Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Skirt to wear to the Vatican

Many weeks ago, not long after I finished the two brown skirts, I started thinking about making a peasant skirt. I looked at a few web tutorials and decided to do just a simple elastic waist, and I figured I wouldn't need a pattern. I went and shopped a sale at JoAnn for the fabric, elastic for the waist, and a pretty lace trim to go around the bottom edge.

Since I wasn't using a pattern, I went a head and did a back of the envelope calculation, as they say on the Frontiers of Science (David Helfand would be so proud). Here is my schematic drawing showing the way the tiers would expand:
Fast forward a goodly number of weeks to last Monday night, and I've gotten all of the pieces cut out, the waist casing done, and all but the bottom two seams sewn. When I tried the skirt on, it didn't fit right. I'd pictured kind of a drop waist sort of first tier beginning with the waistband, but that put the first seam right at the widest part of my hips. It fit, but it wasn't at all flattering. Luckily, it was also clear that the skirt was a lot longer than I'd pictured. Where I had expected the hem to fall just a tad below my knees, it was on track to be mid-calf length. So I chopped off about four inches from the top, and resewed the casing.

Another problem appeared when I went to sew the hem. I had only bought 2 yards of lace trim, when it turned out that I needed 2 1/2 yards. So I had to put the skirt on hold until I could get back to JoAnn to buy new lace.
When I make this skirt again, I'll make it a little bit shorter - probably by making each of the lower three tiers an inch or an inch and a half shorter. As Robert said, this skirt makes me look like I'm trying to be modest. That's exactly the image I want to project when I visit the Vatican when I go to Rome in a few weeks, but my general style is for skirts that are closer to knee-length.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Chicken and pigeons

Robert and I have been in our new apartment just over a month now, and for the past two or three weeks, we've had a pair of pigeons attempting to nest in our juliette balcony. I say "attempting" because these two pigeons are extraordinarily bad parents. They built a nest, and the female laid two eggs (much to our dismay). Then all of the nesting material fell through the grate and/or off the side. Then one of the eggs apparently fell over the side. Then, last week, Robert noticed that the remaining egg is broken. But none of these misfortunes have prevented the pigeons from sitting on the egg, and the male(? - I'm not 100% sure which is which) pigeon keeps on trying to bring twigs to reconstitute the nest. This has been totally unsuccessful, because he's just a little too fat to comfortably fit between the bars of the balcony. He flies up with a twig in his beak, tries to come through the bars, flaps his wings a few times, drops the twig to the ground, and flies off for another one. Every time. It would be very amusing, except that the pigeons are kind of noisy and gross and generally annoying.

In other birdie news, my needle-felted chicken from a previous post is finally framed and hanging up in our kitchen:

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Pink socks finished

Even though colloquium and CMS are on summer hiatus, I've been getting in some pretty good knitting time, and a few weeks ago I finished the pink socks. The pattern is from Cookie A's book Sock Innovation, and the yarn is from Claudia Hand Painted Yarns, purchased at Webs.
Two things I love about these socks:
  1. The color. I don't really think either of the pictures captures the beautiful pink colors of the yarn. Pink is my favorite color.
  2. The way the lace panel eats the ribs to arc across the top of the foot, as you can see in the first picture. Robert says this is "nifty," and I agree. Also, I really appreciate the symmetry of this element. The socks are mirror images of each other.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Bread Machine!

Many things have happened since the last time I posted. I will make an attempt to post them in the order in which they were done, but no guarantees.

First up, We received a breadmaker as a housewarming/"thanks Robert for dogsitting" gift. We have been enjoying it a great deal. The first loaf of bread Robert made in it was a simple white bread:

This loaf of bread was very delicious, and lasted less than 24 hours. We try to have a "special" breakfast on Saturday mornings, and the day after the first loaf of bread happened to be a Saturday, so I made vegan french toast. We devoured it with margarine and maple syrup.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Green Shawl Finished!

My green shawl is finally finished! I started it in the summer of 2008, when my family was on vacation in Flagstaff, AZ. We went on a day trip to Sedona, where we stopped in at the Red Rock Knit Shop. I fell in love with a gorgeous lace shawl displayed on the wall. The owner of the shop directed me to the online source for the pattern, and I bought the yarn right there and then (the yarn was Classic Elite Silky Alpaca Lace; this is not the yarn recommended in the pattern).

It has taken me nearly 3 years, but it is now finished. In the picture above, you can see it all pinned out for blocking. Here it is soaking in Eucalan wool wash first:
After removing it from the wash water, I squeezed it in a towel. It was so small!
Then I rolled it up in a bath towel and walked all over it before Robert helped me pin it out symmetrically. After it had dried, it was clear how much more orderly the stitches had become. The lace pattern became much more clear than it had been before.
Here, you can see the difference in size of the shawl before and after blocking. The first photo is before, and the second is after. For reference, the back of the couch folds down to make a full-sized bed.