Friday, January 31, 2014

The sewing muddle


Here it is, the last day of January, and I'm beating myself up because I haven't really sewn anything since signing on to the 2014 Ready-to-Wear Fast. I've tried convincing myself the reason is because I don't need anything more in my wardrobe, but that's not completely true. My wardrobe has gotten stale and boring; I've only got two pairs of pants (jeans) to wear, and while I have at least a dozen wonderful sweaters to choose from in this frigid weather, the stuff I have to wear under them is pretty manky.

The truth is, I get overwhelmed with possibilities.

Do I start simple with some basic A-line skirts and work up to the jeans I'm dying to make? I have at least a dozen patterns for cute knit tops .... maybe I should start there? On top of this, I've become a bit of a Craftsy addict so projects like Susan Khalje's couture dress and Pam Howard's Classic Tailored Shirt are like siren songs that pull me away from the practicalities of my life. Did I mention that I still owe my husband a tailored dress shirt for our 2013 wedding anniversary, which was eight months ago? Every time I smooth my hand across a pile of fabric destined for one of my garments, a pang of guilt prevents me from taking action on a new blouse or trousers for me. And I know he'd be really annoyed if he knew I felt this way. He'd tell me to forget his shirt, and get going on one of my projects.

So that's what I'm going to do. Stop the guilt and start simple. The denim I just ordered from is a bit too thin and stretchy, and I'm going to trust my gut that says this isn't the right weight for the jeans I want. Plus: jeans are hard anyway, forget throwing in the stretchy denim, which comes with its own headaches. The brocade above I've had in my stash since O was a baby (um, maybe 11 years ago?) It's a little stiff, but I think it has enough body to work as a skirt that hits me just above the knee. I like the colors -- a muted copper on gray -- and I think it'll look great with tights and a cardigan sweater. The pattern is a tried-and-true skirt pattern for a lot of sewists.

And knock wood I'll have something to show you next week! Have a great weekend!

ETA: By 6:00 p.m. I had not only prepped my fabric (by throwing it in the dryer with a damp dishcloth to steam out the wrinkles), but I'd traced the pattern and cut out my fabric! Maybe I'll have a new skirt by Sunday. :)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

New hats


insane fair isle hat

Like a lot of folks I've talked to IRL or online, I've been thoroughly kicked by January ... and I actually like Januarys! The unrelenting cold, the lack of sunlight, that there's no Maine shrimp to look forward to this year ... ugh. My motivation to do any blogging or sewing has gone down the loo; I don't even have the energy to properly photograph my projects outside when there is light. I'm not one to wish my days away, but bring on February already!

January hasn't been all terrible -- O and I spent a few days down in Connecticut during the long holiday weekend (Martin Luther King Day), which is always a pleasure. I also finished my Snawheid hat a couple weeks ago and love it ... but it's just a tad too small for my big noggin so off it goes into my gift pile. I knit it with Cascade 220 fingering weight. My decreases around the crown were wonky looking once the hat was off the needles, but after blocking they seem to have evened out.

Snawheid reawakened my love of stranded knitting. I've been cleaning out the livingroom, sorting my yarns, and was dismayed to see how much leftover worsted-weight yarn I have. This produced a new goal: in 2014 I'm going to knit up as much scrap wool as I can. That Fair Isle hat you see above is my first "scrap" project of the year. The pattern comes from a delightful book I picked up at our local library, Hats On by Charlene Schurch, which I later bought at Amazon because I pretty much want to knit every hat in there.

I love this hat! (The pattern is Multicolor Whimsical Cap.) It's kind of crazy looking, but I don't care ... I love thinking that the green wool along the bottom is leftover from my February Lady sweater, and the other green wool along the top is reclaimed yarn from an unraveled thrift shop sweater. The yellow came from my mittens of a few years ago; the red from my thrummed mittens. And that's my first Latvian braid along the crown. Now I want to knit Latvian braids on everything! I'll probably knit more of these, and next time if I'm making another for myself, knit the XL!!!

garter stitch blanker

Then I cast on 32 stitches on a #6 needle and started knitting up random stripes of yarn. I feel so virtuous every time I get to the end of the ball ... scrap yarn no longer, but part of what will be a very cozy lap blanket. It'll probably take me a year or so to finish up but I'm in no hurry. It's perfect couch/Netflix/tv knitting that doesn't need much thinking.

I'm also working on an Elizabeth Zimmerman sweater, which I'll show next time, and I have some holiday gift photos to share, including a finished Age of Steam and Brass shawl and a cardigan knit from local wool, as well as some refashioning I've done at the sewing machine.

Stay warm!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Cooking, knitting, staying warm

Homemade Potato and Pea Samosa




Still here. For some reason, I haven't been able to log in to WordPress. I'm pretty sure it's because my web host has been under a hacker attack.

The arctic chill has me spending a lot of time in the warm kitchen. This week I've made potato and pea samosas, hamburger buns, pop tarts with cinnamon filling, wild rice pilaf, and a potato-crusted quiche for my Paleo husband. Tomorrow I'm planning on a parsnip soup, a recipe I follow from my oft used copy of Jane Grigson's Good Things.

And I know at least one of you can tell what I've been knitting. ;-)

I had my last physical therapy session last night. My improvement in range of motion has been dramatic. Now all I have to do is get off the blood thinners, and I'll feel like I can put this latest medical drama far behind me.

Last weekend I finished refashioning a skirt I picked up at the thrift shop a couple years ago--a beautiful plaid Talbots skirt. I'm happy with the results, and it looks great with my newest knit cardigan, which I've yet to show off here. As soon as it warms up, I'll have the resident photographer set up a shoot outside.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A Monty Python fan in the making

"Mom, tomorrow can we watch some Monty Python?"

No sweeter words to this Anglophile's ears.

(I have "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" from Spamalot on my iPod, and O told me one day he loved the song. I told him it was from the closing of the Life of Brian, thus his interest.)