Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A New Year...again

A few other bloggers are revisiting their resolutions from last year to see how they did, so I thought I'd take a look at mine.

1. Blog more often - In 2007 I posted 64 entries and in 2008 I posted 66, not counting this one. That's not blogging more often. At least it didn't go down! I blame part of it on Facebook. I joined it this year and sometimes updating my status on Facebook trumps updating the blog.

2. Lose weight. Meh. I stayed about the same but I didn't work hard at losing weight. Without a 9-5 job, I really should get to the gym more often. I did go a handful of times in November and December. Maybe I'll make it more of a habit in 2009.

3. Embrace my hobbies. Without that 9-5 job, I certainly am embracing my hobbies. Although I sewed about the same number of garments as last year (8 this year, 9 last year), most were completed in the last few months due to that lack of 9-5 job thing. I did knit a lot more but I still have the problem of not actually finishing the items. Gotta work on that.

4. Think before I buy. I've done relatively well with this one. There's still too much stuff in the house but I think I've done well to keep shopping to a minimum and only buy what's needed. My fabric buying was down this year except for two bouts of travel-fabric buying, one in D.C. with fellow patternreview sewing friends and one in NY because what sewer can resist an opportunity to shop in the NY Garment District? My yarn buying was not so restrained but I knit a lot more things this year so that's good, right?

5. Find the good in my work. Well, the J-0-B ended and I have my sanity back. It was tough in the last few months but I dug my heels in, went to the office every day (instead of hiding out at home and telecommuting), and finished up the work I needed to finish. On my last day my co-workers took me to lunch and the manager even gave me a memento of the project. The lay-off from the contracting company was partly voluntary and I know they would have wanted to keep me if there had been suitable work. So it's all good.

6. Nurture relationships. I think I did ok with this one but I know I could do better. There's always room for improvement here.

I think I'll just repeat these resolutions for 2009, except #5 becomes slightly modified into "Find good work" And I really want to keep the word "good" in there because I don't want to find myself in a difficult situation again.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Fun with my new tablet

My husband gave me a really cool computer tool for Christmas - it's a Bamboo writing tablet (no it's not made of bamboo - that's just its name) by Wacom. ***I've updated this post to alert any other tablet users of a known bug that causes a conflict between tablets and HP printers with Windows Vista. If you get the error message "hpqscnvw has stopped working" when you try to scan a document, go apply this patch: here's the link.***

I've been playing with the tablet today by using it to modify the picture of the purple dress to see what the dress looks like with various changes.

Here it is with just a hemmed neckline and sleeves (click on all pictures for a larger view):

Here is with a lowered neckline:

Here is with a lower neckline and trim added:

Here is with a lower neckline, trim and buttons:

So what do you think?

Merry Christmas Eve

Since I had more time at home this year before Christmas, I decided to put out a few more decorations than I normally do. These are little cardboard houses that my family put out with our Christmas train layout. They're fairly old. Perhaps from the 30's or 40's? They are hollow with holes in the back, sized to hold a light.

Christmas houses

When I was in my early teens or so I attempted to "fix up" the houses by removing the old, torn cellophane windows and doors, which had been poked at for years by little children's fingers (mine included). Of course I probably shouldn't have done that and certainly not with the red cellophane I used. It's also my "artistry" on the front doors.

Christmas houses

I loved these houses so much that when I was first out on my own and celebrating Christmas thousands of miles away from family, I found and purchased small houses to decorate my own Christmas layout. This year I put up both sets, but the old houses are safely away from the paws of little cats. I only wish the old houses had been kept safe from my hands as a child.

As a child I was always making things and of course I continue today. Last week I took a class to learn how to make fabric baskets. I chose some Christmas themed fabric and created this basket. It's made by wrapping strips of fabric around cotton cording and zig-zag stitching the cording together. You start with the bottom and work you way up to the top, shaping the basket as you stitch.

Fabric basket

I was warned that making these baskets is addictive and I believe it! I already have fabric combinations picked out for some more.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Party dress or prairie dress?

I worked on a dress last week in hopes of wearing it to a Christmas party last Saturday night, but I wasn't happy with the results. I have thoughts on how to improve it but decided against trying to incorporate them before the party. Instead I wore my Burda dress from October with a black jacket.

The un-finished party dress is Vogue 8509. I made a muslin so I could modify the princess seam fit. The muslin looked like a dress for the 5th wife of a FLDS polygamist. I had (some) confidence that the finished dress would not be so prairie-like because I was using a rayon crepe instead of crisp cotton muslin. As I sewed up the rayon, the dress looked promising as a party dress...until I sewed in the sleeves.

Too matronly

I don't want to make another sleeveless dress, so I thought about ways to improve the look. The first thing that popped into my head was to add a ribbon below the bust. I had some black petersham (the dress is a deep, deep purple) so I pinned that on.

Better with a black ribbon?

I bought some purple velvet ribbon from Britex and tried that on the dress:

Better with a purple ribbon?

I think I like the velvet ribbon the most, although I think I pulled it a little tighter than the dress actually is. The neckline is still unfinished and is supposed to be bound with bias tape. I planned to make a bias strip from the fabric and use that. I'm also thinking about lowering the neckline. Opinions on which ribbon and whether I should lower the neckline would be greatly appreciated! Also, I'd like your honest opinions about the dress. Is it still matronly? Anything else I could do to fix it?

Here's a parting shot of one of my silly kitties. Poor baby is cold. I don't know what he would do in a real cold climate.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tiny woodworking

I am in awe of the miniature woodworking by William R. Robertson.

Someday I would like to make miniature textiles by weaving and knitting and maybe even bobbin lace. I remember once using straight pins as tiny knitting needles to make a bit of knitting for my Barbie. I guess Probably the only reason I've not gone down the (miniature) rabbit hole is because just making full size versions take up more than enough of my time. There's a woman from either North or South Dakota (some place with long, cold winters) who comes to Stitches and shows off her miniature sweaters that are done to scale with the correct gauge as full size sweaters.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The scarf that has no end

This is the scarf that has no end
It just goes on and on my friend
I just keep on knitting it
Because that's what a knitter does
Now I'll continue knitting it forever just because...

But it DID end and here it is

Cashmere scarf

Cashmere scarf

This was my first full-scale lace project. I enjoyed the knitting to a point. I got pretty sick of the pattern after a while but I found that if I didn't work on it, I'd make mistakes. So I decided to just finish it. It kept me occupied on at least 6 airplane flights, four of which were 5-6 hours long. I read somewhere that if you want economy in knitting, either knit with thick yarn because it knits up quickly and you don't need a lot of it, or knit with really thin yarn because it will occupy you for a long time. At this point I can't imagine knitting a full size lace shawl. I have more lace-weight yarn in my stash. What was I thinking?

I forgot to mention that this is cashmere. Scrumptious indeed. This of course made the knitting more enjoyable.

To preserve my sanity, I did switch gears for four days and knit this beret

Showing off the hat

Click here to see a picture that shows the hat better, but I liked my smile in the photo above. It's hard to take a photo of yourself - camera on the tripod, remote in hand, smile and act like a model. Hehe. Anyway, the pattern is called the "Starflower Beret" and it was the featured one-skein project from The Swift Stitch yarn store in Santa Cruz during the Yarn Shop Hop in September. I knit it as a Christmas gift and it's going to be hard to let it go. The yarn is Chasing Rainbows (55% wool, 45% mohair) and is delicious. It was a quick knit (hence I was done in 4 days). Here's a view of the top (it's also in the first picture, being blocked on a dinner plate).

Starflower Beret

On to the next knitting project!