The Kindness of Other Bloggers

I’m very gratified & flattered to have been nominated for blog awards twice at the end of January. The first one was by Pella from Pattern Pandemonium. The second was by Em from Tumbleweeds In The Wind. Actually, I received my first blog award nomination in the fall from a non-sewing blog, but was so busy with Frosting Fortnight I forgot to post about it!very-inspiring-blogger-award-2

Now on with the rules:

1. Thank the person who nominated you.
2. Add the The Very Inspiring Blogger Award to your post.
3. Share 7 things about yourself.
4. Pass the award on to other bloggers that inspire you.
5. Include the rules.
6. Inform your nominees.

Seven things about myself:

  1. I am a truly self-taught sewist, at least I was in the beginning. My mom wanted to keep me occupied & I wanted to make clothing for my stuffed animals. She plunked her old, all metal Bernina down in front of me- the kind of machine that can squash an elementary school kid!- showed me how to turn it on, tried to remember what some of the knobs did & let me have at it. I set about making clothing without patterns by looking at RTW. Shirts were pretty easy, but pants were tricky. Crotches confounded me! Until I figured out I could sew a tube, then sew up & down a bajillion times down the center, snip up to where I wanted the crotch to be & voila, pants! They were very ugly, but they served my purposed well & I like to think that I’ve carried that can-do, improvisational spirit on with me today. I’m sorry if my early sewing skills make you cringe. 
  2. Until about just over a year ago I had never used a commercial pattern (except for one really bad experience during high school). Everything I made before that was something I had drafted/draped on myself (without a dress form) or tried to copy from a RTW garment & it generally took a really long time. Using patterns helped my sewing skills grow tremendously as I was better able to understand how patterns went together & picked up some good sewing tips. Around the same time was when I discovered the online sewing community- it never occurred to me in all the years I had been sewing that there would be people talking about these kinds of things online. I owe a lot of my knowledge to the many great sewing blogs out there.
  3. I went the the School of the Art Institute of Chicago & studied studio art with an emphasis (minor) in art history. I had an interdisciplinary researched based practice, which is art speak for researching topics you find interesting & making art based upon what you find out while using a bunch of different media like writing, performance, sculpture & chocolate! But, after graduating I ended up working seven days a week so fell out of the habit of making art. I really miss it! But I just got a new camera so I’m hoping to slowly get back into things.
  4. I’ve made poisonous chocolate. No one ate it, so no one ever got sick. It was a piece I did on hysteria, the 3,000 year old “disease” of the uterus. And my chocolate truffles were cures for the disease, incorporating things that had been used in the treatment of the illness over those 3,000 years- things like ambergris (synthetic) & hemlock. Hemlock stops convulsion you know… They really smelled. And the essential oils I used liked to eat through plastic. By the by, vibrators were invented as a cure for hysteria- the hysterical paroxysms they induced were thought to help treat the disease. 
  5. I used to want to start a chocolate company, but then I got sick & had to stop making chocolate because I couldn’t eat sugar, well, no more than 60g of carbs a day. That’ll put a dent in your chocolate addiction. And I’d make chocolates to go along with fairy tales, with different ingredients representing different parts of the story- non-figurative/literal translations that is. It was very fun.
  6. I LOVE architecture & design. Total design snob & I would deck out my apartment in fantastical contemporary furnishings if I could. One of my favorite designers is Tord Boontje because, as I wrote in my art history thesis, he reconciles the difference between early modernism (late 1800’s, minimal by the standards of the day but very frilly by today’s standards) with the extremely minimal & machine made modernism in the contemporary art world. My absolute favorite architect is Frank Lloyd Wright (there’s more than one reason I live in Chicago) & I used to work at one of his most important buildings, Unity Temple. If you’re ever in town, see the Temple- it’s much more important historically speaking than the Home & Studio. I hate William Morris & am completely underwhelmed by the one-hit-wonder known as Mies Van der Rohe. Enough said.

    The first concrete building that wasn’t a factory. Truly revolutionary for the early 1900’s.
  7. I used to belly dance & even performed four or five times. One of my best friends & I had super long hair- down to our butts long. We would have “hair fights” while we danced. I can’t tell you how fun it is to whip your hair around & pretend it’s a weapon. Just trust me on this one. It looked really spectacular. But, like most everything else, I didn’t have the time or ability to continue once I graduated from college. One day though, I will get back to it. But I probably won’t grow my hair that long again. Also, it’s really convenient living in a city with a large Indian population when it comes to getting costume fabrics.

    This was a really fun costume to make- swarovsky crystals, hand beading & all!

Bloggers that inspire me:

I really had to narrow this list down. At first it had over a dozen blogs on it. Then I eliminated ones that had already gotten blog awards in the past few months & focused on blogs that I had recently discovered.

But really I feel like I should be thanking everyone. As I already mentioned, the online sewing community has taught me a lot & given me so much support. Thank you my fellow bloggers! And thank you Pella & Em!


Glass Blowing!

From left to right, the first ornament I made to the last one.

Glass blowing!!! GLASS BLOWING

I've wanted to learn for years. Can you tell by my bolded exclamation points & underlining? Ok, I must admit this wasn't really real glass blowing. It was glass blowing lite.

This weekend a friend & I took the Blown Glass Ornament workshop at the Lillstreet Art Center. So. Much. Fun. Everyone was provided with five glass tubes with cyclinders at the end. With real glass blowing you wouldn't be using a pre-fab cylinder.

Bits of colored glass shards called frit were poured into the cylinders. The cylinders became the ornament part & were cut away from the tube. After adding the color you heat the cylinder, puff it up a little, repeat, then heat it up red hot & do some hard puffing to make (semi) perfect globes. Results varied. Oh & a cool little fact- you cool your glass in vermiculite, the same stuff that you garden with.

My friend Betsy scoring her glass in preparation for knocking the glass tube off the end.

I wore my new Tiramisu top after having washed it & achieving the perfect fit. No floppy fabric flying around was a very good thing. The teacher told us that a previous student had burned a hole right through her top because as she bent over to blow her ornament her shirt had come along for the ride.

In order to get our glass hot enough, the torches we used had to be extremely hot. I burned myself on a torch someone had had tuned off for several minutes. Really, I'm a menace to myself. But it's just a light brown mark, nothing to fret over.

I'm a major cultz.

Burning myself is the least of my worries though. Now I have to figure out which person on my Christmas list gets which ornament. By that I mean how many can I keep for myself? Can I keep them all & just give everyone nice cards for Christmas? No? Alright, fine! I'll part with some of them.

Do I keep these for myself or give them away for Christmas? Hmmmm.

I really wished I could have blown more, but alas five ornaments was all we were allotted, which was a shame because right at that point was when everyone started to feel like they were getting the hang of things. But you know what that means? Next year I have to take the workshop again.


No Rinse Detergent Review & Giveaway

Disclaimer: I was not contacted or paid by either of these companies to review their products.

This post is a follow up to my Lazy Laundress Tips, which I ended by asking for your laundry tips. The talented Tanit Isis warned against putting Lycra in the dryer as that can degrade it. When putting delicates in the washing machine she also recommends putting them in a lingerie bag. To that I would add not over-stuffing the bag. Years ago I learned (& kept having to re-learn) that nothing gets washed when those bags are more than about half full. In the meantime, Heather of Feather’s Flights made up a nifty infographic on How To Care For Fabric.

During Frosting Fortnight I tested two no rinse detergents that are popular among knitters, Eucalan & Soak. Overall, I found Soak to be a little better at getting out dirt, but Eucalan to be cheaper & contain less objectionable chemicals. That being said, I was not scientific with my washing trials. I tried to used the same amounts of water & detergent, but mostly eye-balled things.

The directions for both are simple & greatly appeal to my lazy-hates-to-do-laundry side. Fill up a bowl with tepid water, pour in a touch of detergent (1tsp/gal water), soak your delicates for 15 minutes, squeeze out the excess water & let dry. No rinsing or wringing.

Washing socks in no rinse detergent
Soak item for approximately 15min in tepid water.


My main trial was with my hand knit hedgehog socks. I washed each sock in a different solution & they both came out feeling & smelling good (for me that means scent free). The only thing was they had little skid rows of white on the areas that had been folded while drying. The Eucalan washed sock seemed to have a little more white than the Soak washed sock. The Soak washed sock also had fewer fuzzles left on it.

How to squeeze out excess water
How to remove excess water from garments after using a no rinse detergent.

When I washed the socks a second time (each sock washed with the same detergent as before) I hung them on a drying rack instead of laying them out on a towel. This greatly reduced drying time from a few days to overnight. And a smaller amount of white gunk was seen only on the sock that had been washed with Soak. Maybe the white stuff only accumulates when you put in too much detergent?Soak v Eucalan

I could feel no difference between the socks, the different detergents & what they felt like before I washed them. However, Soak seemed better at getting out the dirt that had accumulated beneath the toes. After they had soaked in their respective detergents for 15 minutes, I compared the bottoms of both toes (which had seemed equally dirty before washing) & the pair washed in Soak seemed a little cleaner. I then did something you’re not supposed to do with handknits: I rubbed & scratched at the toes to see how much more dirt I could get to come out. While both socks smelled equally clean, Soak was able to get out more embedded dirt.Soak v Eucalan results

I also washed the boyshorts I made as well as two regular, old bras. Of concern here was that things came out looking rather wrinkled. But, after doing the recommended rolling in a towel & stepping on it to get out the excess water, most of the wrinkles disappeared.

The aftermath of dirty water.
The aftermath of dirty water.

There was no real difference between the bras or panties & the two detergents. However, this did help me find a limitation in Soak’s cleaning ability. I don’t use lotion as I like to avoid synthetic chemicals & can’t stand scented things (I have a sensitive nose & skin). One day I was moisturizing with some oil when it spilled, right on the bra that had been newly washed with Eucalan. I took some dish detergent to it, but that didn’t get out the oil. Having done my sock trials & concluding that Soak might be stronger, I then soaked the bra in Soak & forgot about it overnight. The next morning, no real difference. It wasn’t until I took concentrated laundry detergent to it that it came clean. If you have an oil stain, I doubt either product will be strong enough to get it out.


Now for the not so fun part. Because of my many food allergies I’m a freak about reading labels. This extends to non-food items as well. But when I went to buy these products all that was on my mind was writing a good blog post. So when I found the bottle of Eucalan & it didn’t list its ingredients but it did list all these words that I love to see on products (non-toxic, biodegradable) I bought it anyway. By the time I hit the second store to pick up some Soak, I was more interested in getting home & assumed that the ingredients would be just as “safe”.

Now that I’ve looked into the ingredients, I’m concerned. See the table I’ve written up: Soak & Eucalan Ingredients. The list of ingredients & their potentially harmful effects on humans is an eye-opener, from carcinogens, formaldehyde, contact dermatitis to organic pollutants. These ingredients are in our cosmetics & some are even in our food. If you don’t want to read my table of nightmares, then Soak is the worst offender. Eucalan has far fewer ingredients & they tend to be not as bad for humans & the environment; they’re mainly minor skin irritants. It should be noted that most of my research was pulled off Wikipedia, so may not be perfectly accurate, but when possible I looked at original studies & got my information off of reputable websites like PubMed.

Clearly non-toxic doesn’t mean much if the chemicals are skin irritants & might be contaminated with carcinogens. If you’re not a label freak like I normally am chances are you already use these chemicals in most of your cosmetics, detergents & other cleaners. Maybe the table doesn’t scare you off because you already know you can use these things without your skin being irritated. After all, the amount of each product you use is really small- just one teaspoon per gallon of water, so that shouldn’t be as bad as lathering up with a ton of shampoo or body gel that has these chemicals.

I’d rather play it safe & avoid these chemicals altogether. Luckily though I’ve had no noticeable adverse reactions to the garments that I’ve washed with these products- & my skin tends to be more sensitive than most people’s. Although now that I’ve bought these bottles I don’t want them to go to waste. So I’m breaking my usually stringent rules on chemicals & am going to continue to use them. Well, I might not continue to use Soak now I know it has formaldehyde in it. I’ll continue to wash knits this way, but I won’t be washing lingerie like I had done during my trials (too many chemicals near sensitive bits!). Also, everything will also get a short rinse afterwards. I suppose rinsing defeats the purpose of a no rinse detergent, but it will still be less work than if I had to lather & agitate these things myself.

The Giveaway!

Win travel sized Soak & Eucalan, a button repair kit & lace hem tape in the color of your choosing.
Win a travel sized Soak & Eucalan, a button repair kit & hem tape or bias tape in the color of your choosing.

Also before researching I picked up a few samples of these detergents for a little giveaway, that is if you’re still interested in trying these products after reading the above table. I put together a mini care kit, which contains a little vintage button repair kit as well as a sample each of Eucalan & Soak so you can see which one you like best. The kit will come wrapped in your choice of lace hem tape or bias tape in the color you desire. The button kit may not be pretty but I was so tickled by its clever design that I had to get it. Little plastic units come with a needle, thread & a built in blade. The button is part of the unit & can be snapped off. What a nice idea, reaching for a button in case of an emergency. 🙂

This giveaway (my first!) is part of Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day. Go check out the site for more fabulous giveaways from other bloggers. The giveaway will be open until December 7th at 7pm CST & is open to international entries.

All you need to do is complete at least one of the following: tell me your stance on synthetic chemicals, subscribe to my blog (check out the top of the right hand side navigation bar), blog about this entry, tell me what topics you’d like to see me blog about more, tweet this giveaway, follow me on Twitter, or follow me on Pinterest. For each thing you do leave me a separate comment below & please make sure to leave me your e-mail address. Good luck!

Meeting In Real Life

I generally don't care much for Thanksgiving because of its hypocritical heritage, but this year I am thankful for something that has come to mean a lot to me: this blog & all you lovely readers. It's been rather lonely around here with friends moving across the country & people dying. This blog has helped reconnect me to the world & I'm incredibly grateful for that.

Somewhere around middle school/junior high I would go into chat rooms & have silly conversations with anonymous people. This was when chat rooms & instant messaging first came out & anyone who wanted to be cool just totally HAD to do it. Having had that as my first online experience, I wasn't expecting too much when I started blogging, just a way to get free patterns & some good vintage sewing love from the 1912 project. But once I started blogging I met people, real people with real faces. And we had real, substantive conversations. While I haven't had a chance to speak with you all, I am grateful you are reading, that we are not alone in our somewhat esoteric pursuits.

Even though having good, long conversations with some of you online has been fulfilling, I was always envious of those people who got to meet other bloggers in real life. It seemed like all the seamstresses I saw online were from California. I've never even been there. Well, I got lucky. In the past two weeks I met two bloggers I admire. The perfect Thanksgiving present.

The first blogger I met was Becky from DomesticNews. She was in Chicago for a few days & had just enough time to squeeze in a fabric-filled day. Her friend Ginny (who sews & knits but doesn't have a blog) drove. First up was Vogue Fabrics in Evanston. I think Becky was a little bit in awe of just how much stuff there was. With Vogue in my backyard & a three story fabric warehouse not too far away, I've taken huge selections for granted. It was a nice reminder that I'm privileged to live in a city with so much to offer the sewing crowd.

We also made our way to an African fabric store with amazing batiks & the Art Institute for an exhibition on Japanese fashion designers. It was nice to see garments in person that I had originally seen on slides in a classroom.

Real, high quality tailor's chalk. It has a waxy feel to it.

The highlight of our excursion was Adler's, which has been open since 1908, but is rarely heard of outside the industry as it supplies professionals & design schools. Such wonderfully obscure products! Like a clamp thingie that cuts blades for cutting fur, a stretchy thing for pressing sleeves (not a sleeve board although they have those too) & many other contraptions I don't know how to use. So many things to delight, but the simplest brought me some of the greatest pleasure. When I was first learning how to sew I had a wonderful piece of tailor's chalk. It's taken me well over a decade to find chalk of this quality again. Baby this stuff glides! And it does not crumble into a powdery mess. Oh heaven.

Becky, me & Ginny at the Jeanne Gang Exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago. The weird blue lighting is from a projection we were standing under.

Readers, I have something to relate that makes me very proud. Shoes & winter coat aside, I made the entire outfit I wore that day, right down to the unmentionables! Top, bottom, undies, bra, socks, knit accessories & purse. I have some blogging catchup to do. Those are my first pair of jeans & under that shirt is my first bra. Just thinking about sewing bras makes me smile.

I met up with the second blogger this week, Rhonda from Rhonda's Creative Life. We went to the Textile Discount Outlet, a three story warehouse that is so full of fabric & odd notions you can trip over them. Literally, there's a lot that's on the floor. I forgot to have a photo taken of us, but here's a picture of just one half of one aisle. I'm not sure I can adequately convey the enormity of this place, except to say again, three floors! And the building takes up the block.

Somewhat ordered chaos in the Textile Discount Outlet

Again, simple pleasures won me over. Strong steel underwires. I had searched high & low for good underwires in this city & never come up with anything save one awful plastic option. But it got better, Ambiance Bemberg Rayon, $0.99/yd- what an unreal price. One end had a stain, the rest was perfectly fine, but it was enough to get me an amazing deal.

And Rhonda had a beautiful purse with her. I've had my eye out for a good, tough yarn ever since I saw her post about this knitted handbag that she designed. What a treat to see it in person. The detail work she did was fabulous, with a handsewn lining- swoon! While the bag is full of details, it is not dainty & was much bigger than I had expected. This is a bag that is both pretty & functional. Now more than ever I can't wait to knit one up myself.

Thank you ladies for such wonderful times! And thank you everyone who reads this blog. If you're ever in Chicago give me a ring; I'd love to meet up for a fabric hunt or even a mellow cup of tea.


Stash Management

I’ve had my clothing organized for years. Look, color coordinated! Not just that, but also organized by sleeve length, with spaghetti straps first & progressing to long sleeves. OCD much? You should see my book shelves.

My closet, organized by color & garment type.

If I’ve been so well organized with my clothing, why not with my supplies? Previously, I’ve kept them in boxes. Right now I’m thinking things should be organized by color & type of fabric. Say, knits with knits, linings with linings & printed cottons with printed cottons. Ditto for yarn. Moving is the perfect time to stir things up & get organized.

What I’m afraid of is the size of my stash. Here’s the lovely (needs a bad re-paint job after moving) console/chest of drawers/not sure exactly what it’s called (which is ironic considering I minored in architecture & design history- guess I didn’t study much furniture!) thing I have to work with. In absence of a real name, my boyfriend & I have been calling it the blue thing. We similarly have a piece of furniture named the green thing.

The blue thing, which in real life is a pretty shade of teal. Soon to be the home for my fabric stash. Oh moving clutter can look so embarrassing!

I have boxes & boxes of fabric. I’ve been too chicken to count how many & have been feeding myself the excuse that it would take too long to walk through our little one bedroom apartment to figure out where they all are. I know I have at least six, varying in size from tiny to pretty large. Why is it we sometimes don’t want to admit just how bad we’ve been with how much we buy? I’ve also got a few boxes of yarn. I absolutely know that all my yarn & fabric won’t fit into that one little (actually fairly big) blue piece of furniture. So it’s going to be just for fabric. But where do I put my yarn? And what do I do with the fabric that doesn’t fit into the blue thing?

Ideas would be very welcome.

The funny thing is, while I can’t tell you how many boxes of fabric I have, I can give you a really good estimate of how many different types of fabric I have. I love Bento. It’s an app for Mac devices that lets you inventory things & do a whole bunch of other stuff. I have almost my entire fabric stash listed in there, with details on width, yardage, cost, where I bought it, projects I’m going to use it for, etc. While I might know that I have 137 different fabrics categorized in Bento (including ones that have been completely used up for prior projects), I don’t entirely know just how physically big this is. All I can see is that number, climbing steadily higher to 200. I’ve got my notions catalogued too. So you see, it’s ridiculous that I don’t have my stash physically catalogued when I already have it electronically done. With all this cataloguing I should have a been a librarian.

In case you’ve been considering stash reorganization, here are some links to great ideas other people have had.

How do you organize your stash? Care to share any tips?

Moving Tips for Crafters

The worst thing about being a crafter is that you have so much stuff on moving day. I’m not even talking sewing machines & sergers- did you know how heavy a big box of fabric can be? Insanely heavy. I had multiple. Multiple, multiple. Plus a few boxes of yarn. And there’s still fabric out in the big wide world that I’m coveting.

Thank gosh moving is finally over! Now I just have a mountain of unpacking to do. Although it was a painfully difficult move (I’ve never had furniture other than collapsible bookcases & a bed to move before- many big items like dining room tables made things exponentially harder), I learned a few things about what to do next time I move.

After taking my serger in for repairs it was returned without the top bit of styrofoam. Naturally, while packing I filled it with sewing related supplies such as chocolate & aspirin- perfect for those difficult projects.

1. It’s gut wrenching I know, but pack away your supplies early. Otherwise, you’ll be staring at your sewing machine for a month, wishing you were sewing but feeling too guilty about not packing to actually get any sewing done. The resulting lack of accomplishment on both the packing & sewing frontiers will make you feel even worse. Also, I always try to make an inventory list of my boxes. The closer I get to moving day, the less likely I am to actually include a box on my inventory list. A lot of last minute random chucking into boxes tends to occur. Once I’ve moved I want access to my things right away, but this time I could not find my umbrella swift (for winding balls of yarn). It drove me crazy. If I had packed it away from the get go (& not for whatever crazy reason separate from my ball winder) it would have been on my inventory list & I wouldn’t have torn my hair out trying to find it.

2. Invest in a good, hard sewing machine case or other specialty item to protect your big supplies. I’m something of a hoarder. My grandma escaped communist China, but she never ever forgot what it was like to live somewhere where ziplock bags, paper napkins & plastic to go containers weren’t plentiful. She has passed on her need to grab handfuls of free breadsticks & mini Barbie doll sized hot sauce bottles to her children & grandchildren & probably even some of her great-grandchildren. Seriously, my sister has a cabinet-tall stack of plastic to go containers my grandma has given her, convinced that she needed the dozens of lovingly washed containers she swiped from her old folk’s dining hall. This is why I can never throw away the packaging for anything, ever. So even though it’s been almost a year since I got my new serger & sewing machine, I still have the original boxes they came in, styrofoam & all. If I had been moving across country, I can see where this might have come in handy, but I recently moved one block from my old apartment. This was overkill. Some good, hard cases would have been smaller, lighter & easier to move with.

3. Set aside a small & portable project to work on while you’re moving. Knitting, crochet, embroidery or a backstrap loom are perfect. This way you can keep on crafting during your packing breaks, but will already have your main stuff put away. With the big stuff out of sight & out of mind you’re free to focus on your small project(s).

4. Make an emergency crafting kit. Put your essential supplies in a small bag or box. This should include all the materials for the small project(s) you will be working on during the move. It’s also good to have enough supplies to carry you through the first week or two of unpacking. But, be careful. This is an emergency crafting kit. Stick to just a pair or two of knitting needles, a skein or two of yarn that’s really calling to you (as long as you have a project in mind for it, and one of those hand sewing kits you used to get for free at hotels but can now purchase at the grocery store. Ideally, this is something so small you can stick it into your purse as you bid your old digs farewell. Or, you can do like I did & stick it into a shoebox. It then got lost amongst all our other boxes. Inside your purse is better.

5. Purge, purge, purge. Tossing things is obvious, but as a crafter you may have acquired a lot of things just because they struck your fancy at the time or were on sale, so I think it bears noting. Are you really going to make covered buttons with that tiny scrap of fabric that’s been sitting on the floor for months? Toss it. Tiny bits of 1/30th of a skein of yarn? If you don’t always make intarsia with a bunch of different colors, toss those scraps. Bookcase overloaded with crafting books? Host a giveaway on your blog if you have time. If not, donate your excess books & supplies to charity. A used bookstore will only give you a few bucks for a bag of books. By giving to Goodwill, you can claim the full value of your used supplies as a donation on your taxes (but I am not a cpa so don’t ask me if this can work for you). Also look into your local crafting shops. An amazing yarn shop near my house will exchange customers’ old yarn that they’ve never used but have kept in their original balls or hanks with their original ball bands; in return you get store credit.

By slimming your stash & having everything clearly labeled, you’ll be able to get up & crafting in short order after you’ve moved. Now if only I followed these guidelines. Next time though, which I’m hoping will not happen for a few years more.

If you have any tips I’d love to hear them. Please share in the comments!

Disparately Dorky Links

Hope you enjoy the links- this time we've got some Emily Dickinson, embroidered portraits, aphids, cork fabric & more.
Knitting, sheep
I saw this on Facebook & the artist wasn't credited, so let me know if you find out who drew this.

Amazing. At first, the documentary sounds like a spoof. A man becomes a turkey mother- cue music & serious yet vague narration. But as the story goes on, it becomes an amazingly engrossing tale of how a man raised a group of wild turkeys. My Life As A Turkey is a moving documentary about a unique man & his interesting birds- yes, wild turkeys are interesting & intelligent. Check it out. It's well worth it.

Fabric made out of cork.

A nice tutorial on proper serger tension.

I hate aphids. I loathe them. They eat my garden. But apparently they're kind of cool. I knew there were different colored aphids, but I didn't know that their color is determined by their changing environment (explains why I'm plagued by different colored aphids different times of the year). But the most amazing thing, is aphids undergo photosynthesis! Yes! They generate their own energy just like a plant does!

According to a recent study, an increase in trees means a decrease in crime. I especially find this interesting as some of the purportedly most crime-ridden areas in Chicago are parks, which I have walked by late at night without hassle- but don't worry, I don't make a habit of it.

Ten water towers converted into homes. I love it! And the picture of the one near the middle/end where the room is white but there's a black thing hanging from the ceiling? I'm pretty sure that's a fireplace.

The Cookie Monster's cookie recipe. I would be curled up in a ball if I ate these because of my food allergies, but I love the Cookie Monster. My friends & I have been known to sing his song. Yes, I'm proud of my ability to do a decent Cookie Monster impression. “C is for coookie! It's good enough for me! OOOOOOHH! C is for cookie! It's good enough for me! OH! Cookie, cookie, cookie starts with C!!!!!!” it must be sung with exclamation points.

I'm not sure I'd be up for all that plain garter stitching, but I really like the look of this hoodie knitting pattern. It reminds me of the hoodies I made some months back. Plus, the name 'Rock & Purl' is kind of great.

An English to English translation of Emily Dickinson's poems.

This is the perfect mat to have at your front door: Keys, Phone, Wallet. I'm going to learn weaving & this wil have to be one of the first things I make, after I learn how to change colors.

The mystery of brain freeze has been solved & dilating blod vessels are to blame.

Artist Cayce Zavaglia makes beautiful & realistic portraits using hand embroidery.


More Disparately Dorky Links

An explosion of links! I’ve been seeing & reading so many good things lately I just had to include them all, from beaded hamburgers, 500 year old bras, & cardboard bicycles to functional Lego looms. I hope you enjoy.

The beginning of a new pair of socks.

Sometimes browsing the Internet can be like getting sucked down a rabbit hole.

Disparately Dorky Links

A real tintype! Which come out as mirror images, so the writing on his shirt was actually backwards.

Every now & then I’m going to post a few links to articles I’ve found interesting. So far my blog had been more focused on domestic disciplines than disparate disciplines. While many of the articles I read tend to have that slant, I like to make my reading more well rounded. Besides, some of the best inventions & ideas have been inspired by a disparate discipline. Many of my favorites are from nature.

There’s the one that many people are familiar with: Velcro inspired by a man who loved to take walks but hated how burrs would get stuck to his pants.

Also, new solar panels are being developed to mimic a plant undergoing photosynthesis.

And my absolute favorite, the marriage of nature & architecture. Louis Sullivan (one of the fathers of modern architecture) solved the dilemma of the skyscraper by coming up with his ‘germ theory’. When skyscrapers were brand spanking new (some people were so afraid that a building over six stories would fall down that they banned them in the city you would least expect- New York) no one quite knew how they should function. Sullivan said they should be like an abstracted plant, with different areas of the building functioning like the different parts of a plant. It’s a model that’s still used today. Then, Frank Lloyd Wright came along & abstracted not just one aspect of nature into a building, but an entire landscape. That’s why his early style was called the prairie school, the buildings were abstractions of the prairie landscape of the Midwest. It’s a concept that’s also still influencing design today.

I hope my dorky ramblings haven’t bored you guys & I hope you enjoy the following articles.

I hope you enjoyed these links!

Not that you could tell, but we’re pointing tiny water pistols at each other & I’ve got a huge scowl on my face.

P.S. The pictures I posted are scans of real tintypes that my boyfriend & I had taken this past weekend at a reenactment/carnival celebrating the 175th anniversary of the city of Chicago. They had a bunch of police costumes there that you could borrow. I got to dress up on a +90F day (luckily I had my moisture wicking sports top on) in a long black trench coat with a plastic bowler hat & attack the rabble with a cap gun & a foam night stick. My most heated battle was with a little boy wielding a foam brick. He almost knocked my hat & glasses off! The bricks were much more effective than the batons. OK, I might have also been lacking that reckless abandon that a child would get when told they could get into a cops & robbers fight with adults & beat them up without getting into trouble. I swear I’m not a whimp! Chicago history is violent- & this wasn’t even a reenactment of the Haymarket Riots or mob related activity. Just good, old fashioned Chicago police brutality 1800’s style. But better, obviously because no one died, but also because there were water balloons & tiny water guns.

Make It Monday: a Sports Top

This week I finished (for the most part) a sports top. I found some affordable wicking fabric made by Nike & thought I'd give a yard a try.

The fabric has a nice weight to it & feels almost wet yet smooth & supple. It was my first time working with a sports fabric. It wasn't much different than working with a regular jersey, except it was a little easier because it didn't shift around so much.

I used my modified McCall's 6288 pattern- its first iteration can be seen here. Last time I had altered the pattern so it fit me perfectly, but in the heavier fabric it was too tight. I loosened it up a bit in the side seams while tightening the sleeves as they had been too loose the first time around.

But the major change I made was to add a built in bra/bra shelf- you know, the band of fabric attached to elastic that often feels too tight & so small that your breasts are simultaneously squished in but also spilling out. It's nice to have a properly sized one.

I cut out a duplicate of the back & front bodice pieces, but significantly shorter. After that, I sewed them together & attached the bottom to elastic I had cut from an old pair of pantyhose- it was the perfect fit & made my thrifty heart happy. My mistake came when I basted the bra to the bodice before attaching the sleeves. So much harder to work with that way! The seams were way too thick & difficult to deal with. I wonder if the raglan sleeves made it even worse.

The real problem with the shirt was when I tried to finish the collar it got all stretched out. Hemming knits is my weakness. That's why the shirt is mostly done, but not quite. I was able to get the hem to a wearable state on Sunday, but the back part kept flipping out & exposing a not so nice finish job. When I got home I tried to remedy it, but I may have made it worse. I'm still working on it. See the collar on the upper left part where it's black, thats my ugly sewing/serging job being exposed.

Sports top paired with the Turtles & Apples Twirl Skirt I made back in February

I knew the back around the waist was a little loose & I was ok with it, but looking at these photos I hadn't realized the back was so tight around my arms. Hrmm. The seams have already been serged. Too late to loosen them up now!

It was pretty impressive wearing it on a day so hot it was in the 90's. No sweat, at all. It just evaporated away. So while the fabric was so heavy as to not let much of a breeze pass through, it was great to be able to walk around without having it plastered to my body.

Today I wore my original version of the shirt, which was much thinner yet a little tighter. It was breezy, but it did get plastered to my back, which is especially uncomfortable when you're on a crowded train without air conditioning. I think I actually prefer the thicker & dryer shirt. I might need an entire wardrobe of moisture wicking fabric just to get through this heat spell.

Sitting in what might be an original Thonet rocking chair!

In this picture I'm sitting in a $750 chair in a thrift shop. There was no identifying tag on it, but I'm pretty positive it was a Thonet. During the 1800's Michael Thonet revolutionized the way chairs were designed & built. I minored in art history. As lame & dorky as it sounds, it was like a dream come true, to use something I had studied & seen blown up big on a projector screen. It was like getting to actually touch a painting in a museum.

You know, I've seen other Thonets in this same thrift shop. How did so many end up in this one neighborhood of Chicago & who the hell is getting rid off them all? And why won't they leave them in an alley where I can easily pounce upon them like a design obsessed tiger?