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Since last I updated (a million years ago, I believe, although I haven’t done the math), I haven’t knit a thing.

OK, technically, I guess I have knit – or half-knit – a thing, but I’m going to frog it, so I’m pretty sure it doesn’t count.

I wanted to get in on WWKIP day/week before it passed, so I decided to knit a toddler-sized version of a doll-hat pattern I found in my stash. The name escapes me now, so hang on just a minute…

Here’s a kitty picture to occupy you while I fetch my project from the car:

If they fits, they sits... or something like that.

If they fits, they sits… or something like that.

Found it! The pattern is called Eyelet Beret. It’s by Deb Denair of Debonair Designs. It’s so cute… and it’s available free on ravelry.com. Just click on the pattern’s name in the 2nd sentence of this paragraph. Her designs are made to fit 18″ dolls, specifically those in the American Dolls series. Anyway, this particular beret design caught my eye a year or so ago, and I’ve been planning to make it… eventually.

When the last day of WWKIP 2014 rolled around and I still hadn’t knit a stitch anywhere, I decided to take advantage of a two-hour car ride to start this hat. In truth, I had every reason to think I’d finish the hat before the end of the returning two-hour car ride, given my now-decades of knitting experience and the relative simplicity of the charming pattern.

However… the knitting goddess was not being reasonable.

True, I had ignored her for months.

Also true, I was modifying the pattern to be larger…. something I’ve done many times in the past, although usually with a bit of math written out to back up my changes.

And also also-true, I was changing it from a knit-flat pattern to an in-the-round pattern… something else I’ve done many times in the past, with no difficulties.

Alas.

This time, I knit for an hour or so before deciding my calculations (in my head, of course) were off somewhere… or my gauge (which I didn’t swatch, of course) was wonky… so the hat was going to be too big.

No problem, says I. I am no stranger to curative properties of a timely frogging, after all.

I ripped out the WIP and started again, this time carefully noting (in my head again, of course) the changes to my original modifications (still in my head, of course).

Alas.

So I’ll be ripping the poor thing out again, only a little daunted.

Perhaps just daunted enough that I’ll write out my modifications next time… and take notes of any on-the-fly changes I make.

So, not knitting, but I have been sewing.

Back in July, I finally stopped procrastinating and not just because it was the day of the show in which i was to wear them and made a pair of bloomers for Cupcake, my medieval faire alter ego! My group, Just Desserts, was performing at a local club, The Midnight, and my old bloomers were worn out and falling apart. I’d stockpiled some bloomer-destined fabric back in the early spring, and with only 7 hours before showtime, I got serious and started sewing.

True to form, I’d tempted the sewing goddess by not starting sooner, then by not making sure I had all of my supplies (elastic cut to the right length for my calves, I’m talkin’ about you!) before I took off with the almost-finished bloomers to meet the other wenches and start getting ready. “Oh, no problem that they’re not really finished! I can quickly thread in these two elastic pieces in the leg casings and stitch them closed,” said I… only to discover (when I was far from home and without my stash of notions) that one of the pieces was about 3 inches shorter than the other, which made it about 3 inches too short to fit without cutting off the circulation to my foot.

I made a down-and-dirty desperation decision (yay, alliteration!) to use a ribbon on that leg, just for that performance, so the fabric would gather appropriately. But ribbon is not elastic, and that leg drooped. I’m not sure if any else noticed, but I sure did, mostly because it felt all wrong.

After the show, once again at home, I replaced the ribbon with elastic, and the bloomers were truly finished.

Here’s how they look (on a hanger):

Arrrr!

Arrrr!

That photo makes the pirates’ hats look kind of purplish, so how ’bout a closeup of the leg casing and fabric:

Avast, ye landlubbers!

Avast, ye landlubbers!


I also sewed two tablecloths for an author-friend of mine to use at her author appearances.

She chose the fabrics and trims, and I supplied the labor. Each turned out about 8 ft long and 3.5 ft wide, simple rectangles with trim on one long edge.

Here’s a closeup of the striped one I made first:

Why, yes, there is a blue ribbon on that grey stripe!

Why, yes, there is a blue ribbon on that grey stripe!

And here’s a closeup of the second one, which is both my and the author’s favorite:

Love that sweet brown and pink trim!

Love that sweet brown and pink trim!

And here’s a shot of the second one, in the real world:

Here's one: in use... and in need of ironing!

Here’s one: in use… and in need of ironing!

And yesterday, I “finished” three pair of wench’s bloomers! I say “finished,” because the actual sewing is done on all three, but only one is ready to wear. That would be the ones I made for my sister wench, Tira McSu. It is, surely, a complete coincidence that these were also finished at the last minute on the same day they were to be worn in a performance. (We were one of the acts in a benefit show to raise awareness and funds for a local domestic-violence shelter and similar programs.)

I didn’t have Tira at my house when it was time to fit the elastic to the legs and the waist, so I packed up some sewing supplies and took them with me. Once again, I almost blew it, as I had not included a sewing needle in said supplies. (I know!) Luckily, it took only a couple of minute of frantic searching to find one in the house where we were getting ready, so the bloomers did get finished. The hand-stitching details (sewing the leg casings closed, slipstitching down the space in the waistband that the elastic was threaded through) did not, as I ran out of sewing time before we had to head out to our venue, but those little things can wait.

As a result, I did not take a photo of them.

I do, however have a photo of the fabric, taken while I was trying to sew it. As you can see, Gandy (i.e., Gandalf the Grey) was helping me sew, but you may need to click-to-embiggen to see the fabric print better:

"Not like that, silly! You forgot to put the legs right-sides-together!"

“Not like that, silly! You forgot to put the legs right-sides-together before stitching!”

The other two pair still need to have elastic fitted into their legs and ribbons in their waistbands (not elastic, so they can be worn by whichever wench wants to, waist measurements notwithstanding), then they need to assume the clothes-hanger-on-the-door photography position and smile for the camera. Once that’s done, I’ll post them, along with some adorable kitty-helper photos I took during the marathon sewing session yesterday.

Till then, I hope your summer has been all you’d hoped. And as temperatures start to become more fall-like and the kiddies start back to school in some parts of the world, I wish you smooth transitions.

Later, kittens!

I haven’t knit a thing in the last couple of months, although I carry yarn and needles with me virtually everywhere. I have, however, kept quite busy. Mostly reading and working and hanging out with the family and kitties.

I’ve also had a wench rehearsal or two, and in fact we have a performance scheduled for tonight at a local downtown bar/eatery*. I am so excited! I love performing so much, especially with my wench troupe. We have the most fun!

Not sure if I mentioned it here in an earlier post, but I’ve decided that the troupe needs its own songs. Originals. Written for us, to suit our act and to expand our repertoire. That way, if and when we record a second album, it will have some really new material interspersed with traditional wench/pub songs. Fun, right? Right!

Alas, none of the other wenches feels she has the requisite skills to undertake songwriting… not even the group’s twice-published novelist.

After a bit of discussion, we decided that I should do it. After all, I’m the one who really wants it done. I’m the one who suggested it. And I’m the one who’s written a song for us before, albeit only one (i.e., the Men’s Birthday Ditty)… a year and a half ago. Never mind that the women’s version has been unfinished since that time, that I haven’t been quite able to get it right.

Anyhoo, I was pressed (by our first album‘s producer) to declare how many songs I intended to write for the group this year, which sent me into spasms of frightened laughter, as “intend to” seems entirely the wrong term. “Hope to” seems far more appropriate. And I do hope to write a total of six songs for us to incorporate into our act… and into our next album, should we record one. So I said that, or something similar, laughed at my presumption and pooh-poohed the compliments and assurances of my sister wenches and our producer, who all declared their faith in my talent and ability to do this thing.

Yeah, right.

And that same night, not an hour later, as I was driving home from rehearsal, the germ of a song came to me, a lyric line, complete with its melody. By the time I went to bed, I had a chorus and the structure for the rest of the song laid out in my mind.

The next morning, in a little over an hour, I had the first song written, and with some technical help from BC17, I recorded a stripped-down version and sent it off to the group for input.

To a woman, they loved it! We’re going to work out parts, etc., at our pre-show rehearsal this evening, and it will be a real song!

Wanna see the lyrics?

Sure, you do!

Check it out:

A Man Like That

I want a man who knows my hills and dales,

One who’ll keep my garden wet,

Who’ll chase the wolves and never fail

To give me puss a pet.

 

(chorus)

Have you ever met a man like that,

A man who’s made like that?

Who’ll plow your fields both day and night?

Have you ever met a man like that?

 

I want a man who sets my soul on fire,

A man with heaven’s keys,

Who gives new meaning to “oh, god!”

And who brings me to my knees.

 

(chorus)

Have you ever met a man like that,

A man who’s made like that?

With an angel’s smile and a devil’s touch?

Have you ever met a man like that?

 

I want a man to tower over me,

Who is masterfully built.

A solid man who’ll stand the test of time,

With calves to rock a kilt.

 

(chorus)

Have you ever met a man like that?

A man who’s made like that?

With shoulders you can prop your feet up on?

Have you ever met a man like that?

 

I want a man who can take the heat

Who will stoke my forge and fire,

Who pounds my metal hot and sweet,

And shapes my heart’s desire.

 

(chorus)

Have you ever met a man like that?

A man who’s made like that?

A man who knows just when to strike?

Have you ever met a man like that?

 

You can spend your life in drudgery

Feeling lonely, sad or fat.

But you’ll never see who’s right in front of you.

No, you’ll never meet a man like that.

 

(final chorus)

So lift your head and fluff your girls,

Sing and dance and laugh.

Give the game of life a loving whirl.

Don’t you know a man likes that?

Don’t you know we all like that?

© 2014 Toni Finley All Rights Reserved

I know it loses quite a bit in the translation to words on a screen. If I could figure out how to embed my little recording of it, I would. Sadly, I do not. **

On that same fateful drive home from rehearsal, I also had the idea for second song! It plays with and  off of the idea of the wenches being the musical instruments a minstrel group might play… And it’s nearly finished, too. In fact, I thought it was a fait accompli, but I’ve decided I want it to end differently, so I shall be tweaking it further after I finish this long-overdue post.

And I think I’ve worked out the wenches’ birthday thing, too… although what I’ve come up with may be too short and simple. We shall see.

Still, I feel so productive! And only mildly guilty that I’ve nothing on the needles. Still, with WWKIP week coming up in only one short week,*** I feel a growing compunction to get back to the ol’ KPKP, if you know what I mean. The urge has been building, and I can resist anything but temptation.

I am, after all, a wench. ;-)

* It’s called The Midnight. We go on at 9:30, probably doing two sets. We’re headlining, which sounds very fancy, but really means a couple of guys we don’t know and didn’t pick are gonna play guitar and sing before us. Still, headlining has a nice delusion of grandeur ring to it. Come on down and hang out with us, if you can and are so inclined. We’d love to see you.

** Oh. Apparently, I have to pay for a “space upgrade” to post sound files. Grrrr. I think, instead, I’ll post a link to a Youtube recording of it later, once we’ve made one and published it.

*** June 14-21, according to this FB page someone set up. And who am I to argue with a FB page someone set up? Hey, it’s on the internet, so it must be true, right? Riiiiiight.

Too soon?

With apologies for the punctuation errors and for any possible math errors...

With apologies for the punctuation errors and for any possible math errors…

I saw this earlier today on the book of faces and couldn’t resist stealing sharing it here, with you all.

Guess I’ll have to get knitting soon, huh?

Very briefly:

La petite princesse is a better model than her mimi is a photographer.

La petite princesse is a better model than her mimi is a photographer.

There’s a bit more, such as the halter top before the flower was crocheted:

Knit almost exactly by the pattern specs

Knit almost exactly by the pattern specs

I had a little yarn left over, so I crocheted a couple of flowers:

Pretty!

Pretty!

Here are the three pieces, together, but not attached:

So sweet with the adorable flowers!

So sweet with the adorable flowers!

Then I sewed one flower to the top at the bottom of the right shoulder strap, using a pink button as a decorative center. And I saved the other flower to embellish a headband.

I haven’t attached the flower to a headband yet, but did wrap the 6 inch yarn tail around one of my darlin’ girl’s fabric-covered bands, so i could pop it on the eager young model:

Adorable!

Adorable!

I think she likes it!

Long story short

I’ve been knitting!

Longer version: I’m almost finished with a halter top for la petite princesse, out of some cotton yarn I scored a couple of years ago at my LYS’ annual yard sale. The pattern is Toddler Halter by Jennifer Carter. It’s a free download on Ravelry. (Look it up there. I’d link it, but I needs must finish quickly and turn in.)

More details in a day or so, when I’ve finished it.

In a completely unrelated note: Happy first day of spring!

Our temps today went to the low-to-mid 70s, and it won’t be long before this new halter will be just the perfect top for my darlin’ granddaughter to rock. (So, I guess the spring thing is not as unrelated as I thought. Hm. Go figure.)

G’nite, kittens! It’s time to head to dreamland.

In my last post, teased you with photos of the BC17 and a kitten “helping” me make a new doublet for the BC17 to wear at this year’s Hoggetowne Medieval Faire. To sum up, he needed it to be red, and he chose the gold lining fabric from my stash.

Here’s how it turned out, in a boring “hanging-on-a-door” shot:

Pardon the creases. They came out in the wash.

Pardon the creases. They came out in the wash.

And here’s posed picture of the boy wearing it, with some of his accessories.

Beware the uncoiled serpent - er, hose - at your feet, Red Undant!

Beware the uncoiled serpent – er, garden hose – at your feet, dread pirate Red Undant!

You may note a lack of boots, for example. In truth, he could wear this in warm weather with some sort of rope sandals, but it was far too cool during this year’s faire for that. He also had various bits and bobs that hung from his belt, and a black wool overcoat, but I didn’t get a photo of that. The Hubs did, and I’m hoping to get a shot of that (soon?) to share with you.

The BC17 and some other friends formed a comedy pirate crew, the Pirates of Impropriety, and charmed the patrons and spectators at the faire. They were so popular that they’ve been solicited about appearing at other faires in the area this spring! It was so fun to watch my son throwing himself into his character, Red Undant, and having fun with his friends. His theatrical bent? Let’s just say he comes by it honestly.

The medieval faire was held on the last weekend in January and the first weekend in February. I was lucky to be able to take off from work entirely around those weekends. I have hundreds of hours of leave accumulated, as I rarely take vacation, so it was a real pleasure to have the chance to rest for so many days. (I’ve completely swapped my sleep schedule over to accommodate my change to dayshift, a change that would have been much more difficult without the time off.)

Sadly, I got sick on Wednesday evening and am now struggling with a nasty case of the crud. Nasty enough that I had to call in sick today (which would have been my first day back after my vacation), but not nasty enough to require actual medical intervention (so far… knock on wood). I’m planning to work tomorrow and Sunday (my regular work days), provided I can sleep tonight. (Wish me luck, please? Thanks.)

So the faire itself? It was a blast! My singing comedy wench troupe, Just Desserts, was once again hired to perform, and our shows were packed. We performed 3 times a day each Saturday and Sunday, and we acted as street characters when not on stage. In addition, I emceed both Saturdays’ and Sundays’ end of day Closing Pub Sings, which are among my favorite things ever!

This year, we wenches were extra excited, because we also released our first ever album!*

That’s right, an album!

It’s called Just Desserts Live: Come Get Yours and it’s available on Bandcamp right now, soon to be available on iTunes, amazon.com, and other distributors.

Here’s what the front cover of the album (which is available only as a mp3 download) looks like:

I swear I did not actually bite Molly! Cupcake is just a tease. Promise!

I swear I did not actually bite Molly! Cupcake is just a tease. Promise!

And here’s what the back cover looks like:

Much more dignified here.

Much more dignified here.

If you want to hear any or all of the songs, you can click on the bandcamp link. There you can listen to each of the songs, in their entirety, without obligation. **

We’re currently running a push for FB page “likes” and have pledged to give away a free copy of our album when we reach 350 likes. As of 10 p.m. this very Friday night, we’re at 335. I’d love for you to like us and perhaps win a copy. This is the second giveaway we’ve run, and we plan to hold more in the near future.

Of course, you are always welcome to purchase the album, so you can get yours without delay.

* OK, so you’ve probably figured out that the mysterious and exciting “thing” I was doing (and hinting about) was recording this album. It took two live performances, plus a studio session for the bonus selections, to get the sound quality we wanted.

We also had a photo session with Allen Finley Photography, wherein many photos were taken to get the two on our cover art. He also took solo photos of us, which we may use for future endeavors.

Finally, some more of my off-work time was taken up in designing and creating the cover art for the album. In my old life as a magazine editor, I did a little layout and design, and it was pretty cool to have the chance to flex those muscles (unused for 8 years!) again. And I am, I must confess, quite pleased with the results.

That’s all for now, kittens. I must dose myself up with anti-crud meds and attempt to sleep, as 5:30 a.m. comes too damned early. G’nite!

January means sewing

The last weekend of every January brings the start of the Hoggetowne Medieval Faire, which means there will be a call for new costuming pieces chez moi. And this year is no exception.

My costume (as Cupcake, the singing tavern wench) is pretty much set, but the BC17 is playing a new character this year, so he needs an update to his costume to suit. His character is one of the Pirates of Impropriety. He’s named Red Undant, and the BC17 wanted a red top for him. I have, you may recall, made him a poet-style shirt before, so I didn’t think this would be a big challenge.

I was not, alas, taking the local fabric supply into account.

To start with, my own stash (which fits in a footlocker-sized Rubbermaid container) does not include any red cotton or polycotton.

To complicate matters, all three of my local Wallyworlds have miniscule crafting sections, and there was no red cotton to be found. (OK, there was some red cotton, but it was of the quilting variety and had the most adorable patterns against the red background… The BC17 was not amused.)

Even worse, my local Joanne’s is relocating, with the store that’s still open* in a state of depletion that one would expect when “final clearance – 75% off” is posted and advertised everywhere. How picked over was the stock? The entire fabric selection would fit on a double-layered 75-foot shelf… with room to spare.

I spent 20 minutes searching and scrutinizing and peering behind and between the bolts of fabric, and found exactly one piece of red cotton-based fabric. It was 2.25 yds of a lightweight, red, stretch denim. And with the 75$% discount, I got it for less than $6, including tax!

Even at that great price, there was no way this would be enough fabric to make a shirt, so we settled on making a doublet to wear over his white shirt. It’ll be a red and gold version of the doublet I made him a couple of years ago.

Tonight, the BC17 went back to my fabric stash and found a gold lining fabric, then pestered me relentlessly encouraged me a few times to get the fabric pieces cut out. He was willing to do the pinning and cutting himself, so I let him… with my assistance. He’d never laid out a pattern before, so I got to explain how to do it properly, showing him how the pattern pieces give you clues to help you do it properly, demonstrating how to maximize the fabric, pointing out the grain of the cloth and how it affects the drape and stretch capabilities of a woven fabric.

He took it very seriously:

Measure twice and cut once... making sure the pieces are straight first.

Measure twice and cut once… making sure the pieces are straight first.

It did my crafter’s heart good to see him learning how to do this for himself. And he says he wants to help me sew the doublet, too, so his crafting adventure continues Thursday. He has to wear it this weekend, so I’ll probably sew some of it. Either way, he’ll be learning, and I’ll be satisfied with that.

As usual, the kittens wanted to help. I caught one crappy photo of little Maggie “caught in the act” on my cellphone before the BC17 chased her off. She was up there a few times, but I was lame unprepared to take photos then.

She was interested in the pincushion:

"I'll just take this little red thingy out of your way."

“I’ll just take this little red thingy out of your way.”

Feisty kitty tried to get in on the act, too, but the BC17 snatched him up almost before his paws touched the table, much less the fabric.

Finally, the BC17 put the kitties behind a closed hall door, so he could work without feline interference help. And in fairness, that lining material is super slippery, a real bitch bit difficult to cut out under the best of conditions.

Now, I’ve a stack of cut-out fabric pieces at my elbow, with every intention of sewing a dashing doublet Thursday… which is today, actually, since the clock just clicked over to past midnight, and thus into Thursday itself.

That reminds me, it’s past my bedtime. G’night, my lovies!

* The new Joanne’s won’t open until after the faire’s over, so it was a non-option.

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