Friday, 26 February 2021

Never Another Groovy

Wednesday was sunny and warm so it was a total surprise to wake up to snow on Thursday. I'd slept in and was moving stiffly slow when the phone rang. It was my massage therapist wanting to know if I had a suitable vehicle for getting to her remote clinic. I said I thought it would be okay by 11:30 when I had to leave and she replied but your appointment is at nine. Hmm... suddenly in fast forward. 

I did make it safely up and safely down, including crawling around the police, tow truck, and cars in the ditch on one particularly bad corner, and arrived home with my plans all mixed up. Instead of heading into the studio, I decided to put everything back in the closets now that the painting was finished, clean house, do the laundry, and hang up a few pictures so I could have today, tomorrow, and Sunday to spend in the studio. It means I don't have as much to share as I'd like and that's just the way it is. I do have a clean house and a free weekend. YES YES!





Along with the two painting chores, I had also wanted to finish the purple leather bag shown in the last post and the Groovy shawl by the end of this week. I have decided never another Groovy. It starts out good and then gets endlessly boring and it's just not my kind of shape. The last one I knit was a gift for a friend who could carry it off but this one is way too huge for me. 





My blocking board is quite large and I had to fold the scarf back on itself one and a half times and pin it right over the edge just to get it spread out enough. When I sat down to tie in the ends and get a finished picture for this post, I started to think about whether it was worth it or not and now...






... it is back in balls. Here's how the data looked. Making it included 5 balls of grey, two balls of grey tweed, two balls of dark grey tweed, and one ball of hand-dyed green for a total of $114.87 with taxes for the yarn. It was knit at a speed of 24 grams per hour and weighs 541 grams which equals 22.5 hours. At $20 per hour, the labour charge is $450.00 with a total cost of $564.87. 

Why do I know that? I started keeping track of this kind of data recently because I'm intending to have an exhibit in the near future and I don't know if I want to sell the pieces or not. Just in case, I'm collecting the data now since I can't go back and get it later. 

What I find particularly interesting is that last year I bought second hand a designer pullover that I had previously seen in a boutique retailing at $450.00. It was made from acrylic yarn and not the wool blends I used and was one of many while this shawl is - was - a one and only. I've been asking around to find out what various hourly rates are and my drywaller charges $75, my massage therapist $100, and the construction crew $50. I also know of cleaning at $30 and counseling at $115 and that the minimum wage in BC is $15.20. I do not believe that one set of skills is worth less than another and I know that someone somewhere could pay $564.87 for a shawl however, it's not a someone who lives here and I don't know where there is which leaves that age old dilemma of how to get paid a decent salary for our creative labour.

Right now, knitting is entertainment for me so leaving out the labour charges and evaluating the price of the yarn alone, $114.87 is too much invested in a shawl I won't wear. I'd rather make it into something else. 


 


Another thing I've been evaluating is the flow of my studio. As much as I like how the turquoise cabinet looks, I am having it moved downstairs to the dining room and replacing it with the Kappang dresser from Ikea. When I'm working, every surface has a designated use and there is nowhere to put the pattern pieces, remnants, and other bits that gather while making something. I feel like I'm constantly shuffling them around and tripping over them, which frustrates me and that makes working harder than it needs to be. In my previous studio, I had another countertop to put them on. I didn't realize how much I used it. 

The dresser is - obviously - much shorter than the cabinet but slightly wider. It'll take some more organizing trying to figure out what to put where but eventually I'd like more "over" storage so I will watch for the top of a china cabinet at the thrift store that could be painted and attached somehow. The dresser should arrive next week and once it's together and in place, I can see what else might be needed especially now that the renovations are winding down and I'm going to have more studio time.  

Do you ever undo projects and make them into something else?

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful
- a clean house and a play weekend

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Purple Leather Version II

Last spring, one of my friends showed up at the door with a purple leather coat that she'd just picked up for me at the thrift store. How fun is that - friends who thrift for you. 





One of my favourite bag shapes is the carpet bag or the doctor bag or Mary Poppins bag, whichever term you use. I cut the coat up into smaller pieces, appliqued them all together to create sections big enough for each pattern piece, and then cut out and put together the carpet bag. It looked great from the side and from the top but...






... NOT from the front. From that perspective, it was squishy funny. My goal had been to see if I could make something from the leather but now I also wanted it to look good so I took version one apart the next day and then it sat for almost a year until Sunday when...





... I created Purple Leather Version II. With the earlier version, there hadn't been enough leather to make the handles so I'd used hand painted fabric from my stash. The fabric went well with the leather except, with using it only for the handles, it wasn't as connected as I wanted it to be. With this second version, I added the hand painted fabric to the straps and the flap as well and the piece looks more cohesive. 


 


Without the casing, I needed a different way to secure the drop in lining and used denim binding. This could have created the same issue the earlier version had with the handles so I also used the denim as part of the straps and flap to keep it connected.  






Because the lining was the obvious next step but not the literal one, I wrote myself a note before leaving the studio on Sunday otherwise I probably would have forgotten one or both of the feet and the flap and I wanted to avoid reverse stitching. 





Tandy Leather typically has a really good sale around the American Thanksgiving... which is in November... while ours in Canada is in October. I was watching for it to buy a hand press for snaps, rivets, and eyelets. I really enjoy making handbags, plan to make more, and want to learn how to sew them better. Quality hardware is part of that goal. With the sale, I was able to get the pro model. It came just after I moved into my new house but I only opened the box on Monday. I was so excited to use it only...






... I didn't have the die set needed for the snaps I had purchased. Thankfully, Tandy was having another sale. I got an email yesterday saying the set had been shipped so hopefully I can add a snap to the flap some time soon. I had debated whether to add snaps to the sides but after pinning them together and looking from the front, I decided the wider tote was a better look. I have another bag in progress that requires snaps so I'll be able to use the press for that one as well. YES YES. I want to play with my new toy!

Yesterday, I spent eight hours painting baseboards and trim on the upper floor of my house. Everything is done except for the studio since I'd stored "stuff" in there to make the other rooms less full. I am stiff from crawling around on the floor and popping up and down the ladder but today I am painting the wood shelves that were added in three closets. I am determined to have these two tasks done before the end of the month and to start painting the interior doors next. My to do list is getting shorter. Shelves, doors, garage, kitchen. What makes me laugh is they are short words for big tasks. And even so, I'd like to have it all done by the end of next month. 

Monday is March 1st. How perfect is that. The start of the month is the start of the week and it's go time for tasks and intentions. Before I moved, I was exercising five mornings a week doing an online program called Body Groove which is basically dancing. With the renovations, I didn't have time in the morning if I wanted to be dressed and decent before the workmen arrived... which seemed like a good idea... but they are all done for now so I can get back on track...

... dancing for now and hopefully walking around the pond at the park before journal writing some time soon. The weather is looking like an early spring and I am looking forward to getting out of the house. 

When you're working on a project, do you write yourself notes to remember where you're at?

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - painted baseboards and trim

Friday, 19 February 2021

A Realistic Assessment

The pictures in this post are blurry. That's what happens when you take photos of mostly black things against a very white wall with less than best lighting at seven o'clock in the morning. Taking them over wasn't an option if this post was going to get written.  

In terms of coping with the pandemic, this has been my worst week so far. Considering we're a year in, that's actually not too bad. And really, it hasn't been all week. Just yesterday and Wednesday night after the news was full to overflowing with the threat of variants and how they are going to be the dominant strain by the end of March. 

The normalcy of last year was lost to the pandemic. This year is looking to be the same and now, it's entirely possibly that 2022 will follow suit. There will be rebellion in some form. We all need to hug our children and grandchildren and go somewhere. A mandated holiday hug-a-thon could be just the thing except for overwhelming our already overwhelmed health care system. We can't do it. We need to protect them. SO... 




... this OBVIOUSLY called for a realistic assessment of my wardrobe since creating nurtures me and my wardrobe is boring me and creating a new wardrobe could be helpful. At the end of this blurry discussion, you'll see that the above selection is my entire wardrobe. 





These twelve garments are worn out and drastically showing their age. Two are faded black cardigans and one is a grey cardigan that is cozy but pilled. The white of the white and blue t-shirt is yellowing. The grey print was never good quality to begin with and poorly sewn RTW. The jeans are not at all flattering and bought in a desperate moment. The rest are black t-shirts that I tried to replace last year by either buying or sewing and there was a strange shortage of RTW black t-shirts and a lack of appropriate fabrics. 

At one point in my life, I didn't wear black at all and then, once I started in my thirties, it became the colour I wore all the time. A black t-shirt with jeans and a statement necklace was my go to look until I started sewing fashions again in 2010 and now it's a black t-shirt with a fun bottom garment and a statement necklace. I do believe I am tired of black. 





These garments just take up space. They are all uncomfortable to wear in some way whether it's the fabric or the fit. The polka-dot t-shirt and the blue blouse to the right of it have potential if I lost a slight amount of weight and/or found the right undergarment. The rest need to be taken out of circulation.



 


I like these four garments. The one at left is a dressy dress. The blue is a summer jumpsuit that is flowing and pretty and awkward to wear. The two at right are sleeveless dresses that I am bored with just like I am...






... bored with these fun and funky pants. I've worn them too often and because I have a minimal and mostly all season wardrobe, they don't get a winter or summer break. Sewing more seasonal clothing is on my to do list. 





Of the two skirts in this image, one is definitely winter and the other definitely summer. The cardigans could cross seasons but are mostly winter because of how hot it gets where I live. 





I didn't sew a lot of clothing last year with spending the summer in the yard, the fall getting ready to move, moving, and then starting renovations which are almost but not yet completely done so the same is true for the start of this year. I've sewn several garments that didn't make it to my closet and only two - the charcoal tank top and the heart pants - that have. 

I turn fifty-nine in June and plan to spend the year of turning sixty developing healthier lifestyle habits with hopefully permanent changes that will support ever increasing holistic health. Without the yard work I had at my last house, I can take time to focus on eliminating bad habits and developing new ones with enough intensity to make them on-going. Healthy takes a lot of time and energy and it's not at all my area of expertise only I want to be fit and flexible and as healthy as possible going forward so it needs attention and now is the time. I've put it off long enough. 

I plan to eat better and exercise more especially by walking and riding my bike. I do not plan to go on a diet but there is the possibility my measurements will change which could affect my size which could affect my wardrobe and considering it's already so small, I want to make whatever I sew continue to work going forward. Likely, I'll start with t-shirts, blouses, and dresses because my upper body is the first place I lose weight and the last place I gain. 





After the photo shoot, this is what's in my closet. From left to right are two seasonal skirts, four pairs of pants I'm more than bored with, the heart pants I just sewed, the charcoal grey tank top I just sewed, two black knit tops I'm bored with, a blue blouse I rarely wear, another black knit top I've had forever, two cardigans, a sleeveless linen dress that is mostly summer and a multi-fabric dress with a fun striped bodice that is new. And then, the three dresses and jumpsuit I discussed earlier. 

In total, twenty garments of which seven are seasonal, one is rarely worn, four are nearly new, and nine I'd prefer to put in time-out. Not pictured are my coats and a few handknit cardigans and pullovers I rarely wear.

Strangely, most of my knitting is entertainment even when it's a garment. Sweaters or pullovers typically get one or two outings and then put away. I should think about how to change that while I'm thinking about the state of my wardrobe and what to do next. Actually, I know the answer to that. This afternoon, I am going shopping for some RTW t-shirts. 

What is the state of your wardrobe? Do you have a wardrobe plan? I'd love to hear about it.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - this is a first world problem. I am blessed.

Wednesday, 17 February 2021

The Heart Pants

The heart pants! Finally done! I wore them on Saturday and had a friend take these pictures in front of her condo. You can just see the metal, cookie-cutter-ish hearts behind me leaning against the wall. Two of her artistic forms are how she dresses and how she decorates. I love checking out what she's wearing when we get together and how the d├ęcor has shifted whenever I'm at her house. 





The grey charcoal sweater is the adapted version of Sugar on Top that I wrote about in another post. The pants are a copy of a RTW pair by the brand Oska. I've copied several of their garments and love the lines. 





Five years ago, my sock caught on a nail at the top of the stairs in the house I was renovating and I pitched forward into the stairwell. Luckily, the sock held and I didn't fly to the bottom. Instead, I crashed down heavily against the stair noses with the greatest impact on my right hip and then I rolled to the bottom. There is some permanent damage but it's minor compared to dead, brain damaged, or paralyzed.

My right hip is almost two inches bigger than my left, lower, and the curve is different. It really shows up on straight or wide leg pants where I have to do a lot of extra work to get the hems even. Luckily, this fuller style is one of my favourites. In this case, the arrangement is all wrong for my figure type with dark on top and light on the bottom and oh well! They are fun.





This back view shows the shape of the pullover as well as the detail highlighting the pant seams - a narrow flange. A friend showed me how to sew flanges evenly a few years ago and I'd be happy to share that technique if anyone is interested. 

I wore these on Saturday while shopping and an older gentleman who was walking toward me looked me up and down and then straight in the face with this confused, what the heck is that woman wearing, look on his face. Obviously - LOL - he has no sense of humour! 





I had an incident on Thursday - my counsellor/coach "fired" me and won't tell me why - that in my opinion totally justified some retail therapy so I not only took advantage of the on-line pattern sale to pick up some BMV patterns but also the 14% off your total order sale at Fabricland. Another friend and I met, shopped, and had lunch together only to discover it was Galentine's Day - the day you celebrate with girlfriends. Who knew. What a great idea. All of these fabrics were already 70% off with an additional 14% off at the till. YES YES!

The top fabric is a Melton cloth remnant, not enough to make a single garment but plenty to combine with another fabric. The next one is leather-like and will be good for making purse handles. The grey waffle weave is for a nightgown but maybe not. I think I'd like a nightgown but I always wear pajama pants so I'm debating the change. The faintly striped, cream cotton at the bottom is for something. I just don't know what yet. AND...



...the paisley is a rayon-polyester blend that would flow nicely as a dress. I like how simple and feminine Kwik Sew 4259 is and since both sides of the fabric are pretty, the low back of view A would work out well. I think the hemline is more flattering on the leg than a straight line (see view B) but am I wrong. Is it just out of style?





When I got off the phone from the hurtful and unproductive call with my counselor/coach, I tried to go back to knitting the cables on the cardigan I had started and they absolutely refused to work. I tried several times, ripped it out several times, and finally put it aside and started something new and... 





... super easy. I've knit Groovy before. It's a combination of knit and purl stitches with alternating stockinette sections. Again, I wanted to use remnants and chose a combination of charcoal grey and a tweedish looking yarn. I'm about to run out of the grey and need to come up with another solution because there's quite a bit more knitting to go. I noticed on the Ravelry page that others have used a stripe of another colour. That's what I was thinking so I'll check those out closer and decide. I may need - VBG - a trip to the yarn store. 

OH... and I did a bit of sifting and sorting in my stash and sent all my bra-making supplies to a friend since I haven't sewn one in over ten years and can easily buy them in my size while she makes all of hers. That opened up room for the fabric I bought so I am - sort of - not behind on that goal of downsizing the stash. Holding even or maybe even down a teeny bit. 

What does retail therapy look like for you?

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful
- Galentine's Day with a supportive friend and dinner with my sons

Friday, 12 February 2021

This Is A Good Day

You know how it is when you have a list of things you hope to accomplish and at the same time you're doubtful that you'll actually get them done... and then you do... and it's amazing. Wednesday was like that. Everything I'd talked about doing in my journal that morning was at just the point I'd hoped it would be by the time I went to bed that night. THIS is a good day. 






With my stash so freshly cleaned out, the choice of fabrics I was willing to sacrifice to a possibly unwearable muslin were slim to one - this black sheer with irregular white dots and flocked circles. I wanted to test a shoulder alteration on McCall's 7904 before sewing a "real" version with the flounces so I decided to make a sleeveless sample. And then I decided not to.

It would have had two points in the front by mirroring the right front instead of cutting the left and right pieces separately only when I got to this stage, I realized that the underarm was way too low plus I wasn't feeling the whole sheer thing. I layer when I want to but I don't like to have to and - just to add a little more justification - it was not a pretty feeling polyester. I originally bought it on sale for a very full A-line skirt with godets. The remainder may still become a less full skirt with a lining.





I started working on this adjustment when the furrow that formed from my neck point to my armhole was driving me crazy. I knew I'd have to figure it out if I wanted to sew more blouses or woven garments that wouldn't hide it as much as knits. When I pinned the wrinkle out, the tuck started high on the neck near where the shoulder seam meets the neckline and angled diagonally. At the widest point, it was 1" tapered to nothing. After taking out the tuck on the pattern piece, I added back to the shoulder seam to re-true it. Above, you can see what that looks like on paper.

You might ask what really changed. I know. I do that often. In this case, it took out some of the extra fabric across the shoulder and altered the shape of the neckline. This is the second time I've tried this adjustment and so far, the shoulder fit is vastly improved. I originally thought I'd be making the adjustment to my right shoulder only and would forever on have to cut out separate front pieces. Thankfully, when I tried that first garment on inside out, the adjustment worked on both shoulders. YES YES

Based on the muslin, I need to raise the underarm point about 1" and I would guess that adjustment needs to be done before the tuck. I'll test that assumption on the version with the flounces probably in a lightweight linen that would be more forgiving than a crisp cotton if I'm wrong.  


 


Quite a while ago, I started this cardigan - Truss - only the numbers weren't working out on the set-up row after joining the ribbed bands. I tried it quite a few times and finally wrote the company to say that I knew I was missing something but I couldn't figure out what. The sweet woman who wrote me back told me so gently that I was following the wrong size instructions that it actually took me a few reads to figure out what she was saying. In-between, I had started another project so I put this one on hold until I finished that one and got back to it Wednesday. 





The yarn I'm using is a discontinued merino wool and silk blend. I'm knitting the size I (barely) have enough yarn for and hoping I don't run out. The detail at left is from the pattern. The one at right is my start. The chart is in teeny tiny font, seventy-one stitches wide and fifty-six rows high. I'm on row four and starting to see how it flows so hopefully it won't be as fussy as I thought it would be. 





To start, you separately knit the three bottom bands for the left and right fronts and the back and then join them together leaving small side slits. I really like the way that looks. 





AND... the other thing I wanted to get started was a necklace to go with my Valentine's Day outfit. I pulled all the possible bits & pieces out of my stash, from the two jars labelled Found Objects, and then selected the three pieces at right to work with. The working title is the key to my heart. I'll experiment with small textile beads made out of the heart fabric I used for the pants - yet to be blogged about - and see if they fit in somewhere. 

What makes for a good creative day for you?

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - three solid starts

Wednesday, 10 February 2021

The Charcoal Tank Top

Like last week, this one is filled with a lot of little things to do instead of a single big one to check off except that I've been going to my studio for that hour in the morning and it makes all the difference. Even though "nothing" happens for the rest of the day, I still had that nourishing time. 




I finished sewing the charcoal tank top. It's a simple garment that I'm hoping to wear with the heart pants still to be blogged about and the cozy boxy pullover. The knit is very soft with lovely drape. I prefer a t-shirt that is fitted through the bodice and looser over the waist and hips so I don't feel sausage stuffed. 





In the earlier images, you can see how wide the shoulders are and in this side one, how high the armhole is. Ideally, this covers my bra strap and the chubby bits although I haven't tried the tank top on yet. It's a sleeveless version of a RTW t-shirt that I copied and shortened so I'm pretty sure it worked out well and I'm enjoying the simple sew and its present perfection. I'll try it on later. 



The earlier images were taken in the upstairs hallway that gets a lot of natural but less direct light from the upper windows in the living room. This image with the sun stripes shows how lovely the light is in my studio. Right now, the temperature outside is REALLY cold with blue skies and sunshiny days that make for a lovely indoor feeling. 





The other thing I've been working on is a story for my grandsons. For weeks. I've been procrastinating and battling resistance as Steven Pressfield calls it in his book The War of Art. Apparently, we are never quite free of those am I good enough feelings, especially when we try something new. I've never written a children's story before. 





It's about their visit to me last summer and the little yellow man that they made and his search for a spot at my new house. They are five and seven. The book is about them and it's written by their (LOL - favourite) Grandma and will be delivered along with chocolates and craft supplies including their all time favourite - tape! What's not to love. I needed to get over myself and get it done. 

What's hilarious is that once it was finished and I went to Staples to print it, the machines were down but expected to be back up in an hour. I went back a couple hours later and they were still down. I went to another copy shop and they'd need 24 hours. I waited until the next day, went back to Staples, and the machine messed up. Eventually, two copies were printed, stitched together, wrapped with the other gifts, packaged and taken to the post office. Resistance again. I persevered. I think I won that battle. 

How does resistance show up in your work?

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful
 - finished LYM story

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Saturday, 6 February 2021

The Week of Getting Nothing Done

This past week has been one of those funny ones where I'm super busy and still feel like I've gotten nothing done. Several friends seemed to be having the same week and we concluded that although we had actually accomplished a lot, it felt like nothing because we hadn't gone to our studios and stitched something. 

For me, time in the studio is how I breath and how I refuel my energy reserves. This week, they were depleted by endless little things and worse, by things that didn't happen. Like Friday, when I wanted to paint the last remaining wall on my main floor only to realize while prepping it that the hairline crack beside the fireplace had returned and I couldn't paint until after the drywaller came... again! I did paint the baseboards but that wasn't enough. It wasn't the whole job. The list is getting shorter but the thrill of the renovations has long past and I just want it done, everyone out of my house, and to be left alone in my creativity.  

Part of my daily routine is what I call the morning hour. I get up, drink a cup of coffee on the couch in my living room, and then spend (intend to spend) an hour in my studio sewing for me. This week, because I'd started another remnant scarf and wanted it finished, I knit instead and that wasn't a good choice. While knitting is a creative outlet, it is not the one that nurtures me. I need to sew and that hour needs to be in the studio, in front of the machine, making for me or I'm crabby. SO...

... today, I went to the studio. I cut out a tank top from a beautiful charcoal grey knit and so far have the shoulder seams together, the neck and armbands stitched on, and I'm ready to fold over the bands and stitch in the ditch to attach them to the neck and armhole edges. The hems are fused and pressed up and once the center back and side seams are stitched, it'll be quick to finish... and I'll feel like I've finally accomplished something. 




The pants above have been cut up and the pieces put into my remnant collection.  They were made from a lightweight denim that frayed along the seam lines. It wasn't a good choice only it's the fabric I was willing to use to test the pattern I'd traced from a pair of RTW Oska pants. The pattern worked out great. The style is one of my favourites and I am using it for the heart pants I'll be posting soon. 

I aim to post twice a week on Wednesday and Friday mornings. As you can tell, that didn't happen this week. I hope it's better late than never. 

What do you need to do each day/week or you feel like nothing got done? What nurtures you?

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a morning sewing for me