Polka Dot Burlap & Hand Dyed!

Guess what I’m working on????  The elements are a great pattern, Teal Polka Dot burlap and some fabulous fabric hand dyed from my own hands and aged to proper vintage stature!

The hand dyed first— so gorgeous!

The rest of the elements look like this:

There’s covered piping, a whole lotta Timtex and some heavy machine needles—- toss in a monogram and what do you have? I bet the Timtex gave it away!

I can’t wait to share it with you!!! :)

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Another Devon: Trend Black & White Continues

With a new pair of white capris it was time to make a great black and white top. The black and white trend continues for spring and it’s always a classic.

LOVE! I added 2 inches to the length for a long lean look and instead of the ‘traditional’ drawstring neckline this version of the Devon has the ‘mock’ drawstring, aka- elastic.  I left the v-notch open and stitched the elastic back into the channel after trying it on for the best  look.

I’ll forever call this my Gone With The Wind Tunic— not because it was sewn in the South, or because it’s twirly, but because the fabric was from a couple of CURTAIN PANELS I made a few years ago for the studio. After a wash and a press, there was no reason not to be Gone With The Wind Fabulous! :)

Over the weekend I finished a sweet tunic for youknowwho, from the pattern that had been altered for batwing arms. I’ll bring you deets later!

Have an amazing Monday and a great week ahead!

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Foundation Friday: Birthday Dance

Foundation Friday today has been preempted for a Birthday Dance.

Mine!

It’s official, I’ve become a woman of a certain age. In complete candor I’m not sure how it happened, or when it happened. The clue should have been the past couple of years when getting a haircut was a problem of epidemic proportions– no haircut was quite right. I have ‘natural’ (gray) hair—so I’m fussy about not wanting church lady hair, old lady hair, or any moniker you want to give it. But here’s the deal—- I fit into any of those categories. To. My. Horror. It really isn’t about the HAIRCUT—– it’s about me. Well that was a big sort of reveal to my inner self! (Although I still don’t want an old lady haircut!)

Somehow the woman who was never going to worry about aging and who was bound to do it gracefully hasn’t managed to do a great job of it. I lost most of my photos of the younger me in a divorce with a man who thought keeping ‘things’ was the way to hurt me. Karma remains a bitch, of this I know.

25 years ago, with red hair I sat with my youngest in Hawaii not thinking about the day I’d turn 60. It was far away and I still looked pretty good! (I love those classic Bass sandals– I think they still make them!)

1994—–I was celebrating 40 and I have to say it was the last ‘milestone’ birthday that didn’t make me catch my breath. Fresh from the pool hair seems to be a trend. Orlando Florida in my second favorite kitchen. I remember this top, I sewed it from a garden print fabric, it had pintucks on the front and some machine stitchery of some kind. There were 3 buttons and I made them myself from the elements of the garden print and some sort of shrinky dink art. The memory is fuzzy and rightly and blessedly so! Makes me laugh a little. I still sew most of my own clothes and identify with being a sewist.

Twelve years ago in Hawaii. Wellllllll alrighty then. {Raiders!}

Ten years ago– holy cow. I was beginning (late to the party as always) to hear the sounds of the older woman within. I hated my neck, that was the first thing that really got me thinking that aging gracefully was going to be harder than I thought. (I don’t love my neck today— but I’m trying to make peace with it and care for it well.)

Gray has happened, by my choice I’ll have you know & most days I still like it. Having gone gray at 22 the fight was uphill and exhausting. There is a sense of freedom. When I gave up the color I thought ‘ when you’re of a certain age nobody believes that your hair is really that color anyway!!!!’  But it is no less true that the absence of color is like a punctuation mark on age. Like— SEE, I TOLD YOU!

One of the photos I love, taken three years ago. Lordamercy, it was the night I met #42 David Backes up close and personal and giggled and gushed like a 14 year old. Embarrassing and hilarious! I’d just begun to embrace the fact that most people prefaced my name with “Miss” and most everyone called me ma’am. It was okay and it still is. Ma’am is after all not about age but about respect and haven’t we lost sight of that for the most part?

I’ve been introspective as hell lately, the balance of my life I’ve tried to keep myself too busy to really think much about the state of my life. Just maybe, above all else this is the first thing I’d change if I could.

I have gone for years ignoring myself when in fact—-I DO know more than I think I do!

Taken last week. Damn. I’m old. But I’m also blessed at 60 in many ways, most of which are kind of unconventional.

I’m still processing, still counting my blessings, still striving to figure out how to slide with a bit more grace into the years past 60. I’d like a lot more of them and if you please I’d like to be healthy, strong and passionate. Moneyed would be a perk, a definite perk.

I still hate my neck and it is what it is. I believe that most of the battle is acceptance and a whole lotta grace.

“Age has given me what I was looking for my entire life – it has given me me . It has provided time and experience and failures and triumphs and time-tested friends who have helped me step into the shape that was waiting for me. I fit into me now. I have an organic life, finally, not necessarily the one people imagined for me, or tried to get me to have. I have the life I longed for. I have become the woman I hardly dared imagine I would be.”
Anne Lamott, Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith

I’m a creative person and an inquisitive one.I don’t think I’m as “funny” as I once was but I’m funny in a different way, I’m smart & smarter and try like hell not to be so cynical about religion and politics. I have strong opinions but it doesn’t bother me anymore to keep them to myself. I don’t care if anyone knows that I’m charming as well as brilliant! (wink)  About 13 years ago I prayed for compassion and that prayer has been answered in ways I would NEVER have expected in a million years. There have been days I wished that this prayer had not been answered but it has and likely because I needed it then and I need it now. Life looks way way WAY different now and to my surprise I am more compassionate but haven’t found the way to marry compassion with acceptance. It’s a work in progress and one I embrace.

There is more to learn.

There is cake to eat.

Let there be dancing!

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Sewing: Vintage Baby Jacket & Vintage Baby Patterns

Sweet- Sweet- Sweet!  The cutest little baby jacket ever! Sewn with cream colored Doctor’s Flannel, a light weight wool blanketing that has the hand of traditional flannel but looks ‘firmer and flatter’. Because it’s wool and normally 62″ wide it is a bit more difficult to source and definitely more expensive than ‘regular’ flannel. The deeper ecru lace trim on the bottom of the jacket is vintage and the quilty piece edge and pocket is from one of my family ‘cutter quilts’ from the 1940′s.

The pattern was traced from an antique pattern and shortened just a bit.  There are two small vintage pearl buttons sewn to the front although the jacket really closes using small snaps sewn underneath the flap.

Love the pocket—-

After making a standard lined pocket (turned inside out and cleanly finished) I didn’t like the ‘hunk’ of it….. so used a very soft green thread and serged around the sides of the pocket, dabbing a bit of fray check on the threads to stop them from unraveling. Then I stitched the pocked to the jacket and added another vintage pearl button.

The back is dressed up with a small strip of the quilt:

Lucky LUCKY baby I say! Using vintage patterns and materials makes me happy all the way around!

Queing up for inspiration are 3 baby patterns and a piece of vintage yellow trim. I have been hoarding this Coquette double trim in this buttery yellow, the price on the package was .08! The trim will need a gentle bath in some Soak but will work up beautifully! The patterns are (from the top) a vintage Simplicity pattern #2342—- note the .25 cent price! The pattern on the bottom is Simplicity 2900- FIFTEEN DOLLARS purchased on sale 5 for $10, still a huge price explosion! The pattern numbers are different but the styling is very similar, even marked as a vintage pattern. The pattern in the middle is a vintage McCalls, # 1618, marked .35 cents!

As an embroiderer I love that the ‘reissue’ of the vintage baby layette pattern also comes with instructions to complete dainty embroidered details on the wee pieces!

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Don’t Miss–

With a hot project and a deadline I’ll just pop in and say —- PLEASE tell me that you aren’t missing the new workshop over at Creativebug!!!  Cal Patch is presenting a very VERY good pattern drafting class.….. $9.95 a month for this and all of the other drool worthy endeavors.

Check it out, you’ll be so happy you did!!

 

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Foundation Friday: Thread Thread & More Thread

It doesn’t get more foundational than THREAD, does it? Yet, the hard truth is that “YES”, thread does make a difference in a big way.  I’m the daughter of a frugal woman, cheap if the truth be told. I grew up choosing the least expensive brands as a matter of course and this followed me into my sewing life. It was not uncommon for me to dig through the bargain bins of thread for a ‘close enough’ color…. and later to choose an on sale ‘cone’ meant for sergers. Both bad choices.

You can see Dual Duty, cones of serger type thread, Mettler,

and an old cone of unknown origin!

The ‘unknown origin’ threads are the most dangerous. Show them the door!!!

Bad choices because less than premium thread makes your sewing machine super unhappy and it can lead to seams that are not as strong and/or that will not stand the test of time. In your sewing machine the cheaper brands of thread commonly shed a lot of fibers that get caught in the working parts and cause problems over time, it also causes a less than accurate tension in your seams. Poor quality thread is thick and thin in diameter, less ‘crisp’, less smooth.

That is not to say that when in a jam I open the thread cabinet and pull out a less than perfect choice of thread. I live on an island, getting to the fabric store is not as easy as it used to be!

After EVERY project, whether you use premium thread or not….. give your machine a gentle cleaning. Don’t use ‘canned air’, this can force the thready bits further into the machine causing more problems. Use a soft brush, even a cotton swab to gently remove the lint you can see.

Most commonly found is Mettler, Coats & Clark, Sulky, Gutermann, and Aurifil. There are LOTS more options. Remember that threads are available by category so look carefully! You’ll find all purpose thread, machine embroidery thread, fine bobbin thread, serger threads of many varieties, metallic threads, elastic threads and more. If at all possible use thread that is of the same material as your project. Cotton fabric = cotton thread, polyester fabric = poly thread.

Buy the best you can afford and purchase a fresh spool when you purchase fabric. That way you can insure a good match, insure fresh and strong thread and get a happy little smug feeling. Especially in warm and sunny locations, thread can become weak faster than it would in another climate.

Keep your thread stored in a cool and dark place, not in a place that gets any kind of light. Light can change the color of thread as well as drying it out over time.

All thread has something in the spool that will allow you to wind the thread up and catch it there. Don’t let your thread get wasted in a tangled mess!

What’s the best brand of thread? That remains highly personal. Choose from the top names and experiment. If you’re buying thread for three projects, purchase three different brands of thread. Check:

  • How does it wind on the bobbin?
  • Does it seem completely smooth?
  • Does it have a nice finish?
  • Is the color even?
  • Does it stitch well with nice flat stitches?
  • Is the machine tension affected at all?

Trial and error and asking sewist friends. It seems that everyone has a personal choice and that is often tempered by availability. I love Aurifil threads but  can’t find them easily locally so they’re a mail ordered choice. You may also find that the best color match is not available in your preferred thread, or the thread fiber content is not what you had hoped.

 

Choose well! I’d love to know your favorite thread!

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It May be 3/4 Done BUT…

With three quarters of the Hue Shift Afghan DONE (woot!) I’m thrilled. I don’t kid myself, there are still 25 squares to knit in the final block. Then there is the border but really, why torture myself?

Regardless, she is a beautiful thing!

Sliding her into position with the other segments of the afghan it’s really fun, interesting, lovely and actually more complex looking than it is. Definitely the case where the total is greater than the sum of the parts!

I promised myself the past two evenings that I’d cast on the first block of the final quarter but so far that hasn’t happened………. it’s okay, right?

Combining the quarters of the afghan is something that will likely take more time than I’d like it to! Looking at the separate pieces you ca see where the rows with subtly shifting color will need to line up just right with an invisible join and a flat piece. Without illusion I know it’s going to be harder than it looks. Patience will be the key and I’m preparing myself now. A lot of the bumplies will be handled when it is blocked but assembly will be key to getting an excellent final product.

Stay tuned for Foundation Friday— NOT knitting!  :)

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Tired. Home. Behind.

Well if that doesn’t just sum it up.

Tired.

Home.

Behind.

and in all honesty adding TIRED again wouldn’t be a lie!

Asheville and the superfast run through was lovely and has inspired me to go back again this fall and enjoy it…

I always have to go visit the “Look Homeward Angel”, no matter how many times I’ve seen her. And the itch to read Thomas Wolfe again, geez! :)

Louisville was great, the Bourbon Trail fantastic…..

and although there was not much knitting done, I FINISHED THE THIRD QUARTER OF THE HUE SHIFT AFGHAN!!!! Woot and woot. Pics to come because I’m pretty excited about how it’s all coming together as we enter the final phase! In the photo above I’m sitting in a local coffee shop {Heine Brothers, yum} and commemorating the very last square of section 3.

Happy April, be creative! Whatcha’ doin?

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On the Road

I’m on the road with the knitting bag packed heading for The Bourbon Trail and some time in Louisville. Always funny to me that the first thing I pack is a project bag and not clothes or anything along that line. I have my priorities!

Be back soon!

Posted in Chat

Afghan Update: Yes, Still Knitting!

I got the sweetest email last week asking if I’d given up on the afghan. Nope. Still knitting madly away. There are four more squares to go in the last row of the third quarter. Then one last quarter in the home stretch! (Well there is the border but I really can’t think about that now!)

I’ll be heading out on Wednesday en route to Louisville and I’d love to have the third quarter done so I can take along a fresh project (Pumpkin Ale from Ysolda Teague):

 

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The back is knit first, I can’t wait for all that cabley goodness!

As an avid St. Louis Blues hockey fan, the mid day games over the weekend played havoc with my sewing. Other than about an hour’s sewing time in, (in pieces no less)– I haven’t much to show for it.

Happy Monday— my week will be getting the oil changed and packing for my trip, I’m bummed that the weather will be much cooler this next weekend on the Bourbon Trail. Although, come to think of it, bourbon does a fine job of warming one up! Somewhere in between now and the time the car rolls out I’ll need to do one of my least favorite things in the world—– shop for undies. Blech. Wish me luck!

 

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