Friday, April 29, 2016

Me Made May 2016: My Pledge

It's that time of year again :) Zoe of So Zo... What Do You Know? is hosting that illustrious creative challenge: Me Made May. I love Me Made May and this will be the 3rd year I've participated, with last year being the only complete success. I've finally accumulated enough makes to reasonably clothe myself for an entire month, and after last year's challenge of wearing a me made item each day I've kind of stuck with that goal most of the year :) If I didn't make it, I bought it at a thrift store except for a few pieces that were gifts, so no matter what my wardrobe would be considered "sustainable". Anyway, here is my pledge for this year:

'I, Megan of, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '16. I endeavor to wear at least 1 me made or refashioned item each day for the duration of May 2016 and try to come up with new outfit combinations I have not tried before.'

I know I will be able to do this since I did it last year. I realize this might sound like a cop-out, but considering the crazy state of my life at the moment I am not going to add in more stress. I'll take that challenge I wrote up there and nail it, thank you very much, lol. I've learned to not sweat things that aren't complete necessities, so I wanted to make my goal achievable. I did add in the "new outfit combos" clause. I tend to get stuck in certain pairings - my wardrobe is 90% separates and once I latch onto an "outfit", I tend to wear it that way all the time. I want to learn to switch up my looks a bit more, so I hope to come up with some new combos from things I already have. I also would tentatively like to make another item or two during the month, but that might not be possible and I am ok with that. Mostly I just want to join in the comradery and help show people that it's possible to make what you wear and still look normal, ha ha. Well as normal as I ever look I guess. I suppose I mean that we should pay attention to out clothing choices more, but that we can still have fun with our clothes and that they should not be considered so disposable. In fact, I've already mended a few items I'd put off just so I could wear them this month, lol.

So if you'd like to see how I do on this challenge as May progresses, you can follow me on instagram (my name is showandtellmeg) and I will try to post daily photos. I will also do a recap at the end of the month as usual.  So get ready, friends, for a lot of Megan-made-goodness :)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Mystery Revealed: Meet Bradley!

So, I had a blast participating in the Fresh Stitches Bradley Mystery Crochet Along this past month, and the final clue was just released on Monday, so f course I finished him up as soon as possible. Meet Bradley!
He's an adorable sea turtle! The mystery had an extra twist this year that was so much fun. Clues #1 and 2 were all the pieces we had to make - all don in natural, undyed wool yarn. Clue #3 told us which pieces to dye what color and how to dye them ... with Kool-Aid! Stacey at Fresh Stitches has blogged about Kool-Aid dying for years now, but I never took the plunge until now. I'm so glad I was slightly forced to finally do it, lol.
Here is what my pieces looked like at first. Totally creamy white colored. I decided to use quart sized mason jars to dye my pieces, so I just boiled some water in my kettle, put the kool-aid in a jar, poured in enough water to cover the pieces, and added the crocheted parts.
It looked pretty cool immediately and lots of color showed up within seconds.I let my pieces soak for quote a while, then let the water cool down before I removed them officially. About 40 minutes into dyeing, I noticed the green pieces were pretty splotchy looking with some pieces much darker than others, so I removed the pieces, added a bit more water and half a packet of kool-aid, then added the pieces back and they looked much better for it. Nice and evenly colored :)
The truly magical thing is that all of the dye from the drink mix soaks up into the yarn, leaving your yarn pieces sitting in clear water when they're done. Isn't that amazing?! I was a convert right then and now I seriously want to dye everything with Kool-aid.
Straight out of the jar, this is what my pieces looked like. I set them on my drying rack for a few days to make sure they dried really well in preparation for the final clue. Clue #4 told us how to assemble the pieces and make him into his cute turtle self.

I seriously love the colors I got with dying. The pieces are so vibrant and bright! I actually had a hard time adjusting the photos due to how bright the yarn is. Also, the shell still smells like blue raspberry lemonade Kool-Aid (it's not crazy obvious, but if you stick your nose on it you can smell it) which is so stinkin' fun. 
The dying process left slight irregularities, but I think that just adds to the fun. He has a very painterly quality to the dying now.
The only thing to keep in mind is that they underlayer of yarn inside each stitch didn't get as much/any dye. This wasn't noticeable until I was sewing the pieces together, and it's not a deal breaker at all, it just makes me think it would be better to dye the yarn before using it (even though it's more of a hassle).

So there you have it: a mystery solved! Everyone I show this little cutie to lights up and says how cute it is, so I call that a successful design. Thanks so much, Stacey, for another awesome mystery crochet along! I can't wait to see what you dream up next year :)

Friday, April 22, 2016

Book Review: The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley

I will confess that the reason I knew anything about this book was due to its aesthetics. This book is beautiful in person! I was so intrigued by its outside design that I decided to pick it up, then the story seemed interesting so I decided to check it out from the library. So if you judge books by their covers, this one will certainly pull you in - I'm proof of that.

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street follows the story of Thaniel Steepleton, a twenty-something Londoner from the 1890s. Thaniel works as a telegraph operator in the Home Office and takes messages concerning bomb threats in the city to come months in the future. He goes home that night and finds a beautiful gold pocket watch laid on his bed. Mysterious though it was, the watch was very beautiful and Thaniel carries it around even though the watch won't open. When the day of the threatened attack comes, the watch ends up saving Thaniel's life, prompting him to finally track down the watch's origin. The inner workings opened then, and he found the maker's mark and went to the shop to meet Mr. Mori. Mori is a middle-aged Japanese man who makes the most amazing clockwork mechanisms anyone has ever seen. Mori seems a bit strange, but Thaniel ends up renting a spare room in his house to keep an eye on his whereabouts in an effort to help the police see if Mori is the bomber. The two develop a great friendship, and Thaniel notices little moments where Mori seems to already know something that is about to happen. The story grows from there, but I don't want to giveaway too much.

I enjoyed this story greatly for the first 3/4 of the books, but it left me feeling a little let down. I had high hopes, and it just didn't quite deliver. Unrelated to that, the story is touted as a romance, but it's not quite in the way you would think - I read a review that compared this to The Night Circus (which I loved), and I think that its lack of living up to that estimation is what disappointed me. The story was still fine enough, but might not be for everyone. I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Mysterious Monday...

So, if you're a long time reader you will know that I am a big fan of the mystery make along. I have two in particular that I participate in every year and they happen to  both go on at the same time. Now is that time, lol. Not that I'm complaining - I love the social aspect that goes on in Ravelry groups during the mysteries and seeing everyone's toys coming together. No matter how busy I am, I always make a point to join in the fun :)

First off this time was the FreshStitches Mystery Crochet Along. It started on April 4th, and the neat thing this time around is that it will involve Kool-Aid dying. She has you make everything in undyed wool yarn and then we will learn how to dye the pieces and what pieces should be what color later on. Pretty cool idea, huh? As of now, I have Clue 1 and 2 completed, and thy look like this:
At this point in clue #1 I was thinking it would be a seal (which is why I have the pieces arranged like that).
Clue #2 gave a different and undeniable perspective - that's looking to be a shell, friends. It was pretty obvious at this point that the pattern is for a sea turtle. I also peeked at Clue #3 (which was released today) and saw that all the pieces get dyed green except that shell, which is dyed blue. Pretty sure that means I'm right, but I'm still excited for the final clue next week :)

My second mystery project just started this past Friday, April 15th. It's the Fuzzy Mitten Mystery Knit Along 2016. This has become one of my favorite knitting projects of the year :) I've loved every one of the animals Barbara has designed for us, and I'm sure this time will be no different. She says that this year the animal will be bigger than normal, but also she decided to release the body parts first and the clothing after over the 6 weeks of clues (usually it's the other way around to keep the mystery alive longer). She says it will be obvious what we are making after the 2nd or 3rd week, but this way we will be able to make sure our clothing fits (we've had issues before with not getting a good gauge on the clothes and not knowing they were too big until it was too late). I managed to finish knitting the first clue during church on Sunday and this is what I've got:
It's hard to see in the photo, but the two needles on the bottom have a bind off section between then, so these are going to be the legs. Barbara give you the option of adding panties to the animal for modesty in the pattern or going without and I just decided to go au naturale and leave mine in the nuddie pants. The decreases in the middle are looking like a belly button (which is super cute), and I'm slightly worried it's a doll - as in a human - in which case mine will look like a nudist, lol, but oh well. It's fun. We'll see what next week brings.

I've been having a lot of fun with these two project lately, and I've been working on a very old toy project in between clues. I even managed to do some sewing (gasp)! It's true! I've been in such a funk with sewing lately. My sewing room is moved and completely functional, but I still technically live at my house (meaning I sleep there and my clothes and kitchen stuff is all there). It's a strange kind of limbo to live in, and I never thought it would be a big deal, but this dissected life has turned sewing into a planned event. I can't just meander into my sewing room when the mood strikes like I'm accustomed to since my entire sewing room is now a 45 minute drive away. Because it requires planning and setting aside time, I then guilt myself into being more productive with all the things I need to do to get out of this horrid dichotomy, making sewing seem frivolous and wasteful. It's a sad state of affairs. Thank heavens knitting is so portable. I've finished several other projects that I still have to photograph (again, my stuff is split between 2 places, making photos a planned chore), so hopefully those things will show up here soon and you won't have to just see random book reviews, lol. I did devote my Saturday night to sewing this past weekend though, and I managed to finish a skirt I started in January as well as mend 2 other me made skirts (gotta get ready for Me Made May), and I even cut out a shirt that I will hopefully sew some of later tonight. Life is crazy, but I still need to flex my creative muscles to keep myself from going completely insane.

So that's how things are going with me :) I'm so grateful for these fun mystery projects that add a sense of urgency to making the pieces so I don't miss out on the surprise. I definitely recommend joining in if you feel so inclined!