Friday, February 16, 2018

A Single Small Black Purse

There are three more weeks left before I leave on my trip and I'd like to spend the last one organizing travel details and packing which means I have just two weeks to finish the outfits. It's getting to crunch time which is why...

... I've decided to take a single small black purse instead of making a purse to go with each outfit. I spent Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday working on the two of the six purses and the was reminded of how much I hate glue. I painted and quilted the fabric for the second purse and love it so I'll finish that at some time in the future only after I'd pulled apart the purple purse for the third time, it was obvious I didn't have enough time for purses right now HOWEVER...

... at the same time, I started working on the shoes. Of the six pairs, I'm painting four. I picked these Clarks up at the thrift store - LOL, I'm sure you guessed that - and then...

... painted them with two coats of bright orange (right shoe) and then one coat of copper (left shoe). The copper is the same paint used on the pants I'll be wearing these with and the two together have a lot of energy. That's also the outfit with the knitted vest that I was blocking earlier this week. I'm going to a friend's studio later this afternoon and plan to sew it together there.

Two of the outfits are completely complete. Three have a piece of jewelry to be finished. Two need a top finished. And one needs the vest finished. This feels doable especially as one top is sewn and needs tweaking, the other is cut out, and the vest is blocked and needs the shoulder seams sewn. Two of the necklaces are in process (see below) and only one necklace (of the six items left to be finished) needs to be decided from start and I have the beads to begin that process with. Even so, I'll need to be organized and disciplined.


This silver necklace combines parts from two necklaces I'd made earlier. To give the button pendant more depth, I added another metal plate below the first one with clear buttons in-between to space the distance. The glue didn't dry as quickly as I'd hoped so I couldn't finish it yesterday but the parts are ready to be assembled today as are...

... the parts for the lime necklace. I showed the start of this piece before. It's been waiting patiently and yesterday, I stitched the knitting to the cording so it wouldn't shuffle and bunch up and then I added beads to the chain with open spaces and created two larger beads by wrapping yarn around pieces of copper tubing, wetting it with a glue/water mix, and adding metallic paint once that dried. I've wrapped each end of the three chains to hold the knitting tight where I cut the ends to length and all I need to figure out is how they will attach to each other, the closure, and a pendant to hang below the upper chain/smaller bead. I plan to cover an existing pendant but am still deciding whether to stay completely lime or to introduce another colour - definitely more glitter either way.

If all goes as planned today, I will finish the silver necklace, the lime necklace, and the turquoise vest. Over the weekend, I'd like finish the necklace for the orange outfit and painting the shoes so that just the two tops remain. LOL - wish me luck.

Talk soon - Myrna

- a small number of items to finish and a plan

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Orange Chairs & Purple Purses

We had a long - Family Day - and sunny weekend which was quite delightful after a very grey and somewhat depressing winter. It's my third winter here and while I did okay with the first two, this one has been wearing. I'm sure it is a combination of not so wonderful things along with piles of snow and sheets of ice. Thankfully I have such an engaging project to work on and Spring is - supposedly - on the way.

I spent Saturday and Sunday knitting on the couch in the living room with my back to the window because I absolutely was not going to close the blinds and block all that amazing light. It was warm, cozy, and bright. Perfect.

This "new" chair was delivered last Friday. It's the same shape and fabric - different colour - as the blue couch that Howard has in his office and is in perfect condition. I found it at the thrift store which will make my children happy.  Apparently, I don't have enough comfortable seats in the living room - VBG. It's not a colour I'd have chosen given a choice but for $15.00, it goes just fine and is very similar in tone to the other orange chair I picked up several years ago. I love the thrift stores here. I find the most amazing things for not much money... which is very good for someone like myself who is addicted to potential.

I finished knitting the Take Me To Spain vest and now it's blocking. Because of the shape, I had to overlap the back and fronts to get all the edges straight but you can see how it is basically a rectangle with a bodice attached. That gives me ideas for creating one from fabric using scraps and surface design. I used three rows of seed stitch at the hemline to help prevent it from turning but not at the front or armhole so once I sew the shoulders together, I will most likely add an edge of some kind.

As comfortable as it is, this rendition of Sandra Betzina's Vogue 1297 dress is not at all flattering - partly because it shows all my lumps and bumps which could be dealt with with appropriate lingerie but also because it shows the stretching along the seam lines. I won't wear it like this and I won't go around in squeeze-me-smooth-under-garments on a casual day so I plan to take out the pucker seams, stitch them smooth, and then cut it off to top length. It looks fabulous with a vest that I already have so I'm looking forward to wearing it. I'll post it again when and if and as soon as the alteration is done which won't be any time soon because I'm still finishing up The Outfit Project.

I'm hoping to get some really good photos some time soon. I set up the light stands this past weekend only unfortunately the bulbs were both broken when I unpacked them so I've had to order some new ones. When they come, I'll start playing with the light and seeing how to make it work for me rather than against me. I have NO experience. I can learn... lights, photography, and Lightroom. That sounds like a HUGE curve - LOL.

Marcy Tilton's Vogue 8499 is one of my favourite skirts. I've made it a good half dozen times but not the pants. After researching the pattern at, I opted to go down several sizes and even then, I ended up taking the pants apart on the back french seam, taking the side back panel in 1 1/2" each side or 3" in total, and sewing the parts back together. There's a lot of ease in this pattern and too much is not flattering on me. I love them now although they are in the wash getting de-threading from pulling out the seams and top stitching. I had them all done and had to down the hems and off the waistband along with the back seams. It was worth it.

Trying to get pants on a mannequin is hilarious especially when "she" has wide hips and a small waist. Millicent can't shimmy like I can so she kept flopping and flipping until finally I reduced her hip size to get the pants on and avoid broken hips. The denim is a dark blue and the top stitching is a pink-ish-orange. The pictures are overexposed. That's not what I intended but it's part of my learning curve. Also, you can see the check curtains behind the burn out knit so that's not going to work as a backdrop BUT... it gives you an idea of how the pants look and I did promise to post them and it gives me an idea of what to work on with the photo booth. 

I'm taking a short break from garment sewing and to work on completing the outfits that are the closest to finished. The outfit with the tied cardigan only needed the purse. I purchased this black one at the thrift store for $18 which is the most expensive one I've picked up. Three were a dollar each and another was five dollars so divided by six that's $4.33 each which I think is fine. I'm looking at participating in a gallery this summer and once my trip is done, the "need" for these purses will be over so I may put them up for sale there. HOWEVER...

... first I have to finish making them. For this one, I removed the two sides and then created a quilted panel for the front and back by recycling the dress I made months ago that I didn't like enough to fix. There is still LOTS of dress left so I'll do more with it but this is a fun start.

I cut a piece of batting the size of the side panel and spray basted it to the back and then stitched vertical rows of straight stitching every 3/8" up and down the panel in a dark purple thread. Then I added free motion quilting with a dark navy thread between the flowers and then outlined them with black stitching. The centers are thread scribbled with a metallic purple and the points have hand stitches with a black pearl cotton. The center flower is a bead. The purse is almost done. I'm waiting for glue to dry to go on to the next stage.

Talk soon -  Myrna

- grey ends, sun starts

Friday, February 9, 2018

Take Me To Spain

It was wonderful to have my friend here for a visit and - after a week together - it's equally wonderful to be home alone again. Life has a different rhythm when you mostly live alone that I am reminded how much I enjoy every time I have company.

Airport "rules" ask you to be at there ninety minutes before your flight - even though you've already checked in automatically twenty-four hours previously- which I find ridiculous because you're not at the airport until you're actually at the airport - and you may not make it - however, that's not up to me. What it means though is that I was back home on the couch when my friend's plane was just taxing down the runway for the first leg of her trip. That didn't seem fair. BUT, oh lucky me that I had the shorter journey.

I'd intended to take a break from sewing and work on the outfit jewelry yesterday and instead, I sat and knit so I practiced photography with these pictures and attempted to tell the story of the yarn. I'd appreciate feedback on how the story is presented and does it work and what should I keep doing and what more could I do. In some of the images, the light and clarity could have been managed better but I can also see that my practice is starting to pay off. None of these have been edited. Learning how to do that will improve things even more.

I realized the other day that I have knit longer than I have sewn. Fabric is so primary in my life that it had never occurred to me before that it wasn't my first love. I learned to knit in grade school although I've taken several long breaks from it over the years.

When I retired from traditional quilting, I bought myself a set of very expensive interchangeable needles as a retirement present and started exploring different techniques for casting on, casting off, sewing together, and generally creating a better quality knit garment. I studied how to design your own knitwear and developed several patterns based on my favourite stitches and favourite sewing patterns. They're a great combo.

P.S.... when I retired from art quilting, I bought myself a dress form and started exploring fit and design. I think it's so important to celebrate the milestones in our lives.


Although I know how to do all sorts of difficult things with yarn, I prefer to knit for meditative enjoyment rather than challenge. As with sewing, the garments I wear the most have architectural elements and clean design details like this double row of holes created by making one stitch each side of a central stitch. This garment is knit from top to bottom and widens from the underarm toward the hemline. My favourite stitches are ribbing and seed stitch and I like a knit fabric that has a soft hand and is firm and stable.

Isn't it interesting how a change in the direction of the light source completely changed the colour of the yarn. All I did was move around the table and take the picture from the opposite side. I love how knitting seems to have a topography all its own as the piece develops and then a flat, crisp, pressed look once it's finished and blocked.

The design is 129-15 - Take Me To Spain by Garn Studio. This company provides a huge variety of free patterns that are excellent both to knit and to design with. I prefer this style of asymmetrical hemline because it softens the width of my hips and is more flattering than a horizontal one. I'm knitting this first as a vest and then may explore adding sleeves to make it into a sweater. And knitting it differently.

It's just part of who I am that when I'm reading a technique book or following a pattern, my mind is analyzing if there is another, possibly better, way to put the item together. In this case, I think I would get a better fit if I either cast on at the hemline and used decreases to create the asymmetrical look or used a provisional cast on at the underarm and knit upward to shape the bodice and shoulders and downward to create the body and hemline.  Sometimes, I just want to know how that would work so I try it and see. I could use a basic black sweater so I may just do that with this pattern. Curiosity is a good thing. It can teach us so much.

This vest is to replace the turquoise one I showed you in the last post. While I love that vest, for reasons I'm not free to disclose right now, I'm not completely comfortable wearing it to the workshop so I've decided to knit this vest instead. I also finished the Marcy Tilton pants and have a top cut out that is intended to go with. I'll tell you more about those in the next posting.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - being a maker

Monday, February 5, 2018

The Sixth Outfit

Several times last week I couldn't seem to remember what day it really was. I hear that's what retirement is like although I don't really feel retired and it's more likely about  being in the zone and really enjoying all the studio work along getting the house and studio ready for company.

The studio is painted white to help blend together the brick with the gyproc with the vertical paneling and the horizontal paneling as well as some crown molding and some baseboards but not everywhere and a the wide variety of materials that are all used in one room. It's like a room of construction leftovers. And white does a pretty good job HOWEVER... paint cannot hide these ugly boxes.

Howard helped me to hang up the curtain rod and I bought some black and white check fabric in the bargain center at the last 50% off sale. It's a curtain fabric as opposed to gingham and has a smooth surface with a sheen. I definitely should have ironed the panels before hanging them as it's much easier to do it right the first time than to get back to it. I was running out of time. That's my excuse. This rod will also be perfect for hanging different backdrops for taking photos.

There was so much fabric that I wanted to cut and serge finish the panels before washing it. That was a mistake. I am still so allergic to the finish they put on fabric that by the time I'd made four cuts, I had a screaming headache, red and itchy hands, and blisters breaking out on my chest. If you don't already, I highly recommend washing all your fabric before storing it in the studio. That cocktail of chemicals isn't good for anyone.

These shoes are ones I've been collecting from the thrift stores to paint to co-ordinate with my different outfits. I've been researching how to use Golden acrylic paints and as soon as all the garments are done,  these are next. I've also been collecting small leather purses to add fabric and/or paint details added. TOO FUN!

My friend, Caroline, arrived last Thursday from Yellowknife and is staying until this Wednesday. Mostly we're working in the studio but will spend Tuesday shopping and stay overnight near the airport as her flight leaves at eight in the morning and that's way too early for driving that day. This year will be our 40th anniversary. We met when we were sixteen. For the past thirty years, she has lived up north and this summer she'll be moving about an hour away so we'll be able to get together far more often. Friendships like this are so precious.

The confusing headline missing the post about changing my mind was about the grey floral top I showed in the last posting. It felt too light for the season and since it wouldn't look great with a cardigan, I didn't want to spend a lot of time figuring it out if I wasn't going to wear it. I'll do that later but for now, I've sewn Butterick 5786 in another grey print. I've sewn this pattern before in the longer length. I'll try the shorter one this time and compare. I think it'll look good with the pants I haven't shown you yet.

Grey buttons are surprisingly hard to find. I stopped at two different fabric stores on the way to the picking Caroline up at the airport and chose these metallic circles although I had to go to our local fabric store yesterday to get another package to have enough. There's a spot on the collar stand that I want to correct before adding the buttons but other than that, the shirt is finished.

I alluded to making a vest that wasn't working out. It's Butterick 5891. In step one, you sew the right front to the right back... which I did... and then I confused them and thought the front was the back and started sewing the wrong pieces together. Because the fabric - a turquoise raw silk - looks the same on both sides, I quickly thought I'd made more than one error and reversed the sides. From there, the whole thing started snowballing into a comedy of errors. In the end, I had to undo all the work except for that first step and then carefully lay out the pieces in order and sew them back together correctly. Which I did. And it's almost finished only yesterday I was so tired that I opted to sew two pairs of pajamas instead. Pajamas are easy, methodical, meditative sewing. This was good.

I realized last week that I actually need six outfits. The workshop starts on a Sunday and ends on a Friday and even though two of the days are half days, that's six days. I'm having so much fun that I found needing to make another outfit exciting. I can plan it around the wonderful boots I ordered. Unless I change my mind, I'll sew the Vogue 8499 pants shown center left in denim as well as a top in a similar shade of fuchsia as the boots. The fuschia fabric is silk dupioni. It was on sale buy one meter and get two free which is perfect. I'm not fond of fine slippery silk but I love raw silk and dupioni silk and I've been able to use both in the outfit project.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - good friends

Friday, February 2, 2018

Today Was FRIDAY!

By now I am sure you've all figured out that I have absolutely no idea which way is up. I really and truly thought tomorrow was Friday until about dinner time and then I realized it's not. Today was Friday. Right now, it's almost ten at night. and I just picked apart all the seams on a vest gone wrong and have it organized to sew correctly tomorrow. I'll post asap... once I have a good sleep and my brain gets back in my body.

SORRY for the confusion.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - restorative sleep