Thursday, March 31, 2016

Stormy Promises

 When I got home yesterday, I had a new gift for myself waiting on the front porch.  I'd ordered the new Workbook from Merchant & MIlls, a packet of 6 patterns.  I took a nice cold beer and the packet outside on a beautiful spring day to check it out.  
  The designs are simple and stylish, with interesting details.  Check it out here:
I had a long day yesterday, and didn't trust myself to start anything, so I put it away for the night, after reading the workbook cover to cover.

 Yesterday morning, I finished the orange huck lace shirt, minus the buttons and buttonholes.  I had to go get the buttons this morning, but with a huge storm coming up, I only felt brave enough to go to the small JoAnn's in my neighborhood. I got some buttons that will work, but they don't excite me.  I might pause a little while before I add them, in case I have time to find some sassier buttons.

 So, after a good night's sleep, I tackled the new patterns.  They have to be traced onto pattern fabric, because they're printed on both sides, and sometimes, they're printed in each other.  Many years ago, I bought an entire bolt of pattern fabric, so I was equipped.  It made me chuckle that the instructions say to use "tins of beans" to weight the cloth!  Well, I only had two tins of bins, and had to use tomatoes and tomato paste!  

They worked fine, and I got two tops' patterns cut out.  I don't know if you can tell that the bottom photo is of some pale green linen being cut into a cute wrap top.  I also have some yummy pale yellow linen that I want to cut out, but I want to make sure this top fits first.

A long time ago, I blogged about cutting out this embroidered stretch cotton top, a design by Claude Montana, a pattern that I bought in 1999 in Kalispell, Montana!  It's a long, slim tunic, with a zipper in the front instead of buttons.  The fabric is gorgeous, but I made the mistake of cutting out the back too close to the selvedge.  There was a blank space, about four inches wide.  I started working on this yesterday, saw the mistake and put it aside.  I slept on it overnight, and decided to cut a triangle to applique over the top of the naked spot, because the front has top stitched darts that echo the triangle.  I like it fine, and have moved on, putting the zipper in the front.  I got to the point today where I needed to top stitch the zipper, and it was beyond my afternoon mental capacity.  
  The storm never fulfilled its potential, and it's even clearing up.  I would love to go get some shrubs for the side yard, and will post about them next week!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Finishing Touches

Today is a special day, my first day of no work whatsoever in 10 days.  I have been sewing since the wee hours, and am now getting ready to go have a lovely afternoon out and about with LouAnn.
  But first, you must see what I've finished this week!
Here is the lime green blouse, with festive floral buttons and hand-knitted lace.  I wore it yesterday, and so it's a tiny bit wrinkled.  But I just had to show it to you.

 And here is what I'm wearing today.  It's that pattern I've been talking about that Theresa posted about.  I have to say that the photo doesn't do it justice, but I might have just convinced myself extra hard that the dyed fabric does with the sage green linen.  It might not, but I don't care!  I'm wearing it today, and I'm super excited about it!  I love the way the hot pink bands on the sleeves go with the splashes of tie dye.  

 And the fire shirt got sunny buttons!  Perfect!  I haven't tied the threads off yet, and this picture makes it look a lot more fuschia than orange, but I can't wait to wear it!    With what, I have no idea, but I can't wait!

The periwinkle sweater got close enough this week to think about its bottom, and I found a heart lace pattern in Nicki Epstein's first book on embellishment.  I just have to knit a swatch before I can continue, to see if it comes out when knitted upside down.  See, the pattern is written from the pointy end of the heart up, and I need it to be from the top down.  More later...

And that's it!  That's all I've done this week, besides workworkwork!  Now for some ME time.  Have  a good week!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Spring Resolutions

 At the beginning of a new year, I do make some resolutions, but rarely keep them.  I think Spring is more of beginning, though, and I enjoy making Spring time resolutions more.  The weather is fine, everything is blooming, and I feel more positive than in the gloom of deep winter.  
  So, I resolved last week to spend more time outdoors, and really, really intended to work in the garden and make a new compost bin.  The problem is that I wake up far before dawn cracks, and get started on projects in the sewing room, and ended up last weekend spending the morning outside, dyeing.  I was outside!  I just didn't do a darn thing to the yard, except spill a little purple dye in the newly-green grass.

My intentions were good!  I just didn't make it to the garden.  Hence, it's sad state of disrepair.  I know, though, that we have at least a month more of the threat of frost, and that's my current excuse.
I had such a pleasant time dyeing, though.  I also dyed a piece of linen two shades of plum that didn't photograph well.  You'll just have to use your imagination, and I'll show you what I made once I do make it into something.  
  The tie-dyed piece is to make the center and sleeves of the pattern I showed last week.  I cut the green linen into the swing coat pattern, and didn't have enough to make the other top.  So, I dyed white linen.  The green is not a perfect match, but I will forge ahead.  If it doesn't look great, I had fun doing it, anyway, and will probably wear it happily.
  After the dyeing was done, I washed out the purple, and noticed to my horror that the rinse water all came out onto the floor of the laundry room.  I'd noticed and ignored other water during the week prior, hoping it was a figment of my imagination, but when the water was deep purple, it was hard to ignore.  I spent most of yesterday shopping for a new washer and dryer to replace my 12-year-old set.  The dryer still works, but it's had its repairs, too, and is making suspicious noises.  I felt it was better to get the whole job done at once. 
  I finally found someone to help me at the third box store I went to, and even though another store had a slightly better price, I felt it was worth it to reward the person who helped me.  The new set will be delivered Friday, and washing will commence!
  Another resolution I made was to start working out.  If my 82-year-old mother can join a gym, so can I!  So I joined the local YMCA and went for the first time yesterday.  Whew!  I am certainly out of shape!  But I am resolved to be that way no more, and am going to a yoga class in a few minutes. 
  But first, I must show you the latest finished piece, all but buttons and buttonholes.  Alas, someone coughed up a hair ball on it--a fact of my life--which explains the dirt on it.  This is more lime green cotton with a little spandex in it that I bought at Textiles last year.  I'm going to hand sew some lace on it that I knitted this winter, going around the collar, and then, I'll put on the cute daisy buttons I found last week.  It makes me feel like spring is already here!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

It's Nice Outside, But...

All I want to do is sew!  I started early this morning, finishing the top stitching on the button band on this Collette pattern, and I was relieved that my self-drafted facing worked neatly.  The original pattern instructions call for seam binding that is supposed to go down the fronts from the back yoke and is supposed to be tucked neatly into the button bands.  I've made this blouse twice before, and both times, the seam binding has been lumpy and uncooperative.  This time I thought I'd try a facing, and loved the way this batik cotton gave it a little private flair.  No one will see it but me, and I love the way it came out.  The blouse front lays flat, and it looks much nicer.  I need to make the vents for the sleeves next, and that is always a daunting task for me, no matter how many times I've done it. 

So I moved on to more fun things.  Like this piece of dark green linen that I think I bought in 2008, the first time I ever went to Textiles in Nashville  I bought 3 yards of it, and it's 60 inches wide, so there's lots to play with.  I bought this pattern at JoAnn's last week when they had all Butterick patterns for $1.99.  All but the sleeves and collars are cut out singly, to make the unusual drape.  I'm going to make a pair of bag waisted pants from the rest of the linen, but I don't think they'll go together.  I think the top needs a slimmer profile under it.  

But before I started that, I cut out a tunic from a Burda pattern that is basically a long button down shirt.  This fabric is something that I bought for my mom a few years ago, also at Textiles in Nashville, but I don't think she liked it.  When she invited me to take her fabric stash last summer, I brought it home, and only today noticed that it has Huck lace in the weave!  It also has some thick-and-thin, and some satin weave in it.  I made the strips of lace and other textures go vertical to help me appear slimmer, something I can always use!


Daisy and Sunny, 8 1/2 months old

 Well, it's just too nice.  I think I'd better walk Bella before it's summer and I regret letting this day pass.  The kittens will just keep lounging. I hope it's just as lovely wherever you are!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Blood Pressure Medication

 We've all heard and read that knitting and sewing are good for our blood pressure. We know when we can work at our fiber arts to our hearts' content that this is true.  This week has been full of that kind of medication for me.
  This past Saturday, after we'd finished baking all the bread, my six Guatemalan co-workers stayed after work and learned to knit.  The girl in the back right corner, Lupita, who is a junior in high school, got started one afternoon when she saw me knitting while I waited for bread to come out of the oven.  I found a You Tube video for her to watch, gave her some needles and yarn, and she taught herself to cast on, knit and purl.  This Saturday, I taught her to bind off.  That was after she helped me teach the three new women to get started.  She'd already taught her two sisters, Marina and Juana to knit.  We had a nice hour of casting on and first rows, and then their rides came.  This Saturday, we're planning on meeting again, while the bread cools.
  It was another busy week, full of baking and teaching, and yesterday seemed particularly trying for me, but every time I started to get frustrated or too tired, I thought about today being a free day to sew.  For some reason, I quit sewing a couple of months ago, but when I read Theresa's blog, Camp Runamuck, last week, and she showed her latest pattern, I had a strong urge to go hang out in the sewing room.  
  I bought the same pattern, and cut out the pieces this afternoon, while taking a break from finishing this blouse.  It's linen that I dyed last summer by dumping all the cups of dye I had been using that morning.  I've made one short sleeved top with the same fabric, but this blouse I put aside several months ago when I sewed the wrong sides together and got frustrated. 
   I've been sewing on this blouse since 4:00 this morning, with many breaks, and now am about to sit down in front of the t.v. for the hand sewing portion.  And I need to put buttons on that baby's sweater and get in the mail, since her mother reminded us on Facebook that she has 12 more days to go!  After all this fiber therapy, my blood pressure should be just fine!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

A Week in the Life

It's been a busy week here at the Kittywompus Cottage.  Well, more accurately, away from the cottage, but it's all in the interest of keeping the cottage!   
 After all the unknitting last week, I finished knitting the baby sweater, fourth in a series.  I've promised myself to knit just one more, in a larger size, to try to sell the pattern somewhere, even if it's only to Ravelry.  I've always wanted to design a knitting pattern, and this is my first actual, from scratch, no editing someone else's.  I love it, and think it's easy enough to have others follow it.  The collar is still a work in progress, but I will refine it in the next one.
 After I freed up the size 2 circulars with the unknitting of the lace socks, I started another pair.  Same pattern, but this time, using yarn a friend gave me for cat-sitting at Christmas.  The raspberry swirl colors make me happy, and the pattern is going well.  It's a good portable project, but not great for t.v. watching.  Too much lace, even on the purl rows!
Teaching is going well.  We finished beef, moved on to lamb, and now are on pork.  Pictured here is an average end-of-class meal, five samples of braised lamb.  My favorite was the one in the far right corner, a lamb curry with potatoes.  I could have eaten a deep bowl of that stuff!
  The students in this class are all hard working and talented.  Knoxville will soon be blessed with their culinary talents.  It's good to see an entire class full of passion for feeding people well, not just there to get a piece of paper!
  I was inspired by them, and made the staff at the bakery a braised pork roast with gravy.  We had to eat it on bread, since that's what we have, but there were no complaints.  They kept commenting on the carrots, "zanahorias," but the rest of the comments were in their Mayan dialect, something I don't understand at all.  They did seem to enjoy it.

 Although I do enjoy the class, it's kind of boring for me this semester, since I'm just the TA, and really don't know how to cook very well.  Fortunately, the other day they asked me to design the dessert for the UT Gardens' fundraising Gala in April.  I once saw an article about how chef's design their dishes, and thought, really?  People care about that?  Well, here is my sketch for the dessert, including recipes.  I'll create a sample tomorrow at school to photograph for the powers-that-be to approve, and I'll take some photos for this blog, while I'm at it.  
  Until then, I have a lovely day stretched before me with no obligations to enjoy.  It's rumored that it might snow, and it is certainly blustery out there, but the cottage is warm and cozy, with my furry entourage playing, wrestling and keeping me company.  I hope you're just as lucky!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Unknitting, And Other Day Off Fun

Thursdays are my only days off of the week that are free of obligation, so I kept trying to think of things I'd like to today, and came up with nothing.  I went into the Loominaria to finish threading the turned overshot curtains, and realized I had no idea where I stopped.  I didn't want to puzzle it out with a sinus headache and not enough caffeine, so I looked around to see what other mischief I could get into.
  There were UFO's everywhere, begging to be finished, but nothing sparked my interest.  Too complicated, too ugly, not wanted...
You might recall the sweater I started for Matt before Christmas.  I got about 12 inches knitted, realized I wouldn't make it in time, and knitted him a hat.  Remember he said that color was "something Grandma picked out?"  I thought about finishing it for myself, but realized I'm too chubby for it, and am not in love with it.  So, unknitted!

 A few years ago, a friend closed her local yarn store, and I picked up some undyed alpaca yarn.  I knitted a shawl with it, but it came out too small.  Unknit it!  I've recently made a hat out of the other color I bought of it, and love it, so this will probably become a hat, or fingerless mittens.

  I also unknitted a red chenille sweater that wouldn't fit and didn't have enough yarn to finish it, anyway.  That's back in the stash for future inspiration. 

 I took a little break for some granola, and the wolves closed in on me, waiting not-so-patiently for the leftover milk at the bottom of the bowl.  At one point, all four were on the table, until their leader lost her patience and put them all on the floor.

  This is a purple chenille sweater that I started last year, but made a mistake on the knitted-in hem, and didn't want to go back and fix it.  I still want a sweater from this beautiful chenille, and will make another one someday, but not now, and it's no longer taunting me from a knitting bag. 

 A pair of lace socks that I lost my place in the pattern on have been ripped out, too, leaving two pairs of small circulars free to make another pair of socks.  So, what's next?  I'm awfully tempted to start a new project.  Or should I fix the errors in Matt's new sweater?  I keep messing up the central motif, a beautiful wide double cable that is nothing but trouble.  Or at least, it isn't a t.v. watching project! 
  The sun is coming up, I'm expected at a school breakfast, and I need to plant a camellia that's been living in a pot in the kitchen for 6 months.  Have no fear, something will be in the making by the end of the day, and if it is, I'll share it next week.