Monday, March 27, 2017

Little Things

When I leave work, there is a gentleman who sits along my route out of the building who makes it a point to say "Good night! Have a pleasant evening!" every single day. I'm not sure if his intent was Pavlovian in nature, but I find myself turning to the left when I get off the elevator (before I turn right) to make sure I wish him a nice night as well. Today, he said "Have a good one!" And I said "You too!" Then he waved me over, and said "No, have a good one. I'm retiring tomorrow, and I'll be gone before you come by. I'm going to spoil my brand new granddaughter!" While excited for him (and jealous--baby snuggles???!!!) I felt a little sad. I've come to look forward to that little interaction, those few seconds, every afternoon.

So this got me thinking of other little things that make me happy, those fleeting moments that make up our days.

 One of my co-workers just returned from Thailand. He met a woman there who sews for wealthy clients around the world, and sources materials from all over. He told her "I know someone who loves to sew and I always want to get her something but have no idea. What would you recommend?" She took him to (I think it was) her studio, and told him a sure thing was this beautiful silk blend. He chose red because my "nails are always some shade of red." I have two yards of this, and am carefully pondering what it might want to be when it grows up.

My sister was over her friend's parents' home last week. I don't know how it came to be a topic of discussion, but her friend's father LOVES candy. Her mother said "Do you like candy hearts? We have bags of them!" To which my sister responded "I don't. But they're my sister's favorite." I am still working my way through these. I'm certainly surprised they're still around--I find them quite addictive. Every time I eat one I mentally yell at myself something along the lines of "Stop! What are you doing?"

As long as I can remember, I have always loved the patterns the sunshine will make when coming through the windows.

With the clocks jumping forward and spring truly here, I'm glad that the golden hour happens when I'm not sitting at my desk at work, missing it.

I bought one of those yarn subscription boxes recently, and in it was a sheet of yarny stickers. I didn't know what I was going to do with that, but they make great labels for the tabs in the recipe book I'm making. They don't really make sense in there, but they look cute.

And finally, the start of a wee doodle. I haven't drawn a single thing in a very long time, and I miss the repetitiveness of  drawing patterns. I thought I might get a little bored with a full circle mandala, so I'm doing a quarter circle.

So that's that. Just a smattering of little things that have been bringing me pleasure. I am going to miss that guy, though. Funny thing is--I speak to him every day, and we don't even know each other's names. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Spring, Socks, Sweaters, and a Show

Well, it's official. It's spring. Allegedly. Today was quite warm, tomorrow will be cold. Then it will get warm again. Then probably cold. I don't see how this is any different from the winter we've had, but I'm eager for flowers so I'll take it (as though I have a choice).

I have one pair of socks that I have yet to show you, so I'll squeeze that in now, because wouldn't it be silly to show you wool socks when it's hot outside?


Again, fraternal twinsies because that's how I like them. The same, but different, just like people. This is Knit Picks Felici yarn in the Time Traveler colorway.


I still haven't ventured away from a very vanilla sock pattern yet--toe up, heel flap and gusset, no special stitches. But that's because I don't want the stitches hidden in the stripes. I still have a few skeins of striped sock yarn to use, but then I think I'll take a plunge on solids (very brave, I know) so that I can try something fancier where the stitches shine and the yarn recedes a little bit.


My only concern is that now that I've perfected my needle size/stitch count I'll throw all that research out the window by mixing it up with cables or eyelets and they won't fit.

I took myself off of my yarn-buying ban and bought some yarn for a sweater. I got stuck in a time-suck on Ravelry for reasons I don't remember, but when I emerged I felt a desperate need to make a sweater. I did think it would be coming along more quickly, but really I have one and a half sleeves left and a neckband so I guess it's not too bad. I thought I might not get to wear it until months and months from now, but with the way our weather has been I could be wearing it comfortably in July.

However, this has been a delightful Netflix-bingeing project with it's rows upon rows of stockinette. I've recently started watching Call the Midwife. Have you seen this show? OH! I think it's one of my all-time favorite shows, and I've only watched the first two seasons. In case you haven't heard of it--it's about several young nurse/midwives who live and work with the religious sisters of Nonnatus House in the East End of London in the 1950s. It depicts their day-to-day lives and those of the people in their neighborhood (called Poplar), along with socially and medically relevant (for the era) issues (such as new medical procedures, the post-war baby boom, contraception, and so on). It's all dealt with so tastefully it's almost classic in its scope (which, as an English professor once told me, means "appeals to all people in all times"--which might be spot on since women have been having babies since the beginning of time). There are funny moments, sad ones, and bits that will simply charm you to pieces. I hope whomever coordinated the soundtrack to this show is able to retire comfortably on the bonuses alone. It's served very well to cement in my mind the notion that I was born entirely in the wrong decade.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Vintage Inspired Sunnies Case

Last week a co-worker asked me if I'd make her a sunglasses case. She had one that I made a few years ago, but she couldn't find it. As I've got an abundance of these frames (and I'm not lacking in fabric) I told her just to give me an idea of what she wanted. She sent me a picture of some fabric where she liked the colors, and told me that she had loved the case for two reasons: one, it fit her glasses perfectly, and two--the old-fashioned look of the fabrics I had used reminded her of her mother.

On Tuesday, we had a Nor'easter-blizzard sort of thing that wasn't all that, but still earned me a snow day off of work (thank goodness it wasn't more--the bit we got was so heavy it felt like I was shoveling concrete). It was a fabulous day for a quick and satisfying sewing project.


I bought this fabric several years ago down on Fabric Row, and still have a decent bit of it left. I love the vintage folk art look of it, and I had some scrappy pieces perfectly sized for this.


That there is always my favorite view of a frame purse--it makes me think of a giant (albeit oddly-shaped) fish mouth. I was conflicted over if I wanted to use the bronze frame I used, or if it should have been silver. My instinct was silver, but I was soundly outvoted (and thank goodness for that--the bronze is just right).


This was also, without a shadow of a doubt, the most perfect gluing job I have ever done. I don't think I had a speck of ooze anywhere, and I didn't have to use any of the vast supply of bad words I know to coax the purse neatly into the frame channel. I dropped this off to its recipient today, and she absolutely loved it (which always makes me feel good).

On a geeky side note--do you know how difficult it is to find a recipe book? I've been acquiring some recipes lately that have been working out quite well, and I want to organize them beyond the pile of printouts I have (or scribbled notes). Everything I found was either not cute enough, didn't have what I had predetermined to be enough room on the page, or was bound in a style that would not lay flat for easy viewing while cooking. But in one of my favorite places (Target's stationery aisles) I found a mini 3-ring binder, some paper, and some inserts. So I'll just make my own. I am stupid excited to sit down with colored pens and transcribe my recipes into this cute binder. Although I'm thinking I should have also bought the plastic sheet protectors because I'm a bit messy...


In case anyone is wondering, I used to get ridiculously excited for new school supplies, too. To be perfectly honest, I still would. Not my fault--they shouldn't make things so stinkin' cute.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Wallet Frames

I had a comment or two on my last post about the frame I used to make my Accordi-anna wallet.


So I thought I'd take some super close-ups of the frame to give you an idea.


They come in two separate pieces--a female and a male side. The male side is the one with the little flippy lock bit in the background. When assembling the wallet in its final stages, you need to cut a bit of a hole so the wallet can close, but it's critical not to cut it too low or else it will be exposed below the edge of the frame.


To the left you can see that the tippy-top edge of the wallet is enclosed on all sides by the frame. Precision is annoyingly key, as if your work is too large, it won't fit, and if it's too small you'll have a bit of frame that extends too far (and it just won't look nice).


You can see there's a decent channel to the frame, as well as the screw holes. The pattern I used calls for you to glue in the frame as well as using the hardware. The channel is nice and deep so there's hardly any glue ooze.


And here are the teeny tiny screws--four per each side of the frame. They're squat little things, and don't look like they'll screw into anything without first poking holes in the fabric (especially with all of the interfacing), but they go right in, smooth as butter.

This frame was interesting to work with, and I love my new wallet. Here are two recently-released patterns that use just such a frame if you're interested:

  • This pattern is the wallet I made
  • This pattern is just as lovely and would probably be easier if the thought of a wallet gusset makes you queasy
Happy sewing!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Accordi-anna Wallet

YEARS ago (and I do mean that in all caps) I was reading a post on one of my favorite blogs. It was for an accordion wallet with a fancy frame and everything. No pattern was available then, much to my chagrin. When I was out Christmas shopping for donation gifts for the church Christmas tree (one of the tags I pulled from the tree said 'ladies' wallet') I figured I'd kill two birds with one stone. I bought an extremely similar wallet so I could take notes and measurements and figure out how to make my own. I even ordered some frames (three, to be exact) because I always have high hopes for fast work and successful projects.

Obviously, as you've never seen me post anything of the sort, the notes are somewhere, and the frames have been wrapped in tissue paper, and I've been using this wristlet I made as my wallet. But a few weeks ago the pattern was released. And now I have a fun new wallet.


It irks me that I didn't center the diamonds with the little flip-lock part. My sister gave me this pink fabric several years ago for my birthday. I've been hoarding it ever since, just waiting for the perfect project. Something that wasn't going to end up being overly pink and foofy, but that would still be pink and fun.


I used an interfacing called decovil for this. It is definitely strange but awesome. It's stiff, and holds its shape, but at the same time is supple while being firm. It's a bit of an interfacing paradox. It's squishy but not really, but is. Whatever it is, it gets fused to the exterior fabric and is what gives the wallet it's body and structure.


I love how there's a lot going on in there but it folds up to this nice, slim little thing that isn't bulky at all.


I was hoping for a polka dot lining, but I had none stashed, and Joann's had none either, so I went with this black and white gingham. I'm really glad there were no polka dots. I love this. It's not perfectly straight, but that's perfectly fine. It's my wallet and I like it that way. I just realized I meant to switch out for pink thread but obviously forgot--oh well.


There were two options for the guts--a four pocket and a three pocket. I went for the three pocket version as too many pocket options leads to me being less organized.


The frame is glued on to the bag, but then also screwed on. Oddly, screwing in those bits was my favorite part of the whole thing.


One thing I was proud of myself for doing is checking my frame. The pattern calls for a 7 1/2 inch frame. Normally I'd have made this without considering measurements (and cursed a blue streak after the fact), but something told me I'd better check. Good thing, because my frame is 8 inches wide. I simply added that half inch difference to the cutting measurements and everything was pretty much fine (I wasn't as careful as I should have been towards the end, which made this the teeeeeeniest bit off, and also led to me having to hand sew the bias tape instead of machine sewing it).

Other than adjusting the size I made one other modification. Even though my wallet felt sturdy it didn't feel sturdy enough--I wanted something a little bit more rigid. So I cut two small pieces of plastic canvas and slid them in between the layers before I glued the frame on. Now it feels just right. And I feel kind of fancy using it. Like a real grown-up, with card pockets and everything.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

A Non-Medical Diagnosis

For the past month I've been on a sock-knitting kick (two pairs of socks translates to 'on a kick' only in knitting where they take a bit of time to make, especially when one does not develop second sock syndrome. Three pairs is a spree, FYI). I took some photos of them today to share, and realized something that some people might characterize as psychopathy.

Let's start with one of the pairs I recently finished.


The yarn is a very basic toe-up pattern that I found on the Knit Picks website. I've used it several times on size zero needles, and they always fit just how I like them--a wee bit snug, but not tight.


When I first started making socks, I really tried to get them to come out exactly the same. But then I thought that if I wanted identical socks I could buy them; but fraternal twins? I could make those. They're the same, but different. Just like people.


Oddly, this is the first pair of socks that I made once. Without fail, every single pair of socks I have made has been started at least three times. I either twist the cuff, or muck up the toes somehow, dropping stitches, forgetting wraps and turns, whatever. But this pair was smooth sailing. It probably will never happen again.


The yarn I used is Knit Picks Felici sock yarn in the 'Rainbow' colorway. They haven't been washed or blocked yet, so they still look a little bit homespun. But this yarn washes up soft and beautiful.

Lucky for me I love things in rainbow colors, because these socks will not be alone for friends in my sock drawer.


These super thick ones (that I can't even get my jeans over) are absolutely necessary as I wear these when we decorate the Christmas tree. It's vital that I wear these to obtain a well-decorated tree.


And these toe socks (that freak people out a little) are essential because in this one episode of Sex and the City Carrie Bradshaw was wearing a pair of these on one of her girls-nights-in with the ladies. And since they're not making that show anymore, these are kind of a collectible. So I need these.

It's not psychosis, it's sockosis, and a lot of people probably have it and don't know it. You should get yourself checked in case you have it, too.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Calypso Tote in Patchwork

Over the weekend, while my mouth was full of woe and I was feeling quite sorry for myself, I did manage to get in a little bit of sewing. My mama needed a new tote bag for her work stuff, as her other one was looking much worse for wear. The thing with sewing for my mom is she gets annoyed if you don't use what you have and try to buy new fabrics. This is great for using stash, and also forces me to be a little bit more creative as my stash is random stuff (I don't buy fabric collections unless I'm going to use the whole thing, usually in a quilt). The only thing I needed was a little bit of denim, which was already on major sale, so I think I spent maybe two dollars. 

I made a slightly modified version of my Calypso tote. I did a bit of patchwork instead of a solid, and changed up the lining slightly, but the principle is the same. My biggest modification was unintentional--I think I held the fabrics the wrong way so it came out wider and shorter than the original, but I do like the shape of it (and it's not a drastic change).


The texty prints I bought as a bundle some time ago, and they matched really well with the ditzy florals I bought on a day trip two summers ago to Lancaster County. 


They're placed fairly randomly (other than alternating a text with a floral), and quilted on both sides of each seam line in each direction. The thread blends so well you can barely see it, but it's there.

The original tote has the lining extend over the top of the bag and form a border of sorts on the outside, but this lining wouldn't have contrasted well, so I used a piece of denim instead. My original plan was to use jeans thread to mimic the stitching on...well...jeans, but my machine does not like weird threads (my smaller one has no issue, but the quilting one balks). So I used regular thread of the same golden color, and used some of my fun stitches.


Some spots got a little bit quirky, but my mother loves imperfect things, especially if the imperfection is due to human hands.


The straps are nice and sturdy. The denim is probably the lightest weight you can buy, but I interfaced it and used some fusible fleece. Hopefully they're nice and comfy.


I included a nice and roomy zip pocket on the inside. I didn't have any of the heavy weight plastic canvas I use for bag bottoms, so after the gap was sewn I used a super sturdy piece of cardboard and gift wrapped some fabric around it. Ain't gonna be no sag in that bag! (FYI it really hurt to write that). (FYI again--if you look in the bottom of the bag you can see it a little bit).


So that's one project done. I ordered some nifty 'fabric' for a pattern I bought recently that I can't wait to get to work on. Anybody ever work with cork fabric? Any pointers?

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