Saturday, December 26, 2015

Not so much a resolution as a plan...

I really love swaps. I like skulking around in people's Rav posts looking for hints of things they'd like. I like reading their lists - if they bother to fill one out - in the appropriate threads telling me what colors they like and whether they wear earrings or not and how they feel about Dark vs. Light vs. White chocolate and if that's better with or without caramel/nuts/sea salt/raspberry filling. I like stalking their projects to see what they've made and their queues to see what they hope to make in the future, and their stashes,which might tell me what kind of yarn they lurve. I like figuring out what I can get or make that will delight them, thrill them, make them happy. It's fun to make people happy. And it is also fun to feel like you've done a stellar job at something. I don't do such a bad job, but I never mail early. On time, but not early, and some of my pals are in Europe, as a result of which I have probably spent more on postage in 2015 than I have spent on yarn. But 2016 will be better. In 2016 I will find all the findings so I don't need to run out and get more jump rings (I can never find the right jump rings.) I will keep a running locker full of do-dads with lions, badgers, eagles, snakes, penguins, owls and monkeys on them. I will measure the heads of various small softies so I know what size Santa hats will fit them. I will have a little shoe-box full of generically wonderful yarny stuff like cute buttons, washcloths, wrist bands, stitch markers, measuring tapes, point protectors, and never leave the house without coupons for AC Moore, Michaels and Joanne fabric so that even if i don't need anything there, if I am nearby I can run in and get scissors or needles or Boye project bags at half price. I will have a spreadsheet of everyone I might ever swap with, telling me whether they use two circulars, magic loop or double points! I will enter their candy cravings! I will know who has pierced ears! Well, that's the plan, anyway...

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

It seems it has been a while...

But really, who cares what I was doing since the last post? Not most of my blood relations and probably not you, my readers. All two of you. If you're still there. So let's just move on... The very last day of the sad sad store closing sale, Lava picked me up two bags of Feza Dali in Green. Right now, I am not the least bit sure that 1400 yards of stuff I can probably get to knit up at four stitches to the inch would cover much of me, no matter how nice and Slythery it is. I should have told her four. But two it is, and I am now in possession of same, Lava, and the yarn, and myself being in the same place at the same time for the first time since... yeah, whatever. So does anyone have a brilliant pattern for a sweater in more or less worsted weight with silver blobs that takes, say, 1400 yards to cover a woman approximately the size of a Volkswagon Bug???

Friday, January 13, 2012

Because these are probably all wrong...

Because these are probably all wrong for the 18th century, but I have them, I am putting washed-out pictures of them here. In case, you know, someone who knows says "Oh, no, that's not too bad. You could use it, you know. If you promise to only wear it in the dark. And only to places we do not go. And not to speak to us or act like you know us while you wear it..." You know, encouraging stuff... I have something for a first pair of breeches for the other person, and he has a shirt already that I am not even terribly ashamed of, even if the buttonholes do look like filly-be-damned (I have no idea what that means - my grandma used to say it.) So I am wondering about a dark red cotton I have for a waistcoat... that, or poor fellow will be stuck with Osnaburg cotton. But that is for another post.

This has been fulled. I have enough of it for maybe a bedgown or something of that ilk. But I am not sure about the stripes.

One shot of the Ikea Duvet cover fabric. I know it is not exactly right, but is it close enough for... something?

Another shot of the Ikea fabric.

This was also cheap - five dollars for a several yards piece, maybe? - and wool, so I figured I would pick it up. Probably not right for anything, but if it looks like there is hope for some 18th century use, great. If not, I can always find some 21st century thing to do with it - not a big investment there to worry about. None of them were, in fact. This one is not yet fulled, if that makes a difference.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The things we do for love...

This is the view from the front. Note the slight resemblance to a shrunken chef's hat.

The view from the side, showing the wingie thingies about which I have some doubt, as well as the pleating of the cap which lookes to me like it can't be right. I am pretty certain it is not the only thing about this which can't be right. Is that enough poofage over the back of the head? Is it too much? Did the band go to the correct place on the side? Does the thing cover too much of the head, or not enough, or...

And why am I posting a little head schmatta on my knitting blog? Because, of course, if I get it right I will be slapping it on my 20th Century head and wearing it while fulfilling whatever obligations I have as a member of the 18th century Militia unit I have just joined. I do not think that these obligations include, should the place be threatened, beating off terrorists with the distaff from my shabby little repro colonial spinning wheel, but they might, and if they do, I will end up in the news, and if I end up in the news, of course, I want my cap to be right. A girl can't be too careful about these things.

Why on earth has she-who-cannot-finish-anything taken one one more thing? Really, it is not my fault.

OK, yes, I have always wanted 18th century clothing. I first wanted to do reenacting back in my early teens. However, I have managed to live MANY, MANY years without addressing either of these whims.

However, someone I love very much needs things to do. And this person would like to get dressed up in Colonial Clothing and Tell People Things. (Well, actually, this person might indeed be content to just sit there in old sweatpants and tell people things, but the days of the General Store and the Cracker Barrel being over, one must find ways to merchandise oneself, must one not?)

So this person and I will be doing these things together, and therefore you faithful blog followers of mine (Google says I have one, and, of course, Google would never lie...)will have to see pictures of said items, if for no other reason than that I am not good at this yet, and therefore need to post them so wiser heads than mine can come here and read and say things like "Abigail Adams is rolling in her grave like a log in a log-rolling contest at the idea that anyone she knew would have put that thing on her head." And then, you know, kindly offer advice. Or go off and drink heavily at the very thought of me in their community. Whichever, you know, makes more sense to them at the time.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sew, Mama, Sew!

OK, never being the first to be first at anything trendy, it has taken me a few years both to get back to any sewing of note, and also to find the Sew, Mama, Sew site. They sell fabric over there, but they also have a fantastic blog and they provide lots of links and tutorials. I am especially fond of the Handmade Holidays and Fat Quarter months, But they frequently have themes and it it really good to go over there, search, and find interesting things to make, or to at least think about making.

They've asked the following questions of a number of people in the sewing scene, and we can answer one or more for the opportunity to win stuff. You can see links to the experts' answers on their blog over at

Looking back on the sewing scene of 2010, what trends stand out in your mind?

None. Trust me, I am not the one to ask about trends.

What were some of your favorite things? (Trends, fabric collections, patterns, blogs? Whatever you really loved.)

I know I am supposed to have very specific favs here, but I basically look up individual things, because I just do not read a bunch of blogs every day. is probably my favorite right now because there is so much I can access from it. In that sense, Ravelry has really spoiled me - I want a sort of one stop shopping site for ideas I can then pursue through links. Rav is amazing for knitting and crochet, and there is really nothing equivalent in sewing for a number of reasons, but I am piecing together a few places to go.

What was your very favorite fabric collection or print? (If not listed above.)

I don't really have one. I have a sort of love/hate affair with fashion, textiles, etc. I love real ingenuity, and I love beautiful things. On the other hand, I have never been in a position to afford much. Encouraging a passion for beautiful fabric would be fiscally imprudent.

I also despise with a burning, searing, itching passion to which words cannot do justice paying postage - particularly shipping and handling that is more than the item. You can't just go anywhere and see all this stuff, touch it, and then just pick a few fat quarters - there is a lot of taking chances and waiting and all that. I do not let myself lust after beautiful prints.

What I do like is making the most of a little bit of a limited fabric. This is nothing new, and I am probably way behind the times in liking things mixed with natural linen/linen look/cheap rough cotton fabric.

What was the best thing you made in 2010? (Be sure to share a photo!)

I didn't make anything amazing in 2010. That I ever finish anything at all is amazing enough, and I made something like 30 sewn gifts for Christmas, so even if they weren't fantastic, they were done and I was thrilled. Nothing I made is really worth a photo...

What is one of the best things you saw that was made by someone else?

I can't say I keep track of these things. Maybe it is because I am not a Quilter. I can see where, if you are, this is a really meaningful question. I do more making little things - tea wallets, coin purses, cowls, notebook covers - honestly, how overwhelmingly awesome is something like that going to be able to be? Nice is good enough. I remember the nice ideas, and I have made the most of the Tea Wallets. My favorite project was probably the Travel Organizer. You can find both by searching over at the blog at Sew, Mama, Sew.

What do you think 2011 has in store? (Again, trends, fabric, patterns, etc.)

I really don't know. I am not a driving force here, so it probably doesn't matter, either.

Anything you’re ready for the sewing world to get over?

Exploiting cute children and one's relationship with them. I realize the entire sewing universe is populated with adorable little girls who like to make things with mama and wear pretty clothes. I do not have a daughter, and I have no interest in telling the world what my children are doing, never mind putting up their pictures. I feel more protective of them than that, and frankly, if I edited our life together down to what most people would like to see on a blog it would be cruelly misleading. So I would like very much for everyone to get over how cute kids are, since they have been cute since the year dot, and show more interesting stuff for adults who need to live and get things done.

I am also totally totally ready to hear the last of "simplicity." Trust me, I would have to ratchet my life up a few notches to need the "Simple answers" I see to problems so different from those in my life as to be from Mars. I do not want to destash, simplify, edit, reflect - I would just like to live.

Finally, gag me with the "Green" already. Frugality, using what you need and no more, is as old as poverty. No one invented it recently and no one should act as if they did. I am equally opposed to greenwashing and the trend to make ugly things because they "respect the earth." How about we make a few nice things, reuse what we have, and understand that rushing out to buy green, or several new tops made from some cutting technique that leaves fewer scraps, is just another form of consumerism. Wear the ugly old t-shirt till you can't stand it, consign it to a car-wash rag, and then figure out what you want to replace it with. One nicely cut blouse is still going to have less impact than five new ones, no matter how you cut them, and if you make the blouse yourself you can use the scraps for something else. In truth, probably the greenest answer to clothing oneself at the moment, after wearing what you already own, is simply buying at a thrift store. The most green creativity would involve the least complicated reuse of what you can keep out of the waste stream locally.

I am not saying people have to go that way. I am saying I don't want to hear about Green Green Green and then Buy Buy Buy in the same entry.

What’s on your sewing agenda for 2011? What are you excited about? What would you like to learn more about?

I would like to make myself clothes that are actually useful in my lifestyle. That is a huge challenge. And would like to make them look nice, and use the stuff I have around. It is not a matter of upcycling. I am really going to be using old clothes as if they were yardage sometimes, and while I don't think I am going to be reinventing the wheel, I feel it will be challenging to me personally.

I am really excited about Spoonflower. I love surface pattern design - as I mentioned earlier, I can't afford much nice new yardage, but that does not mean I don't like looking at it. What I would like to do is make some of my own designs and get them from there. That would be a challenge and a lot of fun. Maybe if I start now I can have stuff for next Christmas.

I have read in this thread people both praising Japanese companies and calling for people not to be so cheap. Well, frankly, a good part of our printing capacity went to Japan years ago because people are cheap. (short explanation of a lot of stuff.) And I like a lot of the designs, but I do have mixed feelings. However, if you are willing to pay 13 dollars a yard for quality quilting cotton, 18 a yard from Spoonflower for something you design yourself or a bit more for something designed and printed here is a very viable deal, I think. I would buy from there first, if I had the money and a choice.

There it is folks - the blog post no one will care to read, but I did answer the questions...

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Does anyone really use these, and what I made for Christmas.

Sometimes I am mystified by the things that are suggested we make for gifts.

Every single everywhere, for example, has a pattern - knitted, crocheted, sewed, whatever - for an eye pillow. I took a little survey. It turns out:

I don't know anyone who uses one.

I don't know anyone who has EVER used one.

None of them knew anyone who used one, either.

Now why do we need 75 gajillion patterns for something no one seems to need or use?

Even more places have patterns for tissue pack covers. Now I will say I have, in my lifetime, known one or two people who use these. However, compared to the number of people I know with noses, this is a very small number. I have never used them myself. I have no anticipation of ever using one myself. I own several. If I am ever stuck in a grab-bag situation with people I don't particularly care for, I suppose I am all set. Other than that, pointless.

I think I am going to keep a running list of things that I find patterns for which no one uses. But I am not going to mass-produce these things for gifting.

I have, I will admit, just done a pretty much handmade Christmas.

I started out with a plan for myself and the older son which was about as large as the Library of Congress, but scaled back continually over the 60 or so working hours that included all the sewing time I got. Travel organizers made way for tea wallets and little purses, hand painted pictures made way for patches sewn on tote bags. New ideas were born out of thin air. (I know how to free motion embroider? Apparently, I do, at least on a primitive level. I discovered this by accident. Go figure...)

What did I make?

Fleece cowls. Fleece cowls with embroidered patches on them. Last, desperate fleece cowl sewn, none too neatly, by hand.

Tea Wallets. Tea wallets in Osnaberg and a black linen blend, with a Zen aesthetic. Tea Wallets made from Orientalist print fat quarters. Tea wallets made with a sort of polka dot fabric in brilliantly bright colors against black. Tea wallets cut on the straight of the printed pattern, rather than the straight of the grain, since it was one or the other and the pattern was geometric. Tea wallets I can't even remember...

Little purses. Little purses with three pockets for folding money or various cards, and a velcro closing, that simple. And even so, I sewed one semi-inside out. Surprise, that worked too... Last little purse sewn by hand, including the velcro...

ONE travel organizer. I would have liked for it to have been three. Maybe more. But frankly, that one took a lot longer than I expected, and there just was not the time. Maybe if I start now, for next year...

Tote bags... The bags were premade, but had to be cut open along the side seams so I could sew on the postage stamp like machine embroidered panels, then sewn back together. I used my fake serging stitch and my overcasting foot. I broke a needle or two, forgetting to change needle position correctly, but these are the breaks...

A Hat. This hat matched a cowl I made. I made the tube longer and sewed up the top, straight across. Then I turned it inside out and met the two corners of the seam, and sewed them together. It is very warm. He does not like it. He doesn't like much, though, so...

All of these were nice things, I would have been happy to have gotten any of them. They were all useful. The tea wallets intrigued some of the recipients who decided they would put little notepaper and a golf pencil in there, or a cell phone, and may have mystified one, but I had one full I showed them, and I explained that It could also take instant coffee packets, the energy drinks in the long packs, etc. I decided to let the 21 year old find out for herself what else that comes in foil packets will fit in there...

No tissue holders. No eye pillows. Anything else you think it is likely my audience was happy I spared them???

Monday, June 21, 2010

A little story for our Reducio Mum...

Killjoys... I took a little writing class where I had to invent a magical animal with its own properties and write 500 words that included the animal. I "invented" Killjoys, although I have to say I was heavily influenced by a children's cartoon. These animals have the power to make people cheerful, but they have to choose to do it. Mum was mentioning making a nativity shepherd into Hagrid, and I thought this would amuse her...

Hagrid and a friend sit and mull over the miseries of life...

"Five o' them, ye say?" The large, bushy-haired man put his enormous tankard to his lips and sipped. "Five?" His voice echoed in the almost-empty tavern.

"Five," agreed the mournful pile of unkempt hair and tattered clothing that sat and drank with him, "an' if ye can believe it, Hagrid, I only paid for three. How I got the other two I couldn't say." He, too, took a drink absentmindedly. The beer spilled from the heavy cup, splashing his filthy clothes further, but he seemed ot find it funny. "There ye go, mate. I just put on these robes this mornin' for the firs'time, and they're broken in already." His laugh was rusty, but a laugh, all the same.

"Do they play cards like that fer folks? Ye ough' ter make a few knuts lettin' folks watch." Hagrid observed the small, sheeplike animals sitting cross-legged on the floor near the fire. "They'r real convincin' like."

The largest of the small animals looked up at Hagrid and growled. The ferocity of the sound, combined with the adorable mop of curls on top of it's placid, sheep-like head got a smile out of the large man.

"No," Dung continued mournfully, "They won't perform in public.. Although Eunice in the corner there'll knit."

"Really? Well, thats sumpin' like. Don' see too many sheep as can knit."

"No, ye don't, do ye. There's no market for knittin' sheep in these times, Hagrid. I've wasted my money." Mundungus seemed resigned. "Free to a good home. Ye've got the room."

"But they're a bit dull, ain't they. No breathin' fire or bitin' or spinning rope?" he asked with a faint hope in his voice.

"Not a bit of it. Still, sort of amusin', watchin 'em when they think ye ain't lookin. Billy was playin' drums on the oatmeal box this mornin'"

Hagrid burst out then with a deep belly-laugh. "OATmeal, Dung? I'd a never picked ye fer oatmeal in the mornin'."

”Oatmeal goes very nice with a bit o' fire whiskey in the mornin'. An ye know, I don' think they're sheep. I think they might be KillJoys."

"Ye don' say. But they're supposed to be extinct!" This was more interesting to Hagrid.

"I have it on good authority," Mundungus responded, in a low voice, "That there's odder thin's in New Jersey than that."

"Maybe. Maybe, Dung. I can' take em, though, anyways. Too much to be doing right now, what with..."

"Well, mebbe Fred and George, then. they're use' to bad knitting anyway..." He stood up and whistled. "On yer feet, lads." Obediently, they stood on their hind legs. "March."

The little wooly animals sashayed out the door of the Leaky Cauldron. "Then again, Hagrid, mebbe I'll keep 'em meself. There's sumthin' about them I je' can' put my finger on, but their cheerful, like."

"Well, if ye like that, then. Good day, Mundungus." Hagrid, sat down again at the table, remembering to be bereft, while happiness on the hoof marched itself out the door.