The Top 5 of 2014

I found about this last year, and once again I’m participating. I’m not very good at these things but looking back is always a good idea to be able to look forward.

Top 5 Hits

Luckily this year I can nominate my top 5 hits without having to dig too deep. I think I’m getting better at this and I’m learning to make my own style.

This is technically from the end of 2013 but as I’ve just made another one (not blogged yet), I count this as a success this year too.

This was a project that took forever but it was worth until the last stitch. I modified the armscye and added a quilted lining, and I can say that I’ve worn this to death. I’m taking a break now because the temperatures are too low but I foresee a lot of wear from February onwards.

My weight has changed this year and I’m not sure they fit me well right now, but I have made in total three pairs (two this year). Now that I know more about fitting I should try to make another pair but better. I think I’ll try Gertie’s trousers this year.

  • Lady Skater Dress

Unblogged due to my health issues, but I made my second this summer and I’ve cut a third. I just love this pattern, and after making a a couple of tweaks (narrowing upper part and sleeves, shortening bust, lengthening skirt) it’s become my to-go pattern to make knit dresses. I see many Lady Skater dresses and tshirts in the future.

After a long search for the perfect 40s blouse pattern, finally Gertie’s second book was a blessing. This was made with no mods and I already have fabric to make 6 more. This is going to be part of my signature style.

This is one of the very few knits accomplished this year, but I truly love this sweater and I’m wearing it while typing this.

Top 5 Misses

This bag was not a miss in itself. In fact I’ve used it quite a lot to transport my sewing tools to the shop where I used to have sewing classes, plus also for the very few trips I made this year. The problem here was the interfacing used for the bottom. It was good and sturdy but did not survive the washing machine. When the bag came out of the machine the interfacing had transformed into a little ball. As everything is enclosed, I don’t want to take it out but that means the bottom of the bag is not stiff anymore. Even like that it makes a wonderful travel bag.

I never ever wore this skirt. It’s was also probably because I went out very little this year due to my illness and I hate ironing. I think I’ll install horshair braid on this one and see what happens next spring and summer.

This blouse is just not my style. I made some Sewaholic patterns because they gorgeous and are designed for pear shaped women, which means that there’s in general less fitting to be done, but now I’m finally more selective and trying to sew and knit garments that match my style, even if that means more fitting issues. I have more experience, so that doesn’t scare me like before.

Top 5 Highlights

  • Koen

My boyfriend is my best blessing. He sticks with me and endures all that’s lately happening like a champion. He’s my rock and my partner in everything. I love you, Koen, you know that.

  • New apartment with a dedicated sewing space

We moved in August to another apartment. It’s much bigger than the previous one, and finally I could get a dedicated sewing space, which makes everything faster, neater and simply better. The picture above is just after installing the table. It has more things nowadays, but I’m with my family these days so I can’t take a picture right now.

  • A Serger

Koen surprised me on my birthday with this wonderful present. I’m still learning a lot about it but I succeeded at using it to overlock edges. The next step will be using it to sew knits. As soon as I get back home, I promise.

  • Gerry

Being home bound for so long can be hard on one’s moral but this little guy keeps me company and my spirits up. He’s funny, smart, cheeky and sweet (when he wants). Having a lovebird can be demanding sometimes, but they give you so much in return. My sewing and knitting are slower sometimes because of him, but I wouldn’t want to live without him.

Top 5 Reflections

Something that really took a big toll this year was my health (or the lack of it). I could have sewn more, knitted more and enjoyed life more in general if it was not because of this. I had little issues before, but in April I started to feel that there was something clearly wrong with me. It took me months and numerous doctor visits until I got referred to the mast cells specialists in August. By that time my weight dropped to 44 kg and I was desperately hungry and lost. I can’t still see the end of this but at least I know I’m in good hands. But the other side that nobody sees is that since August I’m eating everyday the same. My diet is reduced to five foods and I only drink water (and my morning tea). I’ve learned to appreciate the good things I have and the good people who stood beside me (Koen, you’re my rock), but I’ve also lost much in the way. I lost time, I lost money, I lost some of my illusions and I lost quite some friends. In a certain way it’s something good, because the ones who stayed are the true ones; but it’s also hard to stop seeing people who where your party fellows and who gave you so many happy moments. Many things are gone, and many people too. I’m still learning about not dwelling on it too much. It mortified me for a while but not anymore. I guess when this happens you learn to weight what you have, and you also learn to prioritize things. What mortifies me right now is being tied to my home and not being able to do things normal people do, like eating outside or enjoying a casual snack. I have to say no often to eating-out plans. This usually happens with people that don’t know about my condition. Usually old friends who pass by Madrid and expect to meet and socialize like it’s done over here. I hate having to tell the same story again, but I think I hate it most because I can’t tell the end or the conclusion. It’s like telling a story which you don’t know very well and ignore the end. At least I have learned to take pleasure on the little things, but recounting my story still makes me cry sometimes. I guess I still have a long way to go.

Top5 Goals

  • Getting healthy or have a normalish life: I know I have a long way to go but I’m not giving up on having some improvements. The good thing about my doctor is that she answers my emails quite fast (usually the same day), so if things don’t work, we fine tune the treatment to see if things could go better. Mast cells issues are not very well known and many times is just trial and error.
  • Building a capsule wardrobe: Teresa from Canary Knits got me started on this. I’m usually pretty lazy to do this kind of things, but I think it could be interesting for the next point.
  • Sewing and knitting my style.
  • Keep learning about my new serger.
  • Being able to travel: I know this will take time and may not be for 2015 but I won’t give up.

Completed: Another Owls Sweater

This sweater was one of the victims of this year’s incidents. First, this wool started as an Aiken, but after knitting most of the sweater I discovered that I didn’t have enough wool (ugh), so I unravelled it and started this owls. What can go wrong with an owls sweater? Soon I also discovered I was going to have the same problem here, but Ingrid came to my rescue and sent me a skein. I checked our ravelry messages and it all started in January. I worked on the sweater and a bit after working on those owls the project stalled. It was the time I couldn’t eat and my eczema was at its worst.

This is the first picture I have from when I was working on the sweater, and it’s from the beginning of March. Gerry was 5 months here and he made knitting in the evenings difficult because this usually happened.

I did the same mods than on my first owls (shaping on the sides instead of the back as the pattern instructs you to do) but I made it a tad longer, since with the other one I have problems covering my lower back while sitting.

This Artesano Aran is my new favorite yarn. It’s very soft and squishy, and things knit fast with it. It has 50% of alpaca, so beware those who are allergic to it. This is going to keep me warm this winter!

Excuse the mess on the table, but I’m working on three sewing projects and I’m taking advantage of having my own sewing space. This would have been impossible last year in our little living room. I love our new apartment. Gerry was a bit moody here and tried to bite me several times. I think he hates my lipstick.

Published also in my Ravelry page.

Slowly emerging from the darkness and lots of changes

I’m alive, although I don’t know if I can say the same about this blog, or other aspects of my life for that matter. My life stopped in April and I’m still trying to take the reigns of it. I still don’t have a definitive diagnostic about what’s wrong with me (I’ll know more next week) but I guess it’s a mix between a severe oral allergy syndrome and histamine intolerance. Around April my life started to be unbearable, I started my peregrination to many different doctors and all this took a heavy toll. Since these two conditions are not very well known and not very well investigated, I started to read, study and soak any related information, which consumed all my energies. All my efforts were focused on knowing what is wrong with me, how to improve it, talking to people with similar issues, visiting doctors, working on my diet. Being ill is a full time job, leaving no energies or time for anything else. I kept doing my job thanks to being extremely lucky and being able to work from home. Otherwise I don’t know how I would have been able to manage. I can’t eat outside. I need to prepare all my meals from scratch, avoiding what is normal and healthy for most people, even spices. I need to know and control all the ingredients in everything I eat to avoid allergic reactions and feeling miserable the day after. And I need very fresh food. I have to avoid all fruits and most vegetables due to my oral allergy syndrome, cereals and potatoes are also out for the same reason, gluten makes me extremely tired and dairy gives me a horrible congestion the same day and even more the day after. And then the eggs. Eating eggs gives me a horrible migraine the day after. Sometimes I don’t get the migraine, but I feel like I have the worst hangover ever, not being able to think or drag my miserable body around our apartment. At least I’m starting to know my triggers and I have to say that my oral allergy has improved a little bit, meaning that my lips and throat are not swelling with every meal I have. Now it’s usually just my lips once or twice a day. That is helping with avoiding losing more weight. Two weeks ago I went to a Mastocytosis research center and my weight was 44.9 Kg. Today it’s almost 46 and I’m not feeling like I’m going to faint if I need to walk somewhere.

Unlike it’s mentioned in “the Fault in our Stars” (read the book, didn’t watch the movie), Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is true, at least for me. I was (am) so busy reading about these diseases that I abandoned all the rest. I stopped knitting in part because of the horrible eczema I have between my fingers (partly due to my allergies, partly due to the medication), then I stopped sewing too. The last makes were a Lady Skater dress, a pair of Prefontaine shorts and a Soma bikini.

I have cut another Lady Skater that I didn’t bring myself to sew. My body has changed a lot since all this started. I think I’ve lost like almost 10 Kg and I don’t know how it will be in the next future. Part of my weight was due to the muscle I got practicing capoeira and I know that I will probably never be able to practice again, at least with the same intensity. In hinder sight, probably the intensity of it has worsened my histamine intolerance. Anyway, I just don’t know where I’m headed. I had a plan of making a pair of shorts for Koen using the Jedediah pants pattern I used last year, but then other things got in the way.

 

When all this started, when I still had the hope that I was going to get over it quite fast, we decided that this summer we deserved a treat. We wanted to travel again, not very far, not very costly, but just spending some days somewhere else. We rented an apartment for 6 days in August  in Lanzarote and hoped for the best. Koen has been complaining a bit for a while about our apartment, just because it’s too small and how wonderful it would be to have an apartment with a terrace and a guest room. And after checking online for some weeks we finally found a lovely place. But it was at the wrong time. Just before Koen had to spend a week in Denver to attend a congress and a week after we had our vacation in Lanzarote. And as I’ve said before, being ill is a full-time job and a vacation in thiese conditions is not a vacation. That week I lost more than one kilo and I spent quite some time reading and starving.

And Koen was offered a new contract and I had also mine renewed. And if we wanted the apartment, we had to take it at that precise moment, with no time to think carefully because we were in a waiting list and more people were behind us. We moved in one month ago, but with all this, there’s still a lot of work to do here. It’s in a very old building but the apartment has been renovated and it has a wonderful terrace. When we first arrived it was a bit frustrating, since half of the plants were dead and we discovered several surprises, like a problem with the washing machine pipe, the oven door, or the upstairs neighbor being too friendly with pigeons, and the consequent “presents” we get each morning from them. The word to describe the state we found the terrace is decadent. Dead plants, pigeon drops, a broken hose. But the place has quite some charm and it has lots of possibilities. It also means that  there’s a lot of work to be done and while it helps me to feel motivated, sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming.

Anyhow, we have a lot more place than before, so I hope I can start sewing again soon. Other good thing of it is that we can invite friends home and that will help me to get part of my social life back. Our previous apartment was very small and we haven’t gone out for several months. No dinners or drinks outside.

I haven’t even read sewing or knitting blogs during these past months, I even abandoned instagram most of the time, but yesterday evening I found myself checking a couple of blogs again. I think the worst is over and I will have my life back soon.

There have been also some changes in the feathery department. Gerry was a bit stressed the first days after the move but he’s enjoying now the fact that he has a lot more space, and one of the windows in the living room has become his favorite spot from where he has a nice view of the square in front of our building.

And do you remember Leslie? The Gouldian finch I found on the street almost two months ago?

He came in a pretty bad state, very hungry and distressed. His health improved but still his behavior was not the one of a happy bird. After a month of trying to find his previous owners with no luck, we decided to give him a girlfriend, and two weeks later Sally came home. You can see that both look very healthy and active, they eat very well, Leslie sings and they seem quite happy together.

P.S.: I haven’t danced in ages. I miss it so much… I hope I can do it again soon…

Things not getting done

I’ve finished three garments lately (the forth was a fail) but it seems I can’t find the time to take pictures of them. I used to take pictures of my finished garments during my lunch hour but work is crazy lately and my lunch hour is quite shorter than it used to be. Also, I’m so tired after I finish work that I don’t spend too much time at the computer. I just sew when I have the time, and I keep working on how to improve my very limited diet.

The list of foods I can eat has been reduced considerably in the last weeks. I was tested again by one of the three alergists that are seeing me and I’m allergic to potatoes, corn, rice, wheat, and lots of vegetables (cauliflower and the family, asparagus, almost all fruits and a long etc). Due to my problems eating I’ve lost 6 kilos in the last 2 months, and not being able to eat any of the most well known sources of carbs has made things even more difficult. I’ve tried sweet potato and I also got swollen lips and throat. I could eat normal potatoes until one month ago, when I dreamed of gaining weight by eating fries, but soon that became impossible. After trial and error, some money and lots of time, I have found that I can eat yuca (tapioca). The problem is that due to other issues, I can’t make the typical recipes everybody makes. I can’t neither use milk, rice milk, almond milk nor egg. I’ve learned to make some variant of a Brazilian recipe of yuca bread, but without all the regular ingredients, the final product is a bit, how to say, different. I’m still tweaking the recipe, and even the result is not wonderful, it’s quite ok, and honestly, I just want to be able to take a normal quantity of vegetables, carbs and proteins. Since broccoli started to give me symptoms too I started to freeze it and overcook it, so I guess I’m killing all the vitamins and good things in it. When I started the elimination diet, I used to eat plain (and boring) broccoli. I add now a bit of lemon and to hell with it. I haven’t noticed  that the allergy has become worse because of it. I’m still eating a bit of brown rice in the evenings. I can’t tolerate the regular one or my loved basmati but the brown one still works with corn from a can. I can’t eat corn in any other form (fresh, flour, pasta) but the one from the can is fine so I keep eating it.

About proteins, pork meat is fine. Not ham in any shape. Cured ham gives me nausea, and the sweet ham that you find in the shop has either potato starch, corn dextrose, or soy. I ended up in the ER after two slices almost two months ago. No ham for me. With chicken things go not so well. I’ve been eating it from time to time in small amounts because I react a bit to it. Pork fills me more, and I can eat also more quantities. I am not sure why. I’ve read that soy fed chickens can be allergenic to soy allergic people. I don’t know if this is the reason behind, but I don’t really have access to organic meat so I guess I won’t eat it again. Yesterday I ate it again and apart from swollen lips I felt a bit of nausea. Those are typical symptoms of chicken allergy. It’s not a very common allergy and the first tests came negative about that one. It’s also true that the first tests to wheat or corn were also negative. We’ll have to see.

My allergist from the Public Health System has abandoned me. They don’t know about OAS (Oral Allergy Syndrome) here in Spain and he refused to keep seeing me. I guess my case is a difficult one and he doesn’t want to have too much work. He told me I should receive a complete report from him and look for another doctor. This has been 18 days ago. No sign of a letter yet.

Just the weekend after that I woke up on a Saturday almost without voice. I blamed my allergies and let it pass. Some days ago I went to see my GP and he guessed it was just a cold. The week after I went to see a otolaryngologist with my private insurance, and after an examination she informed me that my right vocal cord was paralyzed. This Thursday I’m getting a CT scan for this and then I have to see her again. This has gotten me a bit worried lately, since there could be many causes for a paralyzed vocal cord. Mostly this happens to the left one, since the nerve is much longer that the right one and there are more chances or a problem. The CT scan worries me because they will probably use contrast (and I’m afraid of an allergic reaction) and the results also worry me. I’m trying not to think too much about it, but sometimes it’s quite difficult. Especially when I go to the shop and people don’t hear me when I ask for bread, broccoli or whatever it is I’m buying. And I’m also a bit tired of excusing myself because of being hoarse.

Me Made May: some thoughts

I apologize for the delay in writing and publishing this post. I thought the most boring part would be adding the pictures, but it wasn’t like that. In fact, I added them ten days ago, but my allergies and health issues are distracting me too often from the things that make me happy. I shouldn’t let that happen again, and I’m glad to inform that, even though my allergies haven’t got any better, the situation is more under control.

Here the pictures from Me May Made 2014:

As you can see there are a lot of repeats. I haven’t been sewing for so long and last year I regretted so much not being able to participate, so this year I decided to join even with my small handmade wardrobe. I’m very happy that I decided to do so, because it helped me to recognize gaps, successes and fails.

Let’s take a look at some numbers:

The total winners this month were the Miette Cardigan, Thurlow Trousers and the Lady Skater Dress. That cardigan is so versatile, comfortable and ideal for these temperatures that I should knit at least two more. The fact of being white helps a lot to combine with almost any dress or skirt in my wardrobe. When knitting it I disliked the portion of cotton in the fibers, but now that I wear it, I realize that it’s ideal for this weather, for summer when airco conditions and part of autumn. I should knit another one in another basic color and another one in a vivid color that goes with my wardrobe. I should also give a try to another of Andi‘s cardigans knitted with similar yarn.

The Thurlow trousers combined got 13 days of wear, same as the Miette Cardigan. That’s a lot of wear. I confess that during colder months I wore them even more, easily almost everyday I had a Thurlow on my legs. Now getting warmer and me thinner, it’s happening less and less. This week I rescued my old jeans that were too tight two years ago. I like them but that enormous waist annoys me. I would like to make more Thurlows and a pair of jeans but I don’t know how my weight is going to evolve. I’ve lost 6 kg in 2 months due to my allergies (you know the feeling of crying due to starving?) but as I’ve said, the situation is now under control. I’ve discovered yuca starch and I’m making some experiments and I have already my energy back. Now I need the weight too.

And what to say about the Lady Skater? It’s comfy, flattering and the perfect summer dress. I’m already cutting a second one (where I raised the waist 3 cm) and planning a third one. I should make one in a plain fabric one day. Also the fact of being elastic, makes it wearable despite the fact that my weight is still changing. I expected to make Anna, Bleuet and Bombshell dresses this month, but that’s not going to happen. At least until I stabilize my weight and my life (eating and sport-wise).

The Freija and Owls sweaters got a lot less wear than previous months due to the weather getting warmer, but trust me, winter was spent inside those two sweaters. I’m knitting a second Owls Sweater and I should knit something like that Freija again. Not the same pattern but something similar. I’m at the moment knitting Armande in purple. It’s going to be awesome.

The Cambie Dress was worn only 4 times, but in my defense I should say that it was finished at the beginning of May. Gosh, I love that dress. It’s very comfortable and elegant, and if I didn’t wear it more often was because I think it’s too chick just to go to the bakery (I work from home most of the time). I liked it so much that I decided to make a skirt from the same pattern. The skirt got worn just 2 times, but that’s because I finished it almost at the end of the month. Also, the dress was made during my most heavy weight loss, so it’s a bit loose now, but still wearable.

The Ziggi biker jacket was just worn at the end of the month when we had a cold spell, but I swear that I wore it almost everyday the previous month. That jacket and how I planned was a total success. I’m so happy that I decided to install a quilted lining.

The same goes for the Fleece Renfrew. I wore it a lot in April, but May was a bit warmer so no change to wear it too much.

There were things that got worn just once and finally I know why. The cowl neck dress was a lovely idea, but my knowledge was poor then. The fabric is too thin and the skirt just gets in between my legs when walking. Probably a slip would help here. Also the hem and armscyes look a bit sloppy, again because the fabric is so thin. It was a good idea, but the fabric and execution were wrong. The orange skirt just feels too large now. It’s designed to be worn lower than the natural waist and that doesn’t help now that I’ve lost weight. Also the waist line looks a bit weird. Well, there was undoubtedly some evolution in my sewing. The A-line skirt with patch pockets had a lot of wear last year but not now. Why? Not sure. I think the fact that tends to turn when walking and rubbing against my handbag annoys me a bit. I hate to have to pay too much attention to those things when I’m walking. That also happens to the light blue A-line skirt. I think it’s in part because they sit lower than the original waist and I’ve lost weight. Anyway, that’s why I prefer dresses now (even though the Cambie skirt is a complete success). Another reason is that right now I prefer just under the knee length.

The portrait blouse got worn 4 times, but previous months I wore it more just because I wore less dresses. I like that blouse, but there’s something wrong with it. It wrinkles a bit on the underarms and my execution was not the best. Anyway, I think I need more blouses for the times that I wear trousers and for that Cambie skirt. I’ve recently finished an Alma blouse (still unblogged) and I’m planning a Belcarra blouse, a Black Canvas Tee, a Maria Denmark Edith-Tiki Blouse, and an Archer Tiki Blouse; and I think that’s the right direction.

I really wanted to wear my Lonsdale Dress, but May was not as warm as expected. The problem with the Lonsdale is the bow or knot on the back, and that’s a bit annoying to wear a cardigan over it. I’ll probably modify that if I ever make it again.

I’ve also discovered that I feel more happy when wearing things that I spent quite some time making, and not rushing through the process. I didn’t wear my Hawthorn and i think it’s because I got carried away by the sewalong but I didn’t feel it was my style. The Thurlows, the Lady Skater, the blouse, the Cambie; those were made just when I felt the need of making them. Not rushing to make a deadline. Also, my last Alma blouse is a complete beauty and it took me some days. This is just to say that it’s great to be part of the community and joining sewalongs, but sometimes we need to avoid distractions and make what our heart feels and at our own pace. I’m more of a perfectionist right now. For me, especially in these difficult moments, it’s what makes sense and makes me happy.

 

Slowing down

I’ve always been a very active person, trying to use my time to make things, to make it matter, and not spoiling any minute by doing nothing. I guess that’s one of our problems of us, makers, as Teresa Gregorio said in one of the episodes of her podcast. I started sewing a bit more than a year ago and I can tell you that it’s so easy to get in the wagon of trying to finish things fast, start new ones and participate in all the sewalongs of the world that you can get lost in the madness. I rushed myself in several occasions due to this and felt like thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread. And now I have to slow down, like Rachel from House of Pinheiro beautifully put it today.

I really wanted to participate in the last sewalongs happening around. I had my pattern and fabric for the Sew Dolly Clackett since almost a year ago, and Sew for Victory was in my plans since I’ve seen the pictures from the last edition. I really wanted to participate but sadly I can’t.

First I need to focus on getting better and healthy. Not that I’m sick but I have to learn to live with my new condition until it passes, if it does. I’m eating a bit more healthy than before but I still have troubles to get all the calories that I need to function normally. I can’t practice capoeira and it breaks my heart, I can make it to the end of a Pilates class but it’s very very hard, since I’m out of strength halfway of it. But it’s better than at the beginning. When this got worse, the first two days I really starved. I had no energies, I had headache just because I needed to eat. I felt I was going to faint and even I had plenty of time (we had the Easter break) I didn’t feel like sewing. I felt like doing nothing at all.

So I need to slow down. I’m working on my long awaited Cambie dress without rushing, doing things correctly and I will probably be very happy with the final result. I try to add new foods to the diet at least every two days although in most cases they give me a reaction afterwards. I need to do things slowly, but I need to do them. I’ve also decided to take a break from frantic series. We’re finishing Breaking Bad and I’ve just finished Mad Dogs. Too many emotions in my already too exciting life. I’ve started to watch again Northern Exposure just to find a little peace and calm. I’ll get where I want to go but I’ll take my time in doing it. I will not be distracted by all the icing on the net, very attractive sewalongs or anything that could stress me too much. Stress raises histamine, didn’t you know? And right now I can’t afford it. I’m going to see a doctor next Tuesday, but I’ve read enough to know that the only thing I can do is following a strict diet for as long as it’s needed. Sometimes forever.

Gerry inspecting my Cambie muslin

Ziggi played guitar

… and ukelele in my case.

wpid-20140421_164058.jpgAs soon as I’ve heard of this pattern and the sewalong I wanted to sew this jacket. I already had this wool blend purchased months ago and it seemed the best option without buying more fabric (ok, I bought the lining, but you can’t just win all the time). I was between sizes 6 and 8 and I doubted a lot before deciding, because as many of you know, Style Arc just packs one size per envelope, so grading doesn’t work like for the other pattern companies. Finally I’ve sent a mail to Style Arc and they adviced size 8, and that I could sew with bigger side seam allowances. I was not sure, I didn’t want a baggy jacket (I hate loose clothes on my upper body) but I also didn’t want an unwearable one.

wpid-20140420_133558.jpg

When planing the Ziggi I had in mind the coat I made last April. It’s a really beautiful coat, also made of a wool blend, but the ranges of temperature that allow me to wear it are very limited. I’m a cold chick and going out with an inadequate coat or jacket is no-go. My asthma gets worse with the cold and I tend to catch colds quite easily. So I was going to plan better for this jacket to make it wearable and enjoyable. Unlike all the other Ziggi’s I’ve seen online, mine was going to have a quilted lining. And that would also help with that half size extra.

I made the muslin in felt to have a feel of how it was going to be. The felt resulted to be very stiff but at least it had a similar weight to my wool blend. The first thing I noticed was the shoulders felt too wide on me and that the armscye was too low. I had difficulties lifting my arms and it created horrible wrinkles on the shoulder and arm. I also felt the upper sleeve to narrow. As I’ve said, I get cold easily so I would probably want to wear this jacket with a sweater underneath in many occasions. I was not sure if it was just the sleeve design or the seam joining the upper and the lower sleeve, so I decided to widen it and eliminate that seam. I was not planning on quilting any pieces so that seam didn’t add anything to me and created quite some problems. I also raised the armscye and narrowed the showlders. The result is not perfect and I might have stretched a bit my fabric while sewing the sleeves, but it’s good enough and it’s very comfortable now.

While making this jacket I couldn’t take my mind of  Bowie’s song and the jacket Alex Drake wears in Ashes to Ashes.

zash01

One day I’ll make one in leather. I’m not sure how clean I would be able to keep one in white leather but I like it.

The construction of the basic parts was quite straightforward. The front zip was easy enough and for the sleeves and pockets I found some resources on internet, tutorials by Communing with Fabric and Corecoture. For bagging the lining I followed this wonderful video.

 

I apologize for the quality of these pictures. I finished the jacket more than a week ago but first, I didn’t have the time, and then, I was struggling with my HIT issues. I’m slowly finding out what I can eat and I had a couple of bad days, starving and with no energies. I’m also skipping make up completely these days to avoid adding more products to the equation. So all those things together made for bad pictures and and a hideous aspect. I know I look quite bad in those, but postponing could mean never blogging this garment in which I put so much effort. I had to share it and I also had to be honest and explain why it took so long to blog it and why I look like shit in these pictures. And my last reason and maybe the most important: I need to keep my life as normal as possible, and these last days I’ve been feeling kind of paralyzed. I just want to leave that state.

We took them on two different days. The ones at home are taken with an DSLR but the light is quite bad. The ones outside are taken with Koen’s phone one day later. My dark circles are not getting any improvement.

We were having quite worm weather lately but it cooled down a bit during the weekend. This jacket is perfect for weather like this or for more typical Spring evenings, since it tends to cool down at night substantially here in Madrid.

wpid-20140420_133611.jpg

And I love my lining. I know that it’s much less fancy than the other ones I’ve seen on other sewists but this quilted lining makes my jacket quite warm. I see a lot of wearing here.

wpid-20140420_133626.jpg

I know that my Thurlow trousers look a bit loose. I’ve lost 3 kg in the last days but I think I’m stable now and I will probably reach my normal weight again as soon as I get used to my new diet. I have an appointment with a doctor next week. I hope he’ll clarify things a bit.

HIT

The inactivity you see here is because I’m a bit overwhelmed lately. Two projects that took forever are done but now I just don’t feel like doing a lot. The last one was the Ziggi jacket, of which I’m very proud. I just need to take pictures and blog it. And I need to sew my Cambie dress muslin, but I don’t feel like doing anything. I’ve been having increasing health issues for almost three weeks that are keeping me in a constant anguish. I’ve had allergic reactions to meat, cheese, ham, mayonnaise, coca-cola, nutmeg, soya and almost anything included in my meals (except the breakfast, thank god). The problem is that there are a lot of things that I couldn’t eat from the start due to my allergy to the birch I developed 4 years ago, so the list gets even smaller. And each day is worse than the previous one, so I’m not sure where this is is going.

The symptoms are generally swelling lips and sometimes also throat. I ended up in the ER on Sunday evening after eating 2 slices of ham. I’m desperate and hungry. I need to eat but I don’t know what I’m allowed. After doing some research on internet it seems I could have histamine intolerance, since I’ve had reactions to very different kinds of food and the link among them is the high histamine they contain. I’m going today to my doctor to request an appointment with my allergist but unfortunately this condition is rare and not very well known. There is just a handful of doctors in Spain specialized in this and I’ve already made an appointment with one of these doctors at the end of the month. I’ll have to stop taking antihistamines one week in advance, I wonder how I will survive.

And in two days we are leaving for Barcelona to attend a swing festival. We’ll be staying in a hotel and eating in restaurants. I’m also ultra worried about that.

And that’s the last news. There’s still a lot of sewing here and loads of knitting (I find working with my hands relaxing) but I just need some more time to find the right state of mind to put everything in words.

Allergies in time and space, and Red Apple Lipstick excellent customer service

I was born and lived for 27 years in the northwest of Spain. Like many children there I was (and still am) allergic to dust mites. Then I became allergic to grass and things stayed like that for a very long time. In 2006 I moved to Belgium and four years later I got a swollen mouth after eating an apple: I had become officially allergic to the birch tree pollen and some fruits with a cross-protein with it. Several tests came later and I discovered that that’s the thing I’m most allergic to. And that includes not only apples, but hazel nuts, almonds, carrots, soy and other that I didn’t dare to try since then. We moved to Madrid two years ago so I should expect a change in my allergies (well, new ones added I mean). I was already allergic to the grass pollen but I think I’m feeling an increased sensitivity to cypress pollen too. A poly-allergic person usually becomes allergic to new things depending on environment changes. I guess it’s something I have to live with.

And that reminds me of a friend from the US who was living here for a while. She used to work as a camp monitor for a while over there and she was used to kids with allergies, but when she came here, many of the allergies here were unknown to her. Like my apple-birch allergy. Also unknown to most of the Spanish people I’ve met, except for the doctors. They always  say very excited that I’m the vivid example of what they studied at university.

I’m not a woman that uses a lot of make up. I would say that I’m on the lazy side. But, probably due to my age or the beginning of a mid life crisis, I’ve started to take care of myself a bit more than I’ve used to. And then I’ve heard wonderful opinions about Red Apple Lipstick. Their gorgeous colors, their performance, their properties which make them perfect for allergic people. I had to try them. I bought three of them: Plum Sexy Crazy, Straberry Lips and Reddish Fettish. I tried them in three consecutive days. The colors were wonderful, and the smell… that smell! It was all I wanted, with the exception that I realized I was allergic to them all. Without exception.

I have thick lips, but the ones I got one hour after using the lipsticks were like sausages. I contacted Red Apple Lipstick explaining my problem and I got a complete refund almost instantly. I have to say that not only they have nice products but they also have an excellent customer service. They didn’t ask for it but I sent the lipsticks back and I really wish them well and lots of luck because the customer service really makes a difference.

After the incident I went to check the lipsticks ingredients and I was surprised to find almond amongst them. I blame that but it could also be the Titanium Dioxide, the Manganese Violet, or the Mica, Iron Oxide.

LIPSTICKS ORIGNAL SERIES – Red!, Love My Kiss, Ruby Slippers, Strawberry Lips, Flirt With Me, Crush On Me, French Skirt, Mauve Me, Secrets, Plum Sexy Crazy.
Ricinus Communis, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Oleic/Linoleic/Linolenic Polyglycerides, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax, Cera Alba, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate from an all natural non gluten source, Prunis Dulcis (Almond ), Citrus Tangerina (Tangerine) Peel Oil, Essence of Vanilla, May Contain: Titanium Dioxide ,Manganese Violet, Mica, Iron Oxide.

LIPSTICKS INSTANT COLOR SERIES – Coral Crush, Hibiskiss, Lovebird, Oh My Guava, Push Pop, Sweet Pea, Fierce, Barcelona, Reddish Fettish, Light My Fire, Swoon, Ravishing
Helianthus Annus – 100% pure organic cold pressed, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Butyrospermum Parkii, Synthetic Beeswax, All Natural Gluten Free – Soy Free – Corn Free Vitamin E Tocopheryl Acetate, May Contain: Titanium Dioxide ,Manganese Violet, Mica, Iron Oxide.

So this made me think again about how allergies appear depending on the environment. I am pretty sure that Red Apple Lipstick is safe for 99% of Americans, but it’s possible that in other parts of the world there are other kinds of allergies. Move 1000 Km and you will be exposed to different pollens, different environmental conditions.