Clemence Self-Drafted Skirt

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I sewed a Clemence skirt from Love At First Stitch! This ‘pattern’ is not actually a pattern, but a guide on how to draft your own skirt pattern, based on your own measurements! Tilly made it a lovely and clear process. Luckily I had saved a couple old fold-out maps from the recycling bin, when I remembered that this was a pattern I wanted to try, so my pattern pieces are old maps of Vancouver, which is fun.

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I did a contrast waistband facing, and contrast pockets, just because I could. I had plenty of the blue patterned quilting cotton, but I also had some green scraps leftover from wedding projects (this green was fabric I used for leaves on our paper flowers).

I definitely wanted pockets, but I also wanted French seams, so I used this tutorial, and it worked wonderfully! It was a little bit magical to have everything line up and for there to be no raw edges anywhere.

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I was much happier with this invisible zip than the one in my Megan Dress muslin. The big difference? I bought an actual invisible zipper foot, I didn’t try to muddle on through with my plain zipper foot.

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I used quilting cotton, which actually gives the skirt and all those gathers a good bit of body. I have a lot of skirts this shape, because I think they suit me – I’m already bigger on the bottom, what’s a few more gathers? Pencil skirts make me uncomfy. The funny thing about this skirt though, is that it has so much body that it stands out and doesn’t touch the back of my thighs. Storebought skirts in this shape still at least brush the backs of my thighs when I walk, so I know the skirt is still down where it should be. Not feeling that while walking in this skirt had me obsessively checking that I hadn’t tucked it unto my underwear all day!

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Twirl!

Skirts are rectangles. Did you know this?!

Finished Fantasy Renfrew Cowlneck Tee

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After the triumphant feeling of sewing my first knit tee, I treated myself to a paid pattern. I’d had my eye on the Sewaholic Renfrew Tee for a while, because I had heard that their patterns were drafted for ladies with small bust measurements compared to their hips. Basically – drafted for me. And, it’s fun to support a Vancouver-based business, yay Canadians!

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The fabric is from GirlCharlee, and I loved it so much I bought 6 yards! It is a fantasy doodle print, that reminds me of the covers of some editions of Tolkein’s books. There’s mountains, waves, trees, jumping fish, hills, all in a thin black line doodle on a nice heathered medium blue.

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The great thing about the Renfrew pattern (well, apart from the fact that I didn’t have to grade it to 3 sizes larger for my hips) is that they use self-fabric bands to finish all the edges! No trying to keep hem edges straight! No double needle!

I’ve been using a zig zag stitch to sew all my knit seams so far, and one day I was looking through my sewing machine’s manual to try to figure out which tension knobs did what. While doing that, I found that my machine also has a 3-step zigzag, which it claimed was great for stretch fabrics. I’ve been using that stitch, and it is wonderful, and neat, if a bit slow. The difference between zigzag and the 3-step zigzag is that for a regular zigzag, each zig (or zag) is 1 stitch. With the 3-step it takes 3 stitches to zig, then 3 stitches to zag back again. I also find it much neater than the regular zigzag but that may just be because I played more to get just the right tension setting.

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(I think of this photo as a Scruffy Badger face :))

I’m also really happy I bought this pattern because you get 3 sleeve lengths, and 3 neckline options to mix and match! I did the 3/4 sleeves, and cowl neck, although the sleeves are closer to elbow length on me. I cut a size 6 and it was just right. I may make the body 1/2″ to 1″ shorter next time though.

And of course, a picture of me reading my favourite copy of my favourite book:

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Finished Chain Plantain

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I ordered a whole shwack of knits from GirlCharlee.com over the summer, because I was so inspired by all the sewing blogs I’d just started devouring, and by all the tutorials that claimed you didn’t need a serger. Then the envelope of cuddly knits arrived, and I couldn’t bear to cut in to any of them, in case I ruined something. So I dug in my stash box, and found this chainlink knit that I bought 7, yes 7 years ago, the last time I thought I’d get in to sewing.

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The print is a little crazy. Crazy large! I’d seen a DVF wrap dress made out of it, and immediately wanted it. So I have a lot of this mad fabric. And it isn’t cotton, it is slinky and a little sweaty (I so rarely wear anything but mostly-natural fibres, so I may be extra sensitive to that). But I had it, and I didn’t mind cutting right in to it. I decided to use a free pattern for my first attempt at knits, so I used the Deer & Doe Plantain Tee, which is a tee with various sleeve lengths, elbow patches, and a swingy shape.

I cut out a size 38, which seem to fit just right. I had some equally slinky black knit that I used for the neck binding and elbow patches.

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I used a double needle on the hem, cuffs and neckband. I fiddled with the various tension knobs on my machine and some scraps for quite a while, and finally got on with it even though I don’t think things are quite right. The stitching looks pretty even from the outside, but on the inside it is a little crazy. I think the problem is that I know where the tension knobs are on the machine, I just don’t know which controls what, and if higher means tighter, or lower does.

I’m so happy with it! Even if the print is a little cruise-tastic. I LOVE elbow patches, so that little oval is probably going to see some good use. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to figure out where to put patches on sleeves from other patterns though – these were clearly marked, and magically offset so everything ended up in just the right place. To trace the shape on to the sleeve, so I could sew the patches in the right place, I actually cut out that piece on the sleeve pattern piece, then traced around the inside with a disappearing marker, like a stencil.

This shirt was a great introduction to knits, and it really helped that I was working with a fabric I cared less about than the new ones I’d just bought. Sadly, I broke my double needle almost immediately after finishing this top. My sewing machine has the regular setting, where your needle is in the middle of the foot, and one where it is to the extreme left of the hole in the foot (this is where it goes to when it zig zags). The pictographs on the dial look very similar for straight-stitch and straight-stitch-left, so when I went to play with the tension some more, I didn’t notice that the needle was in its left position, so I snapped off half the double needle. First time I’ve broken a needle like that!

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And finally, a pose more often found featuring swimsuit models under waterfalls. I just had to show off those elbow patches some more!

 

What are your favourite knit sewing patterns? I want to sew everything now!

Knitting = Ravelry, Sewing = ?

What I really think the internet needs next, is a “Ravelry” for sewists. I love having my yarn stash pictured and linked so I can browse through. I love the queue and favourites features so I can remember what patterns I want to make. I want something like that for fabric and sewing patterns!
I haven’t really found anything like that yet, so I decided to try to use Pinterest. My biggest thing was that it needed to be nice and visual. I could have saved the jpgs in a folder on my computer, but that (a) isn’t accessible when I’m not home (b) is hard to leave notes, and (c) I just don’t like browsing through thumbnails like that. One of my other issues is knowing how many yards of fabric I bought. Most fabric stores still write you a paper receipt, which usually gets lost or recycled. If it doesn’t get lost, it usually just has a list like:

  • fabric, 3m
  • fabric, 2m
  • fabric, 3m

Not very helpful.

Also, sometimes I’m proactive, and throw new fabric in the wash as soon as I get home. Then months later I go to start a project, and can’t remember if I’ve washed it yet. Pinterest to the rescue!

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I created a board called Sewing – My Fabric Stash, and then pinned some fabric I’d bought. Online orders are great, because if you forget the yardage, you can log in and see your invoice! Sadly, that rule only applied to my latest/first GirlCharlee knits purchase.

The description of each pin is basically whatever I could gather from the selvedges and websites. It is nice to have the width, the type of fabric, stretch (for knits) and sometimes you can figure out the designer. Some, like the navy owl fabric, just say “Japanese Owl fabric bought at Britex”.

Then, I comment on my own Pins. Uncouth, I know! The first comment is the number of yards, because this is one of the most important things to know, and the first thing I know. Then I leave a separate comment if I’ve washed it (with a date, because, why not?) and then as I use things, I’ll update comments. That faux Fair Isle flannel’s last comment is ‘ALL USED UP SEPT 2014 PJ PANTS’. Capitals so it is obvious. I’m still undecided whether it is better to delete used up things or not though.

It didn’t fit in the screencap, but on the black and blue chainlink fabric, there’s a second comment that says ‘2 yards used, Deer & Doe Plantain top, 2 TOTAL LEFT’. Now I can know all these things at a glance!

I’ve also got other sewing boards set up – Sewing – Patterns I Own, and Sewing Pattern Queue. The former is pretty self explanatory, and much easier than flipping through pattern envelopes (that are not all stored in the same place, sigh) and pdfs on the computer, and the latter is for patterns I want to make but haven’t bought yet, and for pinning blog posts where people have made modifications I like. I just wish I could move pins around in their order, so I could put different pins for the same project near each other.

Faux Fair Isle Margot PJs

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I went out the other day to a new-to-me fabric shop. It was a little silly that I’ve never been there before, as it is directly across from the Fabricland I always go to!

I was looking for a double needle for sewing knits (which I used, and loved! And then broke, all in one day.). I found the needle, then decided to browse the fabric selection: as with every fabric store in town that I’ve visited… their focus was quilting. Now I’m not against a good print, or even a crazy print, but I would like to expand my sewing experience with some different types of fabrics. Or even try sewing something in a lighter-weight cotton! But I browsed the store anyway, because I can still appreciate a good print. I wandered in to the flannel section, and saw this:

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Fair Isle flannel! Love! I immediately thought of a new pair of PJ pants, and thought I’d try out Tilly’s Margot Pyjamas from Love at First Stitch. I did a quick search on my phone, but couldn’t find anywhere online that listed the yardage needed, so I bought 2m, and that adorable green mushroom fat quarter, and went home. I had thought the mushrooms might make a cute pocket. (If you want your own faux-fair-isle-jimjams, you can find this same fabric for half the price I paid on fabric.com. There’s also a grey/black/red colourway, and some actual yarn and needles themed flannel too.)

When I laid out the fabric on my kitchen island to cut, I realized that the way it is printed, if I were to cut out the way you usually lay out fabric, the stripes would be running vertically up my legs. Beetlejuice-pants-style. No thanks. Also, the pattern actually calls for 2.5m of 45″ wide fabric.

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Fine! Fabric is threads running 90 degrees to each other, right? I just need to line up the grainline 90 degrees to where it would normally be! I checked, and this is correct  but you should let garments cut like this hang before hemming because it may stretch out more. Sadly, the fabric wasn’t wide enough for the pattern pieces. Even though I’m so short.

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I’m short, and stubborn, because I really wanted to make those pants, from that pattern. So I did what any fairly new sewist would do, and drafted myself a waistband pattern. The fat quarter wasn’t big enough, so I decided that the waistband would have the uppy-downy stripes, and the rest of the pants would be sideways stripes. I just traced off TIlly’s pattern, making sure to include a seam allowance on both the pant and band pieces (I used 3/8″ to preserve that tiny bit more fabric!), and then sewed all the bands on to all the leg pieces. Voila, like I’d cut it out of one piece anyway!

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The back leg is longer than the front leg, because the back leg has room for your bum. (The back leg is also wider than the front leg. I was worried I had cut my fronts & backs in two different sizes, until I noticed the bit where Tilly says that the bits may not match up,  you just have to line of up the raw edges and all will be well.) My new front leg piece, a few inches shorter because of the waistband, fit on the width of my fabric. My back leg piece did not. So I decided I’d use the mushroom fat quarter at the bottom. I didn’t feel up to figuring out where to attach it, and how much would show, and all that, so I cut out my legs (which were now different lengths) and figured I would put everything together as-is, leaving a couple inches of the bottom side-seams unsewn to make it easier to sew the cuff fabric in later. Not the easiest way to do it, but I wanted to focus on making sure the waistband issue was ok first. That, and I was harbouring a secret hope that because I’m so short, the shortened leg would actually work out to be the right length for me.

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I made a stripe-matching snafu because I’d picked a point and thought to myself “Right, line up the crotch of each piece with the green pointy line in the fabric, and we’re good.” Turns out, there are multiple green pointy lines in the fabric, and I chose a different one for the back leg, so my side-seams don’t match up.

The pattern was lovely, and I can see how easy it would be if you hadn’t added 8 more pieces of fabric to sew, like I did. I love the way the waistband folds in and makes the perfect little drawstring casing and opening. I have a large roll of that apple green grosgrain leftover from wedding crafts (still!), and it was just the right colour for a drawstring.

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Above I’m sewing down the waistband fold/drawstring channel. You can see the seam where horizontal meets vertical.

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All in all the pants are a little wonky, a little crazy, and so cozy. I could have thought more about adding the cuffs, so my stitching line would have been higher up, and not in the middle of the green, I’m counting these as a win over all. They were the perfect thing to be sewing as we had a September snowstorm (what was UP WITH THAT?!).

Do you love flannel PJs as much as I do? Especially handmade ones!

Love at First Stitch

Last month, P and I went on a trip to England. We did all sorts of fun things that maybe I’ll get around to talking about here some time, but one of my goals while I was there was to pick up Love at First Stitch, by Tilly Walnes.

I’d watched the first series of The Great British Sewing Bee on YouTube last year or whenever it came out, and thought she was just great. Then I heard she had a blog, so I added that to my Feedly list. Since I was following the blog now, I knew there was a book coming, and I was looking jealously at finished objects all over the web because it hasn’t been released in North America yet! That won’t happen until mid-October. But, as I was out there on a trip in June…. We stopped by the new Foyle’s flagship (which is a wonder unto itself) and I picked up a copy a few days before we left (hey, I wasn’t going to cart more books around than I needed to for 3 weeks!).

Now, I have sewn before. Most of the time, it ended in tears. The sewing machine I use was a Christmas gift when I was about 9. Mum was a big sewist, but I never really got into it – I wanted every other craft but. I even did some sewing in university – in class! Theatre degree, remember? You have to take at least some basic costume classes (the semester after that we nailed bits of wood together and practiced not cutting fingers off on the table saw in carpentry class).

I decided that maybe this summer was the summer I’d really do it, really sew things that I would actually wear. The book is so well laid out, that it walks you through from easy-peasy firstie projects to a hand-drafted skirt and a lined dress. I felt way too impatient, so I jumped in on the simpler dress in the book, Megan.

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I have fabric that I actually want this dress in, and some other fabric that I had earmarked ages ago for another project. I decided to use the leaf/frog print as my muslin, not only to test the fit, but to dust off the few rusty skills I have. The embarrassing thing about about the frog fabric? When I was writing this post, I flicked through the ‘Sewing’ archives on the blog and found I bought it in 2007. Jeez. The Irises are from last summer, so they’re almost new comparatively!

Anyway, blah blah blah I MADE A DRESS. IT FITS. IT HAS AN INVISIBLE ZIP. (DON’T LOOK TOO CLOSELY AT THE BUM. That end of the zip is hard to do).

Explorer Dress!

Explorer Dress!

Although I bought the fabric (7 years ago…) to make into a project to wear outside the house… I’m not sure I’ll wear this outside. It was a great practice piece, it made me so confident! I installed a zip! Setting in the sleeves was pretty easy! The more I worked with the fabric though, the more I kept thinking of hospital gown/scrubs. I think the slight texture, which is almost seersucker-y, reminded of of textured paper gowns or something? Or maybe that was the fact I kept trying it on before I put the zip on, so it was like one of those backless gowns.

I did the size 3, but traced out to the size 4 for my rear (my hips aren’t the problem, it’s all the butt!) and it fits mostly quite well.

My only issues are that the back neckline stands out a bit from my body, which I think I know how to fix. (I may make that adjustment in a bodice in this fabric again, just to test.) The cap sleeves are a little tight when I try to move my arms up, I can feel them starting to bind a bit even to type this (yes, I’m wearing it while writing. No, I’m not sitting in an ergonomically correct position. Yes, that might be contributing). That’s a problem I have with most non-stretchy ready-to-wear garments though – apparently I have giant muscle-y biceps?

The next dress will be neater because I’ve done it once before already (OMG), and the fabric is more conducive to ironing. The texture on this fabric flattens out when you iron it, so for the first little while I wasn’t pressing as much as I should’ve. When I made the choice partway through that I wouldn’t be wearing this outside the house, I got more liberal with the iron, not caring so much if I flattened bits of it out.

I am so excited to do version #2, and then so many more projects! I want to sew a whole wardrobe for myself! Do you sew? Have you ever considered it? It is so much faster than knitting – even taking it sloooow, this dress only took a week. I couldn’t knit this much fabric in a week!

Take a Craftsy Class this summer!

Craftsy’s BIG Summer Sale: Save Up to 50% on ALL Online Classes!

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links

Want to learn a new skill or brush up on an old one? Now is your chance! You can save up to 50% off on ALL online classes at Craftsy’s BIG Summer Sale! Cooking, cake decorating, sewing, gardening and so much more… all up to 50% off, with some classes starting at just $9.99! This is a sale not to be missed, so make sure you hurry because it ends at 11:59pm MT on Monday, June 9th.

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Oven Fajitas – cool for summer

The husband is back in town, so I am suddenly much more interested in cooking (having survived on a diet consisting of oatmeal, cheese, and fried eggs for a lot of the time he was away). Yesterday I was the first home from work, so it was my turn to make dinner. I’d already decided I wanted to make fajitas, because they seem like such a warm-weather meal to me, and it seems like summer has finally (maybe, hopefully) arrived here. I searched Pinterest for ‘fajita’ because I wasn’t quite sure what spices to use – I thought I’d just find the right spicing combination, then stir-fry everything. Instead, I found the Easy Oven Fajitas recipe from Budget Bytes, and immediately thought that was a better idea.
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I like cooking (for more than just me alone), but standing over a frying pan can get tedious, especially when the house is already warm, so I immediately decided to give this ‘throw everything in a casserole dish’ idea a go.

I have to admit, I really don’t like raw meat. I’m terrified of not cooking meat enough, terrified of it touching anything. So mixing the raw chicken in with the peppers and onions was a little skeevy for me, but I figured that the person who wrote the recipe hadn’t died, and neither had any of the commenters, so I’d give it a go. (I also hate the idea of chicken in the crock pot, but I’ve done that and not died. I realize most of these fears are silly.)

I made the recipe pretty much as is, but with 2 chicken breasts (one was pretty small, the other was average). I also mixed the spices up as directed, then mixed the oil into the spice combination before pouring it all over the casserole dish and tossing, so I was just trying to spread out one mixture, rather than two.

We LOVED this meal. This is absolutely going into the regular dinner rotation around here. I loved that it didn’t heat up the house (or me) as much as cooking it all in a frying pan would’ve. It was also nice to have those 40 minutes to myself, rather than stirring the whole time.

We added sour cream, cheese, avocado, and a wee bit of cilantro to our fajitas, and it was perfect. Next time though, I’d love to find corn tortillas, to try that out. Our Safeway only had flour ones.

Trollbead Tuesday – Kimono Set

Once I re-discovered my 3 original Trollbeads, I wanted a collection. Now. But of course, there’s finances to think of, university tuition for the husband… so I turned to eBay. I had seen the odd very interesting matte Trollbead in all my blog searching (where do you go with a new obsession? I always go straight to the internet and find blogs of people even more dedicated than me!) and I soon realized that they were part of a glass set, and were actually discontinued. ‘Discontinued’ is a magic word that makes me want things more, so that’s what I searched eBay for.

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The neat thing about this set is that it was released before the big earthquake, but after that happened, Trollbeads donated some of the proceeds from this set to earthquake relief. Obviously, as I bought on eBay, my money went to the seller.

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I love the delicate colours, the varied patterns, and the unique matte finish. The only thing is that now I’ve amassed a few more glass beads (all shiny, as all but these 6 are) is that it is a bit of a challenge to put them together and have it all look nice. But when you do hit that sweet spot, it is great! You can see 3 of them on the bracelet photo in my first Trollbead Tuesday post.

I’m glad I bought these all together, I like the idea of having a ‘set’, even if I don’t always wear them together, but I am looking forward to getting some more shiny glass beads. I think my favourite two of the set are the two blue ones. I’m not sure that I’ve used the red and white one yet – although I think it is beautiful, I doesn’t go with anything else!

Butter is Better

While I write (sometimes) about baking, canning, and other kitchen-y things here, it isn’t the focus of the blog. And it definitely isn’t my intention to push my way of eating on you either, but a wee bit of explanation might make this kitchen-decorating-post make a bit more sense.

Butter Wouldn’t Melt by Andreakett

In short, I believe that food I buy at the store should have as few ingredients as possible. (I reserve the right to combine as many ingredients as I want into a meal). Take a look at the list of ingredients on the package of regular sour cream. Now look at the list on the 0% fat sour cream. Has the doubled in size? Apart from not knowing what half those ingredients are… the fatty stuff tastes better. It is rich enough that I only want a little bit, so the fact that it has more fat doesn’t bother me. Now you may understand why I love butter, and refuse to buy margarine for baking (and everything else, but husband likes marg because it is easier to spread on bread).

Butter is Better by KendyllHillegas

I had pinned a couple of these posters, thinking that one would be a great bit of art for a kitchen. But then I searched the Art section of Etsy for ‘butter’ and found so many that now I’m picturing a kitchen with a gallery wall of butter-related prints. Crazy, because what kitchen would give up cupboard space for a gallery wall? I almost would, for a perfectly-arranged grouping of these prints. Unless y’all think it’s a little too Paula Deen?

from KitchenBathPrints

(click any of the photos to be taken to the Etsy page)

Ideally, because I’m a collector at heart, this is the type of thing you’d collect slowly on your travels through life, rejoicing each time you found something butter-related to add to the wall. I’m not a fan of buying a collection ready-made. That said, this is a bit of a niche market, and I love Etsy, so I’m being a bit more relaxed about it.

By LittleLow

By David Olenick via Society6

Butter is also a  good subject for a kitchen owned by a couple… so many bread and butter prints out there!

By UUPP

By Bishopart

 

By TheDreamyGiraffe

By Buckandlibby

By Tartella (this one is letterpress!)

There is always an appropriate ‘Keep Calm’ print for any occasion:

By KeepCalmShop

There’s inspirational butter:

By Freshline

And I think that finally, this gallery wall needs some art-ier, wordless butter prints.

By CruzArt

By WhimsicalPaintworks

By OneKeeneKat

By Hrachouhi

Trollbead Tuesday – Runes

Another reason I was in the mood to resurrect my Trollbead bracelet was Vintage Rose/Vanessa on Instagram (vntg_rose). Just as I was thinking about mine again, she was posting pictures of how she’d been wearing hers. She had one (ok, a lot, but this one first) bead that I was really coveting. She called it her ‘hobbity’ bead!

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Again, I went straight to Suzie Q’s, and they had a couple of them! This bead is amber, with runes carved into it, and I suppose there must be some sort of oxidating agent or paint or something to make the runes dark like that. It is called Trollbeads Runes, and it spells Denmark, which is where Trollbeads started.

I love the warm colour of the amber, and the ‘hobbity’ runes. It always feels warmer than the glass beads on the bracelet, and that coupled with the runes gives it a bit of an otherwordly feel. This one gets a place on my wrist most of the time, and I almost wish I’d bought two, so I could have one on each side of a focal point. I find I’m saying that about a lot of my favourite beads, but so far I have made the decision to buy singles, as I’ve only so much money to spend on stuff like this, and new and different always seems to win.

You can sell patterns on Craftsy!

(This post contains affiliate links which means I will be compensated if you purchase after clicking these links.)

In addition to wonderful online courses and craft supplies, Craftsy also has an independent online pattern store that lets anyone upload and sell downloadable e-patterns with no fee!

How do you add a pattern to Craftsy and start your pattern store? It’s easy!

1. Make sure you have a Paypal account. All pattern transactions happen through Paypal, and Craftsy requires that you have a Student, Premier, or Business account in order to sell patterns.
2. Put your pattern in .pdf format. You can’t upload any patterns to the online pattern store unless they’re a .pdf file format, so if they’re currently saved as a Word doc, .jpg, or other file format, you must convert it to a .pdf before you upload it to Craftsy.
3. Include a photo. All patterns must have at least one photo to accompany them, but you can add up to five photos.
4. Fill out the pattern description. You’ll answer some basic questions about your pattern making it easier for Craftsy folk to find your pattern and know what your pattern is for. Make sure you have info about your pattern handy for this step.

For more information on how to sell a pattern through Craftsy, or to get started, visit Craftsy!

Shop Indie Patterns

Book Challenge #21-25

Day 21 – Favorite book from your childhood

Definitely Roald Dahl, but which one? The BFG and Matilda are classics in my mind, and ones I read again and again. There are also a couple (slightly) lesser known ones I love: Danny, Champion of the World and The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar.

Day 22 – Favorite book you own

We’re book buyers. Me, my parents, my husband. I’m pretty sure I own every book I’ve mentioned here, and many many more. My favourite specific copy of something would have to be my copy of The Hobbit. It was my dad’s when he was a kid, and is suitably well-loved. The cover picture is Tolkien’s own sketch of Smaug over Laketown.

Day 23 – A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t

I want to read the Robert Jordan Wheel of Time series, but at 13 fat volumes, that’s quite a reading commitment. I feel like this year may be the year though. At least the year I start it!

Day 24 – A book that you wish more people would’ve read

I wish more people who watched the LotR movies had read the book first.

I wish more people would read, digest, and implement In Praise of Slow by Carl Honoré into their lives.

Day 25 – A character who you can relate to the most

Hermione Granger. Even including the hair, the teeth, and the school uniform!

Link to the prompts.
Link to my other posts in this series.

Trollbead Tuesday – The Beginning

Quick disclaimer: I really do want to keep this blog going, but after talking about my knitting on my podcast every couple weeks, I wonder if it is worth re-posting here too? I think I may do finished object posts here still, but (as you’ve probably noticed) I thought I’d try sharing other things I’m interested in, as well as knitting and crafting.

You may have heard of Trollbeads before, and if you’ve been to a major mall recently, you’ve probably heard of Pandora. These types of bracelets are sometimes referred to as European charm bracelets. The charms aren’t dangly, they’re large beads that you string onto a chain (or sometimes leather) bracelet. Here’s the one I’m currently wearing as an example:

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Mine is all Trollbeads, I only mentioned Pandora above because it is something more people have heard of, as they have their own chain of stores.

There is an amazing community of Trollbeads fans on the web, and tons of blogs dedicated to them specifically, and the whole style of beaded charm bracelets.

I’ve only really started wearing mine in the past 5 or so months. I had the chain and a few beads, and I guess I ‘rediscovered’ them just before Christmas, when I was sorting/cleaning out my bedside table area. I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t wearing them! Actually, that’s a lie… I only had 3 beads, and wanted more. :)

Those three beads are what introduced me to Trollbeads in the first place – years ago (maybe 5?) I was browsing the Ravelry forums, and someone had posted pictures of two cute little silver beads, one that looked like a ball of yarn, and one that looked like the knit stitch. I immediately went into hunter-mode and tracked down what they were and where I could get them here. I went to the store (Suzie Q Beads), and not only did they have the amazing knitterly beads, they also had a cute little button one that was more of a disc shape. I bought the 3 beads then and there, as well as the bracelet to put them on. (Be aware if you’re just starting out that you need to buy both the chain and the lock/clasp separately!)

trollbeadyarn

The 3 beads that started it all. Ball of Yarn, Buttons, and Sweater (retired in 2013). I love how oxidized Trollbeads are – I find the Pandora ones all too shiny. I love the yarn and the sweater, they’re on just about every look I put together. The buttons are cute, but I don’t use it often because the shape is so different. It fits nicely between these two round silvers, and it also fits between the glass ones, but I always feel like it needs to go in the centre because I don’t have another disc-shaped one to balance it. Most of my looks are pretty symmetrical so far.

With only 3 beads on it, they always swung down under my wrist when I wore it, and it felt a little large on me, which I think contributed to why I didn’t wear it too often.

Now that I’ve picked up more beads, and have been wearing it regularly, I’m a convert! I love things you can collect (ahem, yarn). All the beads have names. And I love being able to almost design my own look each day. ‘Almost’ because of course you’re limited to other people’s bead designs, but I can put them together however I want, to match (or match) my outfit for the day. The chain and beads are all sterling (.925) silver, although there are a few bead designs that come in 18K gold ($$!) You can add colour with the glass or stone beads.

I don’t have too many at the moment, and they’re so fun to take pictures of, that I’ve decided to declare Trollbead Tuesday on this blog, and I’ll feature a bead or two each week.

Book Challenge #17-20

Day 17 – Favorite quote from your favorite book

You might think I’d put something from Lord of the Rings in here… and I do have (multiple) favourite quotes from there, but for capturing true feeling, and giving us just that tiniest glimpse into an enigmatic character, this is my favourite:

3garridebsquote

That story is The Three Garridebs. I’m not crying. Swearsies.

Day 18 – A book that disappointed you

Finally, I can talk about a recent read! I picked up A Discovery of Witches on the Kobo husband bought me for Christmas, because I’d heard good things about it. The thing is, now I can’t remember where I heard those good things! I was in the mood for a book about witches, and this one turned much too vampire-centric for me. Plus, the author repeats herself. A lot. It wasn’t bad enough that I didn’t finish, but I feel like I finished more out of bloody-mindedness than actually enjoyment. And I read the second one, because you know, it might get better, right? And now I’ve committed so much time that I’ll have to read the third when it comes out eventually, because I want to know the solution to the puzzle, even though I feel that I won’t like it.

Day 19 – Favorite book turned into a movie

Fill in the blank. ;) That one, and I also enjoyed Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, starring Martin Freeman as Arthur Dent, and Stephen Fry as Marvin the Paranoid Android. Plus, it gave us the classic song ‘So Long And Thanks For All The Fish’, even if I have some problems with the movie too.

Edited to add: I was just reminded by this article of another book I love, which has been turned into a movie I truly love: The Great Escape. I went through a phase when I was about 11-14 where I read all the WWII POW books I could, all because of dad’s battered red copy of The Great Escape. I still have a big shelf of those books, including that little red hardcover.

Day 20 – Favorite romance book

I’m going to need to think of this as ‘Favourite book usually shelved in the Romance section’. I really enjoy the first two books of Jean M Auel’s Children of Earth series, Clan of the Cave Bear, and Valley of Horses. The funny thing about that is that (spoiler!) the romance part doesn’t come along until the very end of Valley. I love the detail Auel put in to Ayla’s growing up with the Clan. She is also genuinely different than those people, and not in the unbelieveable invents-everything-but-nuclear-fusion-in-the-Ice-Age way she is later in the books. Well, I suppose she’s still a bit like that, but without other humans to be talking about it all the time… As you can tell, I’m conflicted. I’ve read the whole series for the sake of completeness, but only actually like those first two books.

Link to the prompts.
Link to my other posts in this series.

Book Challenge #13-16

Day 13 – Your favorite writer

I think this quiz must have been written by someone with much more diverse taste in books than me, because I feel like I’ve mentioned this 12 times already. Tolkien. I LIKE HOBBITS, ok?

Day 14 – Favorite book of your favorite writer

As much as I love The Hobbit, I think I have to say that The Lord of the Rings is my favourite entire book. That said, there is a short story called “The Faithful Stone” in Unfinished Tales that I think may be my very favourite piece of Tolkien’s writing.

Day 15 – Favorite male character

I love the sidekicks – I love Samwise Gamgee, I love John/James Watson. I love the out-of-place – I love Arthur Dent, I love Bilbo Baggins. Is it any wonder that I like the actor Martin Freeman? In movies he’s played 3 of the characters on that list, and played them all just like I saw them in my head. Or like I think to think I saw them.

I never wanted to be the hero in a book, I always wanted to be the steadfast friend. Frodo was great, but I picked Sam 100% of the time when by 11-year-old BFF and I played Lord of the Rings in the trees around our respective homes. The section in The Case of the Three Garridebs where Holmes reacts to Watson being shot brought tears to my eyes even at that age, and made me want a friend who would care that deeply.

Day 16 – Favorite female character

Is it bad that I, a female, think that most female characters are boring? Or that I tend to like books that have little-to-no female characters? (see: LotR, Holmes, Delderfield) I guess the answer to this question has to be Hermione from Harry Potter, as when I read it, I kept thinking that JK Rowling must have been spying on me. I didn’t have two guy best friends, one being the saviour of the known world, but I did have buck teeth, bushy hair, and a drive to be top in everything I could.

Link to the prompts.
Link to my other posts in this series.

Book Challenge #9-12

Day 09 – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving

This is going to sound crazy if you know me, but Sherlock Holmes. I had this problem as a kid, where if my parents told me I’d enjoy a book and I should read it, I’d read everything else in the world before I’d touch whatever particular book that was. I think my parents started suggesting their omnibus edition of the Sherlock Holmes short stories to me when I was around 10. A year or two later I was supremely bored and lacking new reading material, so I picked it up. I then devoured the whole thing and took Holmes’ talk about “seeing but not observing” to heart. These stories are a big part of me now, and cringe to think how I almost didn’t read them. (I have also now stolen that exact omnibus edition of the stories for my own home.)

Day 10 – Favorite classic book

I remember browsing bookstores around the age of 14 or 15 and being incensed that no one filed Lord of the Rings in the classics section. It’s a classic to me!

Day 11 – A book you hated

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad is the one book I remember being assigned in all of high school English that I barely read. I can’t honestly remember if I finished it or not (knowing the student I was, I probably did) I just remember it being like pulling teeth. I can’t even remember what my problem was with it, I just remember despising the fact I had to read it. Maybe I should give it another go now?

Day 12 – A book you used to love but don’t anymore

I really don’t know about this one… the only thing that comes to mind is Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series. I love the first few, but found they got denser and more and more convoluted as the series went on. I haven’t read the latest one. I may go back to the start and reread from there to see if I “get” the later ones better now.

Link to the prompts.
Link to my other posts in this series.

Cross Stitch WIPocalypse Intro

2013 was the year that I re-added cross stitching to my craft arsenal. Like any good crafter, I’ve managed to accumulate a stash, and a pile of works in progress. My cross stich WIP pile is much smaller than my knitting one, but still! When I stumbled across the 2014 WIPocalypse, I thought I’d join in for some motivation!

This is the oldest culprit:

Noak's Ark progress

I last posted about this guy in 2006. And that post claims that I started it 10 years ago. IN 2006. We’re closing in on 20 years, people. It is the most detailed and shaded colour-wise work I’ve ever attempted. Tons of colours, lots of backstitch, lots of half-crosses… I’m not sure that this year is the year this gets finished though, because I’m loving so many of the new patterns I’m finding out there!

The work that has been getting the most attention lately is my Frosted Pumpkin Woodland Sampler:

IMG_2427

I’m on the last couple squares, and actually hope to have this finished before the end of January!

The next one I want to work on is also a Frosted Pumpkin design, their 2013 Halloween Sampler:

IMG_2023

I’m not sure what gauge this linen is but it is teeny. This is a daylight-only work, and as we’re still in the depths of winter, it is going to be a month or two before I do any work on it.

I also know I’m going to start at least one Christmas design this year, hopefully in time for Christmas this year! I’ve got a few Frosted Pumpkin designs, and also a couple other more rustic ones. Not sure yet which I’ll choose.

I don’t want to count my works done until they’re done done. This means framed, or whatever other option. I think I want the Halloween one to become a pillow, which means getting over my fear of the sewing machine. The Woodland Sampler I want to get professionally framed. I really like the way it is framed in the link above, with the wide black outer mat, and the thin inner one. I think I’d like a pop of coordinating colour for the thin mat though – maybe the turquoise that’s in the stitching?

Book Challenge #5-8

Day 05 – A book that makes you happy

As I said in the last book post, I love the court scene in The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, because it fills me with that I-CAN-DO-ANYTHING power feeling.

His Majesty’s Dragon, and other early books in the Temeraire series are fun and joyful too (I’m not saying the later books are bad, but they get steadily more serious). The Temeraire series is the Napoleonic wars re-imagined with an air force. But the air force isn’t planes, it’s dragons.

Notice how I’ve answered this question without mentioning Tolkien? Until now, that is…

Also, knitting books make me happy.

Day 06 – A book that makes you sad

I’m going to take this question to mean a book that I enjoy reading, but also makes me sad, and not a book that makes me sad for the human race (those Darwin award books just make me want to bash my head against something. Also see: Pippa Middleton’s entertaining book). A book that I feel like I should have mentioned somewhere under ‘favourites’ is To Serve Them All my Days by R F Delderfield. This is a wonderful, gentle, British story about an ex-soldier with ‘shellshock’ (I think we call that PTSD now) becoming a teacher at a boys’ boarding school in 1918. This book makes me happy, nostalgic, and sad. I found a very dog-eared copy in the library of the boarding school I attended, and read it when I was 15 or 16. It set 85 years prior to me being where I was but I got it. And every bad or sad thing that happened to Powlett-Jones made me sad too. But there was a very nostalgic joy for me when things went right for him.

Day 07 – Most underrated book

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell – Another book set during the Napoleonic wars, but this time with wizards. Where Temeraire is written in a more modern style, JS&N is written much more in the style of Austen or similar. I feel that a lot of people found it hard to get past the style, and those who might have liked the style disliked it the moment I mentioned ‘wizards!’ I remember trying to sell this to just about everyone who came in to the bookstore I worked in at the time I read it. So many people said NO! as soon as I mentioned magic or wizards. I think they thought I was trying to sell them Harry Potter, but this book is so different, definitely written for an older reader.
Day 08 – Most overrated book

I’m guessing I can’t answer with a book I’ve never actually read *coughcoughDaVinciCodecough*

Thinking of things I’ve read recently, I’d have to mention the Mary Russell series by Laurie R. King. As we’ve already established, I love me some Sherlock Holmes. I read pastiches (Holmes-style stories by authors who aren’t Conan Doyle), and I like them. The MR series has had some good reviews, and enough people told me I should read them that I did. No thanks. I read the first two, and that was one too many. I love the concept, but I suppose I was expecting something more Holmes-centric, rather than new character *coughMarySuecough*-centric. I just wasn’t a fan.

Link to the prompts.
Link to my other posts in this series.

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