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.

Paula and her bathing suit

Do you remember the bathing suit I made for the swimsuit sewalong?

During my stay in Vigo I could finally make some pictures of Paula modelling it. The weather was quite bad during the two weeks I spent there, being cold and foggy most of the time, but I managed to go to the beach on two occasions: the first was on the Wednesday of the first week, on which we went to the Cies Islands with Koen’s parents; the second was the day right before I came back, and it’s when I took these pictures. I apology for the quality, since I seldom carry my DSLR with me to the beach (afraid of sand and sea water) unless I clearly intend to make pictures, and at this point I was so tired that I completely forgot about this bathing suit.

These are my sister (left), my mother and my niece Paula. She’s carrying her white pony; and we are walking to a place on the rocks between my mother’s two favorite beaches.

Paula is such a clever and funny girl, and she first delighted us with some singing and dancing:

When Koen’s parents were visiting she demonstrated them her gymnastic abilities and how she can count to ten in English! She also knows the colors in English since some months ago, and she’s just three and a half! Smartass!

And here some shots of the bathingsuit in action.

And here, in a completely unrelated note, my bikini. This picture was taken during our trip to Valencia, but was lost and forgotten in my cellphone. I think now it’s the time to share it with you.

As you can see the sand is different in Valencia, thinner and darker. You cannot see the sea but it’s also quite different. Used to tides in the Atlantic, it’s amazing to see how people place their towels just at the border of the sea line. I know that there are no tides in the Mediterranean, but knowing the fact doesn’t stop me from being amazed at seeing it.

And here a last picture of the Atlantic Ocean and my dear Bay of Vigo.

 

 

Train derailment

I travel between Madrid and Vigo either by train or by plane. I came by plane this time and I’ll be going back this Saturday also by plane. I arrived home today around 22:30 from having a drink with an old friend and I saw my mother with her eyes glued to the TV. That same train I sometimes take suffered a terrible accident today around 9 pm. The causes are still unknown, but out of the 218 passengers, they’ve already counted 60 deceased and 140 injured. At the moment they have need of great amounts of blood from blood donors and people had a very positive answer crowding the hospitals to give blood.

I can only say that I’m so sorry for those families and I can’t help but feeling lucky that I was not in that train. My thoughts are with those families who are experiencing the longest night of their lives.

You can read more here and here and here.

A family week

As I’ve explained in my previous post, after experimenting very high temperatures in Madrid, I felt too optimistic and packed two skirts, a pair of shorts, a dress and a half for my two weeks here. The half comes from the pieces I cut to make a Lonsdale dress, since I missed two of them and they just went back into the suitcase. I only brought a pair of long pants that I wore almost non stop since I arrived: my thurlows. But after spilling some food today during lunch at my sister’s I had to leave them go almost by themselves to the washing machine. I’m wearing now a pair of very old pants. Last time I wore them was about two or three years ago, when I arrived too late to the airport in Brussels (that time not my fault, there were just some works on the rails and we got stuck for more than half an hour) and I had to run to the gate leaving my suitcase behind. At that time these pants were already quite old.

For the rest the week didn’t go too bad. Koen’s parents enjoyed Vigo and the weather on the day we went to the Islands was the best of all the ones we had. Sadly I have no pictures from it. When I first got my DLSR I used to take it everywhere with me, but then I got a third lens, the 50 mm 1.8, and I’m on the petite side and I always find annoying to take it here and there. I’ve decided that I’ve got to put a solution to it, and that’s making my own camera bag; something big enough to also carry my wallet, cellphone and all the stuff I carry in my purse. I have checked on internet a bit and I like the Paparazzi camera bag (adding a recessed top zipper) or this cinch tote (I would make modifications to this last one too).

Paparazzi Camera Bag
Cinch tote

We went one day to Retales Lidia, where they sell some fabric by the kilo, apart from other things. Koen wanted to buy some linen for a pair of Jedediah pants and shorts. Morgan actually looked for pattern testers and I applied but I sent my email too late to be able to part take in it. I think it was good in the end, because when I’m here it’s sometimes difficult to find the right moment for sewing. We bought 3 meters of a wonderful linen and I’m planning in joining the Jedediah sewalong that will take place in August. We will be just back from Belgium and I’ll be ready to sew! They also have cotton quilt at a very reasonable price (€ 7,50) and lots of other nice fabrics.

Unfortunately I have no pictures of the fabric we bought, but I took a couple of pictures there that seemed funny to me. They sell not only fabric by the kilo but also old buttons and zippers!

Fails

Murphy’s law says that if there’s anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. And it definitely did this time. We were supposed to take a flight to Vigo yesterday at 5 pm, but after taking zillions of planes in our life, we miscalculated and missed our plane. We could change our tickets to some hours later and to another airport in the same region, so all was not lost.

We were going to come next week, not this one, when my sister was also on vacation. Koen’s plans were bringing his racing bike and cycling around while I spent some quality time with my family. But a month ago, Koen’s parents sent us an email to let us know that they were coming to Vigo this week for the first time in their lives, and to meet my parents, also a first. We had to change our vacation days at work, Koen couldn’t bring his bike and we missed our plane. What else could go differently than planned? Don’t take me wrong; it’s going to be a pleasure to see them, but things are just not coming out the way it was planned.

You see this photo?

Two days ago I cut some fabric for a Lonsdale dress. It requires a lot of fabric, so I decided to cut it in advance and like that having less to transport. My plan was sewing the dress between yesterday evening and today and then wear it tomorrow evening for date with our parents. But dear friends, let me tell you something to avoid the same that happened to me. Today, when I was finally working on it, I discovered that two of the pieces were missing. I don’t know if I either forgot to cut them or they just stayed home with the rest of the fabric. So, dear friends, if you happen to plan the same in the future, please do two things:

  1. Make sure that you have all the necessary pieces to finish your garment. Check it twice.
  2. Take with you some extra fabric just in case. Things happen.

Anyway, the weather here is not as hot as in Madrid, and it’s clearly much more humid; so all the skirts and dresses I brought will probably stay in the suitcase, and if I happen to wear some of them, it will be just for the hottest hours of the day. Today I was wearing my first A-line skirt and sandals, and I’m wearing now my Thurlows and my Freija. So, even if could have finished the dress, I don’t think I would have been able to wear it tomorrow for dinner.

These are some bracelets I made for the family, one of the things that worked so far. I haven’t given them to them yet, so you know, they will probably break when they try to wear them.

At least I have my knitting. I’m still working on Andi’s test. I’m over 50%, so I’m afraid this project will not last for the complete vacation and all the things happening will drive me crazy. I think I’ll need to pay a visit to a famous store here that sells fabric by the kilo. After all this fails it will be so comforting…

Road trip

I haven’t been here for some days. You know, sometimes life gets in the way and one can’t find time to blog. Last week we had some days off and decided to take a road trip to the south. The plan was reaching Cádiz, but that was all. We still needed to get there, find hotels, come back and get lost in the way. Our first stop was Mérida, where we visited an old Roman theater which is still being used nowadays for its original purpose:

After that we continued South and visited Seville. It was getting warmer and warmer, but I’m always a cold girl and still needed my Bliss on.

The poor thing is peeling horribly, but it’s so soft, warm and comfy that I can’t stop wearing it. Well, I have to confess that I’m not wearing it right now because the temperatures raised a bit, which means I’m constantly wearing Freija, made from a bit thinner and also more durable yarn. It’s amazing how different Malabrigo Worsted and Rios can be. And talking about Malabrigo Rios, during the trip I had a chance to finish my Scroll Lace Scarf with Malabrigo Rios leftovers from Freija:

I was having doubts about either following literally the pattern or making it it in garter stitch. The border is clearly garter stitch, so after a couple of tests I decided that it would look more consistent just continuing like this. It also prevents it from rolling and I didn’t need to block it. In fact, after I finished it I couldn’t stop wearing it, admiring it, stroking it.

Yeah, and also making stupid pictures with my phone while it was Koen’s driving turn.

The whole point of this trip was visiting Cádiz, but I have to say that we felt a bit disappointed.  The coastline is completely ruined, since they built almost at the sea shore.

You cannot see it on the picture, but we were waking on a normal sidewalk, and just at the other side of the road there were ugly tall buildings.

The old part is a bit more beautiful, but it looks it was not really taken care of for a very long time.

The trip highlight was Tarifa, such a beautiful city at the most South of Spain and just across Africa:

You can see Africa behind us, and you can also see my beautiful Scroll Lace Scarf that I was not able to take off my shoulders. And also my very full and ragged handbag, but please, pay no attention to it. Koen is wearing a very strong sunscreen on his chin because of an accident he had some month ago with his bike, after which he got some stitches here and there. Luckily nothing too serious.

It was very windy there, and we learned it’s a location that attracts wind surfers. You can see Koen’s long hair blowing with the air. He really needs a haircut, but we recently heard that Maxi, the local vintage hairdresser died last January of a motorbike accident. He’s really missed by the rock community here.

Tarifa was not only beautiful and blindly bright, but it gave the impression of receiving a different tourism than the other cities we visited. It’s definitely more taken care of, with its beautiful fountains, gardens and white buildings.

And also funny street names 😉

We continued the drive and expected to visit Córdoba, but they were having the local festivities and it was so crowded that we couldn’t do anything but escaping from there.

And I continued with my knitting, this time working on a pair of Hermione’s everyday socks. I made this pattern so many times that the next one will be just plain vanilla socks. I swear it!

You can find more pictures of our journey in my Flickr.

Barswingona

This past long weekend was not very productive regarding knitting. We assisted to an international Lindy-Hop event in Barcelona. With four hours of class per day and then the parties where we could continue dancing and watching the teachers’ showcases, we had no much energy left in our bodies the rest of the day but just to nap.

I did a bit of knitting in the train and during one of the lazy afternoons while we were watching Downton Abbey. I started a pair of socks for my mother with a yarn I recently got, and I see that what you pay is what you get. It was rather cheap, but see what came from inside the ball after I pulled some yarn to find the end:

The festival was great, and even we came back home exhausted, it was worth it. We watched a super exciting Jack and Jill that was an absolute adrenaline shot. Lindy-Hop is just such a happy dance,being there felt like being at the Savoy during the 30’s: nice dresses, lots of make up, smart suits, sweat and swing music. You could feel the floor vibrating under your feet at the rhythm of the music, just pure energy coming from the dancers. And I could finally wear one of the dresses I’ve made last year. This picture was taken at the hotel, just before leaving for the party. I have to confess that I polished my nails with my coat already on to be able to let them dry on our way to the ballroom. The pictures quality is not great, since they were taken with our phones. We did not want to pack with us the SLR camera, since we had already a lot of stuff. It’s not easy to pack for a dance festival. You need lots of t-shirts, towels for the sweat during classes, two or three pairs of shoes, pants, a dress for each party, make up, …

At the party on Friday we met a couple of friends of ours from Brussels. We used to attend the same Lindy-Hop classes. It was a great surprise meeting them there and being able to dance with them again.

We had two classes with the wonderful William and Maeva. When watching their videos, she looks like an impressive woman, and I was surprised to find such a cute little girl.

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpuZ3vTfnds]

I have some more news related to crafting, but it’s been quite hectic since we came back so it’ll have to wait a little bit.

Cell phone sleeve for Koen

I started my crafty life just crochetting. I looked at amigurumis on internet and I discovered that I wanted to make something like that. After a while I accomplished this and then I decided that what I wanted to make were garments. Soon I figured out that knitted garments usually have a much nicer drape and fit better the human body. Then I wanted to knit! I bought a book, needles and looked for tutorials in YouTube. Soon I made a cardigan for my niece and I’ve never stopped since then.

In one of our vacations I got a new smartphone and I had no sleeve for it. With some crappy yarn I found at my mother’s place I crocheted a very basic sleeve while Koen was driving around the north of Spain. It was not very beautiful but it came in handy at that moment. When Koen bought his first smartphone he rescued this sleeve from one of our drawers and he started using it, but it had a horrible green color that made me want to make something nicer for him. I asked him and he decided yarn and color. It was going to be black. I asked him if he wanted something knitted with beautiful cables, but he said that he wanted something simple, something similar to the green one. Last year I started to crochet the sleeve, I dropped it for a while and never came back to it. I have to confess that since I started knitting, I never came back to crochet again, just for brief moments, but never finishing anything.

In the meantime he lost the hideous green sleeve and his phone got naked and vulnerable.

This past week at Tenerife, I had lots of time for knitting, and in one of those quiet mornings, I designed this. It is quite simple. I asked Koen and he said it was perfect, that he wanted nothing else. I started to cast on and knitted a couple of rows, and then I had to leave it for some hours. I took it back when we were driving to the Loro Parque so that my niece could see the parrots, the dolphins and the rest of animals. It was such a simple project that I finished it during that car drive. Koen loves it and I’m considering making one for myself (we have the same cell phone model).

We enjoyed the park and the animals, and I got a small project finished in the meantime.

There and back again

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IuuS3BiUJto]

Some people leave for a trip like Bilbo Baggins did, without their handkerchiefs and expecting a calm journey. But if you go with Gandalf and dwarfs like us and find trolls in the way, this pleasant experience can become something you did not expect. Well, I always say it’s better not to expect anything special and be open to anything that comes to you.

My mother pictured in her mind a full week working hard on her sun tan, wearing sandals and looking at the fuchsia foreigners from behind her sunglasses, drinking cocktails and eating mouth-watering delicacies. Nothing further from the truth.

We arrived at the same time as a heavy storm that lasted for three days and got several flights cancelled, my sister had a cold, the second day from our arrival my mother woke up with a terrible cold and fever, my niece had fluorescent green snot, and Koen had left Madrid with a severe back pain and got there a terrible allergy which made his nose completely stuffed with mucus (he never has allergies). His plan was renting a bike and climbing the Mount Teide, but both conditions unfortunately prevented it. This situation reminded me a lot of the beginning of the book My family and other animals. You can watch the first part of the movie based on the book here to know what I mean:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3P0GKvYwG0]

I was the only one not getting ill. My allergies just got a bit worse than usual, but I almost expected it and I’m used to it, so while the others were trying to recover I spent the whole vacation knitting like a madman.

Fortunately the weather improved, my sister recovered, my mother started feeling a bit better and Koen started to walk straight again. We enjoyed a couple of days at the beach and my little niece and Koen couldn’t resist to the swimming pool at the hotel.

Since almost everybody was a bit ill and Koen had problems to breath inside our apartment, we spent quite some hours at our terrace. He read some books and I knitted. I got his cardigan almost finished (just left weaving ends for later), I worked on mine, and I got two other projects done from beginning to end. I will talk about all these projects in future posts. Apart from reading, Koen also helped winding some wool.

The trip was not what anybody expected, but at least I tried to get the most of it.