Christmas miracle

While there is alot I like about the holiday season, the worst part is I have to work.  Every year I don’t get to celebrate because I work.  This year is no exception.  I work from 24 December to 3 January with one mandatory, federally regulated day off.  Ugh!  So if my smile looks forced, that is why.

There are two bright spots.  First I should be able to snatch a bit of Christmas on Saturday because I’m supposed to lay over in Boston.  I get in late and leave early, but weather permitting, I shall run over to my sister’s for a bit of happiness and yummy leftovers.  My tupperware is empty and I plan on filling it.  I can sleep another day!

The second bright spot is that my Raspberry Coat is done!  I know it took me an age to make even though it really wasn’t a hard pattern.  It is Burda Style magazine 11/2008 model #116.  Sure, you have to trace off one million pattern pieces and make them fit somehow, but that is really the hardest part of the project.  After dragging my heels for a bit with indecision with how to proceed, I decided this was not going to be a couture coat of the century and just made the damn thing.  So with minimal hand stitching planned, I set off.

The Italian wool coating is thick and fuzzy, rather like a stuffed animal.  It is soft and yummy and was 50% off at Stonemountain and Daughter in Berkeley.  Score!  The thick fabric ravelled, but I fused interfacing to pretty much every body part so that helped.  I’d read that you weren’t supposed to overlock seams because they may distort the shape of the seams.  I lined the coat, so hopefully it won’t fall off my body and disintigrate.  All hem areas are interfaced to prevent wear and tear and I used a piece of muslin to make a back stay at the shoulder area to help that area keep its shape.

Tailoring-wise this was pretty easy.  The collar is a stand collar, so that’s not hard.  I used this method I found to construct the collar and minimize bulk.  The buttonholes are regular machine buttonholes.  The fabric is too fuzzy and thick to even think about bound buttonholes.  Maybe next time.  Of course it took every ounce of skill and patience to make the big buttonholes in the front.  My buttonhole foot will only make buttonholes a bit longer than an inch.  I wanted 1 1/8″ and that was NOT possible.  So I made them as long as possible, patiently feeding the material along the foot since it was way to thick for the machine’s automatic feature to cope.  You guessed it, I had four buttonholes to make and and I made about 9.  Each one twice and one bugger 3 times.  The other alternative was to fly to New York and get them done by Jonathan’s like the other pattern reviewer for this pattern. Hey, I fly for free so it was a close call.

Changes I made to the pattern were minimal.  I shortened the coat to a mid-thigh length and I added a triangle at the front.  Why?  You know when you button your coat and the bottom bit separates and pulls a bit – you need a triangle of material there.  My tailoring books all added that little detail to the pattern and I gave it a try.  You go out 1/2″ (in this case) at the waist and draw a line starting from zero at the neck edge through the 1/2″ dot at waist on down at that angle the length of the coat.  That’s all there was to it.  Gap free zone.

The lining I chose was a leopard print silk, also from the 50% room at Stonemountain.  Can I say how much I love sewing with silk!  I should have an all silk wardrobe.  I do love an unexpected lining, so leopard on the inside baby!  I bagged the lining so I could insert it mostly by machine.  Yay, hardly any hand sewing.

What would I change if I ever was to make this coat again?  I’d change the collar, either adding a closure there or making it a smaller mandarin style collar.  Otherwise, I’m happy with the result.  Project done and dusted!  A detailed review can be found on

Hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year!

Raspberry cupcake afterthought

That is a mashup title and maybe I don’t have the hang of it.  Mashed thusly are (left) raspberry coat pinned together for the most part; (middle) super yum cupcakes for old folks; (right) finished Hello 80s Socks!

We shall begin with the raspberry coat, shall we.  What you see here is the body sewn up and the hems pinned in preparation for hemming then lining.  Of course I still need to sew the lining together.  I’ve decided to bag the lining rather than doing a more high brow application by hand.  I finally realized that I’d been dragging my heels on this coat construction because I didn’t want to choose the “wrong” method to construct it.  That meant I didn’t make the darn thing at all.  I resolved to just do it – it’s not going to be the coat of the century but it doesn’t really have to be.  It’ll be (hopefully) a nice warm coat for winter and I’ll have made my first coat.  I can build on my coat making knowledge next time based on this raspberry coat of today.  It’s the Nike “Just Do It” sewing philosophy.

The middle pic of a scrumptious cupcake is one of a batch I made for Mom’s xmas party with her crew.  I opted to make chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.  Both recipes are from Paula Deen and are delicious.  The cupcakes are dark and moist and so easy to make it’s embarrassing.  The frosting is this recipe and I added an extra teaspoon of vanilla and a bit more powdered sugar to make piping it easier.  30 cupcakes off the assembly line.  The best part was putting candy canes in a baggie and smashing them up with a meat hammer to make the festive decoration.  Gotta love a meat hammer.

The right picture means it’s official:  The 80s are OVER!  Yup, Hello 80s socks are done!  My first afterthought heel socks turned out well.  They also fit very nicely so I’ll have to add them to the sock knitting rotation.  They look especially nice with the striping sock yarn.  You get a bullseye heel effect with the stripes.  The socks are fraternal twins rather than identical.  They were identical pretty much up until the last heel when I guess I did one more row and ended up with smudge of purple on the last heel bit.  I could have ripped the whole heel out and started over, but NO!  It’s fine.  I do not live in Crazytown.  Vesper Sock Yarn is still yummy in case you were wondering.

Well the 80s are over so I’ll be taking down my Billy Idol and Adam Ant posters and digging out some flannel plaid for the emergence of grunge.  Later I’ll be watching Pretty in Pink on my automobile sized VCR.  Awesome!


I am a lazy cow

Despite having masses of time off before Thanksgiving, I did not finish my Raspberry coat.  Honestly, I certainly could have, but chose to do other things.  Or sometimes I chose to do f-all.  Oh well.  This coat pic shows a bit of my progress.  I sewed in the collar, it still needs pressing but it looks remarkably fine to my eye.  The center front isn’t pressed either so don’t look at that.  You looked.  The coat is going together rather well but I haven’t decided how highbrow to take the construction.  I really hate hand sewing so the quick and easy RTW methods are looking attractive.  We shall see.

For Thanksgiving I went to my sister’s house and no visit to her house is complete without me taking some of her unused yarn, so I took some.  This lovely purple stuff has no labels but is soft and has a bit of a sheen.  It looks like a light fingering weight and should knit up to be a pretty thing.  I’m thinking lacy scarf and I think it’s mine.  It may even sort of match the raspberry coat.  I’ll have to look into that.

Raspberries and oranges

No, the title isn’t a recipe – it’s my project names.  Sounds delicious though.

First up are a pair of Spey Valley Oranges!  I made sure I took a picture of the rainy steps to contrast with the sunny orange yarn.  The pattern is Spey Valley from Nancy Bush’s Knitting on the Road.  I made the socks as written by Nancy since she knows a thing or two about socks.  They came out great and I learned how to make a Vikkel Braid.  Easy!  The yarn is The Periwinkle Sheep Watercolors Sock Yarn in the Jack colorway.  I think I got this yarn at last year’s Rhinebeck so I’m glad to have them finished for this year’s festival – even though it should be nice and pleasant weather this year.  These socks fit great with the heel flap heel and decrease toe thingie, but don’t those 2.5″ toes look crazy long?  That’s the pattern, but I have super short little toes and tiny feet so 2.5″ is a serious chunk of my sock length 😉  They are cute though.

The raspberry reference in the title is for my Raspberry Coat.  I know you thought I’d have that whipped out by now, but that coat is a ton of work and I am super procrastinate-y about it.  It doesn’t help that it’s not even alittle bit cold outside.  Nada.  What I have done on the coat is make and fit the pattern, cut out the wool and most of the huge huge huge amount of interfacing.  I need to fuse all that on the wool and cut the lining next.  Then marking, machine set up and buttonhole tests.  Then, and only then, can I sew.  It’s rather like painting a room, the majority of work is prep.  Can you see why I procrastinate?

And in the orange theme of this post, I’m thinking this sunny salad will be delicious today.  I’ll report back!

Enter faux Missoni

I may have been too lazy to run to Target and battle for Missoni gear, but I wasn’t too lazy to fly to Salt Lake City, buy yarn with Cheryl and improvise a pattern for cowl. No sirreee!

As you can see the Faux Missoni Cowl is complete.  I bought two skeins of Noro Taiyo which is a cotton/silk/nylon/wool mix and quite soft enough to be worn next to the skin (well at least mine).  I wanted a scarf that coordinated with my as yet unmade Raspberry coat, and the Taiyo lent itself to the Missoni theme with those long color changes.  Figuring that 44o yards wouldn’t give me the long scarf I prefer, I opted to make a cowl.

This is my first cowl and didn’t know how long to make one.  I looked at the cowl measurements on Ravelry and those cowls are all over the place on length and width.  I ended up winding a scarf around my neck twice and noting how much length that took up.  I made my cowl 50.5″ long and it ended up 11.5″ wide, using all but a few yards of the yarn.

I knit this in the round and cast on 217 stitches, which based on my gauge would give me the circumference I wanted.  Can you believe the math came out perfect on this one!

The knit pattern is 12 stitch razor shell from Barbara Walker’s First Knitting Treasury which you can memorize in 30 seconds.  I used a long tail cast on and cast off with in purl stitches because that looked better.

Now I’m ready for Rhinebeck next weekend!  And the weather report looks like this will the first NY Sheep and Wool in a LONG time where this California girl won’t freeze her ass off!  Mid 60s!  Heaven!

What are you wearing?!

These pictures should immediately make you wonder why I’m wearing a hospital gown.  I’m not, it’s the muslin for my Raspberry Coat, which has been going slowly due to sloth on my part.

The next question that should pop into your head is why I have 4 yards of this material clearly only suited for hospital gowns.  I don’t know.  I don’t remember buying mass quantities of this cotton – curtains or a duvet cover are projects that spring to mind, but I’ve got nothing people.  What it turned out to be is good for a muslin.

Now the problem I’ve had with the muslin is that this is a coat.  It’s supposed to have gobs of ease since you wear it over clothes – not pjs like this photos shows.  The front seemed ok, but the back gave me pause.  I’ve got shoulders like a linebacker and a noteworthy booty, but even this seems big.  Or is it.  I decided to lay this muslin against a coat that fits me well and compare.  They are almost identical, so I shall go with this configuration.  I will add 1/4″ to the seams below the waist since I want lots of booty shaking room and can always take it out if it’s too baglady.

Also this muslin is longer than I envisioned so I shall shorten the pattern by 2.5″.  The finished coat will be about 4″ shorter than this muslin when it’s hemmed and altered.  Also the wool version won’t have pencil marks all over it – they’ll be on the inside.  I shall write naughty things in chalk on the inside pieces…

Knittingwise I thought I’d start a scarf with the Noro Taiyo I bought with Cheryl the other day.  I’d liked the shawl Hercule Poirot (as I obsessed about here) was wearing but I wanted an easy scarf.  I do love those colors though!  Also with Missoni being all over the media with their Target release I thought the Taiyo would be a good faux Missoni yarn.  I worried I’d not have enough yarn to make a substantial scarf so I decided on a cowl.  I chose the 12 Stitch Razor Shell from Barbara Walker’s First Treasury and 217 stitches in the round to make a cowl about 50″ (fingers crossed on the math part) around – good for a double wrap.  I think it’s the right size and it does look Missoni-esque if you squint.  Plus I didn’t need to brave the Target melee to get it.

The only problem with the cowl is that it’s so hot outside that it almost spontaneous combusted while I took the quick snap you see above.  I’d like some fog please!

Tropical storm ho

Everywhere I went last week, I seemed to be following around a tropical storm like a besotted rock groupie.  OMG!  Why do people live in tropical storm places?  Gray rain, flooded and hot.  How can that be?!  My hair is still mad at me.

Oh well, enough about me, here’s more about me.

Here we have my active WIPs. We will not discuss the semi-active projects hanging out with me.

Upper left is the rolled up pattern (sans seam allowances and planned design changes) waiting for next week when I’ve got a big ol’ chunk of time off to work on my Burda Raspberry coat.  I think of you constantly my love!

Upper right is the almost completed Red Scarf for this year’s scarf drive for Foster Care to Success (FCS).

Lower left is the much neglected, but much-loved Different Lines Scarf for MEEEE!  I actually carry this project around in my suitcase but never work on it because I’m always exhausted at work.  I’m trying to work on it on my off days because it’s gorgeous.  The first Stripe Study I made was given to its intended recipient and it’s much-loved and worn.  Because I get jealous since I don’t have one, I’m making the next one for me.  Hah!

Lower right is my dinner and it’s freaking delish.  When I travel (well, when anyone travels) the food choices are awful and usually fried.  When I get home I CRAVE vegetables!  This was my dinner, Weeknight Curry from Super Natural Every Day – it’s a Thai red curry with veg!  Yumm!  I used zucchini, summer squash, baby yukon gold potatoes, Japanese eggplant and Chinese broccoli in this one.  With chicken, of course.  I drank the broth.  Shexy…

Most random ever

In an inadvertant effort to produce the most random post ever, I give you the below collage:

The upper left is one of a pair of completed Summer of Socks 2011, Medallion Lace in the Crapshoot colorway from Periwinkle Sheep.  I thought I’d use the heel flap called for in the pattern and while it’s fine, I still like my short row heel and toes better.  Live and learn.

Upper right is the line drawing of Burda Style 11-2008-116 coat that I’ve begun tracing off for use for the Raspberry Coat.  I thought I’d shorten it about 18″ for a mid thigh length.  I am currently 1/3 of the way through tracing off the pattern from the most irritating Burda pattern sheet ever.  Hey Burda, I’d pay $20/year more if you put LESS stuff on each pattern sheet.  You are a bunch of crazy bitches over there in Germany.

And the giant picture of my big toe is my totally unprofessional pedicure (self administered) using the crackle nail polish I’d been hankering after.  I used Sally Hansen Brisk Blue with Ink Splatter Crackle over top.  Love it!

Vacation detours

I am on vacation.  I will not be going anywhere.  At all.  Seriously, when you’re gone all the time, home is good.  I may even buy new sheets to celebrate.

When I got back to SFO the other day I thought I’d drive home via Berkeley and a seriously great fabric store there, Stonemountain and Daughter.  I’ve been hankering to make a coat.  I love coats and own several (more than several, but I shall have a clear out soon).  I usually just wear one or two, plus my uniform coat and those coats are all black.  I want to make a coat that’s not black, something a bit more fun.  But not too hard since I’ve never made a coat and I want to be successful.

Stonemountain has an upstairs section where all the fabrics are half price.  They usually have some fab wools and silks up there so I thought it would be worth a look.  I found several pretty coating fabrics – gray, black, brown – but knew that this raspberry Italian textured wool coating would do for my frivilous, non-black coat.  Raspberry!  AND it was $13/yard.

Now to figure out how to make a coat and find a pattern.  I’ll look in my reference books and online, but if anyone has coat making recommendations now is the time to share them.  I also need to find a pattern and that turns out to be the hardest part of all.  The big pattern companies have about 2 coat patterns each in their Fall offerings and one is so 80s it’s almost fashionable again.  Luckily I’ve got years of Burda magazines to look through.  I’m sure I’ll find a few to choose from there.

Also, now would not be the time to point out that it’ll be in the 80s all week where I live, so coat needs are not immediate.

Foodwise, I got a baking stone at Kohl’s sale the other day.  It’s a rectangular “cookie sheet” but I’d never make cookies on the thing.  Pizza and bread yes.  The first thing I made was Smitten Kitchen’s Shaved Asparagus Pizza and it was one of the most delicious things I’ve ever put in my mouth.  Seriously.  I used low fat mozzarella, a bit of cheddar leftover from Mac and Cheese and lots of red pepper to make it hot.  Yum.  I tried the pizza dough recipe from The Bread Bible and that was good and easy too.

While relaxing in my bed fighting off the jetlag, I was watching a Hercule Poirot (my fave of faves btw) and there is said HP rocking a mighty interesting shawl (he’s got a cold in this episode).  Gorgeous colorway, interesting use of feather and fan-like pattern.  Must note that for possible Raspberry coat coordination at a later date.  Also, be afraid.  I learned how to do screen grabs and it’s totally easy…

Must get back to relaxing now!