TBR: Inspired by Black History Month, Sets 3 and 4

I’ve been trying to learn a lot beyond what’s contained in the pages of the book, digging into the authors and their personal stories and the achievements and controversies that surround them and their works. I frequently jot notes of quotes, themes, and things to make me think about the world or my own life. This is the last of my list, two parts combined into one. I’d better stop talking about these books and get to reading!

With the Fire on High

Transcendent Kingdom

Becoming. Started and didn’t finish.

Twisted: The Tangled History of Black Hair Culture. I could talk for an hour just with my own hair challenges and experiences

The Souls of Black Folk

Americanah

Caste

Invisible Man

Just As I Am: A Memoir

Vegetable Kingdom

Our Time is Now

Well Read Black Girl

Drinking Coffee Elsewhere

Wednesday Work in Progress, Unraveled Edition

I am still pluggin’, chuggin’, churnin’, and burnin’ on the same lace project. This month my focus is on chart C of The Girl with the Rose Red Slippers pattern. This is the section of lace that shows the flowers in the garden

Lots of of yarn overs! I am a little more comfortable with this section and I’m now able to listen to TV and music with words while knitting. I still have the occasional dropped or missed YO which requires unpicking TWO rows. Very annoying, but this isn’t a mindless knit.

My only regret so far is not using a yarn with color.

I am still reading The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemison. I have not made it very far in this book. I still want to read it, but I just don’t think this is the time for it right now. It’s a little slow in development, but I understand it is a trilogy.

Joining Kat and the other yarny peeps for Unraveled Wednesdays.

Hoping to Go Left, But PLANNING For it to Turn Out Right

There is something about a blog post outlining your creative goals that makes a plan go awry. Maybe my creative plans are way too elaborate or maybe I’m just terrible with the discipline it takes to accomplish these elaborate goals.

There was that one time I created that 101 things in 1001 days action list. With 100+ things to accomplish in several years it seemed attainable. Somewhere in the middle some of my interest in some of the tasks waned and I lost steam.

Oh, and how about the time I announced that I would do a SWAP (Sewing With A Plan)? I picked one of those wardrobe patterns that looked cool, but not something I would really wear so that got tossed to the side.

Then there was last summer’s Design Your Wardrobe series. I was ready then insert a pandemic loaded with stress, isolation, and worry to suck away all of my creative motivation. Well people, either I am sucker for punishment or I’m very persistent because I’m back at it again.

I planned to keep these “goals” to myself, but after a bit of convincing and encouragement I’m sharing a plan. It follows a modified Sigma 21 plan which I learned from a friend’s post. I’m not in the Ravelry group to link there, but she has the link and explanation in her post. To be honest, formatting my creative plans in this way is a little less ambitious that what I originally came up with for my creative yearly goals, so maybe I’m on to something. It’s enough to make it challenging, but not so much outside of things I don’t normally do in my creative life. So here it goes!

1 – Year of periodically purging creative items that no longer serve me. I’ve already pulled out tons of fabric and patterns that must go, even a few old handknits, but I’m trying to keep up this purging energy throughout the year with my other creative outlets.

2 – Drafted Patterns. This is the year of trying out different methods of drafting my own lingerie patterns. I started a pair of boy shorts yesterday, so we are on track.

3 – Hand knits. Socks, sweaters, shawls. No pressure to knit any particular item.

4 – New Creative Challenges: Soldering, Enameling, Fabric Dyes, Cheesemaking. I’ve dabbled in 3 of these over the years, I would like to dive back into these a little bit.

5 – Paper Flowers. The creative outlet that got me through the early months of 2020 was making paper flowers. It was very calming to cut and glue paper together. I’m also pretty terrible and caring for indoor plants and these are pretty without the maintenance.

6 – Online Classes. Craftsy, Sew Ed, something Live. Lifelong learning!

7 – Books to read this year. I hope I can finish a lot more than 7, but no pressure. I’m just getting back to regular reading.

8 – Non-intimate sewing projects. Bags, Clothes, Housewares. Also I perfect opportunity to revisit the Design Your Wardrobe Challenge.

9 – Earring Designs. Play with beads to create my favorite accessory.

10 – Bakes. I love baking and I do it often, but let’s throw in some bread and French Baking to kick things up a notch or ten.

11 – Intimate Garments. Bras, undies, and how about a bodysuit?

I think I set up my plan to be less restrictive this time around. Not too many specifics so if it goes left, that’s okay. However, these are all activities that I engage in regularly organized into a plan format. Am I on to something here?

Leaving you with some of the lovely paper flowers that helped me process the past year. I even won a photo challenge with these flowers that scored me some free tea!

New Read, Old Knit

This week I’m spending some time with an old UFO. I don’t even remember when I started this, but I know it’s been on the needles for years. It’s one of those super intense and delicate, fine lace projects.

The shawl named The Girl with the Rose Red Slippers is from Ancient Egypt in Lace and Color. I love just about every project in this book, but picked this one because of it’s size compared to the others. I had enough lace in the stash to make it. I hope that is still true because I don’t remember swatching or doing any planning. This reminds me that I should really get back into Ravelry to keep track of my details or keep much better notes. The shawl is inspired by an Egyptian tale of Rhodopis and Phararoh Amasis which you can “read” in the details of the shawl.

This project will help me get in touch with some quieter moments sitting in silence or with soothing instrumental music. A chart full of yarn overs, K2togs , and SSKs will keep all of my attention focused on where I am in the knitting.

New book club read is The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemison, who is a new author for me. I hear so many good things about her world building and character development. I’m excited to read this trilogy.

Check in with Kat and all of the other Unraveled friends to see their reads and knits this week.

Black History Year of Reading, Set 2

I am trying to break up with my old way of reading books. I mentioned I was once and “avid” reader, but now I’ve taken to distractions and leave lots of books unfinished. I can’t really say I grow bored. I’m always tempted by the next new, unopened book full of promise. I read according to my mood and what catches my interest in the moment. By the time that mood passes I have not finished what I was reading and I’m ready to move on to the next thing. I’m trying to ditch that bad habit and take my time to get through each book. Here is the next set of reads selected for my Black History Month TBR list.

The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni: I disliked poetry when I was in school because I felt it was written more for the writer than the reader. That could be true, but I think there is something in it for me to enjoy.

Stamped from the Beginning: I got about 3 chapters in and put this down. Not for a lack of interest for I learned a bit in those few chapters. Heavy material, but I definitely want to dive back into this one.

Long Walk to Freedom: I know highlights, but I am interested in the details of his life.

Parable of the Sower: Set in the early 2020s and I like Sci-Fi

Glory, Magical Visions of Black Beauty: Coffee table photography book amplifying the beauty of black youth. Will enjoy the art and pass along to a friend’s child hoping that she gets inspired by seeing those brown faces in all of their glory.

Rhythm, Uplifting Quotes from the African American Perspective: Quotes are everywhere, all over the internet, but I will take an already curated list of quotes that can potentially lift my spirits over sifting through websites and instagram posts anyday.

How Long Til Black Future Month: Short Story Collection by my favorite Sci-Fi author I’ve never read. I’m excited to finally get to know this authors writing with my next book club read: The Fifth Season. I really do hope I enjoy it as much as I think I will. And this cover!?!?😍😍😍

There’s Always a Knitting Project

I’m a part time needle, fiber, and yarn creative because I also indulge in sewing, the jewelry arts and other spin offs of those activities. I don’t knit as much as I used to, but I try to keep something on the needles.  I’ve knit lots of random little things, but I’ve found sweaters, socks, and shawls to be the most rewarding knits.  Still, I hear the call of a scarf or hat or small knitted motif and I have to answer.

I just finished the Zandloper scarf from Knitting Brioche.  Brioche is kind of intense to start, but once you understand the repeat you can almost take your eyes off of it for stitch or two and feel where you are in the knitting.  I haven’t mastered picking up the dropped stitches so I took care not to do this too often. 

I love the interrupting blocks of color travelling down the scarf.  Depending on the size, shape, and location of those blocks, the shape and look of the scarf changes. I never revisit previously knitted patterns as there are just too many things to knit out there, but this is the first one I’ve considered changing my mind.  I love the variety of options with just one scarf, two colors, and a simple geometric shape.

I find myself in between both knits and books at the moment.  I just finished my January book club read, Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. I didn’t know what to expect with this book, but it didn’t expect a serious revelation of how challenging his experience was with growing up, especially in South Africa with apartheid and it’s after effects. I knew he was from South Africa, but I never thought about more about it beyond that. Throughout the book, he incorporates some details on horrid laws and structure of South African society, treatment of Africans and “colored” people, and the experience from his point of view of being a child of white and African parents. It was shocking and sad at times, and still manages to be funny at others. It really has opened my eyes to reading more celebrity memoirs, biographies, and auto-biographies.

I am happy to join the Unraveled Wednesday crew to read about all of the participants knits and good reads. This is the perfect opportunity for reconnecting with blogs in 2021.

Black History Month TBR Set 1

Spending a lot of time at home and taking breaks from online activities has sparked my interest in reading.  Before the days of cell phones and driving myself to work, I considered myself an avid reader.  I wasn’t avid in the sense of completing dozens of books in a year, but it was part of my regular daily practice.

Feeding both the need to rejuvenate my thirst for reading and my need for connection, I joined a virtual book club last year.  So far we’ve read Lakewood, Such a Fun Age, and our current read, Born a Crime by Trevor Noah.  Though the club is open to any genre or author, the titles chosen since I’ve been a member have all been books by black or people of color identifying authors.   I’m here for it!  There is a ton for me to learn, celebrate, be inspired by, or simply indulge in that’s is related to my culture. I have a long list of books to be read (TBR) by authors of all cultures, but I am inspired to highlight and share a few books by people of color to celebrate Black History Month. There is almost one book for every day!

The Breakbeat Poets/Black Girl Magic Vol 2: I’ve found poetry to be a great read for those times I want to read, but unable to sit with a book. 

Four Hundred Souls: The history that I was taught in school celebrates the accomplishments of America’s historical figures, but glazes over all of the ugly details.  Now that I have a bit more interest in the subject, it’s long past time I get to know some historical details from a different viewpoint.

The Body Is Not An Apology: I follow the author on IG.  Her live What’s Up Y’all videos are very engaging on a host of subjects.

The Cooking Gene: If it’s about food, you have my attention!  I enjoy food facts, science, recipes, etc.  This one hits on food history of the old south.  I started this book a while back, but would like to finish it.

Carla Hall’s Soul Food: I was a fan of her on Top Chef.  I don’t cook a lot of soul food normally, but wanted to see if she had a bit of a healthier take on some old favorites or just some plain ole’ good eats to try.

Go Tell It On the Mountain: Classic.  Would be my first read by the author.

Hidden Figures: My math and science background has me interested.  One to read and watch the movie after.

The Anti-Tutorial: Black Cherry Keyhole Bra

I’m still not one for making the same thing over and over again, but the only way to truly explore something is to revisit it over and over. So much of what we consume has a short life like single-use plastics or fast fashion, used and then thrown to the side for something newer. We crank out a project, post a picture, and then swiftly move on to the next thing. 2020 has showed me the sometimes you just need to slow down a little and explore the current moment.

I find that in bra-making I can take a moment and explore a pattern. I can work with it for a while, make changes, alter the fit and style, switch out fabrics, try new techniques. With almost all of my other sewing I make a pattern and move on to the next thing.

I’m very early in my bra making journey even though it was one of those things that was on my to try list for a long time. 2019 was the year I said YES to this craft and have been enjoying the process ever since. Needless to say I’ve grown quite a collection of books and fabrics since then. I can’t wait until I have a drawer full of a variety of handmade lingerie from fantasy or classy to sporty or vintage inspired.

I’ve made the bra in the Bare Essential Bra book a total of 3 times including this version. Surprisingly the 34D fit pretty well from the start. The original pattern is a two piece cup style which I found I did not like the shape it gave my breasts. I took that one apart and made a second version with a 3 piece cup. Teal rigid lace over light blue duoplex.

For the third style I thought I would give the keyhole bridge a try. I took a few pictures of my process in the hopes of having a mini informal tutorial, but as I got further along in the assembly I realized my method was all wrong. So I just did what I could to salvage the bra and present the anti-tutorial which is essentially what NOT to do.

All of key hole bridge styles I found online were either partial band bras or they used fold over elastic on the edge. I wanted to keep the full frame style so I repatterned the bridge to be two separate pieces: A top piece to connect the channeling of the two cups and the bottom part of the frame. I thought I would be able to use some of the fabric from the bottom frame piece to cover the channel, but it looked sloppy and the raw edges were exposed so I cut those pieces off.

What I did NOT do was account for any seam allowance on the cup to cover the inside channeling. Next time, I think I will have to make the key hole “V” smaller so when I add the seam allowance to the cup it will line up with the edge of the channeling and the bottom of the keyhole.

The bra has more of a structural look to it giving a vibe like the exposed beams you see in modern structures. It wasn’t my intention to create it in this way so initially I didn’t like it, but it has grown on me. It fits me well with the exception of the top bridge. For this style I need to narrow the top bridge piece a bit more.

Black Cherry lace over Black Cherry duoplex

Hey, Y’all Still Bloggin’?

Happy New Year! 

I desperately want to reclaim my blog space this year and seek out a bit more than bite-sized meals of content that I’ve consumed for most of 2020.  I refuse to make any plans or promises, because who knows what’s in store for 2021. 

I spend most of my social media time on Instagram.  I post projects, share photo stories, although no lives or reels yet.  I have even been able to connect with a few people beyond the double-tap for a like.  There are things I like about it, but, over there, it’s an endless scroll of content that you have very little control over what you choose to consume.   While that works some of the time, I am missing the good ole’ days of the blog roll.  It was filtered and every once in a while you got a full entree of a post; Something to sink your teeth into, slowly digest one bite at a time, and walk away without scrolling right into the next course.

Anybody out there back to blogging these days?  Who has the time? The energy?  Who even cares? That’s why IG and other media platforms are popular.  Serve up or consume a quick bite and off you go!  No one has time to read.  Show me the video! I so understand.  Time is precious. Thank you for that lesson, 2020!

Perhaps, by putting this out into the universe I will find what I seek.  If not, there’s always books.

Sweater Weather

Well, Hey! Let’s dust this thing off, shall we?

The cooler temperatures have arrived! No, that is not excitement, but an embracing of the inevitable. In utter defiance of September’s arrival, my last finished creative project was a pair of shorts, but the cool air has showed me who is boss and kindly whispered, “Next summer, babe.” And so I shift my attention to coats, long sleeves, and my fall favorite: Hand knit sweaters.

I worked on the Turnstone Pullover throughout the summer months. I like to have that knitting project waiting in the wings for days where I don’t want the physical demands of sewing with standing, cutting, and moving from table to machine or for days I don’t want to bend to see the fine details of beading.

The pattern called for KnitPick’s Shine Sport and that is the yarn I used in Sailor and Robot colorways. Even using the same yarn I was unable to get the gauge called for in pattern. So I knitted a few swatches with different sized needles to see how close I would get to the same number of stitches per inch and I knit the size that was closest to it. To explain, my bust is about 38.5″, but I ended up knitting the sweater of finished measurements of 35″.

For the row gauge I did not do any calculations, but crossed my fingers and hope to God it wouldn’t be too short. The way this sweater is designed, you must have the length of the sweater on point before joining the front and back panels to knit the sleeves. I was definitely flirting with danger by not doing any calculations, but it all turned out well. I did knit a few extra rows as called for in the pattern to account for any ease I might need for more bust room.

To get the sleeve length I tried it on to estimate the right length. I have long arms and also wanted full length sleeves. I wish I added just a tiny bit more length to them, but I am still pleased with the sweater overall. I love stripes and chevrons and I love the contrast of the two colors that I picked. The yarn is cotton and modal and while that might not be the warmest combo, my Turnstone has a nice comfy feel to it.

  • Pattern: Turnstone Pullover
  • Yarn: Knitpick’s Shine Sport on US 8
  • Colorway: Sailor and Robot
  • Size: 35″