Friday, March 24, 2017

Parts & Pieces

The gas company is coming this morning to change the meter. They wanted a four hour window which I find annoying since they must have some kind of schedule and could provide a tighter time-frame... however... it is what it is. I left writing the blog for this morning when I had to be home... waiting.... which is not my favourite thing. This helps.

My work schedule has shifted. Working Friday nights and Sundays was having a negative impact on Howard and my time together. I thought when I told my boss that that would be the end of doing hair only it wasn't. For now, I'm working only on Mondays but once tourist season comes I'll have more hours. It's difficult for building a clientele but perfect for getting out of the house and spending money so I'm willing to see what happens. Good things I hope.

After several months of being super busy, this quieter week was the perfect one for catching up on coffee with friends. I feel back on track even though it meant little time in the studio... which... with spring slowly creeping across the yard... will become more contained to mornings and evenings once yard work begins. The path I started cutting last year is emerging and I'm looking forward to finishing it.

And the cardigan. To wear with my spring wardrobe. I finished the neckline using bias strips of the purple taffeta and have the collar parts ready to finish. I'm going to tuck the neck edges under and secure them with edge stitching so they'll lie better against the neckline with less bulk. I still haven't decided on the closure. I'll work it around the collar.

Yesterday, my friend gave me these handwoven tea towels that I'd admired on her loom. As someone recently said to me, it's wonderful not only to be given a hand made gift but to be given one that you couldn't make for yourself but can totally appreciate. I'm almost afraid to use them but I will. They're my favourite colours and look fabulous in my kitchen.

This carpetbag pattern is from Marchwerke. The image shows how clean and crisp the look is and how big the bag is opened. Last weekend, Craftsy had a sale so I signed up for Lisa Lam's course Sewing Structured Bags: Purse Frames and Beyond which is VERY well done. So well done that I'm waiting for the next sale to take her other workshop. The carpetbag is one of my favourite purse shapes and can be made in handbag to weekender bag sizes. I'd like to make some as gifts using hand painted fabric.

Last week, I went to the thrift store to find parts and pieces to use in jewelry and handbags. It turned out to be bag day so I bought the three purses above and all the items below left for $2.00. YES YES. I've separated all the parts and tucked them into supplies.

The bracelets above right are from a local dress shop. They're a woven band with a magnetic or turn clasp at the end and were discounted to $6.60 each which is far less than just a clasp.  I don't even need to take them apart. I can build my design on top.

These pieces were in the "quality" section of the thrift store which is excluded from the bag sale. They were individually priced at $2.50 each. The chains are all part of one necklace and can be separated as can the wooden parts of the wo bracelets. I can't decide if I'm going to cut up the wooden bracelet with beads. It's gorgeous and brand new only I'm unlikely to ever wear it.

One of the assignments I'm working on with Diane - my creativity coach - is taking a starting point for a jewelry piece and working on it for one hour and then setting it aside as a part that may or may not be taken forward into a piece. I'm supposed to see it as a part and not as an unfinished project. We'll see - LOL. For the first starting point, I used this metal disc that I picked up a few years ago on a clearance table in a bag of ten. It's been tickling and because I have more than one, it can be a "blank canvas" that I fill in several ways. Always fun.

When I was looking through some files the other day, I found this image. One of the coffee conversations I had was with the director of our local gallery about the changing world of art and where I fit into it. One thing I really appreciate about her is how honest, straight forward, practical, and pragmatic she is and I came away from our talk feeling focused for the spring and for this season of new growth and possibilities in my life. Some choices are past. While at one time they seemed absolutely perfect, that perfection is in the past and now, in the present, they are no longer the right choice and other opportunities are appearing. That's quite wonderful really. Change is what keeps life interesting.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - time to catch up with friends

Friday, March 17, 2017

Beige And Boring Before

Today, I spent the morning hour finishing knitting the last piece of a cardigan that refused to co-operate yesterday. It seems I can't read instructions because I kept zigging instead of zagging but did finally get back on the correct path and ended exactly right - with 4" of yarn to spare. I love when things like that happen. You pull the seam out of the machine and the bobbin thread ends just exactly when and where you'd prefer it to end. Thinking to mention these lovely coincidences on the blog prompted my memory - the blog - what blog - LOL ! ! ! ! I hadn't written today's post yet.

The cardigan refashion is making progress. It was beige and boring before and is evolving step-by-step into something I'll enjoy wearing. Originally, I intended to open the side and underarm seams, remove the sleeves, lift the shoulder point, and sew it all back together only....

... and thankfully... I realized that a faster and more creative way to do that would be to take out the excess shoulder width by sewing a pleat at the back.

I started by serging off the edging hoping to use it again later and then sewed and pressed the pleat. I also fused knit interfacing to the sleeves and shortened them to three-quarter length. Both of these choices created a more flattering and better fitting cardigan but...


... it still had a frumpy overtone from the front so I spent several days shifting the hemline and neckline shapes every time I walked into the studio. After choosing the asymmetrical hemline...

... I tried it on to make sure the hem ended at a flattering point on my body. In the picture above, I'm wearing the skirt I sewed a couple weeks ago. The skirt and the cardigan go together well. Now that I've decided on the hemline, I'm working on how to finish the cardigan. The only fabric I had in stash that went with is a polyester taffeta. It has possibilities.

When I'm working on a refashion, I keep all the parts and pieces until the project is complete. In the picture above right, I'm playing with the idea of using the cut off cuffs as collar parts. They meet at the back which adds another interesting design element although I haven't decided yet if I like the collared look. And I'm debating closures.

Did you see the grommets Diane used as closures in her latest linen remake?  They are fabulous. Learning to think like this is one of the reasons why I continue to take coaching sessions with Diane and - in fact - closures is one of the things we discussed this past Tuesday. I'm also working on a series of purses from hand painted fabric and want to create the straps and closures from supplies I don't normally use so I'm challenging myself to find them in non-fabric store environments like a hardware or a kitchen store. It's fun to move in new directions.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a supportive, encouraging, energizing coach

Friday, March 10, 2017

We Don't Really Need It

This week, I'm feeling ahead of the curve. All the "extra" projects are finished and I have only one sewing and one knitting project on the go with some ideas tickling from the sidelines. And that's exactly the way I like it. YES YES!

The capelet I was knitting didn't work out. Even though the gauge was correct, the drape of the fabric was completely different from the one I made myself. When I tried on the first version, it was too tight. For the second version, I used larger needles and a few inches into the body (measuring from the neck down) I decided the neckline was too big and started over using less stitches. About mid chest  I tried it that version on and decided it pulled just a little too much across the shoulder so I ripped it apart and started over... and finished the fourth version... and tried it on... and it looked like a limp dishrag. And that was enough. The yarn went back in balls and...

... became a triangular shawl knit in seed stitch starting with one stitch and increasing one at each end of every row until finishing with an inch of ribbing. I've made what feels like a "million" of these shawls in the last several years. They are easy, attractive, stress reducing, and comfy to wear. Good and enough.

When I told that story to a friend, she felt bad on my behalf only it wasn't necessary since I wasn't feeling bad for myself. While I can't speak for absolutely everyone, as I explained to her, for most of us we don't really need it, whatever it may be that we are making. We are already warm, dry, safe, fed, clothed, loved and this thing that we are making is more for the satisfaction and fun of making it with the potential bonus of wearing it... or not... it really doesn't matter. That's why I'm far more interested in the journey than the outcome. Anyone can buy things. I enjoy making them.

The triangular shawl is a combination of a purple tweed yarn in a wool blend and a black, nylon-acrylic yarn. The Snowland sweater (below) is knit with a combination of a pink, nylon-acrylic yarn and a hand-dyed cotton yarn. I mentioned a couple weeks ago, how disappointing it was that the hand-dyed yarn went from the pinkish-orange that I loved at the outside of the skein into a greenish-beige that I do not love further into the skein.

Since I wasn't going to separate the yarns, pulling it apart wasn't an option so I finished knitting the sweater to see how it looked. I liked the pattern and not the colours. It's been a long time since I've knit myself a cardigan... that I actually finished... and intended to wear... and....

... I knew I wouldn't wear this one ugly as it was so I pinned it together along the underarm seams and tired it on to make sure it fit and then over-dyed it with iDye in a crimson red which turned out great.

The resulting colour is more raspberry than red. I threw a piece of white linen into the dye bath at the same time and it's now a co-ordinating tone. I plan to use the linen to make a garment to go with since this is a cropped cardigan and those look better on me unbuttoned and with a dress or longer top underneath rather than buttoned and ending at my waist... which is also the beginning of my hips.

After dyeing the yarn, I blocked the piece, finished the seams, and sewed on the buttons. I'm quite pleased with how the cardigan turned out and as soon as I sew something to go with, I'll wear it.

Switching from talking about yarn to talking about jewelry.... even though I think I've put the idea down... when I see jewelry around town, I'm constantly evaluating how I could interpret that inspiration with some element of textiles. The tickle hasn't left me so I'm allowing myself more freedom to pursue making jewelry beyond "just use fabric". I think that'll be a key factor.

I've ordered some wire wrapping books, have started researching organic jewelry and jewelry made from rocks, have started working on an inspirational collage, and will talk with Diane about how to go forward with this tickle during our coaching session next week. In the past, the tickles have always been the foreshadowing of some level of change so I'll be interested to see where this leads.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - tickle time

Friday, March 3, 2017

Refashioned: Dress To Sweater Coat

The sunshine went away. It's been snowing like crazy for the past few days and more snow is predicted for next week... which I choose to translate to mean more studio time. I'm starting to find more of a rhythm with work and home and I know the balance of the two will come more naturally as time goes along. 

Above is my version of Lynn Mizono's Vogue 1312 sewn quite a few years ago - probably in late 2012 or early 2013 judging by where the picture was taken. The fabric is a knit that I bought in the bargain center for $2.00 a meter. When I washed it, a subtle stripe appeared. I've washed things out of a fabric but this was the first time I washed something in. The fabric is quite heavy so even though I enjoyed it as a dress, it will perhaps be even better...

... refashioned from a dress to a sweater coat. I started by cutting up center front and then working step by step to evolve the piece. The two more difficult areas that I had to work through were adding the cuffs to convert from three-quarter to full sleeves and filling in the front neckline.

The check fabric is a wool blend from a menswear collection that was also bought in the bargain center. I mimicked the shape of the front neckline with a yoke at the back and transferred the collar/hood from Marcy Tilton's out-of-print Vogue 8752. Hoods are - apparently - quite in style this year so that was a happy coincidence.

The hood is shaped with a center back seam and darts and looks like a collar from the front and a hood from the back. I like the way it sits and how the points echo the points on the bottom of the skirt.

The cuffs were the most difficult part of the refashion. I tried several ideas and eventually added the lace to blend the lengths. That led to adding lace to the yoke and button band as well. At first...

... I didn't stitch the lace along the full length of the button band but that looked too country-ish for me. The extended length works better. I also stitched a braid in place over the raw edge of the (trimmed narrower) lace and sewed that to the bottom of the sleeves as well. I like the way it cupped the hemline and further blended the cuffs in although I'm not too sure of the knotted choice I made for finishing the ends. It works at the edge of the button band but not as well on the sleeve. I may untie the knots, overlap the edges, and sew a small button in place. I'll see how it wears first.

The refashioned dress was a fun project and I'm happy to have it finished. I had a few more projects on teh go at the same time than I'm comfortable with having so I'm working my way through them and finishing up things. Next is the Snowland cardigan. I liked the combination of the two yarns where the pink and the hand-dyed orange mixed but not where the pink and the beige-green parts of the hand-dyed yarn mixed. It was a (not pleasant) surprise when the yarn unfolded into these other colors. Right now, the cardigan is in a crimson dye bath and I'll see what happens.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - snug studio days