I remember back in 2012 when So, Zo (aka Zoe) made sandals. She took the whole sewing blogger community by storm with that post and floored us all, yea?! I know I was floored and immediately said “Wow I wish I could make my own sandals, too. But that’ll never happen.”
Well… you can now call me a liar b/c guess what I did?! I made a pair of sandals! Wooot.
You may have spotted my footwear in this post the other day, but thought nothing of it. heh
Myself, Meg the Grand and Tres Bien Michelle joined forces (with the Chicago School of Shoemaking) and made something wonderful together (along with 2 other gals as the class accommodates up to 6 peeps.)
As of now, I haven’t worn them out and about. I will… I’m just nervous since I don’t want to wreck them in any way. But they are fully functional, wearable sandals made by me. :D
Construction & Thoughts:
Well… oh boy. Where do I start?! This was 8 hrs of steps and they gradually came together in that time.
First things first for me was inspiration. I created a pinterest board of all the sandals I found so far and loved. Many were not suitable for sandal making for beginners so I settled on a design – pending leather color availability of course.
We traced out our foot twice to create a template. Once was our foot outline and the second, inner line was where our foot actually touches the ground (think instep, etc.) I have very high arches and very small feet. I had to modify my design so that it would fit my toe box adequately. The challenge I had is that one of the toe straps ended at the same place my ankle strap had to begin – due to angles and such. Tricky business this shoemaking. heh I was glad to have a teacher there to help me through this process.
Having such small feet, I never realized that certain styles just will never work for me. I don’t have enough real estate on my foot to pull it off. Makes sense… just never had to think about it like that before.
From there we traced our base onto the actual leather footbed and marked where our straps will go into the upper sole. (Michelle has the pics for these steps). I got very busy to take photos during, like always.
Basically we were making a unique pattern/design for our feet and coping that onto our leather shoe base.
Somewhere around here, we dyed our bases to the color we wanted. You can also stamp in some emblems on your base if you want. I didn’t plan to… but why not?
All the other little dots are the lines where the straps will go.
We cut our soles out also (so there’s the leather upper sole, then the lower rubber sole).
Michelle, cutting out her sole. Lighting by Meg.
After this, things get serious. We had to cut 1/2″ length holes in our leather base to accommodate the straps. One wrong move and you’d be starting all over again. Eeek. I was a bit nervous at this point.
Somewhere after this step, I got behind from the other gals. I happened to be the last one to get my straps fitted from the instructor – as we were all waiting in line to get inspected. Instead of letting me catch up, she kept moving the group farther and farther ahead of me. This only resulted in me getting further behind since I’d then miss all of the ‘next steps’ after what I was currently working on. This is when I got flustered & it was the low point in the class for me. I was not happy. I had to keep asking all of my classmates what the next step was. (This whole unpleasantness went on for like 2 hrs of the afternoon.)
Michelle was right next to me, and I know she sensed I was off and having some difficulty. She was quite sweet and was offering to assist as was the other gal, Deborah, to my right.
Then somehow… I got caught up. It felt like I was running through some of the steps though.
Steps I flew through with little-to-no photos:
Skiving the ends of the straps – basically you thin the leather at the ends with a fatty blade so it can curve around the sole of the shoe.
The straps get glued to the underside of the shoe with some leather glue.
Once glued down, they get nailed in place for more security:
Image courtesy of Michelle.
The bases get glued then placed in an exhaust fan so we don’t get headaches:
The two soles get joined together & hammered to ensure a tight join.
Then came all of the finishing steps – trimming the exterior soles to our feet, adjusting straps, adding buckles, rivets & such, and dying the outer soles at the end.
Classmate Deborah creating a hole in her side strap for a rivet.
We were extremely pooped at this point as we’d been hard at work for 8 hrs now. But look at those fab shoes!
Michelle’s were nearly exactly the look she wanted and had some fancy strapwork on the sides of hers. Meg chose to vary her initial design after seeing a sandal sample. We saw some samples at the beginning of the class. Seeing them (not on feet) I was underwhelmed since they were so ‘basic’. But once I saw them on a foot I thought “ooo pretty”. Meg I think kept hers nice and simple (with some pizazz) and they’re quite lovely as a result. (Whomp Whomp, Meg.) LOL
Mine ended up as a slight variation on my original, and I think they’re great and very me.
Kinda mehh looking when they’re not on feet.
Much better on my feet, no?! :D
I’m so proud of these buckles – don’t they look so professional and like “real” sandals.
So… besides my total frustration in the afternoon portion of the class, I’m still really happy with them and how they turned out. The teacher was very nice and you can tell she was very skilled with her 40+ years of experience. And it wasn’t so bad in the end… since I’ve signed up to take another course. heh (Leather) Purse making will be in my future! :D I can’t wait. Plus, I doubt I’ll be left behind in that once since I already do know the basics of sewing and garment construction. heh
I think the other 4 gals in the course had a great experience and I can recommend the class to others – just don’t fall behind.
What’s really exciting is that the Chicago School of Shoemaking will be opening up a ‘shop’ inside their studio and also offering up lab time (for a fee of course). You can use all of their tools & space with some intermittent help from the instructor. Sounds lovely, no?! I have a hunch, once I make one bag, I’ll want to make more. And what better than to be able to have a space with all the tools on hand to make it in?! Can’t wait to learn more about shoes & purses & belts.
Perfect – as in the perfect design. Not that my dress is perfect… not yet anyways.
Recently, I bought Hollywood Pattern 1103.
It’s everything I want in an easy, breasy summer dress: cut on sleeves, tie waist, swingy skirt, shoulder gathers (no darts) & a matching bolero to boot! What’s not to love?!
I just happened to be at the fabric store one day when I found a silk crepe I’d had my eye on for over a year that was marked down. You bet I snagged that puppy up. I bought a whopping 4 yards since at the time I wasn’t sure what I’d make with it. Then I bought Hollywood 1103 and it was a match made in heaven.
But… that fabric is for the next post. Not wanting to use my lovely silk for a first-time dress, I went and made it up with another lovely fabric, a pinky red linen-rayon blend.
These pictures turned out really bright. The fabric is indeed bright, but not quite neon & glowing like it appears.
Linen-rayon blends are now in my top 5 favorite fabrics of all time. The rayon content helps the linen stay a bit wrinkle free & gives such lovely drape & movement to any garment. (If you’re in Chicago, you can find this red at Vogue on Roosevelt Rd. in the Summer Specials section.) I should know… I made a skirt with it first. Then went back for more of it for this dress. (I may even still have a bit more in my stash… it’s that good! How I wish they had more colors.)
While I like this dress, it’s not 100% perfect yet. There is much to much ease in the bodice at the waist. I thought the belt (or tie belt) would be sufficient but it borderlines on the frumpy to me.
I think this design/and my narrow shoulders would be much benefited by some small shoulder pads also. I really don’t care for shoulder pads, but with the cut on sleeves – I feel like my shoulders look really rounded. (Either that or I shorten up the sleeves a bit more.)
All this doesn’t stop me from wearing this dress, as I’ve worn it 3 times in the last 2 weeks.
I just feels so lovely on. Unfortunately, its now in the hamper and I can’t wear it till it’s clean again.
After much consideration, after I wash it up (pending shrinkage), I think I’m going to take it in at the side seams. The top is a bit too billowy and I’ve been adjusting my belt like crazy every time I wear this.
I paired my dress with my new bunny belt and my flea-market necklace find. It was only $1 – doesn’t get better than that for a vintage glass beaded necklaces.
Normally I’d be pairing this dress with white instead of black accessories – but it’s what I had on hand. My wardrobe & accessories are quite limited at the moment since most of my items are still packed up in boxes. It’s a good exercise in making do. :D
Guess what? I think this may be the first sewing project I’ve posted all year! Can you believe it?! While this isn’t the first sewing project I’ve completed this year – it’s just the first one I managed to get photographed.
I’ve been doing a ton of knitting since it’s much easier (and less dusty) than me working in my sewing room. But I’ve been sewing much more lately and have even written up myself a fall/late summer sewing plan. I’m stoked to get started on it.
Stay tuned for the wonderfulness that will be version #2 in silk crepe. (It just needs it hem and photographs now.) Woot!
Who else has worked with linen-rayon blends? Love them too, yes??? :D
Plumbing has been the name of the game in July.
Late June, Felix and I started preliminary preparation for the plumber. Little did we know, we had such a far way to go to fully prepare for having a plumber come to our house.
The Good: Besides having some duct work put in our house (by my licensed sheet metal worker pro dad), this is the first of the ‘trades’ we’ve had come in the house that we’re paying for. Very exciting to be moving forward with building infrastructure on our house. I’m looking forward to having to never (really) worry about major issues in the near future since everything will be all new.
So yes – every single pipe in our house has been replaced. All of them! We’ve had a complete system overhaul done by a licensed pro.
The Bad: Since we have a subcontractor coming in, we’re trying to save mega $$ by doing all of the demo work ourselves.
The Ugly: Doing the demo work ourselves. I had no idea how gross this was going to be. I should have put it together… you know waste lines in a house that are very old…. but I just didn’t.
Felix and I (with the mega help of my dad), set out digging out our basement wherever the waste lines were and also digging up the old lead water service lines.
Can I just deviate for a sec and say: I never thought I’d be so interested in house codes and all of this stuff… but here I am.
Seriously, all of this stuff is really cool – to see how a house is put together and functions. I bet many of you don’t even know how you’re getting decent water pressure in your shower. I didn’t… there are so many factors to take into account – I just had no idea. These tradesmen are really knowledgeable, ya know?! They know so much about stuff that I’ve been clueless about. I’ve always rented and I guess I just took stuff for granted since I never had to think about it.
Now I got that out of my system… Here’s what Felix and I have been doing in July.
A bit of progress being made to expose the clay tile waste pipe.
We also had to dig out near the back of the house (laundry room) to redo the old water lines.
Exposed waste pipe – but we still had more to dig even after this…
Resulted in this massive pile of sand/soil:
Next came the demo of the pipe. :(
My dad, Bob, busted out this whole, hunking cast iron waste pipe:
He then busted up the clay tile waste pipe that I’m attempting to haul out.
This is the ugly…. I got really grumpy, really quickly here. I’m a complete sweat ball & it was smelly & awful work. I’ll just leave it at that.
I really want to tell you all about how dreadful this was, too. But I just can’t bring myself to.
Post demo, nice new pit for the new plumbing lines & a bathroom to go in. This is about 18″ to 24″ below the concrete. Depth perception is hard here…
I forgot to mention…. While we were busting up the concrete for a new waste and plumbing lines, we decided to have a bathroom installed in the basement. We just figured, why not since we’re already here doing it?! So part of this space above will be a 3/4 sized bathroom.
A week later, Felix then went about cutting out all of our pipes that feed the upstairs bathroom (all overhead).
Again, I’m not sure why we didn’t think about it… but this was an unpleasant job also. Very smelly & dirty as we were dealing with the overhead waste lines from the tub and sink, as well as the water lines. Very glad to be done with this part of the project.
Back to the good: The plumber was here!
New waste line on the left forefront and down the length of the right along with stubbed in bathroom stuff (farther back on the left).
This is the back laundry area & utility sink lines:
Bathroom, under the sink:
Now that the lines are down, guess who had to add back all of the sand, once more. Doh!
I feel like I’ve spent 2 whole weekends now shifting about sand/soil in my basement. Many hands hurt, just from gripping tools.
It doesn’t look like much… but this is the fill we added back into the pit of our basement. The point here is that you really can’t see the plumbing lines anymore.
What this has all meant for my daily life this past month:
I haven’t been actually living in my house since I have no working toilets or available water. Luckily, my mom lives about an hour outside the city, so we’ve been staying with them. I’ve been out of my house from July 3rd to July 22nd, nearly the whole month.
I’m thankful I have them so close; I can always count on them. But I’m ready to be living back at my house, being on my own routine.
Not a terrible amount of progress here. I got outside with my mom & started pulling out the remaining section of day lilies from my front yard – the parkway, more precisely.
The section I dug up was that whole mess of day lilies behind my mom and myself. As much as we pulled out of the front yard, the parkway was worse. It was much denser an area of day-lilies and I filled at least 7-8 large yard waste bags full of them. I lost count.
We found a whole mess of bricks buried in the ground. There was once two walkways to the street here that were since buried by decaying leaves & day lily overgrowth – like years and years of it. While it’s hard work, this task remains a treasure hunt. I continue to find lots of neat things buried in my yard.
I wish I had a grand plan of what to plant in the front yard. But it’s already past the official planting season & I’m just looking for quick and easy at this point. I don’t have a ton of time to dedicate to garden maintenance while the inside of my house remains very much a wip. So I’ll most likely put some sod down and call it a day.
The reason why I don’t have sod down at this point is I’m waiting to get a hose and water line set in so I can water the sod when it goes in. Once I have water, I can lay the sod.
My mom and I just decided to plant a perennial garden instead. I’m excited and I think this will end up looking much cuter and less like an area for dogs to do their business in, ie sod. Sometimes sod/grass in the city can be a negative thing….
Little progress was made this month on the kitchen. The plumbing work & pre/post prep work for the plumbing took up our month’s free time.
I officially picked my kitchen floors out! But you may already know about this via instagram.
I found commercially available (awesome quality) vinyl flooring in the (a nearly) perfect shade of aqua and a white with gold flecks that will be going in the kitchen in a diagonal check-board pattern.
It’s the closet match I could find to my aqua dishes. You’d think there’d be more fun, teal colored floor tiles out there, but they’re really aren’t. BUT, please alert me if you see some more out there I can check out. (There’s a great dark purple vinyl floor color that would be awesome set in my laundry room in the basement! – click on this link to see all the colors. FYI: they send out free samples too & are an eco friendly company.)
The floor isn’t going in any time soon, but I had to pick them out now, so that we could build up the floor to the correct level. Reminds me… I should get this aqua ordered in case it is discontinued by the time I go to install it.
Again more info than you need… but if at any point in the future I want to take out the aqua vinyl and put in ceramic tile (thicker) we can do so easily without ripping out the subfloor & re-leveling everything. I’m really trying to think ahead many years in case I or the next owners want to change something around.
I’m planing on keeping my kitchen nice and white: white cabinets & appliances & a lt. grey marble counter top. But what was nagging in the back of my mind is that it’s going to be too plain without any fun colors. So I am jumping on the color bandwagon and adding in my pop’s of aqua whenever I can – as courage allows.
One neat detail I saw is painting the insides of your cabinets a color for fun pops. I’m hoping to do this also in mine – that or adding in some colorful wallpaper to the backs of them.
This is a bathroom cabinet, but you get the idea.
I want a very clean, looking kitchen, but I also want it vintagey-cute. So that means color – color – color. :D I’m hoping to incorporate teal with some pinkie corals and some mute grass greens.
Something similar to this (minus the peach & slightly darker or lighter green):
Doesn’t that look like a cheery place you’d want to be with those colors? :D
I’ve also been waffling around about 2 separate ovens and a cooktop. That idea has gone by the wayside and I’m now debating this little beauty by AGA:
It’s a bit more “country” looking than I initially wanted, but I love the knobs and the fact that it has 2 ovens + a separate broiler and a small storage drawer also. (I really don’t need all of these burners up top… it’s a bit excessive for me. I just need my double oven space.)
It also comes in 1 size smaller which is also an intriguing thought:
This one has the same size oven + broiler + 2nd long oven on the right. Isn’t that kinda neat?! And I really like this burner configuration too.
Basically, I need to check out these puppies in person and see if the oven is large enough for me to use for all of my macaron baking & such. This will be a day trip, sometime in August.
Last but not least….
The buns are back!
The buns have been at my bunsitter’s place since I moved in at the end of March – too much dust & debris for their delicate lungs. But as demo has been non-existent in our house for a while, it was time to get them back from the sitter.
I’ve had to go without my favorite fuzzy friends, Quincy & Phineas’ company for a whopping 4 months. You can imagine I’m so happy to have them back once again. Expect many vine videos and instagram photos of their shenanigans in the new house.
I’m not quite certain, actually. My dad’s been spending too much of his time helping on my house, when he has his own house to work on still. I’m thinking our pace will slow down in August/September.
What I do know that’s next on our list is electrical work, insulation installation, & pouring concrete in the basement to continue to finish the plumbing job off, among other things.
Perhaps my dad (non-step dad, dad) will have some free time to come up from Georgia to help us on putting up some fresh drywall in the kitchen or something? He’s been wanting to come up and help Felix and I do work on our house – which is lovely! I just haven’t known what task to give him…
Since I’m off living at my mom’s (since July 3rd), I have no access to my sewing machine. This means I get to dream of what could be… namely swishing around my finished house in 1940′s styled, silk beach pajamas. Doesn’t that sound just lovely?!
In my efforts to build up my vintage wardrobe, one area where I am purely lacking is my lounge wear and nightgowns, so this has been at the forefront of my mind as of late.
It’s kinda silly of me, but I long to walk about my new house in silk charmeuse, head to toe. I may even have bought two new patterns to supply my dreams. :)
Note: I did NOT pay $75 for this pattern. But this is now mine! *hip hip*
I fell instantly in love with this 30′s pajama pattern – primarily for the open back in view A-1. It reminded me so much of this pajama ensemble from the movie: Cheerful Weather for the Wedding.
I think the movie, in itself, is a bit depressing – although a good story. But I love Felicity Jones & the fashions are just wonderful.
Another pattern I snagged back in March, just before I moved, is New York Patterns 1028:
This is the first pajama pattern I’ve ever bought. It’s going to look wonderful and will be super comfy as I hang out around the house in next spring in a voile or silk or even with a wool flannel for the winter.
Not my patterns but equally dreamy:
I love smocking details but I’ve yet to try my hand with it. On the yoke of a bed jacket would be a great first step to trying out this technique.
Do you guys feel the same way about pajamas and lounge wear? I just want have loads at my disposal so I can change out of my work clothes and sew/knit in style in the evenings.
I can’t seem to keep up with all of my house
projects adventures as well as my husband, Felix does on a daily basis. For me, I think it’s much more manageable to give big recaps instead of many small snippets. Hence me starting a ‘review’ of the month’s activities for you all.
State of my house as of June 31st, 2014
Late Spring, Felix
took the hit decided he was going to start cleaning out all of our insulation from the attic. The previous owners had been something of hoarders and they threw many empty boxes full of packing peanuts in the attic. You may recall my mom and I went up there once, but we vowed never again. Felix graciously offered to go work up there instead, which I continue to be thankful for.
Packing peanuts on top of gross, old insulation.
We ran out of Tyvek protection suits. Luckily, I’d saved an old Halloween costume of Felix’s and he went in the attic dressed like this. Good thing he didn’t venture outside… The neighbors might have gotten a bit suspicious.
We have active squirrels in our attic, unfortunately. They’ve made a mess of things. All insulation is being removed and once we lock them out, we’ll replace it with nice, warm & fresh insulation.
This is the only light we have in the attic. Poor Felix… This is a bad job to have. He was a trooper throughout it.
You may remember this picture from when we first bought the house; how I loved my cute little 40′s kitchen cabinets.
After finding a leak in the wall, 2 ceilings (one on top of the other) improperly put in, icky floors, rotten ceiling joist from water damage and plywood cabinet bases not worth keeping – everything just had to go. While I did save all of the cabinet doors, I probably will just start from scratch as my dad will be building me a set of new cabinets in this very style. All is not lost…
My kitchen now. This is looking into the right corner, in the pre-image above.
Everything has been removed down to the joist spaces.
Finally cleaned of all nails and debris:
Random things I found in the walls during one of my demo sessions.
Old tile, pipe, shard of light bulb glass, saws-all blade, and the coolest… old leather bathroom tile. Yes, you heard me right leather! Did you know back in the day, people used leather as tile? Ours has a hunter green and mustard-ish color scheme.
Felix and I are demo pros at this point. But this kitchen… it took us a whole whopping month to demo it. There was just so much crap in the walls & ceiling and everwhere. It was a beast. But we’re now starting fresh in this room and it feels great. Instead of demoing more out of the kitchen it will soon be the time of building it back up again! :D
Our house was built pre-plumbing, in 1885. This means that all plumbing in the house was installed after the house was built (even on top of old plaster walls as we found in the second floor). And much of the waste lines are original. (This is all getting removed) and has been our July project so far.
Prepping for the plumbing work that is now, on-going; we had to remove all of the old waste lines that are buried underneath the concrete floor. Jack-hammering & shoveling sand has been the name of the game.
Looking thru the kitchen floor to the basement below:
Trying my hand at jack hammering (aka demo hammer since it’s smaller than a true jackhammer):
Removing the busted up concrete in buckets (carted up & dumped outside in our backyard):
Then digging out the sand/soil about 18″ down to expose all of the pipes underneath the floor.
Having some fun in the midst of work:
My Route 66 shirt has been my trusty work shirt throughout all of this work. I actually stitched up a cute 40′s work shirt that I’m supposed to be wearing. But it’s so cute I don’t want to wreck it. LoL
As the weather has been getting lovely, I’ve been less inclined to be indoors (stripping woodwork) and have ventured outside to do some yard work instead.
Early in the Spring, we had to have various trees removed from our backyard. Many were in the way of power lines & the one mega tree was getting ill and was going to eventually fall on our neighbor’s condo building. So that had to go… :(
My yard has quickly gone from this:
You can barely see where that bird bath is anymore.
In the backyard, I’ve been slowly hacking away at the day lilies & ferns. I don’t really have a ‘plan’ yet for the back or the front. So far, I’m just going to put sod down to clean it up and then will get fancy with the plants as I’m able to next year or so.
My mom and I did go to town removing the day lilies from our front yard and cleaned it up a bit.
At the end of the day we got to this:
It’s just refreshing to see dark soil instead of overgrown/crazy day lilies.
We had to haul away lots of dirt from the front yard (dumped it in a pile in the back). All of the decomposition of plants & leaves over the years had left us with very rich, but mounding soil. It’s a good problem to have, technically. Just more work to dig and haul out one’s soil.
That’s kinda it, in a nutshell. Lots of activity & the weekends have been leaving Felix and I pretty pooped out come Monday morning. I’m hoping to schedule a weekend or two away from the house for mini vacations in the next few months. We need some recharging time, obviously.
What’s happening now:
Plumbing! Lots of plumbing.
I’ll do another recap at the end of each month – in part to not bombard you all with my crazy house project, but I also don’t have a computer set up at my house yet. It was the compromise I had to make so that I have a sewing space instead. I’m sure you all would agree that was the right decision. :D
P.S. All images courtesy of Felix. Isn’t he so nice to share?! :)
I generally don’t post up about non-sewing/knitting/house adventures, but I can’t keep this to myself any longer.
My husband, Felix, just launched is very first iPhone app last week, and I couldn’t be more stoked for him.
It’s called The Augur.
Stealing Borrowing from the about page of Augur, this is what it is in a nutshell:
Part oracle, part drunk advice columnist, the Augur iPhone app uses Twitter to tell the future.
Through real-time Twitter searches and anonymized data, the app distills the ramblings of the world at large into a kind of crude, advice-dispensing, fortune-telling machine.
The Augur app is your way to tap into the collective insight and counsel of millions of Twitter users (and probably only a very small number of those people are actually psychopaths).
What better wisdom is there, than the wisdom of the Internet at large?
It’s a silly app. It has no practical purpose but to entertain – and it does a great job at that. To me it’s like having a whole bunch of fortune cookie fortunes at my disposal to read.
Part of the fun is you never know what you’re gonna get next, as you tap your screen. Some are gold, and some are just plain crazy. heh
It’s perfect to read as you’re waiting in line, on the train during your commute, or reading material over your morning tea/coffee. I tried to be his first supporter to purchase the app (for $1), but several people beat me to it which I’m not happy about. :|
Check it out – spread the word and enjoy for yourselves. :D
In no way have I been paid to support this app – although I probably will get a hug or two for doing so or maybe even ice cream. (Felix my fav ice cream is chocolate chip cookie dough or cookies & cream).
This is an independent review – but I am biased b/c I love my hubby and think he’s great. :)
This idea for a blog post has been ruminating in my brain for quite some time – not to mention coming up as a frequent topic when chatting with other bloggers. It’s time to peel back the layers and have an honest chat about what we’re so afraid of.
Why are there certain things we’re all scared to do?! How did this happen? What made us scared in the first place? And ultimately, how do we get over our fears?
My scaredy-cat list includes:
- Sock Knitting
- Sewing with Knits
- Using Power Tools – primarily saws & blades of any sort
But when I first started knitting (4 years ago at least), I wasn’t afraid of fair isle knitting. In fact, after knitting for only about 9 months or a year I began a fair isle sweater vest with great success. I never read any tutorials online or followed any blogs, so I didn’t know color work was hard. I had a small bit of guidance from a coworker of mine on how to wrap my stitches and deal with floats and off I went knitting up my little vest.
I ended up stopping about half way through since it wasn’t fitting right and I didn’t have the knowledge to fix it at the time.
Since reading people’s blogs, being on Ravelry, and becoming more aware – I started getting scared and too worked up to try my hand at color work designs again. I knew I had done it before in the past, but that was before I knew how hard it was to knit it properly – how you’re supposed to do it. So it grew in my mind to become something for more advanced people than myself, something other people can do. But not me – not yet.
As a result, I avoided colorwork like the plague. I went and tackled all manner of knitting techniques instead: lacy designs, cables, vintage fingering weight jumpers, and much more.
All in all – The more I learnt about how challenging a technique can be – the less I wanted to do it & the more scared I became to do it without some serious hand holding.
Tasha – with her extensive knitting help online (and in person chats & also via emails) pushed me to try out her fair isle victory beret. The result: It was fine! I finished it in like 10 days. heh (My beret got lost in the move, but I’ll take photos when I find it again.)
Then I got scared again!! to do the Bridge Jumper. “It was different” I told myself. There were 3 colors in a row and not fair isle per say. The scaredy-cat in me came out once again. Ugh! So with Michelle (and kinda Meg) working on the same project, holding my hand, I was able to tackle it.
As I’ve now come full circle, as I’m working on completing that first, fair isle sweater vest. I’m thinking to myself “What was the big deal in the first place?!” How did I get so scared of doing something, when I generally feel like I’m up for a challenge. In truth, I love to learning new things/techniques all the time. I often try new techniques only after reading them in books – with no hand-holding needed.
Then it hit me.
Somewhere along the line, on some blog (or on many blogs) I read that it was hard – too hard for a beginner or intermediate knitter/sewer. It was something for *later*. The more I read, this idea sunk in more and more.
The same goes with my other two fears: Sock knitting & Sewing with knits.
What’s gotten pounded in my head is that: Sewing with knits is “different” ie more challenging – something for *later*. Later, when I become good enough, more skilled, when I know more, on and on the list goes.
Technically I’ve also already sewn a test project with knit fabric – like last year. But yet, I feel like I’m missing something. “I thought it was supposed to be hard, so I must not be doing it right” Goes off in my head. So my test project never became an actual finished project. I feel like I need someone to hold my hand so I can do it “right”, someone more experiences, someone better than me.
Getting Over it All
In talking with Felix, I’ve come to figure out this all stems from the Dunning-Kruger Effect, aka the impostor syndrome. Basically, it means one fails to recognize their own ability (most likely when they see someone else they think is highly competent, or it has been so for me.) You basically minimize your own skill set or knowledge and think you’re not capable. (FYI: This swings both ways too. Unskilled peeps can inflate themselves to thinking their experts, too.)
Felix and I both seem to suffer from this same thing – but luckily we always seem to encourage the other to push further and tell each other it like it really is. :)
What I think is the funniest thing is that in 2 of the 3 situations, I’ve already done the technique/project before I knew to be afraid of it. Yet, that hasn’t stopped me from feeling this way.
As I cast on for knitting my first sock ever I’m hit by a surge of energy. Just
6 rows 50 rows in from the toe cast on, I’m thinking ‘What was the big deal about socks again?’
If this is supposed to be hard, what was I so afraid of?! Perhaps the heel gusset/turn will make me think twice (LoL), but right now I’m ready to make myself a whole set for next winter – and how about a fair isle pattern to boot! :D
Basically the only way I seem to get over these irrational fears, and yes they are 100% irrational, is just by doing them.
In two of the two new things I’ve tried (colorwork & sock knitting), I’ve come to question why I thought it was so challenging in the first place just as soon as I start the project. So the best way to get over it is to just do it. You’ll soon realize its no big deal & continue to forge ahead on sorting out your next fear.
So let me be the first (or gazillionth) person to tell you:
- These fears are irrational, but I know where you’re coming from. I understand.
- You’re totally good enough – right NOW to do it.
- You can do it! Just give it a go – what’s the worst thing that can happen?!
Start with a small project, a test garment, or use some scrap fabric/yarn you got laying around. Try whatever it is that you’re afraid of & on something that doesn’t matter. I promise you, you’ll be happy you did. And you’ll be much more motivated to get over the next fear on your list.
So I have to ask, what are your sewing/knitting fears? Are they the same as mine?
I started the Channel Cardigan at the very tail end of Chicago Winter & beginning of our very chilly Spring. It felt like Winter was never going to end – I was sick of being cold and this cardigan seemed like the perfect solution.
I wasn’t going to knit this up since it’s not quite my style- but I got pulled in by the Meg-Michelle-Mari-(Liz) Knitting Collective group.
I’m not intending on wearing this sweater out in public actually – I made it as my lazy, cozy house coat during the winter.
I wanted something rustic and car-coat like so Cascade 220 was the perfect solution – economy prices & a durable, warm yarn. My color is: 8013 in Walnut Heather.
Meg also made her’s up in Cascase 220 with a lovely grey shade. Originally I wanted an oatmeal color, but couldn’t find one I liked at the shop I visited, so I opted for this slightly darker shade. (Again not my usual color choice.)
Sleeves & Gauge:
The first thing Jared Flood (pattern designer) has you knit up is the sleeves. It was nice to get them out of the way, but also a pain to knit up first before the body.
I am a loose knitter so my tension is always vastly different than stated in the pattern. I always make a swatch first.
Using the worsted weight yarn, I knit my swatch first with one needle size down, a US size 6 needle and I didn’t have the correct tension – my swatch was too big. I then swatched to a US size 5, 2 sizes down from what was stated and got the same exact tension as the US size 6 needle. This is crazy in itself, and I even brought it to show Michelle, just to prove I wasn’t going insane.
Not wanting to knit a worsted weight yarn with US size 4′s – (which is just crazy! & what Mari had to do on hers!!) I went about re-figuring the pattern to fit me like I always do.
After re-figuring everything out I knit up my first sleeve, exactly based on the xs pattern size – with my mods. I made my sleeve so that it would exactly match the finished pattern’s sleeve measurements. It did – and it was HUGE! It was so wide a sleeve that it fit my husband with EXTRA room. It was crazy! I showed the girls & they were like – you have it knit it smaller.
Theirs were fine, mind you. But theirs also don’t match the finished patterns measurements either.
I wish I had a photo of this for you, but it was all so wrong. The tension on this sweater, IMO can’t be trusted! I’m convinced that the model in the photo has sweater clips in it, pulling it in to make it more attractive. It would also be the reason why there are NO images of the back of the cardigan in the original photo shoot with the model.
I had to go back to the drawing board and fit the sleeve like I wanted it to fit, with some positive ease for lounging but not so large it would be too big even for my hubby.
Knowing all this, I set about re-figuring the body of the sweater also. I just used my body measurements, added some wearing ease (4″-5″) and recalculated all of the stitch counts throughout the sweater. In order to keep the same design, I increased/decreased the stitch counts in the moss stitch pattern between all of the chevron details.
In the end, I doubt you even see a difference between mine and the other 3 gals’ sweaters. It just looks like the same Channel Cardigan – which is good I guess. I just hated that I had to do so much work to get this thing to fit when the pattern instructions were already a whopping 18 pages long.
Having extra yarn (1+ skeins) and extra time to finish before our deadline, I went and knit myself up some pockets. Since I’m wearing mine around the house, I thought it was essential to make a pocket (or two) to carry things like my phone or tissues when I move from upstairs to downstairs.
I knit them in exactly the same chevron pattern as the body of the sweater so you wouldn’t know they were there. This worked out wonderfully – since Michelle only noticed I added pockets to mine when I pointed them out to her 45 mins after first starting our photo shoot. heh
Raglan seams are notoriously tricky to fit on my short, narrow shoulders. I decided that I was going to knit my sleeve caps up as many times as it took to get the right fit. Three sleeve-caps later, I got there. My raglan seams happen at a much sharper angle than the other girls’ sweaters but it was essential for me since I always get a great amount of pooling of fabric at my underarm.
I only altered the sleeve caps raglan seam, not the body of the cardigan to achieve the better fit. The raglan seams of the body hit more or less at the appropriate point, I just needed to remove many more stitches on the front half of the cap (only) to fit my shoulders.
So… Mari and Michelle ‘softly’ hosted this KAL online, but it felt like it was primarily the four of us since we meet in person once a week or once every two weeks to knit together. Knitting with friends on the same project is so much easier than knitting on your own sometimes – well especially when you’re all making the same thing. I don’t have any problem relaxing solo after a long work day with a movie and my knits, but its also nice to take such a solitary project in public and knit among friends and tea.
I love how fitted & short Mari’s cardigan turned out. I’d actually wear hers out in public (unlike mine). Her version reminds me of a cute boyfriend cardigan or fall jacket for layering. She actually knit hers shorter due to time constraints, but it turned out wonderful, imo.
I mentioned it earlier, but Mari had to knit her (worsted weight) cardigan with US size 4′s just to get gauge and to fit correctly. Craziness!
Meg’s cardigan was knit using the same yarn as mine, but turned out very different.
She omitted the belt loops and has paired the prettiest metal buttons on her cardigan.
Meg is the least experienced knitter in the bunch, but you’d never tell based on her finished garments. She’s an adventurous knitter, just like her personality would imply. With each new pattern, she delves into brand new techniques (buttonholes, short rows, multiple colors, etc.). With a quick, in person guidance from us, she goes and tackles them with no problems having done everything just once.
Michelle‘s cardigan turned out great too and the color on hers is so rich and vibrant.
She has one of those bodies that enables her to make very little alterations to the pattern, besides height – it makes me quite jealous. Despite that, I know it does take a great amount of skill and all of her knitting garments I’ve seen her make look flawless – very tailored to her.
I always joke that her knits look “like they were perfectly tailored for her body” and they truly are of course since she knits (and sews) them all herself. :)
What’s the point of taking photos without a little silliness…
I keep photo bombing our shoots – I just can’t help myself it seems. heh
And here’s us on a roller-coaster ride. I went for holding-on-for-my-dear-life-face.
Nailed it! LOL
Thumb’s up to you too Meg.
We started knitting while it was cold, yet these shots were taken during 70+ temps this past weekend. It got a it warm – and then we noticed we’re all wearing various shades of blue.
And as always, a special shout out to our handsome photographers, Mike and Felix.
We couldn’t do this without you & your wonderful direction. Cheers & Happy Knitting.
Once again, I am totally pooped after my weekend. I need a weekend after my weekend to catch up on my sleep and recharge. I even had coffee this morning just so I could work, while at work.
I fully intend to take a nap after work today and perhaps do a bit of movie watching/knitting if my energy level improves – chocolate may be in order also. heh
So… why am I so sluggish today? Well, I dug a giant pit in my basement (along with my dad and Felix).
Same old work clothes as the last post I realize… I only have so many crappy T’s and pants in my wardrobe.
Bob worked at jack hammering out the top layer of concrete in our basement floor.
Then Felix and I loaded up the large, broken up pieces in buckets and dumped it outside in a pile.
Then we set about digging out the sand.
(Not the most glamorous of photos of me…)
I believe we started somewhere around 1pm and finished up around 7pm. I admit, it’s not quite a full day’s worth of work. But three large shovel loads was all I could handle in the bucket to lift it up the basement stairs and hand it off to Felix to dump in the backyard. Damp sand is HEAVY!
Surprisingly, I’m not at all sore from the work just fatigued, overall.
(via Instagram). This gives a much better sense at just how deep we dug.
I guess the thing you’ve all been wondering is “Why?!?!”
Well… the long and short of it is, we’re redoing all of the plumbing lines in the house. Which is going to be awesome! :D It’s a bit scary that I get jazzed up about rebuilding the house’s infrastructure. It’s going to be so nice to not have to worry about any breakage or repair when we’re all done. It’ll be like we have a brand new, 1885 Victorian cottage.
First off, this giant, vertical pipe on the right is the waste line. This is going to be moved much closer to the wall, instead of being right in the walkway. So we had to dig all the way down so the plumber could do his thing.
I can’t imagine paying a plumber $50 an hour to do all of this digging himself, just so he could get to the lines to start his work. This took 3 of us 6 hours, so if it took the plumber 18 hours to do the same digging, this one thing alone would cost us $900 – just for labor on this portion.
We’ll be changing the cast iron waste lines to PVC, and we’re changing the lead pipes to pretty copper lines. Everything is getting an upgrade when possible. We’re stubbing in a second bathroom in the basement (to be finished later when funds allow). But it makes sense to add in any potential infrastructure now while we’re here instead of coming back in 5 years to do the same thing all over again.
When I say *us* here, I mean the plumber. heh We don’t have that kind of skill, but we’ll be assisting him when he needs us to.
We’re anticipating having to do some more digging in the remaining back section of the basement, near the sink – but this will be done after we hear back from the plumber on where we need to do the remaining digging.
Come to think of it… I haven’t shown you our kitchen at all! I post all the time on instagram of the progress… blogging is a bit harder to keep up with in the midst of everything.
These are a few shots of the kitchen demo we’ve been doing.
Everything is down to the joist spaces – above, below, and all sides of the kitchen. I’m getting pretty good at walking across them – but we do have a few sheets of plywood down for walking ease by the back door.
Side Kitchen wall – where the stove will go:
Plumbing lines are overhead feeding the upstairs bathroom and also on the far right for the half-bath on the first level.
Having everything torn down to the joists means the plumber will be able to lay down the lines – easy peasy. He’ll have absolutely nothing to work around which should reduce the time he spends – which means we’ll have lower cost. :) A definite win-win.
After the plumbing comes new electrical lines run – when needed (by licensed pros obviously). We’re focusing on the kitchen first then the remainder of the house will be done.
Yay infrastructure. There’s nothing like starting from scratch on building your dream kitchen. :)
I just have to say right now… I am so pooped out. I need like 5 naps and early nights just to catch myself up. Ugh… Anyhow, I had a very busy weekend as you could have surmised. It was a productive one – but I feel I need a whole ‘nother weekend just to catch up again.
My mom grows tons of flowers, herbs, vegetables, and succulents in her basement each spring and uses them in her yard. The last 2 years she’s been selling the extras in an annual township garage sale. The first year she made so much money, she’s been creating planters and baskets just to sell at the sale now. She made over $1500 this year & had very reasonable prices! It’s not too bad for a one-day garage sale.
I woke up at about 6:30am on Saturday and it was constant work until 5pm that night.
We got refreshed after a good night’s sleep and enjoyed a celebratory breakfast. My mom wanted to get away from her house so she came to mine and was helping me do a bit of yard work.
This is my crazy front yard. It’s very overgrown with day lilies, some tulips, and a newly-found peony which I was very jazzed about finding as they’re one of my favorite flowers.
I shudder to even tell you that this is NOTHING compared to my backyard craziness! There is no grass whatsoever in either my front or backyard.
We took to clearing things out little by little.
Once we got going we couldn’t stop. I ended up filling 7 – 30 gallon yard bags worth of old mulch and day lilies and weeds.
We were pulled inside the house to eat a bit of lunch at 4pm & then promptly headed back outside with fresh determination to get the whole job done.
My dad and Felix were done with what they were working on and came to help us even out the ground and redistribute the excess soil to the backyard.
It was a total life saver as I’m sure we wouldn’t have had enough energy to finish that part ourselves.
Although the yard is just soil right now, it looks so much cleaner than what it used to be. The day lilies were starting to take over the sidewalk even.
Things need to be temporary up here since we’re eventually going to have to rebuild our front porch and replace the ugly pink bricks that are the outer layer of the house. The pink bricks are fine by themselves but they’re just not meant to be put on a house built in 1885 and along with baby blue trim.
We’ll either put some grass down or we’ll have some more structured planting beds throughout with a small Japanese maple. We just need to keep it clean and orderly (and low maintenance) while we continue to work on the interior of the house. (I’m also hoping my mom brings over some of her spare flowers so we can fill it in more with some pretty color.)
And now… I’m so beat. Hope you all had a lovely, relaxing weekend yourselves.