Tuesday, May 14, 2013
I've been wearing my first Tova. All. The. Time. So making another just made heaps of sense.
This pattern is simple and so easy to tweak and modify. I added the sleeves this time but slimmed them, added two inches in length and made a deeper cuff. The shoulders were a bit broad for me, so I took 1/2 inch off either side which actually made the sleeve cap fit better. And the inset pieces overlapped too much in my first one so I cut the edge of each inset piece back a bit - and on an angle - and I really like how it sits now, with just a slight v opening. I excluded the collar again and finished the neck edge with bias trim. Next time I'll round out the inset corners and probably turn it into a dress.
Of course, a pattern only gets better with the right fabric. I can't say enough about this Robert Kaufman Essex Yarn-Dyed cotton/linen - it's soft, has an awesome heathery texture and sews like a dream. I ordered 6 yards to make a shower curtain with and managed to have just enough left over for this shirt (the kids like the idea that I can stand in front of the shower curtain and become a floating head. These are the things we think about around here). The black band at the bottom is the Brussels Washer rayon/cotton - not as soft, but helped give the shirt some definition and now the hem has a better drape.
My Tova love means I'm totally crossing my fingers that Jenny Gordy publishes more sewing patterns. Me and hundreds of other sewers out there, right?
Thursday, May 09, 2013
The new studio space still isn't fully organized, but thankfully that doesn't affect my knitting or reading. The pinky-red cardigan is coming along (meaning I'll finish it just in time for the hot weather to arrive). I've been fine-tuning this cardigan pattern so once this one is done I'll finally be able to share the pattern, although it will just be the one size. I'm not mathematically inclined so I don't know the magic of how to figure out sizing up without actually knitting it physically. Perhaps that will be my knitting goal for the next year: learn official pattern-making skills.
As for reading, I've added more to my Canadian list. First, See the Child by David Bergen. I enjoyed this one more than A Year of Lesser, but I'm not about to go grab more of his novels. I do love Bergen's sense of place; I felt like a neighbour in town every time I opened the book. The characters were real, full of flaws and driven by emotions even when they knew better. Loss, longing and the complicated relationships of family were constant themes that kept me engaged. I'll just take a break for now.
I have had quite an affair with Elizabeth Hay this past year, but The Only Snow in Havana is the first non-fiction work I've read of hers. I was not disappointed. There's just something in the way she writes that I really connect with. In this format, I found her prose lyrical, thoughtful and often surprising. Also, it didn't hurt that it was essentially a musing on being Canadian and how as Canadians, we are tied to the fur trade or, at least, a collective need to keep warm. It sounds simple, but it's oh so true. I figure it's my very Canadian-ness that actually makes me a knitter - I'm fated to care about bundling up. Overall it was a pleasant detour from my fiction streak, and another happy Hay read.
For more knitting and reading, catch up with today's Yarnalong.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Seeing all the Wiksten tops in the Spring Top Sewalong pool inspired me to run out, buy both patterns and whip up one of each in a matter of days. To my family it may seem a tad impulsive, but I'd like to think that's exactly what a sewalong is for - to feed a collective sewing obsession.
So the Tova pattern is great. I used Robert Kaufman's linen/cotton which is a bit heavy so although I had added the sleeves, they were too stiff and I took them off. But I quite liked wearing it with a shirt underneath and having playful bias tape around the inside edges is just plain fun. I've never been crazy about the collar when I've seen other Tovas so I left it out and used bias tape there too. I just think it makes a nice shape. Overall a great pattern and well suited to my, er, flattish chest.
Next up, the Wiksten tank. Again, super easy pattern and this time no adjustments at all other than how I attached the bias edges (I pressed the strips in half, stitched them to the wrong side with raw edges lined up and then pressed to the front and topstitched down). Since the inside seams are clean - which I love even though I have a serger and could have simply serged them - the whole garment just feels so "finished". The fabric is some cotton shirting and I love seeing the diagonal version of the checks, which is why pressing the bias trim to the front seemed necessary, even at the hem. It might not be a very flattering neckline for me but this will be very wearable with a cardigan.
So Wiksten officially tried and loved. More in the future for sure.
Sunday, April 14, 2013
Vogue 7998 - and I finally gave it a try. It's a kimono/wrap style and it turned out much better than I was expecting. Given it's "Very Easy" distinction there are one or two construction details I'm not a fan of but overall I think the seams will hold and the collar does a good job of hiding the questionable bits. I used Robert Kaufman's Brussels Washer fabric which holds its shape and is very wearable. I quite like the tie at the back but it would be great to leave the ties off so you could wrap any belt or scarf around the middle. Overall, a great, somewhat-dressy shirt.
If you're looking for some spring sewing inspiration - and not the all black, full length sleeve sewing that I'm indulging in - visit the Spring Top Sewalong Flickr pool. This top is especially awesome and could persuade me to sew something gray.
And then I remember the gray paint mishap. Sigh.
Wednesday, April 03, 2013
As a break from moving supplies, I thought I'd actually sew something (plus I took some time off this week to do just that. Sewing is very restorative as much as my co-workers tease me for it.) And instead of making something for the house I put the time into making something for a friend (double restorative, it turns out). A while back I spotted Meet Me at Mike's fox quilt, but didn't until this week think about adapting it to make a foxy pillow. To better suit a square pillow form I made the fox block out of 12 squares, each being 3.5" high x 4.5" wide. I also inset the eyes so that they were part of these squares instead of appliquing them on top. The fabrics are white linen, salmon raw silk and then my current favourite, Robert Kaufman's Essex Yarn-Dyed cotton/linen blend. It's such a great design and I think it makes for a nice gift. Maybe someday I'll get around to making a wall quilt version - I know a certain basement with bare walls that's just aching for foxes.
Over the holidays I made a scarf for my dad that turned out soft, squishy and quite manly. So it only made sense that Jay should get a similar scarf. I used Berroco Vintage to contend with Jay's rough beard, but he's not one for modelling so the shot above is the best I could do. He seems pleased with the dark gray and he's not a yarn snob, so the blend suits him fine. The pattern is really great - easy to memorize (a center marker is a lifesaver) and it makes a warm, dense fabric.
Next to the scarf is one of the nicest book covers I've ever seen (at one point I thought the whole cover would be my palette inspiration for the basement). Ru by Kim Thuy was recommended to me my a complete stranger in the line at Indigo a while back. The line was long and we managed to trade a few suggestions while we waited - it was like an impromptu Book Club. Luckily this novel counts for my Canadian challenge and even better, it was a beautiful read. Rather than being a linear story it was more a meditation on Thuy's life told in lyrical and petite chapters. It's been translated from French but somehow I imagine the rolling prose was there to begin with and it's just that fantastic a translation. I was swept up by Thuy's writing and was a little heartbroken when it ended. Thank you dear stranger!
For more knitting and reading stories, visit today's Yarnalong.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Ahhhh. We are practically there - I've got very little painting left to do, we've taken off the floor protection and we've even moved down a piece of furniture. Oh, and the kids had an improv ballet session on the empty floor tonight. Basically we're super excited.
This moment hasn't come without some panic and craziness, but I'm prepared to blame that on too many hours spent painting. You see, when we first uncovered the floor in the hall (photo on left) my heart sunk. All I saw was red in the finish, a tone that I didn't expect to be there. Which then led me to question my wall colour choice. On a section of wall that was finished, and at that point finishing anything was a milestone (because after jinxing myself, I did paint the bathroom 3 times, just like my kitchen debacle, but this time in oil.) I have a bad habit of obsessing about colour and caring way too much about getting it just right. Luckily I have an amazing husband who knew exactly how to save my sanity. While I was at work he brought down a carpet, a bookcase and my favourite mushroom lamp so the space looked lived in. The floor is just one part of the space, and truthfully it isn't red at all. I was just going bananas at the wrong time. And since that night (only two nights ago!) I have finished up the main room and done the one risky move - a black wall. Thankfully the unanimous vote in the house is that we all LOVE it.
Also highly recommended is Eowyn Ivey's The Snow Child. Oh, wow. I loved this quiet, fairytale-esque novel - and not just because the cover is amazing or that the description of hand-sewing a snowflake embroidered wool coat had me swooning. It is just a charming story, wonderfully told.
For more knitting and reading stories visit today's Yarnalong.
Wednesday, March 06, 2013
Even when painting never ends and work bleeds into my home life, I rarely let a day pass without reading a few pages and knitting a few rows. Likely I would lose my marbles if I didn't - somehow a few moments of making and a paragraph or two of fiction ward off feelings of being overwhelmed. Restorative pastimes indeed.
Both The Kitchen Daughter and The Three Weissmans of Westport were light, enjoyable reads. Nothing too cerebral, but full of compelling characters. I took a small break from my Canadian Challenge for these two, but they were great books to end hectic days with.
I have hit that time of the year though when my knitting isn't really working out. It's bound to happen and this time it's because I was too determined to have a red sweater. Like Red Riding Hood, we should all have one red sweater, right? Wrong. Some people just can't wear the colour and no matter how hard I try, I'm one of them. So after knitting everything but the sleeves of a raglan cardigan, using Quince & Co's Peak's Ferry, I had to call it quits. I haven't had the heart to unravel it just yet, but I'm thinking Sadie would like an Annabel cardigan like this cute one. Perhaps red sweaters are more for 8 year olds anyway? And on the bright side, I found a new colour in my favourite Debbie Bliss yarn. It's more of a raspberry/coral mix, but hopefully it will turn into something more successful. And less RED.
For more stories of reading and knitting visit today's Yarnalong.
Sunday, February 17, 2013
This image shows how I wish our days were being spent right now. We'd be playing around with display items, putting an inspiring little doll into a vintage light fixture then standing back to debate if the placement was right.
But of course, that's not the case (though we did do that). Here is where our focus is - in the big giant mess in our basement. It's getting to be a very exciting mess though, and it's amazing what has happened in the last 10 days. The floor is down (and protected under all that cardboard), the drywall is done, and there are light switches that actually turn lights on and off! We painted all last weekend, much to the kids' dismay, and I'm currently procrastinating about heading down there again right now. Back when we signed the contract somehow taking on the painting component ourselves seemed like a good idea (truthfully I quite enjoy painting) but it's a HUGE job and I'm not very fast. Every wall, every piece of trim, every square inch of ceiling and awkward closet needs at the very least 3 coats of paint. Our goal this weekend is to get the bathroom and laundry room done because we actually have things that need to be installed in both. I've agonized over paint colours for the past few weeks and hope the final decisions are decent (my kitchen debacle is fresh in my mind). The bathroom will be Benjamin Moore's Balboa Mist and the laundry room Collingwood - which are side by side on the paint chip, and both on the warm side of gray. I used Collingwood in our upstairs bathroom but this new bathroom has carrara floors and (soon-to-be) countertop so I hope the slightly lighter Balboa Mist works. Ceilings and trim are all Para's Cameo White, the same white everywhere else in the house. I'm nothing if not consistent.
Soon, soon we'll be moving in and starting to make things again. But for the foreseeable future, I'm glued to a paintbrush.
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Malabrigo Worsted + Dovetail Cowl pattern by Carina Spencer = knitting awesomeness. I adore this cowl! Most of my knitting choices are simple stretches of stockinette, seed stitch, maybe ribbing, so this pattern seemed pretty adventurous. But amazingly, it is all based on simple knit and purl stitches, and the suggestion of using stitch markers to define the pattern repeat made staying on track super easy. The final texture is spongey yet intricate and I can't imagine a nicer yarn for the project. This was knit as a gift but I'm so in love with the pattern that I'm pretty sure I will have to knit myself one. And did I mention it is reversible?
I started Freedom by Jonathan Franzen while I was knitting Dovetail and just finished it up this week. I've heard many good things about The Corrections so I think I'll have to try it before making a final decision on Franzen. There were some things I liked about Freedom, but I definitely struggled to finish it. The characters - purposely flawed - were hard to like and there were entire sections bogged down by description. Oh well.
For more knitting and reading love, visit today's Yarnalong.
Sunday, January 20, 2013
If there is one thing this renovation has taught me, it's this: we are not renovation people. We're homebodies. We find joy in being comfortable, in coming home to a relatively clean house that's quiet. So now that we're past the 5 month mark with this project, it's getting harder to let the noise, the dust, the daily, important questions not affect our moods. How do people go through renovations over and over again? And when they do, how do they accomplish anything outside of the reno? (I'm not knitting or sewing as much, let alone blogging.)
But there is good news - the end is in sight! These photos show progress, like having stairs again and having my own laundry machines back. Drywall has been going up all weekend and there is tile on the floors of the bathroom and laundry room. We're getting there.