December 31, 2008

Goals for the year?

It is December 31--the last day of the Endless Combinations Sew along...and time to review last year's goals, and renew/change a few of my own. In the spirit of the many bloggers in blogland and elsewhere, I thought I would put down some ramblings about my goals for 2009.

1. To see the floor of the sewing room by the end of 2009--this means much more stash sewing than stash accumulation! I'm thinking 10 out for every yard in, but that might be too high a goal. Maybe empying at least 2 bolts a month??

2. To play more with different techniques and things. One new technique a month should be good.
My current list of things to try includes:
  • using the computer programs I have, like EQ6 and Wild Ginger (assorted programs!)
  • drafting using the CAD program on Wild Ginger
  • exploring EQ6 applique (there is a ducky quilt in there for my youngest, just waiting to be created, I am sure--and I have the book)
  • using the embroidery machine!
  • trying out different fibre techniques like cutwork, fibre etching, and thread painting (on garments, and on quilts)
  • exploring dying fabric
  • spinning (hmm--another way to accumulate stash....maybe not such a good idea)
  • creating different styles of dolls, with different jointing techniques and armatures
3. To balance the budget! (Self explanatory, I think).

4. To exercise regularly. I really liked the idea that another blogger had: for every hour of moving the body, I can spend $10 on my fibre hobbies. Since I belong to the gym, this shouldn't be hard to do--but....we will see.

I think this year should focus more on process than production. Last year--I accumulated and I produced! I accumulated lots of different 'techniques' books to play with, and I sewed a lot of fabric. This year, I want to play while I produce. Or, at least, attempt to play while I produce.

Stash I come.

December 30, 2008

The year in review:

As I review 2008, I realized something. This blog really isn't about knitting (or at least, not just knitting), or about sewing, or about doll making. It is about all of those things put together--the explorations of a fibre fashionista. So, in honour of reality, I have edited my blog name.

2008 was the year of change.

On the sewing front:

1. I completed the very last Timmel Swap! This was a huge 'stick to it' project for me. Not everything has stood the test of time, but more of it has than not. I still wear the black pants, and white shirt every month.

2. I won the stash contest at PR in July--with a lot of sewing. 151 m fabric sewn in two months. Lots of garb, lots of clothes. Not a lot of blogging.

3. I upgraded to PMB4, and got a good pair of pants in two mock-ups--this is a record. I have made many pairs of pants since then.

4. I did an entire year of 'stash diet'--and got very close to parity. Not quite under, but very close. Still aiming to see the sewing room floor, but not by 2009 at the rate I'm going. It is better, though.

5. I learned to make 'interior button jointed' dolls. Love Judy Ward doll patterns!

6. I completed the 'Inspired by' Contest and made a Kohr-inspired dress, using a whole number of new sewing techniques.

7. I managed my first contest on PR--the endless combinations contest. This one finishes in two days. I learned a lot, and hopefully will be able to manage another one in the future.

8. I completed 19 garments (so far) in my endless combinations sew along. Each of them included a challenge--a new pattern, a new/challenging fabric, or a new embellishment technique. Although the actual contest will finish in two days, my sew along will probably not finish until March. This kind of sewing is really inspiring to me, and has helped me really stretch my sewing muscles. A few of my garments will become foundation garments for my Artisan's Square Swap.

On the home front:

1. My oldest ran for the first time since she broke her femur (a year ago Thanksgiving) in May. She had a non-contact fragility fracture, and most of this year has been physiotherapy and doctor's appointments. She has been cleared (at least temporarily) of osteoporosis, but there remains a possibility she will develop early onset osteo, so swimming and gym are in all of our immediate futures. She no longer needs a cane, and mostly doesn't walk with a limp. 'May Musical Madness' (our church music celebration) was the first time I saw her run since the accident.

2. My youngest started grade 8, turned 13, and got braces and a boyfriend. Can we say: teenager?

3. I began to focus on developing really good classroom management skills, something that will hopefully reduce my stress level at work, and make it possible for me to continue the job with glee for another 25 years. I completed two courses this summer, as well.

4. Music: Piano, choirs, and organ lessons became my 'out of school parenting' life. It is kind of like being a hockey mom, without all the other parents to chatter with at the arena (or drive for you when you are tired). Three nights a week we are out of the house at lessons or choirs.

5. My husband finished his CGA and officially received his designation in March, after 5 years in school. I think he has more degrees than I have, now. LOL.

6. My oldest started grade 12, and is making plans for the rest of her life--hopefully Ontario College of Art and Design will be in her future, as that is where her talents and skills lie.

7. Nicole, not Patricia, was in a play--not just one play, but two plays! This is a major role reversal. Patricia was back stage for one of those plays; I also did some costume polishing and costume work for the local little theatre.

8. The Ringing Link, our national bell choir conference, occured in June--and was a huge success. My husband was part of the planning committee for the last two years, and it was a relief to get to the end. Both Lloyd and Nicole attended. The next one--all four of us will attend. Yes, I have been talked into adding another 'hobby'. It is a family thing--everyone, but me, plays handbells in my family.

All in all, it was a very full year!

December 16, 2008

Finally, A Knitting Post

It has been a while since I shared a pattern, so here is a stash buster for Christmas, with three options.

Stash Buster Throw, Baby Blanket or Prayer Shawl.

modified garter block stitch
stitch multiple of 6+3 sts

Easy version (easy to knit, harder to keep track of pattern, but I prefer this one).
row 1 and all right side rows: knit all stitches
row 2, 4, 6: *k3, p3* end k3
row 8, 10, 12: *p3, k3* end p3.
End pattern at row 6 to create garter stitch blocks at all corners.

Harder version (easier to keep track of pattern, lots of purl stitches!)
row 1, and all wrong side rows: purl all stitches
row 2, 4, 6: *p3, k3* end p3
row 8, 10, 12: *k3, p3* end K3.
End pattern at row 6 to create garter stitch blocks at all corners.

What you actually need:
32" long (or longer) circular needle, 8-11mm--guage is not important for this project, but mine was roughly 2 sts to the inch using four strands of wool and 9mm needles.
Lots of ends, small balls or single balls of worsted weight or sports weight wool, in a similar colour family (ie--all reds, all blues, blues and greens, tans/whites/browns). This throw works best if the yarns include at least 2 fancier yarns like eyelash or metalics, but, to be honest, anything goes.

For a prayer shawl
(roughly 20x60")
Cast on 99 stitches, using 3 strands of worsted weight or four strands of sports weight (or 2 worsted and two sports weight). Knit rows 1-12 four times, and then rows 1-6 once. You should end up with four and a half repeats of pattern (as in 5 garter stitch blocks across the short end of the shawl). As you finish with one yarn, tie on a new ball and knit in the ends as you go on the wrong side of the shawl. Since the balls rarely finish all together at one spot, this creates a lovely gradient of pattern across the shawl end to end.

Integrated Fringe:
If you wish to also have a fringe on both ends, as you come to an end, create a long loop (about 9 to 10 inches long) of all four strands of wool, and knot the loop close to the needle. Continue knitting. This is an ideal point to introduce any new wools if you care about too many ends.


roughly 45 by 68"
Cast on 111 stitches with four strands of sports weight yarn (or two worsted and two sports weight). Knit rows 1-12 nine times, and rows 1-6 once (10 garter stitch blocks across shorter end), creating an integrated fringe on each end as you knit.

Baby Blanket:
Cast on 63 sts using 4 strands of sports weight yarn and 8mm needles. Knit in pattern until desired length (square), or 10 and a half repeats of pattern. Make and attach long wool tassels on each corner of blanket. I like to use four strands of variagated baby wool, of the stuff with the silky thread through it to make this blanket. It is really soft and cushy, and a relatively quick knit. 4 jumbo balls will make one afghan.

December 14, 2008


Three bodies and limbs done for the dolls--ready for stuffing.

4 to go.

Getting there.

December 9, 2008

Choices for Christmas

Most of the girls are getting dolls for Christmas. To be more specific, this doll for Christmas, the Judy Ward's teaching doll. It makes a really nice doll, the girls loved them, and so these are high on the list.

The boys will get variations of one of these dolls from Carolee Creations

But, for my oldest, I'm thinking something more adult. Either Savanah, by Judy Ward,
or this very cool Penny Doll pattern called Claire

I'm torn--both are pretty, but Claire is just too cool for words with the jointing.

What colour are you?

Ok, I did it, for fun, and this was the result:

What Color Green Are You?

You Are Teal Green
You are a one of a kind, original person. There's no one even close to being like you.
Expressive and creative, you have a knack for making the impossible possible.
While you are a bit offbeat, you don't scare people away with your quirks.
Your warm personality nicely counteracts and strange habits you may have.

December 8, 2008

Creating a Wardrobe with challenge

Swap has started (check it out on Artisan's square). I am thrilled Stitcher's guild is continuing with the Swap Contest tradition, started by Timmel fabrics (no longer in business, sadly). Each year, Timmel would have a Swap contest and add a twist. One year it was to include a reversible garment. Last year it was to create 3 different garments from one wardrobe pattern (that one was Hard! I was surprised how hard). This year, you have 6 months to make 11 garments: 6 tops, 4 bottoms and a jacket. (No dresses this year, unless it works as a top). Everything has to work together, and the jacket has to go with it all. This year's twist: your clothes have to fit your life and your body, as it is right now. Think: a week in the life of....

My challenge isn't to create a wardrobe in 6 months (LOL!!). One year, I made a full swap wardrobe, including embroidery, in 48 hours. 6 months is almost too long for me. My challenge is to get out of the 'really easy and fast to sew' box that I've lived in all my life, and try to include some more interesting and different techniques and ideas in my swap sewing. I am an intermediate sewer. I can do some more advanced techniques, but I don't enjoy the couture hand sewing that often goes with Advanced sewing. Now, my challenge is to stop making everything the same, and to try something new. And since I want to see the sewing room floor by 2009, it is time to sew.

I have a pattern stash that nearly fills a pattern drawer unit. I have an embroidery machine--and a whole bunch of discs. And a lot of threads. And, all the stabilizer I need. I have shiva sticks, and have only used them once. When I won the stash sewing contest, I got some really interesting items that I need to use, including fibre etch. I have a number of different computer programs, including a quilting program that is fascinating. I have design imagination, and sewing pattern drafting knowledge. But, when do I actually force myself to go through the process of using it all? When have I experimented with all this new stuff? When have I worked my way through making it all work together lately?

So, my personal challenge with endless combinations and swap this year is this: to use a new technique, a new patterns, or new and challenging fabrics with each garment I sew.

Endless combinations review on Pattern Review

Endless Combinations Sew Along

I am currently moderating the Endless combinations contest on pattern review. Anyone who knows me knows that this means I won't be able to win the contest. It was a big choice to give up on the chance to win, but without a moderator, the contest doesn't run. So, I offered to moderate, started a sew along to satisfy my sewing urges, and I am stash reducing as we speak. All told, I believe I'm up to 14 items so far--and I haven't changed the serger to white (or red) yet. I am aiming to see the floor of the sewing room before 2009. My conservative estimate for sewing is about 60m to go before it will all fit onto my industrial shelves.

Hmm, 60m, less than 20 days!?

Ok, realistically, probably not going to happen--but, I am going to make a valiant attempt anyway.

For those who haven't heard of Endless combinations, it kind of works like this: sew one thing. Sew something that goes with it. Sew something else that goes with one of those two items (or both!). And just keep sewing . And sewing, and sewing, and sewing....