afterwards). Those ends take for fucking ever. 
  • Let's talk about one more thing: the jogless jog. To accomplish this, I used the method of lifting and knitting (with the current stitch) the right leg of the stitch below the one I was working, as I began the second round after switching colours. Didn't work so well, IMO, since it's pretty apparent to me where the colour jogs appear on my socks. I sense this has something to do with the fact that my right-legs of stitches were attached to a short strand of yarn (because that colour had just been reattached on the previous round). Good reason, I suppose, to carry up the yarn or to find a better jogless jog method. My stripes are pretty neat, but they're not perfect.
When Will I Do This Again?

Well, not often. If I find myself with @25g of 3 colours of compatible sock yarn OR @37.5g of 2 diff colours, I'll give it another go. Realistically, that's not going to happen frequently. I know I will not stripe with more than 3 colours because I don't love weaving in ends that much - and I do worry about the overall integrity of a sock with too many woven-in joins.

Gotta say, though, I was left with just 4 grams of yarn over three different skeins at the end of this project - so it was a wildly successful stash-buster, if finicky.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Finished Object: V8790 aka The Bouquet

It took me hours, but I've killed it with this top:

Vogue 8790, highly modified in every way
 I'm not too scrupulous to brag - that's some damn good ruching!

It didn't come fast. I now remember that the deal with this top is to ruche the flat pieces (where instructed). But, instead of pulling up on basted thread, as the instructions advise, I turn up the differential feed on my serger and hold the gather by simultaneously inserting clear elastic 1/8" in from the raw side edges . And that's not all (though the instructions would leave it at that). To get a really nice drape, then I ruche the whole thing as I sew up the side seams (again, using the differential feed in the waist zone). Second time round, however, I don't use clear elastic cuz it's not necessary and it would add bulk. This whole process, while involved, is easier than pulling up a bunch of basted thread and trying to get it to hold on a stretchy, thin fabric.

This is my third time making V8790 and I really came to understand it via this go round. The technique to attach the neck to the shoulders and the back piece is batshit crazy, but if you just go along for the entirely non-intuitive ride, it does work out with some fiddling.

Last time I made this, I opted to modify the pattern by bringing the shoulder slope forward slightly. I also took some more width out of the shoulders to suit my narrowness. I might actually remove another half inch of width from each shoulder next time.

And though I don't love many aspects of making this top, I cannot deny that the fit is spectacular. It sits perfectly at the low hip (it's almost a tunic). It skims everything gorgeously. Now that I've figured out where to attach the surplice at the side seams (a good 3 inches below the underarm), in a stretchy fabric, the surplice drapes below my bust in a really flattering way.

The back is cut on the fold so there's no seam to interrupt the line (which is useful if you're working with crazy patterning on your fabric).

Just remember to make this with a reasonably thin knit or the double layer on the front body will be thick and hot. Note: by thin I don't mean cheap. You're going to want something with good recovery.

A long while ago, I did a lot of work to make this pattern fit me. I more or less changed every element, from surplice length to shoulder width to back collar height to waist length and more. And now I'm reaping the benefit. (This is why I'm not ready to give up on V8323 quite yet. Though V8323 is proving to be much less pleasant to perfect.)

If I saw this in a store, I'd pay a lot of money for it because it fits well, it's versatile, light-weight, great for layering AND it's so freakin' cheerful!

I do love a floral pattern and the colour scheme, loud as it is, works really well with my skin tone. Gillian can attest that this fabric, despite being from FabricLand (where some really bad jersey knits are sold), is lovely and structured.

One other thing - I finally decided it was time to give my coverstitch machine another kick at the can. When first I bought it, we just didn't click. This was before most of the current surge of coverstitchers started blogging about their machines. Today I followed most of the very helpful instructions suggested by Cashmerette. I bolstered these with info from a couple of videos showing how to cut the threads, upon completion, to ensure that they don't get stuck in the machine or unravel after the fact (both were previous issues for me because I refused to engage with simple directions on how to finish the seam).

Is my finished hem gorgeous? Decidedly, no. But it'll do the trick. I find the Janome 1000 stitches insanely quickly, even when I try to work the foot pedal methodically. The net result was some waviness, but it won't be visible unless I point it out to you. I mean, that's the joy of working with a crazy floral, right?

So that's what I've done today so far. Next up, back to work on my second version of the Balboa Waistcoat. I'm LOVING knitting with the Tosh and the Biscotte et cie. I find it somewhat hilarious that I've managed to take yet another striping project (because, even though this vest is knit in a solid colour, I'm interspersing 2 different - but almost identical - yarns every other row to ensure that if they drape differently, or if the colour is slightly askew, my finished garment will look intentional). So much yarn carrying-up! On the plus side, this pattern is worked flat so it's pretty easy to keep things straight.

I'm totally amazed that more people haven't picked up on that circular vest pattern. It's so elegant, so (relatively) easy to fit and so fun to knit.

So whatcha think? Not a bad day of crafting, even if I was quite inefficient...

Monday, May 9, 2016

The Spring / Summer Sewing Capsule

I feel rather abnormal. I mean, usually, even if I'm exhausted, a weekend of extended sleeping and lying on the couch takes the edge off. Before I know it, I'm planning something - baking a pie, making some shampoo, sewing (remember that?), knitting a new garment, a long walk with errands, doing a me-tailored yoga practice...

Weirdly, it's taking all of my energy to stay somewhat engaged, and that just cuz I'm freaked out by apathy.

I decided those jeans I need to hem are going back to the store. They're too low-rise and I don't feel like spending half my life yanking them up over the puff-ball that is my lower abdomen. Not to mention that they cost 300 bucks. For 300 bucks jeans have got to be perfect.

I did finish that pair of striped (serious stash-busting) socks. I'll photo them soon and share some new feelings about striped socks. The short story is, just don't. Unless you really want to use up yarn in @25 gram increments, in multiple colours, why inconvenience yourself? Aren't socks about simple, wearable comfort?

This morning I went through my sewing cupboard to get a lay of the land. Given that I love buying fabric, I've got a bit of fun ahead of me this aft. Seems I don't have much in the appropriate yardages to accomplish any of my preferred projects. How does this always happen??

By preferred projects I mean this:
  • Garments that are tried and tested (to some extent)
  • Garments that I know I'll wear
  • Garments that are comfortable
  • Garments that I'm not going to have to mess with overly to make them fit
Here's what I've come up with so far. I can't say whether I'll get some mojo back and go on a tear, but I sense this is my plan until the reno starts, at which point all the sewing will be packed away till my house is done. Links point you to previous posts with pics...

Kristin Spring / Summer Sewing:
  • Harper Jacket - I wear this at least once a week so I think I may have found my match for the insanely gorgeous cashmere double knit Mardel kindly gifted to me years ago. This fabric is fuchsia on one side and grey on the other. It's a true winter fabric so I won't lead with this garment, but it would be so nice to have it at my access in the fall.
  • Who doesn't need a new, bespoke T shirt, made from one's personal sloper? I was hoping to make one of these using a remnant of electric blue bamboo in my stash but, given that I've only got 0.65 of a yard,  I'm going to have to shore it up with some extra from the store. Hope I can find the same bolt of fabric (or one, the colour of which, works as a match).
  • Hudson Pants - I wear these at home constantly. They're perfect for sleeping. They're perfect for yoga. I've got some cylindrical, thick t-shirt fabric that would work for another pair, even if it's not exciting. Of course, I'm compelled to make these with my beloved French terry, so I'm likely to be investing in another yard of that...
  • DKNY Dress (V1179) -  Lord, I've worn my 2 other versions of this dress into the ground, despite the fact that my workmanship left much to be desired. I could use a striped jersey in my stash (bought ages ago from Blackbird Fabrics) but I'm likely to hedge my bets and replace some of my modal or bamboo from Shu Ching. If I can find the same bolts, I can maximize the remnants I still have in my stash.
  • V8323 Very Easy Vogue Top - This is the one I haven't quite cracked (though I've made NUMEROUS muslins). Gonna buy myself a bit more nice fabric to give it one more go. I know I keep saying I've had it with this (after 6 toiles?!) but I see its potential and I've worked so hard to re-draft the pattern such that it can work for my narrow, short and curvy frame.
  • Another sleeveless version of V8790. Turns out I do have a fabric in my stash to make this one. It's the fun floral (see Jalie 2921 top in that link) that Gillian and I both bought (and which she gifted me her remnants of). Added to my remnants, it's enough to make this top. Given that I didn't love the construction process last time, I do hope I find a sanguine way, going forward.
I'm bummed that these aren't more exciting but I've got to stick to the straight and narrow right now. There's just too much afoot - and my body shape is too in flux - to go on a tailoring resurgence this spring. My goal is to make these items fit so gorgeously - in such lovely fabrics - that they'll thrill even if they're aren't new-to-me patterns. And I do intend to supplement with RTW. When one's all over the map, try-and-buy is the way to go.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Well, Hello There...

It's been a while, I realize. I don't think I've gone this long without posting in the whole time I've been blogging (which is practically a decade).

I'm right on the cusp of completing Phase 1 of my most professional professional experience to date. Let's put the emphasis on the fresh, which is the complete opposite of how I feel right now. Knowing that I'm going to have to return to this project again, reasonably soon, is somewhat deflating. But I'd be lying by omission if I didn't say that I've kicked some serious ass, by my own standards, and I've received some pleasing recognition.

I've always been the smart one. I'm comfortable with that label. I love critical thinking and learning and problem-solving and achieving outcomes. Lord, I do love the end result. I am grateful every minute of every day for my cognitive buoyancy. But, man, did I push the limits over the last 8 weeks. There was no part of my brain that wasn't stretched to the edge, all the time. I worked constantly. I'm not embarrassed to say that I struggled a fuck of a lot. And while my work isn't going to result in world peace, I can hope that it will serve my fellow citizens in future. Not to mention that it's taught me ever more about my own motivations.

Right now I'm considering that age-old adage that, just cuz you can do something, doesn't mean you should. I'm trying to reconcile the sort of work I do at work with the sort of work I do at life and the pieces don't cleanly intersect. No freakin' surprise, I realize. I'm only the zillionth modern woman who's engaged with this conundrum.

In case you're curious, my pain condition has remained largely dormant, indicating to me yet again that, while stress is a factor in everything in life, pain for me is mostly about hormones and myofascial neurochemistry.

Mind you, my sense of self has been really eroded by the omnipresence of cortisol and adrenaline. Crafts have largely fallen by the wayside (don't worry, that's about to change). Friends are more of a construct than a reality right now. I haven't even had time to drink adequate quantities of wine (I'm so over any kind of weekday ban) because really, when one gets home at 10 pm, one does not have time to drink before bed?!

I'm taking 2 weeks off starting Monday. Till then, I'm wrapping up loose ends (of all the varieties - to wit, see pics below). I have some nascent sewing ideas that I do intend to put into action soon. Stay tuned for more about that... And on the boring (but weighing on me front), I also have to mend a couple of pairs of handmade socks (they'll be garbage soon, if I don't) and hem another pair of absurdly expensive jeans. I swear, I've lost all sense of balance when it comes to how much I spend on denim.

But really, what I've missed is the mental space - the time to be creative on my own terms, the time to do a really good yoga practice (that isn't only about shoring me up for the stress), the time to freakin' walk to work and stop in at my coffee shop to talk with my friends for 5 minutes while I have an espresso. The time to plan for fun.

Of course, an impending reno is not filling me with the sense of adventure I generally seek out. It's, um, a little too close to home. (BTW, don't ask about it. We're 10 weeks behind schedule and nothing is anticipated to start before August, which means we're going to live through this fucking tear down during a Canadian winter, God help me.) Plus, I've got some potentially expensive and time consuming activities I must undertake over the next couple of weeks - bureaucratic, expat-American stupidity. Whatevs, I'm not engaging till Monday. I just can't bring myself to worry about another fucking thing.

I'll leave you with a couple of photos of knitting projects I've completed over the last few weeks. It ain't much, or particularly exciting, but these little projects are my tether to the things that matter:

Foolproof Take 2 - I love the colour combo...

And, made with the same purple (as shown in the Foolproof Cowl above), here's a new pair of socks.
BTW, I'm in the middle of making a pair of striped socks (3 diff skeins of yarn) and it's NOT simple. I intend to write a tutorial post about how I've kept my sanity while making a small-diameter project, having colourwork, and knitted in the round. Seriously, they make self-striping yarn for a reason. Alas, it doesn't help one to use up small quantities of fingering stash yarn...