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.

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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.

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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???!!!!”

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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!

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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…

 

 

The colour of Spring.

A few days into Spring and Toronto is cold, overcast & getting semi regular bits of snow. This is no where near seasonal temperatures and I’ve yet to see a single brave crocus peeking out of the ground. I did see a Robin Red Breast last week…it appeared to be very put out with the weather & indignantly screeching from it’s branch, if it had a fist, I imagine it would shake it at the sky yelling “Come off it you twat! I did not sign up for this shit!”

I rather agree with the Robin’s rage, but as my neighbours already think me a bit odd I figured screaming at the elements from my front porch would just add fuel to their self righteous fires. To keep the seasonal ennui & exhaustion at bay and to remind myself that it really truly can’t be winter forever & one day I will see the Sun again, I have been knitting a lovely Spring green cardi…it seems to be helping, at least until I set foot out doors…

Back in December, the lovely Laura was wearing a fabulous cardi during one of her last shifts at LettuceKnit. I was rather taken with it, it had nice shaping, was seamless (one day I will get over my seaming issues, today is not that day) and there was a fancy cable down the back. A few weeks back, Laura published the pattern for said cardi as Innisfil , and I couldn’t have been happier. I was in desperate need of a good knit that wasn’t a hat or cowl (I had been on a bit of a hat & cowl jag to try to alleviate the end of Winter blues) and would remind me that one day I will be warm. The stash was tossed & some well aged Rowanspun Aran was chosen and I got down to business…I was making great progress until March Break where a week with my kids paired with a 7 day stretch of shifts and almost 70k visitors at work sucked all the energy out of me and the knitting ground to a screeching halt.

To get back on track, I took my 2 days off this past week to recover from the previous week, watch way too much QI with my beloved Stephen Fry, hide from society at large and knit.

I must say, I’m happy with the progress and should have a completed sweater soon-ish.

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This green seems to fight being properly photographed, but trust me, it’s very nice.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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…

 

 

Mulligan…

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,

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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!

 

 

 

 

Time stops for no one

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I’ve had a series of posts lined up, just needing photos or links addedthen some time passes and another post topic comes up…then more time passes…we can see where this is going. In short, I’m so freaking behind in posts that I could either forget those posts entirely, make a mega post with far too much info or just give a breif synopsis, which is what I’m going with.

First up, the basement. It is done and I couldn’t be happier about it! We will be eating red beans & rice for the forseeable future to pay for it, but our house will no longer burn down from the ancient knob & tube wiring or the shitty job some moron who clearly didn’t know the basics of electrical safety did. Al, the Electrician did an awesome job in making everything safe. Contractor Neil & his crew did a fabulous job with all the non electrical & I look forward to having him back in a few years time to do the kitchen reno. Chris & I have our bedroom set up downstairs so now the kids can each have their own rooms. By the weeks end, we should be done with the cleaning & painting the kids rooms. We had hoped to have them all set up by the end of October, but we hit a bit of burn-out so had a bit of a break.

(Please ignore the chaos, we are slowely getting the bits and bobs organized)

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My Girl Cave is everything I wanted it to be and more.

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In keeping with the creativity thing…I’m once again participating in NaKniSweMo. This time I think I stand a good chance of finishing too! I’m knitting Comfort Cardigan from some well aged Auracania Nature Wool Chunky from the stash.

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I also learned how to make moccasin’s earlier this month, but that will become it’s own post. My plan is to try to get back into the habit of weekly blogging, so things don’t pile up again & so my Mum can keep better tabs on me & my antics.

The end is in sight….

I realized the other day that our little house has been under going reno work since the end of April, that’s 5 months people! Five months of dust, debris & hammering, but it ‘s almost done and been totally worth it!

On Thursday we received a delivery of drywall, Roxul, doors and other sundry items. Friday, things got going.

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That stack of drywall in what will be our bedroom is 1/2 of what it was on Thursday.

Now that the walls are becoming solid fixtures, I am able to get a way better vision of the space, my spatial awarenss often leaves a lot to be desired which is why we had a last minute addition to the space. Originally, when the framing was done, there was no division between the laundry and the Girl Cave, after a chat with Neil the contractor, it was decided to add one as it served a few very usefull purposes.

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1st : at some point some Einstein decided to carve out a joist to allow for the drain for the tub in the loo on the main floor. I don’t have a photo of the damaged joist as I found it very upsetting. People, joists are important to the structural integrity of your house, which means, DON’T SCREW with them! Unless of course you want your house to fall down around you. The wall between the laundry and Girl Cave runs right under this weakened joist, shoring it up and preventing my tub from one day falling through the floor which would totally harsh my mellow!

2nd: the next thing to get renoed will be the kitchen, it is right above the laundry. There is no point in closing up the ceiling in the laundry only to have to open it all up in a few years to run a gas line for my dream stove (sexy eh?) and fix the plumbing. The wall gives Neil a clean & neat spot to end the drywall.

3rd: creates a room for the stuff you don’t want on display when one has guests and will just look much tidier than having the ceiling just end at a random spot.

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Where Nouka is sniffing around is where the loom is going to go. It’s super bright and has enough plugs that I can add additional task lighting.

It’s looking like everything will be done by weeks end, unless the reno gods want to have a laugh at our expense and we can start the painting!

We are not going to be finishing the floor (which was a major savings) but will seal & paint it then lay down area rugs where needed. Since basements have a habit of flooding at least once, it’s much easier to clean up a cement floor & replace an area rug than it is to rip up & replace laminate, sub floor and wall to wall carpeting, plus I find wall to wall carpeting unsanitary. If there had been more money in the budget, I would have considered heated tile, which may happen down the road after all the other stuff has been dealt with.

Do you hear that?

Neither do I…and it’s wonderfull. As of Monday, I’ve got the house to myself for a few hours each day. Correction, other than Al the Electrician and Neil the Contractor banging around in my basement, I’ve got the house to myself. I don’t mind the banging from the basement as that means we are getting that much closer to finished. The reno ground to a bit of a halt while we were waiting for an Electrical Inspector to come by and either give us a gree or red light. I was having quite the internal freak out that the inspector was going to find some teeny tiny thing in a deep dark corner and announce it all had to come out & the house be condemned. Unless the inspector was on crack, this was not going to happen, but I was freaking none the less. Yesterday, the inspector dropped by and gave Al the green light and my electrical panel a sticker.

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Let me show you the neat and tidy panel in it’s glory:

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I should have taken a before photo, the panel was not that organized prior to Al’s coming by. Neil figures everything will be done in another week and then we can begin the painting, shuffling of bedrooms and getting things back to normal until we reno the kitchen…but that won’t be for a few years, we need some recovery time.