Friday, January 29, 2016

Yarnworking and Coffee Drinking in Cuba

Cuba Yarnworks
Hola folks!  Don't have much time online after checking my email and updating facebook (and my Mom, as ordered) on my 1 hour of time.  But the Boyfriend declined the chance to check in himself so I'm stealing this time to send you all a hello and some progress pics for my yarnwork projects.

Cuba Yarnworks
I might've mentioned it, but I brought along yarn to knit socks while here.  The first pair I'm working on is a pair of Hermione socks, which is one of those super popular patterns that everyone and their dog has knit.

Cuba Yarnworks
I'm making pretty good progress so far, and should have this first sock done soon.  I love the yarn I chose.  Can't remember what it is, but it's in lovely shades of browns, greens and turquoise that remind me of the sea and also the wonderful Cuban coffee I can't get enough of.  These will definitely be dubed the Cuban socks once I'm finished with them.

Cuba Yarnworks
I think I'll hold off on sharing the other planned sock pattern, just in case I don't get to it.  But the other project I'm working on is my crocheted summer top I'd hoped to bring along with me.  I got the first sleeve done and, as you can see here, have started on the second one.  Then all I'll need to do is sew it together and block it, so hopefully I'll have a chance to wear it before we head back to wintery Whitehorse!

Anyways, I'd better sign off if I want to get this posted before my internet time cuts off.  I hope you all are doing wonderfully!  I'll catch up with what you've been up to when I get back, but please do tell me any fun(ny?) stories below!  If you do, I'll share some of the funnier photos of our trip, including my snog-fest with a (fake) cactus and the time I won a bottle of Cuban rum by singing in front of a crowd.  BTW?  I don't ever sing, so I'm DAMN PROUD.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Vacation Sewing!

Okay folks, I don't have a lot of time (so no editing) and only a handful of (crummy) photos, but I'm sharing my sewing progress, dammit!  I'll try to take better pictures in Cuba, but no promises.

fo: Dresses for Cuba!
Moneta on the left, an easy slap-dash patternless dress on the right.
I knew that I wanted to basically live in dresses while on our trip to Cuba.  So much more comfortable, and after discovering Body Glide, doable with my wonderfully squishy thighs!  I figured a comfy t-shirt dress would be a comfy option, and Colette's Moneta seemed to fit the bill perfectly!  I cut this pattern out two weeks ago, but only got around to sewing it this weekend (and hemming it tonight).

I made it out of a cotton spandex I bought in Winnipeg a few years back for something like $3/m, and I still have a ton of it left.  I originally figured it'd just be for test sewing, but when I was digging through the stash cupboard, it looked and felt a lot better than I remembered.  The dress is so comfortable and easy to wear (exactly what I wanted!), and I think the fabric was perfect for it.  And POCKETS!

The striped maxi dress above was beyond easy to make, and even with ripping out the elasticized waist once it still only took me about an hour to sew.  I basically took a plain black tank top, chopped off the bottom half, and stitched on 1 m length of fabric.  I took a page out of Moneta's book and used clear elastic to gather the waistline of the skirt before attaching it to the tank, and didn't even bother hemming the dress since I liked the drape as is and this fabric doesn't roll or fray at all.  I'm not sure what it is exactly, but it has gorgeous drape and feels very cool and slick, and I found the knit at my local fabric shop.  It's going to be a wonderfully easy dress to wear, I just know it.

fo: Swim Shirt
Oh man I am so very white.  I'll be so very red when I come back, you just watch.
Since I promised you modeled pictures, here's my swim top!  I think it turned out pretty well, other than some epic looseness at the small of my back.  That's probably because I have a very prominent butt combined with a full tummy.  I suspect I can fix this a bit by taking in the back along those side seams, but I don't really have the time to play with that right now (we leave on Friday ye gods!) and it's way better than anything I could find at the stores (especially since it's not actually possible for me to find this type of swim top in my size here).  This is going to be perfect for keeping the sun off of my pasty white back!

And as observed in the comments of my preview post, this top is basically the neon-bright colour of so many fishing lures, so I'm probably going to see some fishy action while snorkling!  Hopefully of the "pretty tropical fish" variety and not the "big hungry shark" variety...

The pattern itself is Fehr Trade's Surf to Summit top, and I can't recommend it enough!  The pattern is cleverly drafted and the instructions are some of the best I've ever seen.  She even goes into details on how to adjust the pattern to fit your body - square shoulders?  full bust?  width needed at waist?  She's got it covered!  I actually did my first princess seam fba here, and her instructions made it easy peasy.

I will definitely be making more of these, yes ma'am!

Anyways, I'm basically all ready for our trip, now that my sewing is finished.  I'm usually a "one hour before I have to be at the airport? Guess I'll start packing now" type of person.  This time though, I was basically packed last night !(3 whole days before we leave).  Other than the two dresses I had to hem (Moneta) and sew entirely (slap-dash no-pattern), of course.  This is unprecedented, for me!

So, have you ever created a slap-dash pattern that becomes an absolute favourite before?  Because I'm pretty sure I'm going to live in that maxi dress...

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Sneak Peak: Surf to Summit Top

fo: Surf to Summit Top
I'm going to try to get some modeled pictures before we leave on Friday, but I thought I'd give you guys a peak at my finished Surf to Summit top, just because I teased you about it last night/very early this morning.

fo: Surf to Summit Top
It turned out really good - I can't believe I sewed it.  I mean, there's some issues with the neckline entirely related to my less than stellar finishing technique, and I think I need to take in the waist a bit on the back, but it's pretty fantastic as is.  I definitely want to make up more of these for running and possibly casual wear.

wip: Moneta in pieces
I'm not done sewing today - I'm hoping to get a Moneta dress sewn up this evening.  It's all cut out and ready to go, and I can't imagine that it'll take more than a few hours.

Although after my shouting match with the collar of my top, I think I should take a little break first.

Sleepy Fabric Cutting

It's nearly 3 am here (ah oops crap, didn't realize), and I just finished cutting out the fabric for a Surf to Summit top.  I already have a swimsuit (purchased, as it was surprisingly perfect), but I wanted something that would cover my back more, and I didn't want to be stuck wearing a t-shirt.  I figured, if Suzy did it, so can I!

wip: Swim Shirt
More on this later, after I get some sleep and spend some time in the sewing room!  What do you think about my fabric choice?  :)

Okay to bed for me!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

A Pile of Hats

Community Knitting Hats!
I love knitting toques.  There's something about watching the stitches fly around my 16" cable, building a hat-shape in no time flat.  And there's more patterns and styles and designs than I could ever possibly wear myself, and many that I just can't pull off. 

Doesn't stop me from wanting to make them though.

Thankfully, I live in a place that has cool to cold weather most of the year, and epically freezing for sometimes long stretches.  This means that most locals and visitors won't refuse a toque when I try to pawn them off, and they always make great presents.  This also means that they're a popular item for charity knitting!

(Glitzy) Vermonter
That's where the pile at the top went, as well as the one above.  I dropped them off last week at our LYS during knit night.  I'm not sure what project or projects they'll go toward, but hopefully someone appreciates a nice warm toque!

Teal Hearts Toque
I made this toque a couple of years ago, but it's been sitting in a basket unused for a while and I thought I'd send it along for someone to get some use out of.  I made up the colourwork pattern myself, which was fun!  It's a little small for an average adult's head, but would probably fit a kid perfectly.  The colours are off here - it's actually a bright teal against a dark grey background.

fo: Capucine
This is another oldy, but in a different way.  I made it back in 2012 as a Christmas gift for an old roommate.  Unfortunately, I didn't get it finished in time and got her something else.  In the mean time, it went into the UFO basket and I ignored it until two weeks ago.  It honestly took me less than a half-hour to finish up, and once blocked is actually a really cute hood! 

fo: Capucine

fo: Capucine
The pattern is Capucine and I knit it from two strands of Cascade 220 held together.  I think it's a little shallow (probably my gauge was off), but it's not too bad.  I traded braids for the original tassels at the front, but made a honkin' big on for the back.

(Glitzy) Vermonter

(Glitzy) Vermonter
I love this big, bulky, glitzy toque so much.  It looks horrendous on me, but when I won this yarn I knew immediately that it had to be made up in either this pattern (Vermonter) or as a giant bulky cowl.  This gold flake yarn looks pretty horrendous on the skein, but I figured it would knit up nicely.  I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out.

Now this toque, this one is my favourite of the bunch, and it was tough to not keep it for myself.  It's actually the same pattern as my Haines-inspired Hampton, but with the lace pattern removed and doing some major stash-busting.  I grabbed some left-over green worsted weight yarn and knit until it ran out, and then switched to some leftover light grey with the intention of knitting the rest of the hat with it. 

Stash-Busting Hampton
That...didn't pan out.  About 5 rows from the end, I ran out of grey.  Digging through the stash pile though, I found this brown and though "eh why not", ripped back a few rows and finished the hat with the brown.  It looked a little odd, but a small loose pompom in the brown at the top tied everything together nicely.

Stash-Busting Hampton
I'd meant to donate it much sooner, but the stark line between the green and grey bothered me.  Eventually, I stash dived again and found a teeny tiny bit of dark grey and duplicate stitched on the zig zag above.  SO MUCH BETTER!  I think it's a fantastic toque, a great pattern, and was so much fun to knit from scraps.  Also, I killed 4 small balls of yarn bits doing it, so yay!

Community Knitting Hats!
Do you have a favourite type of thing to make?  If so, do you ever wind up pawning them off on everyone else because your love of making them exceeds your use for that item?  I sometimes feel like I did that one summer when I underestimated the amount of zucchini to plant and was reduced to literally abandoning them on my neighbours doorsteps because no-one would take them voluntarily anymore!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Vacation Wardrobe: Crocheted Top

So, Darryl and I have been planning a vacation for a while now.  We're pretty excited about it, and I've been saving up for ages for this.  Where are we going?

CUBA!  For two weeks, too.  :)

And since I'm me, I'm making things hard for myself by trying to make up a vacation wardrobe for this trip.

wip: Doily Top
I have a plan, and it's a pretty good one too.  I should write up a post about it, actually.  A couple of dresses (one that's basically a strip of fabric sewn to the bottom of a cropped tank top), a skirt, a t-shirt reconstructed into a tank top, maybe a pair of shorts I started well over a year ago now and basically just needs a waistband, and a crocheted top.

I'm stoked about this crocheted top - I've been wanting to make it for a while now.  It's a lovely v-neck top built around a lacy doily.  The pattern is from an out of print Japanese magazine, and it's a pain to get a hold of.  I was pretty sure this pattern would always stay on the wish-list, but a friend of mine showed me her copy of it she's had since her trip to Japan a few years back, and I all but jumped her for it!

wip: Doily Top
I started it last Wednesday, and finished the back doily today.  Despite working from crochet charts alone, it's going pretty good.  Especially since this is only my second time using crochet charts!  It's challenging and I have to pay attention, but I'm still able to do it while watching tv, so it's been a great relaxing-on-the-couch project.

The medallion is about 18" across, which is what the pattern calls for (after blocking, I believe).  Considering that this pattern is one-sized and a Japanese pattern, I know I need to make this bigger.  I'm pretty sure I'll get that once this is blocked.  Look at the pattern picture above - you can see how much open the lace is - and using a wool, this should open up nicely.

I'm using Nice & Knit Fingering in the Lobster Pot colourway.  The pictures above don't show the colour well, mostly because I was too eager to show you guys so took them in my sewing room with the blinding fluorescent light on.  It's gorgeous though, a lovely tonal reddish-orange - you can sort of see the tonal varigation in the first pic.

Considering that I started this 4 days ago, I should be able to get this done before the 22nd, right?  Right??!

Weekend Projects
As for the other projects, well, I got a skirt done already and I have a basic t-shirt dress cut out already. More on those later.  I should've had my tank-top dress finished, but I decided that I want to match the stripes and I need more fabric for that.  Or I need to re-think the skirt.  Either way, I left it be for the weekend.

It's been a good crafty weekend!  I think I needed this, I've been in the dumps lately and it was good to get some creative time in.  How was your weekend?  Did you get any craft-time in?

Sunday, January 03, 2016

fo: Rock-Paper-Scissors...Shoot!

I love doing KALs.  They're great motivation to finish a sweater and so much fun to knit with other people.  I've met some fantastic people during KALs, and I always feel a little sad when they're over.

Often the organizers will have prizes for people who finish their projects during the KAL.  While these aren't the reason I join them, it's a fun perk.  During the last Holla Knits KAL, I received a pattern for fingerless mitts I'd been eyeing up for ages.  I was so excited about them that I cast them on almost immediately.

That was in May, and I only just finished them last week.  Oops.

Rock-Paper-Scissors SHOOT
Rock Paper Scissors!
Pattern: Rock, Paper, Scissors...SHOOT! by Annie Watts
Yarn: Sandnes Garn Sisu Solids, fingering weight
Needles: 2.25 mm and 2.75 mm*
Mods: none (surprise!!!)
Here's my Ravelry project page

*For the second mitt, anyways

I finished the first mitt pretty quickly, but then waited a long time to start on the second one.  That's...probably where I ran into trouble.

See normally, I use my Ravelry project pages to record everything, because sometimes I have the memory of a goldfish (I assume they have a short memory - I'm no damn elephant, that's for sure).  When I went back to check the needles I needed for the second one, I'd neglected to note the size.  There was, however, a set of needles in with the yarn I was using, so I used those.  As my main needles.

Rock-Paper-Scissors SHOOT
The mitt on the right is smaller than the one on the right.  Oops.
Considering how much smaller the second mitt turned out, I suspect they were originally the ribbing needles.  It makes the mitt on the right hand much snugger, but it's not too bad, and I prefer a snug mitt anyways, especially on my dominant hand.

I haven't actually blocked these yet though, so they might grow a little bit anyways, and the stitches should even out.  I probably should've waited to blog about these then, but oh well.  I had good light and free time this afternoon, so photos got taken.

Rock-Paper-Scissors SHOOT
Oh you can see it much better here.  So much smaller! 
Aren't they great though?  I love the pattern - people always get a laugh when they realize what they are.  I'm hoping to play rock-paper-scissors with friends at the next knit night!

The pattern itself was good - very clear and the chart was easy to follow, or as easy to follow as such a detailed chart can be.  I admit though, I was ready for these to be finished.  I like colourwork, but this was a bit intense on such a small circumference.  I'd bought this yarn a couple of years ago specifically to make a pair of detailed colourwork mittens, so I call this job well done.

Have you ever knit a detailed colourwork pattern like this before?  I know there's a lot more complicated patterns out there, but I'm pretty chuffed about this one.  Ooo and who wants to play Rock-Paper-Scissors?

Friday, January 01, 2016

2015 Blogging Goals: How'd I do?

I'm not good at these end-of-year posts.  I usually get bored half way though writing them.  ETA: and I totally did with this one.  It was supposed to be posted on the 31st, but I got bored and wandered off despite almost being done.  You're only getting this because I just needed a bit more to finish it.  It's not very polished, but oh well.  So lets review my 2015 Goals and see if I managed to follow any of them!

1. Sew More!

Uh...not so much.  I tried joining Make a Garment a Month, but I was more of a facebook liker than a contributor. I did manage to sew a couple of garments, including my purple Linden (which I've almost worn out by now and is actually a bit small because of my love of pie and lack of exercise...oops), a bikini top (and an attempted at a bottom from a crappy pattern), and a foxy beach bag.

Purple Linden Sweatshirt

Foxy beach bag

Striped Bikini

There is my spring/fall jacket and a mostly finished quilt, but they've both stalled out for now.  :(

wip: Cascade Coat
I have a ton of plans, and hopefully I can get to them.  Ooo and I have a final garment for 2015, but I'm hand sewing the seam finishing.  I'll show it to you guys in a few days. 

I may have to revisit this goal for 2016.  More on that next year!

2. Make Garments I'll Actually Wear

YES!  This year has been great for this.  I wore the heck out of that bathingsuit, and we've already talked about me destroying that purple Linden.  For sweaters, I've knit and worn the heck out of my Cardboard Cafe and Henri!  In fact, I'm actually wearing Henri right now.  :)


fo: HENRI!

I did knit a tank top, but it's hideous on me.  I knew it would be, but I wanted to try it out.  I don't have any regrets.  I do...need to photograph that and show you just how horrible it is...on me - it's actually quite cute laid out on the floor! 

(There's...a lot of purple and beige/light brown in the photos above.  Hmmm.)

I'm working on another very practical sweater right now, something I chose to do because there was a huge gap in my wardrobe.  Again, more on that in the new year!  I have a lot of posts to write up, holy cow.

3. Blog More

Despite recent months, I blogged a lot more this year!  Including this post, I wrote up 77 posts this year!  ETA: Whoops, this didn't get posted on Dec 31 as planned.  Guess that means 76 posts in 2015.

I should be blogging more going forward.  The course I'm teaching is done (mostly - still waiting to receive final exams from off-campus folks) and daylight hours are slowly increasing again.  I'm also making some changes in my life to give myself more me-time.  I love volunteering myself for things, but I WAY over did it this fall - gotta make time for me again.

4. Play Time With Rocks

I think I did fairly well with this goal.  I only wrote a handful of rock-related posts, but they were generally well liked.  Hands down, one of my most popular blog posts was when I talked about my job at the mine.

In front of the mine portal
I also talked about slicks along faults, the rocks in the Sea-to-Sky wall at the Vancouver airport, and a fun post about the rose quartz I gave away in my 1st blogiversary giveaway (I really liked that post).

Awesome Surprise for Awesome People
I could improve on this though.  Teaching my environmental geology course this fall has brought up a ton of post ideas - I just didn't have the time to write them up.  Watch for those in the coming year, as I want to dig into the material more, and what better way to prepare but to teach some of the content to you folks!


Overall, I think I did fairly well with these goals.  I'm glad I made goals, since I think they're less set-in-stone than my impression of resolutions.  It was easy to keep in mind. 

In fact, I liked these goals so much, I'm going to carry them forward into 2016.  I can definitely improve on all of them (SEW MORE, HEATHER, GEEZ)!  I am going to add one more goal though:

5. Do More Community Knitting

I've mentioned it before, but I'm part of a knitting group that does projects for the community.  We've raised money for a woman who had to make multiple trips down south for her young daughter's medical treatment.  We knit for the homeless shelter and the women's shelter.  We've knit hearts for the hospice to give away to family members to carry with them when they've lost someone they love.  We're knitting warm woolies for the two Syrian families that will be settling in our community.  And we have a thing coming up this January or February (whenever there's a bad cold snap) where we'll hang up all sorts of warm accessories downtown and in other central hubs, so that anyone who needs a hat/scarf/mitts/etc can take one to keep warm.  I love being a part of this group - it's nice to think that we're sending out something made with love to people who made need it, whether they understand the love that comes with it or not, and I want to keep it up.

Happy New Year, folks!  I hope that 2015 was good to you, and I hope that 2016 is even better!  Here's to another fun and productive year!