Sunday, July 31, 2016

Charlie Skirt - The Drama Continues (Or, if You Prefer, Help Me to Choose My Next Knitting Project)

Brief check in to tell you I've never spent so long making a skirt in my life. And this pattern isn't even lined?! At any rate, I have either made some sort of late-stage mega mistake (though my review of the pattern pieces doesn't lead me to believe this) or there's an error in the 16, pdf version. I think I can fix it but it's going to take ripping out a lot of top stitching at the front waist and cutting down the waistband depth. FYI, this issue was not caused by my minimal, horizontal side seam alterations (which were carefully paired). Having said this, the other two blog people who've made this (I believe in the same size Correction: I made a modified 14, I believe they made the 16) did not note this issue. Could be that I did something wrong, construction-wise, but I don't think that's the case either.

The point is that I've got to put down this project and let my mind unconsciously review the situation. I don't believe this is a foregone failure and I do believe that this version will fit in the end (if not awesomely, first time out). I pin basted it to confirm. I'm just not sure about this waist band/back yoke - not the drafting of the original pieces OR the construction method OR what the final fit will be. It seems like there's too much fabric at the back waist... Might have to alter the yoke next time.

I also have to remove, like, 4 inches of length from the hem. It's crazy. Could have saved myself that fabric! My legs aren't short, even if I am, so I can tell you this pattern is designed with a tall person in mind.

I'm putting it down till tomorrow (I actually stopped at 1pm) but this now leaves me at loose ends on a long weekend! I guess I'm going to have to find a new project to knit as I've finished the Bias Wrap (it's blocking) and my half done pair of socks is at the office. Man that wrap was a fast, terrific knit. Wanna feel productive? Use bulky-weight squish-ball yarn. It disappears like a wet dog in water. But as it's drying, you can see its reconstructed, bloom-y potential.

So here are my next-step knitting options:

Option 1: The Cozy/Chic Fall Topper

Modern Wrapper by Churchmouse Yarns and Teas
Modern Wrapper Fine by Churchmouse Yarns and Teas
These 2 patterns are supposed to be versions of one another but, from all photos, they seem to be quite different in more ways than simply proportion. The Fine version is meant to have more size and fit options (the original is one-size). But the Original seems to have a sleeker silhouette with those fitted arms beneath a dropped shoulder. I think I'm going to have to buy both patterns (10 buck USD each) to see how the construction works in each. Then I can determine which is the better bet. Right now I'm leaning towards the original pattern made on a smaller needle size with a couple of horizontal and vertical edits. If you've made either - or even if you haven't! - please chime in with feedback.

I'll use this yarn, the bamboo/alpaca Briza by Americo:

Briza in Bark
As long as it's not too fuzzy (and the store sample of this yarn was not), I think that the design will look quite good in the Briza. Have I mentioned how much I love having 1500ish yards of yarn for every project. It increases my options tremendously!

Option 2: The asymmetric sweater that could be awesome - or bland:
Sweet Jane by Amy Miller
I've got this yarn earmarked:
Quince and Co. Chickadee in Kittywake
In case you thought I was joking about my irrepressible tendency toward grey and neutrals, think again!

But then there's the pretty, fitted Arrow pullover (below). The Arrow is technically designed for fingering-weight yarn, though the Chickadee I have earmarked is sport-weight. I think it might work well nonetheless:

Arrow by Megh Testerman

But finally...

Option 3: The Hipster One that Karen from Fringe Association would make

Nancy's Vest by Carol Sunday
The wildcard here is the boobs. I'll have to find a way to knit this just big enough or it could be a tent. I'm impressed that so many of the versions on Ravelry, made for peeps of different shapes and sizes, have turned out to be flattering. That's a mark of a good pattern, in my experience.

To make this, I'll use my fab Icelandic indigo merino, gifted by Nic:

So what's the delay? Well, partly I'm feeling conflicted about which choice is the best. If you have thoughts about what I should make first - do let me know!

Moreover, the part of me that doesn't much feel like doing a ton of sweater-math is not jumping on any of these - and I have no idea which will be easiest. I'd say the Modern Wrap, but it's just huge on everyone so I'll need to modify its size, for sure.

Then, it's not lost on me that all of this knitting is stockinette. And most of it not in the round! That means I'm headed for another couple of months of knit one row, purl the next. Having just done this with the bias wrap, I can say that it does get old. Mind you, I much prefer, and find it much more ergonomic, to knit on thin needles with thin yarn, which is what most of the patterns in this next batch require.

BTW, I've been on a roll when it comes to finding gorgeous knitting patterns on Ravelry. Check out my favourites page for some great ideas, dare I say it myself! Somehow those photos show all samples knit in grey?!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Work In Progress: StyleArc Charlie Skirt

I realize, as I'm sewing the Charlie skirt (at a glacial speed), that I still have no idea of how this is going to fit for a whole bunch of reasons:
  • I rarely sew skirts. Moreover, I haven't ever sewn a StyleArc Patterns skirt.
  • I rarely sew with wovens or stretch woven fabrics. Show me a jersey and I'll tell you how to alter the pattern to ensure it'll sew up so it fits. I use wovens for 1 in 10 projects. Maybe. So I don't have much in the way of perceptual memory here.
  • Every stretch woven is a little mystery - How will it drape? How stretchy is it, functionally?
  • To some extent, I'm trying to refine fit (pre-alter) in lieu of having a sense of how the original design would fit. (I find this generally works better than sewing a pattern straight out of the envelope, but it means that there are that many more unknowns during the making of the original muslin.)
It's all the more piquing for miles of top-stitching - this is a denim skirt in spirit if not in construction. Do you know how precisely NEVER I take proud photos of my top-stitching? Um, that's cuz I never do it so I'm not very good at it so I never do it (repeat). Furthermore, it would probably be a good idea to find an edge-stitch foot. Because my machine is vintage (from the 70s), not sure how easy it'll be to find said foot. I'm kind of amazed that I've spent many hours making something the fit of which is still totally unknowable and the visible stitching of which, while better than I've managed in the past, is not exactly approaching perfection.

I'm feeling rather kindly towards myself today. (I know, whack!) So I'm going to be grateful that this is good enough:

I know that these look differently positioned but they're accurately aligned in real life!
Can you believe that this blue rayon denim is the same as the one in the photo below? Weird.

The deep blue of the fabric is actually more accurately shown in the photo above.
Of course, StyleArc isn't taking your money to provide you with decent instruction. Oh no. With this brand you're paying for the RTW-sensibility and generally good drafting. If you don't know how to do something, look it up. I have only once before sewn patch pockets and it was a fucking disaster. This time I went through the following steps, which I made up as I went along (though they're all quite standard, I'm sure).
  • Chalked the patch pockets onto the wrong side of the skirt back pieces. (Who knows if these are the right size or correctly placed to suit my derriere but I can't pre-suppose that everything must be changed or I'd get nowhere.)
  • Pinned the chalk lines so that the shape would be outlined on the right side.
  • Heat fused the facing of the pocket to the wrong side of the fabric to hold it down, prior to stitching.
  • Top stitched the pockets - boringly, but at least it's clean enough. I do not know how peeps manage to top-stitch outrageously complicated curves?!
  • Heat fused the raw edges of the pockets under.
  • Heat fused the clean-edges of the under-turned pockets to the right side of the skirt - the pockets in alignment with the pins.
  • Top stitched the pockets down. Yeah, my needle got pretty gummy from all of the fusible tape I'd used to hold things in place without pins. It was fine though.
Did I mention that I'm not twin-needling? I'm doing each row of stitches independently. I find that twin-needles tend to tunnel as often as they don't and that makes me insane and puts me in a sewing state of persistent agitation. I mean this thing sews slowly but only because of all of the visible stitching. And consider, it takes twice as long to sew each stitch separately than it does to use a double-needle.

Also, didn't realize till half way through that you're not supposed to anchor the ends of top stitched rows by machine back-tacking. Oh well.

I don't have 3/4" elastic. Frankly, I find that width too narrow for everything. Instead I have some firm elastic that's 1 inch wide and some soft elastic that's 1.5 inches wide. I'll use the wider, presuming it'll work...

Oh, and while I'm disclosing the "let's think more about this next time" things, I should have serged, not sewn, the back yokes to the back skirt. Plus, gotta figure out how to serge or pre-finishe the faux-pockets and associated part of the front skirt pieces because those seams are, yeah, safely top-stitched down, but still vaguely frayish on the inside.

I truly hope that the fit is modifiable at the last step - the moment at which one sews the side-seams up (in a really strange way that apparently catches the elastic in the side-seams that might be unsightly or bulky. This is yet another thing I can't bring myself to turn my attention to while sewing a first version.) It's only at the last seam that I'll have a sense of whether the amount of fabric I cut is destined to actually fit my body with tweaks - either increased or decreased side seam allowances... Such suspense! If only this were a reality tv show!

But never mind me - how's your top stitching? Really, are you crazily good at it cuz you were born with great spatial skills (or you have great tools)? Do you get someone else to do it for you (or sew a lot of casual knits)? Do you avoid it cuz you don't have much initial aptitude (that would be me)? Let's talk.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Crafting Towards Autumn (But Happily Still Deep in Summer!)

This is the finished outcome...

Circular Vest Take 2

...of the pieces shown in a photo I posted on Instagram the other day:

I started this in May and really never got into a groove.

I truly have no idea why the slightest sign of rain makes me crazy - but this flinty/stormy sky colourway fills me with happiness.

It is by no means my most capably-knit garment. And yet I don't care. It's a really versatile and cool piece, IMO. It's also got more drape and weight than my version 1. Mind you, I don't know if that will make it my fave of these 2 garments in the end. The blue one has more heft in some indefinable way. I think the key to giving this the appropriate fall is to make it too big. The dilemma with that is that the collar of this garment is the same depth as the rest of the waistcoat piece (it's a circle) and that's already on the voluminous side in a modified medium. It's not a perfect garment unless you fit its proportions perfectly. Oh well, it can still be pretty good.

I used 2 different yarns (diff brands, weight and fiber) and yet they worked together almost seamlessly - each one being a variegated shade of gray. It was for reasons of yarn gauge, more than colour, that I opted to stripe these yarns every other row (or every 4 as I began to run out of the Biscotte). Man, that was a total pain in the ass. As the circle of knitting began to grow, the yarns got mega-tangled, every row, in the already-knitted section of the waistcoat piece.

If I don't end up wearing this often enough, you can bet it's going to a friend. I would never try to unravel it. 50 per cent of my effort was in the invisible striping! I can't say if I'll make this again (certainly not any time soon- it's a bit of a production, though not difficult) but I do recommend it.

This morning I cut out the Charlie skirt and marked the pieces. Tomorrow I'll start putting it together. Right about now, I do wonder how it's going to fit. It could easily be too big or too small, I really have no sense of it. The good news is that I have just about enough of the rayon denim to try again, should it be necessary.

I'll let you know how it's coming along...

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Sisterhood of the Elasticized Waistband

Starting Friday, I'm taking an extra long-weekend, the primary activity during which will be sewing.

(Brief sidebar, in case y'all are wondering: We're going to wait on the reno till March/April of 2017. The crew was actually organized to start next week, but with all of the stuff going on with Scott's parents - and all of the prep work we've yet to undertake, it seems prudent to defer until then. Scott was the one who pulled this trigger but I can't disagree with his motives. Mind you, I have informed all involved that - if this fucking renovation doesn't start the moment the ground thaws next spring - people are going to perish and/or get divorced. Metaphorically, I mean.)

But back to the sewing. I recently came across the StyleArc Charlie skirt:

Here's the genius: It's a skirt made from a stretch-woven fabric, faux front pockets (I hate front pockets) and patch pockets on the derriere. The best part? The back waistband is elasticized.

Don't judge! What's the harm in wearing a pull-on skirt if you can't tell that there's an elastic waist (the front is flat and sports a faux fly)? I've got some woven rayon denim with @20 per cent stretch and I think it's going to do the trick.

Alas, I purchased the online pattern in a multi-size 10-12-14 (these three come in the same batch though they're not nested) and there's a point to be made that I might have purchased the 14-16-18 pack. How I wish they offered a 12-14-16... I also wish that StyleArc gave better sizing information on the website (or even on the pattern/in the envelope).

Here's the thing, I do not sew without making alterations, so any size I bought would have had to be altered. In this instance - having heard that the Charlie fits snug - I took my latest hip/waist measurements and compared them with those of the size 14 the pattern. I mean, I didn't just look at the envelope. I measured all of the seams, minus the seam allowances, did the math and altered (pre muslin 1, that is). I'm glad I did because I cannot stand tightness around my waist or hips right now. I need skim. And that means it was prudent to add an inch to the finished hip measurement and 1.5 inches to the waist. Sure, the stretch in my fabric may pick up the slack, but I'd rather have larger seam allowances than a muslin that feels like casing.

I'm not going to get into it, but yesterday's measurement experience was a shock. I haven't noticed huge increases in my dimensions when regularly measuring (simply small encroaching ones) but it appears that my hips are @2 inches larger than they used to be and my waist is a good 4 inches larger than it used to be. By used to be, I mean 4 years ago. Fuck. To clarify: When I took these measurements, I was not bloated. I had not just eaten.

Here's the situation, Ladies: When you go through the Change - the never-fucking-ending-eternal process of perimenopause,  you may observe no meaningful transition in your body, in your mental capacity, in your physical well being, in your sense of self. And if you fall into that category you are either truly blessed (and you have ALL of my envy) or you're totally unaware (and you still have my envy).*

You may, however, expand disproportionately in some areas of your body. I regret to inform you that it's probably a foregone conclusion based on your family genetics. Those also of Puerto Rican and Italian heritage, you have all of my apple-ish-shaped empathy.** Sure, you can starve yourself. I have a friend who eats, shall we say, lightly - but she doesn't particularly enjoy food and she's struggled with digestive issues for her entire life. But the truth is, you may be so fucking beside yourself, half the time, that food and wine will be amongst the only things that you can still relate to.

I'm having an interesting ride - as you know - though my cycle continues to be of German-precision, if changing. I've got the trifecta of midsection thickening, intermittent chronic pain (rather bad right now, sadly) AND sometimes I feel as if I'm going crazy. When I was a teenager, I remember a family relative, by marriage, was admitted to an institution because she'd come unhinged in midlife. When I asked my mother what could possibly have happened, she told me it was menopause-related, that many of this woman's close blood relatives had experienced the same thing. (Note: They have all recovered and have gone on to live happy lives after an extended stay in hospital.) At that time, I told my mother that she was obviously misinformed -  that it couldn't possibly be so. But right about now, I kind of get it.

Don't misunderstand - while I am totally having a midlife crisis, I am not down for the count. Though I'm struggling - because pretty well all of my internal stability has been perfunctorily upended - I still view this as reintegration via disintegration.

But once again, back to the topic at hand...

I'm going to spend the weekend figuring out how to make a spectacular pull-on skirt that looks totally legit and hangs beautifully. I'm going to sew the shit out of that thing. And when I'm not doing that, I'm going to practice my strange version of yoga/bodywork to ameliorate pain, have some meaningful conversation with my husband (as the kids are calling it these days) and eat and drink less than I might like (but more than perhaps I should).

Stay tuned. It'll be interesting.

* And just to reassure you, or to scare you, I (the poster-child of hateful perimenopause) am rather grateful to say that I don't experience many of the dozens of unfortunate symptoms that can inform the perimenopausal experience. Point is that even I fall somewhere on the "it could be much worse" continuum.

**To clarify: I know that I am within weight and height norms. I realize that I am not technically overweight, even if my waist circumference isn't at the healthy low end (according to some possibly fallible medical association). I realize that norms and "scientific" standards are neither normal nor standard and that we are all unique. I realize that all shapes can be beautiful (or not - it's very person-specific) because of and despite weight, shape and size. I know that youth is as it does. I know that age levels the playing-field. I know that style is timeless, but one's style may change. 

All I'm talking about here is ME. I'm talking about how I used to look a certain way that I liked and that I could relate to. I used to feel good in my body, not wracked with pain. I used to feel capable physically and predominantly healthy, not afraid of what may come. And I am not that person right now. But I assure you, I'm doing my very best to be a new person - one with much more insight, intelligence, agility and self-acceptance than I currently feel.  So when I speak of my body issues, they are mine. Don't think for a minute that I extend them to anyone else.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

6000 Yards

I tend to either sew a lot or knit a lot. These days it's skewed to the sewing with a sock or knit project completion on the side. I do find that socks are a perfect knit in the summer because they are light, easy to transport and enjoyable. So I don't know how (given that socks are largely all I've knit since the beginning of May) that my stash has grown exponentially.

You may recall that by mid-April of this year, I'd used up about 6200 yards of my stash yarn (of all different weights). And then I started yearning for something new to pet...

It started out with 600 yards of this:

Classic Elite Chalet - Bamboo and Alpaca in Stone, Slate and Charcoal
My parents bought this lovely chainette-yarn for me for my birthday when I visited in mid-May. It feels great, it looks great - it's got an ombre gray thing going on. I bought it having seen a knitted sample of the Color Block Bias Wrap. That is what I intend to make with it. I've just today started it. All good.

But then I felt like making a few things that required at least a bit of new yarn. That's how this, this, this and this (new photo pending) came about... Still good - buy yarn / use yarn. That's how it should work.

Then I got a bit sock-frisky and this, this and this were made - from newly purchased yarn natch. Note: I'm going to combine all of the remnants to make a 4th pair of socks. Again, not using stash - but all stash has been assigned to something I can make later. And 2 of these 3 pairs have already been gifted to Sandra and Nicole, to thank them for looking after M while she was sick and I was away. The third pair is technically only half finished.

I also allowed myself, in this grey-phase, to purchase a sweater's-worth of Chickadee in Kittywake (a version of grey). That's 1500 yards I haven't had a chance to use yet:

Quince and Co. Chickadee in Kittywake
I'm pretty sure I'm going to make the Sweet Jane with it. Just haven't closed the loop.

But somewhere along the line, I got a bit sidetracked. 

My goal is to a) be able to fit all of my gorgeous stash into one deep banker's box and b) to ensure that I can use up all of my yarn when I buy it (perhaps by buying more than needed for one project, but by having 2 projects clearly in mind).

The following purchases did not exactly come with that pre-awareness: 

Charlevoix Pure Laine in Grey and Cream
There was no way I was passing up some "real" Quebec yarn while I was in the land of sheep and cheese. I mean, I've never seen it before and I'm likely to have rare access to it. This is a fingering-weight that's purported to be great for socks. It's loosely-twisted 2-ply and it's very airy and it actually has some nylon in it, making it wash-and-dryable, I suspect.  While it's not a merino-bomb, it is rather squishy and soft. I bought 1100 yards. I figure it will make great 2-tone socks - like in a grey theme. You get? If I change my mind, I've got enough of it to make something substantial like a wrap or even a small sweater.

Then I found out that Americo is closing its bricks-and-mortar store (but not online store) and I felt compelled to buy some more tonal-taupe/grey fingering yarn in a chainette construction with lots of air. This is the 3rd time I've purchased airy/chainette yarns in 3 months:

Briza in Stone colourway
I got 4 skeins at 25% off. That's 1600 yards. I truly have no idea what to make with this. Any thoughts?? I'm listening.

And then Nicole went to Iceland a couple of weeks ago and bought me back some gorgeous blue yarn - the only colour I seem to like to knit with other than gray these days:

Istex Kambgarn in Indigo (942)
This is an unusual find - merino in Iceland. It's actually not from Icelandic sheep but from imported merino sheep. It is milled and otherwise processed in Iceland. The colour is gorgeous - not an indigo but not too light. It's quite soft but not excessively drapey. Of course, this is a super generous gift and I LOVE it. But no idea as yet what to make with my 1300 yards of worsted-spun, sport-weight Kambgarn.  It's  a good amount and great weight for a sweater. In truth, I much prefer its sturdy but delicate hand and drape over that produced by the woolen-spun Icelandic fiber. That stuff is interesting but its not my natural preference. Of course, learning more all the time, I have begun to realize my penchant neither for very soft/squishy merino/cashmeres nor the hairy, stiff woolen-spuns. I fall somewhere on the middle of the continuum. I suspect that most of us do.

So now I appear to have a) no room in the box cuz I've acquired b) 6100 additional yards of sport or fingering-weight yarn. Wow - that seems really out of line with "smart stashing".

Or does it? I've got 4 great batches of yarn in adequate yardages to actually think big(ish). I've been using most of what I purchase immediately, because it's set out for something specific. Even in instances where stash has preceeded pattern,  one batch I got on sale for a really good price, 2 others were actually FREE! One I bought to commemorate a vacation. Seriously, this could be worse. In fact, it was worse when I'd buy without knowing anything much about the properties of yarn I wanted or the needs of my projects or how much yarn one requires to do something specific. Also, keep in mind that I've bought and immediately used @2500 yards of yarn since I finished with the Stash Bust in April. That means I'm using the new stuff at a good rate. 

NO doubt, I'm not buying anymore yarn until I've used up another 6000 yards of my current stash. That could happen by next spring, conceivably. I'm  a pretty organized knitter and I do love an outcome. But till it does happen, I will not buy. I have more than enough yarn of the weights and yardages I often use to get me through the winter. Maybe this is my way: 6000 yards in, 6000 yards out. Seems odd but I'm willing to consider it.

But how about you? Do you serially stash? Do you organize and resist even on vacation? What do you think of my new yarns and my, um, rationalization sound argument for more sheep hair ? Let's talk.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Finished Object: Appleton Dress (The Top Version)

Another day, another batch of stuff to say about the Appleton Dress. This time it's the Appleton top hack. I thought this would be a useful opportunity for me to a) use lots o' spatial skills, as I went through every last freakin' inch of my 3 yards of fabric and b) reflect additional alterations to the pattern, after my muslin 1, dress version. And, on these accounts, my new Appleton top is a success. Not that it was outrageously exciting to create, in exactly the same fabric, after just making the original dress. But I'm getting there with the fit...

The Alterations that produced Version 2:
  • I removed a 0.5" wedge just above the waist, tapering to nothing at the side seams (swayback alteration, which works for me because it offsets length required in front bodice to cover boobs). While I was able to do this without adding in a centre back seam, my cutting options were so few that I had to cut the back in two halves or I wouldn't have had enough fabric. That's why there's a seam in this version
  • Instead of incorporating a fisheye dart (my after-the-fact fix of muslin 1, dress version, given that the back bodice was too wide, not photographed), I removed 0.75" from each side of the back bodice only.  
These seem to have improved the back fit rather a lot:

New Version!
Contrast that with the back bodice from muslin 1 (dress version). I eventually fisheye darted the dress version, below is the undarted original. The darting helped but there was still to much fabric over my derriere, as the darting centralized it all.

  • I also  added about 0.25" of extra diagonal height along the V neck bodice. I did NOT narrow the ties - I'm working with the originally-drafted width right now. An extra smidge of height does provide the perfect amount of extra coverage so that the tip of my balconette-bra centre-gores does not peek out.
  • Furthermore, I finished the right-hand side seam (the one with the tie-opening) in a different way this time: serged edges, straight-stitched the side seam, tacked down the tie opening seam allowance with a top stitch. I think it would have been smarter to zig zag the side seam, rather than straight-stitch it, but I don't love the zig zag look so I'm starting with a straight stitch. If it breaks, I'll redo it.
This is much neater than a regular serge (which leaves no seam allowance) and you can stabilize the opening by top stitching down the seam allowance.
I'm not quite done with the alterations. Next time, I'll add a bit more fabric (maybe 0.5" on either side) at the front side-seams.

Some things about the Appleton Top version (vs. the Dress):
  • The instructions for the hack direct you to cut 2 of the left-hand bodice (this is the slightly wider side / front bodice) for more coverage. I actually like this idea for making the dress verision too. It really works. The Appleton surplice is LOW. That's sexy - but it's a bit much (bust line depending) to wear when attending fancy meetings. Next time I make the dress, I'm going to do use the left-hand side pattern pieces only. Note: In addition to adding that extra bit of height on the neck-edge of the bodice (see above), this instruction took the dress from edgy to work-appropriate.
  • While I admire just about everything Cashmerette, I'm not fond of the ties-version provided with the Appleton Expansion Pack - Top Hack. I suspect they are designed to be a) distinct from those provided with the dress and b) an opp to weigh down the top (in lieu of the weight that a dress skirt would provide). Here's the thing: If you want more weight, I suggest you sew some pennies into the hem. The ties are SO heavy and so over-long that, if you make them as instructed - and sit them just under the bust, they are apt to drag down the fabric under the bust and pull at the tie opening. Let me clarify: I am using a robust jersey. A lighter one might be less problematic. But seriously, these ties use SO much fabric. I recommend you stick with the original / dress-version ties and move the opening lower than your underbust, like, to your mid-waist. As you know, I'm calling my version of this top/dress an altered "size 10". Even still, I removed 7 inches of length on each tie, from the original size 12 measurements, and the structure is too long and too heavy. That's six inches over and above my altered "size 10" tie measurement on each side.  
This pattern is an enjoyable keeper - though not a fast sew. It took me 10 hours to sew this top - almost as long as it did to sew the dress (not surprising, as the dress is simply longer, not otherwise different, than the top). The amount of time I made up in the stitching of this version, I more than lost in making the latest round of alterations. Of course, next time I'll realize the benefit (I hope).

One more thing. I'll say it again: Do not underestimate the amount of fabric you'll need to make this dress or top. I usually get away with 0.75 less fabric than recommended within the pattern instructions (because I'm short, narrow, I tend to use wide fabric, and because many patterns seem to overestimate the yardage requirement). Not this one. There are a number of pieces and this dress overlaps itself.

I guess it's clear, at this point, that I cannot turn down competition. Gillian dared me to sew this, even though I wasn't in a playful mood, and now I've got a great new dress and top! So I guess I owe her, yet again! She was, after all, my impetus for sock sewing (which I've now embraced with the power of a thousand suns).

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Pain in the Ass (Amongst other Places)

I don't know whether to be grateful or grudging that pain returned at the onset of a much needed vacation. It's still here - though shifting (and becoming more malleable with awareness. While the time away brought some awesome moments, it culminated in yet another awful stress. My mother-in-law was in a pretty serious car accident. Miraculously, she's alright (physically, anyway). The car, not so much. It's totaled. But it means more things to worry about. My husband is most definitely having the chance to see aging in action - like, writ large - with all of the responsibility that being one's adult child entails. Really, this fucking age-and-stage shit is not our jam. (Note: Scott really is handling things admirably.)

I realize that I spend a lot of time on this blog complaining or, as I like to call it, being honest. (I like to think that I also spend a lot of time on this blog being positive or an occasional resource for others or a momentary good read.) The fact is that I can only write about where I'm at, and who I am, at any given moment.

Sometimes, I'm the crazy yarn stash-buster. Other times, such as today, I'm the lady who has - in the last 2 weeks - somehow managed to accumulate more stash than she actually busted on her recent, serious stash-busting mission (which was a success). Don't worry - I have a very exciting post about that coming up. If you like to watch rationalization in action, that is.

I'm also that half-mathy / half-half-assed intuitive sewist, who's having a super time refining the Appleton dress - and top - over these past few days. I'm going very slowly because, well, I feel like I'm a hundred and like I've been hit by a bus. Moreover, I don't know what the rush is. I have enough dresses to wear on Monday.

FYI, the osteopath, like the massage therapist, believes I have dislocated my tailbone. If this is the case, it should be a fairly easy (but unpleasant) fix. And while I'm pleased to know that the immediacy of my butt pain will likely be temporary, the metaphor is both hilarious and seemingly eternal (at least these days).

Peeps, I live in this body. I know it very well (even as it evades me with its complexity). My lower back/hip/sacral/coccyx pain may be fixable at the extreme (and thank God for that!), but this is related to my other intermittent chronic pain. I can feel it. And I've spent the last four weeks (often standing for an hour at a time) going through the highs and lows. The low: it's horrid. The high: it's fucking experiential. I feel my structural interrelatedness with increased clarity. Before the pain was a cement block, now it's a series of calibrated layers. My awareness increases with every phase. I'm getting better at this, even if the pain isn't falling away. To feel one's body is a great privilege, even if the sensation is the product of a faulty feedback loop. This sensation is a gift, even as it's a curse. It shows me, viscerally, how everything is just the product of perception.

Here's the thing, I don't know if I'm going to have this issue (on and off as it is) for another year or another 5 years or for the rest of my freakin' life. (Note: I truly do not believe it will last for the rest of my life because I believe I can resolve it with awareness and change. My money's on me. For whatever reason, I really do believe in myself. Moreover, hormones will change.) Alas, I don't appear to be the fastest learner.

I have come up with an interesting practice - approximately 20 minutes of work with the MELT roller (I do my own "poses" which target the trigger points), followed by another 25-30 minutes of gravity-based yoga. What is this? Well, I don't know if it exists, as such, or if it's a technique I've devised from my experience of other schools of yoga. I do a series of poses. They can change but include those wherein I can use a either part of my body or a prop (sometimes elaborate, self-devised) to stabilize and ground another part of my body. I hold these poses for 10-15 minutes, increasing the intensity, very slowly, through various isometric micro-actions. These actions are not taken to extremes - the goal is to activate the pain source SO gently that it tricks the source, which then yields and the pain response diminishes. It's bizarrely subtle work. One mobilizes this action with slow, even breathing and conscious muscular breath control (pranayama).  It think it would be very hard to teach this.

Scott is increasingly of the opinion that I should do some weight-lifting (something that fills me with dread at the best of times and seems insane right now). He feels the issue might be exacerbated by muscle atrophy and that, at very least, the endorphins produced might reroute my pain response. I'm not on this page but, hey, desperate times. And he's lived through the entirety of my experience, if one step removed. We both spend a lot of time hatching plans that might improve crazy Kristin-pain.

Of course, life doesn't go into stasis just because one feels like shit. It's an interesting time in my career right now and I'd be unwise not to leverage it. So I'm using all of my tenacity - which is formidible, thankfully - to plow on.

At any rate, just wanted to check in on this topic. I sincerely hope that, if there are other readers out there who manage pain, that my updates may serve as community newsletter of sorts. We are not alone and we are capable of affecting change. We're also the poster children for goddamn fortitude. Here's to self-awareness. (Def toast with a good wine.)

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Almost Finished Object: Cashmerette Appleton Dress

I have so much to say about the Cashmerette Appleton Dress that I doubt I'll be able to fit it all into one post. No mind, let's get started... Here's what my first - not quite finished - muslin looks like:

The seams on this are a bit crunchy (due to Steam and Seam). Once I finish altering this, I'll throw it in the washer/dryer, pre-wear.

This fabric cost a fortune ($60). In the end, even without sleeves I used @2 yards of 70" wide fabric. This is not a cheap sew if you use pricey material. But use a good textile. It makes the process so much more pleasant!

The Good

OK, peeps, this pattern is terrific. It's enjoyable to sew (save a few itchy moments i.e. when attaching the neck/binding to the bodice). The instructions are clear, the drafting is excellent (amongst the best I've ever come across in indie pattern companies), the design is timeless. What can I say? Buy it.

I will absolutely make this dress again - next time with sleeves and with a few alterations:
  • This time, I debated, and then declined to do a swayback adjustment (to account for the length I generally required in the front bodice, that I do not require in the back).  I should have done it. 
  • While I find the construction really lovely, I feel that the the neck and bodice bands are too thick for me. Maybe it's because I left off sleeves. Maybe it's just a proportion thing. I find that the bands look a bit sturdy. Perhaps this is just my initial perspective, but I feel it calls attention to my bust in a strange way. There's enough ease in the (beautifully drafted) front bodice so that I can trim 0.5" of band next time. I suspsect that's what I'll do.
  • The front fits well - even roomily (which I can rarely say). The back bodice, however, is too roomy. I've been thinking about how I might address this - I mean, for 60 bucks, I'm going to find a fix! - and I've come up with a plan: 1 fisheye dart on either side of the centre back (there's no CB seam since it's cut on the fold. The side seams sit nicely but there's too much fabric on the back (you can sort of see it with the vertical drag lines). I've never darted a back bodice without a centre seam so I hope this works. Please let me know if it's not possible!
  • I lowered the ties by 1 inch. I'm really short in the waist but, if I weren't , I'd have lowered it by more like 2". I'm not into an empire bodice - and that's what this wrap dress produces.
  • My bamboo fabric is beautiful. It drapes well. It's adequately robust. I even like the colour, in the end. But it's a bit princess-y - it does love to snag. Next time, I'm going to use a less fancy fabric (till I confirm my alterations). I mean, I'll ensure that it's a good fabric. But I don't think I need to spend another 60 bucks on this until I've got the fit sorted. It did take me a good 10 hours to put together, over 3 days, from start to finish.  I worked consistently and carefully. It's not perfect workmanship, of course, but it's alright. I imagine, next time out, I might shave a couple of hours off the process.
The Rest
  • Somehow I manage to vertically hem the wrong side of the skirt (don't ask me which, at this point, it's a blur). To make it right, in the end, I hemmed them both. If this was the original instruction, I didn't pay attention, but next time I'll def hem both sides. It looks better.
  • I found the tie-opening instructions strange and suboptimal. I used a serger (though I did reinforce the stitches with a zig zag on either side of the opening, in addition to stay stitching) and there's really no way to cleanly topstitch, after the fact. I've got to consider how I'll seam when I make it the next time...
  • It doesn't matter what pattern you purchase, chances are it's not going to fit awesomely without alterations. There are a lot of great looking Appletons on the 'net but, don't be fooled, those sewists pre-altered things to suit their shapes (or they took great photos). If you have a sloper, utilize it. I sense that a you-altered Concord T is an excellent starting-off point for this pattern. By using my Concord "sloper", and knowing what I do of fit - with the exception of the back bodice width, my fit is pretty good. FWIW, I didn't even have to cut more than 1 inch from the length of the skirt and I'm only 5'3". But if I'd cut a 12 C/D, out of the box, it would have been a bad fit. Effectively, I cut a smaller than 12 (like a self-devised 10) with the size 12-14 bust. I'd call that a @10 E/F (Note: that size isn't part of the pattern draft. I altered it).
  • I have a feeling that the underside of the wrap may hang a bit long - it's unclear whether I can fix this by tying things or if I'm going to have to alter to get an even hem. Others have had this issue but, apparently, it was fixed between the test-phase and when the pattern was released. I'm not so sure.
What I'm going to do next
  • As soon as I have a moment (and I do hope this happens in the next week, though who can say), I'm going to dart the back bodice and I'll let you know how it lands. 
So, that's where I'm at. Thoughts about the Appleton? I'm particularly interested if you've made major alterations... Let's talk!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Update on that Stretch Linen Top: It is Totally See-Through

Um, ok. I'm glad I got Scott to photograph me in the linen before I went out because the top is freakin' see-through. Like, not posting it online for eternity, see-through. (Gillian - I see what you mean?!) So here's my revised word on stretch linen (ignorantly extrapolating from this one sort, what all would be like):
  • I'll wear this top to my local, or in my back yard, or as a beach cover up, but the fabric is only nominally fabric, as it happens.
  • Furthermore, the boxiness of the drape (that's how it goes with linen) is not particularly flattering on my body. In truth, I could easily modify the fit of the finished garment (not that I can generally get it up to alter something after sewing it), but people - it's transparent. 
  • Were I to use this fabric again, I'd underline it in the same fabric to improve its opacity. Of course, that might wreck the finished garment in other ways.
This project has still been a success. I've learned more about the Concord pattern, something about a new-to-me fiber, my stitch work is not embarrassing and this experience will provide me with new ways of thinking about linen, stretch or no, and what patterns it might work with in the future.

OK, update on the update: I couldn't stop myself. I just serged off about 1" from each side-seam at the hip, tapering to 1/2" at the waist, up to the armscye, to see how this would affect the fit . The shirt fits me more attractively this way. There's so much to learn about the properties of linen! Not sure if it'll box out again but this is an interesting experiment. Of course, the top's still see-through, but vaguely less so, now that it doesn't hang away from my body as much as it did. I also think I should have cut the bindings (arm, neck) on the grain of stretch. The arms and neck are too high in this version, I suspect because I used the linen on the non-stretch. God help me, I think I may actually make this one again just to see. Don't worry - I'll try not to write 3 posts about it.

Does This Photo Make My Dress Form Look Fat?*

I can't believe I forgot to mention one more "extreme" quality of linen: It sheds like a bitch. Little bobbles fall out of it, mysteriously, the minute you cut into the fiber. This thing is still leaving behind a dusty trail. I'm sure this is temporary - till all of the short fibers dislodge - but it makes an order-driven sewist insane.

So here's a shot of the linen Concord tank - more to show the see-throughness than anything else. It does not look like this on me or I can assure you, I'd throw it out:

I've decided that I like the fluttery quality at the hemline. It doesn't fit like a T shirt would, but it's whimsical.
Here's a great opp to talk about Why Bra Fit Matters:

The very lovely Empreinte Emily - which does fit me, if slightly snugly at the centre gore, does NOT fit my dress form. Its boobs are wider and shallower than mine and it's already wearing a batten stuffed bra (under the cotton sleeve) to approximate my boob shape (which pushes the Emily underwires down still further). It's under bust measurement is larger than mine. So the reason this bra appears to be too long at the under bust and a bit pancakey is that the band is pulling the wires out of shape (again, dress form = wide with no give like an actual rib cage) and the actual upper and centre cup fullness, which the bra mandates, is not happening. I should have taken a shot of the upper cup without the tank. This is what we call size AND shape-mismatch peeps and it's not doing my dress form any favours. This is the basis of my tongue-in-cheek post title.*

You know I talk to a lot of women about bra fit. They email me. I meet them at parties. I work with them. And the most frequent thing I hear, once they transition into a bra of the correct volume and band size (generally about 2-3 cup sizes larger and 2 band sizes smaller than they imagined they'd require), is that they feel thinner. Sure, they also say they feel more gorgeous (and not because they feel thinner) and graceful. But I suspect the reason that these peeps feel thinner is because their breasts aren't floating, unsupported under a boob-hat. Especially if one has projected breasts that are not self-supporting, the lift provided by a well-fitted bra accentuates a distinction between the full bust and the underbust / waist area. That almost always lengthens the silhouette.

This is a great teachable moment about how shape is as important as size in ensuring that you're wearing the correct bra fit. It can take dozens of tries before you find a bra that suits your breast shape, but when you do, you will feel gorgeous. And, once you understand what sort of bra shape actually works on you, you'll save a lot of time because you'll be able to avoid those shapes that are never going to suit.

At any rate, there is no bra that I own that is ever going to fit the form so I went ahead with this one.

About the See-Through: I think this shot overestimates the translucency of the top because the dressform is cotton-white. I'm going to wear this today and, if I can bring myself to, I'll get my friend to take a photo. I think this top deserves a bit more reality than is in evidence here, even if I am a wuss about the selfies.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

I Am Talking 'Bout the Linen*

Where to begin?

I am still nowhere with the Appleton dress because a) it's too hot to tape things (not complaining!) and b) I got derailed by that piece of linen after reading about Gillian's experience.

Brief Sidebar: It's fucking gorgeous outside, given that it's hotter than hell, and I'm enjoying it tremendously, with a glass of (unfortuntately) chilled Tatone. That red is way to heavy to chill - or to drink today. Note: I'm not the one who put it in the fridge so I will complain - but I don't have the discipline to wait till it warms up. I've been sewing for a long time...

OK, back to the stretch linen. I have so many feelings about it:
  • It's a weird little fiber. I think you have to view it like a plant, more than a textile. It's so natural and farm-y that it's hard to begrudge it.
  • It takes everything personally, but it sews up beautifully. What I mean is, Lord, don't stretch this shit because post-stitch "recovery" is not in its skill set. In an unheard of move, I washed it again after sewing, so that I can see how the fabric is actually going to hang. Note: I did not machine dry it as that's not how I pre-treated it. I believe that linen should be air-dried. In truth, it only takes 10 minutes to go from soaking to wearable. Having said all this about the memory issues, it loves a serger, a machine, a coverstich. It's just happy to be there.
  • It really is fucking see-through! I'm cool with that. When it's hot enough to wear, I'm not going to care. And my bras are so gorgeous, they deserve a bit of play. But I don't think I'll be wearing this to work...
  • The stuff I bought is arguably of very high quality. There's no slub. The stretch-factor is about 40% (4 inches to 7 inches) on the cross grain. It does not stretch along the length. It doesn't get shiny with ironing. Alas, it's unfortunate that I neglected to lift my coverstitch needles adequately before yanking the yarn back to disengage the looper. But even that didn't ruin this fabric. It persevered. (A jersey would have been scratched into oblivion.)
And then there's how it sews up:
  • I opted to make my 40 per cent stretch linen Concord in the same size as my others (which are 100 per cent stretch rayon jersey). My sense of linen is that it doesn't recover but it loves to stretch-stretch-stretch. Only wear will tell, but I think I made the right call. I did serge the side seams very close for a bit of extra roominess.
  • Having said this, the Concord is drafted very amply in the hips so I think it might have been wise for me to have serged off more seam in that area.
  • Furthermore, and I totally made this up on the fly, I opted to cut the binding (for neck and armscyes) on the length - so the only stretch achieved is from fabric ease (of which there is much). I didn't want these areas to bag out. I didn't know if this would work (so I pre-sewed and took quite a bit of time pinning etc.) but it was worth the effort. 
  • I'm glad I opted to forego the sleeves. Linen and sleeves are a really weird combo that I've never been into.
  • Peeps, my stitch work on this project is fine. I took 3 hours to sew a sleeveless T shirt which means I took my time and I love the end result. Of course, it's a fucking black fabric with black thread so no one will ever know!
I will post a photo of this Concord hack (prob on my dressform) once it dries, and I'm calling this project a success. Will I run out to buy 100 bucks worth of stretch linen any time soon? Um, no. Might I make up a Kielo maxi using it - next year, say? Perhaps. And I'm glad to learn more about a new fiber, even one that doesn't innately thrill me.  I actually think I'm more into linen yarn than linen fabric -and even that is something I've only forayed into once.

PS: I think I may actually have enough fabric to make one more of these...

*Unless you're Gen X or older, this will probably mean nothing to you, but there's a HIDEOUS song by England Dan & John Ford Coley (I actually had to look up who sings it), from the '70's, called I'd Really Love to See You Tonight. It's a scourge. At any rate, one of the lyrics in the chorus is: "I'm not talkin' 'bout movin' in" and it sounds EXACTLY like: "I'm not talkin' bout the linen". Once you've heard it, you'll never be able to unhear it. So proceed with caution. I guess I should try harder with my post title puns if they actually require a footnote explanation.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Vacation, Part 3

OK, today is when I cap the lid on Spendapalooza 2016. I went out today for fabric and came back with yarn (and fabric) and I didn't go to the cheap places.

What I discovered, to my shock, as I walked past Americo is that its closing its only bricks and mortar shop after 10 years. Apparently, new owners bought the building and raised the rent to twice the current amount. Happily, the owner is content to explore new distribution models - and the popular online shop will remain open. But I will miss this lovely retail space, an oasis in the ugly. So how could I say no to 4 skeins of Briza for the price of 3 - especially given that this store does not do sales? (Note: Sale is in-store only.) I have it on good authority that there will still be a place to purchase this brand, in store, once Americo shutters on August 6.  Stay tuned for more details. And no, I did not buy this (or my Charlevoix haul) with any firm plans. I realize that's not in keeping with my new knitting/stash mindset but, whatevs. It's my vacation and yarn is like sheep you can knit with.

Americo Original Briza in Bark
This neutral colourway is called Bark and it's a natural grey meets brown. The construction of the alpaca/bamboo blend is chainette, a yarn ply I've tended to avoid in the past - but which I'm now embracing for its ability to interject airiness into an otherwise dense fabric. It can be knit on size US 5 needles to produce a light-weight garment OR on a US 2.5 for a heavier end result.

After this stop, I continued 3 seconds down the block to my original destination: Chu-Shing where I bought 3 yards of this bamboo jersey (70 wide):

It looks grey in the photo above (doesn't everything I buy?) but it's actually pretty damned bright periwinkle, in a way I hope is not too twee. Here's the thing, I'd like to embrace a new colour - and a bright one - but I'm not quite in a "look at me" peacock blue mood. This fabric may meet my needs, or not. I guess only time will tell.

My goal over the next few days is to make the second of my sleeveless Concord T hacks (using a cerise jersey stash remain). It's cut and ready to go. Then I need to tape, alter and cut the Cashmerette Appleton dress. You'll recall that the reason I went to extensive mods on the fab Concord was to save myself from some unknowns when first making this wrap dress. I hope this pays off!

I think I'm going to cut a sleeveless Appleton, given the time of year and the fact that I can always put on a little sweater if it gets chilly inside. This fabric is very pricey at 28 bucks a yard - I'm sure last time I went in there it was 24. (Admittedly, this time they gave me 3 meters for that price because I mentioned my discontent about being short on fabric when last I purchased.) Point is, I don't want to use up tons of fabric on my first go round (even if the pre-modified Concord provides a protective factor). If I can get 2 dresses out of this yardage - or a dress and a top - that would be preferable.

Then, though this was not on the agenda, when I saw it, I had to buy 1.25 yards of stretch linen! Remember when I wondered about whether this exists for home-sewists? Apparently, it does! The yardage below is actually black but it's overexposed to better show the drape and weave.

And just to be boring capitalize on prior alteration success, I'm going to make yet another sleeveless Concord T with it to see if I can get with sewing stretch linen. In truth, linen and I are not natural friends, but how can I learn about new fabrics if I don't give them a try? What if this produces a gorgeous end result? I'm a bit bored by the same-y Tencel, Modal and Bamboo options I've got at my access. Alas, the linen isn't cheap either (25.00/yard) but, if by some chance I love it, I could go crazy and make a Kielo maxi with some more of it, next.

I've Instagrammed the crap out of this day, including pics of a great lunch and a better shot of the Briza, so hop on over if you want the play-by-play.

Curious to know if any of you has made the Appleton without sleeves? Have you knit with Briza? Are you glad I'm the one spending all the money here while you get to live vicariously? One thing's for certain, the yarn stash is closed. I've now replenished all the space in my yarn box and, till the new is used, there will be much dreaming about what to make with what I already own.

Monday, July 4, 2016

From La Ferme to Le Spa Kristin

It's a spectacular day where I live and I'm happy to watch it from in here. Quinoa cooks while I drink some green juice and a turmeric shot. (Damn straight that quinoa's got butter in it. What am I, an ascetic?)

The Good and Turmeric booster from Greenhouse Juice
I'm wearing my new Concord T (the sleeveless hack) and I freakin' love it, even if my pre-vacation stitching handiwork is lacking. In truth, the fabric was more difficult than I imagined it would be...

It's Spa Kristin here. I've put on a face mask. I've body scrubbed. I've slathered everything with organic potions. I've put on my essential oil diffuser. I'm considering my next yoga practice as I'm in quite a bit of pain. I'm wondering about which half-done knitting project to pick up. I'm wondering about whether it's sacrilege to watch Netflix on a perfect summer day. I sent Scott out for a very fine Sauvingnon Blanc. Dinner's going to be here soon enough and, while I'm totally working the clean living angle, one's organic broth with vegetables and pastina needs a pairing.

(I've also paid bills, unpacked, cleaned, nagged at the child to clean and organized my life to the best of my ability given that I'm not really into it. I will assure you that throwing money at things comes with a serious downside. Lord. While I will never regret having purchased my new wrap - which I wore daily in Quebec while every chic woman complimented me in French - I might have waited for a less spendy moment.)

To return to the whole juice thing, just for a minute, I do want to mention how life changing that wretched juice fast was for me the winter before last. While I will never forego food purposefully again, the experience taught me that no-sugar green juice and I are weirdly compatible. Moreover, there is no turmeric shot in the GTA that I haven't tried at this point. And, well, you know of my homemade almond milk obsession...

Lots of people look at me like I'm insane when I tell them about my propensity to drink cold-pressed juice. It's not the drinking that shocks them so much as the paying a fortune for juice that's gone in 5-20 minutes. They don't even have cold-pressed shops in Quebec, as far as I can tell (at least not that I could find). Before I got into it, I was convinced that the juice thing would last about 5 minutes and then everyone would be out of business. (BTW - that's what I thought about online shopping, too, back in 1993.) Now that I've experienced the strange, deep cell-plumping feeling, that comes of drinking really high-quality vegetable juice, I'm frankly hooked. I do not believe it is mere placebo. The greens are delicious and intense and they make my body feel lively, even as pain is hovering. Furthermore, it's a massive haul of vitamins in every glass but you don't even have to chew - nor is there any of that hideous foam that comes from home-juicing! I dislike the tree-texture of many green vegetables even as I quite like the taste. Be ware, however, of the green juices with any amount of sugar. Very quickly they devolve into a fruit drink which does not leave one with liveliness, with that vitamin-y glow. If you want to drink sugar (and I don't recommend it), I suggest you do it with a nice Sauvignon Blanc. Or in the form of a macerated date in a glass of almond milk. Either is quite good. :-)

At any rate, off to eat some organic black quinoa. Ever had it? It's actually way better than the other colours. It's much crunchier - almost like popcorn in a way - and it's got a deeper flavour than the white and red varietals. If only I had some sheep to pet.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Vacation, Part 2

So I managed to pull it back from the edge, btw, which you could not help to notice if you follow me on Instagram.

Baie St. Paul is in that class of  "most gorgeous places in the world". I cannot begin to explain how it lifted my spirits:

The view from le Mouton Noir
Someone's side garden...
Someone's else's side garden. Not joking.
Flood plain at high-tide
Is this not the bad-assest cow on the planet??
I realize that my hipster/hobby farm experience at La Ferme would put me in that dubious class of bourgeoisie that every so often gets its head chopped off, but don't let that drab website fool you. It's a paradise here. It's actually hard not to laugh every time one looks right, at a piglet, only to look left at an outdoor bath-spa. Allow me to clarify - it's amusing and entirely ok with me.

This is by no means the first time I've been to this town. Scott's grandmother comes from the area. But is is the first time I've stayed - largely cuz this is the only time in a long time that I found the will to drive and, concurrently, La Ferme was in operation. I'm not one of those small-town B&B-goers. Bad decor ruins my mood. (Yeah, I know, another of those off-with-her-head sentiments but really, I become suicidal at the sight of rain. I'm a bit of a Bronte character at this point, non?) At any rate, the eco-chic/minimal shit going down was just my scene (if they did take it a bit far) and I could easily see myself staying at this place for a week or two.

Our goal, going forward, is to use BSP as a new experience of Quebec, the province. Alas, the city, for me, is done. Don't get me wrong, if you've never gone there, go! Not this year, though. This year they're having a weak moment. But I've seen it adequately and I'm really getting into the country lifestyle. (OK, the country with manicured lawns and restaurants, admittedly, but every transition in its time.

After we headed back to QC, to grab the train, we ended up, for one more night, in Mtl:

The view from one of our window banks. It really is a spectacular room...

Huitres from Salle a Manger

Mtl iconography

The city really pulled it out for us last night, even if we did crash (in one of our many food comas) at 9:30 pm. Some peeps were playing a Robert Lepage-esque film on the wall diagonally across from ours. It was very cool.

The Gault hotel is very special, inasmuch as one doesn't go there often, but I've been throwing money at things these days. Sometimes you need sanity more than prudence, you know?

I'm on the train right now, drinking some sketch red wine, waiting for dinner. There's been a total chaos here. They oversold the car. Every stop it gets more complicated. And then there's the idiot playing loud music through the headphones two seats away. I know - at least I've got a seat - but honestly, they tell you to turn down your fucking headphones when you board for a reason.

Tomorrow begins phase 2 of this fortnight-long vacation. It's the phase when lots of cold-pressed vegetable juices come to my door at @5am. When I eat brown rice with chicken broth and celery. Don't misunderstand - I'm not on a fast! But I've eaten and drunk SO much in the last 8 days (including one, life-memorable 9 course tasting menu at L'Initiale which I couldn't begin to describe) that my kidneys are sore. I need to tone it down. Yeah, I may eat out, I may have a glass of wine - but it will be very regular-fare. I've also got some appointments to deal with my back. I really don't know what's up. It's possible I may have pinched a nerve. It's very odd... And I've got some myofascial and yoga practices planned, around sewing.

In truth, if I don't feel like sewing, I won't. I suspect I'm going to want to, though. I mean, I'm having a moment. But this next week is about introversion. I'm going to do what I will.

BTW - if you're wondering about M, she is feeling much better. I do think that her blood test will show mono, but she's most definitely not as bad off as she was mid-week. Throughout the last week,  Bill, Nicole, Sandra and Hilary have all kept her company, made sure she was eating healthy food and spent time with her.  I feel incredibly grateful to them all.

Soon we'll see if she's maintained (or reconstructed) my expectation of a Kristin-clean house. I am a dreamer, after all... Stay tuned.