Monday, March 25, 2013

Archer Sew Along Begins!

Jen's Archer Sew Along begins today and I'm so happy to be participating! I've always wanted to participate in a sew along, since way back when Gertie first did her coat sew along, but it's never worked out - I was either too busy, not interested in the style, or the design was too easy and the pace too slow. This shirt sew along came at just the right time, and it's kind of the perfect project. Not so involved as to be overwhelming with my erratic and unpredictable schedule, but not so easy as to be too slow. I've never made a real button-up shirt with a collar stand and cuffs either, so I'm sure Jen's wisdom will be really helpful.

Line Drawing from Grainline Studio
I'm making the plain version (view A) out of a cotton rose print shirting I bought on super-sale from Fabric Mart in December. It might be a little crisp for Archer's looser fit, but I'm hoping it will soften a bit after a few more washings. I'm trying to replace a shirt that I bought in high school and wore constantly for ten years. In the end it was barely suitable for even wearing under sweaters, and it was officially put to rest when we packed up a mini-van for our Boston to SF move last October. I've had an eye out for a rose print to replace the shirt for a few years but it's been surprisingly hard to find the perfect fabric, and unfortunately this isn't it either. The flowers were described as being quarter-sized, which I thought may be too big, but they're actually even bigger than that, putting them in the too big to blend, too small to be chic range. I do like the colors and the print, though, and one can never have too many floral shirts! Here's one of those cool bathroom mirror photos to show scale:

I'm not making a muslin since I don't love the fabric and the fit looks pretty forgiving. This is a looser silhouette than I usually wear, but I'm excited to try it out. Many thanks to Jen for putting this on!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

sewing love

Just look at this mess I made last night. I kind of can't believe I'm posting it on the internet, but I'm so happy about it!! It's just a terrible late-night photo of a mess, so I edited it to try to show the scene as I saw it - through a happy love haze.

It's no secret that I've had a lot of trouble being enthusiastic about sewing for the last year or so. I deeply want to be enthusiastic, but following through with ideas just doesn't happen and even when I do sew I don't really enjoy it. Last night was a flash of the way it used to be, and there will definitely be some finished projects to post soon :)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Welcome spring!

Spring is probably my favorite season. I love the new flowers coming up, the first few warm days, the way everything feels so fresh and new. This is my first spring in a climate where the seasons aren't so obvious, but even here by the ocean I've spotted new wildflowers and grass. We've also had a lot more chilly fog in the last few weeks than through the winter - signs of summer?

To celebrate spring I brought some daffodils home. They brighten the whole house!

I recently finished a pair of spring-inspired mitts as well. I absolutely love fingerless mitts and wear them constantly. It's amazing how much warmer you feel when the backs of your hands are covered!

I just couldn't get a good photo - they're a bit darker in real life
I used the Vineyard Lace Mitts pattern, free on Ravelry (my project is here). It was a fun pattern to knit up, and I love the leafy lace. No alterations besides making the mitts shorter for use while typing. I used Lion Brand Vanna's Choice yarn for the first time, and I actually liked knitting with it! I tend to avoid 100% acrylic yarns, but it doesn't have that plastic shine and seems to be holding up pretty well. I have been having lots of trouble with big stitches at the intersection of the double pointed needles, no matter how tight I pull, but didn't have trouble at all with this yarn. Thinking about it, I haven't really had trouble with any yarn except Wool-Ease, which tends to be my most-used yarn due to availability and budget. Has anyone else had problems with Wool-Ease? Any suggestions for a relatively inexpensive yarn that you have had good results with?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Trail Review: Purisima Creek Redwoods

Tall, tall trees
10 miles, 1600 feet. Recommended, with modifications.

My parents came up to visit at the end of last week, and Friday we went out on a hike in the redwoods at Purisima Creek Redwood Open Space Preserve, located in the northern Santa Cruz Mountains. We had a great time but it was a long ten miles, even for my ultra-marathoner parents! The redwoods are spectacular, though, and it's definitely worth a trip. Nearly all of the redwoods in this forest were logged in the late 1800's, so the current forest is relatively young, but stumps show you how big the original trees once were. Amazing! Though there are a few views of Half Moon Bay from the trail, the trees and wildflowers are the main sights here, and it would be a nice hike on a foggy day.

Looking out to Half Moon Bay

I'm just a beginner naturalist, but I'm trying to learn. Someday I'd like to be able to recognize all the plants and animals out there! Anyway, I could be wrong with these identifications... Flowers spotted, clockwise from the big photo: Hound's Tongue, California Manroot, Giant Trillium, Woodland Strawberry, Milkmaids, and Redwood Sorrel.

Details: We did the "grand loop" trail, starting from the North Ridge parking lot, heading down to Purisima Creek Trail, then back up via Craig Britton Trail. It was nice going down, until it sinks in that you've really gone downhill a lot, you've only done 4/10 miles, and you are already getting tired. Not to mention you're in the bottom of a gully and it's gotten hot and humid. It's only a short way to the single-track Craig Britton Trail, though, which I thought was the most scenic part of the hike. Next time I think it would be best to park at the lower Purisima Creek Road lot, then go up the Harkins Ridge Trail, bypass the North Ridge section altogether, and head back down on the Craig Britton Trail. This would cut off three miles and about 500 feet of gain, which I think would make all the difference between a great hike and a nice, but seemingly endless one.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Google Reader, I miss you already

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

I'm trying out Bloglovin for the first time, so this is kind of a test post to claim my blog. I'll really miss Google Reader, along with the rest of the world.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

multiplying flowers

I guess it's kind of weird to start a sewing blog when my sewing output is as low as it's ever been. I think it's half wishful thinking and half feeling like the tides are about to change. In the last six months we've moved across the country, then again across the city, started new jobs, and reconnected with California family and friends, all leading to not much sewing going on.

When life gets crazy like this, sometimes you just need the comfort of yarn, coffee, and the repetitive motion of crochet or knitting. All the better when making something pretty to put your coffee on! Crocheting these little coasters has turned into a bit of a compulsion; Eric loves them, and also loves that they are "multiplying like rabbits."

Made using the Flower Crochet Coaster pattern on Ravelry, which is super easy with just enough detail to be pretty and interesting. Ravelry project here.

I love the way the petals curl up around the cup

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

frosting for a new life

There's a lot of discussion out there about "cake" and "frosting" clothes, with many people saying they sew way too much frosting. I've always been the opposite, and sew way too much cake. I know that sounds like a good thing, and I do get a lot of wear out of the clothes I make, but sometimes I wish I were inclined to make pretty, flowery dresses too!

All cake and no frosting = boring.

For the last few years I have worked in a business casual office in New England, and wore mostly skirts and dresses with cardigans. Does it sound like I looked like a librarian? Because I actually was one, but unfortunately wasn't really all that cute and retro. Then we moved back home to California a few months ago (yay!) and I'm working from home, and I have nothing to wear. I still love dresses, but is it worth it to wear out tights while just at home? Is that an ascetic question?

Regardless, it's time for pants, pretty tops, comfy sweaters, and flats. Which really means, besides the pants part, it's time to sew frosting! I envision a closet full of pretty, relaxed blouses and camisoles, and thanks to a huge Fabric Mart sale earlier this year, this is going to be a reality!

On to pattern testing:*

Simplicity 2211

I made this blouse a couple months ago as a test run for S2211, the Lisette Market blouse. I had really high hopes, but sadly this top just doesn't work for me. It's so big in the back; I had to put in darts, take in the sides, and it's still not right. The top part fits okay, though, so maybe I can figure something out. In my disappointment about this top, though, I suddenly remembered that I have this one shoved in the back of my closet:

Simplicity 2593
I made this, oh, two years ago? I loved the fabric and it turned out well, but it had a twisted collar that looked terrible under a sweater, so I never actually wore it. Two minutes with the seam ripper, and I have exactly the sort of top that I've been coveting! I want to try these new patterns as well.

Views D, E, C minus the elastic

Peplums aren't out yet, are they?

Love everything Jen does
*i guess blog rules say your pictures should be the same width and fill the entire width of the column. sorry. not yet. maybe someday.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

hello world

Well, I guess this is it! I've wanted to write a sewing-based blog since 2009. I had the idea, though, that if a blog were to be successful it had to have top-notch content, fantastic pictures, and it needed to be updated daily. I was in grad school and working then, and there was just no way. My projects are also only sometimes successful and I look dopey in pictures, and I'm really pretty shy. I just wasn't cut out to be a blogger. I've followed many blogs religiously ever since, and I've seen that some of my favorite bloggers aren't all that perfect either. I've seen a real community form and grow, and I've wished to be a part of it. I've seen bloggers create beautiful sites with a wealth of information for themselves and others as they document their projects.

So this is my attempt to do something I've always dreamed of, make it my own, and hopefully build some friendships along the way. I see this as a spot to record my projects, whatever they may be, and I also want to post about my outdoor adventures in the bay area and other things I love. This is my spot, and I'm going to make it mine.