December 9, 2013

Winter Color

I don't look forward to the cold weather and dark days of winter.  Once they've arrived, however, I love the bright warm handknits!  Colorful stranded mittens keep my hands warm.  A soft lacy scarf can be wrapped around my neck, or cover a freezing face on a bitter cold day.  Bright hats not only cheer me up, but provide visibility when walking.  Hooray for bright warm woolies!

December 5, 2013

How to Rock Movember

How to Rock Movember: A Ladies' Guide

First, be cute.  Now you can be born cute, or you can have cuteness thrust upon you.  But I don't know that one can achieve cuteness, at least not without a seed of proto-cute to cultivate.

Second, the 'stash.  All men have to do is stop shaving their upper lips.  But, being a lady, I need to supplement nature.  Hence the invention of liquid eyeliner.

I went with a pencil mustache and soul patch.  It's so 5 years ago, but this was...5 years ago!  What a fun Halloween costume: I actually fooled some friends (from behind) into asking "Who's the new boy?"

The second attempt, at New Year's, was more dramatic.  I still pull it off, but going Handlebar would be over the top.  It's good to know one's limits.

November 19, 2013

London Travelogue: Day 4, British Museum

17. Oct, 2013
Day 4 was so full that I've been intimidated to attempt to chronicle the highlights.  I'll have to tackle it one venue at a time, starting with the British Museum.  This post has been simmering away in my mind, and I've been researching more from home, so hopefully I can do the day justice.

I was up and out early, and hit the British Museum.  It is an enormous building, and holds the most amazing objects from around the world.  These guard statues from Assyria were incredible!  The rediscovered ancient Assyrian palaces are such a treasure.  I'm in awe of ancient people: the depth of their accomplishments impresses me here-and-now!

Assyrian Palace guard statues, palace friezes in background.  © Neil Howard
I saw the Rosetta stone, and geeked out over the cuneiform exhibit.  It's interesting to see how practical the introduction of language was: the first clay cuneiform tokens marked the contents of storage containers, then agricultural transactions.  The pictograms eventually rotated 90 degrees and became more abstract.  A key to cracking cuneiform, and hieroglyphics, was realizing that the symbols represent syllables rather than full words.

I really enjoyed the ancient Egypt section, especially the early mummies.  It's amazing that this young man's body has been preserved for almost 6,000 years.  He made ancient Egypt relatable to me in a way that preserved mummies and sarcophagi did not.

"Gebelein Man"
The Parthenon sculptures and friezes are beautiful, and seeing a Parthenian column demonstrates the temple's tremendous size.  This sculpture of reclining goddesses retains some original paint:

Three Goddesses of Athenian Parthenon

The British Museum used to house the British Library, with the Reading Room its hub.  Now used for special exhibits, here's a panoramic photo as it was:

I think that heaven must look like this
The British Museum's covered courtyard, and Reading Room at center:

Central Courtyard, © Greg Knapp
The British Museum is a jewel, and I wish I'd had more than one day to wander through it.  What I did see, I loved.  The courtyard is a fascinating place, blending exterior and interior.

November 5, 2013

London Travelogue: Day 3

16. Oct, 2013
Wednesday's agenda was simple: visit my friend Pauline.  Anything else was gravy.

I took the tube to Hyde Park Corner, which is one of the busiest intersections in London and thus completely mad.  I got lost in the middle of the giant roundabout: I believe I was confusing the Artillery and Machine gun memorials, silly me.  I eventually found my way and caught my bus.

Hyde Park Corner
I had a lovely visit with my friend!  It was very nice to be in a comfortable, homey place just chatting.  After so many new sights and experiences, familiarity was very welcome.  She's the first long-distance internet friend I've met :)

I rode the bus back, watching the sun set pink against the white stone buildings of Baker Street.  When I returned to the hotel it was time for dinner, where I chatted with a friendly Londoner with a Cockney accent.  It may not sound like the most eventful day, but I had a lovely time :)

November 4, 2013

A Conversation (only in London)

Sitting and reading on our hotel beds:

Mom: "Do you know what people are saying when they say bollocks?!?"
Me: (can I say balls to my mom?) "...Yes, it means testicle."

I then informed her that fanny has a very different meaning than in US English.  It was an interesting evening!

October 31, 2013

London Travelogue: Day 2

15. Oct, 2013:
Tuesday!  My first full day in London, and where to start?  We chose Westminster Abbey, Parliament and the Tate Gallery.  Plus a walk through St James Park to Buckingham Palace.

Walking up to Westminster, what do I spy around the corner?  Hello Big Ben!  I hadn't realized, but Big Ben is gilded.  All sorts of London buildings are gilded, which makes them lovely but sometimes too ostentatious for my Colonial tastes, haha.

Westminster Abbey's exterior is impressive, but inside it's just jaw-droppingly amazing.  Even to modern eyes the verticality is incredible.  The level of detail is astounding--even now I look at photos and can't quite believe it.  Excellent architectural use is made of daylight, so the interior is much brighter than you'd think.  I was jet lagged so didn't take any exterior photos, and photography is not allowed inside.  It's honestly difficult to get far enough away to take exterior photos.  It would have involved crossing streets, and I was still working on not being run over.  Extra crossing of streets was not on my agenda just yet.
West entrance, where you enter for tours

Westminster Abbey from the London Eye
I loved Poet's Corner!  Many of my favorite authors have memorial stones here.  The Brontë sisters' memorial reads "With Courage to Endure."  I'd hope for something more upbeat, myself.  Shakespeare has a life-sized statue.  It was really amazing to see remembrances of so many talented writers.  I enjoyed merit winning out in that way, unlike the aristocrats and royals who fill most of the cathedral.  You can look up your favorite author here.

The memorial for Elizabeth I is very elaborate.  Mary Tudor is buried under Elizabeth, with the inscription "Partners in throne and grave, here we sleep, Elizabeth and Mary, sisters, in hope of the Resurrection."  That seemed a nice sentiment to me, considering how militant they were in life.  James I, son of Mary Queen of Scots, built his mother as nice a tomb as Elizabeth's.  Guess he showed her!

I also wandered around the cloisters, which felt on a human scale after the cathedral.  There are offices still in use around the Abbey, and people still attend services there.  On one side is a garden, and I enjoyed seeing the old walls and more personal aspects of this incredible site.

Westminster Hall
Next up were the Houses of Parliament, which includes Big Ben.  Parliament is also very impressive, and actually started out life as a palace.  The central Westminster Hall was a dining hall originally, and you could host quite the banquet!  The whole complex is a fascinating mesh of buildings, sometimes with original walls embedded in modern ones.

I was able to sit in on the House of Commons!  It's pretty incredible to sit in a place I'd read about for years, and had imagined, but never expected to see.  Sitting in the observation balcony, you can imagine yourself as a bystander to history.  Throughout Parliament, there is information about the history of the building, including an alarming map of the WWII bomb damage.

I can't adequately put my impressions of Parliament and the Abbey into words.  Westminster is an incredible area, and I highly recommend a visit if you're able.

Then I visited the Tate Gallery.  It's a 1km walk south along the Thames, past Thames House (home of MI5).  We walked through Victoria Tower Gardens, which is a royal garden and very strict.  I don't think you're actually allowed to have fun in royal gardens.

Tate Britain contains 500 years of artwork, arranged by era.  There are many famous paintings, but my favorite pieces were new.  I especially enjoyed the genre paintings and portraits of everyday women.  After all the men represented in Westminster Abbey and Parliament, it was nice to see some female faces again.

I really loved this painting: she's over 2m tall and has a wonderful expression.

Woman Smiling
I ended the day with a walk through St James Park, past Buckingham Palace as the sun began to set.  The sky glows pink on the stone buildings, it was my favorite time of day in London.  The setting sun also lit up the gilded Victoria memorial, and was something to behold.

Angels atop the Victoria Memorial

My take away thought from Westminster Abbey: They've got a lot of people socked away under the floor.  And various monarchs in boxes around the place.  It's just not a typical thing in my life that you bury people inside.  I'm curious now to look up how exactly they bury folks.  Do the stones come up?  They don't appear to.  Is there subterranean access?  Enquiring minds want to know...

October 30, 2013

London Travelogue: Day 1

14. Oct, 2013:
After flying overnight I arrived in Heathrow at noon.  All architecture in London seems designed to impress, and much of it to overwhelm, the viewer.  In a visceral sense you understand this was the capital city of an Empire.  My first impression, however, was bewilderment.  And stunned disbelief: I couldn't believe I was actually in London!  After dropping off bags at the hotel, and gratefully stretching my body out flat, we were off.

First it's the V&A!  The Victoria and Albert Museum houses decorative arts, so there's something for everyone.  I really enjoyed the historical fashions, the statuary, and the Victorian gallery with items from the Great Exhibition.  There are fun interactive exhibits, too, and I tried on a corset and farthingale.  I still prefer jeans and tees ;)

This baby dress was hand knitted from sewing thread, using 1.5 million stitches.  It won Sarah Ann Cunliffe a Bronze medal.  I wonder who won Gold!

Handknit baby dress, V&A

The statues are amazing.  There's a cast of Trajan's column so large that it has to be displayed in two parts.  I saw it from the upper walkway, which was a great perspective.  I love Rodin's work, and he's amply represented.  There are also many, many marble busts of dead white guys. 

Trajan's column
After closing time at the V&A, it was off to Harrods.  The walk was interesting, along busy streets and through a Lebanese area of Knightsbridge.  The Food Hall was like the UN meets Whole Foods.    At this point I was overwhelmed, and tired, so we stopped for dinner at one of the cafes.  Then headed back to the hotel to rest and sleep.  It was a long day--up Sunday morning, traveling through the night, and to bed on Monday night!

(part of) Harrods Food Hall
*The following days I did bring my camera, so stay tuned for non-internet photos.

October 26, 2013

No Woman, No Drive

To honor the 60-plus Saudi women who protested by driving today, I give you this awesome video:

October 24, 2013

Oct 5 in Pictures

I've returned from London, and it was a fantastic trip!  Sadly, I came down with a cold the last morning and am now laid low with a nasty sinus infection.  So photos and breathless observations will have to wait until the antibiotics really kick in.

Instead I give you a photo journal of Oct. 5.  A friend was visiting, and it was a ridiculously gorgeous day, so we rode the ferry to Bainbridge Island and back.  The skies were bluest blue, with barely a cloud, and so sunny and warm that I got a bit sunburnt!  Shame on me for neglecting sunscreen, even in Oct.

A few blocks from home I saw Cyclamen blooming under an old maple tree, lit by patches of sun.

From the ferry, Mt. Rainier was in unparalleled form!  I can't remember when I've seen it this clearly.

On the walk home these tessellated lizards crept along a sidewalk.  Time has worn their embossed lizard backs and moss smooths their borders, but onward they crawl.

August 27, 2013

Where's My Mojo?

I've lost my knitting mojo.  And my spinning mojo.  I don't know where it went, but it's gone.  This has happened before, but never so abruptly or completely.  At least that I can remember.  I have started plugging away on the cable sweater again, after a break during hot weather.

I'm feeling well enough to get out more and start making new friends, though, which is great.  I chatted up a guy on Friday night, and we went out Sunday.  He's from out of town, but a good date is a good date!

August 17, 2013

I'm Going to London!

I was trying to think of a clever title for this post but excitement got the better of me.  In Oct I'll be flying to London for a week!  I'm a bit overwhelmed right now, so I haven't started compiling a list of Must See Places.  A day up at Oxford is high on the list, with a stop-and-gawk at the Bodleian library.  I'm really looking forward to checking out the V&A, too, which has been on my wish list for over a decade.  And art!

What's hilarious are the weather warnings.  It sounds exactly like Seattle in Oct.

August 15, 2013

Six Years Ago

I stood in Superior Court and swore that my marriage was irretrievably broken.  I rebuilt myself and remade my life.  I've made new friends, live where I'd always wanted to live, and am altogether happier than I ever was back then.

You'd think this would be a more important anniversary, but most years it passes unremembered.  Recently someone was asking about my past, which caused it to come to mind.  That and my building's windows are being washed the same day, and repeatedly seeing the notices jogged my memory ;)

August 14, 2013

Ch Ch Ch Changes

In the past month I made some big med changes.  Long story short, I feel like myself again!  I can read and remember books!!!  I've finished The Scarlet Letter, now onto Brave New World, and have a whole stack of books waiting.  The library is my friend again :)  My vocabulary has mostly returned as well, which is awesome.

I have so much more energy, though so far that's tempered by side effects as my body recalibrates itself.  I've started taking a self-paced college Algebra class online, and am hoping to brush up on my very rusty German.  EdX has some amazing courses, too, which I hope to take advantage of at some point.

The social prospects are the most exciting.  And I may even begin sewing again.  I definitely want to design, knit and publish at least one of the lace knitting patterns in my design notebook!

August 1, 2013

Google [Censored]

Not only is Google bent on world domination, that world will be censored.  Anyone try out Google's voice recognition?  No luck for dog breeders, cat fanciers or anyone who ever uses four-letter words.  Why so Nanny State, Google?  Apple software will happily dictate any swear word you throw at it.  Apparently Google doesn't see the world comprised of grown ups, but clients waiting to be told what they should or shouldn't say.

And no, the irony that I'm posting this on Google's Blogger is not lost on me.  At least Google still lets us web search for their World Domination plans???

July 30, 2013

My Gram

My paternal grandmother died when I was twenty.  She fought cancer for several years, hard years.  I loved her but was overwhelmed by the situation, didn't know how to react, and was caught up in my own life.  She wrote me cards and letters over that time, and I always felt guilty that I was so bad at calling or writing her back.  I wasn't grown up enough to deal with her illness.  I had one wonderful visit with her during that time, and I treasure those memories.

Yesterday I got a bug to declutter, and went through old correspondence.  In it were all the cards and letters she wrote from that time, and earlier.  A rabbit-themed fold-out birthday card for my 19th birthday--she said "I know, I know, you're 19, but I couldn't help myself."  I loved that card.

Reading her writing now, with greater understanding and experience, is like having a conversation with her.  I read her thanking me for a quilt I made her, how it kept her warm and loved.  I read about the gifts I sent, with my mom's help, and I feel sure that she knew I loved her.  And still do.  I always mourned that we couldn't know each other as adults.  But I trust that I will see her again, with her red hair restored.

Eleanor,  Frank Weston Bensen, Wikimedia Commons

The card my Gram used most often

July 27, 2013

Post #301

I just noticed and thought it deserved a post.  That's a lot of project updates, random thoughts, and whatever else I write about.  I've been really bad at blogging lately, mainly because life has been hard.  I'm focusing on activities of daily living, which is what Social Security calls the stuff you need to do to get through the day.  They're all about limitations to your ADLs.

Eating, getting to medical appointments, and otherwise taking care of myself and the cats has been the main thing.  And keeping up with friends, mostly online but some in person too.  Things are going better this weekend, and I'm very happy about that.

I bought a new spinning wheel but don't have photos worthy of posting yet.  I'll need to move it into the sun--yes, Seattle's having real summer weather!  It's lovely.  And hot.  Ah well ;)  Take care everyone, and thanks for hanging in with me.

July 15, 2013


Of any three incongruous words, these have to rank high on anyone's list. What kind of vacation involves bibles AND school?!? Yet each summer in the US, many churches run a week-long VBS and many parents send their kids. I suspect free childcare is at least part of the lure. Now, I believe in God and think it's a good thing for kids to be exposed to grounded spiritual beliefs (ie, no cults). But VBS doesn't sound like happy fun time to me. I was a kid who ran around, played with neighbors, biked to not-so-nearby towns, and generally had fun having fun all summer. There were chores, of course, but also plenty of free time.  School does not equal free time.

Perhaps because I'm a literal-type person, I find it very difficult to gloss over the phrase. Is it a school for vacationing bibles? Or a vacation for biblical scholars? Maybe the bible of school vacations? No matter what, I don't wanna.

June 17, 2013

Goodbye Google Reader

But what to replace it with?  The big downside, for me, is the inability to easily switch between readers.  Such is 21st Century, First World life ; )

I started using feedly, I find its pared-back layout pleasing.  Feedly also recommends new blogs for you, though the recommendations based on readership makes me itchy as only popularity contests can.

Then I checked out Bloglovin, which is good in a whole different way.  Initially, I thought Bloglovin was opening a new tab for each post.  If I wanted to do that, I'd do it myself!  Then I realized that you can navigate the blog, and between blogs, from that tab.  I do like being able to read the blog on the author's site.

You can follow my blog with Bloglovin  (I have to post this to claim my own blog).

June 6, 2013

Where the Black Sheep Gather

In two weeks I'll be heading to the Black Sheep Gathering in Eugene, OR, my first fiber festival road trip!  My mom and I are making a weekend of it, and I'm pleased to say that we get along great and really enjoy time together.  She actually brought up the idea of a road trip to scout for a spinning wheel for me, and then BSG popped up as though it was meant to be.  I have a wheel, but it has enough problems that I'd really like a new(ish) wheel to get seriously spinning on.

I've chatted with some amazing knitters about meeting up there, which will be fantastic!  There are spinning circles, too, so I'm looking forward to chatting about and trying out different wheels.  If you'll be at BSG in Eugene, let me know.  I'd love to try to meet up with as many people as possible!

I spun up a bobbin of thicker wool and plied it, just enough to make a warm cushy hat for next winter :)

June 1, 2013

A Baby Sweater

My favorite cousin is pregnant, due in a few weeks, and I'm knitting a sweater for her baby.  I chose machine washable alpaca yarn in a gorgeous teal color, very soft and squishy.  I designed a back-button cardigan with a CF cable and garter st edging, inspired by a sweater on Ravelry.  Apparently buttons on the back makes it easy to change sleeping babies, at least that's the rumor.

I had 2 false starts: first my actual gauge didn't match my swatched gauge.  Then I forgot to compensate for the fact that cables pull the fabric in.  But now it's progressing well, and there's almost enough to be worth sharing...but I'll share anyway ;)

My sweater so far

© Oxhy Dryle
Inspiration sweater: Vendredi by Oxhy Dryle

I didn't intend to knit exactly the same cable as the inspiration sweater--which is in French, so easier to design my own than attempt a translation.  But my yarn was so squishy that the first cables I swatched almost melted into the fabric.  This one holds it own, however, and adds a modern flair.

May 27, 2013

SuperFast Fashion

Fashion so fast that it's obsolete before it leaves the store.  That's what I saw at Old Navy and other clothing stores this spring.  I saw rack after rack of badly drafted, sloppily finished garments in increasingly cheap fabrics.  It's a painful waste of resources, and leaves lower income customers without decent clothing.  As fit deteriorates visibly each year, what will we wear in 2-5 more years?

Most of the pieces I saw had no waist shaping, no darts, and poorly fitting shoulders and armscyes: the draft bears little relation to actual anatomy.  The shirtdresses are simply lengthened versions of an unfitted oxford shirt, with no shaping aside from a self-tie or drawstring waist.  Well drafted loose clothing can fit well and be flattering, not just look like a feedsack.

Many retailers are adding a hefty proportion of polyester to their previously all-cotton t-shirts, to save money.  Poly blends don't breath, so you feel sticky and get stinky even in mild weather.  They also pill faster, stain easier, and hold static.  For a wardrobe basic like the t-shirt, the small change of switching to cotton/poly blends has a dramatic impact on petrochemical consumption when multiplied over millions of shirts worldwide.

I hope that more people start to take a good look at clothes before they buy.  In the US, we're trained to assume that our bodies are at fault when clothing doesn't fit or flatter.  Hopefully women can start to see that no one, not even the mannequin, looks good in super fast fashion.

A $20 dress that doesn't make you feel attractive, so is only worn a few times, is not a bargain.  A $100 dress that fits great, is comfortable and versatile, becomes a wardrobe staple that lasts for years.  We need to seek out better clothing and support those stores by purchasing from them.  Viva la fashion revolucion!

May 23, 2013

Fast Fashion Stinks...

Literally.  I've noticed a disturbing trend: most of the cute t-shirts I've purchased in the last few years are poly/cotton blends.  This switch had gone unnoticed until one warm day, when after half a day I smelled bad.  Really bad!  I freely admit that, when it gets hot, my underarms are more soggy than dewy, but this had never forced me to change shirts halfway through the day.  Non-biodegradability aside, poly just doesn't breathe.

I've been searching out cotton or linen tops online, but pickings are slim if you want cute stripes.  $80 for a t-shirt?  JCrew I'm looking at you.  Gap has some cotton/modal blend striped tees, but I've found modal pills too easily.  I guess I'll keep looking...No bustin' tags for this girl :/

May 9, 2013

I Made Yarn!

I've been doing some spinning, and I think finally getting the hang of it.  Spinning is one of those physical skills where your body takes over and your brain just hangs out, half paying attention.  Initially it's more tear your hair out frustrating, but eventually it starts to click.

I played with wool, trying different thicknesses and methods of spinning.  I started with two large bunches of natural Jacob roving, plus some Finn and Wensleydale top.  I honestly don't know quite what to do with this yarn, besides knit cat toys.  But here are the results:

Left and above: My first 2-ply; Right: One ball from 3 sheep

All the balls and hanks I've spun so far.

May 4, 2013

Seattle Hearts Trees

I was walking yesterday, enjoying some spectacular weather, when I saw one of these:

Planting strip tree, before sidewalk construction

Seattle values its trees so much that they are legally protected.  Each tree over 6" in diameter is valued by a city arborist before construction.  In the notice above, the tree is valued at $3300.  In older neighborhoods trees can easily be worth $30,000.  Damage to a tree results, at minimum, in a fine equal to its value.  "If the violation is willful or malicious, the amount of the penalty may be trebled."

It's so pleasant to walk under beautiful old shady trees on a warm day.  The trees also harbor a host of wild birds, and help keep the city cool.  Good job Seattle!

May 2, 2013

Solar Powered Self

My energy bump due to sun and warmer weather has arrived, and it's so so welcome!  I've had a migraine respite for a couple days as well, and got out to see friends last night.  Yesterday was full of phone calls, which sorted out a hairy health insurance problem.  Pro tip: one great doctor will know and refer you to other great docs.  Merely good docs don't have this superpower.

Thanks to everyone for reading, it's a big boost to see the stats :)  I have a few small projects to share, of varying success, I just need to photograph them.

April 28, 2013

Best Boyfriend Ever?

He's dependable, cuddly, warm, and will never leave you...

Handknit by the artist's mother and grandmother, he will keep you company all winter long.  Complete with awesome video, demonstrating all the benefits of My Knitted Boyfriend.

Courtesy Noortje de Keijzer


April 26, 2013

A Post

I want to post but don't have anything specific to base an entire post on.  Instead a quick update:

I'm continuing to spin and feel my fingers getting more proficient each time, that's very cool.  The last couple weeks have been migraine heavy so I've been struggling to stay caught up with eating, cleaning and other basics of life.

The cleaner who made life so much easier and nicer? She quit.  I can only clean part of a room at a time, and rarely two days in a row, so my place is not great.  I really need to vacuum again but that's the hardest job for me.  I'm looking for a new cleaner, but that's really slowed down by the migraines.

My hands are hurting less, the arthritis seems under better control, so I've been knitting more.  Hopefully I'll have a finished project to show soon.  I'm thinking about what I can knit with handspun yarn, too, which is fun :)

April 21, 2013


Because you can never have too many hobbies.  And the Zombiepocalypse might be cold.

It all started about 8 years ago, when my aunt gave me a spinning wheel.  She sent it with a how-to video and some wool.  I tried to spin, couldn't get the knack, and set the wheel aside.  Recently some online friends were talking about spinning and I tried again.  Lo and behold, I got the hang of it!  Much of the initial problem was with the fiber, it was too lumpy to spin easily.  I tried with another piece and it was so much easier.

So far I've spun several small balls of different yarns, just learning the motions.  I'm working on a full bobbin of thinner wool, as even as possible.  I enjoy the sensation of spinning, the coordinated movements and the feel of wool gliding through my fingers.

April 9, 2013

Chronic Illness and Friends

For those with a chronic illness it's common to wonder "What's wrong with me?"  Or, "Why don't people like me?"  When the reality is that grown adults can't deal with illness as a part of life.  The ill person is blamed and shunned, and the healthy normies go about their lives.  Probably none of this behavior even registers consciously.  And that makes it hurt even more.

I lost a friend today, someone whose friendship I greatly valued.  I don't know why, she just dumped me.  I'd hoped that being a pretty awesome person, and kind and thoughtful, would count for something.  It doesn't, though.  Sometimes it's a crying shame that humans are hard-wired to be social.

April 7, 2013

FO: Earring Holder

Last weekend I knit a neat project, a strip to hold my earrings.  It's made from scrap purple wool, knit in garter stitch to the required length.  A butterfly pin of my great-aunt's decorates the bottom edge.

Most of my earrings had been living in the base of a ring holder, which lead to a jumble of earrings in short order.  Now the earrings are on display, and I'm more likely to see and wear them.  This earring holder holds many more earrings than fit in the ring holder, as well, so they're no longer scattered between a couple other jewelry boxes.

The Ravelry project page has more details.  The lighting in my bathroom is pretty horrible, sorry about the poor photos.  I had a long weekend of migraine last week, and was very glad to have an easy project to distract me and add a sense of productivity.

April 6, 2013

Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to Michelle, you have won the Shabby Apple gift certificate.  Thanks to everyone who entered.  Have a lovely weekend.  I'm planning to get together with a friend for knitting/crafty time later today, a great way to spend a cloudy afternoon.

April 2, 2013

April Fools

My favorite April Fool's joke was this line of kitten gear from REI:

courtesy REI
Their ad department had fun with this one!  

Microsoft tried to get in on the fun with Bing, but bitterness bogged them down.  Why so angry, Bing?  Is MS forcing you to use Internet Explorer? lol  /nerd joke

Bing: We decided to go back to basics, to the dawn of the Internet, to reimagine Bing with more of a 1997, dial-up sensibility...but the main goal here is just to learn more about how our world would look if we hadn’t evolved.

Yeah, cause Bing using Google's search results as their own makes them the search engine leader :p

March 29, 2013

Shabby Apple Giveaway

The nice people at Shabby Apple, purveyors of vintage clothing, are offering one lucky reader a $15 gift certificate!  They sell really cute modern vintage dresses and more, in 1940s-70s styles, and are rated quite highly.  Please comment by midnight March 5th EST to be entered (sorry, US residents only).  And have a great weekend!

(I'll be over here pouting that my long torso means almost all RTW dresses don't fit.  It's one of the reasons I started sewing, in fact.  Time to sew myself a sundress!)

March 28, 2013


As a Very Sick Person one of my small indulgences is to pay someone else to clean my apartment.  This is a wonderful arrangement: she enjoys cleaning, and is good at it.  I do not enjoy cleaning, am passable in ability, and cleaning hurts.  However, this week my cleaner has pneumonia.

Thus last night found me cleaning the bathroom.  This is one of the easy jobs, at least if you avoid dipping the corner of the rag in the toilet.  Tomorrow is vacuuming day, and I even trimmed the cats' claws in advance.  Dusting will come later, much of it courtesy of the vacuum (I told you I was only passable).  So yes, quite the exciting weekend I have planned ;)

March 26, 2013

Total Project Success

The felted cat bed is an unqualified success:

Who couldn't love this face?

Jake also loves the cat bed, though he juuuust fits in it.  I've decided to make a second, since it's obviously the best cat seat in the house.  When I knit I hope that the finished item is loved and used.  I only dream of a reception this positive. 

March 24, 2013

Spring's Demands

While the world comes back to life in spring, so strongly that cherry blossoms bloom on bare branches and crocus sprout from nude earth, there is a downside that few people see or imagine.  It takes great reserves of energy to initiate a year's growth; however not everything has that energy.  Some animals and plants are too weary after winter's hibernation to face the rigors of spring.  Instead of life renewed, they enter the afterlife.   

This is a truism I learned this year and it's a side to spring I never expected.  In previous years I was full of vigor: excited and energized by the sun after a long dark winter.  This year, I feel the pull from receding winter.  I understand the family members and friends lost to past springs.  The disparate sensations at a memorial last year: still-cool air on my skin while the sun warmed black-tight-clad legs, were a physical metaphor for spring's abundant yet demanding gifts.  This year I feel bare, insufficient in my efforts to absorb and store the sun’s warmth.  Instead of spring hurtling me into summer, I push myself forward, as though stealing energy from the sun as it rises higher in the sky each day.  This year I fear for loved ones who may prove unequal to spring's demands.

Courtesy of Randy Kochis,

March 20, 2013

The M Word

The most dreaded of creatures to a wool devotee, clothes moths!  I saw one last week, and an emerging larva on Sunday, so it's time to take stock and lock down any wool left about.  Which made me realize just how much wool I have: trousers, jackets, coats, some yarn, fiber, the list goes on.  Thankfully the bulk of my wool knitting yarn and wool sweaters are safely locked away in a cedar chest, which not even moths can breach.

I think these moths came in on a pair of thrift store trousers.  That or a feather fascinator.  I'm hanging the trousers in the sun, and have shaken and inspected them thoroughly.  The feathers I just thought of last night, so into the freezer went the fascinator.  Thankfully my silks and cottons are safe.

Clothes moth
I don't think of my clothing as temporary, not the nice pieces anyway.  I think of warm wool sweaters as friends for decades to come, and wooly trousers the same way.  Even cotton t-shirts have a lifespan from day wear to PJs to rags.  So to consider damage, potentially serious damage, is quite a surprising thing.  No matter how careful we are, life will out.  Just another proof that spring is here! 

March 16, 2013

Not Much Progress

The trousers are still on hold.  The big scratch on my leg is mostly healed at least.  Knitting has been slow since arthritis made a comeback.  It turns out the medication I was on that made me nauseous much of the time was actually helping, I realized after stopping it, so I started taking it again.  Only to get twitchy, jittery, fatigued and just feeling off.  My doctor kind of shrugged her shoulders and suggested I taper up more slowly.  Hopefully I can tolerate it again since it really did help the arthritis pain and swelling.  I was hoping it would make me feel better, not just keep things from getting worse, though.

I have a lace shawl idea if I can just get my energy level up enough to start working on it.  Lately I just feel like napping most of the time.  At least spring is here and longer days are very welcome!

March 13, 2013

Lace Mohair Sweater

The trousers are in timeout after crossing me one too many times.  Instead I'm focusing on knitting and have made good progress on a mohair sweater.  It's my own design: knitted sideways with a large scale lace design, slightly bloused body and sleeves with narrow ribbed midriff and forearms.

I've knit the front and back and am starting the first sleeve.  The Coral Cable sweater is pretty slow going so I pick this project up to really feel I'm making progress.  If we get a sunny day I'll try to get a photo of me in the sweater-thus-far.

The lace design, ~4", 10cm wide 

March 10, 2013

Next Project: 1860 Chemise?

Since fitting these trousers is so difficult, and most of what I like to wear is fitted, I thought of a new sewing project in a different direction.  A 19th Century chemise, either with a vintage crocheted yoke, which I own, or embroidered trim.  It may lead to a similar style top also, I do like less fitted tops in hot weather.

Embroidered trim chemise
The fitting would be minimal, I'd have a lovely fancy nightie at the end, and a pleasant combo of hand and machine sewing to keep my hands busy.  I'd wanted to start historical costuming before my health turned worse, back in the early days of the internet, though sadly I've forgotten most of the details.

The chemise pattern at left is from Peterson's magazine Dec 1960, but has no scale.  The layout is based on the width of cloth, each body piece being 2 widths, but I don't know the standard width of cotton in 1860.  I know fabric widths ranged from 20 and 35 inches until very recently.  22" wide seems a decent guess, given the couple existing garments I've quickly researched plus common sense.

I'll have to buy some cotton voile or other fine cotton or linen cloth, plus desired trim.  A chemise like this could work belted as a dress in summer, under a corset for a Steampunk party, or just to keep cool on a summer evening.

March 9, 2013

When Sewing Attacks

Today I was futzing with the recalcitrant trouser's pockets, and pocket facings*.  I pulled on the trousers in yet another try on of yet another adjustment, when I was scratched, nay gouged, by the damn things!  I'm no lightweight: I deal with severe chronic neck, back and jaw pain, constant headaches, and all kind of unfriendly autoimmune stupidness.  But this hurt!  I dutifully went to the sink, after noting that my pocket adjustments hadn't worked, and washed the 3.5"/ 9cm long bloody gash in my leg.

This photo is from 7 hours later, after washing it again just in case.  It is still quite angry with me.  I don't blame it--those trousers are mean!  Shea butter is not a cure-all in this case, sadly.

I do think I've found at least a partial solution to the gaping slant pockets: by adjusting the tension on the pocket vs hip facing I've stopped the pants front layer from pulling and sending the pocket opening flaring upward.  The hip facing (layer against the skin) needs to be at a slightly higher tension than the pocket (in the center, and this whole assembly is more tensioned than the pants front (self explanatory).  This way the upper layer has the least amount of tension while worn, the lower layer the most in case your fashion fabric stretches, and the pocket layer should be completely stable and floating in the middle withtout a care in the world.  Which is where I'd like to be.

I've now basted and removed most of the pins, the trousers are just waiting for daylight and someone brave enough to try them on.  If the pockets still gape badly I'll give them one more chance and then declaring it as good as it gets.  I would consider basting shut the pocket openings but I know I'd be driven slowly mad by having pockets that are entirely inaccessible.  So we're not even going there.

*Those pocket bits that extend all the way to CF that you're told are so important but right now are just a pain in my ass.

March 6, 2013

Ugh, Pockets

Burda 04-2010 #119
slash pockets of disgruntlement
Some people have sleeve issues, I have pocket problems.  The slash pockets on my navy trousers are gaping.  I used hem binding when sewing the pocket seams, so they wouldn't stretch and gape, but even after pressing, steaming and moving the upper edge, they're still gaping :(  I just read a tip to fully stretch the pocket opening before sewing, so I'll try that next.  Any changes I make from here on require unpicking finished seams so it's becoming a bit overwhelming.

As far as overall fit goes, taking in one leg by 2cm helped a lot so I think that part is figured out.  I basted on the waistband tonight: hips-to-waist and pockets aside, the trousers fit well.  I'm almost out of navy thread, having unpicked at least as much as I've sewn, so moved on to brown for basting.  It's much easier to see when unpicking, a nice bonus.  I invested in a scalpel-style seam ripper and it'll earn its keep this week!

ETA: I've added a Follow by Email feature, on the upper right below the About Me.  Thanks to reader Maren for bringing it to my attention.

March 5, 2013

Trouser Update

The trousers are coming along well.  I think I should have cut a size 38, not 40, especially with the give of wool twill.  The legs are baggy enough to have draglines.  I'll take in the outseams and see how they look.  The waistband seems to fit well, though I haven't sewn it to the pants yet.  The pockets gape a bit so I'll rebaste them before attaching the waistband.  Funny how something looks great flat but acts very differently on a 3D body.

Looking at the photos from my last post I realized I'd sewn the fly shield onto the wrong side.  If I'd sewn on the waistband, the shield would have prevented the top of the zip from opening.  Oops.  Thankfully it was easy to fold down the top of the shield and solve the problem.  I really didn't want to have to redo the topstitching!

March 2, 2013

I Sewed a Fly!

The navy trousers are coming along well, after I conquered the pockets.  I sewed the fly zip last night and it's in, looks good, and works.  At 1am I decided that the topstitching was good, unless it looked awful in the light of day.  The vertical stitching is a little bit further away from CF at the base than at the top, but not enough to be noticeable.  And no one should really be staring at my crotch once these are done.

The fly shield and waistband lining are in a bright madras plaid.  Working with this wool twill is just delightful!  It's squishy but manageable, presses wonderfully, and isn't so stretchy that all my seams look awful.  I think they'll be very comfy on, too.

February 28, 2013

Never Ending Pockets

Between Burda and my pain-based congnitive impairment,  I've sewn (and unpicked) at least a dozen wrong pocket seams on these trousers  Last night culminated in a big mistake and needing to recut the hip pieces :(  Thankfully I had enough fabric.

I've switched from Burda's text directions to Simplicity directions with diagrams, and hope that helps.  I'm also stacking pieces together before sewing to reduce errors.  It is immensely frustrating to not be able to trust my brain on a day-to-day basis.  Especially when energy to sew is such a precious thing!

Here is where I left off:

Pocket pieces top, pant fronts under, pattern tracings all around

Waistband pieces: wool outer, organza lining, madras plaid inner waistband.
Front plaid piece becomes fly facing.

I was very frustrated last night.   Today I realized that once I've conquered the pockets it'll be pretty smooth sailing to finish the pants.  The next big step is inserting the fly zip and I have many visual resources for that.  I just hope these I can wear these trousers this late winter/early spring.  I even knit a vest to wear with them.

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