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I am a mother, a grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge was published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon



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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's resolutions and Maddie top

Here we go with getting ready for the new year.

First the resolutions:

1. Sew more. 

2013 was a very busy year and I felt pulled in many directions by many forces. The result was I felt pulled away from myself a bit. I have been thinking this over.

Last night I was babysitting at my daughter's. The house was quiet and I was thinking about my life and all the roles I have played, all the different things I have done, all those experiences. Then I thought, as middle-aged adults do, of where I started and the person I was when I was a kid. 

I was always a kid with projects. Ask my mother. I more or less drove the street and the other mothers nuts with my schemes. My major theatrical projects with a cast of thousands, the time I set up a sweat shop in the garage making doll clothes until I was shut down by mothers who instituted labour and consumer protection laws.

Well I sat last night and looked at that dollhouse, as messy as it was, and as bright, and thought to myself I have travelled in a direct line from there to here.

My wish for you right now is that you can see your own direct line and aren't letting life move you off it.

How this all pertains to the resolution to sew more needs no explanation with this crowd here.

2. Be more experimental in my sewing. 

I am not a production person but an artisan. What do you think about that?

I am proud of myself for picking up this word and applying it to myself. 

This is a result of having spoken this morning with my son in Brooklyn who talked this evening about going out for artisanal cocktails. Having walked around Brooklyn a lot on my last trip I now understand what this means. Being a craftsperson implies a high level of practiced skill, but artisanal products I realize now means DIY and generally involves fooling around a bit. A craftsman makes a perfect martini. And artisanal cocktail involves things you might not think go together like maybe pickle juice and vodka and muddied chocolate basil (I am just making this one up but I do not put it past some artisan to be mixing this exact recipe up tonight for my son and his girlfriend).

I intend to work with more basic patterns and fool around with them a bit. Like an artisan.

3. Buy more interesting fabric, but only 10/10 stuff. 

I don't really need to explain this. I need this for items one and two.

4. Sew more StyleArc patterns, try more indies.

Listen StyleArc patterns fit me and are interesting and smart. Why I have wasted so much money on other stuff is beyond me.

So in summary here is the latest, a sort of 2014 warm-up. A pair of Barb pants and the Maddie top

I actually got this pattern only for the name, which is the name of my son's girlfriend and sometimes I really miss her. 

What is wonderful about this pull-on top is that it has a beautifully fitting neckline, nothing sloppy and the bands at the sleeves and bottoms are doubled so you have weight to help the top hang and the need for hemming is eliminated.

I made this out of some silk crepe and the bands out of some light weight pleather I had looking at me from the shelves.

I am super happy with this pattern (only took a few hours start to finish and I was in a rush as I wanted to wear it down to do some radio, which as my husband pointed out, doesn't make much sense) and will be using it for many more experiments. It absolutely wants to be a dress I can hear that from it.

No construction notes for the top, except if you are not putting in a back opening (you don't need it IMO) eliminate the seam.

I am wearing this top with the latest pair of Barb pants and I have one comment (in addition to adding a bit for the hips if are you not sure about the stretch of your stretch woven). I want to point out that the pattern calls for 2" elastic in the waist casing. I couldn't find any around here and so in previous pairs used 1 1/2" which I figured wouldn't make a difference.

It does. 

For this pair I overlapped my 1 1/2" with some 1" elastic and zig-zagged them together to make a sturdy 2". What a difference, these pants feel so much more secure on the body. I might be making a couple more pairs over the next few days, I am so happy with them, when I should be doing some cooking for the troops.

So here is the shot:

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 30, 2013

The dollhouse shots

As requested here are some shots of the notorious dollhouse taken by me lying down in my daughter's family room. There is a video of it around somewhere of the whole thing but this should give you an idea.

It was a huge hit and my daughter says the little girls have been playing with it more than any other toy. It is Barbie scale so they have lots of dolls (some with hands that have not been chewed off by dogs even) to put in it.

The main idea is that this is not going to be pinned on Pinterest any time soon.

To be perfectly honest with you my execution was not up to my mental images of how this was going to turn out. My main error was thinking I could Modge Podge on scrapbooking paper to look like wall paper. I was working with my head inside the dollhouse and that stuff wrinkled and crinkled and tore in places and I could not get the cuts to line up with the edges. I realize in the pictures it was even worse than I thought.

I would rather make a dozen bound buttonholes in silk charmeuse (this is the most extreme example I can think of) than go near another bottle of Modge Podge again. I am now going to look at all those women in Michael's aisles with new respect from now on.

But listen. I am not a crafter right? And the girls like it. A lot. As my daughter said when it was unveiled, "well it sure has personality."

Because there are two girls and both my husband and I are the eldest of four in our families, we know all about pushing and shoving around the same toy. So we decided to cut a four shelf bookcase in half and back to back the parts so there would be two rooms each side so they could play without the other guy saying "she's messing it up." My husband also cut a door on the second level so they could still see each other and the Barbies could walk through.

The roof didn't get finished due to time constraints and we will be going back to finish that.

So here it is in all its messy glory:

There is a Barbie curling iron in the drawer of the vanity.

A sleeping mask like Babs wears. The girls like to borrow mine and walk into the walls.

The doll house is now up on a coffee table so they can see it better for playing. What you might be able to see are Barbie and Ken outside on the park bench.

A blender for smoothies like daddy makes.

It is crazy what you can get for $1.99 at Value Village, if you in fact are crazy enough to buy it.

TV remote on the coffee table but Barbie can only watch her shows for a limited time each day. That's the rules.

The biggest hit in the whole house was the toilet paper.
I collected this vintage furniture on eBay from across the continent. There is a turkey and pie in the oven for Christmas. I actually got into a bidding war over them.

The wardrobe is full of clothes I bought in a gas station parking lot from a woman who advertised on Kijji (Craigslist in Canada) the collection includes a wedding dress and leather pants and jacket. All now smelling of Detol.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

I have been thinking

Carolyn, the wonderful Carolyn, at Diary of a Sewing Fanatic, wrote something a few posts back I have been mulling over.

It was one of those posts that expressed exactly how I feel. 

In it Carolyn described, no defined, herself as a sewing blogger as opposed to a fashion blogger. What she clearly meant was that she was here to sew and to share what she sews with other sewists who get that. Period. This means her time and emphasis is on the sewing, not the styling, not the photography.

This is of course one of the reasons her blog is one of my favourites. Authentic bloggers like Carolyn stand out as more and more of my good old sewing bloggers are writing what sounds like ad copy and clearly now spending as much time with photography and presentation as sewing.

Listen good for them. 

They have interests and skills in areas I do not. Their blogs are beautiful and professional, but you know are no longer the ones I visit regularly. If the blog looks like a magazine, well that is fine, but I no longer can see the sewer, or the real woman in it with the kind of connection that feeds me as a sewer, and as a person. 

What is missing in the picture perfect blogs is the spirit.

You know what I mean.

I treasure most the spirit I see in shots of that latest outfit taken in offices early before the rest of the staff are in. 

I am proud of the finished product shots taken by some husband of his wife standing in the driveway, both pleased that she did this herself. 

I love the shots taken in bedroom and bathroom mirrors after the kids have finally gone to bed. 

I am touched by the pictures taken of, and by, women who have had to get back on in the saddle after one of life's many curve balls and had the, what do you call it, the gumption to make something new to wear when really they were feeling worry, heartbreak, or disappointment.

All the evidence of just showing up to life, of trying, of putting out the effort and of just displaying hope and optimism and spirit, just spirit, in all those family-snapped, taken in the mirror shots, is what really matters to me.

These are the sewers who inspire me.

And you can't style that.

Vogue 8961

You are probably a little relieved, as I am, that we are back to regular programming around here and that means sewing. I have been doing some pre New Year's Thinking About My Life which I will summarize some other time, but suffice it to say here and now it will involve more sewing.

I am also continuing in my quest to introduce more colour into my wardrobe and exit the black, because I feel that is more consistent with who I am, but it occurred to me over the holidays the black fabric I have would work very well for pattern testing and experiments. At worst I would only wreck fabric I have not a huge interest in wearing, at best I would fine tune a new pattern and have something to wear in my more subdued dressing environments, like work for example.

On that theme I decided to make a New Year's Eve outfit from some silk twill I had lying around in a pattern I have yet to try. That would be Vogue 8961.

Listen I knew going in that I would not look like this picture when I was done and that waisted dresses are not my best look as I am both long waisted and at this stage of the game sort of waist absent. However this looked like an easy pattern, very comfortable, and it reminded me very much of a favourite dress I had in the '80s. So in the interest of nostalgia and optimism I went for it. 

Here are the results:

A couple of things about this pattern:

  • The top is really wide (cut-on dolman sleeves) and the neckline is wide. I used one of my old tricks and cut and sewed the facing together and tried that on before I actually cut out the dress and figured I would get away with it and I more or less did.
  • I cut this out in a 14 and I am a 16 top and 18 bottom so that tells you something.
  • Crazy comfortable so if you want to go out in an outfit you can easily make in a day and feel like you are wearing jammies this may be the pattern you are looking for.
The pattern suggested a technique I think is nutso for the ruching for the sleeves and the elastic casing in the waist. Both involve sewing the seam allowance together (with something more complicated for the sleeves that does not bear discussion on this valuable space.)

Having done this once, the elastic in the seam allowance treatment just twists and is annoyingly difficult for threading through the elastic.

So whenever I see this method in the instructions I do this instead which is IMO better and with less nerve wracking results.

  • Press open the seam allowances
  • Sew some seam binding (the kind you add to a hem not the fold over kind) over the seam stitching each side of the tape to one seam allowance.
  • Thread through your elastic and you are in business.
This is what it looks like:

Finally, I think this dress needs to be accessorized so it doesn't look too much like a quick and easy elastic waist pattern.

I added a link belt I had and a statement necklace. I am afraid I didn't actually have one of those in stock as my necklaces run more to the statement that every woman-should-own-pearls, so the one in the picture was provided by those fine jewellers at Target.

Since we are going out to dinner I also decided I needed a little bag, a sort of set it on the table beside the bread and butter plate bag, that holds the lipstick, the debit card, and the driver's license for the designated driver. Since New Year's is classy I figured the on the floor under the table, slung over the back of the chair, or sitting on the table like a library book bag wouldn't do so I decided to make a fold over clutch for which there are 900 instructions on the internet for free and another 900 for sale on Craftsy and Etsy. I did the free version of course and really didn't need instructions because this is just an envelope with a slanted top underlined with fleece (wouldn't use that again for such a small bag, maybe some heavy duty interfacing.) The size was determined by the available zipper which was 7". Too bad the garment district is so far away.

Here we go with that project (BTW top stitch the lining away from the zipper so it won't catch, had to go back and do that):

There is more zipper tape showing in this picture than in real life I think, maybe not.
And of course I am not a crafty person, that has been established. However if anyone has any cool clutch patterns to pass on I would be interested.

So that's what I made over the last day.

Let's see what else I can fit in before the end of the year.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

How to make crabapple jelly step six

I realized when I listened to this that I refer to both a 10 minute and 15 minute water bath processing time. It is in fact 10 minutes for jelly. Old time jelly girls didn't used to do this step but it is now advised and if they say to do it I do it. As these videos show we are running a first class operation around here.

Merry Christmas!

How to make crabapple jelly step five

How to make crabapple jelly step four

After you have drained the juice measure 5 cups and add it to a pot with 3 3/4 cups of sugar and three tablespoons of lemon juice. Boil hard 40-50 minutes until it sheets from the back of a spoon.

Christmas morning communication: how to make crab apple jelly step one to three

Here we go with my step-by-step instructions for making crabapple jelly - something you can't buy in the store.

The jelly or the instructions.

First of all wash and cut the blossom and stem ends from about 2 kg. or 4.5 pounds of crabapples, about 5 cups. Cut the apples roughly into about quarters and put in a big deep pot with 7 cups of water. Boil until they are real mushy about 50 minutes or so.

Put the mushy apples into a jelly bag and hang over night.

I filmed this last step sideways for interest.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Pre-Christmas thoughts

A couple of things.

First is to those of you who are spending today with your head in a doll's house Modge Podging wall paper. That stuff's a bitch to get out of your hair if you let it set over night.

Secondly there was an op. ed. in the NY Times this morning that really annoyed me. It is here, all about what to do with the rest of your life when you have had your peak. I sort of get the point but.


If you have been given a gift in your life you just spend the rest of your time giving something back to life, according to your talents. There isn't a person alive who can't do something for someone. Even if what you provide is an example of how to get on with the rest of your life. 

That's the deal. That's the deal.

Thirdly some of you may remember that the adult side of my extended family decided, organized by my sister Nancy, to do an emailed exchange this year.

This is the email she sent out a few month's ago that describes the idea:

Well my lovely family it is that time of year again.  

    We all have so much to be thankful for that a purchased gift just doesn't seem right this year. I have come up with a different idea, that I hope you all will be willing to try this year. 

   I would like each and everyone of you to take a few minutes and prepare a special email that will be sent out to everyone on Christmas morning.

    You can write about anything, something about yourself you would like to share. Here are a few examples
Favorite recipe
Some tips on, cleaning, raising kids, managing money, gardening, organizing your day, office and life.
Favorite joke, book or how about your idol and why
What you would do if you won the lottery.
Confess your sins, we won't tell a soul.
 Ask us for advice

 Write about anything, just a little something to keep us all in touch. It doesn't have to be long but make it good!

Prepare it before hand and on Christmas morning... hit send
Don't forget or you will look like and idiot. 

Mine is underway and I have decided to also publish it here on Christmas morning so family who may have trouble accessing the file on say their smart phones can see it.

A little nutty but that may be the point.

Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 20, 2013

And here at Santa's workshop

Tonight my husband asked me "why are you doing Christmas stuff, lots of time left."

This just expresses the Great Gender Divide in a nutshell.

On one side are those who cook an excellent turkey and figure Christmas has been accomplished. You know the same crew who give people the microwaveable socks they picked up at Canadian Tire at 5:30 December 24th.

On the other side are those who consider the holiday season as sort of a personal version of the invasion of Normandy, with pins in the maps, troop movements to be planned for, ambushes to be anticipated.

You know which side I am on.

With family spread around and with my idea that everyone needs at least one home made item I have been at this for months, mentally at least. 

So for the last few weeks my sewing has been confined to hopeful cutting and bagging of things I am going to do once we hit the beach head.

My sewing looks like this:

Most of the rest of my none job time has gone to doing things I don't do all that well, namely knitting and crafting.

My knitting is better than my crafting, but nowhere as good as my sewing unfortunately. Of the many projects on the go in more or less every room of the house I have a chunky wool shawl lying semi blocked on a towel in the kid's room. Hopefully it will be dry by Christmas. This is for my daughter who mentioned last winter that she wouldn't mind something to keep her warm in the evenings in the family room.

Even more of my time has been spent on the Barbie doll house project for the little girls. I have a good idea that I am not going to get the intended plastic canvas needlework living room set done in time so I have been putting together some things morphed from Value Village knick knack stuff.

I am a really horrible crafter actually. I might as well be using that glue gun with my feet and my hats off to any really crafty folks out there with both taste and manual dexterity. I am doing my best though and this is being done for the little girls who are enormously accommodating and positive.

These are of course the same characters who say things like "Babs you look like a princess" when they see me in the morning with my hair vertical and my bathrobe on before I have had my coffee. I mean kids are the best.

So after that intro here are some shots of my furniture experiments, with designer notes:

This is supposed to be a bathroom vanity. I made it out of a mini jewel box that I took the lid off of, and painted, a cardboard counter covered clumsily with marbled adhesive shelf liner and a china ramekin I got at the grocery store in the dishes section. The faucets are beads and the tap is the semi destroyed lobster claw fastener I got a Michael's in the jewelry department , all inexpertly glue gunned in (that explains all lumpy bits). I am accessorizing with a mini brush and soap dispenser and a tiny bottle of cotton balls - all part of a grab bag of Barbie junk I got on eBay for $5.00.

The bathtub is the china top of a butter dish with the stick on felt feet I would be putting under things I put on the end tables in the living room if I was a good housekeeper. Same deal with the tap and faucets. 

Here is the bed. The lid of a card board box with feet from small craft wooden spools and the headboard is a decorative picture frame also from Michaels. I made the mattress and pillows and no I didn't knit the bedspread for the bed - this was something I found at the bottom of my failed knitting project box - I thought I was going to knit a summer purse but stopped doing it when I realized that was a dumb idea. Fortunately I kept the piece and added some borders to turn it into this bedspread.

The colour scheme of the bedroom is based another jewellery box I found at Value Village that I think looks like a pretty good wardrobe. I think I got this for $3.99.

I had big ideas to fill this up with handmade Barbie doll clothes but that's not going to happen. 

BTW I have a bunch of vintage Barbie patterns I got at yard sale and looking at them I am wondering if Barbie has put on weight since then. Seems the new Barbie and Ken I have are looking a little more muscular than the ones I played with. Will I have to flat pattern measure? That sounds horrifying.

Finally here is the living room furniture - built on a set of wicker I found also at Value Village. I realized that I needed to have something in purple or the girls wouldn't think it was fancy so I painted the wicker purple and glue gunned little pillows in place.

So tomorrow we are going to work on the actual house part and I am going to attempt to Modge Podge some scapbooking paper to the walls for wall paper. I am fairly stressed about that prospect. Hope I can sleep tonight.

Stay tuned.

Now how are your own holiday preparations going?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Answer and question

This is a big catch-up post.

I have been on overdrive getting my marking done and my end-of-term marks in and I have been heavily involved in getting my Christmas stuff made/sent away.

My youngest and his girlfriend stayed with me until they left for four months in New Zealand Wednesday (gee my boys have nice girlfriends) but of course they left before I could get a shot of the shirt I made him (he flew out in it, a good sign) or the hat and scarf I knit her. And yesterday I mailed out three packages for my son and his girlfriend in Brooklyn. He will be spending the holidays with her family in Maryland, much closer, as he is negotiating what is hopefully going to be a new job, and it really wasn't a good time to leave the country for a week.

I made them a few things and of course I can't show them to you on the off chance they read my blog. Got to maintain the element of surprise. And since those two in New York have far more good taste than I do I am quite certain they will be truly surprised when they see what I have made for their apartment.

So having cleared that part of the decks what I have ahead of me now is work on the Barbie dollhouse for the little girls and, once I finish something for a guy my husband works with (this man does leatherwork and is making a purse for his mom and needs someone to sew a lining with a zipper - he doesn't do fabric), I am, get this, going to be able to start sewing for myself.

I am more or less desperate to get back to garment sewing. I have two most beautiful pieces of double knit from Mood that I want to make two more Kristen dresses from and it is burning me up. 

Just having the fabric in my house has made me happy. Recently I bought the bullet and actually threw out some fabric I got from another vendor because the one piece I had made from that lot pilled after two washes. I decided there was no point in investing time on the rest of it, a rayon single knit, in different colours.

The more I sew the more good fabric means to me.

I am also going to be making my fourth pair of Barb pants, which brings me to Patti's question about that pattern.

Listen Patti I love it. The leg is slimmer (see a picture a few posts back) than the Lindas but not too skinny. Enough to look modern but not uncomfortable. The key to these pants is a fabric with decent stretch crosswise as the hip is fairly close. After the second pair I added a little to that area and found them more comfortable -it will depend on how much your fabric gives - so you might want to sew pair one with a wider seam allowance to adjust to fit.

All that said this is now my favourite pants pattern. Stylish and a snap to sew, IMO another Style Arc winner.

So that's the answer.

Now a question.

Last night I was at a retirement party for a wonderful colleague and ran into one of my favourite students. This girl is smart, industrious, beautiful, and so talented. And of course being a thinking person at the start of her career she struggles with self-confidence, wondering what direction is the right one for her, trying to figure out when to be brave and when to play it safe.

I looked at her, from the other end of a career, and thought to myself of all the mediocre folks I have seen, with about a quarter going for them what this kid has, who have done very well in their careers because they just believed in themselves so much (OK mostly they have been men, no surprise). 

I wanted to tell her to relax, enjoy herself, just do good work, and something I tried to explain about protecting your core. 

You know what I mean? 

Work is just work and you have to learn to keep yourself separate so professional judgments and set-backs don't get taken to heart. To be able to work really hard and do your best but not take it personally. To have anchors in your life (for me this has been family and my sewing - no matter what happened at the office I could always come home and put in one hell of a zipper).

So my question to you all this morning is what would you say to twenty something young woman to give her the perspective on work and life that a person has in a well-developed career that really would be more useful at the beginning?

What do you wish someone had said to you? What would, as they say, you say to yourself at that age?

These are interesting questions. Look forward to your thoughts. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Quick thought

I am in the middle of making the first of this season's Christmas dinners but had one thought to share, something I read today that seems sewing relevant:

Only do what only you can do.

Translate that to sewing.

I will be posting a few shots of recent projects once the recipients have opened the presents tonight that is if it all fits.


Sunday, December 1, 2013


We are heading into The Busy Month and I have many thoughts and projects rattling around in my brain.

Christmas is going to occur in several stages and probably one off location this year and getting ready for that is, next to my end of term marking, top of the list.

My youngest son and girlfriend are off to New Zealand for six months December 11, so there is a Christmas replication dinner going on next weekend here, and I have to get my sewing/knitting done in advance of that for them. And it is likely my son in NYC won't have the time to take the usual week off to come home this year (all good because I know he is welcome at his girlfriend's parents' if that happens - got to make sure all family is covered by family somewhere) and I have to get their gifts sent off soon too.

Mixed in with all of this is sort of a reset thing going on with me prompted by the large recent birthday (60) and the realization that somehow a few things in my life have simultaneously passed their expiry date.

One of these things is rethinking my professional life and for lack of a better way to say it, what my professional life has done to me.

I can express this best through sewing.

All of you who work or have worked in corporate or, in my case government/politics too, will know what I mean by The Look. The dark clothes, subdued look that just goes with the territory. It is the same territory occupied by meetings, standing committees, strategic plans, follow-up emails, and being careful to establish your own competencies within the first 30 seconds of meeting someone. You know those 30 seconds you could have spent finding out how nice the other person was instead.

Well somehow my lifetime allocation for all of that has been used up. My lines, so carefully drawn for so many years between who I am and who I am at work, have started to blur and that is just fine with me. All of a sudden.

This does not mean I don't love my work, I really love teaching, but increasingly the core business of students is all I really care about, and I care about it a lot. It matters to me how these kids turn out, that I can give them skills and ideas to help them in wherever they are going, but mission statement design - not so much.

Sorry about that.

So the energy of the classroom is inspiring my work clothes rethink and that right now means the completely black and grey wardrobe is on its way out.

I figure if I don't get it under control the mass market will turn me into one of those middle-aged women who ends up dressed like this at fun events:

I have no idea what Guy LaRoche was thinking, but really what kind of a life does this express?

Now the problem in not doing the look after all these years, is it is a bit unnerving and I have to figure out how to do it.

For instance I can't imagine what I was thinking when this piece climbed onto the cutting table at Mood last week. Not sure where I think I am going to wear something like this, although it would probably be suitable for a funeral in Florida. I mean I have to watch myself lest I end up, at top speed, like a semi-retired colleague who turned up at a meeting in purple shoes, socks, pants, top, jacket and purse.

This sort of thing could easily happen if there aren't still some kind of braking systems in play. 

Be prepared to spit out your coffee:

And I need a second opinion on the orange double knit I mentioned before. Do you think I can get away with this in a plain dress? Maybe with a grey sweater over it? It really is more a coral I decided, and definitely something that appealed when I must have been seriously vitamin C deprived.

Probably time to get The Light (the one I got one February at the huge pile at the local drugstore) out:

Or at least I need to get myself some more sewing time.

Yesterday I was able to get some time to do that. I am imposing my growing randomness on the family. For instance I went to New York with napkins I had made with retro vinyl record print on them, because my son had told me they had bought a "mid-century modern" turntable. Not sure what they thought of the napkins but I can guarantee you they didn't already have any and my son, well-trained to notice these things, gave my full marks for my miters.

On that theme yesterday I started sewing a flannel shirt for my youngest son who has been spending at lot of time working on his cabin. I figured this print was perfect:

And on that theme again,  he is Mr. Sustainable Living, I am also knitting him socks out of my left over heavy Swedish sock wool, randomly. Here is the first one:

Of course the second sock isn't going to look at all like this one and hopefully he will see that as a good thing.

I figure I may keep going like this until the family tells me to stop, or I catch sight of myself in head-to-toe purple.

Whatever comes first.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

On the fly

Just checking in to let you know I am still here. 

Flew in tonight after a really great weekend in NYC with my son and his girlfriend. I stayed with them for the first time this visit and really enjoyed that. I am not a formal person so walking around talking in my pyjamas is my speed. The son really lucked out with this girl and so did I. I met her folks too for the first time and they were really nice people, makes sense with a daughter like that.

In between eating great food and walking around Brooklyn which is new to me, I did take the subway and hit the garment district. A shorter trip this time because I had a concert to go to at night and didn't see hauling in my usual giant bags of fabric would be appropriate. However I did some light shopping and observing and this is a little of that for those of you, like me, who don't get out much:

  • Do you know you can buy zippers with the tape in unbleached cotton so you can dye to match? How cool is that? 
  • Do you know Mood is selling invisible zippers for $1 each and the tapes are narrow 3/8" for RTW seam allowances? 
  • Do you know I bought bright orange rayon double knit for a dress? I can't believe it myself actually. Three weeks in the wet grey Nova Scotia fall did something to my head. It was the only colour I wanted that day, sort of like I had colour scurvy and needed it.
  • You know those purse patterns that call for D rings? Botani's has 8,000 versions in different shapes and colours, all different.
  • Do you know you can hold up a metal teeth jacket zipper to your body and the folks at most places just cut it to that size?
  • Do you know that they make rectangular sew in snaps are smooth and shiny like mirrors?
  • Do you know that if you drop your ice cream cone on the sidewalk and go back in for another one, if you are an older woman and it is raining and you remind them of your grandmother or someone escaped from a mental hospital, they will replace it for free?
  • Do you know the subway is easy?
  • Do you know Macy's sells Polish makeup?
  • Do you know that not one person in NYC or Nova Scotia is wearing a bright orange dresses this winter?
  • Do you know that might change?
Now tomorrow. Back to work.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Flypaper thoughts again

  • Got a flu shot two weeks ago
  • Went in for a chocolate bar and got a vaccine because they were free
  • Got the real flu right now
  • You get what you pay for
  • Beats me why every single person in Nova Scotia doesn't emigrate every November
  • Grey sky, cold weather, grey rain
  • The clothes in the stores are grey too
  • Fought back
  • Went out in the sleet and bought a palm tree and brought it home
  • I can see it down the hall from my bed
  • It is green
  • I love my students
  • What ever happens between being 20 and funny and wearing sequinned Ugg boots and being a middle-aged person who gets crabby at meetings and wears grey has to stop 
  • Stop right now
  • Never wonder where that girl went
  • Do you know you can make jam in a bread maker if it has jam cycle?
  • No word of a lie
  • Stole it back from my daughter's garage where it was on its way out
  • Bit runny but no work at all
  • Perfect for making jam from a death bed
  • Latest version of the Barb pants fit perfectly
  • How good is it that a pattern with your name on it fits
  • After you add 2" to the waistband
  • Wonder if the university would let me teach sewing classes after hours
  • We could set up the bread maker too
  • On the jam cycle
  • If I don't pass this on who will?
  • If a woman has enough hobbies she never wonders where that girl went
  • That's the point

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Things I have noticed and things I have done

First of all there is not a lot of great sewing progress to report.

Beautiful new baby last weekend and for the last five days my husband and I have been taking care of the little girls while their folks were visiting the NYC son on location, although that location is now Brooklyn.

I would be more jealous if it were not for the fact that I myself will be there in two weeks time - garment district lookout. Me lookout too actually. Since I am going to be staying with my son and his very nice girlfriend, who must by now be wondering what she got into when she signed up to be the Nova Scotia Consulate, I have also decided this is my visit to Conquer the Subway.

No big deal of course for normal people but I have two profound handicaps. 

One is claustrophobia (undoubtedly a product of my upbringing on the Canadian Prairies were everything was above ground and you could see across at least two provinces (hills and mountains are known as something that ruins the view). The other is my incredible lack of anything resembling a sense of direction. I still get lost in my own house and it is a bungalow and I have lived here for 26 years.

My problem with getting lost is partially due to the fact I get easily distracted. If there is someone on that train with a cool fabric on her coat I will miss my stop and at least ten others. 

I am hoping that the magnetic field that is the garment district will keep me straight.

Our time with the little girls was fantastic, once we figured out that Miss Scarlett was happiest if she slept in my big cozy bed with me and Rascal - which put my husband on the couch - although it did make it clear to us that it was probably a good idea that my daughter have a break and we glad we could help her do it. Taking care of a 4 and 2 year old requires planning for a 5:00 a.m. start time and the three hours every night when you sit on the couch and say "I shouldn't have sat down." I figure it is that they just are so much smarter than we are. 

Which is a good thing.

And which brings me to a thought I had this morning reading the NY Times. Some kid has just published a scientifically significant study of the bacterial contamination of kosher and organic chickens opposed to the other stuff.

The line that I noticed was that to do this he, helped by his mother, bought 213 chicken thighs. Ha. I can see it now, a woman standing at the meat counter with her car keys "Listen I know this sounds silly but my kid has this project..." I wonder what favours she had to pull to store them? 

No one knows what mothers do.

So right now this mother is off duty except for hemming another edition of the Barb pants. I wore my last version to work where they got the "sitting down all day test" which revealed a need for a 1 1/2" addition to the waist. 

That's all the sewing I have been able to do, except for several garments that now have sleeves and not much else, done in prep for my Burdastyle class this Thursday. I am ready to go on that one and actually think sleeves are one of my best things, sort of balancing out that sense of direction thing.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Good news story

If you have been reading me for a while you know that my dear step-daughter has had a complicated pregnancy, following in fact a long tough road to get there.

Well, yesterday morning she delivered a perfect baby boy, a month early but absolutely healthy and wonderful.

Her water broke after dessert at my house on Sunday night and she went right into the hospital. The thing was her husband was away, nearly all the way across the country and had to get home as soon as he could.

Fortunately Westjet got him right on a flight and even held a connection 30 minutes for him, making up the time in the air.

During the flight of course, when you can't use your cell phone, our son-in-law had no idea what was going on at home.

Cut to our girl in the labour room.

Her cell phone rang and when she answered a very polite male voice asked her "You don't know who I am but I am the pilot on your husband's plane. We just wanted to know how you are doing."

Not sure what she said but they made it, just in time.

Thank you Westjet.