The Pleated Plaid Skirt


A pleated (plaid?) skirt that hits just above the knee, some high heels and a merino wool sweater, everything a girl needs to be happy, right? I feel like I must be the only person in the world who does this, buy why oh why do I always choose a size too big? With the anya skirt, I at least reasoned with myself that the small waistband could have stretched, leaving me with a larger waist than the actual pattern. This waistband however is large and thick and sturdy, mostly due to the thick fabric (which is an unknown blend I thrifted). I have no excuse! I measured myself twice, and the skirt is too large!

This is McCalls 6706, a pattern so easy you almost don’t need a pattern! Except the pleats are on an angle to give the skirt more flare, so if you’re doing it without a pattern don’t forget to angle your pleats to give a nice fullness. I opted to just buy the pattern, I don’t know why, probably for the same reason that I purchased the anya skirt pattern, I just wanted to get right to work on the skirt without having to figure anything out! The pattern is very straightforward, the only tricky bit is making sure your pleats are neatly lined up. Which I just did an ‘okay’ job at.

From the pictures my talented boyfriend took you really cannot tell the skirt is too big. The only thing you can see is that the sweater is bunched up but I don’t think you get a sense for how thick the sweater is bunched up under the waistband! It’s a loose fit, so all the extra wrinkles in the back helped keep the skirt up! I still love the skirt, and with a thicker sweater like this one it works okay, but it is not the fitted, tailored look that I was going for.


All is not in vain however because I did learn a lot from doing this skirt, mostly about the importance of having proper markings. I had to go back once the side seams were sewn to try and mark up the pleats because my previous chalk markings had rubbed off (oops!). So next time I will mark the pleats with basting stitches. I will also add an invisible zipper next time because the bulky regular zipper prohibits the pleats in that area from meeting well (or perhaps I just executed it poorly?).


Turmeric: Part 2


On the right is an un-dyed skein of yarn from the same “sheep-lot” (natural, un-dyed wool) and on the left is the result of dying half a skein with turmeric! I love to use turmeric on face, as you can see in this post! I have to thank the boyfriend for encouraging me to do this, as well as actually doing most of the work AND lending me his pots, stove and floor for yarn dying purposes!

Here is the process we used:

  1. We took half a skein of undyed wool and placed in it a number of pots until we found one where the skein comfortably fit with enough “mixing room” (if you want an even colour you don’t want the yarn to be tightly packed). We used this opportunity to note how much water was needed to comfortably cover the skein.
  2. We filled the (empty) pot with water and poured in some turmeric… boy did we pour in turmeric!
  3. We brought the mix to a simmer on the stove… and added more turmeric! I don’t really know anything about spice chemistry, but I know you can dissolve more salt/sugar when it’s warm so I added extra turmeric to be safe! It simmered for about 45 minutes.
  4. We placed the skein in the bowl and let it simmer on and off for a few hours, mixing regularly but carefully to avoid felting the yarn.
  5. We let the yarn sit in the cooling dye bath overnight.
  6. We rinsed, until the water ran clear.

And step number 6 is where we found out we used entirely too much turmeric. Eventually (after half an hour bent over the bathtub) the water ran clear, but when the skein dried it left turmeric dust everywhere it had touched, so we rinsed it again and again. Eventually (probably third rinse/dry cycle) the yarn stopped leaving turmeric traces everywhere. I will probably exercise caution when knitting this up in case it bleed onto other colours! And talking about other colours, here is my planned colour palette:


Natural white, natural gray and a beautiful saturated turmeric gold! I can’t wait to knit something up!

Anya Circle Skirt


This is the Anya Skirt. I made it to wear to a country wedding on what was possibly the hottest day of the summer (45 degrees with humidex, yikes!) I know it’s a bit silly to purchase a circle skirt pattern, but the pattern came with wonderful instructions which helped through every step of the construction, and I was very keen on inserting a zipper which went all the way to the top of the waistband. The fabric is an unknown blend that was on clearance at my local fabric store.


The hardest part was attaching the zipper. Since I used my new (to me) singer 401, I didn’t have an invisible zipper foot. I nearly went crazy trying to install the zipper. The zipper kept curling into a C shape when I tried to iron the teeth (which you are supposed to do for invisible zippers). I finally went for a method that I think will work better than some of the tutorials I tried without success:

  1. I hand basted the zipper into place
  2. I ironed the teeth outwards: with the zipper basted into place the zipper didn’t curl on me
  3. I stitched as close to the teeth as possible, slowly

In the end my undoing was the waistband finishing: I sewed too close to the teeth and couldn’t pull the zipper up all the way. I ran out of time before the wedding so I sewed a hook and eye on the drive to the wedding! (Too bad the car ride wasn’t longer, I would’ve taken in the straps of the crop top as well!)

And surprisingly, the hem was really, really, really, truly, very easy! I followed a popular tip to sew 1/4” from the edge of the fabric, fold up along that edge, and fold up again. Then I stitched it down! That’s it!

I unfortunately didn’t get any pictures during the wedding day, it was so humid and hot that my camera lens fogged up immediately when I took it outside! Thankfully the couple’s photographer was able to get some beautiful photos for them despite the weather!

I have to say I will definitely be wearing a circle skirt to another wedding, it so much fun on the dance floor when spinning around! I even wore some matching hot pink shorts underneath for when the skirt flew up!


Welcome Home


I present to you the newest member of my family: a Singer 401a. The machine I originally wanted was the Singer 501a, adventurously labelled “the rocketeer”. The rocketeer was everything I wanted in a machine: innovative (the slant shank was introduced to bring more visibility to the sewer), stylish (I’m a HUGE fan of the space-age styling, and a rocketeer would look fabulous right under the boyfriend’s soviet era space exploration poster), and durable (the rocketeer features only one non-metal gear, and it’s bakelite, which is essentially nuclear-proof). Unfortunately the rocketeer had just one flaw: it was impossible to find. I did see a few models pop up here and there on the local kijiji, never for less than 300$!

So why am I telling you all about the rocketeer if I couldn’t find one? Probably because it’s just such a beautiful machine!


So I set my sights on the rocketeer’s cousin, the 401a, which doesn’t have such a cool nickname. To my knowledge it actually doesn’t have a nickname at all! (Suggestions?) The 401a proved as difficult to find as its more stylish cousin. I finally spotted one about an hour away from home for 60$, and the boyfriend agreed to take me on a road-trip.

I was so excited I performed the two cardinal sins of buying used:

  1. I didn’t negotiate (I just gave all my money to the poor girl while trying to haul out the entire machine)
  2. I didn’t run the machine before I bought it.

Number 2 is the worst thing you could possibly do. The girl who was selling it said it still worked, but I had never seen it run, I was so excited to just get the machine in the car and home so I could try all the things! This was very dangerous, replacements for certain singer machine parts can only come off other old singers. With the difficulty I had finding this one, I now realize I might have had to find another one if the motor wasn’t running!


I did find some other things though. The machine was so dirty it turns out the colour you saw wasn’t the colour of the machine. It was the colour of decades of piled up crud! There was so much lint and cat fur in the machine you could’ve made a whole cat, and knit it a sweater with what we pulled out of there! But for all of its shortcomings, the motor purred, and the machine runs very, very smoothly. Which was surprising considering we found a drapery weight inside the body of the machine! Of course it was brought in for a tune-up, and since then I have actually sewed with it. dsc_0156

I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at my new machine, I can’t wait to show you what I’ve been up to with it! And I also have a second surprise purchase to blog about!



Steeped Mittens


I present to you my new mittens. I designed the colour work and based the overall shape off of the popular herringbone mittens (my last pair of handknit mittens were the herringbone mittens… until my dogs digested them!). They were inspired by three skeins of patons classic wool (aran, natural mix and heath heather) from my stash and my favorite companion on a stormy winter day, tea!

I love them! They’re toasty warm and totally cute! I just wish I had done a better job on the actual knitting, I had a lot of tension problems and they’re still super evident even after blocking! I am planning on making a “dipped” model with just the last colour change from aran to a bright colour like yellow or hot pink!


2016 Knit List



Last year I made a 2015 Knit List. I only made two items on the list: Graham and Wishbone. Graham was never blogged about. I didn’t like the way it worked up in the yarn I chose so it was frogged almost immediately. Wishbone was blogged about here. You could say the 2015 Knit List was a failure. The 2016 edition though… it will be successful!

I’ve definitely upped the stakes this year, but I have also learned a lot in the last year. Each of these projects was selected to fill a hole in my wardrobe, since I have been wanting to move towards using knitting to contribute to my wardrobe.

Two more projects from 2015 need to be blogged (that were knit without being on the list!), then the first project will be Tongshan!

Aveeno Baby Shampoo Review


A few months ago I went to the doctor; I was experiencing “unusual hairloss” (~70 hairs). Having recently entered my quarter-life (read: twenties) I can’t help but panic about these things… Unfortunately for me the first thing she did was prescribe blood tests (I’ve never had blood drawn without fainting). Everything came back normal though (fortunately or unfortunately?!), so I followed her other suggestions: a gentle, sulphate free shampoo and… no blow drying!

I picked this shampoo up back in August, but I can’t stand reading product reviews that go something like, “I picked this up yesterday and I am literally obsessed”. Now that I’m almost finished the bottle I feel like I can give a good review. I was so excited to use this because one of my friends told me the day she put sulphate free shampoo in her hair she didn’t as much hair in the shower. Needless to say I had high hopes!

First a little bit of hair background, I have a lot of very fine hair with a few coarse strands woven in there. There’s a bit of a wave to it (naturally dried hair in these pictures), but if straightened/blow dried it will fall very flat and limp (limp hair in these pictures). I wash every 3-4 days, even though I produce a lot of oil (I produce a lot less now that I wash every few days as opposed to when I washed every day). The only other sulphate free shampoo I’ve ever tried was Dr. Bronner’s baby castille soap, which is for another day, so I didn’t know what to expect except difficulty lathering (the suplhates and their derivatives are usually responsible for a rich lather).

Now onto this shampoo! The first thing I’ve noticed is that it has a really odd smell for a baby shampoo. I’ve used a lot of baby products in the past and I’m used to (and appreciate) their clean simple scents. This shampoo has a much stronger, older smell. The best way I can describe it is as a “mature” floral scent, this is a bit more Chanel #5 than Marc Jacobs Daisy, if that makes sense. I’ve found the smell is strong in the shower, but it definitely doesn’t linger: I can’t smell it on my pillow the morning after a wash. I also have to use a bit more of this compared to a regular sulphate-full shampoo, because it lathers less and I like a full lather.

My favorite part about this shampoo is that it doesn’t hurt when I get it in my eyes. I don’t know how I’ve made it this long without learning an appropriate eye-avoiding shampoo technique, but I have. This was also my favorite part about Dr. Bronners: you could basically pour it onto your eyes with no irritation (please don’t do this though!).

BUT because of it’s built in “gentle conditioning” it does weigh down my hair, and combined with the doctors advice to quit blow drying, this means my hair is flat on my scalp immediately after a wash. Which is a major downer. Having healthy hair is great, but isn’t it better to have slightly more damaged hair that looks good?

And to compound the issue, I did not experience less hair loss, it fluctuated between around 70 hairs, just like before… So for me, switching to sulphate free shampoo didn’t affect my shedding during wash. But I do feel good about the shampoo because I figure anything that doesn’t burn my eyes must be better for my scalp and the environment (do fish eyes burn because of sulphates being washed down the drain….?)

Now I have to go shampoo shopping again and the question is: will I repurchase? Aveeno baby shampoo hasn’t quite convinced me yet, so I will look around before I repurchase!