Saturday, May 29, 2010

Beading from the stash

I'm all fired up about a lampwork beading class I'll be taking so I had to get out my beads and play. Flipping through some old BeadWork magazines I found this for inspiration:

I found some hematite, bone and wood beads from old pieces in my stash and reworked them with some of my seed beads. Here's what I came up with:

I used square stitch at the ends and made the individual strands uneven lengths to add movement to the cuff.

So much fun to be beading again!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I'm still here

Not up to anything too exciting: gardening, family and reading.

The irises provide a beautiful contrast for the poppies.

Hiking the waterfall trail in Gatineau Park

An intense, intimate memoir anchored by vivid descriptions and recipes of food

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Here today, gone when I get to it...

I wish I could love them. I know the leaves are great as a spring green; the flowers can be made into wine or even jelly. They're not for me. But, I sure don't want to use pesticides to get rid of them.

Enter the weeding tools. You have a few choices:
  • the short, hand-held weeder that pops the leaves and flowers out
  • a spray attachment for your hose that uses water to shoot them out, tap root and all
  • the long pole weeder that grabs into the plant and with some skill can get the root as well as the leaves and flowers. This is my choice.
After trying out my neighbour Eric's pole weeder, I was sold. So much that when I saw a similar version at Home Depot, I bought it. Once home, I complained to my man that it didn't work. He showed me how. After all, it had been a year since using a pole weeder. Still, something didn't feel right.

Grampa's Weeder is on the left, Vigoro's is on the right.
The one I bought is made by Vigoro for 12.99. You have to aim, push the claw into the dandelion using your arm, and then pull the pole to the side to get the dandelion out. Yes it works, but not very ergonomically. And it hurt my shoulder after about 10 minutes.
Eric's is called "Grampa's Weeder" and it's available at Lee Valley for 28.50. It has a nice design element in that you can use your foot to push the weeder into the dandelion. This makes it more accurate and much easier to use. For the extra money, you can keep digging dandelions all day long if you wanted. Guess it all depends on your desperation.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Why I'd go back

Before we left I thought maybe this second trip to Vegas would be my last. But now...too much beauty:

desert flora

watch out for wild burros (unfortunately, we didn't see any)

Cactus Joe's Blue Diamond Nursery - it hailed when we were there

gorgeous rock

amazing skies

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Curling up with the gods

It's been a blah week spent getting back to a normal schedule. Highlights included the our kids' open house at school, sorting through books for their book sale and a lovely gift from our daughter.

She borrowed a book from her classroom for me to read. She loves to share books with me and I love to read them, this one in particular: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan.

It's fantastic. Full of magic, myth and adventure, the story brings characters from Greek mythology into the present. The young hero discovers who he is while on a quest to stop the outbreak of war among the gods. My daughter couldn't put it down and neither could I.

For one thing, I love children's lit and I love mythology. Two, I like to keep up with what she's reading. And it got me excited again. Nothing like a good tale to recharge my batteries and spark my creativity.

Now I just need cross some things of my to do list so I don't feel guilty when I grab the next book in the series...

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Pattern challenge: Simplicity 2404

I finished the dress April 23, got married in it on April 27, and now have a chance to share my experience in making it with you.

So much went into this dress, both emotion and time sewing, it's hard to be objective about the pattern but I'll do my best.

Sewing with emotion

I was so happy making this dress. It seemed to come together so well. I was nervous because I've never sewn anything so fitted before, sewn with silk, or made anything for so important an occassion.  But with some advice and encouragement, I took it step by step. And I enjoyed making it.

Through making a muslin, to the silk shell, debating an interlining vs. a lining and going with the lining, sewing the trim - thinking all the time about my man and I - it was a real joy.

I loved the silk I chose, off-white silk jaquard, beautiful and not so slippy to sew. My Bernina machine handled all of it with perfect tension, even the slippy Bemburg lining. And mostly, the button I used to close the neckline at the back. My mother wouldn't be at the wedding but I used a button from her dress for the closure. That way I'd have a physical reminder of her love with me. I'm really happy I made my dress.

Pattern critique

I chose this pattern because the dress lines are simple - it's just a shift - and the pattern offered detailed instructions and pattern pieces for sewing and fitting. In general, I'm satisfied with how it came together.

Because I was using silk, I made a muslin first. This was a big help in that it familiarized me with the pattern and showed where I'd have to make adjustments. Worth the extra time because it gave me confidence.

I should have asked for help with the fitting. The bodice seemed okay but in the silk turned out to be a bit large. The pattern uses specified measurements to help you choose your cup size for the bodice. There a pattern pieces for sizes A through D. Based on these measurements, I fit the B cup. However, I am not usually a B. I'm an A cup. I went with the B cup. The end result is a looser fitting bodice, so not quite as good a line and it shows in some of my pictures. Oh well, am I just being vain?

The only other thing is that I would have liked instructions for lining the dress. With a few consultations, I winged it. That worked out okay but I should have hemmed the lining a little bit shorter - I did 2 inches shorter than the dress - because I had to be careful that it didn't show when I sat.

Overall, it's a good pattern and I would recommend it.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Pattern challenge: Butterick B4385 - Finished!

Finished under the wire on April 22, just days before we left for the vacation/wedding.

The good news is that my daughter loved it and felt really pretty in it. The bad news was really all in the fitting. So on to the review...

The difficulty really comes from the fact that the style was a poor choice for my girl. The pattern fits sizes 7 through 14 and includes shaping through the bust - not required for my girl yet.



The dress needed considerable fitting through the bodice area. It needed to hang hang properly but the adjustments were difficult to make without yet having straps to keep the dress on and in the right spot. I tried pining to an undershirt and taping to her body using painter's tape. Neither technique was particularly successful.

The straps turned out to be too short so I used a wide ribbon. However the ribbon would not lie flat over her shoulder blades. Positioning them was frustrating and in the end I resorted to making the dress into a halter. My daughter was happy and it made final fitting easier.

I would not recommend this pattern unless your daughter has begun to develop or your experienced in fitting.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

A beautiful place

We're back. It was a wonderful trip for so many reasons I'm sure to miss some in a list but I'll give it a go.

The wedding. Simple and sweet with our children and special friends looking on. Surprisingly beautiful for all that it was a Vegas wedding. Maybe because we skipped Elvis. 

The scenery. The Strip always has lots to see but we also had views of the mountains from our hotel room and we drove out to Red Rock Canyon to explore. Gorgeous rocks and beautiful succulents - even the hail was wonderful to experience in the desert.

The food. Hard to pick a favourite: the burgers were exceptional at the Burger Bar and we did manage an adult evening at Aureole where every dish was superb but even the Mexican restaurant we found way out on Tropicana was good. I loved the sweet corn tamales.

Glad to be home though. My garden is sprouting and blooming and I feel re-energized.