Saturday, February 6, 2016

Christmas FO: Ginger Bearded Beanie

My brother and i Have a sort of un-official Christmas tradition that I make him some type of ridiculous hat. I always ask him what he would like, and he always says a hat, and occasionally he has specific requests. This year he first told me he wanted a plain beanie in purple (his school color). After that was made, he requested another beard like his previous gift so that he could interchange different colors and "accessorize", lol. 
I knit the beanie with my standby pattern, basic hat by Ooo Baby Knits (a free pattern). I made it the largest size and it fits him great. Before the beard request, I was trying to fancy it up by duplicate stitching a gray letter V (his team is called the Vipers), but it just wasn't coming out well. I'm one who really needs a chart for any type of color work and I was just winging it. When the beard was added to the order, I happily took out the V, lol.
So, here's just the hat by itself :) I used Hobby Lobby's I Love This Yarn in Grape from my stash and it's so wonderfully soft. The color worked out perfectly too - he can wear it with his basketball jersey if he wants.
The beard is crocheted and I used another free pattern - Bobble Bearded Beanie by Ashlee Prisbee. This is the same pattern I used last time and it worked out great. I made the largest size and used Vanna's Choice yarn in Terra Cotta from my stash for it. This is one of those odd colors that I tend to use all the time. You wouldn't think you'd need that much bright orange yarn, but I've gone through many skeins now so I try to keep it in my stash all the time. To make the hat and beard connect, I added buttons (2 on each side) so the beard can button on and off.
So now Briggs can truly accessorize his previous green hat and brown beard by swapping them out :) His hat was quite the hit on Christmas day, and everyone had to try it on. We had a lot of fun. Merry Christmas, Briggs! I hope it keeps your head and face warm :)

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Christmas FO: Black Sequin Striped Shirt

My sister, Kelly, requested that I sew her a t-shirt for Christmas - which I was more than happy to oblige since I so enjoy sewing them :) The request got pretty specific - she wanted me to recreate a shirt that she liked the fit of, but in black rayon jersey. "No problem," I thought. I'd just have to find some rayon jersey that wasn't too expensive. Then one day I came across a perfect refashioning specimen at the thrift store...
Sorry for the terrible picture, but it was dark out and I had to get sewing it so this is all I have of what it once looked like. The shirt was a size 2X faux-twin-set by INC. It was designed to look like a sequined striped tank top with a drapey shirt over top, but the tank top was actually just the front of the shirt and it was all sewn as one. Surely this would be enough fabric to make Kelly's shirt, and it would be much cooler than just a boring black top! I tried to feel her out about the sequins and decided to just go with it in the end. So I got to cutting!
I traced off Kelly's beloved shirt and made a pattern, then cut apart the thrifted top. This is where the changes started occurring, lol. Kelly's shirt was a boatneck, and I hoped that since it was such a large size that I would be able to still make the higher neckline happen. Sadly, the scoop was just too far and since Kelly wanted me to make this new shirt longer, I couldn't do the boat neck :( Womp womp. So the shirt that I set out to make "to order" is now nothing like what she requested, lol. I just used the existing scoop neckline and recut the front and back pieces, then I opened up the sleeves and recut them as well. I used the existing hem on all of those pieces as well as the scoop front neck band - the only finishing I had to do was to add a makeshift neckband piece to the back of the neckline, and I cut that piece out of the scraps. I still have the two drapey pieces from this project that I didn't manage to use.
I have to say that I am quite pleased with how this refashion turned out :) As in I borderline wanted to keep this shirt and make her a different one, lol. It was ridiculously difficult to photograph those sequins, but they are a nice little touch that makes the piece look more ready-to-wear in my opinion. As someone who has correctly sewn knit tops, I will confess that it does bug me that the hem and neckbands don't enclose the side seams as they should - but I'm not hung up on that and absolutely no one notices that there is anything different about it. My sister has worn the shirt very frequently and she says she gets compliments on it all the time :)
A little better view of the sequins for you :) I had hoped to get pictures of Kelly wearing the shirt, but we are all busy people and I didn't want to put off posting this forever. To anyone concerned about sewing with sequins - don't be. I did nothing special to work with this fabric. The original shirt had the sequins stop before the side seams, but I just sewed right through them as I took the shirt in and I had zero issues. Kelly says the shirt is comfy and she loves it. Definitely a successful Christmas gift!

Fabric: thrifted INC black with sequins shirt - $3.00
Pattern: copied from RTW shirt - free
Notions: knit stay tape - $0.50, thread - stash
Hours: 2 to 3
Total Cost: $3.50

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Books Reviews: 5 in 1

Normally, I try to only review one book at a time, but these were both kind of "meh" for me, so I thought I'd do a few quick reviews on one post to help catch up.
Watch Me is Anjelica Huston's autobiography. I picked this up having never known all that much about her and friends said the book was really good. I was consistently surprised at all the people she palled around with, but the book quickly became a laundry list of names and parties filled with people from the 70s that I've never heard of. She talks a great deal about her relationship with Jack Nicholson, but I really kept wondering what on earth was so romantic about them together - it certainly didn't come across as chemistry in the book. Instead of expounding on the deeper meaning behind some of the events in her life, she just kind of runs through it all in a "and then this happened" sort of way. I had to muscle through it. Interesting as her life has been, I was left feeling pretty blah about the book. I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

I picked this up randomly hoping for a few laughs, and it sort of filled that need. I Was Told There'd Be Cake is a collection of essays about instances in Sloan Crosley's life. Mostly the stories consist of expounding on seemingly mundane details in a humorous way à la David Sedaris, though instead of the perspective of an older gay man this book is told through the eyes of a thirty something Jewish woman. Several stories involve New York City in interesting way, several mention moments from her teenage years. My personal favorite was The Pony Problem, which is the first essay in the book, and honestly none of the others were as funny to me which made the book seem like it was going down hill - always unfortunate. Also I found it odd that the title phrase is not found in the book anywhere. What's up with that?

This book had it's moments, but if you pick it up because you're a Sedaris fan, it will leave you feeling slightly jipped. I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

I'm sure that I'm going to be burned at the stake for not thinking this book was amazing, but in my defense I feel like I came to the party too late for true love to strike. A Wrinkle In Time is a classic children's series and this is the first book. The story follows some siblings as they search for their incredibly smart dad who's gone missing. Their journey uses mathematics to take them to different dimensions. Maybe I'm just too old and cynical, but I thought this was pretty cheesy. The book wasn't trying to hint at its true purpose - to teach kids that evil is evil and only love can overcome it. I don't know *sigh* I still feel bad that I didn't love it. I tried, I really did. I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

The Scarlet Letter - Oh my gosh, where do I begin with this book? I generally pride myself on truly enjoying classic novels, and I do technically understand why it is called a classic being a good window into our country's early settlers, but holy cow what a horrible reading experience. I knew the story going into it, and in all honesty the book didn't really expound on the basic theme much. If the book stuck to the actual story, this book would only be a few chapters long and it would save us all a lot of turmoil. I acknowledge what it is and why it is still important in literature, but I just can't stand behind making kids read this. Good grief, those poor high schoolers. No wonder so many of them never want to read a "classic" again. At risk of being labelled an uncultured dunce, all I can really say is ... I've read this. Now I can mark it off the list, lol. I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

The Wizard of Oz - This was definitely a child's book, which I wasn't quite expecting for some reason. The overall tone is one that really doesn't translate much to adults reading it themselves. I did enjoy the classic (if silly) story, and I'm glad to have it checked off the list of "to read". I'm sure I will read this to my children someday, but it will wait until that day for another go round. I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Christmas FO: The Mounted Bass

Another project I had to really do some hard thinking on was what to make for my father-in-law. He's a big fisherman, so my husband said I should make him a bass, but I couldn't see him just having a stuffed animal around. I half-heartedly searched Ravelry for patterns and when I saw this one I knew it was meant to be.
This is the Mounted Bass pattern by Amanda Lang. I had seen the faux taxidermy craze with other animals, but I never thought of doing a fish the same way! I had almost all the colors in my stash, and I knew I could slap this out quick enough to get it ready in time. I even had a wood plaque hanging around from my photography days as well as wood-plaque-colored spray paint. This project really just fell into place at the right time :)
That doesn't mean the project was completely easy. I must confess that I am spoiled by the quality and detail given in FreshStitches amigurumi patterns. It's not that I need someone to hold my hand - I've made enough animals by now to know how to put things together and what stitches to use - what  I missed in this pattern were the specific spots to attach the extremities. I take that kind of info for granted when it's available and only seem to notice when it's not there, and that's only because it takes so. much. longer. Seriously, it's much quicker to count out stitches and put things on a certain row than to look back and forth at the example photos and your project to see if you put the piece in the right spot. To me, it all goes back with giving as much info as possible to make sure that customer ends up with a finished item that looks as close to the original as possible - that's why people buy patterns, right? Anyway, this isn't to say that the pattern is bad at all - I still ended up with a passable bass and everyone liked him. This extra info just would've ensured the result and saved me time.

Anyway, I used Vanna's Choice yarn in Olive and White as well as Caron Simply Soft in Dark Sage to make this. Since I planned to mount him to the plaque all along, I only made one side fin and only attached one eye, lol. I kind of wish I had added the second eye now, but it's too late now. He's still cute :) Getting the mouth to lay smooth with the body shape was a challenge, but we got there in the end. I also kind of wish my plaque had been a little bigger, but I'm not worried about it. Again, he's still cute.
So there you have it - a mounted bass! I think it's a really cute idea for fishermen - imagine all the other fish options. You could make a mounted Nemo and really freak a kid out, lol. I'm glad it turned out so cute and my father-in-law liked it :)