Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Still not sewing, but not utterly fiberless (and useless)

Hello, everyone! :)

I, ah, still haven't touched a needle or pattern to speak of since last post. I've simply felt unable in the half-hour before bed to do anything requiring too much of a brain, and sewing sadly (or not) enters into this category.

The thing is, I'd feel dead inside without having some sort of creative outlet or other. One thing I've found I could manage in this short time before going to sleep, is crochet. It doesn't require much concentration once you've got going, and the designer pretty much figures everything out beforehand.

I started with an über-simple headband to get familiar with the basics.
I found the pattern on ravelry (where else?). The directions are here.
Basically, it's 3 rows of chain stitches, joined at both ends by single crochet stitches. It makes for a comfortable, hair-friendly headband. I love the look of headbands, but they inevitably end up giving me a headache.
Here's a totally unflattering picture with flash, to show the stitches better.

I'll share another, less modest project soon. Also in teal shades. I have a thing for jewel tones at the moment.

I love that I can watch a series episode and wield my crochet hook at the same time, while relaxing and feeling not utterly useless and overly "intellectual", you know?

The only gifts I managed to make this year are a birth set for my second nephew, who may be born any day now. He is not due until another 3 weeks, but his mother (my older sister) is exhausted, and everything seems to point out to an early birth.
I did manage to purchase most of my gifts from local craftsmen and Etsy, so my handmade pledge still holds good. ;)
I Took The Handmade Pledge! BuyHandmade.org
For now, I'm off to celebrate the holidays with my family. P'tite Mignonne and I are taking the train all the way across France tomorrow at 6 am.

There she is, striking the pose of the perfect Victorian cat:

I'll try and update once more before Christmas.
Happy Winter Solstice, everyone!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Teal Capelet in progress

Hello, all. I hope you're enjoying the festive season, each in your favourite way.

Here's a peek at my almost finished capelet:
The pattern is "Cold Shoulders" by Laurie Rossbach, from The Happy Hooker. This, by the way, is a great book for beginners who don't want to start with boring, shapeless projects. There are a few other projects in there that I'd love to make.

I opted for a mohair yarn, "Tamara" by Schoeller+Stahl - probably not the easiest yarn to handle for a crochet beginner, but I couldn't envision this capelet in anything else.

Montpellier boasts several lovely local yarn shops. My favourite among these is aptly called La Mercerie (rue des Etuves, should anyone fancy a visit). I love that you can stare at yarns for eons there without anyone disturbing you every couple of minutes by over-zealously offering their help, as is so often the case in small LNSs - but that you can still get friendly and useful advice whenever you ask for it.

They also stock these adorable double-ended, handcrafted crochet hooks - particularly nice when you're building your collection from scratch.

I am making this capelet for the mild evenings we often have mid-season in Montpellier, when a jacket isn't really necessary but you still want to make sure you won't get cold at a restaurant's or a café's terrasse. I'm planning on wearing this over fitted black or charcoal tops as soon as winter is out of the way. Which shouldn't take that long here...
Since these pictures were taken, I stitched an extra row of shells and added a collar. The capelet is all but finished as I type, save for its closure (still debating on this point - I don't want the pompoms that the pattern calls for, and may make a closure à la Doris Chan, following the instructions at the end of her fabulous Everyday Crochet book).

Hope you guys get to spend a nice end of the year.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Concert Skirt

Hello, everyone :)

Thanks so very much for taking the time to comment despite my posts being so far and few between. I'm glad you liked my last outfit. I always thought skinny jeans were a big no-no for 5' shorties like me, but in the end they work out if I wear a small heel. :)

Thanks also for your very helpful suggestions regarding my previous top's shoulders falling down. I'm so sorry I forgot to thank you last time! They were much appreciated and very useful.

Since my last entry, I took a couple of evenings to sew my concert skirt - our first concert was last Sunday. Taking this break and getting reacquainted with fabric and my sewing machine did me a world of good. I wish I were able to do this every week!
(ETA: Elaray was asking what instrument I play... I sing soprano, and the concerts for which I need this full-length black skirt are those of my vocal ensemble.)

This is an über simple skirt really. Five panels, a waisband and a zipper. I made a lining but in the end chose not to add it because the skirt ended up so full on its own. The taffeta is truly lovely, it is slightly textured and really not that shiny in real life. It cost 5 euro a meter, and being so short I only needed 2 meters; this skirt cost a total of 11 euro to make with the zipper.
The pattern was one of the first I ever purchased, when I was into making corsets and got several patterns to compare shapes. It is McCall's 3853, now OOP. I was such a newbie at the time that I didn't even know my pattern size yet, and my pattern starts at a size 12. I'm a size 8 (6 at the back), so I graded the pattern down. Which was quite an easy task since this is all straight lines.

Silly, but wearing a long skirt does help boosting your confidence when performing.
Of course, the advantage of a skirt over a dress is that I'll be able to wear it all year round, changing the top (and tights) depending on where and when we sing.
I do plan on making another formal dress though, if only to wear to the solo concerts that'll be starting next year. Formal sewing is fun and rewarding!

(That wicker chest in the background used to be my nephew's former toys chest; I rescued it as my sister was about to throw it away ;). It stores most of my sewing notions. I figured a well-used chest would be wiser, as my kitty was bound to use it as a scratching pole! Definitely not as classy as the rest of the flat, but it is one of P'tite Mignonne's favourite spots, so I'm keeping it.)

Have a good Sunday, and a good week, y'all.