Reconstructed Roses

A couple weeks ago my stepmother offloaded several bags of stuff onto yours truly.  I do not particularly like stuff, let alone bags of it.  She thought I might find some of it useful, and insisted she would not be offended if I did not keep it, so I loaded the bags into my car and took them home with me.

In one of the bags I discovered this somewhat hideous dress that had a really nice pattern and swing to it.  I could never picture my stepmother wearing it, but could see how she purchased it thinking that maybe she would one day (and then perhaps thinking better of it).

There is this weird gathering at the navel region , which I think is the worst possible region for gathering.  Instead of being slimming, it puckers and made me look pregnant.  The sleeves were just sort of handing there, ill-defined, and there were darts, but too much fabric for bust shaping.  The whole top half was all drab and shapeless.  The front and back both went up to my neck, smothering me, and the back had a heavy metal zipper.

Initially, I was going to make it into a spaghetti strap dress, but after trying to negotiate the weird and useless darts proved too frustrating, so I simply took a pair of scissors across the midsection.

Then, I ripped out maybe an inch of the zipper, folded it at a 90* angle and folded the hem over it, sewing it securely in place.  This was a very quick and easy fix to an otherwise ghastly dress.

The puckering isn’t too bad when it’s pulled down on the hips far enough.  The modified zipper works perfectly, and I absolutely love the spin factor.  I may shorten the skirt a bit, but must wear it out and about before deciding if I look like a fool or not.  It took forever to find a good photo – I looked short and squat in most of them.  I am not sure if that is a result of the skirt or the photographer.

Also, I noticed the puckering works perfectly in this fashion too:

It’s a little tight around the upper hemline, but otherwise it looks nice, if I do say so myself.  And, it is definitely a complete transformation from what it was!

Stupid Saturday

Well, my original entry was eaten up by the computer somehow, and I have a massive headache at the moment, so the urge to blog is quickly diminishing under stress.

Everybody is in the house.  Everybody is bored.  Somebody doesn’t want to watch Homeward Bound with us and is hogging the only DVD player in the house, and Father Winter is clinging determinedly to the midwest with several centimeters of snow.  My mood is not very high.

But, I have sucked it up long enough to show you what piece of brilliance I created to use up the odds and ends of yarn balls long gone.  I hate throwing away the little leftover bits.  I always wonder how they could prove useful.  This is how I created the Suzy Snood.  But that uses bigger balls of leftovers than what I had stuffed into a rather large plastic box.

Well, I decided to combine leftovers into a big ball of mostly complimentary colors and make a vest.  Initially it was going to be for me, but once I divided the armholes, I realized it was a tad too small to fit my shoulders.  Ellette quickly laid claim to it.

I used size 3 needles and a really tight tweed stitch to give it a very rustic woven texture.  I really like the way it turned out, and spent a couple hours yesterday winding several more balls of ends.  Today, I cast on a new vest in woodland colors using size 8 needles (the size 3 were hurting my wrists).  This one, hopefully, will fit me.  I am wondering also how to size the pattern and write it out, since I’m using random bits of yarn with their individual gauges.  Any suggestions?

Polar Bears and Penguins

I started my week off in one of the best ways possible; as a penguin.

A coworker and I spent the morning dancing in downtown Evanston, bringing smiles to the sleepy faces of commuters.  It was so much fun.  Also, check out that penguin costume.  Guess where I got that?  I totally made it. There are 3 large buttons going down the front, discrete slits in the sleeves for slipping my hands through, an adorable little tail, and get this: pockets.  It totally rocks my world.

I finally completed the Increase square for the Tech Square Afghan.

I am in love with that blue!  June, from Mosaic Yarn Studio, picked it out for me.  It compliments the darker red and salmon wonderfully.  I kind of want to pick up a bunch of the blue and start making things.  All manner of things.  Dresses and sweaters and socks and bloomers.

It has been a very inspirational week.  I’ve almost finished my latest project, which was an ingenious design for using up the big box (about a 10 gallon box) of random odds and ends of yarn that I didn’t want to throw away but didn’t know what to do with.  The downside to this project is that reproducing and writing the pattern may prove difficult.  I suppose the One-Of-A-Kind creations that result will just end up on ETSY.

Ode to Coffee

I interrupt your weekly broadcasting of “Reconstructed Sundays” to bring you a quick update on a caffeinated knitter’s adventures in Coffee.

This weekend marked the passing of CoffeeFest in Chicagoland.  I am very grateful to the bossman John at The Other Brother for getting all of us baristas weekend passes to watch the regional competition and learn more about the beans we serve.

Due to a busy weekend, this afternoon was my only availability.  This morning I worked at the shop with Emma.  Temperatures were a balmy 35 Fahrenheit with freezing rain.  I took a few minutes to  appreciate the craft of making coffee.

I like watching the espresso pull – knowing all of the flavors are emerging in a predictable way.  The subtle color changes letting me know when to cut the shot and the medley of flavors is complete.

It wasn’t until someone explained to me how the extraction process worked that I really understood and appreciated espresso.  It is a complex process with many variables, and somehow people find a unique set of those variables that work for them.

At the shop, we are all very attentive to the slight changes in temperature that changes the extraction of the beans.  We adjust grind, tamp, and extraction time to pull a perfect shot, and spend the day readjusting those parameters as needed.  It is a constant process, yet we always strive for perfection.

While there are several deviations on the execution of latte art, I consider it to be an indicator of a barista’s quality of experience.  A good pour, theoretically, should exemplify a barista’s milk steaming, a good espresso creme, and control.

While my art is sometimes hit or miss, I strive to produce a smooth texture that blends seamlessly with the espresso, and quality and consistency remain my top priorities.

On rainy days like this lazy Sunday, this perfectly executed latte creates a sense of warmth and comfort.  It is calming and delicious.  I am able to lose myself in a tasty cup and stare off at the wet world, somewhat disconnected from it.

 

(What, you didn’t think I would leave out yarn, did you??)

After my shift, Odin met me at the shop and Emma, Lacy, and I went to CoffeeFest at Navy Pier.  We watched the regional championship finals and tasted coffee and gelato (they had a maple bacon flavored gelato, made with real bacon.  What?)

Odin and I bought this:

We have been looking for a good pour over for a couple months now.  The plastic one my sister got me just isn’t cutting it anymore.  We both fell in love with this when we found it.  Next on my list is a Chemex.

Then, we found this, and Odin succumbed in a moment of wild romance and bought it for me and I adore him for it:

Now my tea will always be warm!  It is rather Looking Glass and Faerie and Fragile and Fun.  I’m going to break it one day, I just know it.  I made a pot of Blueberry Rooibos when we got home.  Very soothing after a long day on my feet.

Cheers.

Counting My Blessings

There are some things that you will never be “caught up” on.  Laundry, for instance.  And dishes.  And groceries.   There is hardly any bother to cross it off of your to-do list.  Yet I do.  Every single time I finish folding laundry and putting it neatly in the closet or the dressers.  I cross that task off my list – only to replace it several days later.

It is in the act of crossing things off that I feel my sense of accomplishment.  I am wiping it from my mind.  One less worry.  One more thing taken care of.

So, today I am reflecting, and remembering to count.

There is no school in Evanston today – I am not entirely sure why.  Ellette was missing Grandma and Grandpa fiercely so I suggested a weekend with them.  It is Coffeefest here in Chicago this weekend and I am itching to go.  This is not the sort of thing Ellette would like to be dragged along to, so it benefits both of us to have her out of the house.

Last night Odin and I drove her to Milwaukee.  Then, we went dancing.  We used to go dancing every week when we were in Milwaukee, but parents were close to watch Ellette.  Since moving, we really haven’t been out much.  So we are taking advantage of it.

Today I have off of work, although my day is broken up by aerial class. I spent the morning knitting, a little yarn organizing, and going through all of the mail that had been sent to my old place in Milwaukee (which my former roommate so kindly returned to us last night).  While that wasn’t the happiest moment of my day (bills…ugh)  I am happy knowing that it is a balmy 50 degrees Farenheit, the sun is shining and the sky is clear.  The heater hasn’t kicked on at all today, the house is gloriously quiet, laundry is being washed as we speak, and I am working on these:

A sexy little pair of adult bloomers, made from yarn I discovered in my stash.  I’ve had to frog them once, but I think I have the pattern down now.  Completely my own invention, and I think I am going to offer the pattern on etsy when I’m done.  Trust me, there are many variations of this that will be coming out as well.

I also went to the yarn store yesterday and picked up the rest of the color pallete for the Tech Square Afghan:

I am loving the color scheme!  Very bright and vibrant.  I missed class on the 9th, as my car was frozen in a block of ice and it took a pound of salt and a hammer to free myself.  I will be working the increase square myself over the next two weeks, and March is decreases.

I’m enjoying this little vacation.

Now What?

I’m casting off project after project and I’m on a budget.  That means I have been spending quite some time staring at my stash and perusing Ravelry for ideas.  Not having a really good LYS means that I can at least save money on yarn and am forced to thin the stash to knit.  On the other hand, I start doing things like visiting WEBS and finding AMAZING deals on bamboo and silk yarns ($2.50 a ball, how can you pass that up?).  So, now I am waiting on a yarn splurge to arrive in the mail before I begin my next major project.

In the meantime, I have cast on a pair of bloomers (don’t ask) and cast off Ellette’s dress.  While I have not yet woven in all of the ends, I at least have everything blocked and stitched together for you to see:

Now, the photos hardly do it justice.  I added the double strap after I cast off the hem and realized how heavy the cotton was.  After I blocked it I was a little disappointed.  I wanted it to be more flowy.  Maybe my perception of it will change once I see it on Ellette and not hanging stiffly on a hanger.

This is the hem – a modified Feather and Fan pattern.  I like the scalloped edge, almost exactly what I was going for.

So, now I must wait for March 3rd.  That is Ellette’s birthday, and I can’t wait to see the expression on her face!

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