Friday, February 24, 2017

Just Feeling The Fabric

The sun is shining. What a difference it makes to sit in the living room, looking out the window, and see that extra sparkle and warmth in the air. YES YES - spring is on its way. I don't mind winter. I like the extra time in the studio and I also like spring... and summer... and fall. I'm glad to live where there are seasons.

In my journal time, I read a story about ten cows that decided to move from one pasture to another and kept going back to the second pasture (the same cows) no matter how many times the ranch hands tried to return them home. Finally, their owner gave them to the pastor whose property they kept going to and having those cows significantly changed his and others lives. Last week, I had a less than wonderful client who made me wonder if I really was in the right place. This figurine reminds me that I am and that all I need to do is my best and keep walking in that direction and "my cows" will come to me.

Even though it's a good thing, I was beginning to notice that the (positive) stress of returning to hairstyling was tiring me out. This past week, I've made a point to spend more time in the studio just feeling the fabric and working steadily on some projects. The dress-to-coat conversion is coming along. I filled in the front neckline with a check yoke and mimicked the shape in the back and extended the three-quarter length sleeves with cuffs from the same fabric. With just the fabric, the cuffs looked chunky so I added lace and that worked. I also sewed lace around the yoke only it would look better following down the button band as well so I'm waiting until this weekend when the lace will be on sale to get some more. The buttonholes are done. All I need is the lace and the buttons and it's finished.

I bought this striped fabric at a recent sale. The quality is great only the colours weren't really me so I threw it in a brilliant blue dye bath using IDye. The resulting fabric is less clear than the original and it's still quite pretty - prettier than this picture looks - and will make a great pair of summer pants.

When my friend was visiting, she sewed a blouse out of this mottled grey that we both had. The design worked but the colour wasn't flattering so I over-dyed my yardage. This is MUCH better. The fabric is a lightweight cotton that will make a pretty blouse or skirt.

A while back, I bought a beige cardigan at the thrift store intending to over-dye it. As you can see by the lack of complete coverage, it was not 100% cotton as labelled or there wouldn't still be flecks. I didn't like the resulting blue so I...

... dyed it again with purple and I like this tone. It's too big for me. I intend to take out the sleeves, narrow the shoulders, shorten the sleeves and sew them back in, and then decide on the length and the shape of the neckline and button band. The quality is excellent and I really like the moss stitch so it's worth the work.

This blouse was also not 100% linen as advertised. I'd hoped to wear this but now I'm debating whether to cut it up for pieces or return it to the thrift store and let someone else decide what to do with it. It's not me as is.

On Saturday, I'm planning a slow day in the studio finishing up the coat and starting a new project. I traced a smaller size of Marcy's Vogue 8499 skirt and have a heavy cotton floral ready to cut out. I also traced the pants pattern. I need/want some new clothes for work and play and I've sewn this pattern in the past and it got a lot of wear. The pattern fits REALLY LARGE. Before when I sewed it, I went down three sizes so I did that again this time. If you're going to sew it, I'd recommend choosing your size by the finished measurements. Otherwise, it's a great pattern. A Marcy classic.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - seasons

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