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.


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.


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…


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…



Have bag, will travel…eventually…

While perusing Pinterest one day, I came across this rather nifty duffel bag sewing pattern. I had been looking for a decent size weekender bag for sometime & all the ones I had found were either not quite the right size or pretty darn expensive, but this bag looked to have all that I needed and gave me an excellent excuse to finally use that yard of Kokka Trefle fabric that had been in the fabric stash since Abi was 2.


Robots! How fun!

The duffel pattern is a .pdf, which I’m rather fond of as they allow for a certain level of instant gratification and I can print them out on a heavier paper than that tissue paper traditional patterns are printed on.

With patten printed & taped together, I made a run up to my LFS (Local Fabric Store) for the few supplies I needed, read through the instructions and got down to business…and this is about the time things went a bit wonky… I am a visual learner, written instructions and I are just never a good combination no matter how well written they are and the Duffel pattern has REALLY GOOD written instructions, my brain is just not wired to work that way. I need pictures! Well defined & clear pictures, or video. Give me one of those shop manual blowouts of an engine & I can rip that Ducatti engine apart, clean it and pop it all back together in a weekend, give me written instructions and you’ll be lucky to see it back together in this lifetime. All this is to say that at some point in the construction of the duffel, I messed up a few times.

First mess up was I bought a separating zipper when I needed a zipper with a stop at the end. After a bit of internet perusal, I figured out a fix that would give me a non-seperating zipper.

My second OOPS! was I realized that according to the instructions, the outside of the bag was sewn first THEN the lining was attached. I had sewn all the layers together and ended up with raw edges inside the bag…WTF?! that was not how the examples I had seen looked…upon re-reading the instructions, I discovered my error and quickly set about fixing it. By “fixing it” I do not mean ripping apart all my seams and re-starting, that is just not my style, unless it is the only solution then I will crack a beer and accept my fate.

I had in my sewing stash some bias tape and it was the perfect width to cover almost all the raw edges, there are a few that will need a trim with the pinking shears…but we won’t talk about them.


Applying the bias tape through 4 to 5 layers of fabric was slow going but I eventually got it all done, cleaned up my loose threads and turned everything right side out just as Liam came downstairs, saw the bag & with his eyes all lit up and said “ROBOTS!!!!!!!IS THAT FOR ME???!!!!”


Yes, my little man…this is now for you.

Abi has requested a bag of her own as well…perhaps this time I will make it according to the instructions…


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!


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.


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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…



Yet another chunk of time flies by…

I’m quite convinced that time is having a serious go at me or it’s my stellar lack of organization…probably the latter & I should get back into the “To Do List” habit as that keeps me on track.

Since I last blogged, I have been a semi busy crafter, I have a goal to get the stash down to a reasonable size so I can make better use of my Girl Cave and so far it seems to be working. I’m only buying supplies if all attempts to use stash yarn has failed and even then I have a serious think about if I really need to make the project in question or if there is something in my Ravelry queue that would be a better choice to work with the stash.

Since New Year it has been quite the roller coaster here, between the broken washer, perpetually sick kids (one of whom has recently busted out  in all over hives), leaking newly renovated basement and most recently the passing of a grandmother, I’m ready to call 2013 a complete write off! Through out all this insanity I have kept myself mostly sane (there have been a few break downs) by knitting up a storm…my plans to show everything with photos is not going to happen as the camera battery is in need of charging & if I wait for that, I will never get this long over due post up.

In a nut shell, since January, scarves, hats & a set of hot pink legwarmers (ie: instant gratification projects) have been flying off the needles as well as a red Bulle for Abi and I’m also dealing with the groaning pile of WIPs before the kids out grow the assorted sweaters in there I started Gods only know how long ago!

It wasn’t all knitting though, I managed to get Edna II warped & have been puttering away on her, unfortunatly as the basement can get quite cold, sitting at the loom long enough to accomplish more than a few inches weaving before my hands are too cold to catch the shuttle is a challenge. However, the coolness of the basement bodes well for lots of time spent down there once the heat of Summer hits! In the mean time, I have woven two scarves on Filipe, both using unspun fibers for the weft.


Silk hankies from WoolieBullie for the weft & Viola Viola lace weight warp. I spent two days attenuating the hankies (awesome Knitty article on working with silk hankies) & winding them onto a stick shuttle.


After the success of that scarf, I busted out some Fiber Optic Yarns pencil roving I bought at Rhinebeck 2 years ago and a skein of Northbound Knitting fingering weight for another go.


I’m quite chuffed with this one!

As I have a bunch more unspun fibers in my stash, I’m plotting a few more scarves…this will be the next one:


Northbound Knitting silk hankies & fingering weight yarn…it’s going to be lovely!

I’ve started a Shetland Ruffle scarf/shawl using 2 balls of Jawoll Magic in graduated shades of purple, grey & black as my new TTC project & an Innisfil cardi using some of the oldest yarn in my stash, Rowanspun aran in a nice Springy green.

Let’s see if I can get these two done in a respectable amount of time & get back to a semi regular blogging schedule…




Holy crap this post is way late! I think I started it just after New Years, then one thing & another got in the way and now the months is almost over…I guess it’s better late than never…

To a certain extent, I view New Year as one great big do over. Clearly all wrongs can’t be righted, but the beginning of a new year allows us to take a moment, look at the past year and try to fix what done got broke and to accept whats broken beyond fixing and move on.

2012 was a year of change for us, some were awesome, like adopting Nouka,


others were both awesome and scarry like the electrical surprise we found hiding behind our walls that ended with the basement being renoed much sooner than we had planned and for the first time since we bought the house, we don’t have a tennant & the whole place is ours!

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After all that action & excitement last year, I was hoping this year would be more sedate and does not require any major home repairs. Yeah, that lasted until the washer broke on January 5th & the repair cost was more than a new washer… 2013 better get it in gear or it can suck it!

Broken washers aside, I have some simple plans for 2013:

1: Austerity measures with the household budget. Debt makes me ill and with the bathroom & basement needing work 3 years before we had planned on fixing them and now the washer dying, we have more debt than I am comfortable with, so we are tightening our belts & getting on with things. I will also be revamping our meal planning system to help with this.

2: Making nice with Edna II! Last year was all about learning new textile techniques, I learned how to make moccasins, knit beaded lace, wrapped my head around double knitting & most importantly learned how to weave on a floor loom. This year, I want to spend some quality time with the weaving! I have a stash that needs to be beaten into submission and what better way to do it than with weaving! So far I have chosen projects where I will learn twill, overshot, clasped weft weaving, Huck Lace, a simple set of linen bath towels…my ideas are really only limited by my stash…best of all, a few handmade loving friends are spawning, so I can further reduce the stash by weaving baby blankets!

3: Finishing up my WIPs, this is going to be a hard one as I have a strong raven-like tendancy towards being distracted by shiny things, but there are projects in the stash that have been aging for some time & they need to be finished.

4: Rhinebeck or Oslo in the Fall, this one depends on a lot of factors, mainly how well the austerity measures work out and no unexpected surprises with a large repair cost, but I’ve got 10 months to pull it together so am hopefull.

I’ve got other plans for the year, but these 4 are the big ones that I’m going to focus on…

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…






Wild Hair

More often that is probably good for me I get “ideas” which quickly become “obsessions” or as I like to call them “Wild Hairs up my Butt”. These “hairs” most often have a fiber/textile focus, in my pre-fiber junkie days they covered the gamut from piercings to learning guitar, Chris is much happier that I have a focuse now. A friend once theorized that these obsessions are probably a low level manifestation of manic depression seeing as I have a family history of that illness. It’s an interesting theory, there may be some stock in it, but that’s besides the point. The point is that I have a wild hair up my butt that should last me through the summer and it’s pretty awesome!

Allow me to outline my plan (which contrary to Dr. Steph’s plan, it will not be me giving all my Indigodragonfly yarn to her!):  Kim dyes yarn, she dyes REALLY AWESOME YARN! and she & her man Ron give these yarns REALLY AWESOME NAMES! Put awesome yarn colours with awesome colourway names and have these awesome yarns made by a local-ish (based in Haliburton) small company, my resistance becomes futile. The fact that Kim and Ron are REALLY AWESOME PEOPLE is just icing on the cake & I think I just used up my awesome quota for this post…

It appears I have amassed a respectable collection of this AWESOME YARN (sorry, needed one more), a fair amount of which is fingering to lace weight and I’m fond of shawls, put these two things together and I’m feeling a Summer of Shawls coming on. I’ve made stabs at Summers of Shawls in the past & failed miserably mostly due to over commitment & a complete inability to accept that I cannot bend the space time continum to suite my needs. Drawing on these previous failures and my brand new mad knitting beaded lace skills I picked up in a recent beaded lace class with Laura Nelkin at Lettuceknit, I’ve set a goal (that sounds much better than ‘a plan’) of knitting three shawls with Indigodragonfly yarn between now & Labour Day.

The Shawl & yarn combos are as follows:

Aestlight Shawl using MCN Lace, Drusilla colourway – I started this in September 2011, it some how got buried in the Closet of Shame where it was excavated from the stash during the big stash organization binge I went on in January. I’ve hit a tricky part that I can’t quite make sense of yet which was probably why it was set aside way back when.

Colour Affection Shawl Of Nerd Awesomness using MCN Sock, Did I Listen to Pop Music Because I was Miserable or was I Miserable Because I Listened to Pop Music; and two skeins of  Merino Sock in Also, I can Kill you with my Brains and Bunnies, Bunnies! It must be bunnies! This shawl combines two of my favourite nerd/geek shows & a favourite book/movie.

The last shawl is Faberge, using a skein of MCN Sock in Did I listen to Pop Music… and a skein of Merino Sock in Slutty Thursday Things & it’s got beads! I have some charcoal seed beads but after the class with Laura, I’m concerned that the metallic lining on these beads may wear off & cause problems with the yarn or bleed/leach something onto the shawl. I really should just steele myself for a run up to BeadFX for the type of beads Laura reccomended and bring along a non crafting person who will slap my hand when I get distracted by something shiney or start getting “ideas” then before I know it, I’m some how $100 lighter than when I came in.

With my bathroom reno coming to an end and with it the subsequent chaos & upheaval it creates in ones life, I plan to get back to a semi regular blogging & crafting schedule as I have quite the backlog of stuff to show & tell like how I finished my first big weaving project, the new veggie patch & probably some other stuff…