sewing

Japan yarn & fabric haul

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Sweet Lord summer is hot this year! Not that I’m complaining because the weather has been absolutely gorgeous (and I would much rather be hot than cold), but in this recent heat wave it’s been a bit hard to find the energy or motivation to work on… pretty much anything. These past couple weeks. in my apartment without A/C, I’ve been holing myself up in the basement living on berry-mint smoothies, nuts and salads. I can’t seem to muster enough energy or brain power to cook, sew, knit, blog or do any of the things that I like to do, but I have taken up another kind of activity – as soon as the sun sets and the temperature drops a little (like below 30° Celsius) I open all the windows, start the fans, put my shoes on and go for a long slow walk to cool myself down.

Please know that I’ve been meaning to write to post forever, and I am so sorry it took so long to get it out! First of all, here’s a shot of all the gifts and souvenirs that I brought back from Japan for friends and family.

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Considering that I was travelling with only a backpack, I think it’s a feat in and out of itself to have been able to bring back this much stuff! But as much as possible, I tried to focus on small, light and portable objects that I wouldn’t bulk up my backpack too much. There’s a lot in there, but I brought back some snacks and sweets, letter sets, chopstick rests, stickers, notepads, bookmarks, postcards and things.

In addition to things shown in the picture, I also had an entire box shipped home from Kyoto which contained more sweets and snacks, yarn and some fabric, that I am about to show you in detail.

While I was in Japan, I visited 3 different craft stores. My shopping haul started in Kyoto when my sweet penpal Eriko took me to Nomura Tailor on Shijō Street. When I set foot in the store I was instantly AMAZED by the wide variety of fabrics and other products offered. Since I didn’t have much space in my luggage nor did I want to spend hundreds of dollars to ship giant boxes home, I had to limit myself to the three little pieces of fabric shown below, two adorable little precuts and 1 three meter long piece of cotton fabric that I may or may not use for a skirt in the near future.

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The shopping haul continued when I got to Tokyo a few days later. There, I visited two adorable little yarn stores. The first one I went to was called Keito, and was located in Asakusabashi. It’s a very cute yarn store full of small little treasures. Among those, I brought back a beautiful fox shawl pin, a scissors shaped needle sizer, 1 ball of Noro fingering weight yarn and 2 skeins of insanely soft GENTLY 80/20 cotton/cashmere yarn from the Japanese company FGS Corporation. The Noro yarn and scissors yarn sizer were a gift for mom in law and have already been shipped and received, but they can be seen in the picture above. The rest, you can see below. Gorgeous, right?

Keito purchases.jpg

The last stop of my shopping haul was at Walnut Tokyo, a little yarn store located in the Omotesandō area between Shibuya and Minato. That store, although tiny, was absolutely adorable. The staff was nice and friendly, the atmosphere was very calm and quiet and the yarn, books and articles offered were all top quality. I browsed through many books and accessories, but ended up setting my sights on Arimisu’s Wanderlust Linen, a gorgeous 100% linen fingering weight yarn. I ended up buying 6 skeins of it, I just couldn’t resist!

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What about you guys, any vacation planned this year? Are you planning to hit any craft stores or fiber festivals while you’re there?

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Lovely Spring

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While it’s still snowing heavily here, the temperature has steadily been getting warmer, the days are getting longer and longer and every day the air feels more like spring – and let’s face it, it’s just so darn pretty!

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Spring makes me want to clean things up and have a fresh start, and I somehow really wish I could start by clearing my office desk top! But nevermind that, instead I’ve been chugging along WIPs that have been hibernating for a tad bit too long in my craft room. First, I picked up an adorable cardigan called French Kiss from the lovely Anne B. Hansen that I started back in November as a test knit but couldn’t complete in time due to unforeseen circumstances both in my personal and professional life. I finished the body (that I made considerably longer that the pattern called for) and I am now about halfway through the first sleeve. If I can keep things going at this pace, I should have this cardigan completed before the end of the month. Yay! Fortunately for me, I’ve been getting a lot of (feline) help and support along the way.

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Secondly, I tidied things up around my sewing room and worked on a bag I made many, many years ago that needed fixing and put together 3 new additions : 1 reversible tote bag and 2 multi-way asymmetrical fold over clutches, that I find absolutely adorable.

As always, the reversible tote bag was made using my trusted Kwik Sew K3700 pattern, but for the little fold over clutch/tote bag, I didn’t use a pattern. I wanted to make an envelope clutch that could unfold and be used as a tote when needed, so I decided to put pen to tracing paper and figured it out myself. There’s the main bag compartment that has 2 little pockets on the inside (one zippered, one sewed over the lining) and there’s another compartment on the front, where the clutch folds over, inside of which there’s another pocket sewed onto the lining. There’s also 2 sets of D rings to attach the strap for the full size or the half size, and two different straps to use – one wrist lanyard and a full size adjustable strap. All of them feature small hooks to be detached and reattached where needed.

Although I love the final result, I struggled a bit to install all those zippers (there’s 3 per bag, folks!!!) the right way. Ok, I’ll admit it – there’s a zipper I had to rip and reinstall twice because it was installed inside out. Urgh! But you wouldn’t make fun of me for that, now, would you ? 🙂

Hopeful 2018

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In retrospect, 2017 has been a very, very full year. Although especially challenging in many ways, I feel like I grew as a person throughout. I started the year in a funk fighting off a heavy case of knitting blues, then experienced the loss of my maternal grandfather, hustled through a crazy busy spring and summer at work, spent fall trying to catch up on things and topped off the year with the loss of my paternal grandfather less than 3 weeks before Christmas.

Among those hardships though, I was also blessed enough to experience beautiful moments of happiness with my loved ones and alone as I traveled to Washington DC and Hawaii, celebrated the birth of my best friend’s 2nd son, attended the wedding of a couple charming friends and my lovely sister in law, spent a lot of time with friends and family and moved forward on immigration procedures for my husband to finally become a permanent resident in Canada.

Needless to say, this all had a significant impact on both, crafting and blogging since I had barely any time to catch a breath all year. In 2017, I was only able to complete 7 projects, for a total of 5481 yards of yarn.

2017I can tell you that it is by far the least productive year I’ve had since 2013 but all is well, since 2018 already seems more promising (hopefully!). As the new year rolls around, I just finished spinning a 50% Merino / 50% Tencel fingering yarn I’ve been working on since July 2016 (!!!!!!), and also finished set of placemats I was supposed to give away for Christmas (oops?), and I’m quite happy at how they turned out.

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So now, let’s wish for 2018 to be full of hope and love and dreams and fibery goodness.

Cheers!

 

Gearing up

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Three full weeks after getting back from Hawaii I’m still on a sunshine high, and the current heat wave brushing over New England and Quebec probably has something to do with that. While we enjoy this year’s last summer outbursts, I’m slowly preparing for fall and gearing up for the upcoming holiday season. Since I make most of the presents I offer, makes perfect sense, right?

And this shawl is the first of the season, it’s a free pattern called Glitz at the Ritz from Helen Stewart. I used one skein of Malabrigo sock yarn in the “Solis” colorway and 1 package of blue/green glass beads from Walmart.

Rainforest Shawl

It was my first time actually making a beaded project, and I must say that I’m quite satisfied with the result. I’ve always avoided beaded projects because I thought the beading would slow me down significantly, but it turns out it’s really not that bad, I should have given it a try much sooner. I really liked the pattern, it was simple, straightforward and the instructions were clear. I worked the entire pattern as is, except that I omitted the beads in the star lace section partly because I didn’t want to have to open the second bead package, and partly because I was straight out lazy, but I’m actually quite glad I didn’t because I think it looks beautiful as is – I feel like the beaded and plain sections play very well together and provide a good balance. As usual you can find all the details on my project page, so head over there for pattern and yardage information.

Over the summer I also made a few more reversible tote bags using the Kwik Sew pattern K3700. I’m really, really growing fond of this pattern because I think it’s really versatile – you can make it reversible or not, on a serger or on a regular sewing machine and the shape of the bag is perfect to be used as a handbag, a project bag or a shopping bag, as you see fit. In both cases, I also had enough fabric to make a matching notion pouch with a zipper, that can be used with the bag or independently. Really, this might become an addiction in the near future.

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So what’s on your needles, folks?

Carnage and Destruction

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For 3 or 4 weeks now, Honeybee and I have been living in complete chaos in the house because I decided to undertake a major project – painting the kitchen. This may seem like a menial task for some of you, but I can assure you that we have experienced anything but. Thing is, our kitchen isn’t very big but it’s packed, the cabinets are painted and the entire room is nothing but corners, trim and moldings (ceiling included!). Add to that the fact that we just bought a giant 80” long kitchen table and that I opted for a 3 color scheme for the walls&ceiling and you’ll quickly understand it was simply impossible to paint everything at once so I’ve had to proceed in sections, moving the furniture and the stuff as I go so it’s been slow but steady progress in the last few weeks. I still have to paint the cabinets but things are working out fine, and I’m really excited to see it come together.

Since we’ve been painting quite a bit at home recently (we’re on our third room being painted since this fall) my craft room has been doubling as a storage room for quite some time now, so we could get the furniture out of the way while we were working on the other rooms. Since things are finally starting to clear up a bit, I’ve had a chance to tidy things around in this room for the first time in months, and I took this opportunity to use up some small fabric remnants or finish projects I started a very long time ago.

Among other things, I made a cute baby wrap for a friend who recently gave birth

Baby wrap

There’s also a cute little lunch bag  with a bee cotton print and a large, reversible tote bag made using the Kwik Sew pattern K3700 and some remnants I had in stash. This tote has a really nice shape and feels nice on the shoulders, and the pattern is actually really cool because it provides instructions to build these bags directly on a serger, both with apparent and hidden seams.

Bags

I also made a couple new placemats to fit into the new kitchen and the fabric might give you a hint as to which color I’ve used to paint a portion of the walls. I’ve actually had the fabric cut and prepped for those placemats for so many years now because it was left over from a set I made for my dad and his wife. I made them a set of 6, but there was fabric left over for 2 more placemats, that I never sew together because I didn’t want to offer someone an incomplete set. Since there’s only me and my husband at home right now though, I figured I might as well give it a shot, especially since the leafy green fabric is so pretty!

Placemats

Well that’s it for now folks, wish you all a fun-filled summer 🙂

The WHYs of a month-long hiatus

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I know, I know… Long time no blog. Things have been a little hectic in the last few weeks so I haven’t had any time to write, but I have exciting news folks – my honeybee and I just got married 🙂

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Pictures by Frederic Alogna – www.fredericalogna.com

We both felt really blessed, surrounded by loving friends and family on a gorgeous fall day. We are so glad that regardless of the language barrier, everybody just came together to shared this happy moment with us. Also a big Thank You to our amazing photographer Frederic Alogna for capturing all the feelings and emotions on this special day.

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Photo by Frederic Alogna – www.fredericalogna.com

Now you may be thinking… “Wait… doesn’t this dress look knitted? There’s no way…”  Well yes, I knitted my dress. And that is mainly why I haven’t been able to blog in such a long time! I have been sewing, knitting and crafting all sorts of things in the last few weeks, but I couldn’t share any of it before the wedding as I didn’t want to spoil any surprises!

Now that I can talk about it, here’s the break down.

The veil and the sash both came from Etsy, respectively from here and here. The dress is composed of two parts (both handmade!), a plain silk dress and a knitted lace overlay.

The plain silk dress was made using a 42″ silk charmeuse in color “vanilla” bought on Etsy. It’s fully lined, and I used the same pattern as the black and white cap sleeve dress I made in August (see my last post for details).

dress-lining

Now, the knitted lace overlay. You know… Ravelry is telling me that I started this in June 2015. Don’t worry folks, I haven’t REALLY been knitting this non-stop for 15 months. Actually, a good portion of that time was spent thinking, calculating and altering the chosen patterns to materialize the idea I had in my head. You see, the problem is that I couldn’t find a single dress pattern I liked 100%. My idea was to have an allover lace overlay that would feature a 3/4 sleeve, fitted bodice and a circular yoke. I also wanted a circle or half circle skirt, and all of that had to be knitted from the top down in one piece. Yea… that’s probably why I couldn’t find a pattern. But it’s all fine, because I had found PIECES of patterns I liked! So I started this project by loosely following the instructions for the Cecilia top but modified it to a fitted body with sleeves and worked the body in allover lace. Then, I worked a 2″ seed stitch waistband and transitioned to the May dress skirt. Now this pattern is knitted flat so I first had to transpose the patter to all RS rows to work in the round. It’s also originally knitted from the bottom up and I was working my dress top down, so it means that the lace is upside down but I thought it looked good either way so I didn’t bother trying to reverse it. I worked the skirt like that for a little while, then finally I transitioned to a flare-out inspired by the cecilia top lace. Throughout the dress, I used a strand of Cascade Kid Seta in color blush and a strand of Diamond Luxury Collection Baby Alpaca Lace in color cream knitted together as one. I used about 1500 yards of each, for a grand total of 3116 yards. I am very, very proud of this project, and I’m sure I will happily wear this dress many more times in the future. For those interested, you can see all the details on my my project page.

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That’s all for now folks… Cheers 🙂

 

More Dresses. Really?

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Well, ok… I guess I’ve been re-garnishing my wardrobe lately. I added three fun dresses to my wardrobe in the past few weeks, and here they are.

New dresses

The two sleeveless ones were made using the same princess bodice & circle skirt I have used before from Tanya Whelan’s “Sew Many Dresses, Sew Little Time”.

The third one, in a black & white abstract print, is a copy from a dress I bought many moons ago and liked very much. I carefully un-stitched the original dress, drew the pattern out then reassembled it.

The dress I made using the drawn pieces is very much like the original, I only made two small little changes. First I removed the belt loops that were on either side because I do not intend to wear this dress with a belt, then I swapped the original 6 panel skirt for a circle skirt. Although the skirt is a little shorter than what I usually wear, I am very happy with the result. Hurray!