Monday, April 29, 2013

Sewing Together

Every couple years I make Eric a new pair of pajama pants, and this time I convinced him to give me a hand. He's a cook by trade and really enjoys making things, so sewing up a pair of pants is a logical next step, right?

It turns out that Eric is a natural at sewing. His seams are so much straighter than my first seams were! He's mastered cutting, pinning, stitching and finishing seams, and pressing, and is actually kind of excited at the prospect of knowing basic sewing skills for mending and such. I'm excited about that too - mending his clothes is not my favorite use of sewing time!

We still have a a couple seams, casing, and hems to go, but hopefully we'll finish next weekend. I'm having so much fun sharing my hobby!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Trail Review: Russian Ridge

Last weekend we took a great hike at the Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve. I heard this area was good for spring wildflowers, and, my goodness, was it ever! Russian Ridge is located in the hills over Palo Alto, and though it's just a few miles south of the Purisima Redwoods area, this preserve consists of grasslands with a few groves of old oaks and firs.

California flowers

It was very sunny and bright, and we had a great time looking at flowers that aren't seen as much in the forests and foggy areas. California Poppies and lupine dominated the landscape, growing everywhere. I really wish I could capture the look of a glittering grassland covered with flowers in a photograph! Newly identified flowers included Woodland Stars, California Buttercups, and Johnny-Jump-Ups.

Woodland Star | California Buttercup

Views were good, and on a very clear fall day the ocean would probably be bright and blue. These photos may look clear, but there's almost always some water in the air along the coast these days! The bay is visible along much of the Ridge Trail, and at times you can make out the SF skyline in the distance.

My mom is a forest person and my dad is a rock person, and though I love forests, and rocks to a lesser extent, the wide views, birds, flowers, and intense complexity of a natural grassland has always been strangely special to me. I will definitely be coming back to this wonderful spot.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Archer Progress : Crisp Fabric

The Archer Sew Along may be officially finished, but of course I'm still enjoying working putting my shirt together. I'm really having fun with this pattern and the shirt is going together very well. It's fun to break out the precision sewing now and then!

My fabric is lovely, but the hand turned out to be a bit too crisp for this loose-fitting pattern. That first fitting was so disappointing as the rest of the shirt fit great, but then I had the idea to simply stitch that pleat at the yoke down a bit farther. It turned out especially well for me since I stitched the pleat backwards to begin with - was it a mistake, or did my subconscious know something about future fitting problems that I didn't??
Look how well the back fits now!
These photos are from last weekend and as now it's all done save the buttonholes, which my machine, a cheap Brother that is otherwise really fantastic, just can't handle. Since I like the shirt so much and the fabric shows needle marks, I really don't want to risk ruining it with lousy buttonholes. My mom has a lovely Bernina that makes buttonholes like a champ, and since I'm planning to visit in the next month I'll probably wait to do the buttonholes then. Argh, waiting will be tough... but good buttonholes are so worth it!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A striped hat for windy days

It has been windy here in the bay area! We've had two nights in the last couple weeks where the wind was howling off the ocean at 40-50 miles per hour with gusts even faster, which is enough to shake the walls and leave me feeling pretty unsettled, and most other days have been blustery as well. I like to wear a hat when it's windy to keep my hair contained and my ears warm, and this easy, slouchy hat might just be the most perfect hat ever!

I used the free Striped and Slouchy Hat pattern on Ravelry, and I would highly recommend it. It's a nice size - big enough to neatly hide a low bun and not smash hair too much, but not super big - and I like the look and weight of the gathered top. The best thing about the pattern, though, is the sixteen rows of ribbing at the edge that keep the hat on through all sorts of inclement weather. I used leftover balls of wool-ease, and despite my frustration with that yarn lately it worked really well with this hat. It's a keeper!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Finished: A Vintage Floral Scout

I just love this shirt! I've been admiring great versions of this top all over the internet, and finally got around to making my own. The Scout Tee is a really great pattern. Quick, well-drafted, sleeves are seriously easy to set in, and though loose fitting, the shape of the shirt is really quite flattering. The sleeves are the best cut I have come across yet, and the top even looks cute on a hanger! This was my first Grainline pattern, so I cut a size up just in case the bust measurements reflect a bigger cup size (my first experience with a Colette pattern taught me a lesson!), but I ended up taking it in a bit and in the future will go down a size.

Line drawing found here.
I bought this fabric a couple years ago at Winmil Fabrics in Boston after falling in love the moment I laid eyes on it. It cost a bit more than I usually spend on fabric, and I had to buy a whole three yards due to Winmil's remnant policy, but there was simply no question about its coming home with me.

I've been waiting endlessly for the perfect project to use this fabric, and it was unpacking my grandma's china with its similar floral pattern that provided the inspiration to just make a quick top. Somehow I was lucky enough to end up with this set of china that my grandma acquired in the early 1950's. My mom kept the set in storage for me during our Boston adventure, and it was so fun to get the whole set out and marvel at its beauty now that we're home in California. I'm in possession of such riches...

This is a decidedly casual top. I wore it to work last week and it just felt wrong with work pants! I enjoy having special, casual weekend tops though, and this one is absolutely perfect.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Me Made May 2013

'I, Kelly of, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '13. I endeavor to wear at least one handmade item each day for the duration of May 2013'

It's my first Me Made May! I committed to wearing something handmade every day, but I'm thinking that some days I'll have to resort to a knitted hat or scarf. I'm going to try to avoid counting the mitts I wear non-stop, though! Or maybe I'll give myself one free day where mitts count. I want to challenge myself, but I don't want it to be stressful. I'm terrible at taking photos and my photographer and I work opposing schedules, but I will try to have some level of documentation too. Time to go get those nearly finished black pants hemmed!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Finished: It's a chalk bag!

I have a finished item to show! I made this chalk bag (for rock climbing) for my sister-in-law's birthday. I was scrambling to finish it at the last minute and forgot to take a photo - this blog thing is still new to me. Luckily, the happy recipient took a quick instagram photo with the "wrapping paper" bow still on, though, so that will have to do! The color is much more of a spring green in real life.
I used the free "Better than Basic Chalk Bag" pattern that Meg highlighted a few weeks ago when she made her cute chalk bags. The pattern turned out well and looks surprisingly professional, but I did puzzle over a few of the instructions, especially at the chalk cover part. I also put the grommet (my first one!) on the wrong side somehow? I checked and double-checked, gah. I grew up with rock-climber parents and chalk bags have just always been around, so it was really fun to see how these things are actually constructed. 

I do have some notes for future versions, which there may be. The instructions say to use a heavy jersey for the chalk cover, but I would say medium weight is better. The drawstring needs to close up tightly so no chalk comes out and you have to really pull with my heavy fabric. It also made the top edge so thick that I couldn't stitch the nylon webbing down with my machine, which slowed my pace down to a crawl. Hopefully my handstitching holds up!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Trail Review: San Bruno Mountain

I've been curious about San Bruno Mountain for some time since we have a great view of it from our living room window (I would include a photo except that we haven't been able to see it for a week with all this fog!). The mountain is situated right south of San Francisco and it's nearly always in sight if you frequent that part of the city or any of the communities that border SF to the south. The lower slopes of the mountain have been developed, but the upper part is a protected conservation area largely due to the presence of the endangered Mission Blue and San Bruno Elfin butterflies. The mountain also is supposed to have great wildflower displays in the spring, and since yesterday was foggy, as it has been nearly every day for at least a week, we thought it would be a good day to check out some flowers!

We did the Summit Loop Trail, with a little side trip along the Ridge Trail for an easy hike of 3.5 miles, 750 feet of gain. The trail winds up the mountain on the bay side, and then heads back down on the ocean side, but with the fog it got disorienting quickly. The top of the mountain is covered with radio towers, satellite dishes, and other electrical equipment to remind you that this little piece of nature sits smack in the middle of a very urban area, though you probably don't need reminding on a clear day when you can actually see the city and surrounding communities anyway!

Maybe because we went into it expecting truly spectacular wildflowers, we were a little disappointed with the amount and variety at the time. There are certainly flowers everywhere, but the grassy slopes weren't exactly brimming with them. I was looking forward to seeing more lupine varieties and the butterflies that coexist with them as well, but there was hardly any. I appreciated the amount and variety of flowers a lot more, though, when sorting through photos, and I'm looking forward to going there a few more times this spring. I plan to go on one of their free guided walks offered on Saturdays to learn more about those butterflies from an expert as well.

Out of all the lovely flowers, there were two standouts this trip: Milkmaids and Cow Parsnip. Complex, intricate flowers are certainly beautiful, but I've always been drawn to sweet, simple little flowers and milkmaids might be my new favorite. Cow parsnip, on the other hand, is a huge plant with big flower clusters, but it's also a favorite to see on the trail and was just everywhere on San Bruno Mountain.

Cow Parsnip
Here's a sampling of other flowers spotted. There are more varieties that didn't make it into this post, or didn't even get a photo taken! I was feeling a bit tired on the hike and even today, so I didn't take as many photos for identification as usual and even some of these are unidentified (for now). Sometimes you just need to enjoy the flowers!

From left to right, top to bottom: California Manroot, Douglas Iris, unidentified, Lupine, Miner's Lettuce, unidentified, two Paintbrush photos, unidentified rodent

Monday, April 1, 2013


I appear to have fallen off the blogging wagon already! Ha. There was a lot of unexpected activity last week, both good (turns out I have been chosen for a really exciting new job starting later this week! last minute easter egg hunt!), and not so good (big deadline for my other job, sick again...).

I've hardly sewn a stitch, but will be spending all day today making things for a tea party that my friend is hosting later this month. We are making eight napkins with pockets for name cards, a burlap and ribbon table runner, and crocheted flowers to grace the table-top. Normally that much narrow hemming would elicit a groan, but it will be fun to do it with a friend!

Despite the wildness of the week I have been piecing this scout tee together bit by bit. The fabric is absolutely amazing. Maybe by next Monday I'll have finished photos, but don't hold your breath!