Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Selfish Sewing Week - The Reality

Selfish Sewing Week is now over of course and as promised I'm back with my reality check post of how my week went.

For a brief bit of time I thought this was going to be an incredibly short post stating, "It didn't happen." However, at the end of the week I was able to get a bit more sewing time in and finish up at least one project in the nick of time.

I'm a bit disappointed that I wasn't able to get all three done that I'd planned, but you know what? I'm not going to beat myself up about it.  I was still having quite a bit of discomfort from my back and hip and was trying to get caught up on all the things I couldn't get done the week that I couldn't do anything at all.   Also, the one item I did get done, was a complete winner.  I absolutely ADORE it! So that is an extra big bonus in my books!

Onto my finished item.  It was, of course, project number one, the Susie Blouse.  It was my first ever time sewing a Sew Over It pattern and I was really impressed.  I did muslin it first and I'm really glad I did as I definitely needed to tweak the pattern to fit properly. I actually did two muslins, which of course also cut into my planned schedule, but I'd much rather take the time to do the leg work at the beginning and finish with a garment I love rather than forge ahead and have a dud sitting in my closet unworn.  Now that I have the size down pat I can definitely see making more Susie Blouses in the future!

I ended up sizing up from my original muslin to accommodate my broad shoulders then doing a sloped shoulder adjustment, and tapering down a size for the waist and hips.  I think in retrospect I could have lengthened the blouse a touch as well for my personal preference, but it'll do alright as is for both tucked in and untucked.  I also could have shaved off a smidge more in the hips, but again.  It'll do.  The only other adjustment I made was to adjust the sleeve cap slightly.  My sloped shoulder adjustment brought the previously drooping armscye up pretty much the perfect amount, but then the sleeve cap was a bit uncomfortable so a quick shave off to make a gentler curve and it was perfect.

The fabric was a great bargain and I've enough left over that I'll likely either make a Tortola Tank or a Sorbetto with the remainder.  It's a polyester with a silky feel and great drape, but was lovely to sew with, not slippery at all. It's showing up on the photos as shiny, but it's actually a matte.  It rained all weekend though so we had to use the flash when taking the photos and maybe that's what accounts for the shine?  I've no idea.

I did finish all the seam allowances with my serger though as I discovered much to my horror how much it wants to fray when I trimmed the seam allowance a wee bit too close on the collar and ended up with it fraying apart at the seam.  EEEK.  Thank goodness for extra fabric!  I cut and new collar and was far more cautious after that.  Also, as you can see in the photos, static cling.  OH MY WORD!!!!  Unbelievable amounts of static in this fabric.  Must find a remedy for that!!

I did manage to also start sewing my Wedgwood skirt but didn't get it finished.  I'm now in limbo on it's construction waiting for my Ebay lace zipper order to arrive.   I'll finish it up quickly enough once the zips arrive (providing I get a dark blue in my "random assortment pack") since I've decided I don't really want to use the red one I have in my stash currently.

As for the Shelley?  It didn't even get cut out, but that's ok.  Its pretty much a no brainer, quick one or two day project at this point.   So that was my Selfish Sewing Week in a nutshell.   Not as successful as hoped, but certainly not a complete bust.

Next on the agenda will be participating in Me Made May!  I just realized that's coming up in a hurry so headed over to So Zoe to throw my hat (or pledge as the case may be) in the ring today.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Selfish Sewing Week - The Plan

Today kicks off the start of the Imagine Gnats Selfish Sewing Week!  Now, I know what you're thinking.  You're probably saying to yourself, "But Sarah, you always get excited about this sewing week or that sewing week and then you never get anything sewn!"  Or maybe that's just ME saying it to myself, because I can pretty much guarantee that happens 99.9% of the time around here.

But this time will be different.  This time I have a plan!

See?  An honest to goodness plan.  I even wrote it all out for myself on the handy little printable planner from Rachel at Imagine Gnats.

The only caveat I have to all this planning business is that I don't yet know if I can really sit at the sewing machine.  I've been down for the count since last Monday with horrendous low back/hip pain.  Bad enough that I couldn't actually dress myself and had to rely on the kindness of my five and six year old each morning.  (and all the result of merely bending to tie a garbage bag of all the unheroic and unathletic reasons. BAH)  It is slowly getting better but it's been a long haul this time, possibly the worst I've had in the last ten years.  I got dressed all by myself today including my socks though, which I feel is a huge improvement!! I also didn't want to cry getting in and out of the truck to drive the boys to and from school and I can get in and out of a chair without needing a hoist.

So here we go. As you can see from my plan I've got a busy week scheduled for myself.  First up is a Susie Blouse from Sew Over It.  I love it's sweet simplistic design and could see it working in all sorts of different fabrics.  The fabric I've set aside for it is a feminine little scattered floral on a navy background. I know it's showing black in the photo, but I swear it really is navy.

For Susie

Next up on my schedule is a chambray Straight Stitch Designs Wedgwood Skirt.  I was drawn to both the big pleats and the cute side pockets detail on the pattern.  And although I've been a staunch disapprover of the exposed zip, I've suddenly switched sides and am now smitten with the idea.  Initially I'd ordered a red lace zip for this skirt and I thought red button accents on the pockets, but then I got to thinking that I'd rather have a navy zip and navy buttons, because I'm currently on the hunt for the perfect navy and white polka dot fabric to do another Wedgwood in and I think the red zip and buttons would go so well with that instead of the chambray.  Only problem is I am awaiting a shipment of zips that I bought off of Ebay and they are taking their sweet bloody time in arriving, so I'm not sure I'll be able to actually finish my skirt this week.  Ah, the trials and tribulations.

For Wedgwood
Last on the list is a new Pin Up Girls Shelley bra.  It's my go to pattern and I've got the fit perfected now, so it's a no brainer.  My ivory lace, power net and duoplex as well as findings just arrived from Bra Makers Supply last week ready to be cut out.

For Shelley
Wow. I've got to say that it's all kinds of weird to be talking about my under garments publicly like this.  Sooooo... Anywhooo... moving right along.  Nothing to see here...

Of course throwing a bit of a wrench into my plans was the arrival in today's post of this gorgeous sateen cotton from an eBay purchase a few weeks ago.  I wasn't expecting it until the end of the month and yet here it is already! I'm beyond impressed with both the quality of the fabric and the speed in which it arrived all the way from Bangkok.  (Well damn.  I can't manage to ever even think the word Bangkok without having One Night in Bangkok start playing on continuous loop in my brain. So know that as I'm typing the remainder of this post I'm actually singing along with Murray Head.  Which is ridiculous because I didn't particularly like the song back in '84 when it was released and I don't like it any better now.  It just gets stuck there. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.)


The fabric in question is this:

For Emery???

It's so lovely I wish I'd bought an extra yard of it to make a Sew Over It Betty, but since I didn't (WHY OH WHY????) I think it may become another Emery.  And I may switch up my schedule a bit to include it this week.

What is it with the navy blue kick I'm on this spring?!?  I just realized I've mentioned navy in relation to an astounding four different projects in this post alone.

Anyways, back to the plan.  We shall see how much I can get done on it.  So far in little bits today I've cut out my pattern and a muslin for my Susie.  I've done some basic pattern adjustments, but need to tweak it a bit further I think yet.  I was hoping to sew a few seams this evening, but I think I'll have to pass on it tonight.  Hopefully tomorrow will work out better in terms of actual sewing.

I'll be back sometime in the next week to tell you how Selfish Sewing Week actually goes and if I manage to sew anything at all!  For now though I'm going to say goodnight.  I've taken all my meds for my back now and the pharmacist wasn't kidding when he warned me about the drowsiness from the muscle relaxant.  I'm starting to feel a bit cross-eyed at the moment.  Hasn't put the least bit of a damper on One Night in Bangkok mind you...

Monday, April 04, 2016

"Operation New Dress"

Emery Dress with Vianne Cardigan

A few months ago I took a notion into my head that I wanted a new dress to wear to N's pop up restaurant I was going to on February 8th.  I wisely took my brand new Anouk cardigan that I'd just finished knitting for Untangling Knots Selfish Sweater KAL along with me to the fabric store on February 1st and selected a nice weight charcoal grey/purple fabric.  It matched beautifully under the shop lighting and I can sew a dress in a week easily.  No problem!

Spoiler: There were problems.

Gathered shoulder yoke pattern hack
I had dress woes from the start on this one!  First off I chose to do Colette's Peony.  I had won it in a sew along last year and thought why not?  I blithely ignored all the comments and complaints about how hard it is to get Peony to fit.  Perhaps in arrogance?  Maybe in delusion?  I figured, how hard can it be?  I did decide to make it easier on myself and do the gathered yoke hack they have on the Colette website.  I loved the look and thought two less darts to worry about.  Sweet.  And it could've been, but then I made my muslin and OH DEAR BOB!  What the heck?!?!

Not sure what body type Peony is drafted for but it is definitely not mine.  It was laughable.  Gaping at the neckline.  Bust darts no where near the right spot.  Too short in the bodice.  But the worst offender by far was the back.  Oh the back.  I should have taken pictures.  It was the most ridiculous thing imaginable.  I had a huge poofy balloon of fabric going the entire width of my back from the middle of my back on up.  I could have used it as a papoose to carry a small child in.

The Peony disaster was on Friday.  My dinner out was Monday.  I didn't have time to start messing about.  So I consulted the inter webs and chose Christine Haynes' Emery dress instead.  Everyone loves Emery.  There's nary a complaint I've read about it.  Awesome!  Just what I need.  A tried and true pattern.

Emery printed off, assembled and cut out.  Please be good to me!
I decided to do the straight muslin first and then once that fit do the gathered yoke hack from Colette. My first muslin did not go too badly.  A few minor fit issues.  Take in the shoulder darts, take in 5/8" on either side of centre back and things were looking fine.  So I did a new front with the hack.  Things were still looking fine although I was getting a bit suspicious about those armholes.  They seemed pretty low and gape-y.  I decided to sew in the sleeve and assess from there.  WOE IS ME.  I could not move my arms.  The sleeves themselves were fine, but that armscye?  Disaster.  So back to the drawing board.  I raised the armscye by about 3/4" thinking that would help, but then could for the life of me get my little brain to figure out how to adjust the sleeve pattern that obviously would no longer fit.  Out of frustration and not just a bit of laziness I decided that sleeveless probably looked a little better anyways, so moved on.

Sailing right along and feeling good about things I cut out my good fabric and set to work.  I pleated the skirt so as not to have poofiness of gathers at my midsection.  Then  I painstakingly did my first ever in over 30 years of sewing invisible zip and it looked good!  I was so pleased with myself!  All that was left to do was hem and facings.  Easy peasy.  By this point it was Monday afternoon and I had an hour and a half left before I needed to leave for the dinner.  I tried on the dress so I would be able to see how much I needed to hem it up.

First problem.  Threw my Anouk cardi on to get the "full picture" even though the neckline and hem were still showing unfinished.  It looked ridiculous. Remember that aforementioned matching business?  It so did not match.  But all was not lost.  Grabbed my Vianne.  Looking much better cardigan wise!  Awesomesauce!!!  Problem one solved.

Second problem.  Oh what the hell?  I lengthened the bodice by about 3/4" because on my muslin it felt a bit short.  This is not an uncommon problem for me, so I didn't even hesitate to blithely add that length in.  What I forgot to take into account is that the weight of the skirt would pull that bodice down a bit.  Damn.  Definitely starting to look school marmish and matronly instead of cute.  But it would be ok.  At least for that night.  My cardi would hide the too long bodice.  So phew!  No problem two for the time being!

Third problem.  Something is still off on the armscye.  Really off.  And what the heck!  My neckline gapes.  Still Vianne could hide a myriad of fit sins.  Third problem could wait until after the supper.

Fourth problem. I turned around to look at the back view.  My painstakingly done invisible zip had a bit of a weird buldge right at the base of it that I swear I didn't see when I ironed it all nicely.  Worst than that though?  I did my blasted pleats on the back the opposite of the pleats on the front.  And as it turns out pleats that face towards the side seams are a whole lot more flattering than ones that face towards the centre on me.  I had what appeared to be a giant ol' bubble butt.

At that point "Operation New Dress" became Operation Damn it All to Hell, I'll Just Wear Jeans. There are days that I honestly feel I should just toss out the sewing machine, fabric, all the patterns and give up.

A welcome distraction of deliciousness.  
So, I wore jeans and my favourite red Itch to Stitch Irena Top and I sulked about my lack of a new dress.  I didn't sulk for too long because the food was too yummy to worry about what I was wearing.

After a few days in the time out corner, I hauled the dress out again and set to work taking it apart.  I did a new muslin of the bodice in a size smaller (graded out at the waist) and tried it on for fit.  It was so much better, but there was still some funky armscye excess fabric happening since I wasn't using sleeves.  I pinched in a dart in the front armscye, then transferred that to my pattern, rotated the dart, reshaped the armscye and redid the bodice muslin.  Things were pretty close at that point to a fit I liked.

Next, I was still fixated on the gathered yoke hack, so with a good fitting bodice I did yet another muslin to test out the yoke.  At this point in the proceedings I figured I might have a new dress by the time I was 90.

Gathered Shoulder Yoke
Not so invisible, invisible zip -
 I think it's pulling a bit due to how I'm standing
Which finally brings us to today. Almost two months later. No, I'm not 90, but I do feel I've aged considerably through "Operation New Dress" hell.  But, at least I  have a dress to show for all that work. And I even learned some new tricks - making continuous bias tape from a square of fabric and using my Clover bias tape thingy as well as re-learned some tricks - moving and repositioning darts. However, I don't even like it anymore.  It's drab. It's dreary.  It's boring as all hell.  BAH.  I want flowers! I want birds!  I want quirky and fun!  C'est la vie. Least it's done and perhaps someday I won't dislike it quite as much as I do right at this very moment.

A new to me technique for making bias tape for my neckline and armholes.
Also the first time I've ever used my Clover bias tape gadget even though I've had it for about five years...
This is a game changer for me.  It was so easy!
Now, even though Mother Nature doesn't seem to be wanting too,  I'm setting my sights on spring. A Wedgwood Skirt, another Emery, a Susie and I've got some nautical fabric en route from an eBay purchase...  How about you?  Any exciting plans for spring crafting?

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Paprika Patterns Zircon

What seems like forever ago, Lisa of Paprika Patterns generously sent me a copy of their Zircon Sweater/Dress pattern to review.  I was really excited to get a chance to sew it up because the design details really intrigued me.  Then life happened.  And then Christmas happened.  And then more life happened.  And now here it is, the first day of spring, and I'm reviewing a top that I had initially planned as perfect for cozying up in through the long cold winter months.  Oh well.  Depending on your own fabric choices you could easily make this one for whatever season you wanted! So, lets get on with my better late than never review of this versatile pattern from Paprika Patterns!

Zircon, as I mentioned, has a some really neat design details. The geometric shaped yoke and insets look really challenging to sew, but in actual fact are no where near as bad as it would seem. It does take time to achieve nice crisp corners, but if you take that time and go slowly its well worth the effort!  Lisa walks you through it pretty thoroughly in the pattern instructions but if you're still hesitant or struggling, she has a tutorial up on the Paprika Patterns site as well which will guide you through.

Other than the yokes and insets - spoiler alert: the insets for the top are super easy especially since you'll be so practiced on the yokes by the time you do it.  It took me a few minutes and I didn't even use pins at all and they came out pretty darn good if I do say so myself! - the rest of the sewing is very easy to do.

Fit wise I have absolutely no complaints.  I chose a size seven based on my measurements (and previous Paprika Patterns designs) and only added a bit of length to the body for personal preference.  Zircon comes in the usual vast range of sizes for Paprika Patterns - sizes 1-10 or a finished bust of 35" all the way to 50 1/2" and I found it to be right in line with the sizing of the other Paprika Patterns garments I've sewn in the past.  I do really love it when I can trust that a new pattern by a favourite designer is going to give me the same great fit I've come to expect from their previous designs and Lisa does a fantastic job of delivering on this.  I've not been disappointed yet.

For me the biggest challenge of Zircon is fabric choice.  One of my delays was my initial choice of fabric.  As soon as I laid out my pattern pieces on my fabric I realized what a poor choice I'd made.  I was on the fast track to resembling none other than an ill fated Star Trek "red shirt".  Thank goodness I realized it before putting scissors to fabric!  I quickly realized that my next choice was still pretty Star Trek-ish although at least I'd likely live to see another day, unlike the red shirts.  Don't get me wrong.  I am a Star Trek fan to a certain degree, but that does not mean I want to go through life looking like a Star Fleet wannabe.  So, back to the drawing board.  I eventually settled on using a somewhat texturized looking knit for the body and it's plain reverse side for the yoke and inset detail.  I'm not crazy about the fabric, but it's definitely better than my previous plans!

My only slightly negative thought, (and it has nothing to do with the pattern quality at all) is that the neckline feels a touch too high for me.  I've been mulling over this since finishing my top (ok - really I finished it just before lunch and it's only 2pm now, so it's not been a lot of mulling) and I feel that the high feeling neckline is just me and my preferences.  I generally sew/wear tops with a lower scoop or v neck as I find they feel a bit more comfortable and flattering on me, but I'm going to give it some more time to see if it grows on me before I change it up at all. I didn't worry about finishing the edge of the neckline at all, so if I do decide to change it down the road, I won't have to fight with removing serging.

I actually only serged the hem and the sleeves (and of course once I make a decision about the neckline I'll finish it off with some serging too).  The rest of the pattern was easier to just leave the seam allowances as is so as not to add any bulk on the corners.  The stable knit I chose doesn't curl at all at the edges and of course being a knit, it won't fray either, so I wasn't worried about finishing them off.  I just notched all the corners before pressing to get them to lay flat and smooth.  (holy cat hair, Batman!  Fluffy the very annoying feline sewing assistant was sitting on my fabric while I was working on it and it shows.  I guess he felt it the comfiest spot in which to chew on the thread as it passed by.  Damnable cat.  He thinks thread makes the best kitty dental floss ever.  Especially if it's moving through the machine at the time. Aggghhh.  Anyways.  Apologies for the frightening amount of fur in the photo!)

All in all, I give the Zircon Sweater/Dress pattern a two thumbs up and highly recommend it! It'll be a great addition to any wardrobe and depending on fabric choices can take you from season to season.  I feel it could easily be dressed up or down too, depending on the fabric from downright comfy weekend sweatshirt to something much classier and going out or office appropriate.  So a big thank you to Lisa for sending me the pattern!

*Just a quick reminder that although I did receive the pattern for free all opinions expressed here are my own, so you can feel confident that if you choose to sew up your own Zircon you'll really be getting your money's worth with this pattern.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Breakfast Poutine

It's been awhile since I have posted any recipes at all, but after posting a pic of my breakfast this morning on Facebook and Instagram a few people have been asking what it is and what was in it so I figured I'd toss it on up here on the blog for everyone's enjoyment.

There's a restaurant across the street from the school that the little boys go to and one of their claims to fame in their little country town is the different variations of poutine that they serve.  (For anyone who might not have ever encountered poutine, it's a Canadian dish that originated in Quebec and traditionally is a big old helping of fries mixed with cheese curds - or as we often call it "squeaky" cheese and topped with brown gravy.  YUM. YUM.)

So last fall I ended up at the restaurant for breakfast with some of the other "grade one moms" and I spied Breakfast Poutine on the menu.  As soon as I read the list of ingredients on the menu I was in.  Hook. Line. Sinker.  There's no gravy involved in their breakfast poutine and actually there's no squeaky cheese either, but there is hollandaise sauce and quite frankly I get weak in the knees over hollandaise.  Can not resist it.

I went out for breakfast again last week and came home raving about my breakfast poutine at which point my hard working, never get to go out for breakfast hubby inquired as to why he hadn't been served this dish of deliciousness yet, so I promised that on his first day off I would make it.

Today was that day.  Here is how I copied it

(PSA:  Wear stretchy pants and make no plans for the rest of the day.  This is the sort of meal that a) you should probably actually plan to run a marathon afterwards to burn off the badness and b) you will in all reality be so full that you will not want to move for the rest of the day.)

Breakfast Poutine

Prepare the following:

Fried cubed hash browns (I do my hash browns in the deep fryer.  Sorry, I did warn you didn't I that this is definitely not in the health food category, right?)
Scrambled eggs
Bacon, cut up into bite sized pieces
Grated cheddar cheese
Hollandaise Sauce (Sssshhh... Don't tell anyone.  I use the International brand packet one from the grocery store - but on a very slightly healthier note I use about half the margarine called for on the packet and it turns out just fine)

Build your poutine:

Now that you've prepared your ingredients it's time for assembly. In the bottom of your preferred deep styled dish (I used my smallest casserole dishes - it was all I had that was sort of suitable - my bowls were too small...) start layering like so:

1) hash browns
2) scrambled eggs
3) bacon
4) sprinkle of cheddar cheese
5) hollandaise sauce
6) top with cheddar cheese

That's it.  You're done.  Breakfast is served.


Monday, March 07, 2016

Zamora and Seville

A couple of weeks ago Kennis of Itch to Stitch* put out the call for testers for her new four piece collection of patterns.  Given that I love the patterns I've already made of hers, plus having tested for her before, know how awesome she is to work with I didn't hesitate to sign up and then cross my fingers that I'd be accepted.  I was pretty darn excited to get the email letting me know I'd been chosen for the testing group for both the Zamora Blouse and the Seville Skirt.

Like all of her patterns, Kennis has obviously put a lot of thought into both the design and sizing.  They have a wide range of sizes, plus as an added fitting bonus, the blouse has a great choice for cup sizes as well.  Yay!!!! No fiddling about with trying to do FBAs or SBAs (full or small bust adjustments for those that may not have been around the sewing block for long).

I decided my first task would be Seville - a classic fit and flare design - it was pretty straight forward looking and I figured I'd get it done and out of the way so I'd have the majority of the test period remaining for the blouse, which I knew would take significantly longer.

I didn't bother with measuring - I know what size I am after all, right?  WRONG.  I blended sizes between the waist and hip and all was looking good theoretically.  Until I tried on the skirt.  Holy stuffed sausage batman.  I was pretty sure, knowing Kennis' patterns the way I do, that chances were good it wasn't the pattern at fault.  A quick date with my tape measure and I knew for sure the pattern wasn't at fault.  Oops!  I've got to cut out all those cups of tea and scones that my MIL and I have been enjoying a little too regularly I think. (that or switch from Grandma's scone recipe to mom's at the very least...)

It's too bad, because although I had just used an old remnant of fabric that my sister had given me well over a decade ago it had really grown on me as I was sewing and I was picturing it going perfectly with my Penelope cardi.  Oh well.  Maybe once I shift the few pounds that have crept on I'll be able to wear it and not feel like a sausage.  I certainly won't get rid of it!

Having used my remnant up, the only other suitable piece in my stash I had was a bit of fairly lightweight suiting that was left over from my winter Emery dress (that I may or may not ever finish at the rate I'm going...).  I like it well enough though and it does go nicely with my Vianne cardi, so that was a nice bonus!

So then I started in on my blouse.  With only a few days left to go and not much time at the machine I was starting to feel the crunch of the deadline coming up quickly.  Instead of using my ever so slippery fabric that I had originally intended I went with a safer more easily managed crepe back satin (using the crepe side as the good side) that has been sitting in my fabric bin for eons.  I've sewn with crepe back satin enough in the past when I used to sew for the Ena Sutton Highland Dancers that I know exactly what to expect and how it'll behave.  Going in with the attitude that my first run would be a (hopefully wearable) muslin, I knew I wouldn't be heartbroken if the crepe back satin version didn't pan out.  I'm always a bit nervous with blouses that are fitted.  There's just so many things that can go wrong.  So many adjustments necessary.

I have astounding news though.  NO ADJUSTMENTS WERE NECESSARY!  I'm telling you the Zamora Blouse fit me straight out of the envelope. (Ok the printer, if we're splitting hairs).  After the bodice fitting disasters I've had lately this felt like a miracle of epic proportions and cemented my love of Itch to Stitch patterns even more.

Once I got through all eight release tucks, all six fish eye darts and the pleat at the back neckline, I heaved a big sigh of relief and forged ahead.  In all reality those tucks and darts were the only challenging part of the blouse.  And if I'm being truly honest?  It wasn't the sewing of them that was the challenge.  It was the darn marking of them.  That, dear readers, was a whole hell of a lot of work.  But so worth it!  I love the fit of the blouse!  Comfy, feminine and versatile.  What more can a sewist ask for?

I was in a bit of a panic when I realized the night that the test was due that a) it was the night the test was due - I had in my mind that I had an extra day somehow and b) I didn't know if I had any suitable buttons since I hadn't planned on making the blue crepe back satin version.  I was surprised to find that I had five perfect blue buttons in my button tin.  They've been sitting in my button stash since 1988 when I bought them in the Fabricland that used to reside in the basement of the Hudson's Bay Co.  for a dress/suit/whatever it was supposed to be that never got made.  Lucky me!  They match so well, don't you think?

And purely for your entertainment, my MIL now thinks I'm absolutely stark raving mad.  Of course she may be right in that assessment...  I'm  pretty sure that she feels strongly that I am the one on the verge of dementia and needing help, certainly not her given the evidence at hand.  On Thursday last week when I took my photos it was about -12C. Colder when I took the blouse ones - I had to come in and have a good strong hot cup of tea to thaw out before running outside to take the skirt ones.  Although the sunshine was glorious, it was a brisk one in any case and I kept sinking into almost knee deep snow.  For the rest of the day she would shake her head an say things like, "Running around outside without any clothes on" and "lucky if you don't catch your death of a cold".  When she relayed my morning's antics to her homecare worker later that afternoon it sounded as though I had been cavorting about my yard, naked, in the dead of winter.  I assure you all, I don't cavort naked in the yard in any season, despite what it may sound like if you should happen to be talking to Nan...  Poor woman.  Hopefully her faith in my sanity is restored soon.

Anyways, on that note, I do highly recommend both the Zamora Blouse and Seville Skirt!  You can find them both on the Itch to Stitch website.   The best part is, if you hurry, you can snag quite a deal! Until March 13th, you can use the code 4releases to get 20% off your entire order!  It counts, not just for the four brand new patterns, but for any pattern.  I may have to take the opportunity to stock up on the few I don't have yet myself.  You can check out all the details by clicking through here.  Happy sewing everyone!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Knitting Ninja

A few weeks ago Tin Can Knits announced a quick knit along.  The premise of it was to take a few weeks to teach yourself a new knitting trick.  As soon as I heard about the New Tricks KAL I knew exactly what trick I wanted to learn.  Steeking...

For those of you that might be unfamiliar with the technique, let me tell you that it requires cutting the knitting you've just finished.  It is not for the faint of heart.

Here's how Wikipedia begins their definition of it:
In knitting, steeking is a shortcut used to knit garments such as sweaters in the round without interruption for openings or sleeves until the end. After completing a tube, a straight line is cut along the center of a column of stitches, in order to make room for an opening or place to attach another piece.
So, essentially, you knit your item in the round.  Simple enough.  Then you reinforce the edges.  Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.  Then you cut straight up your stitches.  OH DEAR BOB! That's crazy cakes!!!

I have been looking at a few sweater patterns, somewhat obsessively, lately.  They're ones that I've looked at before and dismissed then come back to repeatedly only to dismiss them again as too hard because they require steeking and I couldn't imagine taking months to knit a sweater then potentially destroying the whole thing by cutting it up.

But trying it out on a small project that would only take a few hours of knitting time seemed a much less daunting and more manageable task.  So I cast on Steek this Coffee Cozy, a project designed for the very purpose of learning how to steek.

All knit and ready for the crazy business of steeking!
I finished the knitting awhile ago, but it's taken me some time to work up the courage to do the actual steeking.  But this morning I decided that if I didn't get on with it, the KAL would be ending soon and I'd never get it done.  I should really get my behind in gear and just do it.  In for a penny in for a pound and all that.

Crocheted chains to reinforce things
Following the tutorial on the pattern closely, I started by reinforcing my knitting with a line of crocheted chain stitch.

Take a deep breath and snip, snip, snip...

Once that was done, there was no way to avoid it, I had to grab some courage and take that first snip with the scissors.  GULP!

It didn't go too badly.  Nothing disintegrated,  nothing untoward happened at all and the earth did not shatter.  Amazing! I am a knitting ninja.

Ok.  This part is pretty easy!
Then it was onto the next step in which I picked up the stitches and knit the button bands.  That was easy enough!

I think my crochet reinforcement could be prettier, but c'est la vie.
Then I wove in all the bajillion ends, sewed on my buttons and gazed with admiration at my handiwork.  I've no idea what I'll use it for, this coffee cozy fits absolutely nothing I possess, but it was a great little project to try out an otherwise daunting new skill and teach myself a new trick.

Would you look at that?!?  All done!
If you'd like to take part in the New Tricks KAL over on Ravelry, there's still a bit of time left since it runs through until February 29th.  You can check out all the details over on the Tin Can Knits blog.  I highly recommend it!  There's nothing like a knit along to give you the motivation you need to tackle something new.