And Another Month Gone

Again! Is Covid-time faster than normal time? I think so! The weather has been really changeable and although we’ve had a few warm days it’s mostly somewhat cooler than usual for June. I’m even wearing a sweater today! At least I haven’t had to water the garden much. I really don’t feel as if I accomplished much this month at all. I mostly just read more books, pulled a few weeds and picked some produce. What does it say about me when my most exciting day is Laundry Day twice a month? Yeesh. Still no new Finished Objects to show. No knitting and very little sewing happened. I did repair my bug-munched top so I could wear it though.

Visible Mending

It took more time to choose the repair fabric than to actually perform the fix! I finally chopped up a dyed and stamped swatch from the scraps drawer and did some sloppy sashiko stitching on it and I think it looks passable. Hopefully I can get a few more years’ wear now. Loved clothes last!

Wearing it: front view
Wearing it: back view

When this thing finally gives out, I’ll probably make a new version. I still have the pattern I made. Or maybe I won’t wait until it dies to sew it again! It’s a great way to use up fabrics that are too small for a full garment. I think the design has held up well considering I saved the original inspiration photo nearly 10 years ago. Good wearable styles don’t date quickly.

However some things do get dated! I’ve been working on refashioning my indigo hemp jacket from the mid-’90’s. It absolutely did not fit anymore: drop shoulders, deep armholes, too long sleeves and tight waist and hip. Just wait until you see the “before” pics on me! But I absolutely love the funky fabric and the dyeing is a memorial to an epic indigo vat that my friends and I made one year. I’ve never been able to get something this large dyed that evenly since. Here’s a hanger shot just to whet your interest.

Indigo Hemp Jacket (before)

Notice that even the horn buttons dyed beautifully as well. (It was a wonderful vat!) Eventually I ended up picking out nearly every seam except for the collar and front placket. The thread I sewed it with was cotton so it would take the indigo and they are all flat-fell seams too so really sturdily stitched! Took ages, a sharp seam ripper and good light but I couldn’t figure out how else to reshape it. It needed extra fabric under the arms and down the side seams and I don’t have anything remotely similar in stash to piece with this it. I did find some denim that matched the colour pretty closely but wisely decided that it was too heavy and stiff. This hemp is thick and coarsely woven but drapey and fairly soft after being washed many times. So I went with something different but not too contrasting that just felt right. Not finished yet though so you’ll have to wait for the big reveal.

On another topic entirely I just wanted to mention the new Ravelry interface. Have you seen it yet? It’s been a big topic of conversation on my Instagram feed and there is quite a contingent of users who absolutely abhor it! Apparently it’s been an issue for those who suffer migraines and seizures. Personally as a senior and a migraineur, it did give my eyes the collywobbles at first too. However, after I discovered that they had eventually made some of the annoying things optional such as getting rid of the horrible drop shadows and changing the text font (which sort of solved my particular problem) it was passable. Barely. The text, icons and buttons are still too small especially on my iPad screen and there’s no permanent fix for that. I can zoom with the two finger spread of course but have to do that on every. single. page. The stark white background with skinny black type is still there. And yes, you can switch to “classic” Ravelry, which apparently isn’t actually Old Ravelry and is still a problem for some people. It’s not a forever option either. Not that anything is ever permanent on the Internet. (Unless it’s something you don’t actually want to be permanent!) FYI, I’ve been a Ravelry member since October 2007, nearly 13 years. I joined back in the days when you had to request a membership and wait until they issued you one. Yes, I’ve seen quite a few changes on there and most of them were changes for the better. Until now.

I really thought that Ravelry didn’t handle the criticism very well at all. I know change is hard for some people and some push-back is inevitable. But if a significant number of your users are complaining of physical discomfort or actual harm then maybe they have a real concrete reason for it? Brushing it off with a few quick optional or temporary fixes that you have to get on the site to access first is just plain ableism, people! And then patting yourself on the back for how well your site has done with sales and sign-ups since the rollout. Consider one explanation for that could be that everyone is stuck in the house, boredom is setting in and they want to fill the void with a useful craft? Doesn’t really prove that everyone loves it. So Ravelry currently has a questionnaire up. Which again you have to get on the site to access. I filled it out. Who knows if it will help at all? Meanwhile since I have all the patterns I need for the moment, don’t use the forums anymore, and haven’t really been knitting lately anyway, I’ll just leave them to it for now. At least I got my opinion out there. Use your words! My new motto.

Splat!

And that was the sound of my best attempts at posting more often. Sigh. I have to admit that I’ve been having trouble sticking with anything much these days with the notable exception of reading a metric tonne of books. Or it would be a tonne if I read actual books instead of digital ones from the library! Current count is 100 since January 1. Halfway to my 2020 goal of 200 which is kind of wimpy since I read 207 in total last year. Yes, I read quickly. And I don’t skip anything either. My genre of the moment is Regency Romance. Fluff and nonsense of course, but I’m enjoying them. Makes a good contrast to current news anyhow. Just saying.

So I have a bunch of plans and ideas for projects but nothing has got me excited enough to start yet. I haven’t knit a stitch since I finished that last pair of socks. No winding of warps for more towels, though I’ve picked out some possible yarns. No sewing, not even to finish my Grainline Felix dress which has been languishing for months and months. Debbie Double is currently wearing the bodice in hopes of teasing me into getting it done. And I keep walking right past her! What is wrong with this damselfly? Where is my Maker’s Mojo?

One thing I have been doing is planning in attempt to get kickstarted on something. Anything! To that end I’ve discovered the wonder that is Trello – an online tool for project and task management. There are apps for every OS and they all sync together. I first heard of Trello on an episode of the Love To Sew podcast where Helen was waxing rhapsodic about it’s virtues for sewing plans. I kind of ignored that because I have my inventories of fabric and patterns (among other things) on my iPad in Sortly, which is an inventory app (now unfortunately subscription-based but I have a legacy access) and OneNote on the desktop, which I use as a whiteboard posting inspiration/pattern photos and jotting notes. I didn’t want to start all over again with yet another app that required me to input a bunch of data. Also Sortly has the advantage that its files are available to me offline so for example I can use my iPad to check pattern requirements for fabric yardages while in the store. So I wasn’t going to use Trello for inventory purposes.

However, Trello is much better than OneNote for planning! Much, much better. And the free level has all the tools and capacity that I need. Yay! Basically, you have “boards” that contain “lists” which in turn contain “cards”. Each card has a “front” side with its name and perhaps a cover photo, tags, dates, and progress. You can move the cards around in the list or from list to list or archive them if they’re no longer needed and they look nice and neatly lined up for you. When you click on the card, the “back” comes up and has space for all kinds of information. You can add details, tags, attach files and photos, dates, checklists and links. If you are working with someone else or a whole team you can allow everyone access to edit and comment. Pretty powerful stuff.

I’ve been setting up cards with photos of the pattern and any inspirational pictures, proposed fabric photos (copied from my Sortly inventory), notes, tags, Date Started and Date Finished fields, and a checklist so I can mark off steps like Pattern Printed, Fitting Changes, Cut Out etc. I love that I can link relevant tutorials and sewalongs directly into the Notes field so I can easily just click on them to bring up the website. You can also relate one card to another and attach the pattern’s PDFs if you want to keep them all in one place. I haven’t bothered though. To sum up, Trello is simple to use and very satisfying for an organisation junkie like myself. Helen has a great tutorial on how she uses it in a slightly different way on her blog so you can at least get a feel for what it looks like. You’re welcome.

One item I added to my Trello sewing board is a refashion/repair list. On it there is this top, which I made in 2013.

Anthropologie Knock-Off Top

It’s made from a patchwork of fabrics of various types and although it’s looking a bit faded here and there, I thought it was still wearable. Until I looked closer.

Back of the top
Closer still

See the holes? There are more on the other shoulder and at the back of the neck. This rayon is toast! I’ve always been fond of rayon with it’s drape and ease of sewing but I realise it has problematic origins as a fibre. And now I’m convinced that it really doesn’t hold up well enough over the long term. And I keep my clothes as long as I possibly can. So, what to do? I think I’m going to practice some Visible Mending and boro-stitch patches over the worst areas. We’ll see if that holds it for awhile longer. Unfortunately another rayon shirt I made in 2011 didn’t make it.

Rayon Batik Shirt
Holes, holes and more holes

The fabric is completely disintegrating! There are holes all over which amazes me actually because I don’t remember seeing them when I ironed this shirt last before it went into my storage closet with the summer clothes over the winter. Nothing else besides these two garments had holes. Definitely the rayon is the only fabric affected. Interesting. Oh my! I just had a thought! We have had a recent infestation of silverfish in the house! I’ve worked hard and have got the population way down with major cleaning and diatomaceous earth applications but it’s pretty hard to eliminate the beasts entirely. They are devilish fast and very smart and, yes, they love sugars and starches. Paper is a favourite diet item. Rayon is made from wood pulp the same as paper. Doh! That’s it! Mystery solved. Okay, I’m most definitely not planning to buy any rayon fabric in the future. I’ll stick with my favourite fibres, linen and wool, as much as possible. And of course it’s hard to avoid cotton. But meanwhile I have a stash that needs to be cut up and sewn together. Using some of those plans I’ve been working on.

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.