Interlude

We took a few days to escape the city for camping at Lightning Lake in beautiful E.C. Manning Provincial Park. The weather was most definitely chilly and changeable. We had sun, rain, cloud and wind – often all in the same hour! Luckily we’re quite used to the mountains and brought appropriate clothing and footwear along with our little propane heater for the evening. Thom’s brother and sister-in-law were kind enough to share their site with us so we had two blue VW Westfalias parked together. Theirs is a lighter blue and ours is a navy blue and they were purchased within a few months of each other over 30 years ago. Much camping has ensued ever since!

Lightning Lake, EC Manning Provincial Park

We saw some wildlife including loons, a momma merganser with 10 babies, a pika (in the rockfall you can see in the upper photo), a pileated woodpecker, deer and a bear on the side of the road on the way home. Trout were caught, trails were hiked and flowers were photographed.

Wildflowers
More wildflowers

I collaged a few of them for you! There’s too many more and although I can identify many of them, I don’t know all their names.

I also managed to finish those socks that have been on the needles forever.

Self-Striping Socks

The yarn is the no-longer-made DGB Confetti from a no-longer-in-business shop. What does that tell you about working from Deepest Stash? Love the colours obviously! The pattern is my usual top-down heel-flap basic socks on 64 stitches. No need to mess with something that works just perfect for my feet, eh? And then I started a new pair, this one’s for Thom.

Beaded Rib Socks

The rib pattern is from Charlene Schurch’s Sensational Knitted Socks book. It’s only 2 rounds and easy to follow so these shouldn’t take too long. Notice that I’ve gone back to my Knitter’s Pride cubic needles? These are still my favourite way to knit socks. Even though my wee ChiaoGoo Minis are rather adorable. I will use them again soon anyway. Oh and the yarn is Trekking XXL and I quite like all the subtle colours that add up to brown. Almost made a pair for me with it but Thom won out. These are on 70 stitches since that’s what divided into the pattern’s 5-stitch repeat. I usually make his plain socks on 68 stitches.

So. Must run. My fishies need to be fried up in butter for supper now!

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Sweatshop

Been awhile, hasn’t it? We’ve had some major family drama over the past month or so with Thom’s very elderly but very independent mom (aka Nana). She had some health issues after her knee replacement surgery (the knee is just fine though) and she’s finally back in her own home with as much care assistance as she’ll tolerate. Whew! Hopefully back to life as we know it.

So meanwhile I’ve been working on a new pile of sewing projects: prepping/fitting patterns, cutting out garments and actually sewing up one of them. But first I needed a new wrist pincushion since the old Biscornu one allowed the pins to go right through it and into my wrist! Ouch. The elastic wristband was stretched and stained too and I decided a replacement wouldn’t take long to make.

Above: perky new pincushion. Below: sad old one.
New pincushion in action

This time I got Thom to drill a 1/4″ hole in the centre of a small canning lid which I embedded in the wool stuffing. The hole allowed me to stitch the wrapping threads through the “flower” and to attach the Czech glass button and then attach the whole thing to the wrist band. But now the very sharp pins can’t go through the lid and in to me! Yay. I also covered the elastic with fabric and used Velcro to fasten it to my wrist. Much easier and more adjustable. Not too fancy but functional. I can’t sew without it!

Of course then I had to start sewing something to try it out, right? This is kind of the wrong season for a heavy jacket, even a sleeveless one, but that didn’t stop me from making one anyway. The new In The Folds Flynn Jacket called to me as a great way to use up some 20+ year old heavyweight brushed cotton twill that’s been waiting to find the right garment. I almost made yet another York Pinafore with it but I have several of those so far. The sleeveless and more fitted version of the Flynn (View B) was just the ticket and it used up almost every bit of the narrow yardage. Don’t those curved facings with hidden pockets make you just swoon?

Russet Flynn Jacket

For the bias binding I used some of a badly dyed and stamped muslin sample swatch that definitely looked much better cut into narrow 1.5″ strips. I even managed to use my 18mm bias tape maker and it actually worked well for this fabric. I often don’t bother to pre-fold bias because it’s such a hassle to get right.

Inside peek

This is such a beautifully drafted pattern although it took me about 3 days to get the fitting right. I ended up taking 1″ out of the upper body and another 1″ out of the lower body at the lengthen/shorten line. The pattern is based on a person 4″ taller than I am so I couldn’t reach the pockets! I also narrowed and sloped the shoulder (though I could have taken a bit more out of the front armhole). I had to completely re-draft the armhole facings because the originals no longer worked with my adjusted armholes. The results worked out pretty well.

I enjoyed the special attention to detail in the instructions too. For once I actually followed them to the letter! The jacket ends up completely finished inside.

Inside-out to show the bias binding

There’s lots of extra little techniques included: under-stitching, stitch-in-the-ditch, trimming the facings for smooth turn-of-cloth, 2 different bias applications. Lovely. I got great use out of my stitch-in-the-ditch foot too which really helped to do the job nicely. All-in-all this was a very satisfying project. Now I’m hoping to find the right fabric in the stash for View A, the more loosely-fitting jacket with drop-shoulders, sleeves and a box pleat in the back. I’ve already done the fitting changes on the pattern. I think it will need a lighter weight than this heavy-duty twill. The hunt is on.

Meanwhile I still have four more garments cut out and ready to sew. Yes, I’m quite the factory sweatshop here! Going with the enthusiasm while it lasts. It was even literally a sweatshop for a couple of days though now the temps have gone back down to normal. The Swamp Cooler is already in the studio for the summer and ready to go back to work when it heats up again. Moving right along…

Garden vs Studio

Two of our rhododendrons in full bloom

Hope you’re having a lovely May wherever you are! Yes, I realise our Southern Hemisphere folks are heading for colder weather. But they were complaining of the heat when we were freezing up here so it’s only fair to turn the tables, right? Heh. Anyway, I’ve written a dozen delightful posts in the last few weeks – but unfortunately they were only in my head! My hands were very busy.

I’ve been trying to get the garden, especially the vegetable garden, into some kind of shape now that the weather has actually warmed up enough. I’m forced to dig the beds deeply twice in order to eliminate as many of the walnut roots as possible. English (aka Persian) walnut trees don’t produce as much juglone, a toxin that inhibits nearby competition, as black walnut does but I do see a difference in some plants not being as vigorous near our monster tree.

Walnut tree just getting its baby leaves. It’s always this late!

The ancient beast is over 50 feet tall and wide and the roots extend even farther out than the canopy does! The greenhouse is now partially under said canopy and this year the root situation is ridiculous. I needed Thom’s help to dig the tomato beds in there and after only clearing half of it we dumped five (5!) buckets of roots into the city’s green bin.

The right half still to go. Whew.

I think those walnut roots were way too happy to grow in the dry and slightly warmer (at least in the daytime) soil in there all winter. Yeesh. I managed to only (only!) get less than two buckets of roots from what will be the squash and bean bed, even after going over it twice. But then it’s a little farther away from the walnut tree too.

Dig Dig Dig

After we finish the greenhouse there’s only a bit of tidying to do around the edges and I can call the veggie garden prep done. Still have to plant the beans and cucumbers and transplant tomato and squash seedlings yet though. Gardening is kind of like housework. It’s never really done! Although this is definitely the busiest time of the whole year out there. Once everything is planted it’s down to watering and weeding. And harvesting.

Baby greens (and reds)

When I got too tired to mess about in the garden I switched to my studio. I’ve mostly been working on my patterns, assembling PDF printouts and doing fit adjustments. Once they’re all ready to be used I can just grab whichever one I need to cut out without having to stop and prep the next pattern. I’ve also cut out a total of 8 projects already (all knits) but haven’t started sewing them together yet.
What can I say? I was on a roll! I’m going to have to sew them soon though because at least 3 of these are test garments, aka “wearable muslins” (or toiles, depending on your country of origin). I need to see how they work out before cutting any more using those patterns. Just in case any adjustments need to be made.

In other crafty news, my hands are too tired to do anything else! I did finish my Blue Dragon socks (pattern is “Shur’tugal” from Alice Yu’s book Socktopus) if you missed it on Insta.

Blue Dragon Socks

The yarn is from Black Cat Custom Yarn, colourway “In the Navy” and for once I pretty much followed the pattern except that I made the leg longer so the socks come up above the top of my Blundstones. Other than this though, I have barely touched needles or spinning wheel for ages. I did do a wee bit of dyeing however, but I’ll save that for another post.

Oh, you might be interested in this last tidbit: I finally got three separate offers for my bead de-stash, all within 24 hours of each other! Talk about synchronicity, eh? A whole month after I put them up for sale. Unfortunately I had to tell everyone that they were already gone home with my sister. You snooze, you lose. Might have actually made a few bucks (sigh) but at least my sis is happy!

Can’t you just smell them? I sure can. Atchoo!!

Brown

You know when you’ve had something for ages and every time you wear it, you wonder why you haven’t thrown it out yet? Because it’s just annoying or uncomfortable? Such as pants that won’t stay up? But you haven’t chucked it because for some reason you still like it? This pair of leggings is one of those:

Actually there’s two pairs, this brown one and a black pair that’s currently in the laundry. I’ve had them forever – at least 10 years – and they’re both by the same manufacturer. I liked them because they are warm and have interesting seamlines combining a heavy stretch knit and a rib knit. They’ve actually been quite durable even if they weren’t as comfortable as they should have been. Sorry I didn’t give you a before photo but by the time I thought of it, I’d already started altering them. This is the fixed version! Originally they had a wide folded waistband with that 2″ elastic inside. But they didn’t have a high enough rise for my body. And the elastic just kept folding up inside the waistband. And they kept sliding down. Grrr…

So I finally broke down and thought of a way to make them better without a whole lot of work. Took me long enough, eh? I didn’t want to take off the whole waistband piece so I cut through the back layer next to the flat-lock stitches and removed the elastic. Which didn’t look too bad after I pressed the wrinkles out of it so I just used a 3-step zigzag stitch to attach it onto the top of the unfolded waistband. Which effectively added nearly 4″ to the rise so the waistband is actually at my waist and most importantly, above my hips so that now they are comfortable and stay up properly. The elastic stays flat and doesn’t fold over into a rope either. So simple. Now I hope to get another few years out of these leggings. Why the heck didn’t I do this way back when I first bought them? Sigh.

Brown is definitely the theme today. I finished the second pullover for Thom that I had cut out back in February before I started on the Peacoat Project. This one is the modified Love Notions North Star pullover but this time in a brown cotton fleece-backed sweatshirt knit.

He likes this one best of all since it’s really warm and cosy. I put the soft fleece side out on the neck side of the collar and on the pocket bands for comfort. The zipper was another too-long separating zip from Dressew. It’s got bronzy-green plastic teeth with a nice rubber pull and brown tape that matches the fabric. Not a problem to shorten it. This fabric sewed much easier than the navy french terry even though it was quite thick.

Now that Thom has four pullovers made by me, I think he will stay warm for awhile! And I will go on to other things. Time for a reassessment of my sewing queue. I also hope to finally have a finished knitting project to show next time.

In other news, the garden is not growing very quickly thanks to the cool rainy weather we’ve had. I’m still bringing seedlings in and out of the greenhouse daily and I’m getting impatient to get them planted. In a moment of fair weather I did manage to get the dye garden cleaned up and ready to plant as soon as it’s warm enough for my little indigo babies. The tomatoes are still in the basement grow-op under the lights and I haven’t even considered planting the squash and cucumber seedlings quite yet. There’s plenty of time still and their beds are still waiting on me to dig them properly. Spring is still running quite late this year.

Finally, An Intro Of Sorts

Hello, my lovelies! I’m really happy that a number of my old followers have been able to join us over here on the new blog. Whew! Thanks for coming! But for any new people out there, welcome! I would like this to be a warm and welcoming place for everyone regardless of shape, size, colour, race, creed, gender, sexuality, nationality or politics. If at any time you feel uncomfortable with anything I post, I hope you will let me know. We are all learning and I would appreciate an opportunity to apologise rather than be ignorant of an offence. Let us all work to create the world we want to live in!

So, who is this damselfly person anyway? In today’s parlance I’m a West Coast Canadian, white, female, cis-gender, heterosexual, senior, introvert, married with 2 adult married children and 3 grandchildren. In other words, a granny who is rather obsessed with all things textile, my garden, and the occasional foray off into the hinterlands in our vintage VW Westfalia. Does that about cover it? Snicker…not hardly! But it’s the best I can do without writing an entire memoir. And boring the heck out of everyone, including me.

You will notice that I don’t separate my crafts, gardening and our travels into separate blogs. I don’t really understand why others compartmentalize like that. My life is all one big adventure! If you aren’t interested in some of my babbling I fully expect you to scroll on. Maybe you’ll enjoy the next post better. Or not. But just so you are warned that I can flit all over the place – even in a single post.

For example, today I have a finished project! Or four. I finally completed the last of the Ingrid bras:

3 Light Copper bras
The odd one!

OK, before you tell me that’s a lot of rather boring bras, let me remind you that I’ve been experimenting with how many I can get out of a reasonable order from Bra-makers Supply. I discovered that .5 M of duoplex, .25 M of power net, .25 M of cut and sew foam, 3 M 3/4” firm band elastic, 4 M 3/8” firm band elastic, 3 M 3/8” fold-over elastic, 4 3X3 hook & eyes and 4 slider & ring sets equals 4 bras. There will be extra power net and a lot of extra foam but those are the minimum pieces you can get. Of course if you wear a different bra size than I do, your needs will be different! Mine is a 4.25” BCD/32” band and I’m really good at squeezing pattern pieces together while still keeping the grainlines (aka DOGS) correct.

Now you’re wondering why the last bra is different. I only ordered 3 sets of findings instead of 4 not knowing I could manage to cut one more. Also why not? After I saw a inspirational photo on Bra-makers’ blog, I decided to try a cross-back strap to keep the straps situated in farther for more cut-away sleeveless tops. It’s made from a spare piece of underbust elastic instead of strap elastic but who cares? Unfortunately I need help doing up this bra! Can’t get into it by myself. Sigh. Not that the Bearded One minds helping! Ahem. But I don’t think I’ll be making more of this style right away. Besides, now I have a whole bra collection including the ones I made earlier. Three that are a little small but wearable and maybe half-a-dozen better ones? I lost count! Damselfly’s Bra Factory is now closed for business. We will now go onto other things. Was that a collective sigh of relief I heard?