Friday, October 28, 2016

Playing Catch-up

It's been a bit since I've blogged, partly vacation & the holidays. But also because the Blogger App that I've been using on my iPhone stopped working for a little bit and it was hard to write my drafts & upload photos. But, I wanted to say that I'm still alive and well...and even crafting at this point. So let me endeavor to catch you up on a few things.

For trip knitting, I ended up bring four projects -- my cable vest, my Dragon colorwork scarf, a pair of socks, and simple stockinette cardigan.

The plane trip afforded some quality knitting time and I got a whole TWO INCHES done on my Dragons scarf. I had a severe knitting attack and had to tink carefully back to fix my mistake -- hence why I only got two inches done.

The Knitting Companion app makes chart reading So Easy.

I also had a 'to-go' project, which I worked on while we drove around the Big Island of Hawaii or whenever we were at a restaurant. I managed to get a full sock finished before we left....barely.
(I managed to finish the second sock after our vacation.)

But, just before the vacation, I started a new project, and also ended up working on while in Hawaii. It's Watercourse by Carina Spencer. So, my attention was a bit divided between three projects. I completely ignored the cable project that I had brought. It languished in my luggage the entire time.

Why so little knitting? Because we ended up doing a lot of things, especially involving being IN water. And we know that knitting and sea water don't play well at the same time.

I don't mind not knitting as much as I had hoped while on vacation. It was gorgeous and fun. I need to factor those into my next trip knitting.

Vacation Crafting Plans

Vacations are awesome things. They allow you to get some much needed rest and relaxation; free from distractions of work and other life obligations. I love vacations, and we haven't had one in a while, so I'm very much looking forward to this one.

One of the things I love to do on vacation is a bit of crafting -- not a lot, but enough to relax. And what's more relaxing than knitting or crochet? These types of crafts are pretty darn portable, and while you do have to take precautions with your knitting while flying, it's pretty worthwhile to bring "something".

Of course, the hardest part of planning out a vacation is trying to determine the crafting projects that will accompany you on your voyage:

A) How many crafting projects you can bring with you safely. It's a Goldilocks type situation. You don't want to pack too much (that you won't ever get through) and you don't to run out of projects during your vacation. You want just "enough" to last you through your holiday. This part is hard. It's all too easy for a crafter to overpack projects.

B) What type of crafting projects should you bring?
  • We're going to be flying to our vacation location, so I will need airplane knitting. I'll have a couple of hours free to work on lace, cables, colorwork, or anything complicated!
  • Cables? Lace? Colorwork?

    I have some languishing WIPs so this might be a good time to get those finished. 
  • We're also going to be driving around, and I don't want to miss out on some beautiful scenery, so I'm going to want something easy that I can put down at a given moment. Usually that means vanilla stockinette socks, but I could go garter stitch shawls, too!

Of course, I did just get some self-striping Halloween yarn, so that might influence my decision. :-)

And of course, there's all the accoutrements that I also need to factor into planning, such as extra needles, stitch markers, crochet hooks, and the whole lot. And as I tend to break sock needles, I want to ensure that I have a back up pair in my luggage.

I also did some research on any local yarn stores ( in the area, and managed to find one in the entire area, which I will be visiting once we arrive there.

I can't wait to for vacation and get some dedicated crafting time!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Building a Prototype for Knitting Needle Carrying Case

After sewing nearly every night for the past two weeks, it felt a bit weird not to be sewing. So, I decided that I could spend a little bit of time making something small -- a knitting needle / pencil holder for travel.

I should have probably sketched out general ideas of what I wanted, but I dove right into making a prototype. I had a general idea of what I wanted to do, and it took about 20 minutes to make. There are some problems with it, but it's serviceable and will act as a base for any future cases.

First, I took some left-over fabric that I used to create my Rosie the Riveter bandana, and cut out a 17.25  x 9.25" rectangle; the seam allowance will be about 0.25".  The final piece will be about 8.5x 9.0.

Then, I cut out another rectangle -- 4.25 x 9.25" to act as the pocket, and sewed it  onto three edges like the below photo)
I folded over the longer fabric and sewed the right sides together on two sides. I also added a ribbon to act as a wrap-around.

I turned the whole thing right-side out and sewed the last opening shut. Afterwards, I created channels to fit a variety of knitting needles, pens, and pencils.

The flap folds over and the ribbon wraps around it to form a fairly compact case.

I thin I'll re-make this again with different fabric and make it a bit better with additional closures, but for now, it's a workable prototype.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Night of the Ball -- Soiree Au Moulin Rouge

Who doesn't get excited about getting all gussied up and heading out for a night at a Ball? Perhaps, if you're Scrooge, you might not, but even Cinderella's evil stepmother & stepsisters were excited about getting dressed to go to the Ball. I certainly was excited --- my outfit was complete; one of my favorite swing bands, Lee Presson and the Nails (LPN), was going to be playing; there was going to be cancan dancing; and a lot more.

My outfit before we left for the Ball

The weather wasn't cooperating and it poured buckets driving there. Visibility sucked, but we were committed to going, especially as we were bringing photography lights for the self-service photography area.

The location was the Michaan's Theater, which was an amazing location --- it was a renovated movie theater with an art deco Egyptian theme.

The organizers had done an excellent job with the decorations.  There was a beautiful jeweled elephant in one of the hallways.

This thing was amazing. It had taken volunteers many days to "bejewel" this elephant.

Insofar as my part in the event, the organizers had picked out a beautiful curtain backdrop, and we set up the lighting so that people could take photos at their leisure. Of course, I took my own photography gear to shoot at my own leisure as well as dancing.

The evening was full of lovely people in some very gorgeous outfits.

And then there was the entertainment!  LPN was fun and amazing, as always

There was a lot of dancing (oh, my poor feet....) Although LPN is primarily swing, they did play a few polkas, including the local favorite, the Congress of Vienna, and some very fast paced polkas. I had the (mis)-fortune of acquiescing to a very fast polka with a most excellent partner; I got dizzy very fast, but he was kind and took pity on my state.

CanCan Bijou and the other performers were extremely entertaining.

The absinthe tasting was available for those interested in trying the Green Fairy.

Sketch artists were on-hand to draw your portrait.

Overall, it was a most excellent night at the Moulin Rouge.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Day of the Ball --- It's the Little Things

Having completed a majority of work the evening before, I only had a few small things left to do today for the bodice. Primarily, finishing up the shoulder trim. I got some buttons from Joanns Fabrics.

And here the final cockade. 

It goes over the shoulder and the ribbon ends loop to form quasi-shoulder caps. 

I also had to add buttons for the skirt loops. I used the smaller button as a shank, by sewing both buttons together. I used the smaller button as a shank, by sewing both buttons together. This allowed me to pull up the skirt and hook it to the underside of my bodice.

And what's a dress without some accessories? About 2.5 hours before having to leave for the Ball, I realized that I had no hair ornaments and my 1890's hair style looked a little too plain. Whoops....

So I drove back to Joanns and picked up a few bits and bobs --- feathers and a silk flower. 

Within 10 minutes, using a bit of felt, some sewing, and a hot glue gun, I had a hair piece that I attached to a small hair comb that I slid into my hair.

I stopped myself at that point, because I seriously considered making a reticule (i.e a purse) out of left over fabric, when I really needed was to finished getting dressed. Instead, I grabbed on of my prettier yarn bags with scroll work.

(Note to self: I need to make more "formal" ditty bags 
that can do double duty as a yarn bag and purse for such events.)

Here's the bodice at various stages of trim.

I shall finish this series with a final post about the Ball itself, later.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

One Day Before the Ball --- Trim, Trim, and More Trim....

It's only one day before the Ball, and I still have a bit of trim left to do.  Did I mention that trim takes up a lot of time & effort to do well? It's worth it though.

I have two cockades that I need to make for my shoulders. Luckily, they are easy, but time consuming to make.

A cork board, pins, and a compass are useful when making cockades.

I re-made the 5-pointed looped rosette...

...when combined form a nifty cockade.

A huge goldish button will be placed in the middle of this ribbon cockade when I'm done. Unfortunately, I don't have anything that works, so tomorrow will be a very quick trip to Joann's Fabric Store.

It took about 1.5 hours to make a set of two cockades, which will fit on top of the shoulders of my costume. It took so long because I was trying to make it perfect. Then I remembered my adage....

Perfection is the enemy of the done.

Consequently, I stopped 'futzing' and just finished it.

Also, do you know that cats are super helpful when working on a project? Mine are particularly helpful in supervising my work.
It's a good thing ribbon work takes little room.

I also added the closures to my skirt, which required more hand-sewing, but everything fit perfectly when I tried it on for practice. While I was doing that, my Viking reminded me that I probably want ribbons in my petticoats so I can hike up my skirt in a "fashionably" way. So I grabbed some silk ribbon and added ribbon loops to the inside of my petticoats!

All those little things you forget.....

There was one thing on my costume that I was dreading --- hand-sewing all of the gold trim. This process took about 2 hours to accomplish. The gold braid trim is thick and parts of the bodice have several layers of fabric.

First, I whipped stitched the edge, then followed it with a running stitch on the other side of the braid. After completely half of the bodice -- one hour -- I took a break as my fingers hurt, even with the thimbles...and using pliers to pull the needle through.

I think it gives the bodice a bit of life.

Things done and still left to do:
  1. Finalize the front bodice pieces.
  2. Sew the front bodice to the rest
  3. Add grosgrain ribbon around the neck
  4. Sew lining & fabric together
  5. Trim, trim, and more trim.
    • Make trim
    • Add trim
  6. Add closures:
    • Add closures to bodice
    • Add closures to skirt
  7. Sew a new waistband onto the skirt. 
  8. (Optional) Make Corset. -- Yeah, no way this is getting done.....
  9. Get buttons for cockade and sew onto shoulders.
  10. Sew buttons for skirt loops onto bodice.

Friday, October 14, 2016

2 Days Before the Ball --- Trimming Down

It's two days before the Ball and I still have a bit of work to do --- specifically TRIM!!! Of which I don't have anything appropriate at home. There's a Joann's Fabric store near work, so I went there and picked up a variety of trim (and saved the receipts for those I won't use....). I brought my bodice along to do some trim comparison.

The one thing I've discovered about trim is that I very rarely find the "perfect" one. I usually get close enough or I have to layer different trims to get the look I was after. In this case, there wasn't nothing perfect, but I didn't have time to look around at different fabric shops. (Plus, we now have a dearth of good fabric stores in our area.)

I found two trims that could be layered together to make something suitable. First, I found this long fringe that was intended for curtains or some form of upholstery.

It was much too wide for the bodice, but when folder over, it was the right size and it had a fuller look. Plus, it allowed me to sew down a few of the loose tassel bits that you can see in the photo.

I had to sew v e r y  s l o w l y so that the tassels wouldn't catch.

I purchased another length of trim that I layered on top of it. I think it looks good.

It took about an hour to pin and sew the three yards of gold trim together.  However, slowly sewing on the machine was much faster than hand sewing.

Before I attached the trim, I top-stitched all of the edges (collar, neck, armscye) to help flatten the edge and hold all of the layers together.

I pinned the trim to the bodice; sewing will come later. Also notice that I added all of the eyes and hooks to the bodice, which was also pretty darn time consuming.
Pinning the trim down.

I was also playing around with the ribbon, trying to make something appropriate for the this case a looped ribbon rosette. I'll probably make a centerpiece cockade for this.

Unfortunately, I didn't get much else done as the work was a bit time consuming.

Things done and still left to do:
  1. Finalize the front bodice pieces.
  2. Sew the front bodice to the rest
  3. Add grosgrain ribbon around the neck
  4. Sew lining & fabric together
  5. Trim, trim, and more trim.
    • Make trim
    • Add trim
  6. Add closures:
    • Add closures to bodice
    • Add closures to skirt
  7. Sew a new waistband onto the skirt. 
  8. (Optional) Make Corset.