Whole lotta Sweaters

It all started back in October while I was giving the Girl Cave a cleaning & moth check. Things were being sorted, purged & what was staying was updated on my Ravelry stash page and linked to a project in my queue. Organization & efficiency was the name of the game!

I had finished my Not Going to Rhinebeck 2014 sweater…290Pattern: Artichoke French

Yarn: Briar Rose Fibers Abundance

and was looking for a NaKniSweMo project…I came across some Lopi I had picked up during one of my LYS’s February Bulky Yarn Sale. The original plan was to knit myself Odinn, but I decided to make a stab at knitting a sweater for Chris. My first attempt was about 10 years ago…it did not end well and we avoided the Boyfriend Sweater Curse only because we were already married…This time things went considerably smoother…although I think Chris was getting annoyed by my constant requests for him to try the sweater on so I could check fit…. 031I really enjoy knitting Lopapeysa and am partial to the yarn made from Icelandic sheep that is used to knit them. As Christmas was bearing down on us and I had promised my Dad a sweater years earlier, I figured it was a good time to get that done & cast on a second Odinn.

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With the help of my sister, I decided to sort of recreate a ski sweater my Dad had bought when he was 16 and my Mum tossed when I was 16. It was the height of Grunge & I had found its well felted & moth holed remains in the depths of a closet. The Sweater was so very Kurt Cobain! My Mum was horrified that I was wearing it & promptly removed the temptation! Some words may have been exchanged when my Dad discovered it had been tossed.

My sister suggested I try to recreate that long lost sweater. My Dad is quite pleased with his sweater even though he didn’t get it till after Christmas due to my coming down with a Cold of Space & Death. I rarely get sick. but when I do, it really wallops me! He has received at least one compliment about it every time he has worn it!

After knitting the same pattern in a row had me looking for a change…but I still needed a sweater as the weather was unseasonably cold…like below -30C (-22F) with wind chill and I had no intentions of leaving the house unless it was for work, school or food!

Antrorse  popped up  in my feed so I picked my honkin’huge skein of Jill Draper’s Mega Empire  in a nice sunny yellow as I refused to knit anything grey in the depths of a deep freeze!

254I am really happy with this sweater, it has a neat construction & I really loved using Jill’s yarn! She buys the entire shearing from shepherds around her neck of the woods in Hudson Valley, New York. The fleece are processed at a local mill and then Jill dyes them! I really love that she is supporting local shepherds as I remember when we were getting fractions of a cent for our fleece in the 80s. The yarn is a bit rustic at first as the mill doesn’t use chemicals to dissolve the vegetable matter in the fleece and will smell a bit sheepy, but that is the kind of yarn I really enjoy working with and it blooms up so nicely after a soak! I picked up some locally made buttons to use on the yoke.

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After Antrerose it was still freaking cold! I had a bunch of left over lopi from Chris’ sweater & there was just enough that I was able to cast on another sweater…technically it’s a lopapeysa…but not really.

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Scatter is a free pattern via Ravelry. My stitches got a bit tight across the chest, but a stern blocking sorted that out. This sweater is knit a bit tighter than it should, but considering how cold it’s been, it makes for a great base layer.

As I’ve knit roughly a sweater a month since October, I’m taking a bit of a break before I hit burnout and dusting off the loom & pulling out the sewing machine.

 

Not my regular craft

We all know my default crafts are knitting, sewing, weaving & spinning. They each hold top spot in turn, depending on what wild idea has crossed my mind or article I have stumbled across.

Every so often, I need something different. Don’t get me wrong, I could spend an entire lifetime solely focusing in one just one of those areas (assistant to an experimental archeologist recreating Iron Age textiles comes to mind), but sometimes I want to try something new-ish.

323This bundle I picked up from the instructors of the snowshoe workshop my Mum & I took in November is just such a distraction from my regular maker schedule. A few years ago I took the winter moccasins course with the same couple who taught the snowshoe making course. My Winter moccasins are great, on cold days, but I wanted another pair that were better suited for warmer weather.

Between the pattern in the instruction kit & a few resources on line I was more or less able to make what I have seen called “Scout Moccasins”. I honestly have no idea if this is the proper name for this style or even if this would be considered a traditional moccasin design. I should probably corner one of the First People’s curators/techs (same knowledge, different pay rate) at work & ask them.

If you can stitch a rip, you can make moccasins.

Once you have a pattern for a design you like, moccasins are fairly straight forward shoes to make. Take a few measurements, transfer them to the leather, measure twice but cut the leather once then put in your tacking stitches.

374And start to gather & stitch (you need to use what’s called a Glover’s Needle, they have a 3 sided tapered point & artificial sinew, separate an arm length strand into it’s 3 plies)

376 The left 1/2 of the toe of my moccasin is always much neater than the right 1/2

377Repeat for 2nd moccasin

391I could have stopped here & punched holes for laces around the ankles but I wanted a wrap around the ankle.

My first attempt was….lets just say “ass”.

402I had to rip back the stitching around the wraps….I’m much happier with the final result and they are quite comfortable. I felted one of my spinning batts to use as insoles once the leather stretches a bit more.

432There are a few things I will change for my next pair (like add a crepe rubber sole so I can wear them on paved streets & not destroy the leather), but these are perfectly suitable.

Multi-Craftual

I need to keep my hands busy…mainly to keep me from placing them around certain people’s necks & squeezing till their eyes bug out…Suffice it to say with the Summer Holidays and currently all 4 of us in our 750sqft house I’ve been keeping myself quite busy.

The frantic sewing pace I had going for a while has slowed down as other projects took over.

The months started with Tour De Fleece (yes, I know that is a 5 year old link, all organizing of Tour de Fleece has now moved to the Ravelry forums) prep. I have a rather large collection of batts and braids of hand dyed or hand blended fibers and decided it was high time to deal with them. Before I started spinning, I needed to find a pattern to use up as much of the eventual yarn as possible. I figured an afghan was a good idea, but didn’t want to have to lug around a massive bit of knitting! I needed small bits of knitting that would later be seamed together. May I present The Barn Raising “Quilt”. I’m not at all concerned with the squares being symmetrical.

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After 2 weeks of near constant spinning, I was running out of space for all the singles I had spun as well as bobbins. I am currently waiting on the delivery of a bulky flyer and some extra bobbins for my wheel so I can continue to the second stage of the process by turning the singles into 2 ply yarns or possibly Navajo plying to keep the long colour repeats in some of the fiber.

As I wait for the delivery, it’s going to be a bit as my local-ish spinning supply store (Gemini Fibres) are on vacation…So I moved along to another project… crochet.

Cal Patch has recently put out a crochet rag rug tutorial video on Creative Bug which was well timed as I had a lot of left over fabric scraps from my sewing binge.

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I worked on the rug for about a week…then had to stop as my right wrist & shoulder were SCREAMING at me. Clearly the previous two weeks of spinning and the week of crochet had not been ergonomically correct…Stretches were done, things are less stiff and the rug was ripped out to be given a new life as a woven rag rug.

The floor loom was dusted off, a warp was wound off, then I lost the cross while warping the loom…a frustrating learning experience…One cannot have too many ties on their warp! The kids acted as Loom Minions and helped me get a very arsed up warp onto the loom and then I was off…

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Abi even asked to be shown how the floor loom worked!

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My progress on the rag rug was briefly interrupted yesterday by Liam having a play date…3 boys between the age of 6-8 don’t need strict supervision, but a parental presence in the room acts as a deterrent for the occasional wild idea. Thankfully, the rigid heddle loom was in the living room where the boys were playing and it had a very near complete project on it. I say “Had” as I was able to finish the Rothko shawl. This was the painting that inspired it.

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I woke up this morning filled with a bunch of ideas for more weaving projects which will also help in getting the assorted stashes of fiver & fabric under control and give my shoulder a nice break…

 

 

Keeping it between the ditches…

Things at Gauhaus are…trying right now…But as I understood one of my Great Grans was to often say, “At least you have you’re health…”, I will also add “and my craft stash, because crafting is what is keeping me between the ditches right now.”

Often when a crafting friend is going through a rough patch the rest of us will ask if they have easy access to cashmere yarn. We don’t ask to take the piss, it’s because we all know that crafting/making is a stress reducer and the meditative effects of  making help us to often come up with solution we wouldn’t have necessarily thought of.  Even CNN has cottoned on to the benefits so, as things are a bit nutty here I’ve found myself on quite the run of making things.

Once the kids are off to school and the chores are done, I have about 3-4 hours of free time on my days off & I have been taking full advantage of that time in front of my sewing machine. Two-ish weeks ago I banged out 4 dresses in a week using a production line process that would have put a smile on Henry Ford’s face. I don’t actually recommend this approach to sewing as I was very much sick of the sight of my machine by the time I had snipped the threads off Dress#4.

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The Dala horse dress is my favourite!

I used The Staple Dress pattern for all 4 dresses, I love this pattern! I didn’t shirr the waists as I can never get it right & end up with a misplaced waist, I also prefer shift style dresses which gives me a bit of flexibility to wear them over jeans or belt them for a fitted look. The only other modification I make is to place the pockets down about an inch from where the  pattern wants them. Most of the dresses have already seen some wear & I have received lots of compliments on them.

A bit of a weaving break happened after this. I warped up the Flip loom with some Wellington Fibers yarn I picked up at the Knitter’s Frolic. After warping, I realized the colors & pattern are a bit Rothko inspired. For the longest time I was not a fan of Rothko until I stumbled across a biography of him which totally changed my perspective & I rather like his work now.

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The shawl is mostly done, I probably need another hour or two to finish it, but I have been distracted by a few more dress patterns & some Frida Kahlo inspired fabric…

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Yeah…They are just gorgeous! The fabric on the right is what prompted the search for a new dress pattern as I want the 14″ tall line of Frida’s along the hem. I knew what pattern I wanted to use, but the fact that it was ALL IN JAPANESE had me a bit nervous, but I needed a challenge to keep my mind from obsessing about everything else that was going on so I tracked down a copy of the pattern book and got to work figuring this all out because this is the pattern page I had to work with:

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Once I had sussed out which pieces I needed, I traced them using Swedish Tracing paper (Love this stuff!) and eventually made a wearable muslin since I didn’t want to mess up my lovely Frida fabric. The dress came together quite quickly considering I made some brainless errors & had to rip a few seams out to resew. I am pleased with it but will make some adjustments to the length of the top before I use the Frida fabric as it comes a bit short on me.

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The blue fabric will be used to make Made By Rae’s new Bianca pattern, which I will lengthen to just below my knees.

This manic burst of productivity has been really, really helpful in keeping me level while life stuff is being sorted out and perhaps one of these craft sessions will result in the perfect solution, but until then I will keep at the stitches.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Button, button, who’s got the button?

Two weeks ago I cast off my Golden Wheat Cardi, ends were sewn in & the sweater was blocked…and then it sat for some time because I didn’t have any suitable buttons…not quite sure how that happened, but there you are. Panicked, I tossed my button bag (realized how non-traditional a button bag was & remedied to fix that!) & came up empty, but did stop to admire my collection of buttons. My preference is for handmade either wooden or porcelain buttons as well as vintage. My parents are very good at keeping an eye out at antique shops & boot sales for sets for me. I am also trying to find out what happened to both my Granmas button jars…

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I searched Etsy, where I found & ordered some lovely vintage buttons,

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but they wouldn’t work with my new cardi. The search continued…luckily Toronto has a Fashion District, sadly it’s not as awesome as it once was, but there is a button store on the South West corner of Spadina & Queen St W. It’s about 4-ish doors west of Spadina and they only take cash (this is important!). It’s a small store but they are packed floor to ceiling with boxes of buttons amongst whom I found some suitable options…

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As I’ll mostly be wearing this at work, I went with the solid black buttons (even though the big hot pink ones were my preferred choice) as I have a Uniform Policy I need to comply with.

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Please excuse the less than stellar loo shot, but my attempt to take the photo in one of the beautiful Art Nouveau mirrors in the European Decorative Arts gallery at work turned out terribly fuzzy

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…and am certain the Gallery Guard was wondering what on earth I was doing , then remembered it was me, so carried on with his rounds…

Once I had my botton situation all sorted, I decided that it was high time I followed that long tradition of having a proper button tin. These tins should be an old Quality Street or Shortbread tin, Mason jars are also acceptable. Fortunately, I picked up a tin of Quality Street over the holidays & after dumping out the leftover Orange & Strawberry cremes (seriously! who eats them?! they are as bad as those Violet Pastilles blegh!) I gathered all my buttons & discovered…I need a second tin already…

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Point of editorial clarity: It appears I was dead wrong about the origins of my Maternal Great Grandmother. My parents called shortly after I wrote my last post to politely enquire which Nan came from Yorkshire then proceeded to explain that I was very wrong. Nan Richardson (nee Perrot sp?) was from Melksham, Wiltshire. Which for those of you with a far superior grasp of the counties of England will know is not even remotely close to Yorkshire & is in fact in the South of England…however my Mum has discovered in her pursuit of the family tree that Nan’s father was imprisoned for sheep stealing (more than likely to feed his large family) which is probably the event that led to my Nan coming to Canada to work as a Domestic at the age of 12 as a Home Child through the Bernardo Homes in England. This particular chapter of history is an interesting and sad one, it speaks volumes about Victorian English society and how they viewed the poor. I could go on for a fairly long time about my opinions of Industrial era child labour, the soul destroying work houses and the arrogance of the upper classes who “knew what the poor needed to set themselves straight”, but that was not the original intention of this…

Side note: In 2009 Australian PM Kevin Rudd & in 2010 British PM Gordon Brown issued formal apologies to the remaining child migrants (home children) & their descendants for the abuses which were suffered & the families separated & tossed to the corners of the Colonies. The Canadian Minister of Immigration Jason Kenny, did not issue a formal apology…we can all guess what I think of him!

Oh…I’ve been a busy bee

My plan to post more often went completely off the rails, but for good reason! I’ve been a busy little crafting bee!

It started with my turning 6 pairs of pants into knickerbockers. I’m planning on posting how I did this at a later date, but really it was pretty dead easy. I need to pick up some fun knee high argyle socks to complete my English Estate look and perhaps get a few Oxfod Cloth Button-down shirts & cravats so I can look like a complete Blue Blood tosser!

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Then I finished Innisfil. I wore it to the Knitters Frolic and received a few compliments which left me chuffed as it’s nice to have your hard work appreciated by complete strangers.

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On the tails of my knickerbocker success I set about sewing up some new spring frocks. Two have been finished thus far (one on black linen & one in red linen) using Sonya Phillips pattern from the 100 Acts of Sewing project she did last year. (not the greatest shots, I know, but my camera battery was dead and had to use the mobile camera.) Both dresses have already seen a lot of wear & I need to get cracking on the purple version. I can totally see this dress becoming a staple of my wardrobe and I have plans to sew a few heavier wool versions for cooler weather. This is a super easy pattern and really good for a beginning sewer as you just have 4 seams and a hem. If making your own bias tape is a bit intimidating, you can use store bought.

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I have also finished a Hugin & Munin shawl, there is no photo as it will probably become a Christmas present.

This massive upsurge in creative production has been the best therapy, things have been busy around here which has led to my not getting out to socialize as much as I should/need. Being able to hunker down in the Girl Cave and emerge a few hours later with a new dress or take to the couch with my knitting at the end of the day has given me a nice sense of accomplishment, some new skills and taken the edge off my lack of socializing. The only real down side from this flurry of activity is I’m getting more ideas for projects than I have hours in the day and with the Summer Break looming about 6 weeks off I’m going to miss this time…perhaps I’ll institute a Afternoons are for Crafting rule while the kids are at home…

 

 

Impressing a 9 year old is not as hard as you think…

A few weeks back, I helped a friend out with some emergency childcare so found myself in the company of a 9 year old girl for the day while my kids were at school. Since I didn’t want her to spend the day playing games on her Nintendo DS, I hauled her off to the local thrift shop to gather supplies for my new Spring wardrobe.

I don’t think my young companion had ever been in a thrift shop before and she was shocked, SHOCKED I TELL YOU to discover that really good quality, barely worn clothing could be found for so cheap! She kept asking why her Mum buys stuff at regular price!

I made the shopping experience a bit of a game and gave her the parameters of what we were looking for: preferably wool (or a blend) pants in this size range, length of leg does not matter, the wackier the plaid/tweed the better…7 pairs of pants and 2 herringbone tweed jackets later (all for the reasonable price of $60) and we were good to go.

My little companion thought our little shopping adventure was great fun and decided to tell her Mum about shopping in thrift stores instead of buying brand new! When I told her my plans for the purchases she was quite nearly blown away! Her Mum, whom I dearly love, will toss a shirt if it loses a button, so the idea of taking clothes and cutting them up into something new was boggling my companion’s brain & she then asked “you can do that to clothes?!” I decided to save the history of refashioning/upcycling clothing lesson for another day…

Once back home, I tried on the pants, only to discover the one pair we both really liked, a grey herringbone plaid with a faint pink stripe were way too small on me.

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Gears were switched, googling occurred &  new plan was hatched, scrapped and re-designed…we were going to make an infinity scarf!

My friend helped with the measurements, making sure things matched up and I did the sewing and the cutting.340

We started by cutting off the legs & ripping the seams to give us 4 panels which were sewed into one long strip. As there wasn’t enough of the wool fabric, we made the executive decision to pull the lining from the pants and use it.

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After some finagling with the slippy & fraying lining, we had things pinned together. With right sides together, we made two side seams, creating a long tube which was flipped right side out. At this point had I been thinking, I should have sewn French Seams, but we were excited to see the final product.

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The final step was the most finicky, sewing the tube closed…googling was done again, videos were watched, we felt confident. Once I had sewn almost all the way around, I left about a 2 inch gap to stuff the seam back through and hand stitched the last of the seam.

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My little friend was super impressed that in as few as two hours, we took a pair of ill fitting pants and made a rather fancy infinity scarf. I told her she needs to hang out with me more, we now have some tentative plans to use old bedsheets to make a rug…

Happiest surprise of all was the discovery that my new scarf works very nicely with my Quest!

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Not the greatest shot as I’m still figuring out my new mobile’s camera.

I’ll tell you what happened to the rest of the pants we bought in another post…

 

 

Because I hate being cold…

Walking down the street after work the one day I overheard two fashionable 20-somethings chattering about clothes & the oncoming cold season. One of them whinged “I HATE Winter, it’s so hard to look cute in all those bulky layers” and I started to snigger. I remember those youthful days of fashion taking priority over function. That plan held until the day the bus was late…

It’s well known amonst my people that I grew up on a farm just outside of the city, this meant I took a school bus to get to well, school. Normally our bus picked us up at 7:45am, we would head down the driveway at 7:40 and the bus would pull up just as we got to the road…except for that one morning when I was in grade 11. The bus was late and not just a little late, 25 minutes late and I was not dressed to be out in -10· without the windchill weather. I FROZE my then skinny little 110lbs arse off & vowed to take a practical approach to my getting dressed from that point on, regardless of how dorky I looked just so long as I didn’t lose anything to frostbite.

Since becoming a knitter, the dork factor has been reduced considerably with the help of cute handknit hats, shawls, mittens & cowls. With my puffy down jacket, I might look like the Micheline Man, but I’m toasty warm.

My dislike of being cold however does not mesh well with my sense of fiscal responsability and I refuse let the house temp go above 20·, to quote Brenda Dayne “if you’re cold, put on a sweater.” This works great for my core, but there are not enough wool socks in the world to keep my feet warm…that is until I took a moccasin workshop with my parents in early November.

For the cost of a pair of UGGS (based on when I priced them a few years ago, freaked & haven’t checked since) my Mum & I signed up for the workshop at the Canadian Canoe Museum (this would be our third course there, highly recommend them). However as the time of the course drew close, a scheduling “mishap” at my Mum’s work place meant she wouldn’t be able to attend or drive non-driving me. My Dad suddenly found himself reluctantly roped in to cover off the Saturday workshop. I think he was a bit concerned that the workshop would be all women & him the only man, he relaxed when he saw the other guys show up.

After measuring our feet, selecting the type of leather/suede we wanted to use for the feet & uppers of our moccasins, we cut everything out & got down to the sewing.

 

By the end of Saturday, we had our feet sewn up and ready to have the uppers added the next day. My Dad was not overly happy with his stitching & wanted my Mum to pull them out & redo it. She said no! She like the less than perfect look of them as it showed his good effort and she appreciated that he had stepped up to help out and made a good show of it. Say it with me people “Awwwww!”

Sunday morning, bright and early my Mum & I headed out for Day 2…

We measured out our leg lengths & widths then got down to the sewing of the uppers.

 

By lunch time I was done with the first boot & well into my second.

 

The finished product is a leather shell that you wear over a felt liner (I found some shearling liners for ours, luxury!) with a felt insole between the liner & the leather that is held up my the lacing.

 

These puppies are super toasty! The course instructors actually wear theirs for traditional winter camping trips they offer through their company Lure of the North! I’m probably never going to use mine in such a situation, but they are great for around the house! As they were super easy to make and I have a Tandy Leather shop not too far from me, I will be adding them to my list of handmade gift options.

Complete side note: On the Monday morning after the workshop, I was wearing my new moccasins while tossing out the trash & ran into my neighbour. I proudly showed off my new creation to her, to which she asked “why would you want to spend a weekend making something you could buy?” To which I replied: “So I have a decent skill base to survive the Zombie Apocalypse”. She didn’t get it…which means her survival chances are really, really low!

 

 

 

 

I just went in for a few tubes of beads…

After school today the kids & I wandered off to our local bead store BeadFX as I needed some new beads for my third Summer of Indigodragonfly Shawl. The plan was to go in, get a few tubes of size 8 japanese seed beads, let the kids each pick out something small and shiny then get out. The plan was working fine until I saw one of these bracelets from the e-newsletter that was in my inbox this morning in person and then things went pear shaped…

These brecelets are quite possibly the easiest and fastest thing I’ve ever made and would be a great craft for those amongst us who have convinced themselves they aren’t capable of being crafty or don’t have the time to craft or whatever excuse non-crafters like to use when dropping one of their weird backhanded compliments on us.

Using tunnel vision, lest I also toss a complete lampwork bead studio set up onto the bill (trust me, it’s a serious risk everytime I walk in this store!), I picked up enough supplies to make three bracelets which I assembled IN THE TIME IT TOOK MY PASTA TO COOK FOR DINNER!!!  Seriously people I had three awesome looking bracelets in less than 10 minutes!

I cut my leather into about 7″ long strips

Slipped one silver bead onto each piece of leather

Then made with the glueing of the clasps. I used magnetic clasps as I find it makes putting it on with one hand easier.

The glue is sold through BeadFX, which makes this an awesome impulse craft!

Tless than ten minutes later (really should have timed it) I had these:

And the requisite human model shot:

The pitted bead was slipping around on the leather so I took Dwyn’s advice and afixed it to the center of the bracelet with a drop of the glue.

There is a variation of these bracelets posted in the projects section of the BeadFX website that I might try next…

 

 

 

 

 

A nice little distraction

My little house is in a slight state of chaos as we are in the throes of a bathroom reno two years ahead of my schedule. Some tiles decided to fall off the wall and we discovered that the drywall behind it was anything but dry. Last Monday my brother in law and I started the demolition and discovered an unexpected surprise which will be increasing the reno costs and extending the time my house will be in chaos.

Thankfully, I have fibery pursuits to help take the edge off.

I’ve had a slightly productive few weeks of knitting and am more than a little behind with the documenting it. In March, I finished what is quite possibly my favouritest sweater. EVER!

Warriston by Kate Davies, knit using 2 & a bit skeins of Cascade Eco. I love it, it’s warm & comfy, everyone should knit one.

My little cousin turned 1 this month so I knit her a little cardi and an Aviatrix hat.

There are a few other things to share, but I’ll save them for my next post so that this one doesn’t become a massive, rambling behemoth.

Fingers crossed by weeks end I’ll have my new bathroom containing a tub with a 14″ soaking depth and be getting ready to fix the not so little unexpected surprise we uncovered. It’s a good thing I have a nice little yarn stash as I don’t see there being a yarn category in the budget for some time…