Friday, February 17, 2017

Mixing Colours

One of the books I'm working through in my journal time is The Power of I Am: Two Words That Will Change Your Life Today by Joel Osteen. The author writes that what follows those two simple words - I am - will determine what kind of life you lead.

Working in the salon, there is plenty of opportunity to listen to the statements women make about themselves and about the world around them. I'm genuinely shocked by how negative a huge percentage of those statements are. Perhaps this is because of spending so many years working from home or perhaps it's because it's difficult for women to sit in front of a mirror BUT... whatever the cause... those statements are not positive or self nurturing. And that's not good.

If we think we can, we can and if we think we can't, we can't and if we think we are, we are and if we think we aren't, we aren't and that seems true in all areas of life from learning to do a task to aging well. Most often when I talk about knitting and sewing, I get back some kind of I can't statement and if that person thinks it's so, it is so. How interesting that if they changed the statement to I can sew or I can knit or even something like I'm in the process of learning how to knit or I'm learning how to sew, everything would change and new frontiers would open up.

I am thrilled with how smooth my return to hairstyling has been and, at the same time, aware that in the past I did very little colour work and that this is an area where I need to go back to the basics and learn from scratch. I can make working with colour into a mountain by using I can't statement or I can make it manageable with I am in the process of statements... which is what I'm doing. I'm in the process of learning about colour, about the salon's particular colour brand, and about what happens when different levels and conditions of hair and colour mix. I can do this.

Colour theory is completely familiar. I've used it many different ways. What's different here is that I'm not decorating a room around a theme, co-ordinating an outfit, or adding colour to white fabric. It's more along the lines of over-dying fabric where the outcome is a combination of the previous colour plus the new colour or of bleaching out fabric and seeing what the underlying colour is before applying a new one. And on real people. It's interesting, challenging, but not impossible and I think so many of us would benefit tremendously if our I am statements were positive, self nurturing, and growing.


Right now, I am doing more knitting than sewing. I have a much greater understanding of the journey Carolyn talked about with sewing and losing weight. It's not that I don't want to sew. I do and I am working on refashioning a dress into a sweater-coat however, it just makes sense to be a whole lot closer to my goal weight before I produce a wardrobe... or two... one for work and (a hair-less) one for outside of work... which is something I haven't done in over thirty years... had two wardrobes. Not just one; two.

I just finished knitting the Alpaca Merino Cape designed by Elizabeth Fallone for Estelle Yarns. The gauge - which isn't written on the pattern but I inquired - is 14 stitches equals 4" on 6mm needles. I combined the two grey yarns above and my gauge was 16 stitches equals 4" so I re-did the math to calculate the number of stitches I'd need. Before you say I could never do that - which is what so many people say when I make a comment along mathematical lines - make a more positive I am statement. Yes, you can do it. It works like this...

The pattern calls for 84 stitches and we know that 14 stitches equals 4". Divide 84 stitches by 14 to get 6 groups. Switch that from six groups of 14 stitches to six groups of 16 stitches, or 6 x 16, and that would mean casting on 96 stitches instead. That's it. Now knit.


With the Snowland Cardigan, the pink yarn all by itself created a fabric that was too limp and loose and the colour was perhaps a bit too bright for me so I decided to combine it with another yarn. I tried a few different ones that weren't quite right before using a...

... a thinner yarn with a pinky-peach overtone. The two look fabulous together however, as I got further into the skein, the pink tone turned to a beige one and then to a green-ish one. By that time I was committed so I finished knitting all the pieces and they're ready to block. I'll sew the cardigan together and see what I think. The pink yarn is an acrylic/nylon blend. The second yarn is cotton so I could over-dye the beige and maintain the pink. This is a bit like hair - LOL.


For the dress to sweater-coat refashion, I am working on the sleeves. I've tried two ideas for turning the three-quarter length into full length and neither was what I wanted so now I'm exploring adding a cuff like detail. Once I figure the sleeves out, I can decide about the buttons, any added embellishments, potential painting details, and finish up.

I wore the sparkly grey capelet on Wednesday and it received a lot of compliments. It's easy to knit and easy to wear and adds a little something special to any outfit. Mine is knit from yarn but it could also be sewn from a knit and that could be interesting.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - today I am wearing another size smaller jeans

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The First Completely Be Lazy Day

Today was the first completely be lazy day in what seems like months. Since there was nowhere to be at a certain time, I rolled over, snuggled into the covers, and slept in. It was a beautiful sunny day. When I did get up, I moved slowly and spent most of the day knitting in the bright and sunny living room.

We had a LOT of snow over the weekend. The weather delayed flights and made travel next to impossible. It took Caroline three extra days and a lot of shuffling to finally make it home although her luggage didn't arrive on the same flight. Since one of the instructors lives here, my hair colouring workshop was shifted to stay in town and that worked much better. Weather doesn't normally bother me but there was something about this mucky mess that made me prefer to stay home and safe. Judging by the number of accidents I heard about, that was wise.

Last Tuesday, Caroline and I took a wire wrapping workshop with a local instructor. She lives about twenty-five minutes from me out in the country and said we couldn't miss the van in front of her house. LOL - so true.

Neither of us has a lot of jewelry making experience so this was a beginner class to see if wire wrapping was something we might enjoying exploring. The theory is relatively easy and will improve with practice - as all art forms do. I was glad to have watched a few videos first so the movements made sense.

We made a basic bracelet using a wrapping wire and six "bones" for structure. The double wrap moves up and down as the bracelet develops. We worked from left to right with shorter ends that were pulled out when we needed more length. That made it easier to hold and manipulate the wires.

I like how the bracelet turned out especially for my first project. The copper was dipped in sulfur of liver to give it a darkened tone and to show the details more clearly. I prefer this finish to the shiny copper although I'd prefer sterling silver or a coloured wire even more. I'll experiment with those next.

We even made the hook however, with how snug the bracelet is, it's almost impossible for me to put on and off by myself so next time I'll try a different clasp. Magnetic ones appeal to me for their ease with both bracelets and necklaces and for how they allow you to build multi-part pieces were the parts can be used individually or all together.

One of the wire wrappers that our instructor suggested watching online is Lisa Barth. I already have her book Timeless Wire Weaving. Reviewing it after the class, I can see that much of what we learnt follows the book. It'll be a great reference for my next project. Our instructor has only wire wrapped for a year and her work is amazing. The detail above right is of one of her brooches. The way the wires move and curl, that grace and fluidity, really appeals to me as well as the potential to combine wire with fabric.

 Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - safe travels

Friday, January 27, 2017

Too Fluffy For Me

Things have been super busy at the salon. I'm so thankful for all the friends who have allowed me to practice on their hair. This is my last week of shadowing. Next week I am on a holiday and although February 2nd is my first official day of work, I'll be away from the salon taking a two day colour workshop. VERY fun. I am enjoying this new adventure and looking forward to establishing my regular routine although - knowing myself - I'll be in the salon far more hours than I'm actually booked for and that's okay.

Yesterday, I knit during the morning hour and today, I plan to start working on a coat. Trying to sew any kind of fitted clothing while losing weight is proving more difficult than I anticipated and while - LOL - it'd be nice if the weight would hurry up and leave so I could sew some clothes... slowly and surely is better than quick and back so... cardigans or coats are more doable right now and I could use some of them too... YES.

I'm slowly finishing the Butterick 5786 blouse only it has hit a bit of a snag. I asked my coach - Diane - for some collar inspiration and she suggested using the shape cut off of the front as the starting point. That was just enough to send me off on a creative journey.

I started by taking the shape, cutting two pieces right sides together, and seaming them along the short end. The result was a bow-tie shaped piece with very wide ends so I...


... folded it in half and seamed the ends. I could just as easily have sewn the wide ends together or alternated them and those are shapes I'll play with next because I'm not entirely sure that what I did is going in the right direction but it is interesting.

To get more dimension to the collar, I shifted the raw edges and basted them together creating the pull that you see in the image above. And then...


... I started pinning and tucking the collar to the neckline using the neckband as my guide and...

...while I like the energy that is starting to develop, this is far too fluffy for me. I'm not overly comfortable with a lot of high detail around the neck. I can see pressing these shapes and creating a more squashed look. I'll explore that too along with...


... a different neckline shape. Above left, I pinned the two fronts together where I wanted the top buttonhole to be and then added 1/2" above the button plus 5/8" seam allowance and altered the neckline to that point using a French curve to get a graduated line.

And then... I decided I did not want to work with this fabric anymore. The quality is not as good as I'd like for the effort I'm putting in. Before going forward, I'll go back, cut new front and back pieces and stitch them together and then explore the other ideas. I did like...

... the curved hemline. To get a nice shape, I fused 1/4" strips of knit interfacing to the hemline with the stretch going around the garment and then serged to finish the edge before turning it up 1/2" and stitching in place. IMHO this gives a clean, soft edge to this hem without pulling or warping.

Next week, my friend Caroline is visiting from Yellowknife. We are taking a wire wrapping workshop that will be a nice shift from watching hair videos to a different kind of something new. Hopefully I'll have some samples to show. The class is Tuesday afternoon. On Monday, we'll go shopping after I pick her up at the airport and Wednesday and Thursday we'll work in the studio before heading back to the airport on Friday. I'm not sure what Caroline has planned to work on but I'll be sewing the "real" version of my daughter's purse now that the prototype is working out well.

Talk soon - Myrna
Grateful - friends

Friday, January 20, 2017

Stitch By Stitch

After today, I have one more week of shadowing at the salon and then a week of holidays before starting my regular schedule. Routine works for me so I'm really looking forward to re-establishing one and to moving forward from there.

Above left is the side seam of the Burda 7062 pants I was working on last week. I sewed the facings to the front and back separately to allow for continued fitting as I lose more weight. To finish, I matched...

... the waist seam and then sewed up the side seam across the facing. On a skirt or a pair of pants, this will allow you to take in the side seam without having to do a lot of unpicking and fiddly fixing. The new side seam is then tapered into the previous one.

In the previous post, I planned to use this pant pattern as a blank canvas. NOT. Taking photos of the side and back views reminded me of my outline which hasn't altered with losing weight. A fitted pant leg - like tights - or a wider pant leg looks good on my figure but not one with limited ease because my calves protrude further outward than my behind. This pulls the fabric backward shifting the side seam and creating crease lines from the hip to back calf. This is not a fitting issue. It's my shape. Unless tucks, darts, or a princess seam was used at the back calf, it's virtually impossible to fit this shape smoothly. Which is why...

... I moved on to a skirt. Until I reach my goal weight, I'm more concerned with being clothed than with fitting issues. Burda 8213 has been a favourite skirt pattern for years. When I first returned to sewing fashions in...

... January 2010, this was one of the the first garments I sewed. My traced patterns are marked with the date and my measurements at that time so I will quickly know which pattern to use. WHAT FUN to pull this out and see that I'm back to the same weight I was then. A whole bunch of "stress weight" is gone. YES YES January 2010 is a significant date. It's when I made the decision to stop creating textile art and return to fashions. Apparently, I've had a seven year cycle of working through the impact of that decision.

This week, I reached another five pound increment and am wearing my "twenty-five pound" necklace. Because I have more weight to lose, I serged around each skirt piece individually and then sewed the sections together leaving the waist unfinished. None of the seams at the waistband are stitched across so I can take them in as needed and finish the facing when I'm ready. With a top over, no one will know my skirt isn't finished unless I tell them.

The skirt is for next Wednesday when we're having a spring themed potluck at work. I am making a top to go with. I started with the Butterick 5786 pattern from November because although I don't want that hemline, the pattern is traced and fitted and the shirt fits comfortably so it's a good starting point. 

On top, I traced the shirttail hemline from one of my favourite patterns,out of print Butterick 5678. With this pattern, the width wasn't correct but all the lengths were and transferring that useful information to a fitted pattern combined the best of both.

Tuesday was my coaching session with Diane. One of the things we talked about was when to sew. Before, when I was a hairstylist thirty years ago, I got up early to sew before work. Later, when I had children and a business, I continued that routine and have been doing it ever since which means I don't need to develop a new one now. This is especially good as by the time I get home from work in the evening I'm exhausted and the couch calls louder than the studio. I knit, read, or nap - LOL.

I've heard a lot of people say they have no time to sew. For me, it's a matter of making time and then stitch by stitch finishing a project even if it's with as little as ten or fifteen minutes a day. On Monday, I chose the skirt pattern and fabric and cut out the pieces. On Tuesday, I serge finished all the pieces and sewed the front and back sections together. On Wednesday, I inserted the invisible zipper, sewed the side seams, and finished the hem. Done. Wearable. On Thursday, I traced the front and back blouse pieces and altered the hemline and cut out the pieces. This morning, stitch and finish the center back and side seams and work and start making decisions about the sleeves and collar. It's roughly a garment a week and that - or less - is a routine that works for me especially since I don't think I've ever had 52 garments in my closet.

Speaking of routine - my intention is to post once a week on Fridays for the next while and see how that works. Hopefully good but time will tell.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - maintaining and re-establishing routine

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Minimalism As A Style

One of the women I see at Starbucks every morning commented on how many people she knew whose lives had gone through a significant shift with the end of last year and the beginning of this year - as if change was in the air. How interesting. For me, it is.

At the end of the month, my friend Caroline will visit for a week. We've known each other since we were sixteen and have been a part of the significant shifts in each other's lives. This year, she is retiring. This year, I am going back to work. We've often joked about that but I certainly didn't expect it to become reality, especially considering how picky I was about the work I wanted to do. And yet, here we are. I'll continue shadowing at the salon for the rest of the month and in February will become a permanent employee working one evening, one short, and one full day a week. So strange. So exciting.

Anita - my boss - asked how I felt doing hair now as opposed to doing hair thirty years ago. One thing I particularly notice is that I'm much more confident creatively. The same ability to work with and respond to the developing project applies to hair as much as it applies to sewing as does building a set of skills and abilities that allow your hands to move with ease while your mind bubbles with creativity. The client's request and the limitations of their hair determine the boundaries and within those boundaries there is tremendous freedom to create. I appreciate that now from an entirely different perspective.

I've been watching endless hair videos online. It's amazing what I can learn overnight and take to work the next morning. This week, the focus is on refreshing colour skills. Colour theory with hair is, of course, completely transferable from any of the other colour work I've done. This return to work journey is a fun example of how all the experiences we have in life build on one another and lead to how we experience the present.

While all of me is creative, how I create has divided into primarily private and primarily public avenues. That shift is changing how I approach studio work - like the red and white piece. I was making it for the exhibit in order to introduce myself to the creative community even though making it was not feeling completely comfortable and my skills were beyond rusty and into I'm not sure I actually want someone to see this work... which was weird... because my hair skills don't feel that way at all and thirty years is a lot longer than nine. When I asked myself why are you doing this, I decided the reasons were no longer valid and that doing hair could be my introduction to the creative community. I packed up the piece and put it away. YES YES!

My wardrobe right now is minute and beyond boring. The newest jeans are loose enough to feel frumpy and the next size down is still too tight. My tops are bagging and need a sweater to contain them and I've tightened the elastic waists on skirts so they stay up but there's a lot of hip ease. I cut out two pairs of pants and flopped two pairs of pants. Apparently, when one shrinks horizontally, there are also changes vertically. It's not just a matter of making the garment narrower. Since I have...

... another twenty-five pounds to go, I don't want to spend time now figuring out new measurements. I altered this pair of floral pants by taking in 1" at each side seam or 4" in total and 5/8" at each inseam or 1 1/4" per leg. Instead of sewing a waist facing, I made an elastic casing with tight elastic that while allow me to wear the pants longer once the hip is loose again.

This picture of me wearing the unaltered pants is from May 2015. I plan to wear the altered pair on the 25th to the spring themed potluck at work and get a new picture for comparison. The pattern is Burda 7062 - slender basic pants. The pants that failed were funky, not basic. I like funky pants only they involve a lot more work so I've decided to play with this pattern until I'm ready to commit to new measurements. Because it's such a basic pattern, it sews up quickly and I've cut out another pair three sizes smaller using a stretch denim. They're finished except for the waist band. This time, I'll use the facings but sew them on in such a way that I can easily alter the side seam as needed. I'll get a picture of those asap as well.

In Anuschka Rees' book - The Curated Closet - she talks about minimalism as a style and says it's all about that little bit of extra intention and making conscious choices. It's about being thoughtful and selective and figuring out what's right for you and your life specifically instead of blindly following trends or the advice of others. Minimalism is not a numbers game. The goal is not to build a wardrobe that is as small as possible but one that is as functional and personalized as possible.

I'm not sure I've ever heard the term minimal applied in this way to wardrobe building although it certainly fits the way I think and how I want my wardrobe to be - which is typically very small at the best of times. For me, a lot of stuff equals a lot of stress and I prefer less stress. I'm interested to see what she has to say that will help me to do a better job of building my wardrobe especially when, with losing weight and going back to work in a creative environment, I currently have the opportunity to develop an entirely new one - from lingerie to outer wear - that feels comfortable both emotionally and physically and that expresses my inner self outward. That may seem daunting to some... and on days when even my lingerie is too big, it feels that way to me too... however, I see it as a fabulous opportunity to pull together all the fashion experiences of my life.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - hired!