Friday, November 30, 2012

Some News and Some Crafting

Hello everybody!

Starting with the news, I began a new job this week. I should say that I began an additional job because I still have the old one. So now I have two part-time jobs. This is far from ideal, but I welcome the additional work (and income). And if everything works out with the new job (knock on wood) it could eventually become a permanent, full-time position that replaces the two part-time gigs. So, here's hoping.

What this means in the short-term though is that I'll have less crafting time! I had to skip my sewing class last night because I needed to get home at a reasonable hour and sleep. The getting up early in the morning, in addition to the evening classes, wore me down. I'll get used to it, but I needed a break.

Anyhow, what this means for the blog is that I'll probably be posting less often, since I imagine I'll have less to show you and less time to write up entries. I'll see how it goes. I'm always amazed by those of you who work full-time and yet write several entries a week, if not daily!!!

As far as my Renfrew plans...they are still planned. ;) They might stay in that stage for a while. But I will at least continue working on my Burda jacket at sewing class, slowly but surely.

In the meantime, I did start a cross-stitch project. Here's what I've got so far:

I feel like embroidery and knitting are easier to pick up and put down and pick up again than sewing. Cross-stitch is especially easy to go back to, as long as you hang on to the materials.

Look, here's an interloper:

She was making my "photo shoot" difficult.

And because you can have one cat without the other:


Tuesday, November 27, 2012


If you're not interested in food pictures, stop reading now! My friend Jo Ann invited us up to Paris to celebrate Thanksgiving on Sunday. She went all-out with an all-American turkey dinner. Even the sweet potatoes came from America, from South Carolina I think!

Feast your eyes on this turkey, 15 pounds!

And these yummy side dishes, all made from scratch:

The sweet potatoes with marshmallows threatened to overflow in the oven:

Here's an extreme close-up on my first plateful:

I definitely miss "traditional" home-cooking around this time of year, especially at Thanksgiving, more so even than at Christmas. It's amazing how food becomes a home away from home. :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Burda Jacket Progress Update

I'm beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I've started attaching the lining to the jacket shell and I've put on the decorative velvet lining on the cuffs.

Here's the lining being attached:

And an overall view:

Here are the velvet cuffs:

I temporarily basted the velvet to the wool in order to help it settle in and find its place.

Here's what the insides are looking like, including my less-than-ideal point de chausson along the hem:

Here's a close-up on how I attached the shoulder pads. I don't remember what this particular stitch is called:

And, finally, here's a look at the back with the hem done:

Maybe I'll even have this jacket finished in time to wear it before spring arrives. :)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Awesome Stash Donation

A friend is moving to India for the next several years and she was worried about storing fabric for that long and - lucky me - she thought I might appreciate her stash. Are you kidding - yay!! She has a lot of incredibly beautiful pieces that she previously purchased in India and I thought I'd share some of my favorites with you.

Be prepared for a lot of fabric photos; I think my stash just doubled in size. Thank you so much Indira!!!

The following are sari fabrics; I have enough of each to make some pretty dresses. :)

These are in cotton:

And this one is silk:

Look at these two beautiful white fabrics; they want to be beautiful shirts for me. :)

Plus here are some lovely pieces that I've tentatively earmarked for future craft sewing, rather than garment sewing:

And, to top it all off, here are some pieces that I'll be using as scarves:

I am seriously in love with these fabrics. Christmas came early this year!!

Monday, November 12, 2012

12 in 12 Reading Challenge: Some Thoughts on What I Read This Year

Warning: this is a word-heavy post and it's not about crafting! ;)

I have officially completed my 12 in 12 Reading Challenge for 2012. Just a recap, the challenge was to either read 12 books, each of 600 + pages, or to read 12 Classics. And I, of course, did a mix of the two.

Ultimately, I ended up reading 4 "chunksters" and 8 Classics.

Here are my books of 600 + pages: all fantasy novels.

Shadowplay by Tad Williams
Shadowrise by Tad Williams
Shadowheart by Tad Williams
A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin

I read the Tad Williams books on the advice of a friend and I really loved them. (Thanks Wendy!!) They belong to the high fantasy genre, which is normally not my favorite fantasy genre, but this series is awesome. The characters, plot and overall writing style are well done and original, even if the overall arc belongs to the classic bildungsroman tradition (kingdom in peril, mysterious magic, teenage quest, etc,). In any case, that's a story arc I happen to like most of the time. :)

To give you a comparison of my fantasy taste, in terms of heroic fantasy, I read the first 6 or so of the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and I gave up because I found them too repetitive and boring. (How many are there now, at least a dozen???!!). I loved the first 2 or 3 of the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind, and then the same thing happened, I found that the following books became repetitive and cliche. By contrast, I love the entire Pug the Magician series by Raymond Feist and the Belgariad by David Eddings.

I haven't read any other Tad Williams books, but he's definitely on my short-list for future fantasy reading.

As far as the latest George R.R. Martin tome: whew. Tome. That word says it all. It was looong to get through. I enjoyed it but he has so many characters and plots that it can be hard to keep up. In fact, he previously established so many characters and plots that some of the chief characters (Sansa, Jaime, etc.) barely make an appearance here, or not at all. I'm still a big fan and I still want to follow this thing to the end, but I'd prefer it if he released several smaller books more regularly instead of one gargantuan novel every few years. But, I'm not complaining too much.

Here's the list of Classics that I read (and btw, I don't know why I'm capitalizing Classics, I guess I think it's fun):

La fille du capitaine by Pushkin
The Hound of Baskerville by Arthur Conan Doyle
A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle
I,Claudius by Robert Graves
Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
Eloge de la Vieillesse par Hermann Hesse
Poems by Lord Rochester (Everyman's Library)

If I read the novel in French (regardless of its original language), I put the title in French.

Overall, the English authors dominated this part of the challenge. I only read one female author in the entire challenge. Shame. On. Me. I'll do better next time. (The challenge doesn't represent my entire reading for the year though, in my defense). The 19th century definitely dominated here as well. Next time I'll try to mix it up more, because I do plan on repeating this challenge next year.

Basically I really enjoyed everything that I read. I had already read a ton of Elizabeth Gaskell, so I knew in advance that I would love Cranford. The only thing left that I haven't read by her is her biography of Charlotte Brontë. OK, there's other stuff too that I haven't read, but I've already read probably 6 novels by her.

Elizabeth Gaskell as a young woman:

I enjoyed the Sherlock Holmes stuff, although I forgot that I had previously read The Hound of Baskerville. I'm counting it nevertheless because I did re-read it. :P

I was already a fan of Hesse, so I didn't really challenge my tastes with that selection. My favorite of his thus far is still Steppenwolf, the first work that I read by him.

And I knew I would enjoy the Lord Rochester's poems because I had already read a few, so no big risk there.

So the books that were real discoveries for me were the Pushkin, I, Claudius and Tropic of Cancer. I liked Pushkin; too bad I don't read Russian.

I loved I, Claudius and I'm putting the sequel on my short-list too. I find that in the last 5 years or so I've really gotten into Roman-antiquity-themed things. For example, one of my favorite all-time novels is Mémoires d'Hadrien by Marguerite Yourcenar.

Finally, that leaves me to talk about Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller. Needless to say, this book is not for everybody simply because he constantly describes sex in a graphic and somewhat callus way. And he's often overtly sexist and homophobic. But if you can overlook that, at least some of the time, the book does have interesting aspects.

Henry Miller, image taken from the Banned Books blog:

In my opinion, the book is extremely navel-gazing, to say the least, and rather whiny, but I liked his thoughts about the creative process and about being a marginalized American ex-pat in France. And I appreciated that the book reads more like a journal than a traditional novel. However, I don't really see myself reading any other works by Henry Miller...not any time soon at least.

And how about you, have you read any of the books on my list? Are you participating in any official or unofficial reading challenges this year? How do you make time for both reading and crafting? Sometimes I have trouble making time for both!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Finished Object: Renaissance Basket Stitch Cardigan

I finished my Renaissance Basket Stitch cardigan a few days ago. Today we had our TricoThé at a local salon de thé, so I asked one of my fellow tricoteuses to take a few photos of me and my cardigan. I'm very happy with the result. It's a nice, basic cardigan, but not too basic. And the yarn is pretty soft and scrumptious; it does pill a lot though. I used Kinna by Cheval Blanc.

You have the right to a headless shot:

And to a few back shots:

The salon de thé where we meet up is very cute and has a garden in back. It's a little too cold to sit outside, but we were right next to the window so the light was beautiful.

Here's a shot of our table; I had the chai. :)

I love the colors on the table!

And, just for fun, here's a shot of a scarf that my friend recently finished. I love the colors in the scarf too, and it matches the radiator:

Monday, November 5, 2012

I finally started sewing again...

I've started making another 3/4-sleeve version of Simplicity 2339 with the fabric left over from T's Negroni.

And speaking of Negronis, I used the pocket pieces (and instructions) from that pattern instead of those that came with the Simplicity pattern. I even did the pocket early on, instead of last, like I normally do. However, I think I may have put it on the wrong side.

Oh well, that's okay. I'll call it quirky. The pocket is slightly crooked too, but that's the only way I could get the stripes to match up. Does that mean that the stripes are off-grain or that I cut it off-grain? Probably the latter...

Anyways, I'm planning on making a Renfrew (or two) next because I was able to buy some knit fabric, yay!!

Check it out:

a nice basic navy (it's a bamboo knit) and a fun bubbly print. :)

I also got one yard of Halloween-worthy fabric, although I don't quite have plans for it yet. I'm sure I'll find a good project for it eventually: