No much here

One sleeve, one sleeve nubbin.

The past few weeks have all been about work. And more work. Now the icky bit has finished, I’m back! That said I’ve got nothing much to share though.

Knitting-wise I finished one sleeve for Grettir and have the nubbin of the second sleeve started.  I still work sporadically on A Little Romance which is my travel project.  I should really get on that scarf because I really want to start a new scarf pattern that’s just come out, plus it’s getting cooler so it’ll be useful quite soon.

But what’s this talk of a new scarf pattern you’re obsessed with?  It’s a Veera Välimäki pattern called Neon Beast. It’s striped and made up in lovely bright colors.  Another perfect travel project.  I’ve made quite a few of Veera’s patterns and have enjoyed all of them.  I like her aesthetic and if she didn’t live around the world from me I’d probably peek in her windows to see what she’s working on next.  But I have neither the time nor inclination to stalk poor Veera, so I shall just read her blog.

Sewing-wise the only thing I’ve sewn is to hem some new work uniform pants.  No, I didn’t take pictures of that since it would be the most boring thing in the world!  I have decided I need more blouses so I’ll have to get on that soon.

Hope everyone is doing well and I hope I’ll be back with something to share!

20 Bernina 1080 years

20 year old receipt!

Twenty years ago I bought my sewing machine and serger. I didn’t remember when I’d actually bought them until I was moving stuff out of one drawer to another.  Voila, a receipt slipped in between two other things.  It’s a testament to the Bernina quality that those machines are just as good today as when I bought them.  Which is good because they were pretty darn expensive.  I’m sure I made payments for yonks.

Cute pink and green skulls.

I wish I had a dramatic and glamorous garment to show you to celebrate my machines’ and my 20th anniversary, but what I’ve got is pretty much cake and not frosting.  That really does sum up what my machines have made for 20 years, so I guess it’s only fitting that I’ve got pajama pants.

Yes, another pair of flannel pajama pants made from the Tofino pattern.  Same mods as the last two times, 28″ inside leg measurement (this pattern is REALLY long!) and omitting the bow belt thing.  The fabric is cotton flannel and is covered in cute skulls.  It was pretty difficult to find skull fabric for these pjs.  My friend (the recipient) wanted skull pjs for her birthday and I thought it would be a snap to find fabric since skulls and pirates are kind of popular now.  No, I was mistaken.  There are several quilting cottons I found with skulls of varying scariness, but this was one of the only fabrics in flannel.  Nevertheless, they’re cute and the pjs will hopefully be well received.

Pajamas that are hopefully not scary.

Finishing up

Tees and remnants made into pants.

I’ve had some projects sitting around for ages that involve upcycling or mending.  Sigh.  Dullsville.  Well yesterday the dam of ennui broke and I finished up a few straggler projects.

First up was some boy short knickers made from a remnant of black jersey.  I’d already cut them out and they’ve been waiting patiently for sewing up.  The two pairs of colored knickers are made from thrifted tees that I originally planned to wear for work out tees but ended up not liking.  I made those into bikini undies.  The white scalloped elastic is from Fabrix and is 25 cents a yard so these were pretty cheap undies.

Five bananas in the bread and one more sliced on top. Delicious!

I find sewing undies fiddly so I don’t make too many of them, but I wanted to reuse these materials.  I’ve sewn the elastics in the round and flat and much prefer sewing in the flat – much easier.  I’ve also found I get a much nicer elastic fit if I make the elastic almost as long as the length of the leg or top, rather than using the 10% less rule of thumb.  Maybe it depends on the elastic, but the almost at parity length works for me.

Another reuse came from bananas.  What?  Yup, when bananas go brown I peel them and freeze them.  I don’t like bananas that are terribly ripe and freezing them for later use makes sense.  I had a bunch (ha!) of them to use up so I used a new banana bread recipe and made up a delicious batch.  Ultimate Banana Bread.  Plus it used five frozen bananas up and gave me some valuable freezer space.  I wonder why I never have any left over chocolate?

Tell me they’re not pink

The pants were much easier to make than editing the photos.

You know when you want to toss up a quick post about a make then head out to do something else?  Well that was me this morning.  I’ve got these shiny new pants to share and found out my Photoshop was not working.  At all.  Would not run  Uninstall and reinstall.  Still wouldn’t go.  Late afternoon by now.  Well, it’s a 10 year old version of CS2, maybe it’s just done.  So I bought a one year sub for Photoshop new and shiny and will now have to relearn how to do everything.  Seriously, editing these pictures took about three times as long.  I shall have to find some tutorials to learn how to accomplish my basic tasks more efficiently.  Any Photoshop tutorials you can point me toward?

And if you’re thinking that the pics still look like crap after I edited them, just stifle.

Here is my version of 7/8 length cigarette pants.  I used Burda Style 4/2013 pattern #114A for these.  The stretch cotton fabric is from Denver Fabric and though it’s not the dark red ‘d hoped for when I was looking at fabric, it’s an absolutely gorgeous weight and feel of fabric.  I wanted a cigarette pant silhouette but a bit looser since I don’t think tight tight tight is the best look on me.  The 114A pattern was just the right length and style.  It’s a simple pant with no pockets so it’s super easy to make.  Even easier in a stretch woven like this one to keep the fitting to a minimum.

The only mods I made were to omit the waistband and belt loops because I’m not a fan of waistbands.  I moved the zipper from the side to the back because (you guessed it) I don’t like zippers at my hip.  I drafted a facing for pant instead of a waistband and used an nonstretch quilting cotton to cut down on bulk and give it some stability.  The only bad thing about stretch cotton is that you get those pants to fit just like to want and then you wear them and they stretch out.  The two pics on the right above are pre-wearing, and the left is post-wearing.  They did stretch but don’t fall down much because of that anchor facing.

Other than those small changes, I made these as drafted.  If you want more information about these sewing of these just click for my PatternReview.

Stay tape, button at back and double needle hem shown here.


Is it still ribbing if it’s not stretchy?

Looks ok, but hoping it doesn’t stretch out when worn.

Having quickly received my Brooklyn Tweed Shelter for Grettir, I thought I’d dive right in and swatch up.  I’ve managed to get gauge in the round and promptly started my sleeve.  According to my sister swatches lie, so sleeve as swatch proof procedure has been implemented.

I’ve ripped this little ribbed cuff out about 3 times.  While that kind of sucks, I did have the opportunity to master the tubular cast on described in the pattern.  It’s much easier to do than the version I learned in my Montse Stanley book.  So that’s my plus, I guess.

My issue is that my ribbing was way too loose.  I sized down to size 2 dpns and it was still to huge.  I ended up taking 8 stitches out of the ribbing and it’s better, but still not tight.  The good news is that my ribbing is pretty much bullet proof.

I’m now knitting my way up the sleeve and increasing via the pattern method, again a nice and well thought out way to do it.  So far I’m finding the Grettir pattern well engineered and the Shelter is nice to work with.  So far so good, but am keeping my eye on those sleeve increases.  Happy knitting.

What the heck?

Oh isn’t it gorgeous?!

I have no business buying yarn.  I’ve been knitting on my scarf at such a pace that it will be a minor miracle if I can wear it when the weather turns less than Africa hot.

But did I buy yarn?  Well yes I did.  Here it is laying in the 80 degree, no cloud in the sky, sunshine.  Pure wool, you betcha.  Only three skeins?  Don’t be silly!  I’ve got a sweater’s worth.

Mmmm…apricots, cherries, almonds and marzipan topping. Stop the insanity.

What sweater is planned for this lovely stuff?  Grettir!  Isn’t it gorgeous?  I’ve been wanting a fair isle type project but just don’t have the patience for tiny yarn right now.  This Shelter yarn is super nice.  Granted I’ve not worked it yet, but petting it has been super.  My colorway is the gray one shown on the man sweater.  Simple and classic.

Want to see what I did with a bunch of apricots and cherries that came my way via the asian greengrocer?  Are you guessing jam?  Pysch!  It’s an apricot tart.  The recipe is here and is wonderful.  The tart dough is flaky, innovative and easy and you don’t need a rolling pin so try it!  You’ll thank me.

Still looking for my aloha

Burda Style #124 from 7/2014 magazine.

I had high hopes for this bodice.  This is Burda Style #124 from 7/2014 magazine.  In the magazine it’s a cute beach-y empire style with a full skirt.  I lengthened the bodice 2″ to make it less empire and more grown up and nixed the sweetheart bit.  I thought this style would be it.

Then I tried on the muslin.

The shoulders fell off my shoulders (and I’ve got pretty broad shoulders) and there was too much fabric at the center back.  I pinched out the shoulder and back excess and it fit ok, but somehow I knew it just wasn’t it.

I was pretty frustrated since I’d put a fair bit of work into altering the pattern, but sometimes you just have to call it like you see it.  Not good enough was the initial verdict, so better just admit it and move on.

And moving on.

See, fits much better than the one up there.

The last bodice that fit me pretty darn well was Simplicity 1419 of my “galaxy fabric” dress.  Why not go back to that one and make some changes there.  I photocopied the front and back bodice pattern tissue and taped them together like a ransom note.  I drew in a rounded neckline and thought I’d try a muslin of this version.

As you can see it fits pretty darn well, as did the original dress so that’s not a big surprise.  It’s just nice to finally make something that works.  I will redraw the neckline curve so it’s a bit more open and I’m going to go forward with this version for my Aloha dress.  Well after I go to work tomorrow.

Seriously, this dress has been hard!

Turns out I’m still a Madonna wannabe

Imagine this a non shiny day dress. No trim, no nothin’

I have some Hawaiian fabric I got in Honolulu over the 4th of July and want to sew up and enjoy it.  It’s not a particularly precious fabric, it’s a poly/cotton blend with a floral border print.  Pretty darn inexpensive (about $5/yard) in fact.  I just like it and don’t want to make a hash out of making a dress with it.  I was attracted to McCall’s 6833 because it had that nice pleated skirt I’ll need for the border print skirt, and the bodice looks pretty cute too.  I decided to make the view C bodice because I wanted to get a lot of wear out of it and my need for a strappy, un-bra-wearable dress isn’t too greatl.

maddonaSo bodice muslin commenced and my first reaction was: Madonna cone bra.  Check it out, I snapped a boob picture in profile so you could see the pointy darts.  I’ve made my muslin from a gorgeous remnant of Japanese

So pointy and wrong.

cotton, much more gorgeous than my poly Polynesian print fabric and it still looks like ass.  That doesn’t bode well, does it?

Must hold onto it to simulate the weight of the skirt. Good news, that makes the neckline even more low cut.

So my options are to redraft the front cups and raise that neckline while I’m there.  Heck, I’m not breast feeding so that’s too much cleavage for a day dress.  Which is a fair bit of work.  Then remuslin.


Pick a different darn pattern!  Maybe take the bodice from my super fabulous, much worn Simplicity 1419 dress from May (! where’s the time gone!) and frankenpattern it to the McCall’s skirt?  I’d redraft the Simplicity neckline to a simple round neck, leave off the collar, sleeves and slit and that should work, I think.

Why is this dress so hard to bring to fruition?  I may just think all that over and make something else while I mull it over.  A palate cleanser so to speak.    I’m tired thinking of it.  No wonder I’m obsessed with jam.  Hull fruit, squish and cook!

More jam

Before, after and aftermath.

I think I’ve got jam on the brain. I suppose there are worth things.

This batch of jam (and by batch I mean just that one jar) was made necessary because of some excessive buying of Greenstring Farm plums. They’re very delicious, but it turns out that I can only eat so many plums and I buy them ripe.  So hurry!  Make some jam.  I used the ripest plums, an overripe nectarine, a really ripe apricot and a handful of strawberries in this batch.

I followed the basic jam making directions found on this site because I find they’re straightforward and make sense to me.  I use 1/2 cup sugar, 16 oz. cut up fruit and the juice and peel of one lemon.  That is all it takes to make a jar of jam. This batch is super tangy and nice and fruity.  The only thing I did differently this time is to use the immersion blender to squash up the fruit.  Berries are easy to squish with a fork, but these plums and friends didn’t want to squish.  The immersion blender blended the hell out of that fruit, so I worried that I’d be making some awful goop.  But the jam gods smiled upon my experiment and it thickened up nicely.  I can’t wait for breakfast tomorrow!

I also found myself with too much zucchini.  I’m sure this is a common situation in many households.  I cracked open my Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts and found azucchinicake Zucchini Spice Cake recipe.  It’s super delicious and a bundt cake!  I chose this recipe because they use butter instead of vegetable oil to make the cake, which is my preference.  Many zucchini bread recipes just are kind of yuck and heavy and chewy.  This is a nice cake.  I used cake flour (since I don’t have pastry flour) and 1.5 cups of ground almonds (not toasted because I couldn’t be bothered).  The zucchini makes the cake moist but doesn’t add much to the flavor, so it’s basically a moist spice cake.  I suspect this will be a good “keeper” when I want a treat without firing up the oven.  I cut most of the cake into pieces, wrapped them in plastic wrap then put them all into a ziplock bag (just like Martha Stewart taught me).  They should be good for weeks!  Who knew too much zucchini would be so delicious.