Sunday, March 30, 2008

Victory is (almost) mine!

I thoroughly enjoyed the past 4 days at the Cleveland Sewing and Quilting Expo. I only took classes with Cynthia Guffey, so I can't give a review of the overall array of classes, but Cynthia's were, as always, incredibly informative and valuable, and I'm so glad I attended them all. I especially enjoyed her classes on collars (how to edit collar patterns to make collars fit better), necklines (how to choose flattering ones for your face and how to invent new ones), bound pockets and buttonholes (I can't wait to practice making more of these, they look fantastic and her method makes getting a fantastic result simple enough for even a novice like me), and of course, pants fitting. The event organizers also made some changes to the layout of the vendors and registration areas this year, including getting a new (nicer) entrance, which were vast improvements in my opinion. If you have any interest in sewing or quilting and can attend this show next year, I highly recommend it.

When we last left our heroine, she was working furiously to complete her mock-up in time for last Wednesday's class. At around 8 am on class day, I got it close enough (zipper in and a rough estimate of the waistband attached at waist at least, but without the waistband facing turned under and whipped in), leaving me time to shower and dress, pack food and drive to the I-X Center, arriving at class only 15 minutes late. But I don't think I missed too much, and when I got there, imagine my surprise to discover that a full sheet of instructions on how to complete the mock-up, including the important line "Email Cynthia with any questions" had been accidentally omitted from my registration packet. Wow, would the process of making this thing have been soooo much easier if only I'd had those instructions. It had occurred to me around 5 pm on Tuesday that maybe some such error had occurred, but at that point, I figured it was too late to call them and find out, so I just muddled through. I did learn my lesson, though, and next time something looks wrong to me, which the mere supply list did look insufficient as far as the promised "detailed instructions for preparing your mock-up" when I originally got it, I will definitely call and ask.

I didn't get photos of my mock-up before Cynthia fitted me, but here are some photos of it after 3 passes at tweaking the mock-up.

Rear view:

Front view:

Rear close-up (aka, how cute my butt is going to look in these pants):

Only the left leg got all the final tweaks, and it's interesting to me to see how much of a difference those little changes make. The tweaks have been transferred to the pattern, and that T-shaped adjustment that you can sort of see if you click on the butt close-up (see that dotted horizontal line?) was particularly hairy to make on paper, but Cynthia showed me how to do it, so that was good. She even recommended an additional nip in below the butt when we were fooling with the paper pattern piece, so we'll see if that works or if I need to back off from it a bit. The little bump on the side hip is just a result of the adjustments I had to make to the crotch depth and will disappear in the next mock-up. I will definitely post more photos when the 2nd mock-up is done.

Now that I've got the green light from Cynthia that I am done tweaking and can make another mock-up, I'm going back up to my lovely sewing room today to tidy up and get back to work. I want to keep my momentum going this year. The Professor (who kindly donated his photography services to this morning's post) is down in the basement making maple legs for the nightstands for our room. Another nice DIY day here at the old homestead.

Oh, and I would also like to mention that I did not buy any more fabric or yarn at the show. I was only a little bit tempted and then only once, by some lovely rust-colored wool coating for 25% off, but it's from a local store, Cutting Room Fabrics, which I thought had closed but only moved, so I just decided that by the time I'm experienced enough to make a coat, they'll have something else equally pretty for me to get. I did choose to break the Compact and get some of Cynthia's videos, mainly because there is no way I could buy them 2nd hand, nor would I want to do so. Cynthia deserves to get every penny for her genius. I did also get some scissors that she recommended. I could rationalize them as art supplies, but honestly, when it comes to sewing, I just do what Cynthia tells me, and if she says these scissors will make my sewing go better, I believe her. I hope to back on the Compact straight and narrow now that March's temptations of Scotland and the Sewing Expo are behind me.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Down to the wire

Wednesday is the first day of classes at the Sewing Expo, and I'm signed up for a pants class with Cynthia Guffey. It said on the class description that this class is at the experienced level, which I am decidedly not, but I signed up anyhow, because damnit, I've been wanting to get some pants made for about 4 years, and it's finally going to happen. But now, I have to make a mock-up pair of pants in advance of class, which means I have today and tomorrow, which should be plenty of time but still doesn't feel like enough.

My guess is that at class Cynthia is going to spend time fitting people, and showing them how to alter their patterns based on the changes made to the mockup. Since she's already fitted me for pants when I went to the 4-day workshop with her in Louisiana, and I've altered my pattern, I should be ahead of the game (if it still fits, I have to try the muslin on and pray). But I am terrified, people. I have to go up into my sewing room, in which I spent a bunch of time last week sorting through my fabric stash and getting it a little more efficiently and logically stored, and I have to start with a couple yards of fabric and the pattern and produce pants. I have some sewing skill, but it's minimal, and the only really successful garment I've ever made (a princess seam dress for my 11-year high school reunion) was produced under the watchful eye of my mom. So, please send up a good luck prayer or thought for me today if you read this post. I promise to post photos of my pants if, no when I get them done.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Yarn noir

I am still working on putting together a Scotland recap, but meanwhile let me confess that while on vacation, we shelved both the Compact and the No New Yarn in '08 policy. I took these photos in the lovely morning sun, but for some reason they came out quite dark, and my photo tweaking skills are non-existent, so this is what I've got for pictures.

The first thing to catch my eye was this:

Followed closely by:

I got these in case my lovely hostess Rachel and I got around to doing any KoolAid dyeing while I was visiting (we didn't). They all smell and feel like they might have a bit of silk in them, but I neglected to ask.

This one was just pretty. I think it will make a nice gift for someone.

And then since I had already sinned, as it were, I went ahead and got this:

and this:

The first being a worsted weight that is squishy and soft and the latter being DK and a little scratchier. These are made with yarn from special North Ronaldsay sheep, which only eat seaweed for a good part of the year. How could I pass it up?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I love E4S

Last night I went to the monthly meeting of Entrepreneurs for Sustainability. I love this group. I always learn something new, meet someone interesting, and get inspired about all the great things going on in our region. Last night's highlight was talking to a gentleman who recycles flourescent lightbulbs. For a quarter, he took my used headlight bulb that the Honda dealership had generously offered to put in the garbage for me, and instead of going into landfill, it will be recycled (the harvested materials are worth less than cost to dismantle them, hence the small fee). In general, he works with businesses to help them meet EPA guidelines that all lightbulbs must be recycled, so that's why it cost me a quarter. Well worth it, I say!

I also met some women who are working to get the planned green roof for the CSU recreation center finally installed. I'm hoping The Professor will jump on the bandwagon and do what he can to help their cause. He hadn't even known about the initial plans for a green roof, so I'm guessing many others at CSU don't as well. What a great image-booster for CSU if they could be one of the first in the city to implement a large-scale green roof project. Fingers crossed.

Scotland recap still to come. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


If you were wondering why things were so quiet over here, it's because The Professor and I were vacationing in Orkney. Photos and details to follow soon. Now, off to get the headlight on my car fixed to make sure the warning our house-sitter got while driving my car doesn't become a full-fledged ticket. Alas, this time crunch to get it done means I am skipping the whole shop around at salvage yards experience and going straight to the dealership for a new one. No time to mess around. Bummer, I'm really going to be sad to miss out on that experience. [insert sarcasm here]

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

I just can't get enough

Today I finally registered to attend a couple classes at Knitter's Connection in Columbus in June. I ought to have registered a week or two ago to get the early bird discount, but I just couldn't decide which class to take on Friday. I settled for a design class with Ruth Lantz in the afternoon. I have only drawn sketches of ideas, but I've never designed my own garment. I did design a couple non-garment items, but that's different, isn't it?

The whole point of going was to take a Cat Bordhi class, and I'm signed up for her Saturday class with my cool new fiber friend, Janis. The class should be interesting, and meeting Janis will be a blast. We've already established that we must have been separated at birth. I am also signed up to attend the lecture by Casey and Jess of Ravelry fame on Thursday night. I want to think of a nice present to bring them for the incredible gift they have given to all of us. Hey, I wouldn't have met Janis if it weren't for Ravelry! I think every knitter/spinner/crocheter and her mother is already on this site, but if you're not, and you like playing with fiber even a little bit, run, don't walk to sign up. It's a vast database of all things knitting/crochet-- patterns, yarns, people-- and just an incredibly well-designed site with tons of useful and fun features. Trust me, it's not just another internet time suck, although it is very addictive.

But wait, there's more. At the end of this month, I'll be hitting the Original Sewing & Quilting Expo, Cleveland Edition. I've been to this show 3 years running, maybe 4, I can't recall, but every time I go I have a great time. I've only had a friend go with me once, which was the best, but it's worth going alone, so that's what I do. I am a devout groupie of Cynthia Guffey, and I've signed up for all her classes again this year. The most exciting one will be the day-long class making pants. I might actually come home with a finished (or nearly) pair of pants and the confidence to make another. I can only hope.

And I'm still waiting to hear from another friend about whether or not we are definitely on to meet up at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival in early May. I want to try out a bunch of different spinning wheels to see what kind I like, so in case I ever get around to buying one, I'll know which kind I want to buy. Meanwhile, the rented wheel sits untouched in the corner in the living room, so I don't know how soon I'll buy a wheel, because clearly the spinning bug hasn't got its teeth sunk too deep into me yet.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Election Day

Today's weather is awful here in Cleveland. Freezing rain, grey, cold, miserable. Ice is forming on anything and everything left outside for more than 10 minutes. I ignored PFAW's Sunday evening plea to do poll monitoring this year (we haven't been answering our phone for weeks to avoid election-related phone spam), and I'm glad I did, because it would suck to be standing out in this mess all day, and just in case I didn't get as lucky as I did the last two elections, when I worked from 5 am to midnight both times, but I got to do it (mostly) from the relative comfort of poll monitor HQ, being as how I'm such an organizing bad-ass and impressed the imported-from-DC Election Protection leaders as someone who'd make a good right-hand man for the day. This year, the disenfranchised voters of NE Ohio are going to have to muddle through without me.

I had to drive my tax return stuff over to the accountant (oh, I wish it were done, but I only had the preliminary stuff to take him), so I stopped and voted on the way home. The pollworkers were cheerful and humorous, always a plus. We had paper ballots, which was the one other bright spot in the whole experience, because I have a lot more confidence in them than the computers. I could have voted my conscience and cast my ballot for Kucinich, but knowing it would count for nothing since he stepped down, I hesitated. I wished I'd brought my pendulum so I could dowse for the answer, but I didn't think of that in my rush to get the tax stuff delivered. So I used the old faithful decision-making technique we all learned as kids. I did eenie-meanie-meinie-mo on Edwards, Kucinich and Obama, and Obama won, the last survivor of the two knockout rounds: my mother said to pick the very best one and you are not it.