Thursday, 2 July 2015

Latest on my Lucy Boston

As last reported in May, I now have 40+ Patchwork of the Crosses blocks so I have started on the bits between them. There are various ways of arranging them but I have chosen this one:

For every block I therefore need 24 white honeycombs and 16 red squares, and for my 4-squares marked '2' in the diagram, I am going to use a 2" square of white. So for 40 blocks, I need 960 white honeycombs and 640 red squares. And that's not counting any kind of border. Wow. Here is one I've added the extra white pieces to and am adding the red squares in.
Lucy Boston patchwork of the crosses

It's astonishing that, just as I think the main job is done, it turns out I need even more pieces than the block took to join it to the next one. Amazing!

Monday, 29 June 2015

Two Little Dresses for Africa #LDFA

Jan at 'Sew and Sow Farm' is hosting a sewing drive to make these Little Dresses for Africa.
Sew and Sow Farm
The pattern couldn't be simpler and you can even use an old pillowcase for the job. I would say it took me 2.5 hours start to finish to make these.
Little dresses for Africa
That includes using a couple of the fancy stitches on my machine for the bias along the bottom edge.
Little dresses for Africa
The purple fabric is one I brought back from Japan with me and the flowery one is something I got from Scrap. I hope they'll both do the job! Jan has got her Sponsors to offer some amazing prizes so if you have time to add to the total number of dresses, the deadline is 5th July.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

My First SF Quilters Guild Meeting

When I first arrived in San Francisco I made it to two different knitting groups in one week, and then never returned to either. The people at both were very nice, it's just that I'm really not knitting much in this climate. It seems a bit too warm for it. At the same time I did discover that there was a SF Quilters Guild that met in Richmond (in the north west of the SF main area) once a month and I determined to go. Last week was the first meeting I'd been able to attend.

The Guild have monthly meetings with a general section and then a speaker and then also a day the following Saturday where they either do a community project or have a teacher come in. My luck was in when the speaker at this meeting was Susan Else, someone I had not heard of before but am now very happy to have come into contact with. I would definitely encourage you to go and look at the gallery on her website as her work is very impressive and she had brought some along to show us.
Susan Else - Quilting in three dimensions.
Susan Else - Quilting in three dimensions.
Susan Else - Quilting in three dimensions.
Susan Else - Quilting in three dimensions.
Susan Else - Quilting in three dimensions.
Susan Else - Quilting in three dimensions.
Aren't the pieces amazing? There were lots more and she also talked about how she makes them and her inspiration for each.

The people at the meeting were absolutely lovely and the President gave a very funny introduction and update at the beginning. I had had to sign in as a Guest when I arrived and during her intro she read out my name and asked me to stand up and everyone welcomed me - it was so sweet! Then later during the break (when there was tea and cake) people kept coming up to me to welcome me to the meeting and have a chat - I could tell this was something I wanted to come to regularly! So I am now a fully paid up member and will be going back next month and maybe even showing something in the Show'n'Tell!

Sunday, 21 June 2015

The Opposite of Body Dismorphia

As I was eating my breakfast this morning I perused the BBC News app, as is my wont, and read an interesting article on Body Dismorphic Disorder. I first read about it probably 10+ years ago in an edition of National Geographic and have occasionally pondered it since then because I think I have a version of it. Not because I think I'm ugly or unattractive (because actually I think I'm pretty feckin awesome and desirable) but because I constantly forget that I am not thin any more. I'm not saying I'm fat, but I'm overweight and a stone or two over where I'd ideally like to be. I'm a UK size 14 which is a US 10 and I look in a full length mirror everyday when I get dressed and I see all of me so it's not that I don't know what I look like. It's just that I keep forgetting and have a self-image of when I was about 22. So when I see myself in photos with legs more Oak than Willow, and chins more plural than single, I get a big shock.

Another National Geographic article - this one a mere 3+ years ago - remarked how our current historical era is in danger of being misrepresented in visual records because photographs are now so easy to take and delete that we instantly discard any that don't show us looking as beautiful and happy as possible. Will our future selves look back on the early 21st Century and think "Their economy was shot, they were fighting innumerable religious wars, their climate was burning up and yet they all look so darn perky. They must have been really stupid."? I thought of this once again when taking a selfie, having just been woken up from a nap by a kick to the face.
Luna kicking me in the face.
Darling Luna, having decided to nap not so much along side me as on top of me, was having a sleepy stretch when she raised me from my slumbers. I so enjoyed my week of evenings and weekend afternoons with her! Kicks and all. The point though is that when I initially took this photo, it was from a lower angle and there were chins present. Being a pro at this sort of thing I simply deleted that one and raised my phone somewhat. Problem solved.

Speaking of solving problems - our final piece of flatpack furniture, which had arrived with a broken piece, was completed yesterday by my fair and very attractive hands. I finally have somewhere to store my fabric and the small craft bits which have been piled on the floor under my sewing table since we moved in - happy day.

More reasons to be cheerful, were more to be needed, come from work where I was offered a permanent contract this week. I'd initially been on a one month trial and it has been going so well that my permanent one is at 30% more money than we originally discussed and I will have Options - something my stockmarket dabbling Dad tells me is a very good thing if the company ever goes public. The increase is partly because I am awesome (I did say early on in this post that I have a pretty high opinion of myself) and partly because I am now looking after the company's recruitment so I've suddenly got all these recruitment people wanting to connect with me on LinkedIn. I am continuing to enjoy working there, not least because on Friday they took us all to a theme park called Great America - all paid for including the queue jumping wristbands. There was a 'Snoopy Planet' area and...
Great America Theme Park
So exciting! I went on a wooden rollercoaster called Grizzly which was horrendous - I am not built for such excitement - and after that consoled myself with a go on the carousel.
Great America Theme Park
And who sits on a horse when there are fish-eating cats to be chosen? Awesome sauce!

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Stitch Fix - Nothing To Do With Fixing Your Stitching

Having recently started a new job (which is going really well btw although I am starting to use a lot more text speak from using three different messaging systems with various groups of staff) I quickly realised my personal style had somewhat lost its way. 
My Red Legs
Me with Fan
The closest I've come to describing my style is to mutter "something of the Sue Pollard" and leave it at that. After 18 months of housewifery in three different countries my 'work' wardrobe was straggly, to say the least, and I do not enjoy shopping for clothes in shops so I  found myself googling "online personal stylist". An thus, my relationship with Stitch Fix began.

The name, naturally, caught my attention, as I thought perhaps my search history and google had colluded and concluded that there was no point showing me stylists and was taking me to some new sewing product instead. But no. It is an online personal stylist who looks at the information you provide (their questions plus optional links to your Pinterest, LinkedIn etc) and sends you five items in your size as often or infrequently as you want and where you can send back whatever you don't like in a prepaid return envelope. Your only risk is $20 which you pay upfront to be 'styled' and if you keep any of the items that is redeemed against their cost. If you keep all five items they knock 25% off the total price. It almost sounded too good to be true but I looked at reviews and saw more and more fashion and normal blogs praising it and thought "Well, OK then." I scheduled my first box to arrive on the 15th - tomorrow - which is when I get paid, but it actually arrived early so I have the swag already. These are my five items. 

1.  Skinny Jeans - $150ish
(You get one of these little cards with each item showing you two styling options - day and night kind of thing.)
I gulped a bit when I saw this as I have one pair which were on sale for £15 in Dorothy Perkins and which give me a muffin top and aren't terribly comfortable. Plus I would never try on a pair of jeans in a shop that cost $150 because who pays that much for jeans? You can get them on sale for £15. But...I tried them on they were really comfortable. To the extent that I just kept them on for the rest of the day. The fit and length were great and when I mentioned all this to my fashionista sister she she that was the difference between £15 sale jeans and $150 good jeans. Not something I would buy more than once a year but a definite KEEP. 

2. Zip Back Blouse - $50ish (I haven't got the prices handy but remember them roughly)
I have always been rather disdainful of exposed zips. To me it smacks of cheap tailoring methods since it's much easier to make them with the zip out than with it 'properly' covered. I have therefore never tried on a single item with an exposed zip and have even curled my top lip somewhat when seeing someone wearing something with one. More fool me. Maybe. I don't see myself going in for them in a big way but then this is why this service has proved so popular - it takes your style profile (or lack thereof) and tugs at the edges to push you where you haven't been up til now but where they think you'll look fiiiiine. It's a lovely red too and looks great with the jeans. It's a KEEP. 

3. Racer Back Tank - $35ish
By now you may be predicting I am about to start with 'I have never tried on a racer back top before but...' and you would be part right. I have tried on one before, but not liked it. Ditto with this one. I have pretty broad shoulders anyway - sleeve seams on t-shirts rarely sit where they should - but also the blue on this was a bit too electric plus you need to fiddle with your bra straps to go racer back. So based on the colour and back, it's a NO. 

4. Polka Dot Tank - $50ish
As someone who rarely meets a polka dot she doesn't like, I had high hopes for this. Navy with white dots at the top and then a stripe in a good red at the bottom. Sounds good?
StitchFix Box 1 - No
Pooch took this photo and told me my face looked like a wrestler. I assume he was thinking of this. 
Back to the top - I tend to avoid things that make me look like I have an Equator. What looked and sounded perfection on paper has let me down because of my quintessentially english pear-shape. That red stripe - just NO. Those are the skinny jeans btw. 

5. Asymmetrical Zip Cardigan - can't remember the price
San Francisco is, on the whole, a fairly warm kind of place. You don't need big heavy coats but sometimes you could do with something snuggly when out first or last thing. Enter this cardigan. It clearly has a tried and tested pedigree at Stitch Fix since I've seen blog posts elsewhere going back a year or so which have featured it as being in a box. Unnecessary seams (by which I mean you can do these things with just a front, back and sleeves in four pieces but this has more pieces than that) add shaping and style while the thick jersey cotton is snuggly but not hot. Plus if you leave it open it's a waterfall cardigan which looks good too. 
Stitch Fix box 1
I discovered the pockets and knew it was all over - KEEP. 

For me to keep three out of five items was, for me, a complete win. I'll send back the other two tomorrow by just dropping the prepaid bag in a postbox and I'm going to schedule another box for when I next get paid. If you feel like giving it a try click on one of the links in this post and I get something like $20 credit with them, admittedly, but do it anyway because it is a very cool service, especially if you're like me and not keen on clothes shopping in real shops. 

So now ty for reading and I'll brb.

lol ;)

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Cat Sitting

This week I have been leaving work and getting a cab straight to an area of SF called Potrero Hills. A friend lives there and I have been looking after her cat while she's been away. This is Luna.
Isn't she sweet? She was a rescue cat and has got a number of scars on her face around her nose and eyebrows where the fur doesn't grow anymore - poor little thing. However, she is now living the life of riley with hot and cold running cat food and everything else taken care of.
When I arrive she is either on the bed or on the back of the sofa so we have a good stroking session before I get a drink and refresh her water and food.

However, once she's had enough strokes we start to play. I took some EPP to the house to do in the evenings and Luna loves the white thread against the dark brown sofa.
It has basically put an end to my sewing since I am worried she will put her paw on the needle!

Having access to a cat for a whole week is such a treat!

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Amazing Swaps!

I do love a good swap. You have to be prepared to take a punt that the person you are receiving from will put in as much effort as you do. With these two swaps I know they both put in that little bit extra - such amazing packages!

The first was a swap I ran myself for the English Paper Patchwork swap group on Flickr. Liza blew me away with her amazing parcel - not only an EPP pouch but a paper pieced one too!
Plus the extras - am I not extremely lucky?! The duck is a tape measure - so adorable and much harder to lose than the usual flat ones.

The second was from Cynde and was only supposed to be for a thread catcher. Look what she sent!
A full set of sewing accessories and a marking pen and a cotton+steel charm pack - how generous is that?!

Didn't I tell you I got properly spoilt on both parcels!?

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

How Was Your Day Dear?

Prior to today my only experience of working in a commercial environment was my Dad's solicitor firm. My business surroundings since then have been charities - not-for-profit organisations with Members who needed servicing and usually a magazine published monthly and maybe a small finance department.
Agriculture workers
Today, I entered the world of San Franciscan Tech Start-Ups.
mac book air 13 - 3
In my old work environment you were given a second hand computer when you arrived. It would be a desktop with a big, heavy hard drive under the desk. There were "office" laptops and if you needed one you had to sign it out. If you were lucky one of the newer ones was available, otherwise you ended up with one like a breeze block. Only the CEO had their own laptop, and that would be a generic thing not a Sony or Mac. Now as I sat down at my new desk my boss was trying to wipe the Mac Book Air given to my predecessor, who only used it for two weeks. "It's not working" she said "so just take one of those." Gesturing behind her she pointed to a stack of brand new Mac Books still in their wrappers. The lady to my left noticed the stack and said "Oh, I need a new one too." "Ok." said my boss "Go ahead and take one."
Old radio shack computer
"You'll need a notepad too." said my boss. OK, I said, expecting a stationary cupboard. In my previous job, when someone left, the used pages of their notepads were torn out and the unused portion left for the new person to use.
[034/365] 15th September
She handed me my A5 Moleskin notepad with the company logo embossed, not just printed, on the front - individually shrink wrapped.
Project 50 - Day #1 (Moleskine)
"What would you like for lunch?" my boss asked me. "Oh is it it office lunch today?" I asked with trepidation - remembering the set-lunch-A that 'catering' used to provide at my old work. "On Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays you use this link to order whatever you want from local places and a company picks it all up and delivers it here for you." I looked at the link - it was restaurant type food. "On Wednesdays and Thursdays we order a load of stuff from local places so we might have Mexican or Chinese - tomorrow is Mexican." My head whirls slightly as I realise I'll never have to buy lunch for as long as I work here. Looking at the kitchen I can see a huge fridge full of every kind of juice and soda and on all the shelves are endless (mostly) healthy snacks - including two different dried fruits covered in chocolate. 
It's not quite Google, but there are exercise balls to sit on in lieu of chairs,(should you wish) several designer chairs for cuddling up in with just you and your laptop, plus an actual freaking hammock. 

Tomorrow there's a free company happy hour in a nearby bar. I am truly working for a tech start-up.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Filling Up On Cats

With my new job starting any minute now, I knew my visit to the Cat Town Cafe in Oakland last week might have to last me a little while. My visit started memorably when my Uber driver asked if it was ok if he came in with me to have a look since he was intrigued by the idea and had never heard of the area's speciality coffee house. He departed after grabbing a cup and I was left to enjoy the cats.
Cat Town Cafe, Oakland
Cat Town Cafe, Oakland
The sleeping guy above had the cutest pink nose and little black paw pads.
Cat Town Cafe, Oakland
Is it bad to objectify cats like that? By commenting on their extremities? Meanwhile in the quiet room there was a lot of cuddling going on.
Cat Town Cafe, Oakland
Cat Town Cafe, Oakland
The little stripy guy above was adorable and stretched out so I could stroke his stomach as well. Then there was one cat who had just recently moved from the Shelter to the cafe who was still nervous.
Cat Town Cafe, Oakland
He sat right at the back of the space so I slowly lent in to stroke him without spooking him. He wanted to be stroked and leaned in for it but then pulled back at the slightest noise. I really do think this place is amazing as some of the cats are feral and some have been in Shelters for years and this place gives them a chance to socialise and get used to interacting with people with a view to getting them adopted. And is it working?
Cat Town Cafe, Oakland
Stone Cold Steve Austin would definitely be giving out a "Hell Yeah" in answer to that one (WWE reference). I long for the day when I can be one of the adopters!

Monday, 1 June 2015

Making and Changing

I finally finished my second Hands2Help quilt. My usual allergy to straight lines shows in the finish.
Flowery Patchwork Quilt
I made use of some of the flowery stitches on my sewing machine when adding the strips.
Patchwork Quilt Detail
I added them to cover the joins because I used the block method I had always known about in general terms but which was gone into in more detail in the Craftsy course.
Patchwork Quilt Blocks

The other patchwork I have been doing is some of the Lucy Boston Patchwork of the Crosses blocks. I am in the second year of a Bee for this and during my two months as 'Queen Bee' and through my own stitching I am up to forty! (I've done an extra one since taking this photo).
Lucy Boston POTC blocks
The time has come to start the inbetween pieces that join them together. I've decided on kona white cotton just to keep it simple and I'll be using extra pieces of the red and whites I've and others have used as the squares between them.

I was due to give my ickle niece this height chart for her birthday, two weeks ago. Ahem.
Height Chart
There is just the miniature metal coat hanger to add to the top end. It gave me a chance to have a good rummage through my button collection.
Detail of Height Chart

I do adore chain stitch. It's very satisfying to do and the finished design stands out from the fabric beautifully. I used it for the red in the height chart and again on this t-shirt-in-progress.
Embroidered Buttons
My white fabric marker had run out so I used circles of freezer paper as templates. I ironed them in place and then embroidered around them. They just peel off afterwards.

The big change coming to my life is that I have a job! From Tuesday I will be a full-time Executive Assistant to the CEO of a tech company. The good news is that it is only 20 minutes walk from the flat but the bad news is that I will now have 40-50 hours less crafting time each week. The job came up on Wednesday this week and I'll start on Tuesday so it has all happened very quickly. I told my sister and she asked me whether I was getting any new clothes for work. I held up the button t-shirt above and she groaned. When it comes to fashion I am a great disappointment to her - to such an extent that she has started a Pinterest Board for me to refer to when I next go shopping!

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Exploring Treasure Island

The Treasure Island Flea Market is a well known event here in SF and this weekend was the fourth anniversary one. I had been meaning to go since we arrived here so thought today was as good a time as any. Slightly better in fact - Pooch rather over exerted himself the previous night and was groaning in bed and there's only so long that remains amusing for.
treasure island google map
Treasure Island is in the middle of the two halves of the Bay Bridge and a has a smattering of houses but during the last weekend of the month people and cars flock in in their thousands just for the Flea. The emphasis is on handmade things and twentieth century schmatter.
Mannequin Heads
Letterpress Letters
Hanging Air Plants
Vintage Frames
As well as the stalls there was a big food truck area with about twenty different trucks.
Food Court
My creation
There was a lovely view while I scoffed down my whateveritwas.
San Francisco
Then back into the fray.
My creation
One of the things that did tempt me was a Virgin Mark bust.
Busts of Virgin Mary
But I was slightly put off when I realised that that is an ornate leather gun holster they are arranged among. Plus I didn't get "a feeling of joy" when I picked each one up - something not attributed to holy-poly but more to "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying-Up" which I have been listening to recently as an audio book. Very interesting stuff. The only things that did come back with me, which I do find very joyful, were some little succulents from this stall.

I have some crafty updates to share tomorrow and also some big news that will seriously curtail my crafting time. So I had better go and get on with it while I can!

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