Making Stuff

When Spring Gives You Snowflakes . . .

There has been some knitting happening here . . . 

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Nice and springy. (Just ignore the fact that as I took this photo out on my back patio, snow was falling.) (Spring is so very fickle.)

The pattern is Sun Dog by Laura Aylor. (Here's a Ravelry link.) It's a great spring sweater, and by the time I finish, the weather should be Just Right. (That's my story and I'm sticking with it.)

What are you making these days?


Playing Those Mind Games

[Click here for a soundtrack to accompany today's post.]

Sometimes, with knitting, it's really a . . . mind games . . . kind of thing.

Will these colors work for this design?
Do I have enough yarn?
Will it fit?
Will I wear it?
Do I have the skills?
Can I persevere through the hard parts?
 . . .  and the boring parts?
And, of course, there is that whole gauge thing.

It's always nice when it works out in the end.

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We all been playing those mind games forever
Some kinda druid dude lifting the veil
Doing the mind guerrilla
Some call it magic the search for the grail

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Yep. This time, I found THE GRAIL!

Of course, now that I've finished, spring has arrived in my corner of the world (it was in the upper 70s yesterday!), so I will be packing this sweater away until fall. 

Mind games, I tell 'ya!

(You can find all the details on Ravelry, here.)

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A few of you asked me last week how I divide up the "progress bars" for my projects. I'm here to tell you . . . it ain't rocket science! With some projects, there are a clear number of steps (or zones or whatever), and it is easy to divide a progress bar into those steps. With other projects? It's a bit trickier. Knitting projects, for example. I mean, I know you could go through the trouble and the maths to figure out how many stitches you'd be knitting in any given project and create a bar that reflects that. But, for me, in a project, I divide it into chunks of work that make sense for me. For a top-down sweater, the project chunks generally look like this:

  • Get ready: gather materials/needles, wind yarn, mark up pattern, do a gauge swatch, etc.
  • Cast on and get yourself "situated" with the start
  • Divide for sleeves
  • Body
  • Sleeve 1
  • Sleeve 2
  • Cast off, weave in ends, block

Of course, those project chunks are not equal in terms of time and effort, but . . . they work to move the project forward anyway.
(So, basically, I fudge it.)
Hope that helps.

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Be sure to hop on over to Kat's for more Unraveled posts today.


Progress: A Visual Representation

I talk a lot about the "stuff" I'm working on.
Projects, mostly.
Chores, sometimes.
I thought it might be fun . . . to create some sort of visual representation to show you how I'm progressing. Y'know . . . in kind of an Old School way.

Like . . . this.

Here's the sweater I've been working on for a while now.

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It's almost finished, as you can see by my "progress bar." (Maybe also because it's just missing a cuff.)

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It was so much fun (well, "fun" may be a stretch here) - let's say . . . satisfying . . . to color in that progress bar that I decided to try it with more projects!

Like . . . my spring garden bed clean up.

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My garden is . . . a lot. (I've identified - and named - 17 "zones" in my garden.) (Maybe I'll blog about that someday.)  Anyway, I am thrilled to be able to start cleaning up my beds so early in the spring this year. It doesn't usually happen this way. (Often, at the end of March there is still snow covering my garden beds.) So. Even though my "progress bar" indicates I've barely gotten started, the fact that I HAVE already started is huge progress. (And now, even if it does snow again, at least I've begun.)

I also made a "progress bar" for my green overalls project.

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This was really heartening for me, because it feels like I've been sewing and sewing and not getting very far. But . . . the "progress bar" shows that I'm almost to the half-way point. (There are 47 steps in the pattern. Each "square" in my "progress bar" represents roughly 3 steps.) So far, I've spent a lot of time on pockets (there are 5 of them), and they are rather particular. I suspect smoother sailing from now on. (Although the way the straps join in a VERY particular way in the back could slow me down a bit. . . )

And then . . . there's my last "progress bar."

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I'm chipping away! I (almost) finished a major chunk of the work yesterday (closing the books for Tom's consulting business), so I should make quicker progress now. (And, yeah. I know the filing deadline was extended. But we still have a meeting with our financial folks next week, so . . . not extended for me.) Expect that "progress bar" to be completely filled in by the weekend, though.

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You'll perhaps notice that I don't have a "progress bar" for my spring cleaning.
(Hmmmmmmm. . .)

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How about you? What projects (and chores) are you working on?

 

 


Something's Happening Here

And . . . what it is . . . is exactly clear!

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Yep.

That's some really lovely not-quite-olive-green-but-close-enough mid-weight canvas fabric (ordered from my favorite online fabric store) (they will even match your thread for you, by the way) being cut into my can't-wait-to-have-'em overalls!

And I happened to have some really great lining fabric on hand already.

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No one will SEE the lining fabric. But it will give me that delightful "surprise inside" feeling every time I step into my overalls.

I also spent quite a bit of time transferring all the markings to my cut-out pattern pieces. 

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I don't always take the time to transfer all the markings so carefully. While some projects allow for my usual lazy approach to sewing . . . this isn't one of them! These overalls won't be particularly hard to sew (Merchant & Mills considers this an "intermediate" level pattern), but they will require precision. Accurate and complete markings will be the key here, so this was a good investment of my time.

Once I fill a few bobbins (this will be a thread-heavy project with all that top-stitching), I'll be ready to sew. If I stay focused, maybe I'll have them finished before the end of the month.

Of course, they'll be competing with my taxes. (Sigh.)
Maybe I should have a race and see which Big Thing gets finished first . . . my overalls or my taxes????
Thoughts?

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And in other news . . . 

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Vaccine #1 is in the books!

(I got the Moderna vaccine . . . just down the road from the Pfizer manufacturing plant. The irony.)

 


Overthinking Overalls

When I was in high school, I had a pair of denim OshKosh'b'Gosh overalls. I wore them a lot back then - and especially during the summer at outdoor swim meets (because I could just throw them over my suit - easy-breezy). I embroidered all over them . . . in that freestyle, mid-70s kind of way. (Lots of rainbows, flowers, and peace signs.) I couldn't wear them to school (we had a dress code that allowed us only to wear "dress denim" on Fridays, which meant . . . no embroidered denim overalls), but I did sew myself a pair of corduroy overalls (thus acceptable for ANY day of the week per the school dress code), and even one of my cheerleading uniform options . . . was a pair of overalls (also dress code acceptable).

So. I was enamored with overalls -- and especially my OshKosh pair. Comfy. Groovy vibe. Unexpected. When I went off to college, though . . . they didn't come with me. I don't know what happened to them, and I don't seem to have a photo of me wearing them anywhere. But I really loved them.

Which means. . . that even as a nearly-62-year-old woman, I have a soft spot for overalls! 

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(Look! The Selfie Project continues . . . and I inexplicably put on mascara the other day for no reason at all except I felt like it. What is happening???)

Over the last couple of years, I've noticed . . . more overalls on the fashion scene, including lots of sewing pattern designs. (Jumpsuits, too. But it's a hard no on the jumpsuits for me.) I looked. I contemplated. I considered. But . . . nah.

Most of the designs I saw were more . . . fashion-y than I wanted. Or they were really simplified versions of standard, work overalls. And there seemed to be a lot of little futsy details: sideways pockets or paperbag waists or wrap around ties. I did succumb last summer and purchased this pattern. (I think I saw a pair that someone I know had made on IG that looked really great for summer - and without the fussy ties . . . ) But I never sewed them. (Too busy with masks.) (Sigh.) 

Besides. There was that silly little critical voice in my head that would whisper you're too old for overalls now when I got thinking about really making - and wearing - overalls. (I know this is NOT TRUE. I can wear whatever I damn well please, thankyouverymuch.) (But that voice still whispers, y'know?)

I haven't thought about overalls for several months now. . .  
Until last Tuesday!

I had ducked in to my favorite garden nursery for a quick breath of spring. They sell houseplants during the winter, and were having a sale to clear their stock in preparation for the gardening season ahead. I wanted to pick up a few succulents and maybe a plant or two for my house . . . y'know . . . to get me through the next couple of months inside. Anyway. Guess what I saw there????

A smart and sassy older woman with very cool silver hair . . . ROCKING A PAIR OF OLIVE GREEN DENIM OVERALLS!

If it hadn't have been the pandemic, I would've grabbed her and gotten all the details on her most awesome overalls. But it is the pandemic, so I admired her from over 6 feet away.

Ever since? I've been dreaming of a pair of olive green denim overalls for myself! Although, let's be honest. I've not been dreaming. I've been overthinking those overalls. . . 

I looked at ready-to-wear options online. But nothing seems to be what I want . . . in a reasonable price range. (And there are some WILD options out there -- including skinny-leg overalls with those ripped up legs. I kid you not.) I looked at farm-and-fleet store overalls online --  but they're just a bit too functional for me. (I don't think I need 96 pockets or articulated knees. . . ) And I looked at sewing patterns. Again. Most of them really are more fashion-focused than I'm wanting. Or there are some other details about them I'm not particularly liking. (The back, for example. I'm apparently very particular about how I want the back to look. And the pockets need to be Just Right.)

And then I found this pattern. . . 

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This is the Harlene from Merchant & Mills.
And it is EXACTLY what I want.

Ohlordhelpme
I'm going to sew myself a pair of olive green denim overalls.

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Don't forget: the Read With Us Zoom book discussions are coming right up -- Tuesday, March 2. Be sure to let Bonny, Carole, or I know if you'd like to join us for the Zoom that evening at 7 pm Eastern. (Just comment on any of our blogs to RSVP, or send us an email!)

 


Fer da Pup

So . . . I have a little "grand-pup" . . . and she is about the cutest thing ever.

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Her name is Ferda (after an oft-used phrase in the TV series "Letterkenny" . . . "fer da boys" . . . hockey humor). (Also, I am not recommending this show to y'all. Unless you like your humor rather obscure and of the hockey locker room variety. Then go for it.) Brian and Lauren adopted her as a little pup a couple of months before the pandemic arrived. I've not seen Ferda nearly enough . . . sigh. Anyway. Ferda has . . . a personality to match her cuteness! She is full of energy and curiosity and eagerness. She is a bounding, joy-filled pup.

She also . . . likes clothes! (And comfort.)

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When Brian and Lauren first brought her home, it was winter and very cold. And she was a skinny, sick little pup. They put her in little dog sweatshirts to keep her warm in their drafty old house. She likes wearing clothes now -- and has a growing wardrobe.

But she doesn't have a handknit sweater from her "grandma."

Yet!

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She will by the weekend, though! 

I'm knitting Ferda the Lucky Dog sweater (Ravelry link here). I did a lot of researching dog sweaters before I landed on this one, because dogs? They're kinda hard to fit, y'know? What I like about the Lucky Dog design is . . . ribbing in the "undercarriage" area, where dog sweaters tend to pull. And short rows through the chest to accomodate that chesty "dog shape." I'm knitting Ferda's sweater in Teflon-coated (not really) Encore Tweed (mostly acrylic, but also some nylon and a touch of actual wool) because you need something sturdy and washable for an active pup.

I'm nearing the end (quite a bit farther along than the photo I took yesterday), and I may even get a chance to try it on her this weekend.

That Ferda. She's one lucky dog!

(And if you want to see more Ferda, you can check out her Instagram account @the.ferds here.) (Because of course she has her own IG account.)

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How about you? What'cha making?

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If you want to read more Unraveled blog posts today, hop on over to Kat's for a link-up.

 


Old Dogs, New Tricks

A couple of months ago, Vicki told us all about this very fun online cooking class she and her sister took together. And that got me thinking! My sister's birthday was coming up (at the time; it's a month passed now) . . . and maybe I could give her an online cooking class that we could take together! Wouldn't that be fun?

So I got more information from Vicki . . . and started digging around. Now, New Orleans style cooking (the class Vicki and her sister did) probably wouldn't appeal much to my sister. While she likes to cook, that's not really in her wheelhouse. I needed to cast my net a little further. . . and then I found that Sur La Table has a huge selection of online cooking and baking classes.

BINGO!

My sister loves to bake -- so I signed us both up for a 2-session croissant baking class. My thinking was that neither of us would attempt croissants on our own. They're technically difficult and the recipes/directions are totally intimidating . . . so it seemed a class setting might be the best way to learn how to make them. Plus . . . croissants immediately remind us of our travels together (and our shared love for Louise Penny's "Three Pines" book series).

We had our class this past weekend.

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It was really fun! The advance materials were good, and we were able to get ourselves prepped and ready to go before the class started. (Reading too far ahead, though, was still totally intimidating! Laminated dough is not for the weak of heart . . . ) The pacing was good, so we were able to keep up with the steps along with the online instruction.

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The tips and tricks were invaluable. And for me, the professional tips on rolling out dough . . . worth the price of admission right there!

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And by the end of Day 1, we had laminated croissant dough proofing in the refrigerator . . . 

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. . . all ready for Day 2. Which was all rolling, cutting, and shaping our croissants. More proofing . . . 

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And finally . . . baking!

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And, in the end, we each had a delicious batch of croissants!

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They were seriously GOOD.

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And I feel confident enough to make them again . . . on my own!

My sister had great success with her batch of croissants, too. It was a lot of fun to take the class with my sister. Although we couldn't see each other during the class (neither of us turned our cameras on), we texted and shared photos with each other throughout both sessions. Maybe I'll be able to talk her into another baking class soon . . . French Apple Tarte Tartin, maybe? Or Raspberry Macarons?

You really can teach old dogs new tricks!

 


Danger Zone

I have a problem: Dysfunctional "Craft Room."

I have a solution: Get in there and Do Something About It.

I have a plan: Shiny new plastic tubs and bins!

So yesterday afternoon, I stepped boldly into the dysfunction.
Which means . . . entering The Danger Zone.
The Danger Zone of Distraction!

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Because Tom found me a couple of hours later, sitting on the floor, weaving a potholder.
(Surrounded by EMPTY, shiny new plastic tubs and bins.)

(Please tell me I'm not the only one. . .)


Fiber-y Goodness

Many years ago (thanks to the "search" feature here on the blog, I see it was 2013), I went to a workshop and learned needle felting.  I made a sorta-cute-but-also-sorta-creepy ornament thing.  And then I put away my newly-acquired needle felting tools, intending to try it again sometime, but . . . well . . . not trying it again.

Fast forward to the Michigan Fiber Festival last August.  I was shopping the vendors with my friend Karen, and we stumbled into one of the most lovely, inviting, and charming booth set-ups I have ever seen . . . for an Ann Arbor company called Felted Sky.  It was ALL needle felting stuff:  kits, supplies, wool.  And the kits were super cute!

Before I knew it, I had a couple of kits in my hand (this one and this one) . . . and I was checking out!  Totally ready to go home and retrieve my plastic bin of needle felting supplies from the depths of my "craft closet."

Yesterday afternoon, I fiber-sculpted some pumpkins!  Beginning with wool . . . 

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and moving on to shaping and felting with a needle.

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Needle felting is really fun -- and very forgiving.  There are always chances to add a bit more shape, whittle it down here and there, poke it to get just what you're looking for.

And adding the roving makes it kind of magical!

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After a couple of hours, I had one finished pumpkin, one ready-for-the-details pumpkin, and one shaped blob that will become a pumpkin.

Very satisfying.  Kind of addictive.  (Like any craft in the fiber "line!") (And I only stabbed myself once.)  Plus . . . charming little nuggets of fiber-y goodness when you're done!

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Have you ever tried needle felting?  If you've got any little niggling desire to give it a try, I highly recommend the kits from Felted Sky.  They include everything you need to get started (except the foam mat; you'd need to buy one of those separately) - including needles.  The kits come with complete and detailed step-by-step written instructions including color photos --- and links to video demonstrations, should you need them.

I'm hooked!  (Maybe this time I won't just shove my needle felting bin to the depths of the "craft closet" . . . )

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Read With Us

I thank you all for your thoughtful and insightful comments so far for our first Read With Us book discussion I truly wish we could all be together, talking about this book in my living room!  I can see that . . . there are true limitations to replying to comments IN the comments section, at least when it comes to my Typepad blog, so my apologies for the cumbersome nature of this discussion.  Please continue to comment and discuss the book on yesterday's post --- while I figure out the settings to make replying to comments IN the comments work.  (Because I've run into an issue.  But I'm working on it!)

 


A Retreat of Our Own

Almost two years ago, Vicki and I took a trip together . . . to Alabama for an Alabama Chanin stitching workshop. Somewhere along the way, we stopped on the side of the road to take photos of the cotton growing in the fields.

Last Thursday, we were together again, driving in northern Michigan . . . and, once more, we stopped on the side of the road for photos.  This time, though, it was pumpkins growing in the fields that caught our eye.

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Vicki and I first hatched our plan . . . to create our own Alabama Chanin "retreat" where we could stitch and cut and paint and plan together . . . about a year ago.  I knew it would be lots of fun and inspirational to spend time with Vicki again.  I had no idea how productive we'd be, though!  Creating Alabama Chanin garments is complicated.  There are so many options and so many choices:  pattern, fabric, color, stencil design, paint colors, embellishments.  It takes a while to sort through and figure out exactly what you want to DO!  It's much more fun - and much more productive - to discuss and talk it all out with someone else who is as geeked about the process as you are! 

And then . . . even when you have your ideas all figured out and clear in your imagination . . . you still have to do all the prep work.  Which is time-consuming, labor-intensive, and messy!

I can't tell you how much better it is to do this with a partner-in-crime!  (Especially when she brings her air compressor and an airbrush.  And teaches you how to use it.)

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So now . . . in addition to my memories of a fun week with Vicki . . .  I have four (!) Alabama Chanin projects planned, (mostly) cut, stenciled, and ready to go.  (And - bonus - I have new airbrushing skills AND an air compressor of my own now.)

A great week - and a perfect retreat - all the way around!