Slowing Down

I’ve probably expressed many times that I am pretty impatient when it comes to projects, however I always have the lesson to “slow down” thrown in my face.

I don’t like to do knit swatches, so I sometimes end up with garments that are too big or too small.

Fitting takes to long when you just want to jump into sewing.

Who wants to read the directions?! Let’s just dive right in!

With this project I wanted to start right away so I failed to check for the errata that would have eliminated my confusion on stitch count later in the pattern.

Other than that, this project was a nice knit that traveled well despite my use of multiple colors. The pattern is the large version of Dotted Rays, by Stephen West knit using Knit Pick’s Stroll Tonal mini pack in the Spring Field Colorway.

I am forcing myself to slow down a bit more with every project. Don’t they call it “slow crafting” for a reason?

Delicious Prints

I consider myself a “foodie”.  I love tasting and cooking dishes from different world cusines.  Friends and I sometimes gather and cook our way through my cookbook collection that contains delicious recipes from Korea, Africa, France, Columbia and many other places. The colors, flavors, and textures excite the senses. 

Why should I not have all of those things refected in my fabric selections?

I found these two seersucker foodie prints on my last fabric trip to Joann’s which makes me think of last year’s abundance of juicy strawberries from the garden.  This Oliver and & S Seashore Sundress pattern was a breeze to make and it is essentially my first completely sewn pdf pattern.  I did not mind taping the pieces together, but the fact that it’s for a small child probably had a lot to do with that.

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Dress Back

It was so quick to sew that I made another.  How cute is this watermelon print!?

Dress Front

From my stash I pulled this super cute unicorn print with hearts and stars and accented  it with gold buttons.  Pattern was traced from an old Burda Magazine (.  As always, the instructions are a litte unclear in places, but everything turned out well.  The back of the dress is just divine!

I’m definately on the hunt for some food prints I can incorporate into my own wardrobe.  Why should kids always have all of the fun?

Challenging Fabrics: Leather

For the first quarter of this year I sought out projects where I could incorporate some of those fabrics that are typically challenging to sew: sequins, velvet, and leather.

I ordered a medium piece of black pebbled lamb leather hide from Mood Fabrics to use as a leather contrast in the McCall’s 7693 jacket.  This leather was deliciously thin and drapey and soft like butter! I laid out the fabric pieces to test the cutting layout and there was not any room to shift pieces around an wrinkly imperfection so I had to work with every inch available.  In my excitement and hurry to cut and sew, I made the mistake of cutting out the two left fronts of the lower pieces, but i was able to trim it back to the original shape minus a little length.

I cut out a size 16, View B. I did my typical FBA for the front pieces. I also added another 5/8″ to the lower end of the sleeve after removing approximately 1/4″ to 3/8″ from the sleeve head. Is it me or is there tons of ease in the sleeve heads on these patterns?

I used clips instead of pins to hold the leather in place for sewing.  Handstitching the lining to the inside collar was a slow and tedious process based on the pattern’s directions, but I stuck with doing it this way instead of bagging the lining because I wasn’t sure how to manuver around the leather collar section.

Houndstooth is my number one favorite classic print so I’m glad I finally found a use for these 2 yards that I’ve been holding on to forever.  Now it’s time to dive into spring/summer sewing!

Team Body Positiveness

I posted a picture of my finished knit displayed on a mannequin to the Web and after someone commented on how great it turned out the person added “I wish I had the courage to wear something like that…”

I don’t know the woman personally nor do I know her full story behind the comment, but it lead me to think a little of my own journey on gaining courage to wear certain items.  I could write a long list of things I wish were a little different about myself, but I’m choosing to head in a different direction.

I’m joining team Body Positivity.  My wish is for women and men (and myself!) to feel good about themselves as they are in this moment. I am not always in that space, but I try to pull back a little on pointing out my “problem areas”.  I’m learning to celebrate beauty and confidence in myself and others.

Part of what body positiveness means to me is being loving and accepting of your body as it is and this means wearing those things to which you are drawn.  I’m not a fan of those strict fashion rules that say you have to minimize a large bust, or draw attention away from the hips, or avoid wearing stripes over a certain size. Listen, if you like it and if your are comfortable in it, wear it, my friends. If you aren’t comfortable, then make the changes you want or need to make and/or find the acceptance you need to get there, but in the meantime love yourself and see value in yourself as is.

So to that woman I offer encouragement for her to wear those things to which she is drawn.

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Pattern: Dress #9 in Vogue Knitting Fall 2007, Size 40″ Bust

Yarn: Cascade 220 Heathers in Japanese Maple

On Perfection

“Artists who seek perfection in everything are those who cannot attain it in anything.”

Eugene Delacroix

One can find the word ‘perfect’ in the dictionary, but is there anything that can be truly be defined as without defect or flaw?

In the spirit of “Keepin’ it 100”, perfection is the very reason on why I delay posting my makes. Is my item pefectly finished? How about does it fit perfectly? I assess myself in the mirror to make sure every hair is in it’s place and the folds of the garmet fall where they should. I keep waiting around for that perfect day to take photos outside in just the perfect location. Or if it’s too cold, finding the right corner of the house that I can use as a perfect back drop. Is my photo editing as close to perfect as possible? Will I have the perfect words to convey my journey through this project?

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None of the aforementioned worked out to my standards of perfection on this project. It rarely ever does, but I had to stop and ask myself if it really was that big of a deal.

I’m learning, especially with sewing, that these little imperfections are opportunities to learn and grow in the craft. I cannot let the lack of perfection in an item keep me from finishing or sharing. No matter what, there will be some critical eye that will find something wrong. The goal is to aim for a healthier version of perfectionism. One that includes high standards, growth, and dicipline without all of the anxiety, frustration, and unfinished business. This idea of healthy, yet realistic version should motivate us just enough to continue on the path of improvement and not hold us back in any way. Do the best you can with what you have! I’m pretty sure there is meme floating around with those sentiments.

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I used McCalls pattern 6651 and made View C in a size 16. This top was already oversized so I did not do the usual FBA. I shortened the sleeve cap height to ease in the sleeve without crazy puckering. It’s loose and comfortable. The fabric is from the stash in an unknown fiber. It was in the giveaway bin when I thought I could give it one last chance. I dig it! No bright colors this time, but I also love prints.

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Seasonal Musings

When winter comes around, the cold solidifies just how much more I enjoy warmer temperatures, but I’m not going to complain because there are things I do enjoy about this season. I’ve often considered taking inspiration from each season and translating it into a mini collection. To finally make that a reality, I dug into the bead stash to fashion a simple earring set using superduos.

I didn’t know what to do with these super duo beads so I started with some inspiration in Learn to Use 2 Hole Beads. I thought about the things that I loved (and disliked) about each season. Not digging too deep, I used elements that were quite literally represented in each season: the winter snow, the spring flowers, the summer sun, and fall leaves.

Winter Reflections: SNOWFLAKE

homemade hot chocolate and marshmallows, soup, heated seats, learning to snowboard in Vermont, mittens, cozy handknit sweaters, sewing coats (totally gonna be my new thing)

Spring Reflections: CLUSTERS OF WISTERIA

flowers, dreams of traveling to see the cherry blossoms in DC or Japan, planting in the garden, staying inside for creative rainy days, pollen on everything

Summer Reflections: SUNFLOWER

sundresses and sandals, cycling, embracing shorts, ice cream shops, longer days, back in the day remembrances of sitting on the front steps with my mini boom box

Autum/Fall Reflections: LEAVES OF COLOR

fall colors, Halloween costumes, seasonal allergies *eye roll*, eggnog, roasted root vegetables, apple picking, holiday baking, cornbread stuffing, coquito!

I’m pretty sure I’ll revist this collection concept using another medium. It’s a really simple way to spark a few ideas when you are having a creative block.

Wakanda Forever!

With any movie or tv show I immediately start sizing up the costuming and jewelry looking for creative inspiration for my next Geek Craft. For this one, I took a trip all the way to Wakanda, where the internet speeds are insane and everybody has wearable tech.

There were quite a few items to admire and inspire in this film. In particular was the purple T’Challa vest, Nakia’s green leather dress, and Shuri’s white mesh dress, mesh tee, and sheer lab looks. All of the shapes, prints, and colors on the screen were a feast to my eyes! Perhaps sometime later I’ll have the opportunity to sew an inspired look however, this time I took to the bead stash to recreate my version of T’Challa’s suit neckline.

Materials used: nylon, glass, and of course, pure vibranium.

Superheros are cool however, I really live for the supervillans, so I do see a Killmonger version in my near future to complete the collection. The villians are much more interesting and complex to me. Not that I love evil and destruction, but there is a lot of story to tell behind why they do the evil things they do. How about a movie or two on those guys, I’m just sayin’!

“We must find a way to look after one another as if we were one single tribe.”

-T’Challa

Don’t You Dare Say That “R” Word

It’s about that time where folks have lost their wits about themselves because other people actually are making attempts to change their lives on January 1st. Now I’m not quite a part of the “New Year, New Me” camp, but if I see you wanting some change for your life, then go ahead on and work it out. Change is hard, so cut people some slack!

*off soapbox*

What I’ve been doing for myself for the past several years has been to toss aside that dirty little “R” word and set a plan for intentional living. These are the base intentions for my life that continuously encourage me to strive for happiness, mindfulness, a healthy lifestyle, minimum financial burden, to keep walking a spiritual path, continuous education (formal or informal), and always learning something about myself, my loved ones, and my world. Out of that plan, it has spawned a “Word of the Year”, which is CONNECTION for 2019.

To translate that idea to my creative projects, means I intend to put more of my heart and focus into my creative passions. I’ve forced myself to use a lot of materials and fibers I’ve no longer loved out of obligation. I’ve tossed aside projects that didn’t turn out as “perfect” as expected. I’ve held out on a few projects and techniques because I thought it might be too crazy or beyond the norm. I’ve also created things for myself that didn’t speak loud enough for my personality at times. I realize that I might not feel a warm and fuzzy about every single thing I create, but it has to start out on the right track: Digging deeper for inspiration and connection to the materials and/or project at hand.

I’m setting the intention to take a huge step outside of my comfort zone this year to practice, keep, share, create, and wear the things that are meaningful and inspiring to me.

And that ultimately leads me to the epic knitting project I’m taking on. I let a friend “convince” me into joining her in knitting the Indian Nights Blanket.

Now I know I JUST wrote about connection, inspiration, and intention, but this project relates.

  1. It’s a loose KAL with a friend so she will listen and understand to my cries of weaving in all of those tails.
  2. I’ve always wanted to knit a blanket. Just one. In high school, I tried to crochet one for my twin bed…in only single crochet. I started another one so many years ago from inexpensive yarn I ordered online. I hated the colors when it showed up, but I still tried to make it work. It didn’t. And I would rather knit it in pieces than one whole piece so I can switch up projects.
  3. I need more colorwork in my life! I claim to love colors and prints so much, but a lot of the things I chose to knit use only one or two colors. I think this blanket blows that out of the water.

I even started my first square before 2018 came to a close!

Happy New Year, peeps!

Coming to Terms with my Stash(es)

Collector or a completionist?

2015 stash of 6 bins now reduced to 4 in 2018.

So I finally got around to reading the popular knit lit “A Stash of One’s Own”. I read it and I took notes. Surely, there was some wisdom in here that would help me come to terms with my own yarn stash and beyond. No doubt, there was a ton of advice that made me start to think about it a different way, but full acceptance is a ways off. I did take a large step back because most of the contributors are professionals in the knitting industry. In that respect, having a stash is justified. You need it for your job or your life’s work. Just sitting, buried under a pile of yarn just for the fun of it sounds a bit crazy and excessive. See? I’m still on Acceptance Level 0.5.

Stephanie Pearl McPhee pointed out that a lot of yarn is there just to dream of possibilities. And there are some yarns I look at and think of all of the wonderful things it could be and then I put it right on back in the stash. It’s just too beautiful to knit with right now. It needs THE perfect project.

But then I read from Amy Hezbog “I don’t want to shackle tomorrow’s creativity to the place I am in today.” Yes. YES! This old yarn, get it out of here! I want through the stash once pulling out things that I thought I might have creatively grown out of. That’s when the guilt starts to set in. The feelings of obligation, responsibility, and commitment to my purchase. Why?

The anxiety surrounding the stash that Sue Shankle mentioned is a very real thing for me and I agree that it defeats the purpose of feeling good. The stash should be inspiring. A lot of times, a new yarn purchases weirdly triggers me to revisit the stash and Like Ann Maltz I like supporting other’s creative practices and making a connection to what they make. I bring home new yarn and then I dip back into the stash to give some love to one the old homies that have been rollin’ with me for a while.

So up to this point I’ve only talked about yarn, but there are beads, fabric, and acquisitions for all of the other activities in which I dabble contained in the stash as well. Substitute the word YARN for any of those and the story is the same.

I’m on my way to a place of being thoughtful and purposeful with my stash collecting in the advice of Susan B. Anderson.

Acceptance Level 7. I’m almost there. Level 10 coming soon.

Matched…and Moving On

I didn’t really think I would be a shawl person. I would constantly see new knitting patterns pop up on Ravelry and I would think to myself “Really, how many shawls does one person need?” Current answer is at least two because I’m ready to knit another. The scarf is nice, but a shawl? Man, those things are quite versatile. Besides, the drama of tossing one long end over your shoulder in a dramatic fashion is just fabulous!

This Match and Move started out as a knit-a-long with a friend and ended up in frustrations on just wanting to finish the darn thing. After the first few sections I was really worried that my shawl was coming up on the side of being too small so I added a few more sections. Knitting across on 200 something stitches takes F.O.R.E.V.E.R. Sometimes I live for a mindless knit to which I can binge watch some Netflix, but I got a little bored with garter stitch once I got to the second section. Too many times I entered mindless knit mode dropped a few stitches, missed a decrease, or forgot what row I was on and had to rip back to fix the mistakes. I’m going to be truthful and say that I had to leave a few in there or I would still be knitting this thing.

I started in early September and planned to finish at the end of that month. The added sections pushed the finish date to end of October then to the end of November when I at last started to weave in all of those color changing tails. The finished shawl is at least 10 inches longer than the original pattern. I used workhorse Knitpicks Stroll yarn in Ash and Pickle Juice.

This project made me aware of how often I rush through projects just to finish. Isn’t the point of doing all of this creative work to enjoy the process? I need to keep reminding myself that creative work isn’t only about the finished project. Along the way, I did take some time out to admire the color changes and the line formed by decreases to create the asymmetrical triangle shape. It’s a basic shawl, but with a little “wow”.