Thursday, May 28, 2015

Wise Friendship, plus tiny socks

I finished a wee little pair of socks this week, Bu's Short Socks in some leftover Crystal Palace Maizy Print. They were only a wee squidge over a hundred yards and it's likely she'll grow out of them before the month is out, but she loves them in other capacities as well. Here she demonstrates that they make superb mittens, but they might also serve as a hat for a monkey. She's a happy customer and really, that's about all I can hope for.

Nothing sweeter than a little hugging a sock
I've shifted from sewing back to knitting, mostly because it's recital week and my afternoons are occupied with hauling kids around and practices and whatnot. That leaves precious little sewing time, but I'm hoping I can pick it up again when the recital is done. 
The Apollo test is still underway, but I have discovered that I'd been knitting a ruffle instead of a neat dodecagon. The increases were too rapid. I suppose it would help if I'd ever knit a circular shawl before, but I'm going to put the learning in my pocket to use later and then move along to the next stage of design: rip the darn thing and start over. It wasn't very big to start with and I already have more, new, better ideas about how to shape it, so it's not really a loss at all. It's part of the process.

I am not sorry about any of this
I've been spinning, too, and I've finished half the black alpaca singles, which is a good thing because the Middle TN Fiber festival was last weekend and I may have come home with a pound of polworth that I intend to dye and a couple other things as well. The best part, though, was hanging with my friends from near and far and discovering that they are awesomer in person than they are online. The whole weekend was delightful and I really wish the far friends weren't so far.

After the black alpaca gets spun up and plied, my next two spinning projects are this:
And this:

The first one is 100% silk from Rain's Obsessive Stitchery, which I've never spun before, but it's a gorgeous coppery color that doesn't quite come through in pictures. The batt is a lovely gradient from Lunabud Knits and I have two similar in purple, turquoise, and black. The above two beauties aren't even mine (honest!), but I am afforded the joy of spinning them for my very dear Koren, who won a "spin some fiber for me" prize during our last round of stashdown. She picked out the fiber this weekend and it came home with me and my polworth (&etc.). 

This is what it looks like when I run
I've also been running and I'm stuck on week 5 of couch to 5k, but I'm hoping to conquer it this week. It's only a matter of time. I shall wear week 5 down with persistence and determination and then proceed to give week 6 the hairy eyeball. I'm comin' for you, week 6. You're next.
I do love a good flow chart
I decided to make a skill tree so that I can figure out some specific things to do toward my Project Make goals, namely "Produce excellence" and "Become skilled." Those goals are pretty vague, but learning to warp a loom is a specific skill I can acquire and/or improve. I've since added to this particular chart and will probably need separate charts for each craft, but this has been a good exercise in turning vague goals into specific actions. I can't remember why I wrote "wise friendship," but I feel like I've had a lot of that going on this week and that it's not irrelevant to achieving my Project Make goals, so it's timely and appropriate. Good friends are certainly supportive of your crazy ideas in ways that help you be better. 

No techniques this week. There's been a lot of switching back and forth between current projects, which I hope results in some more FOs during Stash Dash. I'm participating in a completely unofficial capacity, but there's a spreadsheet nonetheless. Dress rehearsal is today (Thursday) and the recitals are Friday and Saturday, so I'm hoping I can get some FOs by blogtime next week when things have calmed down a bit. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

So (Sew), Strawberries.

I love these. Five bags out of fabric stash in colors that remind me of my garden in springtime when the phlox are in full bloom. The strawberry one is my favorite, hands down, and while that's the last of that fabric, this bag was the perfect thing for it to be. There's a grosgrain ribbon attach me! loop on the side of each one and though they're pretty simple, they're sturdy and well-constructed. I did my best here to pay attention to the details, even though they're "just" project bags. This is the part of Project Make where it's about doing my best work.

I'm considering stash-diving for summer fabrics for a similar collection of project bags and I'm almost certain there are colors in my fabric stash that will speak to me of summer flowers and sunshine. My more immediate sewing concern will be two more shirts for Bu, but I need to be getting on with that pretty soon if I'm to finish before our trip to Florida (which still doesn't seem real and won't until we're there). The pink and blue fabric to the right is going to be something, but I haven't figured out what just yet. It's vintage silk sent to me from a far friend as an act of kindness and I can't even with how beautiful it is.

And then there's these.
Twenty-four hours ago, these little beauties were hanging out on a vine down the road a ways and now? Now they are jam. Jam season has officially begun.

Everyone helps at our house.
Strawberries don't last long, but I sure enjoy the heck out of them while they're around. The great thing, though, is that just when they're gone, there's something else new and exciting coming into being. The boysenberries and raspberries won't be far behind them, I've planted grapes, and the blackberries are growing stronger. The tomatoes will bloom and fruit, and with some luck, I'll also have peppers and basil and other things from the garden.

Dat cuff, tho'
In non-strawberry news, I finished the alterations for the four boys' dance shirts, the last of which will soon be delivered and paid for (hooray!). I sort of wanted to spend a little more time to make them perfect, but perfect was not the end game for this particular project. Expedient and good enough for two shows and a rehearsal was the goal and I think I got there.

I wouldn't want to do this sort of work for a living, but it was a good side project and some good learning happened, too. I feel a lot more comfortable with knit fabrics now and that opens up possibilities for garments like swimsuits or t-shirts. The possibilities are endless!

There is knitting happening, too, and there may or may not be a spreadsheet stolen, copied, totally plagiarized, inspired by Bekah for purposes of Stash Dash. As it turns out, if I were to finish everything currently on the needles, I'd be about 183 meters short of 3k. Fortunately for me, spinning totally counts. I may also be starting a sock if the yarn would like to kindly tell me what sock it will to be.

Recital week is next week, so I hope that means a little knitting time when I'm not actually dancing. (You guys, I'm dancing in the thing!)

Thursday, May 14, 2015

I just work here. (Fear is the mind-killer)

I like to post pictures of flowers from my garden, even when they really don't have anything to do with the rest of the post, but I don't really have a whole lot to show for this week except a pile of shirts to sew and a pile of mostly finished project bags that lack a few seams. I'm trying an assembly line approach with them and I'm about four or so hours into five bags, which works out to about $10/bag so far, if I were to use the average wage of a seamstress. There's all kinds of interesting data behind that link and it could be a rabbit-hole for a number nerd like me. It's useful, though, because those numbers can help you see what sort of value the market puts on your sewing time. In the grand scheme of things, it's not a lot. Ordinary sewists have, historically, never been valued very highly in a monetary sense, but it's a good starting point so that you don't undervalue yourself if you want to sell your services.
This year wasn't going to be focused on peddling my wares and I didn't really want to do any commission work, but the dance school was in a bind and I'm kind of okay with being paid to help them out. Apparently, they said "We'd like some shirts for little boys." and the vendor heard, "Please send circus tents under which they might perform." and were terribly rude about having been in the wrong about what size a young boy might wear. I tried on the "teen" size, which is meant to be larger than the child sizes, but smaller than adult sizes, so right about where I'm at on the size chart for boys' clothes. It was huge. Whoever did the size chart for these shirts should probably set aside the illicit substances from now on. Lord 'a' mercy.
This looks excitin'
Anyway, I've still got a lot of shirts to sew back up and not a lot of time before the recital. I'm not hugely confident with knit fabrics at the sewing machine, but Project Make doesn't care if I'm timid. Project Make decides that this week, I'm learning about knit fabrics, so I obey. Project Make is my beneficent overlord that requires nothing more than total devotion to learning. My biggest fear is that I'm going to screw them up beyond all repair, but fear is just an activity of the mind.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Where the fear has gone, only my seams will remain.

This week's technique is a two-fer as far as videos go and this week, I actually watched the video before trying the technique instead of my usual M.O. where I just do the thing and then watch a video about it.
Sewing with knit fabrics

Part One is an overview of knit fabrics and how they behave:

Part Two is the knitty-gritty on how to sew it (see what I did there?):

So, of course I really want a walking foot now, but I can make do with what I've got for this particular job and it won't look awful. 

In other stitching news, I don't really have that much to report. Legwarmers and Leto are continuing apace, but my focus has shifted mainly to sewing. I don't know if it's the weather or what, but that's where I'm at right now. I'd already decided on a couple more little shirts for Bu as next up in the queue, but now one of them will be red with white polka dots in honor of our trip to Disney this summer. 

Thursday, May 07, 2015

May Flowers

I can't even with how pretty she is.
This week has been pretty busy and intense as those of us at the House are leading into Thargelia and the end of the school year. Dance rehearsals are eating up much of our weekends right now and I've been working on Iris' dress for Spring Formal most of the week. It's finally finished and she's totally and completely in love with it. Even while I was mom-scowling at her to get her to take it off, I was secretly giggling with joy that she loves it so much.

Her Aunt Erin and Uncle Bob are planning to send drones to keep ne'er-do-wells away, and I would just about let them, but she's strong, opinionated, has no tolerance for BS, and can kick like a mule.

It's nice to have a big project done, though. This is a discontinued Simplicity pattern from ages ago, #9484, the one with the very cranky-looking model in maroon on the left. The pattern was sewn more or less as written with some alterations for size and a few deviations in technique. Rather than attempting to pull the entire bustier through a small hole in a lining seam to turn it right side out, I stitched the top, bottom, and one side seam and then turned it right side out through the other side seam.The final seam is hidden when the back is buttoned, but since the other seams are top-stitched, it really doesn't look all that different from the others.

Shawl designing continues apace and occasionally takes up more couch than I do. So far, I'm liking what's happening with the first little test knit, though I'm going to have to get some appropriately-sized circular needles if I'm going to go any further on the actual knitting.

So far, I'm liking the denser fabric that's coming off of the 2's and it's showing off some of the texture a little better than larger needles would do. I'm not sure what it's going to do with some of the lace elements, but I think it's going to be alright.

So far, so good!
With any luck, I'll have a pattern at least ready to be tested at the end of Project Make. Even though the learning curve is kinda high here, I'm enthusiastically taking it on because it's all about learning how to do something to the best of your ability. I don't know what my ability is in shawl design and writing a pattern, but it's going to be interesting to find out.

Brickless and Leto have gotten a fair bit of attention during morning coffee time and some occasional nocturnal knitting has garnered me some progress on my legwarmers, too. There are some things that have necessarily been put on the back burner because of time constraints and projects that have deadlines, but I have been very productive this week. On top of all this, I'm maintaining my exercise schedule, laundry is getting done and I even tidied up in my room, vacuumed, and made dinner every night. This may not last, but I'm going to enjoy it while it does.

This week's technique is all about boning. There are several types, but I used Rigilene boning in the bustier above, which can be sewn directly to the garment and doesn't require a casing. The video below shows what I used at 3:57, but it's worth it to watch the whole 15min.

There's a lot blooming, both figuratively and literally, here at the House and it's exhausting, but beautiful, but exhausting, and awesome.

Project bags and Bu shirts are up next in the queue. Have a happy Thargelia!