October 30, 2012 § 1 Comment
It sure is fall. So much change is in the air, it is unbelievable, and I am hardly able to contain myself. Wow, what a year so far, and it ain’t over yet folks.
I think that October really is my favorite month, and it is quickly drawing to a close! I am very, very, VERY EXCITED to write that my Snoopy costume has won the third and final Bernina We All Sew Challenge! Over the weekend we attended a little pumpkin carving party, where he wore his lovely little ensable, and on Halloween, we are taking the little Buckaroo out for trick-or-treating with some friends, and can’t wait to show him off in his little costume again. We think it’s all pretty super, just like him. He loves costumes, really gets into character!
I have been seriously struggling for over a year with my “project-land” as Ramon calls it. First the morning sickness made it impossible to knit, sew, or, well, even read. Now, after my difficult pregnancy is over, I have an amazing, alert, little Buckaroo. He’s an amazing sleeper at night, but not such a great napper, and “project-land” now almost completely fails to exist. Ramon, God how I love him, is working so hard to make sure that it still happens. Encouraging, and insightful, he helps to keep me grounded, happy, and creative. I think that all three really go hand-in-hand-in-hand.
Since learning that Baby Snoopy has won the third Bernina We All Sew Challenge, I have felt elated and excited again about sewing. My sewing room completely gone, I now trek my machines out of the closet daily to our round kitchen table, during Buckaroo nap time. I felt that in honor of my costume winning, I needed to make a costume for myself. I really wanted to make a costume for Ramon, too, but alas, time didn’t allow. We think that the little guy is teething. Lots of crying means not a lot of sewing. Given that the baby is Snoopy, I decided I should be Lucy, even though I am lacking the black hair. I felt her costume would be more easily recognizable than her blonde little friend, Sally. Plus, I had a crazy, crazy grandmother who collected white show-cats in her garage (no seriously, she had 50-60 of them), and my desire to put work into her namesake … well, let’s just say it was lacking. Ramon came to the only logical conclusion about his costume, he would be Pig Pen.
Given that my figure is a bit altered from the block that I created a year ago for my leather snake-print dress, I decided to buy a pattern. I know! I could hardly believe it myself! But I wanted this to be a fun, quick project, not something extremely involved. (Feel free to just start laughing now, because we all know where this is going). I just don’t have the time for that, or the ability to think clearly about one topic for that long. I bought a really 1950′s pattern from Etsy, as the illustration resembled Lucy’s little dress.
Dropped waist, gathered and flared skirt. I also felt the double darts were quintessentially 1950′s, exactly what I wanted. The pattern arrived from Texas a few days after I ordered it, and I made some slight modifications, traced out a new bodice pattern, and stitched it up. It was good, but … The dropped waist only came to about 2-3 inches below my natural waist. Hardly Lucy like. We needed puffy sleeves, and a puffier skirt. A peter pan collar … I realized that in order to make it really work for the costume, I needed to draft a whole new pattern.
And so I did.
And in the process, I realized that this pattern wasn’t so different from one of my McQueen projects. The drape front dress from his Spring 2008 collection, which Lucy Liu wore, in stunning pink, with an amazing wool cape to an interview at the Letterman Show.
So, I drafted one new block, and two different dresses.
And Lucy came out beautifully. Lucy Liu left a lot to be desired.
I seldom work in cotton, but found that my 60% off coupons for Joann’s lead me down that path. Plus, cotton is so easy to work with, cutting, sewing, pressing. It sure doesn’t drape well, and often doesn’t feel very nice to wear, but it was the right tool for the job for my Lucy dress. To be honest, I really don’t think I could be happier with it. Yes, I probably spent 10 hours creating a new pattern, cutting, and sewing this dress, which is way, way to much for merely a costume. It meant a lot to me though. Not only was I able to do this project, I was able to do it the right way. As my friend Trina says, “A well made pattern sews itself,” and I was very lucky to be able to have not just the time, but also the energy to create one.
And then there is the Lucy Liu dress. I bought this fabric 2 years ago, around the time I originally started Project-Hallway.com. It is cheap, and I had no idea yet how to pick fabric. I had two yards, and no idea where to begin. When drafting my Lucy pattern, I realized that if I moved the side dart to an oh-so-beautiful french dart, and changed the double front darts to a single dart, altered the neckline,and extended the length further through the hip, the sheath for the drape front McQueen dress was essentially done. Then, I just needed to draft new sleeves, drape and create a pattern for that beautiful twisted front panel, and create a quick pattern for the bottom panels of the dress. All of a sudden, just like the leather dress, I realized, holy crap, I can do this! Why have I been so afraid of this dress for so long.
Thus, I began cutting.
Immediately I could see problems in my fabric choice, but it is what I had, and so on I went. I love this color of blue, and it is so on trend right now. A perfect follow-up for my boring cotton in my Lucy dress, the mermaid shine was alluring, and sucked in, I kept on.
In the end, I think I have made a great fancy muslin, but this will certainly not be the final piece. This is why I love sewing. I learned a lot while making this dress, but I learned more after I had “finished” it. My lining is too thin. The neckline doesn’t stand up with the weight of the panel pulling down. My cap sleeves suck, and need to be more well thought out, wider, and more structured. Puckered and pulling, things that don’t lay flat, and things that do, that shouldn’t. Overall, this dress needs a lot more structure, and a lot less disaster.
I feel like I am back to square one, but I am not. I know this, I am just being a Debbie Downer. One of the keys that I learned with the leather dress is the utter importance of structure under the dress, another is to really, really take the time to do it the right way, and not just to get it done. So what do I do next?
I guess that is what my whole blog was started on though, this idea about learning to do things the right way, and not just getting them done for the sake of doing them. The pursuit of quality in the handmade, in my handmade garments. The details. If I can find the time to make my Lucy costume, I can find a way to make this dress work, the right way. I shall start by reviewing my materials, creating more structure underneath, and more soft flowiness on the outside. It takes a lot of work to make something look effortless.
I still can’t believe that I won the Bernina We All Sew Challenge with my Snoopy costume. That costume came right at a time when I really, really needed it. I need my creative projects to get me through the rough patches, and I need the confidence I feel from finishing them. I feel really, really lucky that Snoopy won, because it has pushed me onto not one, but two new projects. One successful, one not, but I still have so much learning to go, and that is a good, no, great feeling.
October 1, 2012 § 1 Comment
Every year at this time my sister says, “Holy crap, my birthday is in a week! How did this happen?” Another year, and she’s always in shock that there 1980 is just that much further away. These things have a way of sneaking up on you. With everything that has been going on, it really snuck up on me, too! Oh my goodness, it is already fall, it’s already October!
Things in the past week have been going a lot better around the house. The little guy is doing well with his new, mixed diet, and the new formula seems to be working for half of each of his meals. My mental outlook has improved a lot, partially due to Snoopy being voted number one in the public voting period of the Bernina We All Sew Challenge 3, partially to me working very hard to not go down the path of depression, and look at thing in a more positive light, and partially because the little guy is doing so much better, and screaming so much less; really not at all anymore. Back to normal.
The Snoopy costume really helped uplift my spirits and helped me to get motivated. I miss being creative. I need it. Without it I go pretty crazy. So, this week, since it is October 1st already, I decided to make a quick little Monday project, a Pumpkin hat for my little Pumpkin. Just something little, totally do-able in one day, to help me stay on the road to happiness. This is a great, quick, and free pattern by Michele Sabatier, called Berry Hat, which I found on Ravelry.
I bought this yarn back in August when Knitpicks was having an online sale. I thought it’d be cute to make him a pumpkin hat for the Halloween season, but the only color which I thought would work for the orange of the pumpkin, called sweet potato, was only available in Comfy Sport weight, not Comfy worsted. I didn’t want to make the hat of anything but a primarily cotton fiber. It is just too warm for a wool hat in October in California. So I decided to go for the sport weight, and double stranded. With the double-stranding I followed the pattern exactly, including the needle sizes.
This took no more than an hour and a half from start to finish, including re-winding the yarn balls to be center pull balls, and splitting the green—peapod—skein into two. I put it on him to take some pictures, but seeing as how the outside thermometer read 103 degress I didn’t leave it on too long. Apparently California hasn’t realized it’s October 1st yet, either.
November 11, 2010 § Leave a Comment
I just got a phone call from my mirror souled creative other-half who I haven’t heard from since the Great Departure of 2010. Such joy from hearing his voice over my little iphone, but so much anxiety talking about the incident that I actually started shaking. I thought I was over this. Well, OK, I knew I wasn’t over it, but I thought I’d at least started to move past it. Anger is a funny thing. I compared this incident to breaking up with a love, but it is different, seated deeper than that. Hanging up the phone, I realized that my old friends, depression and darkness had invited themselves in for the evening. I’ve had break-ups that were easier to cope with than this. The snake that you don’t even hear. Feeling his fangs pierce your skin, your world spins more slowly. It doesn’t happen instantly, this little guy has other plans. Meandering through your veins, taking it’s sweet-ass time, the venom seeps through your arm, then your leg. Time seems to stop, and then it finally reaches your chest. You feel the pulling, and tightening. It may not be enough to kill you once the when some of venom has been sucked out as if it were part of a great tormenting exorcism.
Months pass, the bruising finally heals, the scabs come off, and you start to exit the shadows, in the darkness that you have become. Still shaking and sweating, you realize you will make it through, but you may never look at the world quite the same way again, and the world will never see you in quite the same way either. No longer poisoned, but still tainted.
This event. This thing. It is sticking to me. I called another good friend from the same space, and realized while on the phone that I have closed off my world from what it was before, making it as small, and warm as possible to combat my inner anger. Was this healthy, was this really the right thing to do? I still get txts from people seeing me on Speed Channel or HDTV Theater, from before the year changed seasons, ironically letting in more light, which seemed to be the opposite of my life at the time. Now that the seasons are changing again, darkness seams oddly inappropriate, welcome, but not where I am moving.
Maybe it’s time to actually step back outside, back into my previous life. Maybe not.
I have made some good progress on the Sherpa skirt, but now feel so distracted that I have become sidelined to the rest of the day. My focus gone, elated to hear from my friend on the phone, anxious about the past, and now, again, the future, I leave you with my Lada Gaga Meat Dress Halloween Costume.
Inspiration from a Lady who keeps her personal life private in the fish-bowl that surrounds her, and lives through art both of her own creation and of others. She may seem like only an outlandish pop-star, but she is courage in physical form. My—somewhat silly—tribute to you.
And, depression and anxiety, a message to you: You can suck-it. I’m too good for you now. I don’t know why you can’t see that. Bitterness, you can suck-it, too.
As my D200 camera battery is dead, and I have conveniently lost its charger, these photos are courtesy of friends. Neither show the shoes well, which were the best part. You win some, you loose some. At least someone remembered to take pictures. The police hat is courtesy of my friend Sarah, who also dressed up as a
stripper police officer. You can see my “steak” hat in the picture of Ramon Stan and me.
PS – I apologize for the cryptic nature of this post. It’s better this way.
October 29, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Because I am not a diamond fan, as I have worked in the diamond industry, I don’t own any real ones, except for the one in my nose, or really any fake ones. I have one fake engagement ring, for when I travel alone, and a pair of diamond hoops, fake, of course.
Halloween costume completed, I realize that I am lacking some accessories to make the final look, well, final. The above mentioned diamond hoops I can use for my costume, but folks would get far to excited at the sight of an engagement ring, regardless of how unreal the stone, and how real the feelings.
So, I have a dilemma. I have my sewing class all day tomorrow, and the Halloween party tomorrow night. The class doesn’t get done until 4:30. It’s a 20 minute drive home, 30 minutes MINIMUM to get ready, assuming I do my hair in the morning before the class, and then 30 minutes to drive to the party, which starts at six, which leaves me with not much time to run by the *shudder* mall, to get some fake bling to make my costume BLING (with a capital B) …
My costume, by the way, is fucking fabulous. I wish I could give you a spoiler, but it’s that good that I can’t. Oh fake diamond dilemma, how will you resolve yourself?
I think I’ll work on this problem by having another glass of wine.
And, if you are guessing what my costume is … My Dad got it in the first try. UNBELIEVABLE!
October 29, 2010 § 2 Comments
Yeah, Hooray. I have finished Ramon’s Halloween South Park Stan hat in the nick of time. Now, if only I had my costume finished, as well. Mmm, well, I have a few more hours tonight to plug through it. I did get new Serger needles today, and I had a cup of coffee about an hour ago—yes, at 5 pm—so I should be ready to go.
So, other than absolutely hatting Vanna’s Choice yarn, which is like knitting with sand-paper, I think that Ramon’s Halloween Hat is just about perfect. As I mentioned last night I completely re-did it. I didn’t like the pattern that I used, so in the second hat, I made some modifications, mostly making the “straight” part of the blue longer than 2 inches. I made it 5 inches. I felt like the blue part wasn’t balanced against the red, and was just too short.
I also decided to post my instructions for making a pom-pom. I had never done one before and for whatever reason, found it hard to find these instructions online.
1. Find an able, and active pom-pom-maker helper (this step is optional)
2. Draw two circles on cardboard. I made mine 4 inch in diameter.
2a. Draw two inner circles inside of the first circles. I made these 1 inch in diameter.”
2b. Carefully cut them both out, and cut out the inner circles, making two donuts.
3. Stack the two donuts, one directly on-top of the other
4. Begin wrapping the yarn around and through the donuts. I found that I cutting a few yards of yarn, making a small yarn-ball out of it, and passing it through the hole was the easiest method for getting a lot of yarn through at once, without a lot of unnecessary pulling.
5. Continue wrapping until the entire inner circle is filled. I used one of my new handy crochet hooks to help pull the yarn through as the hole got smaller. I used a tapestry needle to continue when the hole became too small for the crochet hook.
6. Carefully cut around the edge of the circle, between the two pieces of cardboard with very sharp scissors.
7. Pull a piece of yarn between the two pieces of cardboard, and tie tightly in a knot, or four, and then remove the pieces of cardboard.
8. Attach your pom-pom to your garment, only to realize that, while you were trying to make it big and a little cartoony, as it is a Halloween costume, you have made it too big. Let out a sigh, and move onto the next project, as it will take too long to re-make something a half an inch smaller on each side.
If I am really feeling wild and wacky, I’ll crochet Stan’s eyebrows on. Though, lets not get ahead of ourselves.
October 28, 2010 § Leave a Comment
So, I have decided to become a baseball fan. No, not a fair weather fan, but an all weather fan. Of course, yes, I am deciding this now that my local team is in the World Series. I actually put a lot of thought into this. Over the summer some of Ramon’s friends gave him tickets to a game, as they are season ticket holders and couldn’t make it to that game. Well, I had the best time every. Other than our cross-country road-trip it was the summer highlight. Riding on the feeling, I did consider that I might want to become a fan of a team with colors that suited me better than orange and black, but because I had such a fun time at that game at AT&T park I decided to stick with the Giants.
So, last night I watched the game, and worked on my crochet monkey. I finished the body, the cape, and the fez.
Tonight I re-did, and completed Ramon’s Halloween hat, with the exception of the red ball that goes on top.
So, half a monkey and a bit-sized jacket and fez versus a whole hat. I am so tired of everyone saying that crochet is so much easier than knitting. I can get through an entire sweater in a week and a half, but a weee monkey?
Ok, ok. I remember how it was when i first started knitting. It took me a month to get through a scarf. Sometimes it is hard to remember and to respect the learning curve. I can see that crochet *will* be easier. In-fact, I even crochet closed Ramon’s Halloween hat instead of knitting it, because the hole was so small, and you don’t drop stitches in crochet like you do in knitting. So, patience my little monkey. I need to remember that it will take time to feel the same way about my ability to crochet as my ability to knit.
Luckily, with Ramon’s hat (almost) done, I am one step closer to Halloween costume success. With our Halloween party only two days away, and with my all day Bernina class on Saturday, I have some really serious Halloween costume finishing to get done tomorrow. OMG! I know I can get it all done but … I want to get the houndstooth skirt done tomorrow, and the hallway pictures done, too! I am also trying to get my blue McQueen Sweater Dress done before we head off to Kentucky for the Breeder’s Cup next week. I think that Thunder, the grey kitten, I am pretty sure will love the ball that will go on Ramon’s hat. I wonder, with her joy for playing fetch, will Ramon’s hat stay intact long enough to celebrate the main event?
October 19, 2010 § 2 Comments
I have knitter’s elbow, and wrist! I have been helping out some friends for the past few days, but there is a lot of waiting involved. My arm literally hurts from knitting. So, I have designated tonight a (k)no-knitting-(k)night. I was hoping to get some time in my sewing room, but it looks like I lack the energy and the time for that.
This weekend I finally bit the bullet and finished of my block pattern. ‘Bout Damn Time! I had been putting it off because I needed more measurements of my back, one of the things that is just about impossible to measure all on your own. Ramon has been so busy with his own project—his race-car—that he hasn’t had a spare moment either. Alas without help, I decided to go it alone. It took a solid two days, but I got it sorted, drafted, and squared. I felt that it was really holding me back not having this done, and it was. I started on some dress patterns as soon as I got the block finalized, and it is coming along nicely. A little McQueen, and a little Halloween.
On the topic of Halloween, since this is the very first time that we will actually be home over Halloween weekend, Ramon and I are getting candy, dressing-up, and carving pumpkins. We also going to a Halloween party the night before. So, we need Halloween costumes. I am knitting this for Ramon’s.
Yesterday I tried knitting this same item, and got the blue and the red in the wrong places. To my horror, it wasn’t just Ramon’s Halloween costume part, but everything I knit yesterday had to be frogged. I started knitting the lace sweater directly from the pattern published in the book, and the whole time I was thinking … this doesn’t seem right. A mere four hours in, I decided to check ravelry to see if other knitters had experienced the same problem with the pattern. They had. In-fact, there was HUGE warning on that pattern’s page, saying that the entire pattern was wrong, and it was mis-printed. Lesson learned? Always check the ravelry pattern BEFORE beginning a project to look for comments and posts about weird goings-on.
So, a cookie to anyone who can guess what Ramon is going to be for Halloween.
Due to my large quantity of on-going projects, I have limited this costume to a one-day creation adventure. Project Runway style, what am I going to be, you ask? You’ll just have to wait and see.
I was happy to see it finally start raining on Sunday. I don’t know what it is, but this year, I was very happy to see the rain come in. I like being all snuggled up inside, and I guess with so much knitting and sewing I felt like I wanted the visual cue of the season that it was time to be inside, snuggled and warm, busy as a little bee. I did decide to go out on Sunday to take advantage of the 50% off any regularly priced item coupon I had acquired from Joann’s. Buying a bolt of muslin for $1 a yard is awesome. Having the poor girl at the counter have to measure all 25 yards because the bolt has been opened, and we’re not sure if cut from, not so awesome. Sorry! After the muslin bargin bang I headed over to my local yarn shop, as I figured out how many skeins I will need for my McQueen blue sweater dress. 15. Running through the rain, I noticed Oktoberfest going on, on the main downtown street. Soggy beer and pretzels for everyone! Oh wait, those both contain wheat. Another bummer, I get to the yarn store and it is … CLOSED! Feeling bummed, but eager to get on with knitting my project I searched the farest corners of the interweb to try to find Cascade Cloud 9 in Blue (colorway 140). No dice. Not one skein. Not one. Anywhere. How can this be? I know the yarn store had quite a bit of it, so how can there be none anywhere else int he world? Oh no! And I won’t be able to make it to the store again until NEXT weekend. How can I possibly wait another week? It could all be gone by then. What if they’re already all gone? I find this yarn I love, and this yarn that is perfect for the project … oh, unnecessary anxiety attack, I feel you approaching. Damn you festival, why do you create enough cause for my yarn store to be closed?
Ramon calmly asked, in my hysterics, “Do they keep your customer information? Like, do they have a file for you?” I respond, “Yes.”
“Well, if they have you on file, they have all of your yarn purchases on file. Why don’t you call them, leave them a message, tell them what you are looking for, tell them you want to pay over the phone, and have me pick it up for you?”
Brilliant. Plan worked. The accounting lady actually went in on Sunday night to pick something up, listened to the messages, and took care of the yarn over the phone. They had all 14 (more) skeins. Knitting like a little beaver, I am almost through with the back “skirt.”
I know I say this all the time, but oh how I love yarn people.
Oh, and I couldn’t leave this out. Thunder says, “Hello, I am Thunder, and I am a laundry-basket addict. I don’t care about fur-ing up the warm clothes, I just can’t get enough of the baskets. I know I have a problem.”