Thursday, November 20, 2014

Sugru

A few weeks ago I was contacted by some folks to see if I'd like to try out some Sugru. My first question was "What the heck is Sugru?" except I used another word instead of heck, teehee. I had never heard of it; have you? Well, it's a moldable adhesive that has oodles of uses. You take it out of the package, work it and mold it to fit your fix, and then let it set to air cure, where it turns into a rubber that is permanently adhered to whatever you stuck it on. It can be used to fix wires, put bumpers on electronics as a shock absorber if they get dropped, and even for crafts. It has a LOT of uses (click here to take a gander).

So here's the package I received in the mail--


I received two packets of each color, including red (but I used both and didn't take a picture beforehand). I couldn't think of anything I needed to fix, so I thought I would try and make a stamp as I'm thinking of Christmas crafts and stuff. I used the red, and stuck it to the end of an empty thread spool. I smoothed it out and all that jazz, and let it set for a day. I will not be showing you that adventure. I did create a stamp in the academic sense--I drew a design and chiseled away the excess, and it did indeed leave a stamp when ink was applied. The issue was that I'm the one who drew the image, and I am so lacking in drawing skills that what I ended up with was not good (but hey--it did work as a stamp, so if you're good at that sort of thing it could be an idea).

I wanted to do something I could show you, though, and was having no ideas. Until I hemmed a pair of pants. I have previously proclaimed to you the virtues of my tailor's awl and recommended that you get one. Here is what the business end looks like--


If you extended that photo you'd see a rounded red handle. Very plain, very basic. Very rolly. Like...don't expect it to be where you put it down because it will roll away and laugh at you as you grope for it. It's almost always on the floor, and I live in fear that it will land at an odd angle and I'll step right on it. I haven't been able to find a solution. Until now. Enter Sugru.

I don't have any photos of this part, but I opened a packet of Sugru, which looks and feels like Play-Doh, rolled it around a little bit, and then molded it around the handle, smoothing it out as evenly as I could by rolling it around in some wax paper. I then used a ruler to flatten the sides a bit. I stuck the tip of the awl into the end of a spool so it would stay standing up and not cure to my sewing table (which would be the total opposite of the current problem, haha). The next night I checked it, and it was all set up. There was no tackiness to it, and it didn't dry rigidly but as a hard rubber, just as described. And now my favorite tool will stay put, and my toes will be safe.


I'm quite pleased with my little fix. The Sugru was easy to work with as far as the molding goes, and I liked that I didn't have to cure it in the oven (I've tried that with things before and have had nothing but utter disaster). My crochet hooks all have bamboo handles on them, but if they didn't I would totally wrap them in this stuff. It feels nice in your hand, doesn't smell funny, and really seems to be stuck on there.

If you're interested in trying it out, you can take a gander at the Sugru website. I'll be honest--it's not terribly cheap, but it's a really nice product and comes in a nice variety of colors. Plus I like that someone had an idea for this thing years ago, and just kept at it until they were happy with the product and what it could do, and have been working hard to get this into the marketplace (as opposed to some huge corporation coming out with yet another idea--the small biz aspect is inspiring). In the near future the Christmas decorations will be coming out, and I'm pretty confident I'll find a few more uses for this stuff.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

This Is My Office and My Beat Laboratory

Extra points if you know what that's from. Points aren't worth anything. You just get them. Kind of like Paddy's Bucks. More worthless points if you know what that's from.

A few weeks ago my aerobics and yoga instructor asked if I could make her a bag of some sort to hold her CDs. She doesn't have a fixed location per se--she makes arrangements with churches or gyms or other locales to teach her classes according to a set schedule. So while her students have a fixed location to go to, she's traveling all over to teach. She needed something to hold her music so the CDs wouldn't end up all over her car, or get battered and broken in her handbag.

I immediately thought of the cassette tape fabric from this sew-along. How perfect would that be? But no. She has more of a refined taste that doesn't exactly fit with neon cassettes. I found a black tone-on-tone music note fabric that looked basic, but was a bit of fun the closer you got to it. I immediately knew I was sketching up a boxy pouch with handles because what could be more perfect to hold a bunch of CDs? I took a page from Jane's book to do my handles (see her pattern here, and my bag I made from it here), so I had to do a little extra thinking regarding construction, but not too much...because Jane already did it, hahaha.


Just so you know--I do see all that lint in the photos. And yes, I did give it a good brush-off and a final press before I handed it over. I know you folks worry about these things, and I don't want the reason you can't sleep to be my lint.

I will confess to you that I made this bag twice. On a lunch break one day I sketched out my pattern and tried to be savvy by eliminating the cut-outs and just boxing the corners. It's not easy to get the sides even and straight and the right height when you're working rectangular and pretty narrow. It may be geometrically impossible but I'm not sure, because math. The result wasn't the best looking but could have been doable, if I didn't lose inches somewhere along the way and end up with a teeny bag. So I redrew properly this time (tutorial here), and flew right through the thing without a glance at my seam ripper. Note to self: a few extra minutes now can save a lot of time later.


This ended up holding a half dozen CDs perfectly. Like snug as a bug in a rug (which, I've mentioned before, is quite creepy sounding, but certainly conveys the fit here) kind of perfect. I'm losing my unwavering love for fusible fleece, though. I've found lately that it's just not giving a smooth look anymore, so I don't know if something changed in the manufacturing process or what, so it's something I'll be having to think about in other bags. Thankfully it pressed smooth after this lint-filled photo shoot.


The lining is a swirly, sparkly gray and white print that reminds of two things--those red and white peppermints, and also a blizzard. I'm glad I have some left over because if I ever get around to half the ideas that exist in my head I'll need those scraps for the winter sky of a quilt block.

And because I need color I tied a pretty turquoise ribbon to the zipper pull.


Oof, the lint. It's all I can see. 

I haven't been sewing much lately as I've developed a bit of a sweater obsession. On Sunday I started another sweater, and I've already got the front and back finished. Granted, it's a bulky yarn in stockinette stitch on bigger needles, so that definitely helps. But I'm already thinking of making yet another one. I have a complicated cabled cardigan that I'm holding off on until after the holidays, but I've been perusing patterns and yarns. I'm kind of jealous of people who only do one craft, as one keeps you busy enough. But having three? I'm surprised I'm not right loopy yet. Maybe I am, I have no idea.

Wanna hear something fun? We've got a bit of snow coming down outside right now. More of a snow shower than anything that will accumulate, but still. What, that's not fun to you? See? I guess I am loopy.

Monday, November 10, 2014

What Two Months Look Like

Fun fact: you can't schedule a post to publish if you forget to write the post. True story.

After making my first sweater (and what I mean by that is my first sweater that fits properly and that I'd wear in public, not first numerically as I made a few a looong time ago and then swore off of them until recently) I kind of got a bit of a bug for sweaters. I found a few patterns that seemed doable and logged more time than I should have in the yarn aisles at Joann's pondering colors.

I bought this pattern and spent an overly long time one evening simply staring at skeins of yarn on the store shelves. I'm sure the store employees are used to seeing yarnists considering their options, but an ordinary person would definitely wonder if someone was having some sort of out-of-body experience (obviously confusing it with what deep thought looks like). ANYway, I decided on Lion Brand's Heartland yarn in Acadia. I had a vision of sticking as close to this pattern as possible, even to the color.


So of course the first thing I did was decide to change the pattern (which is quite gutsy on my part as the prospect of correcting knitting mistakes strikes fear into my heart). I love cables, and they're not so terrifying once you get used to them (I say this based on my expertise of having done cables once. But they looked good, soooo....yeah. Expert). But I kept looking at this sweater and thinking that this particular cable was kind of chunky, and was going to hit me at a spot on my body that was not going to be wonderful. I'm already a bit buxom, so I don't need anything extra there, and I'm trying to rid myself of my tummy, not pile things onto it. Plus, I'm weird and where the heavier bit of that single cable fell on my body was going to drive me crazy (in that you're very aware of your stomach and it feels funny against your chest sort of way because all the weight is just right there. Just me? OK then). So I decided to go for all ribbing, even dropping the cables from the sleeves. If these were smaller all-over cables I'd have probably kept them as everything would be more evenly distributed.

I thought I'd stitch this thing out in no time (even at the tunic length I opted for). And if 'in no time' means the same thing as 'two months of knitting almost every day' then I nailed it. It's not as flattering as I'd hoped, but it's soft and squishy and warm, and I can't wait to wear it with leggings and boots (though you're seeing it with jeans that are adding some bulk to my belly. Pretend that's true, m'kay?). Ready?


At first pass I thought "Oh, this is going to need a belt to break up the length of this" but I'll have to see it again. I think two months of starting at this sweater had me a little bit fuzzy brained in its final assessment. Plus I didn't make it to wear with jeans, so until I wrestle myself into leggings the jury's out on accessories. I'm thinking a longer necklace might do just as well. Any thoughts?

Disclaimer: I'm taking these photos in the spare bedroom for better afternoon lighting. That is not my stuffed duck.

The yarn is so snuggly soft, and it washed up even more so. I'm glad you can't see the inside because sweater seaming is not one of my better skills, but so long as it all looks good from the outside I'm satisfied. It's a little bit bulky under the arms due to how it's made, but there's enough room that you don't feel it against your body. It looks like it's that way in the pattern photo, too, so I don't think I did anything wrong. I'm surprised that the sleeves are as long as they are (sleeves are always my problem area in everything, made or bought).


There are a few teeny mistakes here or there, but the give of the ribbing hides them, so if I didn't know they were there...I wouldn't know they were there. The neckband looked like it was going to bother me as written--I don't care for the contrast of the garter stitching against my lovely endless miles and miles of ribbing. My idea was to knit in stockinette so you'd see the smooth knit side when it rolled down, but a few rows in (after picking up a ton of stitches) I realized it was going to roll in instead of out as I wanted, and I was not frogging all those stitches. So I switched from knitting to purling for a few rows. The natural curl gives it the look below, where it looks like I alternated every few rows, but really just stitched until it rolled down just enough to still show the other stitches. Hey, at this point I wouldn't have been surprised if I had sewn the thing shut because, did I mention, two months?


I used to love turtlenecks that looked like they were swallowing your head, but I just can't wear those anymore as I can't stand anything like that snug against my neck. The height of this collar will be just right. There were a few little holes I had to muss over to hide from picking up the stitches and transferring from the holders and so on, but I think I did an OK job (and don't tell me if I didn't, hahaha). I really overthought if I should go back and add more to the collar, but I decided I'm happier with it this way instead of with the idea of a big thick roll of yarn around my neck.

I feel there may be an obsession brewing....I started another sweater today. But it's chunky yarn and I've got half of the back done already and I can quit anytime I want. Swearsies.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Ladylike Pullover in White

At some point in August I decided I wanted to make a sweater. Yes, during one of the hottest months I wanted to make a garment out of yarn. I spent some time perusing the internets and finally settled on this sweater on the Lion Brand website, and this yarn in white. After a few false starts on the size I was on my way. I did lengthen it a bit for my long torso and some tush coverage, but that was the only real adjustment I made to the pattern (other than not doing the full cowl neck). The sleeves as written were not going to suit me, so I kind of just created my own sleeve pattern of plain stitches with regular increases as I went along. I was beyond thrilled when I tried it on and it fit. I don't know why, but I'm always surprised when that happens with clothing I make.

Wanna see?


I wish the sleeves were just the teeniest bit longer as I like them overly long, but these are a perfect fit as is so it's certainly no issue. The whole thing is worked in the round for the most part, so the only seams you have to join are the underarm seams. I don't think it's possible to be easier than that.


That lacy top part goes all the way around. Now that I'm thinking of it this sweater has no front or back--each is totally the same. You'd almost be able to wear it inside out if it wasn't for the underarm seams.


I'm so pleased with the fit (though a few less pounds will make it just right). I wanted it to be snug and feminine and a tiny bit sexy, but not frilly or scarce in certain areas. I am so very pleased with how it came out. The pattern was free (you just have to join the website) and the yarn was quite economical (and washed up super soft) so I feel I really have myself a steal of a sweater for a little money and some time.


Next up I'll show you the direct opposite of this sweater. I feel it has enough switches to be a king-sized afghan, but it's a mere sweater. See you soon, kids!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Perfectly Content

I have been trying all day to wrap my head around the fact that we are into November. What have I been up to that I feel as though I have completely missed October? Granted, October was very gray and gloomy and rainy, toggling between too warm and quite chilly, so there was nothing grabbing your attention and saying "I'M HERE!!! I'M OCTOBER!!!!" But the very chilly, very windy weekend we've had makes you stand up and take notice that the penultimate month of the year is here.

On Friday I took the afternoon off of work thinking I had to get my windshield replaced, thanks to a rogue rock flung in my direction from the car in front of me a few weeks ago. The guy took one look, said "Yeah, we can fix that" and twenty minutes later told me I was finished. I was absolutely overjoyed to have my afternoon emptied on a chilly cloudy Friday. Home I drove, and claimed my corner on the sofa with the last of my sweater to finish, afternoon Jeopardy on TV, and a cup of hot chocolate nearby. Pizza for dinner, some scented candles, and a Halloween visit by a ninja turtle in training made the day perfect.

I plugged away at various this-and-thats for the rest of the weekend, and late this afternoon, while taking out a bag of trash, I noticed the light. It hasn't been clear and sunny for a while, and as we just set our clocks back last night the light was very different--usually I'm eating dinner or starting my workout when the light is just so.


This small shaft of golden light lit up just a touch of this tree. It always amazes me how some leaves confront their own mortality right away, and others fight and fight before giving up the ghost and turning brilliant colors before they float to earth, becoming a crunchy carpet for both man and animal.


I understand folks who don't want to jump in puddles, but I don't get those who don't find joy in kicking through the leaves and crunching them under your feet. The gusts of wind (and they were quite strong) made it hard to be outside too long, as it was really chilly, too (almost cold). But I absolutely had to stop and take a picture of the final act of this year's hydrangea bush.



Those flowers, those colors, are both growing on the same bush, along with some that are even bluer.


There is nothing like golden afternoon sunshine on a blustery day. It's just so very perfect.


As is evening candlelight. Especially when the flames lean in for a kiss.

There was also closet cleaning, next-project planning, pattern tracing, sweater finishing, and blanket forts. I am going to bed happy. Night-night :)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Vanity Case

If you follow me on Instagram you'll have seen a few photos of a bag I was testing for the lovely Christine. I've been very excited to share it with you but wanted to hold off until the pattern was ready for sale, and now it is so now I can. The bag is a quite generously sized vanity case. I do so love vanity cases or train cases or cases with hinged lids or whatever you want to call them. I've tended to shy away as they seem so labor-intensive or have things I don't care for doing (like bias binding the raw edges--I don't know why but that particular task irks me). This one looked nice and reasonably simple, so I jumped at the chance to be a pattern tester. I super took my time (it's very hard when you make bags to slow down and read the directions as you go because y'know...I know everything and all that jazz :) My stitching could be a bit better in a few places, but I knew I was keeping this and I tend to be more forgiving of that sort of thing when it's going to be mine.



The zipper installation is one I've seen but never done before--in order to make this unzip in both directions you just get two zippers and butt them up next to each other as close as you can and stitch. I threw in a few hand stitches to make it a little more secure because I choose to be neurotic about such things.


I'm not even kidding a little when I say that choosing my zipper was maybe the hardest part of the process. I have an odd amount of zippers in really weird colors (don't ask why because I don't know either) so I had a lot of colors to audition. It came down to green or white and green won the vote. I run a democratic sewing studio...er....dining room.


I used a different sort of interfacing for this one in addition to my usual woven fusible. Have you ever heard of Annie's Soft and Stable? I've been seeing it a lot, but it's kind of pricey. I happened across an alternative recommendation that was very similar--headliner fabric (the stuff that makes up the inside of the roof of your car?). They had it at Joann's back near the batting and vinyl, so I bought a half yard for this. It doesn't come in white as Annie's does, but the tan I used doesn't show through too badly. It's actually really nice and sturdy, yet soft and squishy and easy to work with (though I did trim it from each seam after it was sewn). I'm definitely going to try it again.

I think the handle might be my favorite part :) It doesn't cut into your hand or get all squinched up 
and wrinkly--it's nice and soft.


This case is plenty roomy on the inside. Like...use it as an overnight case if you pack smartly kind of roomy.


I don't travel often, so if I used this bag for that purpose I'd rarely get to use it, so I think I'm going to use it for smaller knitting projects, or to hold my teeny leftover rainbow yarn bits while I decide what to use them for next. There's even a handy elasticized pocket on the inside for holding teeny things like scissors and tape measures:


As for the pattern: I really didn't have any trouble with the directions, and there are a lot of photos to help you along the way. My zippers were really long, so I was able to skip one of the steps on the outside as well as leave off the zipper covers on the lining; but if your zips aren't taller than you because you used to suffer from a weird zipper buying fetish those steps are included for a nice neat finish. I know these kinds of bags can look intimidating, but they're really not too difficult if you take it step by step. You can purchase the pattern at a very reasonable price here.


I don't know why it looks so crooked in this photo. I was trying to get pictures before I lost all light so I think I snapped at a weird angle in my haste. It's really a delightfully sturdy thing that is just begging to be filled with goodies. I'm glad I called dibs for myself on this one. Thank you, Christine, for letting me test for you! I am in LOVE with this bag and can't wait to have a reason to make more!


Linking up here:
Sundays: Submarine Sunday
Tuesday: Homework
Wednesdays: Your Whims Wednesday

Thursday, October 23, 2014

One More Experiment....

So Charity left a comment on my last post that she has seen continuous tape cut with a rotary cutter. I couldn't get my brain around how that would work with the method I tried, so I did some poking around online and found this tutorial by Pat Bravo. Because I can't leave well enough alone I decided to give this method a shot tonight. I had zero familiarity with it and had to follow the instructions as I went instead of just doing it, so that added some time to it. But not much at all. You sew one seam, cut some short lines with scissors and some short lines with a rotary cutter and end up with yards of tape. OK, it's a little more technical than that, but very easy to do.


This took me about forty minutes, including the extra time for stopping to read directions, so in the future I'd expect it to be even less. I would have ended up with the pretty much the same amount of tape as the other methods but my rotary cutter slipped and I ended up having to trim enough to short myself a strip. There is one thing I'm not in love with on this--when you do the final scissors cuts you're left with a few quirky looking little angles (not obnoxious...just noticeable in its unfolded state). Since this is cut on the bias and you're folding in the edges when you press the tape anyway this disappears amongst the folds and stretchiness (and will disappear even more when it's actually sewn to something). This bugged me for maybe four seconds, but I quickly and easily ended up with yards and yards of bias tape so I can deal with that.

I now feel that I have exhausted all bias tape making options, so you don't have to read anymore about it either (I heard you all sigh in relief, you know). However, I do love to explore options and try to find the best method for doing something, so I'm pleased to say I've now got two I can fully support (and one I'd like to forget I ever met).

Now I'm off to start a sweater sleeve (I'm finally on the sleeves!) and finish off Project Runway. Later taters!

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