Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Work & Knitting

Just as I was climbing into bed last night, it dawned on me that it was Tuesday and I hadn't written and auto-posted this morning's blog. That would have been fine if I had gotten up at my usual time instead of rolling over for another hour of warm snuggly sleep... which I did... so it's late but it's here.

Yesterday was my first day shadowing my new boss - Anita. She's been a hairstylist since the 50's and is current, up to date, and extremely knowledgeable. Two of the other women have been stylists for over forty years. That's perfect. I'm going to learn so much.

Watching Anita, the movements were familiar and I'm comfortable the skills will return quite quickly. I've been watching YouTube videos on the popular styles and visualizing the movements and it feels quite doable. We'll see what happens when it's my turn to actually cut some hair - LOL.

Yesterday was also weigh day. I'm wearing my twenty-pound necklace that I got last week. In April, I lost ten pounds and so far this year I've lost 22 pounds in total with clothes on and 24.8 without clothing. I'm aiming for 25 by the end of the year. YES YES


The weather has turned incredibly cold. Howard asked if I could knit him some fingerless gloves for working out in the yard at the shop. I'll add thumbs to this pair and give them to him on the weekend and then knit the remainder of the ball into more gloves that I'll tuck into his Christmas present. There should be at least three pairs, possibly four. The yarn is a subtly variegated black-brown-grey which is both masculine and perfect for his working environment.

For myself, I'm knitting this Simple Shrug by Marni Reecer. The pattern is free on Ravelry. It's a tapered rectangle that starts narrower at one sleeve hem, widens up to the shoulders and across the back, and then tapers back down to the opposite sleeve hem. As long as you know your sleeve length and back width measurements, you can adapt the pattern to fit you really well.

The yarn is Berroco Vintage in a dark denim colour. This is a hardworking combination of acrylic, wool, and nylon. I added a mock cable to give the look a bit more texture. To make the stitch, on the first row you knit into the second stitch and then back into the first one and then slide both off the needle. On the second row, you knit all the stitches. Alternating these two rows makes the spiral you can see in my piece. It's gentle, simple, and quite pretty.

I'm still organizing Christmas. This is the latest I've ever been getting it all together but I do know what needs to be done and will finish up on the weekend. Other than that, it's a week of work and knitting. I went to one of my knitting groups on Monday night and will go to the other one on Friday afternoon and I had a friend over to knit last night. I'm working Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoon and Friday morning shadowing... which isn't really work but what else do I call it - VBG.

AND... I've been invited to the staff party on the 17th and will need a new outfit that fits. Too fun. I'm debating what to sew and hopefully will have something to share on Friday. I'd like it to be good for the party and also good for the next ten pounds.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - knitting camaraderie

Friday, December 2, 2016

Tart Day

Yesterday was tart day. I bake once a year, on the first of December, and just butter tarts. Some years, I've baked as many as 500. This year, it was fourteen dozen. Quite a few are to give away... which is good... because I calculated the Weight Watcher's points and of my 30 point daily allotment, a single tart is fifteen. Hmm...


This week's sewing was all Christmas gifts so I can't show any pictures until after the holidays. It'll have to be eye candy for today's posting. I checked with my new boss (that's so strange to type) to see if there's a dress code at the salon and the only requirement is to "dress nice" which she says I have been every time she's seen me so it's highly probable that anything I would feel comfortable wearing to work would be appropriate. I plan to have fun.

What to wear to work is an interesting thought. It's been over twenty years since I last worked outside the home. Now, not only am I considering the types of clothing I want for my smaller sized wardrobe but also the types of clothing I want to work in. I love the curved piecing in the dress above and I typically wear a lot of skirts and dresses only right now...

... the only pants I have that fit are two pairs of jeans so I find myself craving funky pants. The trouser style jeans above left look very comfortable and would be easy to sew - and wearable - on the tighter side first and then looser. The happy polka dots of the black and white ensemble are fabulous but the style looks frumpy to me. Perhaps it's because they look like clothes from my youth which...


... makes me laugh. I'm not going there again with the sweatsuit style but I am in all likelihood going there again with these pants above. They're from Oska and remind me of the Marcy Tilton pant patterns I have in stash. The OOP Vogue 8397 above is one of my favourites. Diane and I talked about that in my last coaching session - the garments I don't want to let go of and why. I think they are the perfect starting point for my new wardrobe.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - tarts and options

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A Shiny Objects Kind Of Thing

Creative work - it is like a faucet: nothing comes unless you turn it on and the more you turn it on, the more it comes.  - Brenda Ueland

If You Want To Write by Brenda Ueland was first published in 1938 and yet as relevant today as it was then. Timeless. And not just about writing. Substitute any word for write and the information is equally applicable.

In June 2012, I attended my first Design Outside the Lines workshop with Diane Ericson and Marcy Tilton. It was a paradigm shift in how I create clothing and I've worked steadily over the past four years to grow my skills. Along with attending more workshops, for the past two years I've been working 1-1 with Diane defining and achieving my creative clothing goals. It's been FABULOUS both for learning and for defining what I truly want.

What intrigues me is how I can think I want to do some thing, and procrastinate, and avoid for fear of, and then finally get to that thing, only to then wonder is this really me? Stencils and paint fall into that category. Having created fabric with an all-over motif, having filled the canvas with graffiti-like images, and having created two garments - one with a light background and one with a dark background - I'm seeing that stencils and paint are detail skills much like piping a seam or adding a zipper. They are simply one more tool in the toolbox to take me toward making visible the imaginative garment image that I see in my mind.

The second garment - Butterick 5786 - with the dark background was much harder than I thought it would be. Trying to create images that were visible and yet not overwhelming severely tested my beginner skills and the struggle reinforced quite clearly that if we're not talking black and white or tone on tone, my preference is for low contrast and texture over pattern. This wasn't new learning; it was confirmation. It is something to pay attention to.

I could have learned the same thing by looking in my closet. There are plain t-shirts and blouses, patterned skirts, textured cardigans, monochromatic colour mixes, and statement necklaces. On the weekend, I bought five garments for my shrinking wardrobe. Two are solid black t-shirts. One is a denim cardigan with a textured knit. One is a two-tone blue monochromatic cardigan. And one, is a black cardigan with a black and white lace motif on the front. VERY me.

One of the things I discussed with Diane was the awareness that perhaps I've been subconsciously trying to reinvent myself  when what would work best is to embrace myself and do me even better. I'm probably not explaining that well. I think it's a shiny objects kind of thing. Like when I see t-shirts that are made from a combination of floral, dotted, and striped fabrics and I think I want a t-shirt like that only to make it and then realize that such a combination feels way too much for me, as if I am lost behind my t-shirt.

My uniform is more typically a plain t-shirt, a more vocal lower garment, a complimentary cardigan, and a statement necklace. Within that framework, there is a lot of work that can be done without wandering over into someone else's playground. That's huge when you think about it. Recognizing your own playground. And  it's comforting. And focusing. I've been thinking about ways to become more myself. It's an interesting thought. How can you be more you?

After painting a hot mess that no amount of work was going to save, I re-cut the back pieces and started over. I've come to enjoy these seeming mistakes because they take me on interesting adventures. I'm not good at random so when I can remove control and introduce randomness in some way, it's always liberating.
The same thing happened with the sleeves. For some reason... say perhaps a measuring error... they were way too short and the cuff wouldn't do up around my not-all-that-fat elbow and so... again... I re-cut the pieces and sewed new ones. Sometimes things just doesn't work. And sometimes that's a blessing.

If the hot mess hadn't happened, my finished blouse would be too busy. If the sleeves hadn't been too short, the cuffs would have been too prissy for me. Now, with the finished blouse, all the party is going on in the back and there are simple clean lines in the front. I love the pastry blender stripes over the buttonholes and the ever so slight visibility of the painted collar stand. Other than that, it's my kind of garment.

One thing I really enjoyed was the technical aspect of doing a good job. Sewing a straight seem. Pressing cleanly. Creating sharp collar points. And so on. It's all good and I'm not sure about the sleeves. Right now they fit well while the bodice fits tight. After a few more pounds lost, when the bodice fits well, the sleeves may be too big so I'm making some binding from the left-over painted scraps so I can morph this into a sleeveless version if necessary.

The most unusual experience happened to me the other day. My hairstylist had to close her salon due to a medical emergency so I went for a haircut with a new stylist. When I walked into the salon, she was very friendly and welcoming. We're a similar age and found a lot of things in common right away. She has only been doing hair for about fifteen years. I was a hairstylist thirty years ago.

One of the things we talked about was what we both like about doing hair. In the course of our conversation she said I liked you the minute you walked in which is not something that typically happens to me and since there had already been a lot of "coincidences" that brought me to the salon in the first place, it was especially interesting.

A short while later, another woman walked into the salon and my stylist said that's my boss and then turned to her and said this woman used to be a hairstylist at which point the boss asked me if I'd like a job. I was a bit startled however, since returning to hair styling is the one job I have considered, I said maybe and asked what that would look like. We talked for a while and I said I'd think about it and let her know to which she said she hoped she heard from me because she had like me the minute she met me. Stranger and stranger.

I gave it 24 hours, discussed it with Howard, and the next day, last Thursday, went back in to talk to her. When I walked into the salon, there were three women at the desk and the owner was looking down. Another woman asked if she could help and when I said I was there to talk to the owner, she looked up, turned to the other woman, and said this is the woman I was telling you about.

One of the things I've been praying about is to see and clearly follow the path that God opens before me and all this synchronicity and coincidence made it pretty clear that this was a path I needed to at least check out. I made an appointment for yesterday and had a meeting with the owner and the office manager. We talked about how after thirty years of not cutting hair I could be reintegrated. They were both very encouraging and wanted me to come to work. What a lovely feeling.

I'll be watching a lot of YouTube videos and shadowing the owner for the several weeks while I decide if I want to go ahead. If so, I'll be inviting friends for free haircuts to rebuild my skills and then, once confident, will be scheduled as a regular hairstylist working three days a week. I'm nervous. And excited. It's another interesting adventure and hopefully like a faucet - as I turn those creative skills back on, they'll come more and more.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - an unusual - and exciting - experience

Friday, November 25, 2016

A Recovery Mission

The second garment, dark background, isn't finished yet although it has progressed from a rescue to a recovery mission. There was no way the original back could be saved and - luckily - I had enough scraps to put together another back sections. A definite plus for buying extra yardage.

Fibrefemme wondered if the reason I was having so much trouble with the dark background was the degree of contrast. I'd come to a similar conclusion. That's one of the things I love about  new learning journeys, they will teach me something new and they will confirm what I already knew and perhaps am ignoring. Paint has not changed my preference for low contrast nor my preference for texture over pattern.  

Here's the hot mess. I started out wanting a wandering line along the back seam and then decided it didn't show up enough so I started adding more motifs and decided that didn't show up enough so I tried to create an hourglass shape to the stenciling and add another colour. Very quickly I was in danger of filling the canvas as opposed to creating any kind of sophisticated image. I also hated the yoke-like line I'd added and that led to cutting new pieces. I'm deciding what I can do with the abandoned pieces - patches, binding, covered buttons, there are options.

One aspect I really enjoyed was the technical details. I have sewn a button up blouse with a collar stand, collar, and cuffs for a long time and it was fun to see it starting to take shape. After taking my measurements I dialed my smaller dressform as close as possible and I love how the shape of this pattern - Butterick 5786 - looks slimming even though "without clothes" the form looks bottom heavy. That one of the wonderful things about dressing and about creating clothes that fit and flatter.

Fun, fit, and flatter are really important to me. Not to everyone. When I checked the reviews for this pattern, one reviewer wrote that she knew it was going to be too big for her shoulders but didn't think it would matter with this style. She seemed very happy with her garment. I found that an intriguing perspective because it's been my experience that good fit is always worth the work. I liked how Margy's version fits well, has wonderful texture, and looks fabulous on her. As always. I really love her work.

This morning, I'm in Kamloops for a follow-up appointment with the surgeon about my hip. I went in last night, ran some errands, and had dinner with my husband. My appointment is early so right after that I'll head back for lunch, knitting, and finishing the blouse. I took the sleeves with me to slip stitch the cuffs last night and all that's left is to sew them in, add the buttons, and decide if any more paint will be applied.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - confirmation and learning

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

New Learning: A Stenciled Cardigan

In my last coaching session, the assignment Diane gave me was to use stencils on two garments. She wanted me to choose patterns that had few pieces and to use a singular fabric rather than combining them... which apparently I'm good at. I love when she casually slips those compliments into the conversation - LOL - because we don't always know what we're good at on the compliment from someone whose opinion you really trust level.

One garment was to have a dark background and one was to have a light background. To start, I chose Marcy's Vogue 9190 cardigan. My version is a hybrid with the back from views C and D and the front from views A and B. The fabric is a very stable knit in a soft grey.

A pastry blender gave me the random striped look that I wanted for the cuffs. Even though I taped off, I rotated too far back a few times and ended up with some extra dots. Oh well!

Once the cuffs were in place, I thought the lines were too dark and added white on top. When I found myself tempted to eliminate the slit in the cuff, "we" had a chat because these are exactly the kinds of details I want to add to my clothing and it only took a bit more time.

I am amazingly good at absolutely even repetition and it takes a lot of work for me to be random. While stenciling the collar, I tried to work fast and not overthink and the placement did end up more scattered than in rows. YES YES!

OH... and I eliminated the gathers in the back yoke. The difference in length between the yoke and the lower back was 1 1/2" which IMHO is not enough for nice gathers so I decided to create a series of tucks and while they looked good in my sample, they looked horrible on the real thing so I re-cut the lower back sections and created a box pleat at the center. I like how this looks.

I've been sewing for a really long time and at this point, it is rare for me to read the instructions but I had no idea how to get the drawstring to extend past the collar seam. I had to read them to figure it out. That was fun, learning something new.

Let me tell you - as the voice of experience - that it is not a good idea to attempt to flatten your plastic stencil by ironing it no matter how many layers of press cloths you've put over top. When I get a new one, I'll extend the black floral stencil to the upper collar. I waited until the cardigan was finished for this decision because I wasn't sure if the collar could be worn up or down. If up, I may have stenciled the under-collar but it looks best down so I'll add to the upper collar.

When I added the black paint, it was TERRIFYING but I got over the fear quickly and continued on. And it was fun. And I felt like I'd made progress. And now, I've started on my second garment with the dark background and I've done a really good job of creating a hot mess. I thought a darker surface would be easier to work on. It's not. I'm persevering. I'll let you know how it's going on Friday.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a total of 9 1/2" lost to date