Wrapping up WIPs

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This month, I decided to tackle a considerable task; which is to gather and sort all my sewing supplies and to organize them in a single, sewing-dedicated room in my apartment. You see, I have been sewing for over 11 years now, and throughout the years I accumulated an impressive amount of fabric, patterns, notions and projects that are now scattered all over my apartment. I’m sure you can appreciate how daunting of a task this can be, but if you can’t really picture it, here’s a few images of the different places I have fabric and supplies stored in.

Fotor0911134919Before you judge me, I have to explain to you why my sewing things are so disorganized. It is not because I’m messy, carefree or negligent; it is simply because in a short period of 7 years between 2004 and 2010, I lived in 7 different apartments in 4 different cities, moving approximately every 10 to 18 months. During that period, most of my possessions were boxed and unpacked, to then be re-boxed, moved, and so forth a hopping number of 7 times, until I finally settled down a little over 2 years ago, coming back to my hometown. In this packing craziness, a lot of my things have been mixed, switched over, separated, reunited, used as packing supplies, etc., some of those things even stayed in boxes for YEARS, because I had no immediate need for them at the moment and I knew that I was going to move again soon anyway. So when I finally moved to my current apartment, you can imagine how much of a nightmare it was to unpack everything. I somewhat managed to concentrate most of my sewing stuff in 2 different rooms, but there is no organization system whatsoever since everything has been in such a hot mess for such a long time (heck I’m not even sure what I have anymore!).

What actually triggered the adventure is that earlier this week I had to put my hands on fusible interfacing to fix the waistband of a pair of pants. Not much of a problem in most cases, but knowing how chaotic my notions are, it definitely was a problem for me. I heaved a long, desperate sigh, and started frantically looking through the countless chaotic fabric & notions containers that I have to find what I needed. I knew I had some, I just couldn’t figure out where; but somehow, no matter how hard I looked for it, I just couldn’t find it. As I finally reached the point of desperation where I was considering just going to the store to buy some more (AGAIN), I stopped myself, looked around and decided it was just time to finally do something about this horrible mess. The very same day, I started going through my bins, boxes and baskets to evaluate the damage, and in the midst of it all I discovered an impressive amount of unfinished projects; including 4 sets of placemats (yes, 4!!), a baby bag, 2 pairs of pants, a cape, a laptop bag, 2 quilts, 2 tote bags, as well as a certain number of miscellaneous clothes that needed to be repaired or altered to my size. And I’m telling you my friends, this is only the tip of the iceberg – because there’s a lot of things in there I’m not even sure anymore what it was supposed to be.

Fotor091185155Because I have limited space in my apartment and because I like things to be neatly organized and easily accessible at all times, I decided that my “Organize-the-Sewing-Room” project just had to start by completing as many of those WIPs I possibly could; that way I’ll free a lot of space to be able to set up a better, more functional system to efficiently sort and store all my supplies. So far, I completed one set of 7 placemats (the beige/orange one on the bottom right corner), fixed 2 pairs of pants that needed to be sized down, bought assorted biais tape for the remaining 3 placemat sets and started looking for missing patterns for the bags (because yes, somehow, some of the patterns got separated from the project – don’t ask me how!). This sewing room adventure is probably going to be a very long and strenuous one, but I’m hoping to finish most of my WIPs by November, to be able to start sorting and organizing fabric and notions in December. I’ll keep you updated on my progress, but let’s hope I can have a functional sewing room by Christmas..!

On a different note, I have also been making progress on my #SSKAL, the body of my Busy Bee sweater is almost done! Yay! :) I cannot wait for it to be done and washed, so I can finally wear it!

Fotor0908134823So that’s it for today folks, wish you all a fun-filled, craft-filled weekend :)

One thing led to another

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Parlement 13

It is finally vacation time for me, and I can say (for sure!) that I have been waiting for this moment for a very, very long time. We can never really get enough of those, do we? But I was so stressed out the last few months that I sincerely believe that I really, truly needed a break from it all. Plus, summer’s been so busy for me that I feel like weeks and months just went by in the blink of an eye. Doesn’t seeing time flee so fast, right before your very eyes, scares the heck out of you? Well, I can tell you it scares the heck out of me, if anything! Where did my summer go? What did I do? and WHY, OH WHY IS IT SO SHORT?? So I finished work last Friday, and just like that, half of my first week of vacation is already gone.

Oh, I know what I did though. Saturday morning, my Honeybee and I set off on an expedition… A fiber expedition (I bet you wouldn’t have guessed). Last weekend was the Twist Festival, held in St-André-Avellin, Québec. It probably is one of the largest (if not THE largest) festival of it’s kind in the area, and I was just so, so excited to go! Even though I couldn’t stay for the the entire event, I still sniffed around the (100+!) vendors and found a few treasures to bring back home :)

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Since we were already so close to Ontario, my honeybee and I decided to drive a little more and spend a couple days in Ottawa. Since the weather was on our side and all the attractions were so close, we were able to walk pretty much everywhere. On Saturday afternoon, we saw the Canadian Museum of History, then on Sunday we visited the Supreme Court of Canada, the Parliament, the Canadian War Museum and saw the Rideau Canal, Library and Archives Canada and the Byward Market. All in all, we walked around 12K(±8 miles) in between places, plus whatever distance we covered going through the monuments and museums. Oh boy, was I sore the next day! We finished our trip by going to the Museum of Nature on Monday, then drove home. Here’s a few pictures of our trip, it’s really not the best quality but it is the best I can do with a phone camera! (yes, I know… I won’t forget my camera ever again. I. AM. SO. MORTIFIED.)

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Parlement 10

 

As I came back from vacation, I also noticed that I was nominated for the Liebster award by the very lovely Šárka from Berries and Yarn, I was very surprised and also very happy! I was not expecting to be nominated for it, but I found it very touching, and it’s really good to see people enjoy reading my random rants :) So here are my answers to Šárka’s questions :

  1. What got you into blogging?
    I got into blogging because I like to talk about crafts, and I really enjoy sharing my adventures with like-minded people. Unfortunately for me, there isn’t a lot of people around with similar interests I can talk to, so instead of chewing my boyfriend’s ear off, I decided to share my stories on a blog :)

  2. What is it that you enjoy the most about the blogging experience?
    What I prefer about blogging is to be able to connect with people all around the world who share the same passion but have a different background, different views and different experiences. Being able to exchange with these people allow me to learn and grow, and gives me a different outlook on things. It’s a mind-opener, I think. 
  3. And is there anything about blogging you find annoying or irritating?
    Not really, except maybe when a post I make doesn’t reach people in the way I would’ve wanted it to, maybe :) 
  4. How do you find new blogs to follow?
    I generally look at blogs followed by people I follow, or look for specific tags (yarn, handspun, etc.)
  5. What inspires you?
    Life, in general :) I tend to be a very positive, empathetic and free-spirited person, and I find inspiration in everyday beauty. Sometimes it’s just by looking out the window and seeing a mom and a child walk to the park hand in hand, or sometimes it’s just a song playing on the radio, or the way the light is shining through a piece of stained glass. I don’t follow a strict pattern when it comes to creation, I just feel it :)
  6. Do you prefer paper diaries, calendars, planners, stationery, etc, or do you rather go digital?
    I do both. I’m a very organized person, and I like to have digital planners, organizers and data bases. But when it comes to creation, nothing beats the good old pen and paper :) 
  7. What´s the best book you have read this year?
    I can’t say it’s a book I have read as much as a book I have re-read, and that would be Alice’s adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll. I have been completely in love with Alice’s universe since the first time I saw the Disney movie as a child, until now – and I daresay I could never get tired of it. I re-read the two books earlier this year, and it still is like magic to me. Every time I read it, I discover things I did not quite see (or see like that) before, and it opens up to a wonderful new adventure to me. 
  8. Given unlimited time and resources, what is your dream project?
    Surprisingly, I don’t really have one. I think if I concentrated my dreams in a project, I would feel very empty once it is finished, so I prefer to simply enjoy creativity as it is, and enjoy every step of the way :) 
  9. On the other hand, what sort of a quick project do you go to for instant gratification?
    That… I don’t have one either. If I need instant gratification, I’ll go for a jog, for me creation is not about instant gratification :) 
  10. What was your favourite boy band in the 90s? Don´t tell me you did not have one :-)
    Oh, I plead guilty… My favorite boys band in the 90s was the Backstreet Boys :) 

  11. If you could meet any historical figure, who would it be and why?
    That is a hard one since there is so many extraordinary people in this world, but if I had to pick one, it would probably be Gandhi.

 

So according to the rules, I should be nominating 11 other people with less than 200 followers and ask them 11 questions, but I must admit that I am not very much a “shout-out” kind of person -there’s too many blogs I like, and I have no idea how many followers they have. Plus, I feel if I had to make a list, it would be unfair to those I forgot to mention, or I would end up making a mistake and nominate someone who’s over 200 followers. It’s just really difficult for me :( If anything comes to mind, I’ll edit this post and add nominees and questions, but for now I will leave it at that. If you are reading this and wish to participate, I then officially nominate you, and ask you the same questions I was asked :) Fair?

On that note folks, I think I will let you go and walk to the grocery store to buy myself a little treat to celebrate my 28th birthday :)

Cheers!

 

 

Confession Tuesday : My kingdom for a ball winder!

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Fellow crafters, today I have a confession to make : I do not own a ball winder. Yea, shame on me. I really wish I did own one, things would be so much easier, but I just never bought one. For me, starting every project requires hours of preparation; winding every ball by hand, untangling knots and fighting off playful cats, and sometimes it also comes the occasional tears of rage when things are not going my way. Yea.

I really didn’t mind it so much at first, because I thought : “Not every yarn that is sold out there needs to be winded, so why should I make a fuss about having to wind a few balls by hand here and there?” But as time passed, I slowly started to realize that most of my favorite yarns did not come in center pull balls, and that my handspun yarn needs to be rolled in a skein or a ball after coming off the wheel. So why do I not have a ball winder and a swift, really?

The reason I’m talking to you guys about this is because I just recently came to a halt in my Hollywell Cardigan as I finished the first pink skein, and I had to wind the second skein into a ball before I could resume knitting. As I was patiently winding it, I looked over at my project and realized that in a very short while, I would also have to start the stripes – so I would have to put down the needles again, and wind 2 other skeins by hand. I’m usually not much of a complainer, but I must say that at that point, realizing this made me a little upset. But since today is another day, let’s just try to focus on something fun (!) instead, and let me show you the progress I’ve made on my cardigan so far :

auth.aspxThe pockets are attached, and I’m almost done with the waist decreases, so things are really moving along at a good pace! I should already be done with the waist decreases, but I decided to give this cardigan a little bit more waist shaping than it originally had, since I’m (somewhat of) a curvy kind of Gal. I’m about a medium size overall, but I have rather large hips and a (somewhat) thin waist, so every sweater generally requires slight modifications to fit my unusual silhouette. I started it off with 248 stitches at the bottom, which was in-between size M and L, and I plan on decreasing until I reach 204 stitches, which is a little over size S. Then, I plan on increase stitches at the same rate, and finish the pattern following size M instructions. Even though I made so much progress on it, I still feel the fabric is very loose and uneven, so I really hope it’ll turn out OK after a good wash. It should, since the swatch turned out just fine after a run in the washer & dryer, but I’m still worried. Just have to wait it out, I guess.

On another note, I was blessed with very good news last week, as I got a message from krumel, the (amazingly!) nice Raveler who gave some of her time earlier this summer to test-knit my very first sweater pattern, the Summer Sea Stripes Sweater. She told me she just finished it and showed me a few pictures, and I must say I am simply AMAZED that someone could make something so beautiful with a pattern I wrote! Even her photos are a lot more professional than mine, I feel so ashamed of myself! -_-‘

The one on the left is my prototype, and the one on the right is the one krumel made following the pattern I wrote :

Fotor0817232424Since it is my first pattern, I have a lot of adjustments to make before I can really publish it, but things are definitely moving forward! Following krumel’s comments and suggestions, I’ll fix my pattern in the next few weeks, then get version 2 tested sometime in September and (if everything goes according to plan), I should be able to release it on Ravelry around the end of September or mid-October. Yay! :)

I’m not sure if it’s normal to be so thrilled about something so trivial; I have never published a pattern of my own so I don’t really know how but I feel so very excited! Any experienced pattern designers out there? How did it feel to publish your first design?

So that’s all for today folks, my rant’s over!

Hope you all enjoy your craft time, and the rest of your summer :)

Organization is key!

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Since I came back from vacation, I have been contemplating the fact that my stash’s storage method and organization system wasn’t living up to my expectations, and I felt like it really needed to be updated. I must admit to you guys that up until a few days ago, my “storage” mostly consisted of a few cardboard boxes, divided and taped together in an eclectic arrangement of size, shape and color. And to make things even worse, the skeins on the bottom were always full of hair because my cats kept rubbing themselves on it. Yea. So after quite some thought, I decided to clean out the basement, and see if I could find something in there that could be used as a compact yarn storage for my living room. Surprisingly enough, I did find something, and something I was not expecting! My epic search in the depths of the basement allowed me to discover two forgotten plastic storage units, with 3 drawers each, that would be able to contain most of my yarn and keep it clean and hair free. Awesome!!!

So that same evening, I cleaned and dried the two storage units, lint rolled my yarn and neatly put each skein away by color in my new yarn storage area. And guess what ? I LOVE IT!!

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On a different note, I observed recently that – maybe because of the weather? – craft projects seem to progress a lot slower for me in the summer. So to give myself a little boost of motivation I decided to take part in another KAL, which is great since I had such a good time on my first KAL earlier this summer with Nice And Knit. The one I just signed up for this time is Very Shannon’s Summer Sweater KAL; the CO was on July 30th and FO will be on September 24th. Basically any kind of sweater or top is accepted for this KAL, so I decided to challenge myself into making something I have never done before : a cardigan. I chose the Hollywell Cardigan, from Megan Goodacre, and I’ll knit it in Cascade Heritage yarn in a mix of grays and pink.

hollywell3It’s really exciting because it’s like a triple challenge for me: it’ll be my first cardigan, my first project with pockets, and my first sweater with a hood – weehee!! Since it’s summer and all I don’t have much progress to show as of now, but I have at least completed the pocket linings, and started the main body. I’ll try to make it longer that the pattern calls for because I like longer tops, so the ribbed bottom edge is going to be 4″ wide instead of the 2″ required in the pattern.

20140805_163203829_iOSI’m really excited about this project even though I have had some doubts about it at the beginning – I couldn’t figure out which color I wanted where, and I was worried 3.75mm neddles might be a little too big, but after examining my swatch and pondering over it for some time, I think it’ll be just fine the way I originally planned it, so I’ll stick with the plan and see how it goes! I settled for a pink bottom, light gray stripes and charcoal shoulders and hood, and I simply cannot wait to see how it’ll turn out! But since the ribbing is taking forever, I  guess it’ll take a while ;)

So since I have so little progress to show and so much more to do, I’m going to go back to my needles now and get cracking on my project so I can have something to show you (for real!) next time.

Enjoy your craft time guys! :)

A Crafter’s Guilt (And the Superwoman Syndrome)

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I am in pain. I have been in pain for the last few days, just a severe, agonizing sharp pain in my neck and shoulders. No idea where it came from, it’s just there. Is it a strain because of the long drive during vacation? Or did I pull a muscle? Maybe I pinched a nerve? Or was it a wrong move I made? Whatever it may be, I just couldn’t work on  anything in the past few days, so no spinning, no knitting, no nothing. Ok, maybe I did (a little). But no real progress here for sure. I couldn’t even finish the Tour de Fleece!

So today, since I don’t have anything craft-related to share with you guys, I will be talking about a very different topic; something I find a little bit more important and certainly a lot more personal : the overpowering, omnipresent, socially-created “Superwoman Syndrome”. We all know that in today’s lifestyle, a lot of women feel pressured to perform and achieve in a lot of different aspects of their lives. To name only a few, they feel like they have to be career-driven and professionally successful, need to workout and take care of themselves, they are expected to keep their house clean, get married, be good home makers as well as a perfect mom, they should have healthy and creative hobbies, they have to volunteer and get involved in their community, etc.

What the “Superwoman” does is to set herself (and the people around her) standards that are unnaturally high, standards that are way beyond reach or reason. And then, they tend to strain themselves compulsively toward these impossible goals. Inevitably, at the end of the road, when they realize they simply can’t achieve all those goals to perfection, they break down, cry and feel guilty, worthless and sorry about themselves.

It is a feeling that is very hard to fight or to ward off; I know it because I am sometimes guilty of it myself. See, “guilty”. That word again. Just like we weren’t allowed to show any weaknesses.Truth is, life is not perfect. And we should not expect ourselves to be either. But in our results-oriented society, we have learned to measure our self-worth entirely in terms of productivity and tangible accomplishments.

As I explained earlier, I have been totally floored by very intense neck pains in the past few days.  I knew I just had to rest and wait it off, but I felt so guilty not to be working on anything! – My apartment is getting messier and messier by the minute, and I’m not making progress on any of my WIPs! And if I don’t work on anything, I would be a worthless crafter, right? And I wouldn’t have anything to share on my blog, what an excuse of a blogger would I be? And that is when it struck me… I’m in pain because I’m stressed out. Why am I stressed out, I wonder? Maybe I’m stressed out about work, or maybe it’s my messy apartment. But I can’t be stressed out about fiber arts… right? That’s my hobby, that’s what I do to relax. Crafting, blogging, I do all those things as a hobby, so why would I care if I’m productive or not? But you know what? Even without noticing it, in today’s society, we are pressured to “have fun”. We are expected to use our free time “efficiently” and to “have a good time”. In other words, I’m putting pressure on myself to be productive in everything I tackle – be it work, housekeeping, hobbies, or anything else. And in my eyes, everything has to be done perfectly, and in a timely manner How ridiculous is that?

So today, to fight off all this unhealthy pressure that’s been piling up on me and to share something more meaningful with all of you, I decided to not blog about crafts. I’m blogging about myself, and I’m going to say what I want to say.

I am me. I’m not perfect. I am enthusiastic in everything I do, but everything certainly isn’t perfect, or productive. Sometimes I fail, and sometimes I’m tired, and sometimes I just need time for myself to relax and unwind. And it’s OK.

Busy like a bee!

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The Tour de Fleece is almost over, and although I could not entirely reach all my goals, I’m pretty satisfied by the overall progress I made during the Tour. I spun about 20 ounces of fiber, making total of 6 skeins of yarn ( – ok, 5 if we don’t count the one I made the day before the Tour started – yea, you can call me a cheater ;) ). It was a very pink Tour for me, but I’m happy with it since I didn’t have a lot of pink, salmon or coral yarn in my stash, so I feel it’ll be a good addition.

 

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My original goals were to :

1) Spin finer and more consistent singles

I can say for sure that I totally achieved that first goal, since I am now able to spin yarn about fingering size. Yay! My singles are getting finer and finer, and more and more consistent, and I like it! I think I’m still over-spinning sometimes, but I’m half doing it on purpose, since I like knitting with a yarn that has a good consistent twist.

2) Learn Navajo plying

I made a few attempts at navajo plying – they were not all successful. But even if the results are not perfect, I think I’m slowly beginning to learn how to do it. My arms are starting to remember the motions, and I’m slowly making progress. I spun very little yarn using the navajo ply – less than 100 yards of it – because I still have to go at it really really slow to not mess it up. But so far, I’ve noticed that – contrarily to a 2 ply yarn – it works a lot better with very low twist singles. I guess that makes it a partially achieved goad, so it’s not so bad!

3) Learn how to spin cotton

Spinning cotton is HARD!!! I tried… I really did. But the staple is so short, and it requires so much spin that it’s all really hard to control. I think I’ll have to get a lot more practice before I can actually make yarn out of cotton, for sure. I’ll just keep practicing, and maybe it’ll become a goal again for next year. Wish me luck!

Next on the list for me : I’ll use one of those scrumptious handspun skeins I worked so hard to make! Ok, I admit – I still have 2 ounces of blue and 2 ounces of yellow to spin, but I plan on using those with my No, I’m not Swedish handspun yarn to make this really nice chevrons cowl by Star Athena. I think the colors are just perfect for it, and I am so excited to cast it on!

After that (or not – because sometimes, I get very excited and end up starting too many projects at once :P), I also have another fun sweater idea that I’ll try to put on paper. What I have in mind is a lacy-back, short sleeve sweater in a lace weight yarn, featuring the basic english mesh lace I used on this scarf. I’m thinking of using my yellow Toil and Trouble Merino Silk Lace and mix it with the gray alpaca lace yarn I have in stash. What do you think of this combination?

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On the menu for the next few months, I think I’ll also order some more of the green variegated Ashland Bay Merino/Silk fiber I used to spin my Delmar yarn. I really loved spinning this fiber, and it is just so soft it makes me want to wrap myself in it. So my plan is to order 8 or 12 more ounces of it to make about 800 to 1000 yards of scrumptious, sweater-worthy yarn. I’m so excited!

As you can see, I’m keeping myself pretty busy Crafties, and I hope you are too! Show me some of your current projects, I’d be really glad to see what other creative crafters are up to.

Until then, enjoy your craft time :)

Because everything is nicer on vacation.

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So here I am, at my future in-law’s house, taking it easy for a week on vacation. Sweet! Since it took us a good 13 hours to get here on Saturday, I’ve had a chance on the way to pick up my needles, and finish my sweater for the Nice&Knit summer sweater knit along (#NKKAL). I’m definitely very happy about how it turned out!!

http://ravel.me/saphirsteph/sb
http://ravel.me/saphirsteph/sb

The TDF has been going pretty good so far, I have been able to spin a brand new skein of yarn last week, full of colors. I used a combination of yellow and blue corriedale fiber, and although it didn’t turn out as soft as I would have expected, I’m definitely happy about the color scheme. And the best of it all is that with this skein, I was able to achieve one of my TDF goals, which was to spin a finer yarn! This one is about fingering size and is mostly constant, it’ll definitely be a charm to knit!

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http://ravel.me/saphirsteph/nins

The only down side about this yarn is that I think I put too much spin in it when I plied, and the finished skein turned out much more twisted than I would’ve wanted it to be when I got it off the wheel -_-‘ Even the cat was making fun of me!! I had to let it soak for a long time to let the twist set, and stretched it out real good as it was drying. Oh well.

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I still have 2 ounces of blue and 2 ounces of yellow that I’ll spin as solid colors, and I’ll combine the 3 skeins to knit the  Comptown Races Cowl with it. Isn’t going to look amazing?? I cannot wait to start it! So since my fiber stash has been shinking considerably, last Thursday I decided to stash up again on fiber, and I went for the first time to a little shop located in Nicolet, Québec called the Julie Factrie. I really liked the place, and thought it was cute and quaint (and full of my favorites!). The shop owner, Julie, is a real fiber artist, and it was a pleasure to chat with her for a little while. I left with mostly solid colors this time, and I’m really looking forward to spinning those into wonderful and colorful skeins.

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