25 December 2011

Merry Christmas or the Holiday of Your Choice!

DD, ensnooded but faceless and unshod, by the Christmas tree.
IMG 0345  Version 2

22 December 2011

In the Mood for Snood

With the zeal of the converted I have joined the snood worshipping society of sewing and knitting bloggers. My extended family is already adjusted to getting their Christmas gifts from me somewhere between New Years Day and never, so I'm sure they won't mind waiting for these newly knitted treasures.

First, a snood for my SIL-to-be of Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick & Quick. I used the original Guardian pattern gone viral thanks to Karen. Here I am wearing it upside-down to demonstrate its versatility.

IMG 0339

Next, another scarfette, this one for my brother. Brother and Sister-in-Law-to-be live in a colder climate than I so no doubt they are dying for something to tie around their necks.

IMG 0342

This one is made of some 100% cotton South American Space Dyed yarn from the sale bin at the local Stitch Cafe with nifty buttons that cost more than the yarn.

IMG 0343

Then theres another snood just like the other snood for DD. I've redirected the green scarfette from her to my mother but I forget why--oh yes, because it was already done and I could mail it on time for Christmas, except I didn't. Also we bought DD a coat that clashes with the color of the scarfette.

Next up: I've decided to make gift bags and envelopes of all the Christmas fabric we started using last year instead of wrapping paper. And I'd like to whip up something for DS and DH for Christmas, which is still 3 days (ok, 2 days and an hour) away. Plenty of time. Too bad they don't need snoods.

13 December 2011

Ceci N'est Pas Une Snood.

IMG 0335

OK, to be fair, it was never meant to be a snood. It's my DD's little scarfy thing, now complete with leather buttons. The original pattern looked like this:


--oh, my goodness, now that I look at the pattern again I didn't put the buttons where they were supposed to be! I forgot how the original looked and thought it should button as shown here (but without the buttons.) Anyway, I realized it could also be buttoned end to end to make what I would call a cowl, like this one, or this one, or this one, but which the entire sewing and knitting blogosphere, inspired by Karen of Did You Make That, calls a snood as it churns them out by the dozens.

I always thought a snood looked like this thing on the back of Honeysuckle Weeks's head as she plays Sam Stewart in Foyle's War:
4374757280 a4cd358217

But what do I know? A thousand blogging knitters can't be wrong, can they?

Here, by the way, is my purple scarf, completed.

IMG 0337

I wore it today (maybe I'll block it later) with my latest Vogue 8575 as I cycled to work, stopping on the way to pick up more yarn to make this for a friend:


By the time I got to work I had cast on and knit the first two rows! (No, not while pedaling--I bike to the subway then me and my bicycle ride the rest of the way.)
IMG 0338

This stuff is addicting!

04 December 2011

Silk and More Silk

I went to Goodwill to look for ethical (i.e., used) buttons for DD's scarfette but no luck. Instead, I scored a wonderful baby blue silk sweater and a deep red silk blouse. I love silk and I love to buy silk at Goodwill. I always imagine I'm going to refashion whatever it is--usually a ginormous man's shirt, but then I just wrap up in it and that's that. As it turns out, these items just fit. I feel so frugal and ethical thrifting silk--although, I guess silk is not such an ethical fiber (as compared to wool or cotton) because the silkworm has to die to give it up. But I'll settle for delusional ethics.

Below is a glimpse of the sweater along with my WIP--the one row lace scarf by Turvid, which I'm making out of the rough silk yarn I spent too much on when I decided to try knitting again. I first made it into a small shawl that showed every single mistake and was too warm for my climate, so I unraveled that and now it's becoming a lacy scarf. Should I give it to my mother who will not wear it because it is purple but will be happy I made it for her? Or keep it because it is purple and I will wear it?

Photo on 12 4 11 at 17 23

Oh, you can also see the state of my funky hair, currently bleached and treated with Manic Panic Virgin Snow to make it white (ish). Somehow I lose my nerve every time I set out to add color, but now that my classes have ended maybe I'll decorate it for Christmas.

(Actually, now that I look at the finished post my hair appears to be neon lime green. I don't think it looks like that in RL, but what do I know?

27 November 2011

Picking Up The Pace!

Yesterday I finished two! projects! TWO! Well, except for one needs buttons. Here is the finished (but for the buttons) and amateurishly blocked scarfette for DD who is facing her first winter outside California:

IMG 0326

Now, she's only facing what passes for winter in Washington, DC, so this little scarfy thing should cover it.

Also finished is another rendition of Vogue Options 8575, this one with long set-in sleeves in some mystery jersey from Michael Levine's $1.99 table. I still haven't decided if the print is pretty or really ugly--it is certainly synthetic.

IMG 0324

Its mission in life is to be another cycling dress. I'm getting better at this pattern--the princess seams almost meet properly at the shoulders now.

IMG 0325

And I have the neckline almost where I want it now. However, as a result, the bodice is almost too short.

To restore balance in the universe, atilt due to my excess of FOs, I started unraveling my first knitted FO of this milennium to utilize my somewhat improved knitting skillz on this nice silk yarn.

IMG 0327

On my monitor, the color of the ball on the seat is closer to the actual yarn than the disappearing scarf on the back of the chair.

So, go me! Of course, all this productivity is the result of procrastinating on what I'm supposed to be doing, but whatever.

24 November 2011

Happy Thanksgiving and Oops!

I've always wondered why sometimes a new post will turn up on my blogroll and then when I go to look at it it's not there. Well, now I understand because I did it! I clicked "share" on a youtube video to post it to my other, (even) less active and far more political blog, and it turned up here. Oops. I don't think my politics are any secret--my objection to both Hilary and Barack in the last election was that they are way too conservative--but I don't mean to bother sewists and crafters with them.

So to avoid another content-free post here, I offer a current WIP pic:
IMG 0322

I managed to get this shot without my familiar, but you can see that the cat has been busy in the background distributing a ball of yarn around the rug. The WIP is a Sulka Scarfette pattern designed by Maya that I found through Ravelry when I was looking for something to do with the 2 skeins of merino, alpaca and silk Sulka by Mirasol that fell into my basket at the yarn shop. It's a Christmas present for DD, but it's safe to post it here because no matter how many blogs I have she doesn't read them.

Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving in the US and happy day everywhere else!

19 November 2011

How can it be November already?

I confess, I've been caught in a procrastinator's vicious circle: months ago Tors of Girl Meets Wolf won my blogiversary giveaway, a set of vintage Singer Sewing Machine feet, and it took me forever to get around to mailing them to her. Bad me. And whenever I thought about posting to my blog I thought, "But first, you have to send those feet!" And so it goes. But now I've finally sent them off across the continent and then the Pond, along with a selection of goodies to assuage my guilt, so (in my weird little moral economy) I can post again! Lucky you.

Here's what I finished today.
IMG 0320

It is Vogue 8525, made from some shiny, shreddy, see-through synthetic knit which is real pretty to look at but a bear to sew on. I bought the pattern a long time ago and probably wouldn't buy it if I were just seeing it now, having finally learned that shapeless clothing on a shapeless body does not produce a shapely silhouette. But look at those slash pockets! I've never made non-patch pockets, so go me! And although the FO looks like a sack, I am proud to say that it looks just like the photo on the pattern envelope, which also looks like a sack. Which of course raises (but, if you please, does not beg) the question of why I bought it.

07 October 2011

No Malware Here

My sympathies to Hungry Zombie Couture, Ten Thousand Sewing Hours and Making the Seam, who seem to have acquired something malevolent from sewhotmommi, according to Google Safe Browsing Diagnostics here. Apparently if you link to these sites, as I did in my blog roll, diligent virus protectors will turn away your traffic with a malware warning. But there's no malware here, so I dropped the links (sorry ladies) and should be good to go.

If not, no one will be reading this, so whatever.

05 October 2011

Tag, I'm It!

Sigrid of Analog Me has kindly tagged me for this award,
6a00e3933608e28834014e8bfe3e17970d 500wi
for which I am very grateful. Thank you, Sigrid! The rules are:
1. Thank the person who gave the award and link back to them in your post.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Pass this award along to recently discovered blogs.

So, things about me. Hmmm.
I attended 8 schools before I graduated from 12th grade, and neither of my parents was in the military.
I got better grades first year in law school than my classmate Elena Kagan. (So much for grades!)
I love to sing but don't know how to harmonize.
I first met many of my closest friends online.
My first full-time job was writing and editing a textbook on restaurant sanitation.
I want to be composted when I die.
I'm not ready to give up climbing trees.

And now to tag new "winners:"
Fuzzy Lizzy of The Vintage Traveler;

Anita of A Summer Gypsy Sews; and

Kyle of Vacuuming The Lawn.

And finally, a picture of my cat.
IMG 0174

04 October 2011

How To Dress For The Revolution

Vogue Options 8575, of course. Here I am attempting an action shot and nearly running down DS in the process.

IMG 0292

I actually never ride without a helmet, but here I'm wearing my National Lawyers Guild Legal Observer hat because my plan for the day included checking out the Los Angeles version of Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Los Angeles. I didn't get to City Hall until around 7 p.m., having put 25 miles on my bicycle and a delicious roast beef sandwich from the Coffee Table Bistro in Eagle Rock into my stomach, but the revolution was still going strong when I finally arrived. (Obviously, when the revolution succeeds I am toast!)

As far as I could tell I was the only Legal Observer there but that was not a problem: our role is to insure that any police interference with free speech is documented by careful neutral witnesses. There was nothing to Observe because the LAPD had agreed not to bother the protesters unless there was trouble, and there is seldom trouble at a demonstration until the police show up. This group is particularly orderly (anarchists notwithstanding), making a really serious effort to entertain all views and operate by consensus. They have about a dozen committees (I listened to them report at a general assembly) including one working on a list of demands. I love them all!

I spent a couple of hours wandering around talking to people. I spoke to several old Baby Boomers quietly taking it all in who told me they had been waiting their whole lives for something like this. As have I.

IMG 0307IMG 0306

25 September 2011

Curb Alert: Cat!

First one takes him. Just be sure not to leave any liquids within 500 yards of your sewing when he's around.

IMG 0143

24 September 2011

A Dress That Works (For Me)!

So my plan all along has been to make dresses that look presentable but that I can wear while I commute to work on my bicycle. I do wear the lycra shorts (below-the-knee-length) but I no longer have the superhero physique to make them look good (if I ever did) or even decent. A pullover knit dress is just the ticket and now I've made one.

Bike Dress

I'm gorgeous, am I right? I'm in the subway station because I cycle from home to the subway, then take the bicycle on the train to park it at work. Where I substitute proper undergarments and shoes but wear the dress through the day if possible. Fortunately I teach "sage on the stage" style and no one has to get too close to me.


The dress is Vogue Options 8575 Here's a review:

Pattern Description: Pullover dresses in two lengths with partial self-faced, gathered bodice, lapped bodice front, princess seams front self band, tie ends, side bodice variations and gathered skirt. I made view A with mid-arm kimono sleeves.

Pattern Sizing: Size FF: 16-22. I graded from the 16 at the top to 22 at the bottom. I could have gone smaller.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Pretty much.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I like the shape and the princess seams. I actually like the fact that the tie ends are so long (as mentioned by another reviewer) because I can wrap them all the way around and tie them in front, which avoids the droopy tie look in back.

Fabric Used: I used a poly-cotton (or maybe just poly) jersey from Michael Levine's in Los Angeles.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I tried to adjust the lapped bodice to be more modest, but it's still too low and I have to wear a cami under it. Someday I'll get that right. I also had to take in the sides because sizing it according to my measurements resulted in it being way too big.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Yes and yes. Next time in a smaller size.

18 September 2011


My four brothers and myself in, I think, 1962.

250311 10150393953259816 639129815 10415787 8342096 n

Chuck, the second from the right, died of brain cancer at the age of 24 in 1982. Now Rick, the second from the left, is also dead two weeks short of his 58th birthday. He was found dead in his apartment where he lived for over 30 years, since moving in as a student at Kent State U. in 1978. Cause of death is still pending; my guess is carbon monoxide poisoning from charcoal grilling inside the house.

Rick was different. He had cut himself off from his family. He hadn't had a telephone for years. I went to visit him a few years ago and he was cordial but wouldn't let me in. He didn't empty his mailbox for weeks at a time, so mail to him--from our mother, for example--was returned to the sender. He disconnected the electricity from his apartment and took out the meter. He had a job and was never late with the rent. His old beater of a car was registered and insured. His living room looked like this.

IMG 0255

Yes, that is a shopping cart overflowing with books. Not scavenged books. Very carefully chosen books of philosophy and literature and Celtic mythology.

He loved the out of doors.

IMG 0269

Now his remains are buried here in a beautiful nature preserve cemetary destined to become a hardwood forest.

Rick s Grave 1

To let the light in I guess you have to let some of the darkness out.

21 July 2011

We Have A Winner!

I know all three contestants have been on pins and needles (how appropriate, right?) to see who would win my vintage Singer attachment giveaway. Well, the waiting is over, the random number generator came up with number 2 so the winner is Tors, of Girl Meets Wolf! Hooray! This is only fair, and restores balance to the universe, because I won a contest on Torie's blog (when it was Welsh Pixie) and have been using the bright handmade bag I won to hold my knitting (and unknitting and reknitting ...) lately. But I didn't cheat, I really did use the random number generator, although I'm too techno-lame to publish the proof here.

Now, I think vintage Singer attachments are the greatest thing since sliced bread, but maybe the thin turnout for my giveaway indicates they are an acquired taste? I'll try to come up with something of more general appeal for my 100th post. After I come up with 29 more posts, of course.

Can't have a post without pictures, so here's my grandmother:Ella

and my generation of her descendants from our recently concluded family reunion.
P1010044 2

01 July 2011

Learning All The Time

One of the wisest things I've ever read about teaching--especially teaching law--is that it is very good for a professor to take lessons in something difficult in one's spare time--a new language, piano, auto mechanics, etc. The idea is never to lose touch with what it is like to be utterly bewildered and unable to master a new skill despite great efforts to do so. I think sewing might fit the bill for me. Today's example: I have now made Simplicity 2580 three times, each time using the same traced version of the pattern, each time without major mistakes. The only real difference among these three versions is the fabric:

Opus 1: a hearty cotton jersey:IMG 0039
Does she have her hoodie on back to front?

Opus 2: a much thinner, limper cotton-poly jersey:IMG 0065
Look! That was supposed to be a cowl neck! Who knew?

Opus 3: silk jersey from yesterday:IMG 0171
This one's only decent because I tucked it into my bra--otherwise it sags below my underwear.

So, just as when my students ask me a question about law and I answer with a question, the answer to "will this fit?" is "what are you making it out of?"


30 June 2011

Farewell to June

June Challenge1

Alas. I pledged to wear me-made clothing or sport me-made accessories all month, and I pretty much succeeded, but with such mind-numbing repetition that I could not bring myself to pose for one more picture of my me-made bag or jammies.

And I pledged to make 4 dresses this month. Well, there's 45 minutes left to the month of June in Los Angeles, and I've made a dress! So, yay?

IMG 0170

Now, I grant you, it hasn't been hemmed (I thought it should hang overnight) and it needs a couple of alterations (I think I'll nip a half-inch out of each shoulder to raise the decolletage and the arm scyes and take in the side seams a bit, but it is a recognizable dress, no? Which I would not have made (well, not tonight) but for the Naked Seamstress's June Challenge. So, I have failed but the challenge has succeeded?

About the dress: it made from Simplicity 2580 using a yummy silk jersey I bought from Mood in Los Angeles with a Groupon. I had decided to use the Groupon ($15 off) on silk jersey, but the selection was uninspiring. This is a nice rich brown with cream polka-dots, though, so it's ok. I decided to treat my mother to an expedition to Mood--she sewed beautiful clothing for years and years buying all her fabric in midwestern US suburbs so I thought she'd find Mood interesting--but she got carsick on the drive from the San Fernando Valley to greater Beverly Hills and spent the whole time at Mood perched on a folding chair with her eyes closed dreading the return trip. Oh well. It still looks to be a pretty useful dress.

25 June 2011

An Update, A Miracle and a Give-Away

Hi all!
The Update: Although I located her belt and oiled her treadle, I decided to put Virginia's head up on a pedestal (hmm, that does not sound right) in my totally '70s family room,
IMG 0155
and to move Elizabeth's head to Virginia's cabinet. Here's my new little corner of the family room (complete with cat post and, of course, cat).
IMG 0145
The Miracle:
Well, it seems like a miracle to me, anyway. As long as I was fiddling with my old machines I decided to try out some of the wonderful attachment feet that go along with them. Elizabeth came without feet, apart from the basic presser foot, so I bought a box for her on ebay. The ruffler is the most elaborate little gadget I've ever seen, but the most mysterious little critter in the box was this one:
IMG 0150
Fortunately, it has a part number on it, and a little googling took me to Susan's lovely blog Spare Time (for Sewing), where in 2010 she demonstrated the Multi-Slotted Binder. So I bumbled around with it for a bit, shoved some scraps of fabric through it, and did this!
IMG 0152
Amazing. Susan, by the way, shows how to do even more amazing things with this attachment here and here.
The Give-Away: Although I'm still short of 100 posts, and well short of 100 followers, I've now had this blog going for a year and a day. So that makes it time for a give-away, right? It so happens that I have not one but two boxes of attachments for vintage low-shank sewing machines (not counting the antique puzzle box) because in my inexpert ebaying I "won" two auctions.
IMG 0154
My gain, your um, gain, too. If you would like this lovely box of mechanical marvels, leave a comment congratulating me on my blogiversary and I'll pick somebody at random to send it to. To win you must live somewhere on planet Earth and tell me some way to get in touch with you. Okay? Good.

D'oh! I guess I have to say when the deadline for entering my fabulous give-away is. Let's say June 30, midnight PDT--when the last day of June drags her last tattered remnants into the Pacific Ocean with nothing but Hawaii between her and the day after tomorrow. I think.

21 June 2011

I Can't Help Myself

Only last week I was complaining that all of my sewing space had become my DD's bedroom and walk-in closet. So the obvious solution is to turn the rest of my house into sewing space, right? I already had Elizabeth, my 1953 Singer 15-91, just inside the door to the family room where there is just room to open her up and let her straightly stitch. But Elizabeth seems to have spent too much time sitting up to her cabinet ankles in water or something that has rotted away a few inches of one leg, and has to stand on a folded dish towel to be level. So I've continued to scan Craigslist for a replacement table for her. Just a table, mind you. Of course not a whole 'nother machine. That would be silly.
Then I ran across this beauty for well under $50.
IMG 0132
So pretty!
IMG 0139
But this lovely cabinet is already occupied by a 1901 Singer Model 27 treadle machine.
IMG 0140
She sports pheasant decals, many of them silvering, but all of them otherwise intact.
IMG 0134
IMG 0135
And beautiful vines on her face plate.
IMG 0138
The belt is broken (and, for the moment, lost between here and the car somewhere) but everything turns smoothly and in silence.
Now what do I do? I'd love to get my new friend (Virginia, I think) sewing again, but I can't see using her for regular (or even occasional) sewing. The vibrating shuttle mechanism is maybe just a little too quaint, and look at the bobbins!
IMG 0141
I think I'll move her to a place of honor (i.e., out of the way), put my 15-91 in her place and get rid of the peg-legged cabinet. But that leaves the universe out of balance, because a 15-91 can't actually be converted to treadle. Hmmm.

20 June 2011

I Have Made An Acquisition!

Here's a peek:

IMG 0125

and another:

IMG 0129

and another.

IMG 0130