My blogverse

Sticking to the plan…

I finished a sleeve on my Lila sweater last night, er well this morning (12/18) at about 12:05am. It’s supposed to be rainy and dreary this week, so I need this sweater in my wardrobe. I downloaded maybe three hat patterns this week to try my hand at color work, but absolutely will not start that until my Lila is complete. I reinforced this by telling my sister, because truly working on one project from start to finish has been an enormous challenge for me.

I’m trying to work out that ju-ju. I’ve been in a sewing slump. A slump of wanting to work on fit issues, but not having the attention span to dedicate. Honestly it’s totally cramped my style as I planned some fall/winter capsule sewing after

a fabric splurge in late summer. But I got hung up on not wanting to waste the beautiful fabrics if my fit was off. The result was two dress projects sat neglected, and I’m out the new clothes that would be easier and less of a hassle to sew. (Buffalo check Archer popover + Grey regular Archer from Theory fabrics. Hunter green French terry Evergreen jacket & Jasper sweater in fleece lined wool sweater knit.)

Sweater status photos from Monday evening. Last night that I busted out 1/2 a sleeve partly while watching the updated version of “It.” Presuming I make good time on knitting today, this Lila should be wearable by Friday leaving me free for selfish sewing in time for Christmas.

Up next on my knitting endeavors: split-back snowflake hat from Susan B. Anderson, Floralea from Melissa Stadja and/or Backfield Hat. Portable projects for a long drive to the mountains.

*update 12/22* complete but for weaving in the ends & blocking. May skip blocking due to the viscose in this yarn. But I’m so excited about this project. It fits like a dream and it’s gonna be so warm up in the frosty mountains.

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Pardon Me, I’m NOT Present

The whirlwind of my life causes me to spend almost as much time in the car driving as I do at my forty hour desk job. How is that possible? I must be travelling great distances, or just travelling small distances multiple times. Who knew that the beast I would need to overcome would be constant sitting – usually driving from 7am when we hop into the wagon until 8:30 am, working from 8:30 until 4:30 (which is 90% sitting,) and then driving again from 4:30pm until 6 (on days that I am lucky) or later like 8pm (if some sporting event or errand or other commitment declares my attention and transportation.)  You must be wondering why I am oversharing these ridiculous facts about how much and when I am sitting. Well, please pardon me, I’m not present in my craft life much.

May the counsel present the first Exhibit A: Knitting Lila #2,

Made it to joining the sleeves and set it aside for two weeks while reminding myself of how to do the provisional cast on so I can knit the sleeves top down and keep my sweater seamless. I finally conquer the provisional cast on after at least four attempts to get cruising on the yoke decreases.  This takes me about a week.  Two nights ago I am on the last decrease round and I pull up the pattern to check where I am heading next only to realize that I neglected to knit a normal round after each decrease round. (epic face palm + expletives + F.F.S. outbursts)

At this late hour of the day I chose to unknit two rounds.  The next morning I chose to thread a smaller circ through one of the beginning decrease rounds and pull back. This was uneven, so in my wisdom I chose to yank back to where I joined the provisional cast on.  Should have been gravy from there folks, but NO, NO, NO! Enter knitting anomaly where there is a large section on either side of the bound off underarm stitches where the yarn is loose, but there is NO END?

F.F.S.

I tackle this by attempting to knit it from one end to the other. No go, unknit. I decide to go the other way, and find a 4″ loop between two stitches on the same round! I really couldn’t tell you just how this happened or why, but did see the tail yarn about 4 stitches from the bound off underarm section at the end of that section. I chose to unknit towards it and reknit with the right side part of the loop to solve this ever-loving knitting conundrum. There was NO WAY I was pulling back and starting the entire beast over again. I am so close. Luckily, I believe this has solved my issue and I’m two rounds in to the proper K all + decrease round combination.

The counsel rests on the matter of knitting the Lila sweater and presents Exhibit B: Sewing Shenanigans that are never, ever, complete.

Back in the summer, there was a fabric sale and I found all these wonderful fabrics to plan a good number of items for a fall wardrobe or things I could wear to work or to fill gaps of fabric to make patterns that I didn’t have the right fabric for. We all know how that goes. One such gem was the Heritage Rayon that I felt was destined to be a Varda dress.  Well I made a muslin I think it was in August and keep trying to decide if I should make any adjustments before forging ahead with the buttery soft rayon I selected. Last week, and before her passing I might add, I chose to pull out my Nancy Ziemen Busy Woman’s Guide to fitting to try fixing my sloping shoulder, and apply it to the pattern and test it in a shirt capacity as I found enough scrap to give it a go. Things just went wrong here because I cut the back on a fold – WHY? and then realized that something was off when I tried to line up the sides to baste things together for a quick fit. Well, the fit in the bust is spot on, but the neckline is suspiciously strange due to the new modified shoulder slant. And of course, because I have a teenager with a social calendar that is 25 miles from where we live, this if where I left off on Saturday.

As you can imagine I have been scratching my head ever since, trying to figure out why I am not present in my crafty hobbies and causing such headaches for myself.  The main conclusions I arrive at are as follows:

  • I’m trying to do too much in too little time to steep in the process and enjoy it.
  • By wanting to do a project quickly I’m forgetting to be careful in following directions.
  • I don’t have enough time to do multiple things well, but that isn’t stopping me from trying.,
  • I’m driven by the need to have new wardrobe pieces to enjoy, but stall out because I don’t want to make a mistake with the good fabric.
  • I’m having second thoughts on the fabric choices and pattern combinations.
  • I have too many projects lingering and too much of a mess to make my decisions easily.

Do YOU have any strategies to share about how to make the most of your hobby time when your enthusiasm has lead you beyond the edge of control?  Short of clearing all the tables and stuffing things aside I’m not sure what to do, but have Thanksgiving weekend to conquer at least part of my self-inflicted craft overload.

Again, pardon me, I’m not present. For if I were I would not make these kinds of crazy problems for myself. My time is limited and I need to find a better way. Lead me oh sewing friends and strangers. Be my guide. Show me the light on the other side.

~M

The forgotten WIP war

In July I posted a WIP rally because I was trying to will myself to cross some things off of the list. Good news – it worked and ALL of those things are finished. Along with my first Ogden cami and the Clover Raglan tank hack.

Along the way I also got a little too organized. I made a list of all the WIPs that need to be finished (and other nagging things on my to-do list) and then proclaimed that I could not begin something new without crossing three items from the list. Maybe that sounds overly industrious, but I’m interjecting an untested method of motivation. (Not to forget exercise before coffee and well, I suppose these are the only two.)

I have a list of stalled-out WIPs:

Retro rucksack – awaiting hardware, but expected to be a quick sew once it arrives (today hopefully!)


Tenement socks – I think it will be smooth sailing until I get to the new-to-me afterthought heel 

Footstool covers for my mum – she requested these last summer & I stitched the accompanying pieces in February. Colorblocking canvas with topstitching. Totally easy once I sit still and apply myself.

Christine Haynes Varda- muslin in final fit stages then on to my April Rhodes Heritage Rayon version. (Sqeee!! Plus I received the sweet Paul Green sandals I’ve been admiring for my birthday. Capsule worthy!)

Petal pouches – finishing out one-offs here and there with scraps that I precut last year (I’ve finished three since last week and could probably make three more)


Elizabeth Hartman Pineapple quilt for my daughter’s birthday – thankfully I think I’ve enlisted some help. I’m a ridiculously slow quilter and her teenager debut is only three weeks out.

My self-designed Allison Glass Cherokee sun quilt – still in sleeper mode, but strategically placed on the sewing table.

I think there are a few Lane raglans to add a neckband to, as well but they’re in the closet and aren’t on my list.
I carefully calculated a list of fabrics/pattern plans to fill in the gaps when I complete other projects:


Since I’m waking up before dawn lately, I’ve done some sewing or prep in the morning. It’s been helpful to have a clearly defined jumping-in place at the end of the day when my brain power is faltering. But so far it’s a strategy that has helped me.

What do you think? Is it too extreme or a wise new way to knock some old WIPs off the list? 

Happy stitching!

~ M

A Pattern of Relentless Application

Take three seemingly random things:

  1. A photo of my messy room as a kid, or even a series of them.
  2. Choosing to commit to a six-week life coaching program
  3. Gioia Timpanelli’s two novella book Sometimes the Soul

And I found that what I thought I was working on like: decluttering my house/close/garage and rewiring my habits really equates to intangible reclamation of my mind.  A process further enhanced by my personal archeological excavation and revealing the truth in my spirit through external and emotional metamorphosis.

A little too deep? Well that is how I dive, my friends.

I can wrap it up in a bow and share how it may relate to you as well.

Item A: Photographic evidence of an explosion of things belonging to me in a space I inhabit and create in.

I don’t know why I thought to take photos of my messy room when I was younger, but I’m glad that it’s a reminder of a part of me that has always been, not the mess, but the creative.  I had a circular surveillance mirror for my bedroom mirror! I made collages, constantly rearranged the furniture (which included a steel desk, a tall melamine bookshelf, twin bed, drafting desk, chair, guitars, amp, 70’s stereo cabinet and black & white tv.) I needed the reminders who I was at different times in life, and I needed them to turn up just now at this point.

If you asked my husband, he might say, “Once messy, always messy.” And this could be relatively true.  Its rare for my closet or bathroom counter or bedside table or bookshelf to remain clear of clutter and tidied daily, but in my creative room I maintain better order.  However, when we removed everything from our 8′ x 14′ office to add-on to the house nearly two years ago, much of it never made it back into the new space.  In my summer heat induced cabin fever I’ve set about to go through the plastic bins one at a time and Marie Kondo the contents into organized bliss with a place for every thing and every thing in its place.

The excavation comes in seeing the oddity of my accumulations.  Sure, there are the expected folders of important paperwork, magazine clippings, kids artwork, old cards (why do I keep them?), and electronics that may or may not be out-of date (hail my mini disc player and the music collection from the days of KaZaa) but there are also strange sentimentalities and family history that my mom sent to me when she realized Texas would be my long-term home, (old Crystal soap in the original wrapper, old glass bottles, a doll high chair, Chinese kites from my grandmother’s trip to China in ’85), and things I brought home when we cleaned out my childhood home (a suede jacket from my mom’s youth, lovely artistic menu cards from my grandfather’s voyage by steamship to Sweden, old maps from New York, New Orleans and a few National Parks.)  Then there are small tokens suitable for scrapbooks, love notes from when my husband and I were dating and concerts I’ve been to, or airline ticket stubs.  A photo here and there, or a blurb of creative inspiration – although most of those are few and far between because photos and notebooks are always handled with exceptional care.

As you can imagine, all of these things can’t fit in neatly. Some could easily be stored forever, because what use are they? So the Kondo method certainly helps, but also my project list grows with what to DO? And my heart swells with love of what I’ve accomplished, grown through and where I am now.  At a time when my daughter is about to be a teen, and I need to remember to offer the same compassion and space I was graciously afforded so she too, can learn to be her own unique person.

Item B: Committing to the self-microscope of a Six-Week Life Coaching program.

The busier life became and the more obligations that were added to my list, I grew accustomed to feeling like I didn’t have the grit to push myself. When the year began I had a certain goal, and a timeline to whether or not I would seek the help of a dear friend who started a life-coaching program. When I didn’t hit my target alone, I gave her a call and started the six-week coaching. I knew that she walked her talk as I’d watched her transformation and what she was doing with it.

For me, her weekly insights in the coaching calls, carefully crafted workbook and homework assignments kicked me in the gut and took the wind out of my faulty “not enough” thinking. The program forced me to evaluate how I think about my habits, fears, confidence.  Her coaching guided me though using specific tools to take action.  I have to admit that even during the six-week program, I would often fool myself into believing that these were things I was aware of and that I was already doing, but now that I’m applying them in day-to-day life without her weekly check-in I know where I’ve raised the bar and where I still need to push myself.

Why am I sharing thing? How does it tie back into my strangely curated list from the beginning? Its highly personal to talk about clearing out mental clutter, in how I think, react and interact as a unique human who is a friend, a wife, and mom with a creative soul. Putting myself under the microscope to “be the scientist,” as Coach Kati calls it, is the internal and  emotional side to the personal archaeological dig.  A resolution to look at how the things I can’t see shape the patterns with physical evidence.  Its one of the most profound things I’ve done for myself, and I’m still applying the skills and will continue to refine and evaluate progress with her at three months and six months.

Item C: Sometimes the Soul – Two Novellas of Sicily by Gioia Timpanelli

July temperatures in Texas present me with the summer interpretation of cabin fever, unless there is water nearby to enjoy. I read several books and made many trips to Half Price Books where I scored beautifully, well-crafted writing from Roald Dahl, Nicole Krause, Cheryl Strayed and some classics. On one of my visits this book caught my eye a dark cover with flowers noted as a detail from artwork at  the Uffizi in Florence. The title text and author credentials shaped into an “S.”

Sometimes the Soul – Two Novellas of Sicily by Gioia Timpanelli

The title appealed to me so I bought it without knowing what a treasure I had found. I almost like that the best, but wouldn’t want anything to overshadow the moving folk tale artistry Timpanelli crafts in these novellas.  When I finished the first novella I paused in appreciation of the beauty, taking it in like a scenic vista. At the close of the second, I knew I found an old-friend in this writing, a real treasure that I would read and reread for the rest of my life. The themes of being open to opportunity with a willing heart and spirit embody love, agape love.

These stories reminded me that love sits at the core of this personal archeological exploration. The love and support I’ve been graced with as I grew up and spread my  wings, eventually sharing it with my own family.  But also being open to opportunity and willing to experience what comes our way in this life. Love leads and builds it all; without it we’re just skeletons carrying flesh.

In the moments of exposing and uncovering layers of who I have been and how life has shaped me into who I am today, its easy to spot how the foundation comes into the play. The faith and openness the main characters show in these novellas gives a glimpse to a time where the past doesn’t have such an impact. It reveals a time where being in the moment was enough.

zzz… This doesn’t make sense.

zzz… What is the purpose?

zzz…

Sometimes the Soul is beautifully written and exposes how authenticity makes potent fertilizer. How? You never know what will happen next in life but if you stay true to yourself its easier to make the best of it.  It’s so simple and beautiful.

So have faith. It will be as it should.

These three things, they DO tie in together. Maybe I haven’t painted the watercolor as best as I wanted to, but perfection is NOT my game. Sharing these slices of life, well, it suits me.

Ciao!

M

 

One in six: the odds have improved.

This is where we will begin. If I wanted to type a new blog today, I couldn’t because my right hand has some issues – tendonitus. I have sewing plans, yet must refrain. I’ve  planned for work towards other goals, but also must refrain from participating in those activities. So thanks to technology I’m using the microphone and making edits with my left hand.

Sewing & knitting updates…

Currently working on: 

Togue Pond tank revamp – armhole ribbing & weaving in ends. Much happier with this in a smaller size than my original from 2015. Although I probably could have done another 10 rounds on the front strap.


Brassie joggers – waistband & hemming. Instant cozy loungewear. Why did I wait so long?


Baby quilt gift – binding! 


Hawaiian shirt for my boy- cut out & ready to sew.


New supplies to use before they   become stash…


April Rhodes Heritage rayon – destined to be a dress

Art gallery knit – tees or weekend wear

Legacy fiber arts steel toe- possibly an April Fool shawl 

Completed since December…

Green tee 

Alberta Street Pencil skirt

Self-drafted maxi dress

and a few others from the real project log…

If you need me, I’ll be sewing…

Like most of my fine friends in stitches, I’ve quite the list to accomplish before December 24th (or 17th for that which must be mailed.)


Here’s my haul from this weekend bottom layer: Indigo broadcloth (from Cloth Pocket) to make a Negroni for my  dad; then a tote for my MIL from the Rifle Paper Co canvas w/polka dot lining, pj pants from the double gauze XO’s for my darling daughter and an Emery!  (all the rest picked up from Stitch Lab.)

Not pictured the table runner I need to quilt for my mum from last Christmas, some eye pillows I have to stitch closed that a dear friend ordered as gifts and in knitting the two-up toe-up Tenement socks I began in September & my Lila still on the needles also from last year (only the sleeves and neckline remaining.)


In non-sewing projects I knocked it out of the park. I planned and conquered a live-edge pecan board tv wall with plumbing pipe.   The shelf wall took a week from start to finish, I sourced the boards locally, sanded them with three grades  and sealed them with Danish oil. (Baskets from Tuesday Morning. Art from Alaskan note cards.) Details can be snooze-worthy, but the results say it all.


So although I’ve been absent from blog land, life keeps rolling along with plenty to do (minus the relentless documentation.)

Happy holidays & may your needles stay sharp and the projects be sans hiccups.

What’s on your holiday sewing crunch list?

You are lucky too.

At the end of a very long Sunday, I stepped outside to look at the moon. It was still behind our pecan trees, but as I looked north a meteor sped east to west low in the sky directly in my gaze. Seconds after turning to look up. Talk about timing!

It’s my reminder for the week that just being alive is pretty lucky. I’ll take a dose of that. 

And hey, you’re lucky too. Remember it.
xo,

M

What to do, when things don’t make sense?

Life is strange and we can never see what’s coming. These are a few random things…

My favorite little town in Oregon damaged by a tornado this morning:

Instagram video from North of Manzanita

Local coverage in the Tillamook County Pioneer

A well stated commentary from OneHotMess: You Cannot Put the Toothpaste Back in the Tube

But what do you do next?

The sudden loss of a gentle giant:


It’s an unpredictable world without guarantees. Be grateful for what moments you have, for those you share them with, and both the beauty and heartache along the way.

Keep your chin up friends.

xo,

M

Can I wrap busy with a tidy little bow?

I can tell that I’m busy because I spend very little time sitting in my amazing creative space gazing at my favorite tree and planning. In fact, I’m hardly home at all. An hour of awake time before running out the door in the morning and home after 8 three nights per week. I swear it feels like the busy has multiplied.

This does not stop me from adding projects to the list, I took action on some Pin-spiration and my laundry area has been in disarray for two weeks now. Two coats of midnight blue later the peach from eight years ago is finally gone. Then I had to remove all 14 cabinet doors and the hinges, and the knobs for operation white to stained via chalk paint.


I have to distress a few spots, apply dark wax, dry and then the sealing wax. So another week of that and looking at the disaster contained in all of the 14 cabinets until I can put the doors back up. EEK! How will I survive without a Kondo purge? (Add it to the list.) I promise to post photos of the transformation when we’ve finished.

On a different tangent altogether, I’m guilty of walking and knitting. I’ll be damned to sacrifice my creative time just because I’m trying to be healthier and more active. I love the statistics side of wearing a Fitbit, but I still want to create. Currently on the needles a Rose City Roller using up random remainders.


One other loose end on my projects list is a baby gift for my cousin’s wee one set to arrive in October. I have been playing with precut squares and then feeling overwhelmed that it looked too…old looking.


So yesterday morning I gave myself permission to try something different, which led to a bit of risky sewing. So I’ve arrived here…


and I’m pleased with where it’s going. The reward was in pressing and squaring. Once again I promise an update when there’s progress/completion. 

Busy days, and projects that must be finished. How busy is your fall?

~m

Unravelling

Sometimes in life we stop to evaluate what’s working and what isn’t. This summer seems to be the season for me to stop and take inventory and make changes (or plans for how to begin the shift.)

You may remember that in the spring I was blessed with a grand new space for all of my sewing and creative outlets. I embarked on a yoga shorts collaboration with my teacher and placed high hopes on momentum. Then life happened, momentum careened off course and slowed. Leading me to this current headspace.

In the meantime, I finished knitting my Seawall socks (pictured in heading image.) I am also ridiculously close to finishing my Sunlight shawl, but after pulling back from the bind off once because I ran out of yarn 1/2 way aling the bindoff, I didn’t pull back far enough the second tome and ended short 12″ (or less). So I need to track down about a yard of lace weight to finish the bind off because I am not ripping it back again. 

(*update* caved and bought some lace weight at HCW in Austin yesterday and knocked it out. Blocked and done.)


I’ve been making slow progress on a few things:

  • Proper waistline placement for my Charleston as dropwaist was NOT the look this dress is meant for. All I have left is to reinforce the new waist seam and bind the neckline & arms.
  • Wiksten tank muslin need to add extra bust width and proceed on wearable item using the animal print rayon from my  Indiesew splurge earlier this year.
  • Cut out pieces for the Retro Rucksack (including lining from stash scraps that were gifted to me) just need to get more fabric for straps and hardware
  • Scrap pieces stacked for Petal Pouches
  • Random 2″ square charmpack from MQC to make baby quilt 
  • Unravelled Togue Pond tank in Quince & Co. Linen to make a more cropped version
  • Unravelled my first sweater from luscious Rowan because it was calling to be saved from the oversized unwearable calamity of a cardigan mashup into a real gem of a Lila.
  • Began a soduko wardrobe planner focus on what to make, overwhelming. Need to revise & include what I have.
  • Assembled Pdf patterns. (More to print & assemble)

And then I realized where do I have the time for this? How can I possibly accomplish anything? And those thoughts threw me under the bus. Immobilized! Woeful & depressed. So I go back to organizing my stash, supplies, patterns, etc. trying to plan for how to use what I have.

One thing at a time. Take it step by step. Breath by breath. Allow the space to unravel and the time to plan anew for things that fit my body better, match the wardrobe plan and maintain continued versatility. Then it can simplify.

How do you tackle these moments? What helps you to get back on track?