Sunday, December 11, 2011

No Sewing Required

Hello. Did you think I'd been abducted by aliens? No such luck, life's just been too busy/mundane to blog about.

I do want to show you a new addition to the house, though:

ain't she a beaut!

It's a Singer 127 Treadle sewing machine. I mistakenly told you in this blog post that one of my other sewing machines was a Singer 128 in a coffin case, not so, it's a 27 in a bentwood case. This machine is the non-electric variation on that same machine, and with fabulous sphinx decals. I've been learning lots and lots about identifying old machines.

I'm in the process of getting this machine up and running. It's required a bit of tinkering and I still can't get the stop motion wheel to properly disengage, but I plan to keep fiddling with it before I give up and take it in to the repair shop. There are so few parts on these old machines that I can't believe it can be anything other than straight forward. The treadle stand for this machine had a top that was in fairly bad shape which I painted cream to match the kitchen trim and it sits now under a mirror by the back door. I find the sound of the moving treadle very comforting. I must have been a little factory worker in a former life.

Over the last few months a friend and I have been working on starting a button collector's club here in the city. So far, we've had two meetings and we couldn't have hoped to find a better group of people - diverse and good-humoured. At the last meeting I gave a talk on vegetable ivory buttons (doesn't that sound impressive? Don't be fooled, it was only a half page of notes - in very large handwriting.) I also brought homemade shortbread buttons...


I brought along the button tree Elly and I had made the week-end before the meeting.

We made this for Elly, to co-ordinate with her peacock-coloured Christmas theme using the directions found here. It's very easy, though time consuming. I foolishly bought the largest Styrofoam cone Michael's had, and it ended up being a lot of buttons and pins. The pins were purchased at the dollar store, and good thing, because I think we used more than 300. The ladies at the button meeting all agreed it was a great idea for the many, many mass produced plastic buttons one can accumulate without realising.

As party favours (meeting favours?) I made some button Christmas ornaments.

Another easy, peasy project. Clear glass ornaments were purchased from Michael's, I chose the heart-shaped set, and filled with colour co-ordinated plastic buttons small enough to fit through the ornament top.

It's beginning to look a lot like buttons, I mean Christmas!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Nouveau Famous

Recently off the needles: one pair of Nouveau Gloves.

I started these way back in March (see this post) when I was desperate for some colour in the middle of winter. The yarn was purchased at Wolseley Wool, on a sunny day during a mostly overcast winter. The colour of the yarn sang to me from a shop shelf and it had to be bought, which it was, post haste. Once home, I checked Ravelry to see what others had made with the same yarn, Yellow Label DK Weight by Tanis Fibre Arts.

It was there that I spotted the pattern called Nouveau, a pair of cabled gloves by Glenna C., and I was off and running. I finished the first glove quickly, then let them languish as I worked on other projects,then picked up the project again in September, then finished them by the first of October. I received oodles of compliments on the project while working on it, and oodles since finishing. The colour of teal is truly spectacular, I'm not sure the snaps honestly capture the depth of tones in the yarn. Beautiful!

So why wait to post about them until today? Because today the Tanis Fibre Arts blog is featuring my pair of gloves in their feature on the Nouveau glove pattern.

My favourite part (apart from having a spectacular pair of teal cabled gloves) is being referred to as a "top tier knitter". Hee hee!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Unexpected Buttons

A view from the end of the garden:

Newly installed in the back of the garden, a Droll Yankees Ultimate Pole System, one of many gifts for my birthday (the 13th). I've been trying to feed the birds since the end of the deck reno this past July, but I was finding the birds too rough for my "adorable" bird feeders. Between the squirrels and the blue jays, there were two wooden bird feeders broken into pieces within three weeks, and there was always a terrible mess of grocery-store-bought birdseed all over the garden. So, after checking the phone book, I headed out to The Preferred Perch in south St. Vital and purchased the lovely and sturdy tube feeder you can see in the photo (it's the largest feeder), and was told that the grocery-store-bought birdseed is mostly filler of wheat, which most backyard birds won't eat, except for ducks.

***no ducks allowed, that's an inside joke for immediate family members.***

Anyhoo...I bought plain black sunflower seed, which I was told to try, and if it attracted the neighbourhood birds, it was a good place to start, though, they told me, the sparrows prefer white millet and may be angry at the change. I was also told it could take days or weeks for the local birds to adjust to the change of feeder and feed. Well, in less than an hour nuthatches, chickadees and squirrels were all happily feasting, however, when I turned 'round the side of the house, there were about twenty sparrows perched on the fence in a huff.

I went back to the shop the next day and bought a big bag of white millet and appeased the sparrows by setting handfuls down along the garden path - apparently sparrows prefer to eat off the ground. I also bought a bag of peanuts (for the squirrels) and the corn feeder and cobs of corn (for the blue jays and squirrels). Everyone seemed very happy - and now with the installation of the "Ultimate Pole System", everything is central and can be viewed from any of the back windows. Joy!

And now for a few finished projects...

Stitched from a kit from Button and Needlework Boutique in Victoria, a bookmark of thistles.

I've already sent it to Mum, seeing as she's Scottish and likes to read. I love these little cross-stitch bookmark kits, they're quick and easy and pretty, made by Textile Heritage, they have lots of choices... perfect little Christmas gifts... for me... hint, hint....Nigel? Elly? Hello?

Another project, out of the knitting basket, finally, are the Harvest Mice by Alan Dart, started way back in February. I would have never guessed that I wouldn't get around to finishing them until the day after Thanksgiving.

The knitting was easy enough, that can be done in an evening, but it's the sewing, stuffing, embroidering, constructing of props, gluing, etc., etc...

Mine are nowhere near as cute as Mr. Dart's, I suspect I make the mistake of using bits and pieces of beautiful, sumptuous DK merinos, rather than the brutal acrylics that Dart uses. My Dart toys are always too floppy and soft. I keep meaning to learn that lesson, but forget every time I'm assembling yarns for one of his patterns. Perhaps next time.

Also off the needles recently, is any easy, peasy garter stitch stole.

Made from two skeins of Bamboo Bloom using 15mm needles. Yup, 15 mm, those are one and a half centimetres diameter. Very big...and awkward.

It gives an interesting overall effect, the spun and unspun sections of yarn make for a lot of textural interest, and the choice of black gives it a decidedly Haloowe'eny look (which was what I was after). I'm fairly happy with this project.

Also recently off the needles, another Storm Water Shawl, knit up in Swiss Silk by Handmaiden. I made one back in 2008, from this post, and had always intended to make another.

***I find it amusing that the first lines of that old blog post are apologising for my laziness in blogging - have you noticed I'm even too lazy to apologise now?***

The Swiss Silk yarn is very lovely, the colourway I used is called Orchid, which to me should be pale purples, but this blend is a beautiful mix of pinks and creams. This yarn doesn't appear on the Handmaiden website yet, even though I purchased it back before Christmas. I suppose I'm not the only lazy updater out there!

Lastly, off the needles, three Trekkie Dishcloths.

Worked up in Cascade Ultra Pima, in the classic Star Trek colours of gold, red and blue, and edged all around in black cotton. I'd like to point out right now that the edging was crocheted! Yes, that's right, all by me! Swish! These little lovelies are winging their way to Jane and family in Toronto, as I know they're fans of the series.

I've finished another knitted project recently, a pair of gloves, but I'm going to refrain from posting about them until later in the month, in order to tie-in with another post on another website...are you intrigued?

I'd like to share a :::Friday Find::: which was found on a Friday (the 7th of October) and intended to blog about yesterday (which would have been Friday, but the day ended without me blogging, but I'm not waiting until next Friday, when I'll be out of town anyway, blah, blah, blah - let's just look at this new treasure...)

Lotto, found in a local antiques store (Black's, if you want to know), a fabulous board game I suspect from the 1920's or earlier.

Amazingly, all the tiny numbered discs remain, after all the years this thing has been kicking around!

I suspect there originally would have been a cloth pouch to draw the numbers from, which has since gone missing, and only a few of the original plain wooden markers are left, but what did someone long ago replace them with?

well, buttons of course!

Buttons, light and dark. How perfect a game is this? Love!

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Horse is A Horse, Of Course, Of Course

Above is the obligatory summer vacation snap. Ian and I jetted off to lovely, cool and breezy Victoria as an escape from the relentless heat around these parts. It's hard to believe it was only three weeks ago, feels like forever. We stayed at the Surf Motel again. I can't say enough wonderful things about this place, more than retro, it's downright vintage (as in "slightly dilapidated"), close to downtown, and it's right smack across the street from the Juan de Fuca Strait. I'm sure one day soon someone is going to buy this place and update everything and ruin it all - or tear it down to build some hideous condo.

Ah well, until then I'll have to plan as many stays as I can...

Victoria was full of fun - there were friends, family and hilarity.

My favourite moment of the trip was when Ian and I and my brother (also Ian) were browsing through a vintage/consignment shop that specialises in housewares, when young Ian touched an item and sent sparks flying, exclaiming "What, is that!". Well, it was a vintage table lighter. He'd never seen such a thing - making me feel a little on the aged side. They were such iconic objects from film and television back in my day (and before), I'd never considered how useless they would be for anything other than lighting a cigarette. Imagine dragging one around to light candles, or the fireplace, or the gas stove. Give me a book of matches any day!

Recently off the needles is a horse, of course!

Knit from the pattern book, Dream Toys by Claire Garland, she's knit up in Kiss by Filtes King, an Aran weight merino/acrylic blend in pale pink. The book includes the pattern for the eyes and nostrils, made from wool felt. I love the very knobbly knees on this toy, it's very hard to walk past it without picking it up and making it run along like marionette.

Ian caught sight of her while under construction, with no legs, tail or mane, and was thrilled to see I'd made a "jellybean". I'm not sure why he thinks jellybeans have eyes and nostrils.

Also off the needles over the summer is Octavian the Octopuss, by Jill Watt. He's knit up in worsted weight leftovers, the main colour only uses about 100 meters, or so, and half of that for the contrasting colour. The pattern suggests using plastic safety eyes, but having none, I made mine from more scraps of wool felt.

a note: I use the good wool felt from Holland, it costs a *$#^%&* fortune, but it's worth every penny.

This little creature also enjoys the "marionette dance".

On seeing this piece finished and sitting on the mantle, Ian asked if it was a catfish. Clearly, 15 is an interesting age.

An octopuss is a catfish, of course, of course.

I'd just like to add here, that I don't ever recall watching Mr. Ed growing up, but yet I remember this show (same era) very well:

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Mr. Famous

Here's a quick update while I continue to cope with this wretched, hot, humid, sticky weather.

Nigel has had a brush with fame. Terribly important music website PopMatters has published a list of top twenty, all-time, best-ever Pavement songs. Pavement is a band, and not just any band, but one of Nigel's all-time, best-ever favourites. Ian and Elly and I frequently mock this affection (mostly Ian and I), so this week has been especially thrilling for Nigel. If you check out the top twenty list, and scroll down the page, way down to number 16 on the list, a number called "We Dance"...

Well, the video they chose to highlight that song was shot by Nigel himself, last Autumn in Minneapolis.

If you want to check out Nigel's other concert videos, check out his YouTube channel here.

Now go and watch them and favourite them and make him feeled loved.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Robert Smith Frills

The peonies were spectacular this year, it's a shame they don't last longer in the garden. No sooner are they there, but they're gone.

This year we've added a more permanent piece of loveliness to the garden. Her name is Yolande and she's a cast stone sculpture made by an American company called Campania, from they're "Mythical" series of garden sculptures.

There is a long, ugly story attached to the acquisition of Yolande; the kind of story that makes me look bad, so I'm not going to share. An abbreviated version goes something like: first ordered over two years ago, three order mix-ups, one gigantic hissy fit (that would be me), a hefty price tag, and a shop that I will never shop at again.


how gorgeous is she? She hides herself away in the corner of the garden and watches the back of house - I could stare at her all day. I think she's going to look quite majestic year-round.

Also new and majestic, is our new Betta, he's deepest black all over with shots of midnight blue running through his long, frilly fins. I've named him Robert Smith, after the lead singer of The Cure. lovely? (Tricky to photograph, unfortunately).

Recently off the needles is a mermaid based on the Minnowmaid pattern by Amy Florence (that's a Ravelry link).

She's a tad on the hideous side, I think living under the sea is to blame, it's made her pasty-looking and all the swimming has given her shoulders like a linebacker.

Great hair and tail though, yes?

Also off the needles recently is Abrazo made from the Sweet Georgia Lace I blogged about back in March. This pattern only used about half of the hank, so another project may eventually appear in the future.

It turned out beautifully, though I miscounted the lace pattern the first go-round and had to rip it out and start again. I found the orange very cheery to knit with, but it's not a colour I can wear. I will have to gift it to someone...hmmm....I wonder who...?

A friend and I will be undertaking a major project tomorrow. We are going to sort and categorise my buttons.

I sincerely doubt we'll make it through all of them, since when all set out on the dining-room table I can't photograph them all at once.

Clearly, the amassed buttons are calling for a wide-angle lens.

In a brief effort to make use of a few I put together a bracelet this afternoon using some of the shell buttons.

It's not bad, but about two buttons too long.

I shall try again.

While I work on that, here's a look at the real Robert Smith in all his black, frilly-ness:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Done and Done

Daily, I make lists for myself. Things that have to be done, things that should be done and things that I would like to do. I keep a small notebook for myself with all things listed. Just about anything can make it to the list, from the perpetual, "laundry", to the less likely, "lose weight". As projects are accomplished (or abandoned) they are crossed off the list, until the list is an unreadable mess of scratches, then I tear the page from the book, destroy the old page (or pages), and start fresh with a new page and a new list. I always find the tearing up of the old list a small, cathartic experience. Three or four times a year I start a new notebook which is very cathartic. I feel a sense of progression and moving forward.

The downside, I've realised, is that because there is always a list of what needs to be done, and no clear list of what's been finished, I've often found myself feeling that I'm running in circles and accomplishing nothing.

So...recently, I started, not one new notebook, but three!

I have a "book of to do" notebook - all the things I'd like to do, a "whenever", "no-time-line", "I-have-the-rest-of-my-life-and-if-nothing-gets-done-no-one-will-care" list of projects.

I have my regular notebook of things that I'm actually working on, a "book of doing" - laundry and grass mowing will make that list, as well as which ever project I happen to be tackling - the garden is a current favourite.

And I've started a "book of done". Not everything will make it into this notebook, but I think having a tangible list that I can hold and read and say "ah, yes, so that's what I've been doing all this time" will put to rest the feeling that nothing is happening.

The first thing to make the list was a re-covering of an old office chair.

It use to be fuzzy, grey and tired. Now it's bright and spiffy, and makes me very happy!

Also finished, but not making the list of done, is the simple ribbed scarf started way back in April. It didn't make the list because it's on my Ravelry page, where all my knitting projects reside.

Also making the list, is a new dress for Kiltie!

Kiltie is one of my Sasha Dolls, her new dress is made from one of Nigel's old shirts. This is the first time Kiltie's been out of her original clothes, you can see her here.

I've made new togs for both of the other Sasha dolls too. Here's Baby Gregor Sasha, Mum bought him for me on a trip to Scotland back in 1976 (or there-abouts).

I knit him some undergarments out of white crochet cotton on fine needles. He's had other clothes in the past, but I've no idea what happened to them. He's here in his original togs.

Marina Sasha also has a new outfit knit from the same white crochet cotton. I wound off some length of the yarn and dyed it in a strong tea bath to make the undergarments. Knickers...


and dress...

The knitted clothes didn't make it into the new notebook either, since they're also on my Ravelry page, but Marina's outfit was a major work, for the dress front you cast on 192 stitches, and that's just the front, it's the same for the back, and then the petticoat has 160-ish stitches for front, and then again for the back. Wheeeee.....

She looks lovely though! Here she is in her original clothes which she's never removed.

The major work is the back garden, which is almost, completely finished...

a path of crushed granite leading to the air conditioner...

the not-yet-finished trellis against the garage...

a bed of hydrangeas...

crushed granite under the spruce trees...

a raised bed with a few tiny plants...

the south side of the deck with railing...

and, the north side with trellis, clematis and impatiens.

Now , we wait for the plants to grow.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Dolls and Weeds

I've managed to lose track of time again.

Is anyone else having this problem? Is it age? Am I really so over-the-hill that I'm rolling fast enough to make six weeks feel like one?

Apparently, yes.

Things do, however, get done. I finished off the Blackbird Shawl

It's really very pretty, and black as can be. I'm glad to be finished knitting with black, at least for now. I still have plans to work my way through all my black yarn, but have changed my mind about spending an entire year knitting with nothing but black. I've come up with a new series of projects that is sure to test my attention span.

I've decided that various dolls in the house require new togs. Thankfully, I don't have all that many dolls (at least, I don't think I do).

First up, and most naked of the bunch, was my Armand Marseille Dream Baby, a bisque head doll with blue glass sleep eyes made around the 1920's. This doll has a cloth body and composition hands. Elly finds him "creepy". I think he's very sweet, in fact, I think he looks quite a lot like Elly did as a baby.

I'd decided as soon as I saw him that he was a boy, and so (finally) made him a bonnet and gown from an old blue linen tablecloth that I'd thrifted a few years ago. I was careful to utilise the hardanger edges for the hem of bonnet, gown and sleeves. The bonnet is a shade on the small side, but he hasn't complained yet.

Isn't he sweet?

I also made linens for the old wicker pram I bought a while back, seen in this blog post.

I made a pillow, mattress and mattress cover from new materials, and made a blanket and pillowslip from two vintage heavy, beige linen hand towels, also thrifted a while back. I added a smattering of embellishment with brown and white polka dot ribbon and two cream coloured satin motifs.

Lucky doll!

That sweet face is still lacking a name though. I'd thought of calling him Armand, but that may be a tad unimaginative. Any suggestions? Perhaps an older name that isn't gender specific; Marion, Beverly,... maybe not... hmmm...Georgie?

I have plans to clothe other dolls through the summer, perhaps I'll show and tell them as I work my way through the naked/shabbily-dressed ones.

In other events, the deck is finally underway. This was suppose to be done last summer, but the good weather ran out before our contractor could squeeze us in, so it had to wait until now.

This year's weather hasn't been as co-operative as we would have liked, so it's not finished yet. All we really need now are two days with no rain.


And what else is coming along fast and furious?

Well, it's all those dandelions on the front lawn.

I'm having a terrible time deciding what to do with them. I keep going to the shops and picking up the big bottle of weed killer , debating, deciding against chemicals, putting it down, coming home, and then regretting not buying the stuff as soon as I pull into the front drive. We even had one of those big lawn chemical companies come out and give us an estimate ($389, thank you very much). I find it easy to love dandelions when they're in their "golden flower head" stage (as in the photo), as opposed to the "straggly puff-ball" stage, which is how they're looking today.

Perhaps this fabric will change my mind...

It is pretty, yes?