Saturday, January 29, 2011

Thursday, January 27, 2011

For Every Failure A Success

And blogging about good stuff is much more fun than not so good stuff. I am rarely put off by a sewing,weaving or other creative endeavor failure. Are they even failures really? But that's another more philosophical post all together.

Please forgive the somber face, it was 6:30 in the morning and my mind was already on the changes I wanted to make...

I did a first run through of the Petite Plus Pattern Yoked Blouse and I am so impressed with the fit right out of the box so to speak. Body, shoulders and length are all spot on.
When the pattern says it is written for someone 5'2" with ample proportions they aren't fooling. The pattern itself is fairly easy to understand but it does use some techniques that are different from many patterns. The first challenge is the yoke construction itself.
To get it finished inside and out, you roll the shirt into it, much like some recent pillowcase tutorials. I struggled with this and getting it pucker free. The second and most frustrating portion was surprisingly the sleeve inset. It's a two part sleeve. A pretty shape but line up into the armhole of the garment, not so straight forward. The pattern has you make tailors clip ( little cuts) into the fabric where a diamond would be on most patterns. I like this, but all the clips and seams coupled with my one pet peeve made for a tough time, resetting three times and finally calling it good enough for a first run through. The pet peeve, not using the same nomenclature on the pattern as the directions. In one part the pattern asks you to line a particular sleeve clip with the shoulder seam. What shoulder seam, the front or back shoulder seam of the yoke? So, you see my confusion and since this is a nice company with a really nice lady at the helm, I'll just e-mail for clarification. Easy peasy!

Now, I will make alterations to suit. No cuff. I might do a little band with a pretty button, but no cuff. The collar needs to be sized down for me and the points softened. In fact I have a lovely rounded collar from another of her patterns that will be a better look for me, or no collar at all. I have just enough fabric still of this nice shirting to make a second one and it's already cut out. I know I need about 3 times through a pattern to get it right and feel comfortable with all the techniques and changes. One as nice and flattering as this will easily become a go to pattern.

Now, here is the 5th towel at the start.

It's actually about done and I'm already thinking about number 6. I had a busy day yesterday and never got to the loom or the silk warp.

Stella got to go to town and make the rounds though, in fact I saved some errands just so I could get her out. Her breeder works at the local Grange and I wanted Colby to see how sweet and pretty she has become. She certainly knew him. She also got to play with an adorable Westie pup mix and a cute little long haired Chihuahua named Max. I think Max fell in love with her. I thought Max pretty darn sweet and offered to take him home for an extended play date. His owner wasn't buying it. :)

Parting Shot: Trudging Across the Tundra

Monday, January 24, 2011

And I Know Better

Sometimes, well I get sucked in by a unique artsy pattern with lots of possibilities and I forget the basic rules about what looks flattering on me and what doesn't. One of the most unflattering things for someone who is short, ample and wide shouldered is something that accentuates the shoulders. I mean really, I might pass for a stunted line backer in certain clothes. Essentials for flattering garments are shoulders that fit and fit well. Shirts with a non set-in self sleeve (one that is cut with the bodice of the garment) rarely look good, and when they do, it's because the fabric is very light weight. A good set in sleeve is a must when tailoring for a less than ideal body shape. So, what the heck was I thinking with this vest pattern and it's volume of shoulder ???

Beats me and I spent a fair amount of time fitting the body. Nothing and I mean nothing is going to change the basic design of this garment. Not only is it unflattering due to the added width, but also, it puckers going under the arm. I used chalk on the pattern to follow the pucker lines.

It is going in the box of shame. Simple as that. It wasn't a complete loss. I spent a lot of time with some different seaming treatments.

This pattern was written to use with felted wool, which can have a raw seam. In all fairness the softer line of the wool MIGHT have been a bit more flattering. I also made a wonderful little quilt to go on the back.

After all was said and done, I didn't like it on the vest because the piece (sized according to the pattern directions) was too big and certainly too wide to be appealing. I took it off and will save as I rather like it alone anyway.

Gene had a good time poking fun at it, saying that it would look great at a Star Trek convention. I told him I would be happy to complete it and give it to him to wear. ;)
Klingon costume anyone?

Other more successful endeavors include towel 5 which is using a deep green linen single and some spinning. In fact I am going to head up and do some more of it.

Parting shot: The Criminal Line-Up, They are Guilty of Something, I just don't know what...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Organization = Creativity

For me at least. A few of you have commented on how much I get done. Have you all forgotten the nine month warp to do two pillowcases??!! ;) I will say that being organized with my fiber spaces allows me to be much more creative. To me good organization is a creative process in and of itself and I spend a fair amount of time thinking about ways to become (and instituting), efficiency. Imagine my delight and excitement when I happened to stumble on someones sewing blog (link would be here if I could find it again) and saw that they took their stacks of fabric and made mini bolts with them. I can do that!!!

I've always hated piling my fabric up. It's messy. It's uneven, it offends me at times and I find myself mimicking my Great Grandmother, compulsively folding it again and again. It also gave me an excuse to reorganize some things up there. It's such a small space, every foot counts.

Gene gets lots of boxes of stuff for his business and we recycle as much as we can. A lot is saved to reuse, a fair amount is broken down to start the outside boiler Rube and now, it can be used as the middle "bolt" part to keep my fabric organized. I tape up the end, put the yardage on the tape and I am good to go. I even have a free shelf and I would have two if I cleaned out all the shoes I don't wear.

The lovely tomato red plaid is slated for a spring coat. I waited 4 months for the fabric to go on sale at Fabric of Vision. It's Italian and mostly cotton and I am totally smitten with it. Here's a photo with the lining I have for it and the pattern itself.

I will be making a muslin of it first. On the sewing table in process is a vest out of the last of the Carhartt fabric.

I have to make up a little artistic back panel of some kind. That is in the works.

Towel 4 is also in the works. The weft for this is a deep ruby red 5/2 mercerized cotton.

The silk warp on the warping board.

It doesn't look like much right now. Oh so pretty but very subtle.

I'll get pics when it's wound onto the loom for sure.

I also couldn't stop myself from picking up just a bit more Nature's Palette. This time the Organic Worsted Columbia wool in 5 skeins each of Autumn Leaf (gold) and Natural (cream).

Wow, stuffed in a lot of pictures on this one.

Parting shot: A Very Vocal YIP-EEE!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Farewell To Yarns

It's just plain sad when a yarn you loved is discontinued, even sadder when a whole line is. Especially one as beautiful and lovely to use as Nature's Palette yarns. Their organic worsted Columbia wool was some of my favorite. I have a sweater on the needles using it and one completed. I have loved knitting with it. I've used both their Merino fingering and Lace weight silk/wool in weaving with great results. There isn't a color they produced through natural plant dyes that I didn't like. I was stunned to find them on the sale bin when I went to use my Christmas GC from DH. I snatched up what I knew I could use and left the rest for other lovers of this yarn. I salute this great yarn, mourn it's passing and will use up my stash of it with love and care.

Of course, there are new yarns too, some quite nice, some that made it to my house. ;)
Welcome Nirvana, a new entry from Filatura Di Crosa.

This is part of their Golden Line, which had the wonderful light cashmere yarn I used last year for scarves for my Mom and Dad. This yarn is super fine Merino and talk about soft and lofty. It's as light as goose down, comes in a ton of colors and is $7.50 for 392 yards. I'm so tempted to do yardage in this and make myself a robe or kimono. Heck it's soft enough for undergarments or PJ's.

I would also be terribly remiss if I didn't show you this wonderful late holiday gift from some truly special people. Bundled up and beautiful, just waiting for me to get it on the loom.

The balls are silk and maybe a bit of wool and have an amazing shine.I was able to match up some Nature's Palette with it You can't hep but dream up something good with these materials to work with. Oh and those two itty bitty balls, samples. More later on those.

This last yarn is by Twisted Sisters, Petite Voodoo Limited Edition 50/50 silk and wool in Green Teas(e).

I am thinking about trying an almost Ikat scarf with it. Still in contemplation stage.

Parting shot: Pick up the ball. Pick up the ball.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Practice Does Make Perfect

We all know that. We all know that when creating something be it on the loom, the canvas, the blank page, the knitting needles, from the saddle or the sewing machine, that the more we do something the better we get. So it was for the second time around on the Sewing Workshop pants pattern for me. This pair, perfect. I thought about all the changes I needed and wanted to make.

Did a little reading on obtaining good fit from commercial patterns, went down a size, dropped the baggy large pockets and got creative making my own smaller pockets, ones I could actually reach without bending down.

Now this fabric was wonderful to work with. Yes, it's heavy. I finally remembered that it was advertised as Carhartt fabric. Good heavy long wearing canvas type fabric. Getting crisp seams, pleats and good top stitching was a dream with it. Pinning/cutting it out was as not so easy, but I took my time and my sharpest scissors, put a new needle on the machine and set to work. 4 hours =1 pair of finished pants.

I'll have many years of wearing these to death and a good quick working pattern. I have three fabrics ready to go for additional pairs of this easy to wear style and then it's on to a fly front pattern to see if I can perfect a second style to cover all the bases.

Now, I haven't been neglectful of my weaving either. Towel three is in progress and I'm doing it in a single ply 10/2 linen. Looks beautiful. Crisp both in look and feel. I have two other colors of this linen and I might just have to do one of each. I am using a temple, which will leave marks along the selvage, but they come out in finishing.

I took time Sunday, (while watching in horror as the Patriots threw their Super bowl opportunity away to the Jets..sob) to study those three pinwheel drafts. Two are actually identical, one slants the pinwheel in the opposite direction, so is a mirror of the other two. Mystery solved. I'll go with the one out of 60 Scarves for 60 Years since it is printed larger than the other two!

Before the game, while I was still hopeful, I managed to whip up a pair of pillow cases.

In fact I striped the bed and refused to remake it until I had a new pair to go on it. I was happy for the cheerful pattern when I finally got up there at the end of a very long day.

I wasn't the only one tired at the end of the day. Gene (who could care less about football) had a rare day of lots of free time and Stella and crew got a lot of Dad time.

Parting shot: Intensity, Terrier Style

Monday, January 17, 2011

Yarn Giveaway Drawing Winners!

Congratulations and thank you all for participating and donating. For those that didn't win, buck up, neither did the Patriots. But I have a book give-away coming up so maybe you're up for round two?

Without further ado....

Batch #1 goes to Leigh (yellows)

Batch #2 goes to Martha (pinks)

Batch 3 goes to Michelle (orphans)

Batch #4 goes to Peg (silks)

Batch # 5 goes to Restless Knitter (weaver's batch)

My method of choosing was to pick 5 names and note the order they were picked.
The first up had first choice if they stated one and so on.
I will need everyone to contact me with their address so I can get these shipped on out.
My e-mail is available on my profile page to the right. A word about shipping, I am not the fastest. These usually get packed up in bundles as I have time and am planning town trips. It's free but it's not always speedy. Assuming I get your addy in a reasonable amount of time, you should look for your packages to arrive within two weeks.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Local Bounty

As mentioned yesterday, Michelle is the inspiration for this post and she'll be blogging about bounty local to her sometime today too. I hope others will join in and showcase some of their local favorites. That's an invite! ;)

Like many folks today I try to buy locally when I can, not just because of all the usual things but also because the products are superior. I am lucky that we have an abundance of small local growers and artisan craftspeople. So, let's get to some of the goods and services that make this part of Oregon special to me at least. I have chosen companies that you too can partake of.

Honey, we have wonderful honey available to us and I love the stuff on toast and bagels and of course, tea and some cooking. Wild Bee Honey and Candles is by far our favorite. The candles are beautiful too and a pleasure to use.

Dagoba Chocolate is still made right here in Ashland OR and I pass by the turn off to their place every time I head to town. They have been bought out by Hershey, but still produced locally and with the same high quality they are known for.

Pickled Planet Sauerkraut makes a kraut (and a kim chee) that are out of this world.

Rogue Creamery cheese is featured in dishes in many of the local eateries and it is wonderful cheese. My favorite is the Oregonzola, although every one of them is delicious and with it's own distinct flavor. If you go to the shop, you can taste the selections paired with local wines. A real treat believe me.

Ashland Sky bags are the best for all sorts of knitting and crochet storage. I have at least five of them for my DPS and circular needles, one or two for things like counters and markers and I plan on getting a few more for the small sewing accoutrement's that never seem to find a good place to be always at hand.

Silver Cloud Farm yarns. The flock lives not to far from me, and the resulting yarn is beautifully spun and dyed. This is good hard wearing, long lasting worsted weight Romney wool. Cables knit up in it just pop. I love this wool. I love that it still has the lanolin in it and a slightly sheepy smell. This isn't next to the skin wool, but 20 years from now, you'll still be wearing that cardigan you knit from it and it will still look great. The only place to get it is The Web-sters and you have to ask for it. It's well priced and has great yardage. Mari sweaters use it a lot. In fact for great patterns, these are also made in Oregon, while not in my valley, not too far away either! Beautiful sweaters.

Lastly, locally we have one of the best non-profits ever IMHO. Dogs for the Deaf. These folks get ALL their dogs from shelters on the West Coast and if suitable, they become helpers for the hearing impaired, if not, they have other programs that these dogs are available through. The dogs that go to the deaf are free. This program is just amazing. If you only decide to click on one of the links in this post, make it this one.

I haven't even scratched the surface of lovely available resources in the Rogue Valley, but this should keep you busy for at least a little bit exploring my part of southern Oregon.

Parting shot: Smoochie: Cairn Yeti of The Greensprings

Friday, January 14, 2011

Bias Binding, How Do I Dislike Thee, Let Me Count the Ways

It is a mystery to me why I would have picked a pattern to actually make that relied so heavily on bias binding. A classic, "What was I thinking????" moment. And then to follow through on making said binding and applying it while squinting through bloodshot, red and irritated eyes, only the Universe will know for sure. I am begging a cold and flu addled brain. Now you all probably think that all's well that end's well and my complaining is much ado over nothing. Well, the binding came out absolutely horrible.

My kingdom for a good technique as a substitute. Love's labour was not lost. The garment, a poncho of good hard tweedy wool, was specifically slated for wear around the house and barn.

If it had come out well I would have worn it to town until the hay became embedded in it, or the first smelly slobber stain. You may not have seen it, but I would know it was there. I will say it is quite comfortable and just the right amount of warmth for over a turtleneck in the house. So even if it was a comedy of errors, it is still a wonderful and useful addition to my working wardrobe.

Since I am feeling much better, I managed some towel warp weaving.

This lovely yellow is towel two, the first was the soft jade green I used on one of the pillowcase hems. The pattern a simple triple 4 shaft bird's eye. I am quite happy with it and can see these doing fine service in the kitchen. There is a fair amount of tracking on this, mostly due to the fact that my fine reed was still tied up on the pillowcases when I wound, threaded and sleyed this warp. I believe most of it will disappear after it's first wash in hot water and then the hot dryer. The second color of silk is half wound onto a cone and hopefully I'll get that done and be working on the warping board this weekend. I am going to do a fancy pinwheel design using the eight shafts on the Delta. I've found three different drafts and need to sit down and look at all of them for differences in the tie-ups and how they affect the pattern. They are all so close on a quick inspection as far as the woven pattern

Fabric has been cut for a second pair of pants. I have sized the pattern down to a straight medium.

This fabric is a cotton/poly blend twill left over from the slipcover for the large sofa. I have some lovely pants fabrics ready to go, but since I am playing with sizing and also new smaller pockets and placement, I figured I would use this.

They will make fine sturdy pants even if they aren't the prettiest.

A quick note about what's coming up on this blog and Michelle's over at Boulderneigh.
We'll be doing posts tomorrow about some wonderful products that are local to each of us. Michelle had the idea and I have often thought about mentioning all together some of the wonderful stuff available locally to me in one place. If any of you would like to join in on your respective blogs and tell us about local to you fab products, please, do!
And of course, there will be the yarn drawing winners posted on Monday.

Finally, the parting shot. Stuck or Not? That is the Question. And it needs some explanation.

My man Dennett, now that he is about 18, hard of hearing and vision impaired (although not 3 legged which had been a requirement for being off leash on walks), has earned the right to be off leash in areas close to the house and under very close supervision. Face it, should he even see a squirrel, he can no longer out run me. Being still an independent cuss he takes off (really, imagine slowly wanders), towards the woods and into deeper snow. It looks like he's stuck, so I snap my photo and go to help him. Ah, he was just playing keep away! When he saw me come into range he plowed through that snow and into the woods trying to make a break for it, a very slow break but the spirit still burns bright. He also knows that there is less snow under trees! You go kiddo, I'm right behind you. And yes, I carried him back through the worst of it, while allowing him all the dignity he deserves. ;)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Pay It Forward: Give-Away Yarns 2011

As always I'll randomly draw five names from the comment pool. My only request is that since you receive the yarn free, you donate to an animal cause of your choice. It can be in time, in goods and of course, much needed cold hard cash. Non-profits have been stretched to the brink in these past couple of years, and more animals than ever are being abandoned or turned into shelters. The recipients of your generous donations are your choice, but I just couldn't let this opportunity go by without steering you all over for a look see at a start up non-profit that is working to keep pets in their homes. It's in Massachusetts and I learned about it during the "Making a Difference" segment by Brian Williams on his nightly broadcasts. Fairy Dogparents should be commended for recognizing how important animals are in enriching our lives and working to keep much loved pets with their owners to every one's benefit. I would love to see Fairy Dogparents in every community.
So, without further ado, let's get to the yarns!

Batch #1 Walking on Sunshine. 6 skeins of Cascade Quatro, 2 skeins of Panda silk

Batch #2 In the Pink: 8 balls of Adrienne Vittadini Natasha, 3 balls of Jamieson's Shetland Spindrift, 2 balls Tahki Lucky, 1 skein Classic Elite Miracle.

Batch #3. Orphans: 2 ball Louisa Harding Kimono Pure Angora, 1 ball Louisa Harding Kashmir Baby, 1 skein Araucania Nature Wool dark brown, 2 skeins Jamieson's Shetland DK, dark blue and light green, 2 skeins Jamieson's Shetland Spindrift light blue and 1 ball of Frog Tree Suri Alpaca

Batch #4. Get Your Silks On: 11 skeins of a handcrafted silk and wool blend. 3 of those skeins are the turquoise blue, the balance a deep coral. It's a worsted weight.

Batch #5. Weavers Bundle: Assorted single and double plied wools, some Harrisville, some by a Canadian company. These all run lace weight to light fingering. Partial cones on most. Great for adding a little colorful pizazz to a warp. The gold Mora yarn may be a Swedish yarn. I'd have to check the label again. Untouched and lots of yardage on those 3 skeins

If you have a preference feel free to mention it. It all depends on if I draw for each batch or draw 5 and then assign batches. I will do my drawing over the weekend, so look for the winners on the blog early next week. I will pick up postage on all batches in the US, so please, be generous with your donations. Canada folks, we'll talk and overseas visitors, I simply can't afford to ship it but maybe I've inspired you to clean out your stashes and do a Pay It Forward! :)