Slice of life

From WIPs to FOs

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In the last few weeks, I have been putting in a lot of work on the multiple WIPs I discovered in my sewing boxes; just like I said I would. It’s been very hard to resist starting a new project but I am very proud to tell you guys that all that hard work was worth it; since I was able to finish 2 more sets of placemats, a craft bag and a big blue tote bag. Aren’t they just lovely?

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I also finished my Busy Bee Sweater earlier this week, and I am SO excited to show it to you today. It is my sweater for Very Shannon’s SSKAL14, and I (fortunately) was able to meet the September 24th deadline – although it has been extended now to October 8th. I was so sure I wasn’t going to make it, but somehow I managed to put the last stitches, weave in the ends and wash it on the 24th, and my honeybee nicely accepted to take pictures of it for me this weekend.

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/Crafty-Effie/busy-bee
http://www.ravelry.com/projects/Crafty-Effie/busy-bee

Unfortunately for me though, even though my WIPs have been nicely transforming into FOs, I seem to have fallen victim to a streak of bad luck recently, and it’s been making my life miserable. It’s not like it’s really bad, it’s just stupid things that keep happening. I lost the pearl on my left earing while taking a bath. I knocked my head on the truck trying to pull something out. I made cheese bread, and it deflated in the oven. I dropped the couch on my feet and bruised my toes. Pulled a muscle in my neck. Had to absorb a 400$ unexpected expense. And so forth, continuously for the last couple weeks. Really, just stupid bad luck. I really hope it’s over, because I can’t take it anymore!

So talking about unexpected expenses… Have you noticed something new on the photos? Let’s have a closer look.

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Yes, I’m wearing glasses. I have never had glasses in my life (and to be perfectly honest I never suspected I would need them either), but my honeybee recently made me aware of the fact that I might have an eye problem, as he was able to read streets signs WAYYY before me… without his glasses. So I got an eye exam on Monday, and (surprise!) the optometrist diagnosed a slight myopia. Since it wasn’t all that bad, I could still choose to get it corrected or not, it was not required, but I thought it’d be a lot better to see things more clearly… So I got glasses. What do you think ? Does it look good or bad? Anyways, I guess I’ll just have to get used to them…

In the meantime, since I have been such a good girl finishing off all my sewing WIPs (and also because I had just finished my Busy Bee sweater), I decided to reward myself by starting a new knitting project, it’s a shawl called “Bamboo Wedding shawl” by Purl Soho. I have made one like that before for my mom, it was my very first knitted lace project. It’s a very nice, simple design that has a geometrical lace pattern that is easy to remember. I started it with Cascade Heritage yarn in Cosmo Blue, and I find it to be the perfect color for this shawl. I’m very excited about this project since it’s a nice change from all the sweaters I have been working on recently.

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On that note folks, I’ll go back to my sewing machine (or my knitting needles?) and wish you all a happy craft time 🙂

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One thing led to another

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It is finally vacation time for me, and I can say (for sure!) that I have been waiting for this moment for a very, very long time. We can never really get enough of those, do we? But I was so stressed out the last few months that I sincerely believe that I really, truly needed a break from it all. Plus, summer’s been so busy for me that I feel like weeks and months just went by in the blink of an eye. Doesn’t seeing time flee so fast, right before your very eyes, scares the heck out of you? Well, I can tell you it scares the heck out of me, if anything! Where did my summer go? What did I do? and WHY, OH WHY IS IT SO SHORT?? So I finished work last Friday, and just like that, half of my first week of vacation is already gone.

Oh, I know what I did though. Saturday morning, my Honeybee and I set off on an expedition… A fiber expedition (I bet you wouldn’t have guessed). Last weekend was the Twist Festival, held in St-André-Avellin, Québec. It probably is one of the largest (if not THE largest) festival of it’s kind in the area, and I was just so, so excited to go! Even though I couldn’t stay for the the entire event, I still sniffed around the (100+!) vendors and found a few treasures to bring back home 🙂

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Since we were already so close to Ontario, my honeybee and I decided to drive a little more and spend a couple days in Ottawa. Since the weather was on our side and all the attractions were so close, we were able to walk pretty much everywhere. On Saturday afternoon, we saw the Canadian Museum of History, then on Sunday we visited the Supreme Court of Canada, the Parliament, the Canadian War Museum and saw the Rideau Canal, Library and Archives Canada and the Byward Market. All in all, we walked around 12K(±8 miles) in between places, plus whatever distance we covered going through the monuments and museums. Oh boy, was I sore the next day! We finished our trip by going to the Museum of Nature on Monday, then drove home. Here’s a few pictures of our trip, it’s really not the best quality but it is the best I can do with a phone camera! (yes, I know… I won’t forget my camera ever again. I. AM. SO. MORTIFIED.)

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Parlement 10

 

As I came back from vacation, I also noticed that I was nominated for the Liebster award by the very lovely Šárka from Berries and Yarn, I was very surprised and also very happy! I was not expecting to be nominated for it, but I found it very touching, and it’s really good to see people enjoy reading my random rants 🙂 So here are my answers to Šárka’s questions :

  1. What got you into blogging?
    I got into blogging because I like to talk about crafts, and I really enjoy sharing my adventures with like-minded people. Unfortunately for me, there isn’t a lot of people around with similar interests I can talk to, so instead of chewing my boyfriend’s ear off, I decided to share my stories on a blog 🙂

  2. What is it that you enjoy the most about the blogging experience?
    What I prefer about blogging is to be able to connect with people all around the world who share the same passion but have a different background, different views and different experiences. Being able to exchange with these people allow me to learn and grow, and gives me a different outlook on things. It’s a mind-opener, I think. 
  3. And is there anything about blogging you find annoying or irritating?
    Not really, except maybe when a post I make doesn’t reach people in the way I would’ve wanted it to, maybe 🙂 
  4. How do you find new blogs to follow?
    I generally look at blogs followed by people I follow, or look for specific tags (yarn, handspun, etc.)
  5. What inspires you?
    Life, in general 🙂 I tend to be a very positive, empathetic and free-spirited person, and I find inspiration in everyday beauty. Sometimes it’s just by looking out the window and seeing a mom and a child walk to the park hand in hand, or sometimes it’s just a song playing on the radio, or the way the light is shining through a piece of stained glass. I don’t follow a strict pattern when it comes to creation, I just feel it 🙂
  6. Do you prefer paper diaries, calendars, planners, stationery, etc, or do you rather go digital?
    I do both. I’m a very organized person, and I like to have digital planners, organizers and data bases. But when it comes to creation, nothing beats the good old pen and paper 🙂 
  7. What´s the best book you have read this year?
    I can’t say it’s a book I have read as much as a book I have re-read, and that would be Alice’s adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll. I have been completely in love with Alice’s universe since the first time I saw the Disney movie as a child, until now – and I daresay I could never get tired of it. I re-read the two books earlier this year, and it still is like magic to me. Every time I read it, I discover things I did not quite see (or see like that) before, and it opens up to a wonderful new adventure to me. 
  8. Given unlimited time and resources, what is your dream project?
    Surprisingly, I don’t really have one. I think if I concentrated my dreams in a project, I would feel very empty once it is finished, so I prefer to simply enjoy creativity as it is, and enjoy every step of the way 🙂 
  9. On the other hand, what sort of a quick project do you go to for instant gratification?
    That… I don’t have one either. If I need instant gratification, I’ll go for a jog, for me creation is not about instant gratification 🙂 
  10. What was your favourite boy band in the 90s? Don´t tell me you did not have one 🙂
    Oh, I plead guilty… My favorite boys band in the 90s was the Backstreet Boys 🙂 

  11. If you could meet any historical figure, who would it be and why?
    That is a hard one since there is so many extraordinary people in this world, but if I had to pick one, it would probably be Gandhi.

 

So according to the rules, I should be nominating 11 other people with less than 200 followers and ask them 11 questions, but I must admit that I am not very much a “shout-out” kind of person -there’s too many blogs I like, and I have no idea how many followers they have. Plus, I feel if I had to make a list, it would be unfair to those I forgot to mention, or I would end up making a mistake and nominate someone who’s over 200 followers. It’s just really difficult for me 😦 If anything comes to mind, I’ll edit this post and add nominees and questions, but for now I will leave it at that. If you are reading this and wish to participate, I then officially nominate you, and ask you the same questions I was asked 🙂 Fair?

On that note folks, I think I will let you go and walk to the grocery store to buy myself a little treat to celebrate my 28th birthday 🙂

Cheers!

 

 

Confession Tuesday : My kingdom for a ball winder!

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Fellow crafters, today I have a confession to make : I do not own a ball winder. Yea, shame on me. I really wish I did own one, things would be so much easier, but I just never bought one. For me, starting every project requires hours of preparation; winding every ball by hand, untangling knots and fighting off playful cats, and sometimes it also comes the occasional tears of rage when things are not going my way. Yea.

I really didn’t mind it so much at first, because I thought : “Not every yarn that is sold out there needs to be winded, so why should I make a fuss about having to wind a few balls by hand here and there?” But as time passed, I slowly started to realize that most of my favorite yarns did not come in center pull balls, and that my handspun yarn needs to be rolled in a skein or a ball after coming off the wheel. So why do I not have a ball winder and a swift, really?

The reason I’m talking to you guys about this is because I just recently came to a halt in my Hollywell Cardigan as I finished the first pink skein, and I had to wind the second skein into a ball before I could resume knitting. As I was patiently winding it, I looked over at my project and realized that in a very short while, I would also have to start the stripes – so I would have to put down the needles again, and wind 2 other skeins by hand. I’m usually not much of a complainer, but I must say that at that point, realizing this made me a little upset. But since today is another day, let’s just try to focus on something fun (!) instead, and let me show you the progress I’ve made on my cardigan so far :

auth.aspxThe pockets are attached, and I’m almost done with the waist decreases, so things are really moving along at a good pace! I should already be done with the waist decreases, but I decided to give this cardigan a little bit more waist shaping than it originally had, since I’m (somewhat of) a curvy kind of Gal. I’m about a medium size overall, but I have rather large hips and a (somewhat) thin waist, so every sweater generally requires slight modifications to fit my unusual silhouette. I started it off with 248 stitches at the bottom, which was in-between size M and L, and I plan on decreasing until I reach 204 stitches, which is a little over size S. Then, I plan on increase stitches at the same rate, and finish the pattern following size M instructions. Even though I made so much progress on it, I still feel the fabric is very loose and uneven, so I really hope it’ll turn out OK after a good wash. It should, since the swatch turned out just fine after a run in the washer & dryer, but I’m still worried. Just have to wait it out, I guess.

On another note, I was blessed with very good news last week, as I got a message from krumel, the (amazingly!) nice Raveler who gave some of her time earlier this summer to test-knit my very first sweater pattern, the Summer Sea Stripes Sweater. She told me she just finished it and showed me a few pictures, and I must say I am simply AMAZED that someone could make something so beautiful with a pattern I wrote! Even her photos are a lot more professional than mine, I feel so ashamed of myself! -_-‘

The one on the left is my prototype, and the one on the right is the one krumel made following the pattern I wrote :

Fotor0817232424Since it is my first pattern, I have a lot of adjustments to make before I can really publish it, but things are definitely moving forward! Following krumel’s comments and suggestions, I’ll fix my pattern in the next few weeks, then get version 2 tested sometime in September and (if everything goes according to plan), I should be able to release it on Ravelry around the end of September or mid-October. Yay! 🙂

I’m not sure if it’s normal to be so thrilled about something so trivial; I have never published a pattern of my own so I don’t really know how but I feel so very excited! Any experienced pattern designers out there? How did it feel to publish your first design?

So that’s all for today folks, my rant’s over!

Hope you all enjoy your craft time, and the rest of your summer 🙂

A Crafter’s Guilt (And the Superwoman Syndrome)

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I am in pain. I have been in pain for the last few days, just a severe, agonizing sharp pain in my neck and shoulders. No idea where it came from, it’s just there. Is it a strain because of the long drive during vacation? Or did I pull a muscle? Maybe I pinched a nerve? Or was it a wrong move I made? Whatever it may be, I just couldn’t work on  anything in the past few days, so no spinning, no knitting, no nothing. Ok, maybe I did (a little). But no real progress here for sure. I couldn’t even finish the Tour de Fleece!

So today, since I don’t have anything craft-related to share with you guys, I will be talking about a very different topic; something I find a little bit more important and certainly a lot more personal : the overpowering, omnipresent, socially-created “Superwoman Syndrome”. We all know that in today’s lifestyle, a lot of women feel pressured to perform and achieve in a lot of different aspects of their lives. To name only a few, they feel like they have to be career-driven and professionally successful, need to workout and take care of themselves, they are expected to keep their house clean, get married, be good home makers as well as a perfect mom, they should have healthy and creative hobbies, they have to volunteer and get involved in their community, etc.

What the “Superwoman” does is to set herself (and the people around her) standards that are unnaturally high, standards that are way beyond reach or reason. And then, they tend to strain themselves compulsively toward these impossible goals. Inevitably, at the end of the road, when they realize they simply can’t achieve all those goals to perfection, they break down, cry and feel guilty, worthless and sorry about themselves.

It is a feeling that is very hard to fight or to ward off; I know it because I am sometimes guilty of it myself. See, “guilty”. That word again. Just like we weren’t allowed to show any weaknesses.Truth is, life is not perfect. And we should not expect ourselves to be either. But in our results-oriented society, we have learned to measure our self-worth entirely in terms of productivity and tangible accomplishments.

As I explained earlier, I have been totally floored by very intense neck pains in the past few days.  I knew I just had to rest and wait it off, but I felt so guilty not to be working on anything! – My apartment is getting messier and messier by the minute, and I’m not making progress on any of my WIPs! And if I don’t work on anything, I would be a worthless crafter, right? And I wouldn’t have anything to share on my blog, what an excuse of a blogger would I be? And that is when it struck me… I’m in pain because I’m stressed out. Why am I stressed out, I wonder? Maybe I’m stressed out about work, or maybe it’s my messy apartment. But I can’t be stressed out about fiber arts… right? That’s my hobby, that’s what I do to relax. Crafting, blogging, I do all those things as a hobby, so why would I care if I’m productive or not? But you know what? Even without noticing it, in today’s society, we are pressured to “have fun”. We are expected to use our free time “efficiently” and to “have a good time”. In other words, I’m putting pressure on myself to be productive in everything I tackle – be it work, housekeeping, hobbies, or anything else. And in my eyes, everything has to be done perfectly, and in a timely manner How ridiculous is that?

So today, to fight off all this unhealthy pressure that’s been piling up on me and to share something more meaningful with all of you, I decided to not blog about crafts. I’m blogging about myself, and I’m going to say what I want to say.

I am me. I’m not perfect. I am enthusiastic in everything I do, but everything certainly isn’t perfect, or productive. Sometimes I fail, and sometimes I’m tired, and sometimes I just need time for myself to relax and unwind. And it’s OK.

The heat of the moment! (and TDF?)

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Fotor0703132658These past few weeks, I have been stashing up on fiber for the Tour de Fleece, and it’s making me feel very, very good. For those who might not know what it is, the Tour de Fleece is the fiber spinner’s version of the Tour de France, the cycling competition – we spin as they spin, and we try to match the hardest parts of our challenges to  the hardest parts of the Tour. The big idea is to set yourself goals to achieve in the duration of challenge, which started this year on July 5th and will go on until July 27th. The goals you set yourself can be anything you want them to be – from learning how to spin to spinning 10 minutes every day to spinning 30 ounces of fiber. There’s a ton of groups you can join, a lot you can learn and definitely a lot of fun to have. So since I’m still relatively new to spinning, I set myself 3 very realistic goals that I think I can achieve before July 27th :

1) Spin finer and more consistent singles (ideally reaching the equivalent of a sock yarn)

2) Learn Navajo plying

3) Learn how to spin cotton

This challenge has made me very, very excited and although it started only a few days ago, I already completed 2 spinning projects; one using a 100% merino fiber and the other one using a 70/30 Merino/Silk fiber. I can definitely tell that the singles in these two projects are a lot finer and a lot more consistent than what I’ve been doing so far (the green one is about DK size), but there’s still room for improvement.

Fotor0704215622 Fotor0706155918I will be away on vacation for a good part of the TDF (we are going to Ohio July 12th through July 21st to visit my Honeybee’s family), but I will definitely keep spinning, since I decided to take my spinning wheel with me to work on my challenges on our spare time. A change in scenery is going to be very much welcomed, and my future mom-in-law is a veteran spinner, so I’m sure she’ll have a few tips and tricks to give me to help me progress on my TDF challenges. The 12 hour drive there – without air conditioning – in the summer heat is going to be dreadful, but hopefully, while we’re there we’ll be able to fill up on family time and do lots of fun things like going to the zoo, having campfires and eat marshmallows.

In the meantime, I have been trying to focus on the Nice & Knit Summer Sweater Knit Along, that I really want to finish ASAP. I originally wanted to finish it before the TDF starts, but I guess it just didn’t happen. I finished the body yesterday, so now only the sleeves are left. I think part of the reason why I haven’t finished this project sooner is because of the crazy heat wave we’ve experienced the past few days. Isn’t it hard to focus on knitting a sweater when the heat makes you feel your body’s melting on the couch? Thermometer has been marking 88°F, but with humidity it’s jumping to 99°F. Urgh! Fortunately though, we’ve had rain yesterday and today that brought around cooler temperatures – so I picked up my needles again 🙂

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On a lighter note, Saturday, I went to Artfil with a few friends for a social stitches afternoon, where we had a chance to chat and happily work on our projects or learn new crafts together. I had a lot of fun, and definitely appreciated the much needed girl-time.

So that’s all folks, enjoy your craft time 🙂

Majestic Landscapes (and Squam Art Fair!)

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Today I’m really excited to tell you that over the weekend, I went to my FIRST Art (yarn!) Fair; and I loved it!!! My Honeybee and I decided to go to New Hampshire to attend the Squam Art Fair, a very nice fiber fair organized on the shores of the beautiful Squam Lake… And since we knew we were going to drive through the White Mountains, we decided to leave earlier and take full advantage of the majestic views the place has to offer. On our way, we stopped at the Franconia Notch State Park, where there used to be the a rock formation at the top of a mountain that looked exactly like an old man. This distinctive feature has attracted a countless number of tourists in the last 200 years, but finally collapsed in 2003 due to natural erosion. Since then, the park has been remodeled and now presents different monuments and photographs explaining the story of the mountain.

NH MontageIt was quite interesting to see, and I must say those mountains really create a jaw dropping landscape! Honeybee and I were really impressed by the view! Although we did not have time to go hiking because we had to get to Squam Lake in time for the fair, we did thoroughly enjoy the view, and we promised ourselves to go back there some time to take advantage of the trails.

We got to Squam Lake a little early, so we stopped somewhere to eat and then drove to the venue. I was really nervous and excited since I’ve never been to an Art Fair before and I really didn’t know what to expect. The place was really nicely decorated, there was knitted pompoms in the trees, benches and rocks covered in yarn, really cool solid ice lanterns with candles in them, I just didn’t know where to look!

Fair MontageSo when I finally set foot in the place, I got really excited! There was a lot of very nice stands, with very pleasing people, presenting amazing local products from fiber, to yarn, to wooden shawl pins, to handmade baby bootsies and pattern books. I had to set myself a budget so I wouldn’t spend an entire paycheck (gotta be reasonable!), so after going around a few times, I settled for my favorite skeins of yarn :

20140609_115340872_iOSThe orange ones are 100% superwash merino fingering yarn from The Woolen Rabbit, a little company based Conway,NH that offers the most vibrant hand dyed yarn I have ever seen! You can check out their website if you’re interested at http://www.thewoolenrabbit.com/. The yellow skein is a merino-silk lace yarn from Toil and Trouble, a Massachusetts hand dyed yarn company. Although I chose a very conventional color scheme, most of their color mixes are very unique, it’s definitely worth a look! You can buy their yarn on Etsy at https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/ToilandTrouble or you can check out their Facebook page.

So that’s all folks, thanks for reading my rants 🙂 I’ll talk to you next time!

To machine wash or not to machine wash, that is the question

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Hey folks!

I hope you all had a good time over the Easter weekend, I had a MARVELOUS time in Cape Cod with my Honeybee. Since it’s only April, we could barely take our coats off, let alone swim in the ocean; but even if we couldn’t swim, we saw beautiful landscapes, cute and quaint little villages and we could walk barefoot in the sand. Isn’t bliss? If you’re interested to see the pictures, just click on the the one just below, and you’ll be redirected to the album.

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On our way back, we got stuck in traffic in Boston for 2 hours because of a accident that left a semi-truck in flames on the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge. I can tell you we didn’t expect that. Although it was very unfortunate, it also allowed me to put the last stitches on the sweater I couldn’t finish before we left for Cape Cod, so it made the whole process a lot more bearable 🙂

After washing it, the sweater is a perfect fit and it is SO VERY COMFORTABLE. I’m so proud!!! There are a few oopsies here and there and I’m not super satisfied with the neckline, but for a first try (and without a pattern!) I think I really came up with something good. I must say, I’m also very happy that the sweater made it fine through the washer and dryer cycle. Oh I can hear you scream from here… YES, I did put my hand knit sweater in the washer and dryer. “Why”, you say? Because… well… I’m lazy. All my clothes (and I’m weighing my words here) ALL my clothes go washer and dryer. And I know that if I make an exception and buy (or knit, or sew) a sweater that needs to be hand washed, I simply won’t wear it.

So because I know that, and because I really want to wear the things I make, I simply choose my yarn and test swatch knowing it’ll go in the washer and dryer. And it works! Look at that!

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/saphirsteph/my-first-sweater-ever
http://www.ravelry.com/projects/saphirsteph/my-first-sweater-ever