Thursday, 31 December 2015


Buenas tardes from an unspecified but very windy corner of Mexico. I limped my way through the last couple weeks of semester and have been spending my time drinking margaritas and knitting. I can't remember if I accomplished anything at all hobby-wise in the past three months, but I have started at least three separate projects in the past week. Place your bets now for how long it will take for anything to be finished, especially considering the fact that three months sans any adequate engagement in my hobbies has mad me hungry for difficult, fussy, or otherwise long and complicated projects.

I'm worried I have probably overstretched the somewhat low-achieving WiFi with this post, but we'll never know until I post it!

Exciting secret embroidery things I will write about later

Tequila and knitting are only sort of complimentary activities

Monday, 17 August 2015

New Old Things

So, I'm back home. Amidst the many processes that are involved in coming back home after an extended time away (including marveling at exactly how unattached I really am to most of the stuff I had stored here), we have a sewing machine:

She's a Singer 338, ca. 1961, if you were wondering.
Yes, people, I'm trying my hand at vintage sewing machine refurbishing. Originally, I was only going to clean and oil it, not anticipating that a 50 year old machine might require more intensive upkeep. The first, rather innocent sign of trouble was this:

I'm going to go ahead and assume that isn't a decorative tassel.
A tiny piece of yarn. I thought maybe it got caught in there at some point during the machine's many years of service, so I went and asked a technician at the local sewing machine repair shop. She suggested it could be something caught in there, or it was protruding from the motor belt. The latter seemed unlikely because the yarn stayed stationary even when I turned the handwheel. More investigation was necessary.

Dirty, sure, but looks like it could be alright. Let's try and get it moving, shall we?

Well then.

I wasn't sure how complicated it would be to fix that, but a little research (with help!) revealed it shouldn't be that difficult. The hardest part will probably be remembering how to put everything back together again. I know I'm not done yet, but sleuthing and tinkering with this machine has been so much fun (and interesting, how much there is to learn about these machines), I got out an older lady of mine, that I had put aside a few years ago.

Isn't she lovely?
As much as I hate having more than one project on the go at once, how else am I going to pass the time till the new motor belt gets here? If you need me, I'll be researching how to remove mouse crap from antique flower decals.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Williamsburg Projects

Salutations from Williamsburg, where it's still cruelly hot and moist. To balance the suffering out, lots of exciting things have been happening, creatively speaking:

1. Sweater: Body finished! I'm just rinsing it out right now, then I'll block it to shape. I'm aware of the possibility that this will cause it to grow, but that's fine. I just may have to knit the sleeves to the necessary armhole size, and adjust the neckband. I made the smallest size anyways, and who doesn't like a big, comfy sweater?

Wet sweater

2. Took some nice pictures of my electric yellow cloak:

This me getting eaten by it.

Mmm, so bright

Took this picture inside - subdues the colour to a level that doesn't induce retina damage.

3. Almost finished the mitts! After much struggle, I embroidered the four little flowers (damned flowers...) and set in the thumbs. Now I just have to sew up the side seam, but honestly I don't even care anymore. Apparently these were very much a 'process piece'. Should've seen it coming, since I was never very taken with 18th century mitts as a garment anyways.

Aren't they so precious? 

And next on the list, a personal project:

Friday, 3 July 2015

July? When Did That Happen?

I can't remember if I specifically mentioned anything, but this post is coming to you live from Williamsburg, VA. How I ended up here is somewhat of a mystery, but lately I've been inclined to go with the flow, not ask too many questions, etc... It really is a lot easier that way. Just roll with the instability, everything will be fine.

Anyways, I realize it's two days late, but it didn't feel right to let Canada Day pass without mention. Last Canada Day, I was in Edmonton. I remember wandering around the High Level Bridge, enjoying being amongst the crowds, and the sense of community and solidarity that is sometimes sadly inapparent in my city. At that point, my impending trip to France was almost assured, and I remember wondering at the idea that by next Canada Day, I would be back home.

Which kind of illustrates how silly making suppositions about the future can be. I've never celebrated Canada Day outside of Canada, as a solitary Canadian, and foregoing the usual festivities was somewhat disheartening (no pancake breakfast! No maple syrup!). Instead, I carefully chose a red and white gown for the day:

squinty squint

And bore the teasing of my entirely American social group as valiantly as possible. (I may or may not have also launched into a couple rousing renditions of the national anthem in the shop)

Anyways, I wish my country a very happy birthday. Today marks one month exactly until I'm back home. Now, gratuitous twirl photo:

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Drive By

A problem I have is that sometimes when I drink too much coffee, it becomes very hard for me to concentrate. Well, that's not true. It becomes very difficult for me to concentrate on tasks I'm not particularly interested in, i.e studying. I've never heard anyone mention anything specific, but coffee renders me exceptionally euphoric, especially when I drink too much. Am I the only one?

Anyways, a side effect of all this euphoria is that all I really want to do is do things with TEXTILES, which lately has been embroidering. I've finished the little flowering branch, and in the process made some peace with french knots. I find them terribly fiddly and annoying because it's hard to undo them if they aren't quite right. Practice, practice… 

It's a simple design, but I'm quite pleased with the colour layering effect. The composition itself is rather stiff and static, in the future I'd like to work towards more dynamic designs. Always so much to learn!

And recently I became inspired by a quote by a certain Louise Bourgeois:

"The act of sewing is a process of emotional repair."

I saw it on my Pinterest, another textile artist had used the quote as a way of exploring darning as a metaphor

Darning is something that has fallen out of quotidian life relatively recently - my parents talk about their parents darning socks for them, but I have never seen it anywhere besides some decorative machine darning on jeans. I found a picture of a darning egg on the internet once, and I had no idea what it was for. 

Modern clothing consumption habits aside, I'd like to incorporate darning more into my regular wardrobe maintenance. You can even do patterns!

I'm starting with the basics:

With added swanky colours!
Anyways, this is my absolute first attempt, so we'll see if it actually works. Simplicity requires its own nuance and skill.

In my non-textile life (does such a thing even exist?), I'm currently wrapping up my time in France and preparing for my internship by frantically searching for apartments and stressing about whether I should have gotten a visa or not. I also took a couple trips in the past month: Bordeaux, Dusseldorf, Montreal and am thinking of taking a few more day trips around the Loire Valley before I leave it for an indefinite period of time.

The caffeine in my blood is back to manageable levels… time to get back to studying!

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Good morning...

I may have a lot less homework than I normally get in Canada, but man do French assignments take a long time. The longest, hardest part is accepting the inevitable embarrassment that comes with working in your second language.

In other news, embroidery is my therapy…

Essentially, I'm making the embroidery version of a sketchbook.

I used to be afraid of the sheer breadth of possibility embroidery offers, but these days I appreciate the freedom more and more.

Embroidery can be extremely simple, while still offering tons of creative control. I like the challenge of trying to communicate something in my imagination onto fabric, which is not something I've managed to pull off with knitting yet (needs too much planning - not my groove, yet).

With small bloodstain. All good embroidery samplers have blood on them, right?

This guy is based on a shrub I stumbled upon one day on campus - my imagination is rather easily captured by the strange stuff that grows here. It's a rather loose interpretation, but sometimes that's a good thing.

In other news, sweater!

The veteran of a 40,000 stitch false start, a rogue Sex on the Beach and one or two trips around Europe, we have my Hawser, just about to be divided for front and back. It lives on my desk, calling to me while I study. It's been an easy knit so far (rookie mistakes notwithstanding) and it grows quickly. At this rate, it should be done just in time to be completely useless for what I can only imagine will be a very hot summer in the United States.

Back to studying...

Saturday, 31 January 2015

I Like Grey, And That's Okay

This post comes from the nine, cornflake-scented square metres I call my own these days in France. I had a longish but still much too short vacation in Canada for Christmas (if I didn't see you, it's because three weeks is not nearly enough to do even half of what you want. It also means I owe you a drink in June to make up for my neglect!). 

Who knew that this was paradise?
The day after my return to France I flew to Switzerland for a week of skiing. Instead of going to class. Priorities.

They name cabins in Switzerland. You know, like boats.

Snowboarding, as a physical activity, ranks very high on the scale of Fun Ways to Bruise, Exhaust and Almost Kill Yourself for me, so I had a great time. I never feel so healthy as I do on the one week I spend on a mountain.

I don't ski.

Now I'm back in Nantes, back to school. I feel a lot better about being here after having been able to go home for a little while. Being in Europe made me realize how truly North American I am, and it was really good to be around a lot of other North Americans, who generally understand things like queueing and how peanut butter is a reasonable thing to eat.

And while I was in Canada there were a few things about France that I missed, like the amazing dairy products and wide availability of good bread.

I've cast on a new project - this sweater (round two on Brooklyn Tweed patterns, wish me luck!) in a dark grey shade of the inimitable Cascade 220. Already I can see that it behaves a bit differently than the recommended Brooklyn Tweed Shelter, but I think I can figure it out. I even swatched! Anyways, I just started the body today so I'll have to wait for better light for pictures. I hate to demand imagination but it is essentially another grey thing, slightly darker than the last one.