Lucky!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YsX5BkBsrMk

If I’d ever decided to play the lottery, now it would be a good time; because I didn’t win one but two giveaways in one week. The first was organized by Telaria and this last one was organized by Teresa Gregorio aka Canary Knits.

She’s already sent me the PDF file with lots of patterns. Not only her wonderful Thick Chill cowl but also others that also caught my eye, like the Cable Embrace Cardigan by Rene Dickey, the Belt Cardi by Jenise Reid, or Jayashri Pullover by Meghan Jones.

Here we see Teresa posing with her cozy cowl.

I’ll be receiving the yarn very soon. Guess what I’m going to cast on as soon as I get it…

Thank you, Teresa. You made my day!

I was kidding about the lottery. The only think I seem to be lucky with are giveaways. I’m going to listen to this song to comfort myself knowing that I’m not the only one.

Missing Views: How to create an Archive page in WordPress.com

I learned Drupal in a previous life and I even built a website with it. I loved its versatility but also hated the fact that sometimes you were walking blindly, testing things and many times failing to make them work. One of the things that didn’t convince me was the comment system. It could have improved nowadays (honestly I don’t know), but I used to get a lot of spam.

Anyway, one of the things I loved from Drupal was the Views module. You assigned categories to your pages (or posts) and then you could create a dynamic page where you could display all the entries of a determined category in a list, a table or any format you liked and with an introductory text.

Having a blog in a dedicated platform, like WordPress.com or Blogger, has its advantage; you don’t have to worry about the basic stuff that makes a blog work withing normal parameters, but if you want to personalize it a bit you need to find some workaraound.

I wanted to create a page with my knitted projects and another with my sewn projects, and I didn’t have anything like Views available inside WordPress.com. I don’t mean just clicking on one of your categories and displaying your posts inside that one category, I mean having a button in your menu linking to a page where you could display the list in the way you want and with an introductory text if you like. Miss Portia wrote about how to do this in Blogger. The logic is the same in WordPress.com: You need to create it yourself. You cannot create here a dynamic page, so it needs to be static. I’ll explain later on how to do it but first make sure you have a template that allows this (this is the main difference between Blogger and WordPress.com). Here you can find more information and templates that allow this, and here you have a list of all the themes which you can use to customize menus. Here you can read about custom menus.

Then you need to display your content. I’ve done it in a very simple way, just a list of the projects with a picture of each one linking to a determined post and a title below. For the picture you can make something more elaborated like Portia, I just linked to one of the pictures in each post. This is enough for me (for now).

<div style=”text-align: left;” align=”center”>Introductory text.</div>
<div style=”text-align: center;” align=”center”>

<a href=”link-to-your-post/”><img alt=”Title” src=”link-to-the-image.jpg” width=”193″ height=”288″ /></a>Title…

<a href=”link-to-your-post/”><img alt=”Title” src=”link-to-the-image.jpg” width=”193″ height=”288″ /></a>Title</div>

I hope this helps people with the same needs. if you have any questions, issues or suggestions, please let me know (it sounds like I’m talking to one of my customers, ha).

Telaria’s Fridays

If you didn’t know, Telaria is giving away some prizes every Friday this August, and I was the lucky one last week. The prize was a Japanese pattern book for children and 150 cm of one print belonging to Lotta Jansdotter Glimma Collections.

Yesterday morning I received an email letting me know that I was the winner. You cannot imagine what a great and pleasant surprise this was, since winning this draw never crossed my mind (I know, I should be more positive). In the email, Miren told me that, after checking my blog, she was thinking that I could be interested in a different kind of book (I’m not the mother kind of blogger), so I could choose any other book from their Japanese collection. After giving it a bit of thought, I decided to stick to this book for children, since my niece Paula will turn 4 this December and I should be making something nice for her. In the email, Miren also wanted to confirm my fabric of choice (Soba in Fog) and she was super nice all the time.

Another thing I would like to mention is that last week I ordered some fabric from them (which arrived today) and if they had realized earlier, I could have this and the prizes shipped together, which would have saved me some money. Mea culpa. This happens when you have two email addresses. Anyway, it was a nice detail that they commented on this even if it was too late.

And these are the two purchases that arrived today. The one on the left is a double gauze  and the one on the right is a lightweight cotton, and they will become blouses.

With the fabrics they also included three beautiful mother of pearl buttons and this lace bias tape. Aren’t they a beauty?

I love when online shops have these details with us. It doesn’t cost much and for us it’s like opening a surprise birthday present.

Completed: Lonsdale Dress

I finished this dress two weeks ago, just after coming back from Belgium. For a while I thought this dress was doomed, since due to several causes, I had to take a couple of loooong breaks due to my stupidity (not really, but I’m sure my mind was somewhere else) and our holidays. Sometimes it’s so nice just to go back to routine and keep stitching. It’s also that when I start a project I like to work on it from the beginning to the end. If I get stuck somewhere I need to plow forward, otherwise I’ll never finish it and I would be unable to start a new project. Off course, this doesn’t happen with knitting, since I could have up to three things on the needles. Don’t ask me why I make this involuntary distinction. Probably because sewing tends to be a lot more messy and two projects at once means double the mess eating me in this 50 square meters  😛

But let’s go back to the Lonsdale dress:

As I’ve said before, after trying the unfinished dress I decided to shorten the bodice 3.75 cm. In fact the dress waist originally sat on on my natural waist, but I liked the effect of it sitting just above it. My measurements corresponded to a size 6, but after making two muslins, I decided size 4 suited me best. The dress is very comfortable, and this fabric has a bit of give, but I wonder if next time I should go for the next size since the dress waist is higher than my natural waist. BTW, the fabric is this one from from Westminster Fabrics. It’s a cotton quilt, but with more drape than regular ones, and I also wanted some structure.

I love the fact that it has pockets to put inside a couple of bobby pins waiting for your hair to get dry, or some coins to buy bread, or your keys, or the card from that special shop you’ve just discovered.

It also looks supper nice from the back, hugging your upper body and flowing around your hips, creating a very flattering figure. Despite my short height (I’m scarcely 5’2″) I didn’t have to shorten the skirt. I shortened the bodice and I like my skirts just below the knee, so after several tests in front of the mirror I decided to let it be as it was.

And you would wonder… Why has it taken me so long not only to take this pictures but just to wear this dress? For one thing, this time Koen took the pictures, but normally I do it by myself at home with a tripod and my camera timer (yes, running, kicking my tripod and starting all over again). The bow at the back is a cute and sweet detail, but just try to tie it by yourself and you’ll realize that yeah, it’s possible, but straightening it up and nice is not so easy. After two weeks subconsciously ignoring this dress I realized that I needed to ask Koen for help to make the knot a bit better than my first try.

This  pictures were taken just outside our place yesterday afternoon, after walking all morning around El Rastro looking for something for Koen. If you’re wondering why I’m looking down all the time is because there are no decent pictures of me looking somewhere else. The dazzling light almost blinded me, but you cannot see it because I’m standing in the shade. Note: if you have to take pictures at 4 pm on a very sunny day, just do it in the shade; they will look better than those burned ones with the sun directly on your eyes and strange shadows.

I’ve followed Tasia’s instructions to avoid having a scratchy zipper end after being cut, since it was too long for the dress. The result is neat neat neat.

All in all, I love the dress. It’s airy, comfortable and flattering.  Despite all my troubles to finish it (like forgetting to cut pieces of it) it’s a very easy pattern, and I found no complication about its construction whatsoever. As usual, Sewaholic patterns and instructions are great, and you have all the necessary notches so that putting this together is easy peasy. As I’ve said, for next time it’s possible that I make a size 6, at least for the waist, since the dress waist is higher than it was meant to be. We’ll see. Maybe next time my muscles will be even more developed due to capoeira and I need a dress 3 sizes larger (I hope this DOESN’T happen).

And one last picture. I don’t like this one so much, but it was the only one where I was not looking at the floor and I have my eyes a little bit open.

Burning Fabric

“It was hot, the night we burned Chrome.”

William Gibson, Burning Chrome

After reading about Rochelle and Tasha‘s proposal, I thought it could fit in my plans. I was planning on making two blouses, one from a vintage pattern and another from a pattern with a vintage inspiration.

If you remember, when I was in Vigo I bought some fabric by the kilo, and the yardages were just enough for blouses.They were in the bin where they have cottons and cotton blends, but off course I was not completely sure about what kind of fabric I was buying.

The first fabric looked a bit cottony (or rayon maybe?) but I was almost sure it was not 100% cotton:

I was planning to make Gertie’s portrait blouse:

And then I had this fabric:

which totally suits me to make this:

The question was, were these fabrics 100% cotton? ¨So I decided to go for a burning test in my kitchen sink. I apologize for the lack of light, but if you see where my sink is, you will fully understand. The layout of this apartment is quite weird. Each story was one apartment in the old days and was then subdivided in three ten years ago, when the building was renovated. As I was saying, the layout is different to any other apartment layout I’ve seen in my life. The incoming hall is… the kitchen. And the first thing the mailman sees when I open the door is… the sink. My tiny kitchen is like a small corridor which takes you to the living room. The following picture was taken from the leaving room. You can see the dishwasher, some drawers, the oven and the washing machine. Next comes the sink and just after it, the door to leave the apartment. All this to say that please excuse my lack of light or a better angle, but we have to do with what we have.

Burning test of blue puppies (the fabric, not actual puppies, please save the puppies of the world):

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ncaBrRTuqwc]

I’ve also burned some cotton fabric to be able to compare, and although both burned in a similar way, this one ashes don’t disintegrate like 100% cotton. It doesn’t form hard beads like poly either, so I guess it’s a blend or even rayon. I’m not sure 🙁

The burning of the other fabric was something quite special:

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZH9B9c5Npc]

You cannot appreciate it very well in this video, but the flame is green GREEN and the smell is kind of chemical, but the burned fabric is totally similar to burned cotton. I’m thinking that the green flame and the smell could have come from the inks used on the fabric (those blue rhombuses are a bit glittery).

After seeing that colored flame I did a bit of research and found this. A green flame indicates presence of PVC. Could it be that PVC was used for the ink? No idea.

The only think I know is that none of this fabrics is valid for the sew-along, but anyway I want to make these two blouses with them because they’ve been already for too long in my head. If I like how they fit I could always try to make them again in 100% cotton.

A Miette cardigan for the end of the summer

If you’ve been here for a while you’ll remember that around June I bought yarn to make the Miette cardigan since I had decided to make useful cardigans to go with my summer dresses. But at that moment I was asked by Andi Satterlund to test a pattern (another wonderful cardigan, he) and my Cascade Sierra went into my yarn drawer (well, one of them).

I started the Miette when I was in Belgium, two weeks ago, and I have mixed feelings. The cardigan is gorgeous, but the yarn is not my cup of cake. Don’t understand me wrong; I am sure this is a lovely yarn that many people love to work with, it’s just that I’ve been used to working mostly with wool for the last years. I’ve only used cotton almost exclusively for crocheting and that was centuries ago. I like to crochet with cotton because of the structure crocheted items have. It gives them neatness, I would say. But for knitting I love the elasticity of wool, its forgiveness, the way it adjusts itself to the pattern you’re knitting. I guess that knitting with cotton is a completely different world I’m just dipping myself in. I had some tension issues, mostly at the beginning, and I ripped off three good inches while I was still in Belgium. My tension is better now, but when looking at the (unfinished) cardigan, I can’t help seeing bits here and there that I would prefer more even.

Anyway, it’s going to be a great cardigan and it’s going to be finished very soon. Today, thanks to Julia Bobbin, I learned that there’s a Miette KAL happening right now and I didn’t have the slightest idea! I guess it’s not too late to join, since I’m already working on the sleeves and I’m planning to finish this before the end of the month.
Handmaker's Factory - Miette knit-a-long

An update to the Jedediah Pants

Returning from our holidays is relieving in some way (I was really looking forward to going back to normal) but it’s also very frustrating because it leaves very little time due to some adjustments. There are clothes to be washed and folded, there is also a big mess in our living room (sewing doesn’t help) and I have nine bags of clothes to be donated but Caritas parishes are on vacation until September. That means that my drawers have more space but all those nine bags are in several places of our tiny apartment. I don’t have a dedicated sewing space and having all this junk around doesn’t help to find the motivation to take out the fabric, cut it and sew it. The worst thing is my queue is immense. I want to make all sorts of things, and I want to get most of them done before the summer heat abandons us. It’s still almost 40ºC here but spending a week in the cold and rainy Belgium reminded me that Autumn and Winter are there waiting for us.

This past weekend I’ve started working on this:

Yes, it’s a back pocket of the Jedediah pants. I did not stitch any marks on it because this was just a muslin and I just wanted to check the pockets placement.

I modified the pattern to make place for Koen’s muscular thighs. I cut a 36 for the waist and seat but I graded to a 40 on the thighs and from the mark where the shorts end I cut it straight down instead of tapered in.

Apart from being two inches too long, I think the fit is quite right. Koen wanted a little bit more room on the thighs so I altered the pattern a little bit more and trimmed those two extra inches.

They are doing the shorts version on the sewalong but as we are already at the end of August, Koen decided that we should go for the pants instead, since I foresee this to take me some time. I expect to have fabric left over so I can always make the shorts later on.

I’m now working with the linen and it’s a bitch to get it pressed. I just hope the result is good enough. I’ll keep you posted.

Jedediah sewalong: Planning mods

The release of the Jedediah pants and the announced sewalong just came at the right time, since Koen was longing for a handmade pair of pants (and shorts) after the complete success of my Thurlows (isn’t it nice when our other half support us in our crafty and crazy adventures?).

We bought together some linen in enough quantities to make both garments, he washed the fabric to prepare for sewing (I was still in Vigo) and we printed out the pattern. Finally, yesterday evening I proceeded to take his measurements in order to know which size and what modifications are going to be needed.

After measuring Koen I understand that the waist measurement corresponds to where the waistband sits, not the natural waist.

Koen’s measurements:

  • Natural waist: 34″
  • Waist: 36 1/2″
  • Hips: 43″
  • Leg width (crotch): 25 1/2″
  • Knee width: 17 1/4″
  • Inseam: 33″

The last three measurements correspond to body, not garment, measurements. We were also fiddling with the measuring tape to estimate the ease he was going to need, since Koen’s not really fond of skinny pants and he has also powerful cyclist thighs. This is often one of the key points when buying pants. He’s on the thin side, but hates wearing tight pants on the thighs and at the end he gets a lot of gaping at the waist and many wrinkles when wearing a belt.

Koen showing us his sexy knee

After measuring his legs, estimating ease and double-checking with a pair of pants he likes (on the legs, not really on the waist), we decided that 21 ” for the knee and the 27″ for the thighs should be fine. So I’ll be cutting a size 36″ and making similar modifications to the ones made by Creative Counselor (not so drastic, maybe, we’ll have to see).

Tomorrow is bank holiday here so I guess we’ll be starting to draft and cut a muslin. How exciting!

Wow, I’ve won fabric!

I’m not usually anybody who wins prizes (that’s why I don’t play the lottery, ha) but this time my luck has changed, because I’m one of the lucky winners of the give away Anneke hosted on the occasion of her first blogaversary. My special prize is a three-yard piece of vintage cotton with a small black and white leaf print. Doesn’t it look marvellous?

I’m thinking that a pastille dress would look very nice on this. This fabric is quite narrow, but I think I could have enough for this dress, since it’s quite fitted.

This was not a project that caught my eye at first, but I’ve changed my mind after seeing Lladybird’s version. Think of this fabric with some nice colored trim and matching belt! Red, pink, yellow, mint green, teal! Yeah!

I would like to thank Anneke for this give away and I think it’s a pitty to be already back from Belgium, since I could have gone to pick my prize in person and met Anneke. Well, next time.

Decluttering and loving the changes

After a week in Belgium and still amazed at how hard the cultural shock can be even after having lived there for more than five years, I’m still recovering. And I’ve entered again into a frenzy decluttering phase. I moved to Belgium in September of 2006 and I had brought there some used clothes but also some new ones, being many of them intended for Summer. That Autumn was mild and sunny and the Winter that followed not too cold. But the year after brought what it’s always expected there: cold and rain. In great doses. My two last years in Belgium we had no Summer. Not that it was a mild one, it was just non-existing. All those summer dresses and t-shirts stayed in the closet for years waiting, in vain, to be worn.

In January of 2012 we moved to Madrid and all those Summer clothes promises came back to life. I wore some during my first Summer here, but just a small part. Now, in our second Summer, I observe that I’m still not wearing all that I should, and yesterday I set my mind to check why. I think I’ve tried almost any single Summer garment that was sitting unworn in my closet and to my frustration, most of them don’t fit. It’s not only that my body changed a lot in 7 years; I think I could have fitted some of these clothes last year. It’s just that Capoeira is not only increasing my thighs, but also my shoulders and back. Many t-shirts and dresses had to be discarded.

It’s not that I’m more fat. I weight a couple more kilos since I arrived here, but I think it’s just muscle what I gained. For a while I had the impression that my breast got bigger, but it was not true. I had to go bra shopping a couple of weeks ago because some of my bras didn’t fit anymore and after trying several bras I’ve discovered that I went from a 33B to a 35B. I also tried a 33C since I thought the change was in the front, but that taught me that the change was more on the back. I also used to have skinny arms and shoulders, and when I look at myself on the mirror nowadays I see a different body: broader shoulders and back, stronger. I am no longer the weak girl with back problems I used to be 5 years ago. I’m strong and therefore my old clothes don’t fit me anymore.

When one tries RTW clothes and they don’t fit, the tendency is to think that one’s grown fat, which makes one to throw the old garment against the closest wall and get frustrated. Since I’ve started making my own clothes, I see that fashion wants us to think that we should all look the same and manipulate our bodies to fit in the determined size we used to fit several years ago. Sadly, sizes vary, not only from among brands, but also from year to year. When I started making my own clothes, I’ve discovered that my body had a language of its own, and that each body and different, and also that if you dress it correctly with clothes meant for your body proportions, these will be more flattering, you will be more comfortable and more proud of yourself. And those thoughts about your body not being good enough that you cannot fit RTW clothes like other people will go away, because, you know, they are just bollocks.

I really thank people like Tasia from Sewaholic for designing clothes for pear shaped gals like me and showing us that being different is not a defect but beauty in itself, and that we are not alone in our journey towards loving our own body.

vadeia
Our Capoeira group with some of our friends from Portugal. The photo was taken last December.