Category Archives: sewing

Beating the heat

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New haircut, hair colour, and specs

After my weekend, I still had two full days of time at home to enjoy. The downside to being at home is…no AC! However it is way cooler downstairs and that encourages me to go down to my craft room and actually get some sewing done.

Daytime maximums have been over 30, so both days I prepped a bunch of food in the morning when the kitchen was more bearable and then went downstairs in the afternoon. This is super-satisfying as I can then sew to my heart’s content, knowing that the work of dinner prep is behind me and I can focus on what I’m doing.

Yesterday I spent some time sorting through my knitting and crochet pattern folder. I found the pattern from the Groovyghan that I’ve made twice (this one and this one) and pulled it out, as I am thinking of making another. There is a CAL running in the Vanna’s Choice Fan Club group on Ravelry for the Groovyghan blanket and the designer, Tracy St John, has said that she will make the pattern free for a short time for members of the Crochet-Along. I must have downloaded and printed the pattern when it was free before as I don’t recall paying for it. If you go and visit that group, click on the Interest Thread that’s stickied at the top of the discussion threads. (I have only ever made one blanket with Vanna’s Choice – I joined the group only for this CAL and intend to use mostly stash yarn for it.)

After I’d dug out that pattern, I tidied up my yarn a bit and made sure that the Mandala was being shown off properly! And then I decided to cut out all the pieces for a sewn backpack for which I had a pattern from work, Butterick B6335. I used three coordinating fabrics. I made a large tote and a small drawstring bag from the cat fabric a while back (a quick search shows me that was January 2016) and this time I wanted to use all three fabrics together.

Monday afternoon, all the cutting was done, and today I went downstairs ready to start sewing but remembered I needed something to reinforce the base of the backpack, like plastic canvas. So I popped down to the nearest dollar store, but they had nothing, so I went over to Walmart, got my new glasses tightened up a bit, found some plastic canvas and also some Red Heart It’s a Wrap which was strangely drawn to my hand and begged to come home with me. There were only two colourways to choose from and I didn’t like the pinky-orangey one, so this one in shades of blue (called Documentary) was what I bought. I have seen this a lot online recently – it’s a fingering weight yarn with 1100 yards (about 1000 metres) in a cake. Wouldn’t that make an awesome vacation yarn! A whole kilometre of yarn to crochet or knit up. And it wouldn’t take up much space in your luggage.

And finally, the sewing could commence. There was a couple of fiddly bits, the most memorable being the sewing of the backpack straps into the bottom band without catching the lining. But I was pleased that sewing the oval base into the cylinder of the main bag went smoothly and I seem to have finally figured out how to do it properly (a big part of that being that I realised that when the instructions say to snip into the seam allowance to get around the curves you are to snip into the bottom of the cylinder, NOT the oval or circular base)! A big AHA moment there!!

And…TA DA!

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That black and white striped fabric made it easier to get my hems straight, as did the pattern on the pocket. There are four cakes of Mandala in there for photography purposes so it is very roomy – way bigger than I expected, actually, going by the photo on the pattern envelope.

And now that I have waffled on, it’s 11pm and time I went to bed. Work tomorrow. TTYL.

 

 

 

 

FOs of the knit, crochet and sewing kind

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Oooh, I do feel productive. A finished hat from the cake of Lion Brand Mandala (the third from that cake, and there’s still some left). Cast on 94 sts with US#4, worked some K2P2 ribbing, changed to #5 tips and increased to 100 sts. When hat was 4.75″ deep, I did the same crown decreasing as in the Vanilla hat, but with hindsight reducing the straight part by a whole inch may have been a little too much as I find it a bit small now. It fits Sally perfectly (see below).

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A finished cosy from a German crochet book that I found at my local library. I learned some new words in German!

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And some finished project/notions bags. First, an unlined drawstring bag with a boxed bottom to which I added a special pocket with a slanted zipper opening. I messed up a little there as I was going to make the bag quite a bit bigger, but then my rotary cutter had other ideas and it ended up being the same size as the last one I made. The pocket dwarfs it a bit, but you get the idea.

This little guy is a tiny version of the triangle bag I made first (as talked about here) with the yarn ball print. I made it to go with the other bag as a gift for a podcaster I listen to a lot. They are now both in the mail. (Tutorial Crafty Gemini)

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And lastly this one from a McCall’s pattern (# M6256) which I bought on sale this week at work.

Oh man, this presented some challenges. Sewing a circle to a tube for the base – eeek! Handsewing the lining inside – grrr! Heat ‘n Bond that didn’t stick when it was supposed to – aaagh! Glad it’s done, and it does do the job – there’s a partial cake of yarn in there and the end is threaded through the top of the “lid” – though it wouldn’t hold a full cake. Maybe it’d work best for a commercial skein of acrylic set inside on its end.

This morning was productive in its own way too. An appointment with a new dentist, in which I had my teeth scaled and polished, and numerous other things they wanted to do as I am a new patient there. No cavities, thank goodness. Dropped bags of stuff at the recycling depot. Mailed a small package to the aforementioned podcaster in Wisconsin. And spent rather a lot of money on a new pair of spectacles. I hope to have them before I go on holiday in August as the ones I’ve been wearing are badly scratched.

What are you making this week?

 

 

The sewing continues…

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The sewing continues…

This Japanese Knot Bag is so simple to make and yet it looks great when it’s finished. I used this You Tube tutorial by The Crafts Channel. The longer handle threads through the smaller one to form a wrist-carrying loop. It has two contrasting fabrics on the outside, and you could also do two different ones for the lining but I just used one. (I suppose you could even use eight different fabrics in all, which would be an awesome way to use up smaller pieces.)

Rather than download and print a pdf, I eyeballed the approximate sizes from the video and drew it out on some Burda gridded pattern paper. I started with a 25 x 25 cm square for the body of the bag, and added handles, making one twice as long as the other.

This is the sort of bag it’d be fun to make in different sizes, which I might just do!

I had a bit of a tidy round today, did the vacuuming, bathrooms, kitchen cleaning etc, and now my three crochet WIPs have been relegated to my sewing room, demoted from their living room spots. I’m not loving any of them so decided to pretend they didn’t exist! Of course my Ravelry project page has them sitting there at the top, where I can’t ignore them, but I shan’t worry about that.

The one yarny project that is active right now is a knitted beanie that I’m making with the last of the Lion Brand Mandala cake (colourway Chimera) with which I knitted/crocheted my FIL two hats. Pretty great yardage, really, to get three hats out of one cake. I started with ribbing this time, on US#4 needles, 94 stitches cast on, then increased to 100 for the stockinette part on #5 needles.

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I found that knitting to 5.75″ last time, then doing the crown decreases, made for a hat that was about an inch too long, so either I will stop at 4.75″ and then start decreasing or, if the yarn looks plentiful enough at that point, I may go even longer and make it a slouchy. Maybe even add a pompom. Anything to finish this yarn cake.

Well, I have friends coming over tonight so I’d better sign off for now. I just couldn’t wait to show you my latest bag! Happy crafting!

Thundery Thursday

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We’ve had some awesome claps of thunder today and the sky has changed from sun this morning to threatening clouds this afternoon.

I have been holed up in my sewing room in the basement which is much cooler than upstairs so is a great place to be on a hot day. However we occasionally get power outages during storms and now it’s getting darker, windier and lightning-ier. I have finished sewing for now but need to cook dinner so hopefully we will maintain our electricity!

After I posted t’other day, I made a whole family of these bags to go with the large one I made.

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They vary from 8.5″ tall down to 3.5″ – the smallest one is so cute, and I was challenging myself to see how small I could go. They are floppier, the larger you go, so I would definitely add some interfacing next time I make these.

Today I made these:

The vinyl one was a nightmare to sew. I have successfully sewn some vinyl into bags recently but I had so much trouble with this one, mostly with the thread breaking, even though it was a heavyweight thread with an appropriate needle. The tutorial was a So Sew Easy one, and maybe I would have had better luck with a thinner vinyl. The flat notions pouch is from You Tuber Hue Loco and I ignored her method of quilting the fabric onto felt and just used two layers back to back with a bit of interfacing in between. I’m sure I have some D rings lying about somewhere but couldn’t find any, so added a keyring instead. I’m happy with this one, though my stitching was a bit wobbly.

Well, it’s time for some storm-watching I think. Toodle-oo!

A sewing day

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A sewing day

There was nothing on the calendar for today and I was excited that I’d be able to spend a few hours in my sewing room. I did end up having to pop out to collect some plumbing parts so that Tai Chi Man can fix the bath, and I will probably go grocery shopping tonight, but the fabrics were calling.

I followed two different You Tube tutorials and made a total of three bags. One was from The Crafty Gemini for a triangle pouch. The first one was a bit bigger than hers as I cut my fabrics 8 x 16″ for a finished bag that measured about 6.5 inches tall.

This is a lime green cotton fabric with balls of yarn printed on it. I used some medium weight interfacing and added an octopus charm.

I also made a larger version with a contrast lining but no interfacing, as I didn’t have enough left at this point.

The fabric was cut into 10 x 20″ pieces and the bag turned out about 8.5 inches tall. I plan to make two more in these same fabrics, but in different sizes, just for fun.

And this bag is from a pattern/tutorial called Easy Cosmetics Bag by So Sew Easy. You can print out the template from a Craftsy pattern but I just drew it up on a sheet of paper closely resembling the one in the pattern. I like that the base is a little wider than the top. It’s just as well this one is for me as the print is not quite lined up on one side and one of the little side tabs is wonky.

Not sure why my screen is giving the photos a blue cast. I was outside on my deck on a bright day so hopefully clicking to see the full size photos will make them look better.

Recently, I bought some lobster clasps and sea-themed charms from Michaels, along with a tool for opening split rings, and I used some, not just for zipper pulls, but also for progress keepers on my crochet.

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The beads are ones I’ve had for years. In fact two of the above were already made up as earrings, so I took off the hooks and put on the lobster clasps instead.

It’s snack time and then I shall have to see if I feel like sewing some more.

Stash enhancement Sunday!

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G’day all. Another week has whizzed by and now we are enjoying (!) a somewhat cool weekend. The max for today is forecast to be 15 degrees. It’s windy and a mix of sun and cloud right now, but yesterday morning we had torrential rain at about 7am which coincided with time that Tai Chi Man and all three man-boys were headed out to work on the same job (Tai Chi Man works at an office furniture supply/installation place, as does ds1, and sometimes ds2 and ds3 go to help with big projects). I was also working yesterday, but managed to wangle leaving half an hour early because we had a house guest.

The son of some friends of ours from over the pond came to visit. He flew to Calgary so that he could visit the national parks in Banff and Jasper but drove all the way  to see us for just one night. The drive was nine hours, no doubt with rest stops, but I’m pleased he made the effort. It was lovely to see him. We’ve known him since he was a baby and he’s 32 now.

So yes, stash! This time, fabric, not yarn.

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When I’m working at the fabric store, we aren’t supposed to shop for ourselves, and usually we don’t have time anyway. So I dropped ds3 there today, because he had an extra shift, and became a customer. It’s nice to be able to browse all the clearance quilt cottons without worrying about being interrupted, and I went through them all and picked out 15 of them for (probably) making more bags. I also invested in some heavy duty thread because when I was making the bags with the vinyl panels I had some major thread breakages happening.

I took a look back at my last few blog posts and realised I hadn’t shown you this one…

I am in love with this fabric. I actually have two co-ordinating fabrics in this line. It’s printed with fun camper vans and scooters and for the drawstring casing I used a lime green floral fabric that I’ve had for ages. I can’t remember which video tutorial I used for this but it was a clear one that was easy to follow. The one thing I would do differently next time would be to place the casing higher, as there’s a lot of wasted space at the top.

Next week there’s a 50% off sale at work and I intend to pick up more interfacing and zippers so I can sew more bags!

The Maui Ocean Cowl has grown a little – it’s now 5.5 inches deep and the pattern says to go to 8″. (Pattern: Pool Party Cowl from Balls to the Walls Knits)

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The colours I’m using are very similar to the designer’s, and are very calming.

That’s it for now. Have a great week!

Edited to add link to drawstring bag video tutorial

 

Wow, is it really Thursday again already?

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I just reread my last blog post and realised it was a whole week ago!

We are having a few days of blissful weather, which to me means low 20s Celsius and very comfortable. I am sitting outside on my deck right now, it’s coming up for 6pm and SO lovely. Warm without being hot, only enough air movement to make the wind chimes tuneful but not deafening (unlike Monday evening, when I was trying to enjoy my friends’ company and it was too loud).

We had a little excitement a few days ago, with a fire that started on the other side of the mountain that’s close to our house. We smelled the smoke first, then heard sirens, and then saw smoke appearing from the south. A water bomber flew overhead but the crew on the ground put it out without their help.

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About 50 homes were evacuated but people were allowed back the same evening and within 24 hours the whole thing was over. It was probably caused by careless humans. It has been deemed suspicious by the firefighters.

So there’s been more sewing this week. It’s not worth showing you any knitting or crocheting progress, as that is minimal. Instead, there is this bag, which was a 100% vinyl bag that came in a set of three different sizes from Knit Picks many moons ago. The bottom corners were wearing out, a fact I realised when one of my crochet hooks nearly fell out. It was sticking halfway out when I caught it. So I decided to cut off the bottom part of the bag and replace it with fabric.

I am pleased with it. It now has a new lease of life.

Another bag  that I made from scratch is a box bag from a video tutorial. The outer and inner fabrics are ones I’ve had in my stash for a long time, as I didn’t want to use anything I cared about too much for the first version!

It’s not perfect – the zipper didn’t go in particular evenly – but good enough to use for my own bits and pieces. The tutorial starts with larger pieces of fabric and a 14″ zipper but I only had 12″ ones, so I reduced the overall size (my rectangles were 11 x 7.5″) and ended up with a bag that’s about 6″ long by 3″ across.

And finally, my Powerball set arrived. It had to travel all the way here from Ireland, which explains the delay. In hindsight, it probably arrived at just the right time in my recovery to actually use it. Check out the products at powerballs.com if you’re interested. I heard about this from a Ravelry forum thread where people were raving about this amazing product that helped them regain their strength after wrist surgery.

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It is HARD! I can only do the exercise with the Powerball for a very short time, even with my good hand. There is a gyroscope inside that creates resistance when you rotate your wrist. I think  it’s really going to help and I’m looking forward to seeing quick results.

Ah well, time to go get the dinner out of the oven. I think the family is chomping at the bit and I’m feeling pretty hungry myself. Talk to you later.

Thursday’s threads, therapy and thankfulness

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Hello, lovely people. How are you today? I had a very pleasant day. My appointment with my hand therapist went well. I was only with her for 15 minutes so she could check how my wrist is coming along. She measured my flexibility (with her angle measurer thingy) and my grip strength and it’s all improving. She said to keep doing what I’m doing, and to be honest I haven’t been too diligent on the hand stretches but I’ve been knitting and crocheting like mad, and even sewing too. It all helps, I think.

So I’m thankful that my wrist is getting better, with only the occasional ache and twinge, and I’m determined that by the time my holiday comes around in August that I will be 100%.

After my appointment, I had tea with Tai Chi Man. Today I had Assam TGFOP. I know the OP stands for orange pekoe, in other words good old black tea, but the rest I have forgotten. I have it with a little plain soymilk, no sweetener. Tai Chi Man had his usual Extreme Green. And after a sit and a knit and a chat with him, he went back to work and I took a tea to my friend at her office and we sat outside on a sunny bench for half an hour.

This is my knitting project…

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It’s the yarn I bought at my LYS last year and took to Maui in December. I started crocheting a ripple scarf but didn’t like all the cut ends and couldn’t see myself finishing it. So after a long rest in its bag for five months I took it out, unravelled it, and found a new project for it. This is the Pool Party Cowl and I found it, of course, through Ravelry. It starts out with a kind of broken seed stitch in colour A, in my case the variegated, and then starts on the woven pattern, where you knit two rows with A and then weave two rows with B, the green solid. (Edited to add that this yarn is Cascade Sunseeker, a cotton acrylic blend with a touch of metallic.)

I can’t tell you how happy I am with this cowl. I definitely did the right thing unravelling the scarf.

So, now to the threads mentioned in the title. I had an idea fermenting in the back of my mind after watching the Smells Like Yarn podcast. Ross keeps showing off a WIP in the Rocko bag made by his friend, DarnYarnMN. It is a zippered pouch with a clear vinyl window at the front. I wanted to try making one (or three) and I have lots of pieces of cotton fabric in my stash. I bought some iron-on interfacing, zippers and clear vinyl from work the other day and dove in.

Whilst I did watch a basic bag tutorial on You Tube, it didn’t include the clear window, so I basically made it up. I’m mostly happy with this bag, except for the fact that the raw ends of the zipper aren’t enclosed within the lining, and neither are my seam allowances, because I couldn’t figure out how to do that with the window in the front of the bag. Anyway, this was just my first effort, and there will be more versions in the future, I’m sure. (The size of this is about 10″ square.)

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The second bag I made is a drawstring bag, and the instructions come from a book I own, Weekend Sewing. I’ve made this bag before in a smaller size. The cut size of the back piece was 15 x 12″, so that’ll give you an idea of the finished size. The front is made from two panels of fabric and one of vinyl. I’m learning some new things, what with having to use a special machine needle to sew vinyl, and how to feed it through so that the stitches stay even. I did cut the ribbon too short because I forgot that each piece has to go all around the top of the bag, not just across one side.

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I’m not sure whether there is a way to avoid the vinyl crunching up and getting little dings in it when turning the bag right side out, or if there’s a way to smooth it out once you’ve done that. I bought the medium weight one. Maybe others use the thinnest kind.

We’ve had some hot days already and it feels like summer has arrived. The thermometer has exceeded 30 degrees a couple of times. I have to say I prefer mid-twenties for comfort. We don’t have (and don’t want) air conditioning at home, though I do have it in my car and I’m very thankful for it. This evening, we have all the windows open and there’s quite a wind blowing through, the wind chimes are clanging, and it feels very comfortable.

Enough waffling, I think. Have a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious day!

Cool fabric

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Cool fabric

Hello friends! How are you? I hope you’re enjoying signs of spring in your part of the world (or fall if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere).

I haven’t been outside yet but it’s a pretty mellow-looking day. Cloudy, no wind. The snow is almost gone from the garden. Our temperature the last week or two has been in the single digits, I think, warmer in the sunshine, still cold in the shade.

I have my wrist brace off to type this because I want to get my flexibility back. My right wrist is still a little puffy on top but the underneath is cleaner looking now. There is still a lot of yellow bruising up the arm.

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I mixed some coconut oil with some lavender, geranium and frankincense essential oils and I’m applying it three times a day to keep the skin soft and minimise scarring. I love being able to take the brace off when I want to bathe, but leave it on when doing daily tasks or sleeping so I don’t hurt it accidentally.

Some major milestones (or as  I like to call them, “smilestones”) for this week: wearing jeans as I can now do up the button and belt, crocheting (albeit slowly and left-handed), a gentle workout at the gym (treadmill, core, legs, and some one-armed biceps/triceps), and today I had a bath all by myself (no Tai Chi Man there to wash my hair or scrub my back and I even managed to hack through the undergrowth on my legs)!

So all in all, good progress!

I have to show you this fabric I saw at Fabricland when I went in there with my friend the other day. We were there for her to buy stuff to make a bag, so I wandered around with her and chatted to my co-workers. Well, this new quilting cotton jumped out at me and I just had to grab a metre of it to add to the stash!

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Isn’t it awesome? Kind of a vintage “caravans at the seaside” vibe.

Have a great day and talk to you again soon.

Two sleeps to Maui

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Yes, only two sleeps. OMG! I have made a packing list but need to pull out my cabin-legal backpack and start tossing things in. And as all yarnies know, the most important item in your suitcase is the knitting or crochet project. I am pretty sure I’ll be taking some cotton yarn and a hook or needles with which to make a really simple travel project. I will be mostly offline for a week so I’ll update you all after I get back. This trip is to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. We usually go on a small retreat within the province but we’re going further afield for this one.

As for WIPs and other projects:

My only knitted WIP is this one – Lanesplitter skirt.  I made one of these years ago with James C Brett Marble Chunky and I love it. So comfortable. Easy. Customisable for length, width and yarn gauge. This time I’m using the somewhat brighter Bernat Pop! in Full Spectrum. I am withholding my judgment on it until I see whether I dare to wear such a bright garment! It could always be adapted to be a cowl!

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Easy stitch pattern to memorise. With hindsight, it may have toned things down to stripe it with black. Hmmm!

Today I’m not working until 5 so I spent a happy few hours in my sewing room. This year I decided to make some Christmas stockings. If I’d had more time, I would have crocheted them, but time was running out and so I bought flannelette at work in neutral shades and whipped up five of them, adding some white polar fleece around the top.

The five of us are actually making wishlists this year and planning to give each other gifts. Two out of the three boys are working now. The other one is pretty broke after his recent holiday to California but I’m sure he can scrape something together and show willing!

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The foot looks huge from this angle and the cuff isn’t smooth in this photo, but there’s plenty of room for stocking stuffers.

While I was downstairs, I pulled out some bandanas that I’d made a couple of years ago for the farmers market. They didn’t sell and have been sitting around since. I cut them into quarters and hemmed the raw edges, then pulled out another fabric from the drawer and made a few more from scratch.

We’ve been using cloth napkins for years now. We never need to buy paper towels or napkins. Our old cloth ones are so well used now that they are falling apart so these new ones will get lots of use.

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It’s so grey today I went with kitchen photos with the overhead light on. Not perfect but you get the idea.

And finally, I’m sure we’ll get a tree this year but not until dh and I are back from holiday. So for now we have a Lego City Advent Calendar that I couldn’t resist picking up from Costco a while back. It’s fun to have a teeny tiny model to make each day. We’re taking turns.

How are your Christmas preparations going (if you celebrate it)? Do you have lots of gifts to make?