Monday, June 30, 2008

a tip and a tool

I've made 3 garments in 3 days. For some, that's no feat. Me? I am sewed out. I won't want to see Blanche again for at least two or three days, ha.

Hey, cool Miss Laurie left a comment on yesterday's post that's too neat to keep hidden away. It's her favorite sewing tip, in which you --

iron some very light fusible interfacing to the pattern tissue, and it becomes durable enough to re-use it one billion times. We used to use wax paper back when it had wax in it, but now you can get interfacing so cheap and it works better. Then the tissue never tears.

I'm on this one like heat on black! Thank you, Laurie.

Here's my new fav tool. I like me any kind of bodkin, actually, but this one really gets the job done.

I decided against the twill tape, and my Ezy-Pull made changing my mind a snap! (Okay, Ezy-Pull, where's my money?)

Here's a random desk shot. When I turned on my camera to upload some pics, this was what I saw. I think it's purdy, especially when the Eiffel Tower comes into view.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

don't pick up the red phone just yet

I have a friend whose father was some kind of operative. CIA, something covert like that. My friend never knew for sure, because if his father had blabbed the details, he wouldn't have made a very good operative. The one portentous clue about his father's job was a special red phone that was kept away from the family, in his father's study. Whenever his father went to answer that phone, my friend knew Dad was headed for a mission.

If you've got such a red phone, and you were thinking about using it to call the IMF for me, hold off a minute.

Mission: Cut out 2 shirts + 3 pairs of pants. Begin sewing 1 shirt.
Accomplished: Cut out 2 shirts + 3 pairs of pants. Completely sewed 1 shirt. Went to dinner at a friend's house and had myself a gay old time.

There's no crying in sewing. What there is is strategizing. If you mean business in terms of getting work done, and you're new to the game, you've got to get over yourself and try time-saving techniques. Back in the day, when we were learning how to cut in sewing class, Natalie asked if you were making multiples of one garment, couldn't you just stack up the fabric and cut out all the same pieces at once. Our teacher said yes, and I winced. My balls shrank to the size of peanuts at the thought of taking that much risk.

Today I had to lay it all on the line. For the pants, I cut the back piece out of 2 fabrics at the same time. Emboldened, I then cut the fronts out of 3 fabrics, which was 6 layers. Nerve-jangling, yes, because had I effed up I would've effed up a monstrous amount of fabric, so I had to pay very, very close attention to what I was doing. Which is not a bad thing.

While paying so much attention, I noticed something. Check it out.

Some patterns use different line formations to indicate different sizes. That's hot.

Once I had my pants pieces cut and marked (I've typically had trouble with marking. There's so much going every which-a-way on patterns that I miss stuff, or just skip something because I don't know what it means, but I've read "match at dots" and been dotless one time too many, so today I was a marking fool), I worked on my shirt, and it went so much smoother than the one I made yesterday (the brown one). Something my sewing teacher used to say was that every time we have a chance to make a pattern more than once, we should do it. It's the best way to cement learning. She was right, as ever.

I was utterly in the dark with the brown shirt. I'm telling you, before I started sewing, and sewing more garments, which is only recently, I never gave a thought to the way clothes come together. When this shirt pattern called for single fold bias tape, it could've been to tie a bow on the pocket for all I knew. Turns out, it was to finish the back of the neck, and it's only visible inside. Well shave my head and call me Baldy. Now it seems so obvious.

I'm happy with the way these shirts are turning out. They're New Look 6634. I'm diggin' the New Look vibe. It's mostly understandable. The fabric, cotton batik from Jo-Ann's, is obedient, crisp, and cool. It's a delight to work with. I have one more print, the goldish colored one, to use for the last shirt. These surgical scrub-cum-casual wear tops aren't for me. I've blabbed on longer than I intended, so I'll share the recipient, and the sewing of the rest of what I cut, in another post.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

send in the imf

Mission: Cut out 3 shirts + 3 pairs of pants. With crazy riding shotgun, sew 1 shirt.
Accomplished: Cut out & sewed 1 shirt.

The cutting out of the other 5 pieces proved impossible, for real, 'cause the learning curve made crazy keep its ass at home.

Seriously, is there a sewing IMF? I need that mofo right about now.

Friday, June 27, 2008

i'm going in deep

Real deep.

Hopefully, I'll live to tell about it.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

button up

These buttons travel. They've already been to Stitch 'n Bitch, and on Ravelry. Now that they actually have a yoke to ride on, they're making a stop over here.

One set of them will grace this sweater. Which? I'm thinking the lovely art deco brown. They remind me of so many good things: satin curtains above a theatrical stage, formal gowns and tuxedos, trees in the tropics, sweet pineapples.

The flowers, though. Very fun. Very Anthropologie.

Button notes:

Brown -- from my b-day button jar from Natalie
Flowers -- MJ Trimming

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

heal this top

I love you guys for not stopping the smocking. I'll be sewing up the other print soon. It's not as hot as it was, so I don't have as much incentive, but I'll get around to it. If you'd like to see the first print with a strap, a fellow Raveler made one for her daughter. Try as I did, I couldn't get my strap to look that cute. And isn't the model super cute too?

The comments and e-mails regarding Healing Hands, as I like to call it, have been funny, heartening, and very informative. I don't always get a chance to e-mail everyone to say thanks, but gratitude bursts from my heart, and I do thank you for taking the time to "talk" with me.

And the Comment of the Week goes to... Laurie Ann, on the Healing Hands post:

I am never getting a massage again. What with the unhealthy eating and the lifetime of emotional baggage, I'll be dead in seconds.

Only Laurie Ann could so hilariously take it all the way over to death! I peed myself laughing, then threw down the peanut butter cookies (which we know is a lie). Laurie Ann, you are officially entered in the Purly Victorious End-of-Year Comment of the Week Drawing for God Knows What. Excited?

Onward to projects.

I had to frog the yoke of my February Lady Sweater. I dunno. I'd done my decreases on the wrong side and just couldn't be okay with it. Plus I jacked up a couple other things, so I decided to start over. I'll post a pic when things get interesting.

Overall, I've whipped out a few good projects these past few weeks, but all my stitching adventures of course do not end well. A lot don't end at all. Instead, they tan on a beach of unfinished objects. This is especially true when it comes to knitting. And crochet? A while back the truth hit me: Never have I actually completed a crochet project. The fastest way for me to add to my UFO pile is to start something in crochet. When you meet someone at a party, usually the bloom stays on until the morning after, but me and crochet never get to finish the deed before we have a falling out.

Anyhow, here's a sewing project that I'd really like to go back and finish. It's a Simplicity pattern. I don't believe I've done one before, and I found the directions to be like the mute leading the deaf. Were they translated from Yugoslavian? Are all Simplicity patterns like this? 'Cause I've got a good number of them and maybe it's time I start looking for an apartment with a fireplace. I couldn't understand half of what I was being instructed to do. Why, when there was no mention of it on the pattern envelope for the view I was making, elastic came into the picture, left me stumped.

Do you see where it says elastic for view A? Gadzooks.

Thinking this would be an easy project, I figured I'd get through it quickly (nevermind that this is my first top). When that didn't happen, I grew frustrated and I started monster sewing. You know, pedal to the metal, guns 'n roses, just all errrrrrr-rrrrrrrrr-rrrrrr-rrr-rrrrrrrr...! The pleating, no thanks to Simplicity, looks nice, but the neckline and facing do not get along. See how it's turned out?

Also, I tried to lengthen it into a tunic. I followed where the pattern said to lengthen, but didn't know how to make it more A-line, so it's too tight below the waist. (Pretend you don't see the fabulous gauchos.)

I got some good suggestions at Stitch 'n Bitch last week, so we'll see what becomes of it. I think it's worth saving. I like the fabric, which is a Jo-Ann's purchase. It's from the batik section, and there was a sticker on the bolt that said "Fabric may bleed or crock." I know from bleeding, but what is crocking?

Oh, and one more thing, about sizing. What's up with that? I'm a 34, so I was set to make that size, which is a pattern size 12. Then I read the pattern pieces (thank goodness) and saw that the top would include 7.5" of negative ease. What? I went with a pattern 10, per this info. Was that the move? Or not? I'm not adding sleeves, by the way.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sunday, June 22, 2008

toxic smocking

I am SO GLAD I have you guys. I need to hear experiences on things, ya know? Throwing up and getting sick from massages? That some of you were aware that these things could happen makes me feel much better, because I'm kinda still tripping.

And geez, in spite of what appear to be less than favorable circumstances in my life right now, I've been feeling pretty good, emotionally. So do I have to dredge up a bunch of crap to get these toxins out of my muscles? Will massage and eating well and exercising banish them? If I manage to get present, and practice forgiveness, starting, saaay, today, will that keep more from building up? Will the old ones just stay there unless I call up and cuss my father out? I have my mother's ashes. Should I go talk to them and get a few things off my chest? How does this stuff work?!

Whew. Sorry. The confusion was attacking me. I'll take this journey one step at a time, as I've taken all others, whether I've intended to or not. :)

Let's talk about the dress I was wearing during The Attack of the Healing Hands. I hesitate to say I made it, although I did, because it's really just an insta-dress. You buy the fabric already smocked. All you have to do is wrap it around yourself to see how much fabric you need for it to fit comfortably and stay up, sew and finish your seam, and hem it if you don't like the length of the finished selvedge edge. I also made a neck strap, but Bubs said it looked better without it. When I finished it and put it on, Schmin said to me, Oh yeah, Kali and Kodi wear dresses like that. Kali and Kodi are my nieces. They're like, oh, 8 and 6 years old. The last time I wore smocking, it was the 1970s. I was maybe 12. I am aware of the girlish element, but that's part of why I like it. Plus, it's hot out there! Plus, the boys said it looked good enough to wear outside (well, consider them), and once I did, I noticed the big comeback that the smocked dress has made. There were about 4 of us wearing versions at the beauty supply.

What good is a throwback to the '70s if you're not standing by a tree? What was it with posing near trees in the 70s? And with the check out my chin pose? Maybe that was a convention of the 80s, which wouldn't surprise me.

There's no stopping the smocking. I bought a different print for another dress. (C'mon, I got both on sale at Jo-Ann's.) I might put straps on that one. That way, I can really fit in with my nieces, go back and relive my childhood, this time happily, and build up no toxins! I knew it! Smocking is the key!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

i'm listening

Today I went to the beauty supply for stuff to make my feet look pretty. There's a spa upstairs, and downstairs in the store a new massage therapist was giving free demo massages. I opted for one, and when she got to working out what she had identified as a trouble area for me (my upper back), I got sick as a dog. I mean sick like Should we call the paramedics? sick. For about 20 minutes, I couldn't move, I was sweating profusely, my stomach was churning, my heart was pounding, and I was hot and dizzy. They brought me water, but I couldn't raise my head to drink it. I could barely speak. I heard the therapist say to one of the store clerks that my body was responding to the rush of toxins the massage had released, and that she thought I'd be okay, but to stay on alert in case I had a seizure. I heard that word, seizure, and started rallying the troops. C'mon, guys, I barked, we are NOT having any seizures in here, so buck up! Not a cell in my body seemed to pay me any mind, and I was so scared I was going to have to be carried out of the beauty supply, when all I'd wanted was nice feet. Finally, I felt the misery lift to the point where I could raise up off the chair, speak, and drink water.

I've never heard of anyone dying from having a massage, but the whole thing really, really blew my mind. I feel healthy, if a bit creaky, and I live under the delusion that I take decent care of myself. Obviously, it's time to step it up. I know I need more balance, and in times when I feel I'm transitioning, it's difficult for me to create it (but vital, seeing as I'm in my 42nd year of transitioning). I get that part of balance is catching up with myself, getting still. I don't think it requires so much, but the running, running, running, through constant mind chatter, is a hindrance. I'm a big believer in the mind-body connection, and I know that whatever was built up in my muscles didn't come entirely from the physical.

Anyway, I want to share this because A) It freaked me out, and B) I know I'm not alone in carrying toxins and emotional sludge around in my body. In working to release all that I can, maybe if I share a few things, and solicit helpful feedback from time to time, someone else will benefit too.

And, for the record, the therapist was ultra-professional, on the case, reassuring, calm, and yes I would go back to her. She told me things about the body and the way toxins move through it that were seriously news to me. Sometimes it's possible to immediately see why things happen, and this is a much kinder wake-up call than cancer or heart disease or some grim joker like that.

Friday, June 20, 2008

bootee, solo

This dang bootee is so adorable that I may never get around to knitting the second one. Why should I, if staring at just one makes me so happy?

Because the baby I'm knitting these for will most likely have two feet, hunh? Alright, alright. Number two is on the way.

Project Notes
Saartje's Bootees: One of the most popular patterns on Ravelry. While knitting it, I wasn't sure if it was a gift to humanity or an international act of aggression. It's hard to interpret in places, so a bit frustrating, but so sweet that once you start it you have to soldier through. Now that I've worked it, I have to say, viva Saartje!
Size: 4.5 inches. In terms of baby age, uh, you tell me. I figure if I start with a newborn they'll fit at some point.
Artyarns Supermerino, #128 = main color, #107 = contrast color (Look familiar. It's left over from
Size 5 Knitpicks Options
Buttons from Jo-Ann Fabrics
Swoon meter: Off the chart

Thursday, June 19, 2008

it's 3am. do you know where your crazy is?

I sure know where mine was. It was walking back and forth to the oven, flipping a baby sweater to keep it from burning.

Crazy just couldn't wait for the sweater to air dry. I told crazy to be patient, but crazy said no. Crazy remembered back in the day, drying socks and panties ghetto style. Crazy figured with the oven on 350, and if it kept a close watch, what harm could be done?

I warned crazy that if it didn't go to bed I would kick its ass. Crazy gave me a crazy look, and I backed down, 'cause I know crazy fight dirty. Crazy went on about its business, drying the sweater, knitting another project, hanging around The Rav until 4. The last time crazy checked the sweater, it looked at me and said, This sweater needs something, right now. What could it possibly need at 4am in the morning? I asked crazy. Embroidery, that's what, crazy said back. Crazy thought it needed a daisy chain, but crazy wasn't sure how to do one, and crazy had never embroidered on knitting before. I'm sleepy, I told crazy, but not too loudly because I didn't want that look again. Shhh, it said, tapping away on the computer. Here, here's a tutorial, right here.

First crazy sewed on the buttons. Then crazy got to work on the daisy chain. (It thought it was pretty clever for putting a button in the center.) Crazy didn't take its crazy self to bed until 6am this morning.

Here's a peek at something else crazy started last night.

Anti-propagandist note: Crazy might recommend you block a sweater this way, but I don't. I'm pretty sure the sweater lost about a 1/2" that it wouldn't have lost if crazy hadn't baked it. Don't let crazy get to talking to you about superwash. Superwash is still wool, and wool and baking don't mix.

Project Notes
Raglan Sleeve Easy Baby Sweater: I used this pattern because it doesn't call for much yarn. I cast on for the largest size, knowing the sweater wouldn't come out that big. The pattern's math is off, so I had to add a couple of extra stitches to make it work out. I also veered when picking up stitches for the sleeves.
Size: It's a crap shoot. 3-6 months? I need to get some baby-sized dolls or something.
Artyarns Supermerino, #128, about 2 skeins
Size 7 Knitpicks Options
Buttons from Jo-Ann Fabrics
Love level: Way up there, probably, but I'm too sleepy to tell.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

on trying something new

I'm either doing magic loop or magic poop.

Time will reveal.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

it runs in the family

And I'm hoping to get some of it.

At the end of a day during which two people asked if I've lost weight (ah, the goodness of black, then again, I have stopped eating my weight in junk food), and an old friend offered to fly me to a city that I am considering for relocation, I am thinking that people, they're not half bad. The Lakers are losing as I type. (Blame The Bubs for the fact that what little fandom I have goes toward the Celtics.) Life is sweet.

When I think about how sweet it is, I come around to Schmin. That kid. He's got star quality. I'm not just saying this 'cause he's my kid. He really does! He's always surprising me with the things he can do just out of the blue. Look.

He went and hiked Yosemite last month and decided along the way to become a whittler. This is his walking stick.

And its little companion.

He whittle-dee-deed his way up Half Dome and back down.

So far he's shown no interest in becoming my sewing buddy, but I'll bet he's got hidden skillz in that department too.