boston and big islands

She’s baaacccckkkkkk!!!!

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Sooo… Hi! It’s been awhile since I made an appearance on this blog! Talk about stating the obvious! Let’s just say that a lot of life has happened in the last few months! In the span of about a month in a half, I got a new job and moved to a new city in a new country. I’ve been focused on settling in since then so needless to say, there hasn’t been much time for knitting and sewing! Fortunately, I had TONS of time to knit and sew in the months leading up to this big change! The sweater featured here? Knit and photographed in May but as this is only now getting some wear, waiting to post it was a good choice, nee? That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

2014-05-29 19.16.01So where am I now? Boston! Out of the lab and into a brand new career that I friggin’ love! However, while Boston is geographically close to Toronto, it’s been an adjustment! But did I mention that I love my new job?!  The downside, of course, is all of the friends I left behind. For the most part, my science friends had already moved on from their postdocs (though there are still a few that I already miss terribly) but the awesome sewing and knitting community I was part of in Toronto? Kristin, Andrea, Gillian, Catja? The awesome ladies of Eweknit? The list goes on really and they are all now too far away! So if you know of any sewing and knitting peeps in the greater Boston area, direct me to them or direct them here!

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So let’s talk about the sweater. Another Jared Flood design! Shocking, I know! This one is called Oshima and I was kicking myself for not getting to it sooner last year. How handy would that cowl have been in the Great Deep Freeze of 2014? 2014-05-29 19.14.56

What I feel like doing every time I put this one on!

I made this one out of the Berroco Ultra Alpaca (one of my go to yarns) that I picked up at the EweKnit boxing day sale. It’s a pretty straightforward knit with some slick finishes (tubular cast on and bind off) and a ton of squishy brioche stitch. And the cowl? Seemed endless but every time I put this thing on I just want to burrow down! Not a bad inclination for a winter sweater!

2014-05-29 19.14.01I could go on and on about Brooklyn Tweed patterns and my Jared Flood knitting crush but I think we can skip that this time around. Probably best to hit publish before I walk away for another 4 months! In the meantime, can’t wait to catch up!

cat cuddlesEnjoying a sleepy cat as I write this. Focus on the cat, people and ignore the tired face!

Sara

Ravelry notes can be found here.

 

2014 – Starting with a stash busting pledge!

I have a few goals for 2014 but I feel the urge to immediately and publicly declare that I am on a stash diet this year! Might have something to do with the new Liberty of London fabrics at the workroom! Must.Not.Buy!

OK. So it’s time to hash out the details of my 2014 stash diet. I was already thinking of something along these lines to accompany my ban on ready-to-wear purchases (more on this later) when my friends Andrea and Gail posted about their 2014 stash busting plans (posted here and here). Perfect timing! Made even better by my proximity and frequent meet-ups with Andrea as she can give me a stern talking to if she sees me cheat! Nothing like a little accountability. Andrea and Gail started a flickr group and lots of people seem to be on board. This has already grown to include a stash swap with the help of Morgan and I have seen some seriously gorgeous yarn and fabric posted already! It’s going to be a fun (and maybe sometimes a wee painful) challenge with lots of moral support when gorgeous fabrics come calling!

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Let’s just start with my yarn stash as my rules for this one are quick and easy. No.More.Yarn. Period. No exceptions when it comes to buying with my own money. Occasionally friends ask me to make something for them and that’s still fine if the yarn is on their dime. The large bin I am showing is actually only about 2/3 of what I own as I have second short bin that is full.  In my defence (I’m honest and will admit that there is no real defence!), a very large part of this stash came in a single order from Germany. Yarn is cheap in Germany and my very accommodating friends Anne and Andre brought me a suitcase full last summer.  See below if you don’t believe me.  It was impressive!

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Shall we now discuss my fabric habits…? In a few short months I went from buying on a project to project basis to the current disaster.  The bulk of my stash lives in these three bins. The two large ones contain all of my apparel fabric, as well as larger pieces of quilting cotton. The smaller middle bin is my collection of fat quarters (it’s not full!) and other craft related fabrics.

fabric bins

My stash hasn’t exactly outgrown these bins but my more recent purchases still need to be washed and moved into the bins. I have some strict rules about what can move into the bins and it all stems from a recent problem with carpet beetles. This was a seriously fucking awful period in this household that has been my primary stash diet motivator… it made me realize that a stash is not safe and I would much rather use what I have then lose it! Fortunately, I do carefully store my fabric and yarn to protect it from cat hair, so no damage was done but it could have been a real disaster!

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I also have a bit of fabric that still lives in a drawer. These are my very recent purchases that includes some Girl Charlee and Etsy fabric that came to me via Bitty.  This fabric was pre-washed by my lovely sister before shipping but doesn’t get to live with my binned stash unless it is washed by me and sealed immediately. Think the carpet beetle experience has left me a wee paranoid?!  But I’ve been using this fabric up quickly so having it nice and accessible has been handy! And finally, I have my most recent purchases that includes a small-ish pile of knits and a few woven pieces that are destined to soon become a La Sylphide blouse and two Archers.

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Oops.  And two lovely pieces of wool crepe that were meant to be my Christmas outfit.  The pink crepe will become either a Chardon skirt or a quarter circle skirt using this handy new calculator developed by the ladies of By Hand London.  Thoughts on this?  The cream coloured crepe was originally going to be a quarter circle skirt as I have had this cream ponte skirt of Heather’s on my mind since she posted it. However, I think I would instead like to use it for the Rachel Comey blouse (Vogue 1247).  If I ever get my hands on the pattern, that is! (Update. I got my hands on the pattern!).

wool crepe

I haven’t been collecting fabric for long but I am surprised by what is in those bins every time I go near them so I think that an inventory would be useful.  I think I am going to follow this example.

So we’ve seen the stash but now it’s time for the rules.  I think the bottom line is that I would like to primarily work from what I own this year. This is going to be a big transition year for me as I move from a postdoc into a real job (scary! exciting!) and I have no idea where I will end up.  Therefore, saving most of my money seems like the smart thing to do. However, I know me and fabric purchases are going to be hard to resist! So I think I am going to follow Andrea’s lead on this one and say that I am allowed to buy a single piece of fabric after I have made five items using fabric that I already own.  And that’s only if I come across a really special piece of fabric or have a particular project in mind that I don’t have stash fabric for (Robson trench or Thurlow pants, for example). The exceptions to this will be lining fabric and/or any notions needed for a particular project. Gifts are also a possible exception. I am going to try and use stash fabric for any gifts but I can purchase if I don’t have anything acceptable. Muslin is also not on the diet though I have to be more careful to use what I own before picking up more.  I tend to forget what I have available so grab a couple of metres whenever I am near Designer Fabrics.  I’m going to keep a running tally of what I own in my wallet at all times so that I don’t overbuy.  Same goes for interfacing.  I forget what I have and therefore tend to overbuy.  To that end, an inventory of all thread and notions would be useful but we’ll have to see if I get around to making that! I’m undecided about my rules on travel fabric purchases.  Thoughts on what is reasonable?  I will say that any rules I make for travel will NOT include local towns that I visit for sewcialist meet-ups as that could quickly get out of hand! It’s late so I am sure I am forgetting some crucial rule or circumstance so feel free to speak up if you think my rules are lacking!

Patterns? I’m not too worried on this front. Bitty and I share patterns so that already keeps the cost reasonable and I’d say that our collection is not too crazy at this point. We’re making an effort to use the ones we own before buying new ones but we’ll have to see how that goes! I rather desperately want this wrap dress pattern but the shipping costs are holding me back so far. But the second Jen releases the Morris Blazer pattern it will be in my collection! I guess I should start saving one of my allowed fabric purchases for this one as I have nothing appropriate in my stash already!

Bitty is apparently far more restrained than I am on this front so she says there is no need for a Stash Diet. Good girl!

So who is joining us on this challenge? Any other New Years resolutions?

Sara

Cottage Cascades

Bitty and I seem to be in a bit of a sewing slump these days.  Also a knitting slump, crafting slump and general life slump!  Thus the blog silence of late.  Fortunately I have very accommodating friends that helped me drag a crap load of sewing supplies up to our cottage vacation in Northern Ontario last week.  Got tons done with pictures of people other than me (YAY!!!!) modelling the finished items.  So brace yourself! Many a blog post coming your way! First up is the lovely Christina wearing the Awesome and Amazing Megan Nielsen Cascade skirt.

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We had one massive photo shoot on our final morning at the cottage.  The plan was originally for me to model my own clothing but the day started with this:

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My Idlewood sweater.

Clearly I was in a happy place!  Totally in the zone…  game for all sorts of photo fun. Ummm….  notsomuch!  So Christina to the rescue!

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I’ve had my eye on the cascade skirt for awhile now but the poor lovely kept getting shoved to the back of the sewing queue… needed the perfect fabric!  Fortunately, I stumbled upon this fabric on the sale floor of King Textiles on the morning of our vacation.  A measly $3 a yard and perfect for the cascade!  It’s some mystery nylon blend that I might normally avoid but I really love it for this skirt!  Doesn’t shrink or wrinkle but cascades beautifully and is just plain fun!

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I made this skirt my first day at the cottage before we had managed to find an ironing board for me to use.  Meant that I had to become fast friends with my rolled hem foot as there is a lot of hem here, folks!  And a traditional rolled hem without an iron?  Don’t think so!  Otherwise nothing to say.  The pattern is easy and quick and the skirt certainly makes a statement.  Can’t put this sucker on without wanting to run, jump and twirl!  It sure does love the wind though so I’m going to have to sew on some pretty ribbon to keep it closed.

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Twirl!!!!  Now if only I was still at the Lui Cottage.

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Peggy, the photographer of the day after attempting to coax a smile out of me… She cheered up considerably after Christina took over!

Thanks for the photos, Peggy!

Sara

Monster Birthday Party

This past week our little man Dax turned 1!  Not quite sure how that happened so quickly!  To celebrate we threw him a monster themed first birthday party.  I had so much fun planning this one out and getting everything ready.  This is the most crafty I have gotten for a birthday so far and I love how it turned out.  I apologize for the picture heavy post 🙂

My favourite thing that I made for the birthday boy is this custom birthday onsie.  I used a store bought onsie and used freezer paper and acrylic paint mixed with a fabric medium to make it.  I used this tutorial.

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Birthday boy not looking too impressed. He had a cold and was not feeling very good for his birthday

Long before I knew what the theme of Daxton’s birthday was going to be I knew I wanted to make a flag pennant banner using chalk board fabric.  There are a million tutorials out there for pennant banners and the addition I made was I cut out circles of chalk board fabric which I sewed on one side.  For the flags I used fat quarters from Joanns using our colours of red, orange, bright blue, and lime green.  I loved how it turned out and that it can be reused in the future.

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To go with the colour theme I also made some tissue paper puffs and tissue paper fans.  To go with the monster theme I added paper eyes to the fans to make them look like monsters.  I used this tutorial for the fans.

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I also turned some balloons into monsters by adding some faces to them.

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I also made Daxton some monster cupcakes.  To make my super simple monster cupcakes I used the grass piping tip to pipe hair onto the cupcakes and then made cakepop eyes to stick out the top.  Out of pure laziness and not wanting to make more cake pops, some of the cupcakes just got eyes and a mouth using black gel icing.

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Simple party but I love how it all came together!

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And now some photos of the birthday boy enjoying his party!

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Dax supervising Finnley opening his presents

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More interested in the paper than the toys

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He loved this singing card

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Mmm train tracks!

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First time trying cake

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Think he likes it?

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Getting ready to run

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He kept trying to walk away with his cupcake. There was orange icing everywhere

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Running from mommy and daddy

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Tired after a busy party

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Nap time with papa

Elizabeth

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Spring Tops, Tanks and Tees KAL update

Hello!  Sorry for the silence but I’m happy to report that my grant is finished and submitted!  It’s always such a relief to get these things off!  Anyway, as mentioned previously (and not so briefly!), I’ve been participating in a few Spring related knitalongs (KALs).  I’ve finished two pieces (an accessory and a sweater) for a KAL that the very amazing knitwear designer JOJI was hosting in March and April.  I’ll post about those in the next day or two as I still need to bribe a friend into taking some pictures!  In the meantime, an update on the Spring Tops, Tanks and Tees KAL that Shannon (of luvinthemommyhood ) is hosting…

I had a late start, in part due to work related deadlines but also because I wanted to double up on this one and take part in the Madeline Tosh MadMay KAL as the yarn I chose is the tosh merino light in Tart.  I cast Urban on on Saturday and it’s coming together quickly (I started the hip increases last night).  I did make quite a few modifications to the front and back bodice pieces to remove some of the ease built into the pattern.  I have narrow shoulders and I thought this one would constantly be slipping off and driving me nuts!  As always, Thao713 came to the rescue and I roughly followed the modifications she outlined on ravelry (my ravelry notes can be found here ).  All in all, this is another straightforward and well written pattern by Veera.  Compared to some of the other finished objects I have seen for this KAL, my version of Urban is pretty unexciting but I do think it will be simple and something I will wear often.

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urban progress 2

While I had some very grans plans at the start of this KAL, my late start has pretty much put an end to that.  I should have no problems finishing my Urban on time and since some lovely linen arrived for Hélène, I’m going to try and get this one done as well.  I love, love, LOVE this sweater!  Or at least I love it on everyone else!  I have a sneaking suspicion that I should have chosen something with a little colour but the natural yarn is so lovely that I couldn’t resist!  I’m already excited for this project when I look at my tiny little swatch!

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This sweater has a couple of firsts for me.  My first time knitting with linen.  I’ve been knitting a sleep sack for a friends baby using cotton and I am not a fan but I’m hoping that the lace in this pattern will help alleviate my major issues with plant based fibres (e.g. getting consistent stitches and an elastic fabric when knitting straight stockinette).  Knitting the swatch was not too bad.  The yarn is much stiffer than I am used to with wool but everyone assures me that it will soften up with washing!  It’s also my first time seaming a sweater.  Well, knitting the front and back separately as there is no actual seaming in this pattern (use a 3 needle bind-off instead).  I’m also a little concerned about the width of the neckline (see above comments about narrow shoulders).  I haven’t looked at the pattern closely yet but I may modify this slightly.  Will see…

Well, hopefully when I next blog about this KAL I’ll have some FO to share!

As an aside, the Wool People 5 collection by Brooklyn Tweed is out!  Check it out if you haven’t already!  As always, there some awesome patterns to chose from!

Sara

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Busy, Busy Chicklets!

Hello friends and family.  It’s been a busy week, which is why we have been somewhat silent.  I’ve got a grant due early next week so I have been stuck in front of a computer…  which sits right in front of my sewing machine at home.  It’s hard to ignore the temptation!  Alas, while sewing time has been scarce, I have managed to get in some solid knitting time.  Turns out I can read papers and knit at the same time!  Who knew you didn’t have to actually watch your hands!  Bitty has also had a crazy week getting back to work full time.  I’m sure she’ll tell you all about it!  So instead of some lovely FO’s to show, we thought we would show you our works in progress and all of the lovely plans we have (and may never get to) for the coming weeks.

First up is my sweater for Joji’s spring knit along (KAL).  I’ve already finished The Way from Brighton (to be blogged about later) for the accessory part of the KAL but my version of Neon is still in progress.  Can I finish both this and my grant for the 30th?  I’m thinking probably not!  Grant first, sweater second (and during breaks, late at night, etc!).  I still have the sleeves to knit and they look more tedious than sleeves normally are for this stitch pattern.  Too bad.  And then I am planning on stabilizing the button bands with some grosgrain ribbon (this sweater has some serious negative ease!), which means lots of hand sewing.  I can procrastinate like a champ when it comes to the finishing touches on anything I make so this is sure to sit around for awhile.

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In Tomato!

Also starting today is the Spring Tops-Tanks-Tees KAL hosted by Shannon (of luvinthemommyhood fame).  This runs for a month (I think?) and I have some grand plans!  First up is Urban (another pattern from the very talented Veera) in this lovely wine-coloured yarn…  

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The Urban pullover is the only solid plan I have for this KAL but I have also been thinking about what I can do with these two lovely skeins of yarn (Gilded).  Featherweight cardi perhaps?  Any suggestions?  I’m a bit limited by the amount of yarn I have available and I love this colourway so don’t want to waste it on anything I won’t wear…

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Gilded!

The final KAL possibility is this lovely pullover…

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Still with me?  If you’re still reading then I am seriously impressed!  I do have some sewing plans but rather than going into any details…

stylish 2 Liberty Mathilde

And because I couldn’t resist (I caught Hugo mid-sneeze)…

Miss Molly scary Hugo

Now I (Elizabeth) will share some of my WIP.  Sorry for the poor quality IPad photos I am about to share!

This week is Kids Clothing Week (find out more about it here) and I had big plans!  Unfortunately this week also ended up being my very first week back to working full time in over 2 years which has made getting much sewing done difficult.  Thankfully all these extra hours are only temporary!  First project I started (and thought I would have finished already) for KCW was another Shwin Designs pattern the very popular Maggie Mae.

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So close to being done, fingers crossed tomorrow will be the night so I can started on one of the other projects I had planned on sewing for Finnley.  Other projects I planned on sewing include some Lovely Ritas in a bright, summery yellow stretch denim and attempting to draft my very first pattern using some seersucker and swiss dots fabric.

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One last project I have on the go is my first Tiny Pocket Tank made with some Anne Maria Horner voile.  All I need to do is cut out and sew on some bias tape to the neckline and arms but I made the mistake of not cutting all my pattern pieces at the same time.  Oh how I hate cutting fabric and I am having a hard time motivating myself to actually get my bias tape ready to go.  The fact that it needs to be pieced together just makes me want to do it even less!  However Rae has extended her Spring Top Sew Along which hopefully will give me the motivation I need!

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And that was way more information than you ever needed!

Sara and Elizabeth

Easter Baskets!

Well, Bitty and I have been trying to get going on this blog for a couple of months now.  Time to dive in!  Since it’s Easter Monday, what better way to start than with an Easter project post!

I started my postdoc in Toronto about four and a half years ago with Anne and Dirk, two postdocs from Germany.  Some quick traditions ensued as we all settled into life in a new city (and country in their case) and one of our first traditions was the annual Easter Sunday brunch at Dirk’s place.  I use the term brunch loosely as the event may start as Sunday Brunch but tends to include Easter Sunday Dinner and even, on one occasion, Easter Monday Breakfast!  Dirk and his wife Mailin have two adorable daughters Kiara and Sophie and while gifts are not usually a big part of our Easter tradition, there is usually a lot of chocolate for the girls.  This year I thought I would add to the chocolate tradition by making some Easter baskets to carry it all around in.  Armed with some sale fabric from The Workroom and this tutorial, I got to work on Saturday afternoon.  These came together very quickly and the final result was simple but fun!

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I followed the tutorial as it was written and am pleased with the result.  I used some heavy fusible interfacing on the outer fabric for the handle and the bag.  While this was a good choice for the body of the bag, the handle was still a bit floppy.  Next time I would either shorten the handle a smidgen or would interface both the outer and lining fabrics on the handle to give it a bit more structure.  No matter!  The girls loved them!  Little Sophie had one or both of them on her arm all day long!

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Happy Easter!

Sara