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Archive for the ‘Sewing’ Category

Smooches to you all, kittens.

While there are photos pending on some of my FOs, I have updated my FO list for this year.

Likewise, I have updated by Books Read 2014 list.

I’ll be posting some decent photos as soon as I get them off my camera, but in the meantime, here are two sorta crappy cellphone pix, first of a sewn FO, then of knit one:

No straps! A true pinafore.

No straps! A true pinafore.

And:

This photo really doesn't do them justice.

This photo really doesn’t do them justice.

In the UFO category, I have finished all but the thumbs on a pair of super-skinny Dashing mitts. They are destined for a coworker and friend named Maresa who just happens to have super-skinny arms and hands. I hope to finish them tomorrow. Who knows? I may even get – and post – photos of them!

Stay warm!

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I’ve been terribly remiss

And absent, I know. Please believe me when I say that it was not deliberate! I have thought about you frequently since my last post, but haven’t found a spare moment to pull my thoughts together sufficiently to justify a whole blog post.

A gratuitous kitty-in-a-box photo to distract you from the lack of new project photos in this post.

A gratuitous kitty-in-a-box photo to distract you from the lack of new project photos in this post.

And I know you’re wondering if I’ve been crafting. Alas, the answer is (mostly) no.

I have done a bit of sewing. In fact, I made 7 matching aprons this past week, but I don’t think I took a picture of them. Mea culpa. It’s kind of a blog sin to make things and not take pics, isn’t it? Still there’s time, as I will see those aprons 4 days a week for the next three weeks.

You see, I was asked to join the cast of our local community theater’s production of Les Misérables, and we opened this week, with three more weeks of performances… and the aprons are part of the costuming!

I’d auditioned for the play… and not been cast.

Then, three weeks into the show’s rehearsals, the director contacted me and asked if I wanted to step in to replace an ensemble* member who’d had to drop out. Um, yeah, thanks!

That was about a month ago.

The three weeks of rehearsal flew past (although it didn’t always feel like it in the moment), and we opened this past Thursday night!

There are 5 shows a week (Thursday night, Friday night, Saturday matinée, Saturday night, and Sunday matinée) for the four weeks of the run.

So my next three weeks are going to be pretty full ones, between those shows and rehearsals with my wench troupe and with my madrigal group. Oy!

So. Much. Fun!

When I get photos of those aprons, I’ll post them for you.

And if I ever knit anything again (you know I will… eventually!), I’ll post about that, too.

In the meantime, please forgive my severe slackenbloggen. I still love you!

* As a member of the ensemble, I play 7 different characters, with 8 costume changes: an innkeeper’s wife, a poor mother, a prostitute, a drunk woman in a tavern, a beggar, a revolutionary, and a wedding guest… then I change back into my tavern costume for the finale. Whew!

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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!

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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!

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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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Always ready to, um, help?

I was modifying my costume for this year’s singing gig* at the city’s tree-lighting festivities, when Dragon kitty decided I was going too fast.

She found a very effective way to slow me down:

"Haste makes waste, lady." - Dragon

“Haste makes waste, lady.” – Dragon

* I sing in a group called Singers of Reformation, although our secret name is Singers of the Resistance. We have a rather pathetic Tumblr, which has a few sound files from our rehearsals this year. Feel free to check them out, if you care to and can find them. I’m pretty bad at that linky-thing. Our group is also booked to sing at a local retirement village’s annual Madrigal Dinner.

I’ve missed you all! Have a wonderful Friday, kittens!

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Stuck

Hi, again. It’s been a month (I know!) since my last post, which is weird for me. I don’t think I’ve gone a month between posts since I started this blog a million years ago. OK, so it’s been slightly fewer than 6 years, but the point still stands.

So what happened to me? I dunno exactly, but I couldn’t seem to move forward. No matter how much I berated myself and gave myself rah-rah pep talks, I just could not seem to find my groove.

In short, I was stuck.

It happened something like this: I finished knitting the pink ruffled baby cardi by the end of 2012, but needed buttons. And none of the buttons I found would do. They were too big, not big enough, too pink, not pink enough, too boring, etc., etc. I went out a couple of times to a couple of retail places, scouting their pathetic wares. I was growing so ticked at the button makers, distributors and sellers of the world, because I couldn’t find anything really right.

Finally, at Michael’s (yes, Michael’s) I found a set of sparkly jewel-tones buttons, shaped like little flowers, that I thought just might work. That was 3 weeks or so ago.

Did I sew the buttons on then? No. No, I did not.

You see, I’d decided to stitch a strip of ribbon along the back of the button band, to reinforce it and to support and keep the buttons from pulling it out of shape when the sweater was worn. I had just the perfect ribbon, too! Remember the ribbon I bought for the drawstring on the pink eyelet chemise? I have yards of it left over and it would be just right for this purpose, too. And I needed to hand-sew that strip (about 7 inches long, total) to the back of the buttonband first.

Did I sew the ribbon on when I finally had buttons that pleased me?

No. No, I did not.

I dunno why not, but for some reason, I was loathe to tackle this most basic of tasks. I mean, we’re not talking rocket science here, folks. It was just… beyond me. (This makes even less sense when you consider that I’d been carrying the sweater and the ribbon around with me everywhere. Every.where.)

Finally, this past Monday, I sat down with the buttons and the ribbon (and, yes, the sweater) and I sewed the strip of ribbon in place. It took less than an hour to do it right, which did mean restitching the first 3 inches to correct some wonkiness in the ribbon-to-buttonband tension, but still. Less than an hour. (sigh)

I grabbed the buttons and was all set to sew them on when I discovered… they are craft buttons. Yep, craft buttons: meant for scrapbooking. Not garment buttons. These lovely craft buttons had no shanks, no holes at all to allow for a true button functionality.

AAAAARRRRRGGGGHHHH!

I had to work Monday and Tuesday nights, so my first chance to look for suitable buttons that actually are buttons? Wednesday morning. (Yes, this past Wednesday.)

At my first stop: nothing.

My second stop was Joanne’s, where I found the best ones so far. In fact, I was going to buy and use them, but there were only 4 on a card… and the pattern calls for 5.* The very kind saleslady went in the back storeroom and searched their most recent shipments, but there were no more of these particular buttons to be found.

AAAAAARRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!

I left the store in an overtired funk.

My options had narrowed to two: a branch of the Evil Empire I’d not been to yet, or my LYS.

And my LYS wasn’t open yet, so Wally World prevailed by default. (Bear in mind that this was the 3rd of that franchise I’d been to in my small city, and I wasn’t feeling very optimistic. After all, the other two had had nothing.)

To my relief and surprise, I found something usable. Not perfect, but usable.

So, I settled.

The reason? I’d come to the conclusion that I would not be able to start another knitting project – ever – while this damned cardi was unfinished. It had become my albatross (no, I don’t really know much about albatross lore, but I know it’s not a good thing… unless I’m wrong, in which case the unfinished sweater was my… um… tar baby and I was the… um… Ahem. Let’s just go with “albatross,” shall we? Thanks. I mean it.)

With buttons in hand (finally), I could move on.

And last night, I did it.

Not perfect, but done.

Not perfect, but done.

I’m not really crazy about it. The mom wanted a hot pink and white color scheme, which is fine, but there’s something about the collar shape that I don’t like at all. I wish I’d taken the time to do the math and figure out how to do a ruffle treatment there, as I don’t think the pointy style (as above) is right for this sweater, but I didn’t.

And that may be the reason I was stuck.

I didn’t want to finish a sweater that I wasn’t thrilled with.

Ah, well, it’s not for me to wear and, frankly, the baby for whom I made it may have already outgrown it by the time her mom tries to put it on her. She turned into quite the adorable chubby little thing, as I will show you when/if her mom takes pictures of her wearing the cardi.

Oh, and look what happened shortly after sunrise this morning:

For layering under that cardi.

For layering under that cardi.

I think a little ribby tank top will be a good addition. If the cardi is too small to button comfortably, the baby can wear this soon-to-be pink tank top that will match perfectly and have a bit more flexibility. I think the cardi will be more flattering, softer-looking, when it hangs open, and the tank will be usable into the summer.

I anticipate finishing the tank in the next couple of days, as it’s small and fast to knit.

And our Florida weather has been fickle, with nights getting down into the  40s… and possibly 30s this weekend… so I need to get it done before it’s too darned hot to subject a baby to its, um, charms.

OK, off to bed with me. Work tonight… and Saturday and Sunday… (sigh)

Have a wonderful Friday, kittens!

And for the record,** it’s great to be unstuck. Absolutely great!

* For reasons that refuse to present themselves, I had it in my mind that the pattern required 6 buttons, so I was frantically looking for six-of-a-kind, perfect buttons. In fact, I didn’t realize only 5 were needed until I was sewing them on this morning. (sigh)

** Speaking of records, this is my 500th blog post.*** Weird!

*** I’ve also written 431 “pages” (i.e., FOs, Books Read, etc.) on this site. Also weird!

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