Monday, 21 May 2018

What I've Been Watching...

I get a lot of stitching and knitting done whilst watching TV. Between a PVR and Netflix, I mostly watch things that really interest me rather than just programs to fill the time.

I record a lot of documentaries from CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Company), TVO (Ontario public television network) and BBC. I also watch documentaries on Netflix as well as TV series - present and past.

Lately I've been watching Jerry Seinfeld's "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee". I have been laughing out loud at several of them - highlighting the greatest living comedians of our time. In some episodes (about 20 min long), they are in awe of Jerry Seinfeld and appear almost star-struck. In other episodes he is interviewing comedians that were his role models - Don Rickles, Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner - the series originally aired two years ago and since that time Don Rickles has died. Sometimes the cars are amazing. Other times, they break down. It's a pretty funny series.

I like foreign series as well, particularly Scandinavian ones like 'Dicte' (about a journalist who returns to her hometown from the big city) and 'Rita' (about a very competent school teacher whose personal life is a mess). However, it's hard to do embroidery or stitching whilst watching a foreign film with English subtitles.

Other Netflix shows I've enjoyed:

  • The Crown - starting with Elizabeth IIs early years
  • The Making of a Murderer - Michigan murder documentary
  • The Keepers - documentary about a nun's murder in Baltimore
  • My Next Guest Needs No Introduction - David Letterman et al
  • I Am the Ambassador - two years of American ambassador to Denmark - I first watched this on TVO
  • Dirty Money - investigation documentary
  • House of Cards - watch it soon before it disappears because of the Kevin Spacey sexual abuse scandal
  • The Final Year - Obama's last year in office
There are lots of British mystery series that intrigue me as well as full BBC series that have previously aired on PBS.

There is so much crap on TV but if one looks carefully, many informative, entertaining shows are there. 

Dumpling Dish

I have wanted to make another Dumpling Dish for a while. The original pattern is the last 45 (!) pages of the Bionic Gear Bag (BGB) pattern. The BGB pattern is for sale on Craftsy as well as the Sew Like a Rock Star website. The entire pattern is 82 pages long.

There are lots of photos of the various steps involved in making the two projects. However, the designer includes a rambling monologue and 'stream of consciousness' text which makes it tricky trying to isolate the important parts - the steps in sewing. It would be terrific if she just wrote the pattern like a normal sewing pattern and included a video instead of the rambling, annoying text.

That being said, I did have success putting this project together.

First, I printed the last page of the pattern which is the pattern piece. I then blew it up by 50% as I wanted it to be a larger dish than the first one I did.
Then it took me a while to find the fabrics I wanted to use - same colourways - contrasting design.

 The shape is that of a dumpling.
When unzipped, it forms a bowl shape.

I use my smaller one for my sewing clips.
To make it open completely, the zipper extends beyond the edge of the 'dish'. It is trimmed and a patch of fabric is sewn to the outside anchoring the end of the zipper.
The other side opens completely. I'm pretty proud of the job I did to get the two sides to line up.  The top-stitching is done at the end and gives it a nice, finished look.
The fabric can be 'fussy cut' to best show off the fabric pattern. As the pattern piece is placed on the fold, I made sure the kitty cat was on the fold as well so it would be the centre, once unfolded.

This fabric has the cats going 'every which-way' so I wanted to make sure the prominent one was right-side up.
I usually like the linings to be a lighter colour so the contents can be easily seen.
The dumpling dish is an excellent pattern for zipped containers where the entire contents need to be easily seen. One of these days I'll tackle the full-sized BGB. I have made a couple of the baby BGBs which are smaller versions with one pocket.

The next dumpling dish I make will only be 25% larger than the pattern calls for.

Hardanger Pincushion

At long last I finished the test pincushion from our stitchalong.
The sides are done separately as buttonhole-edged strips and whip-stitched onto the top and bottom.
When I first tried  to cut the excess fabric off the sides, I realized I hadn't done the buttonhole stitch but only the varied satin stitch. There was nothing to whip stitch into. So I re-stitched the sides. I had enough spare fabric and thread so I didn't bother picking out the satin stitches.

I backed the open work with medium interfacing that had been ironed onto a piece of scrap fabric so the glue didn't face out.
This sewed up in about an hour.
Now I'm ready to sew up the 'good' one.
Embroiderers who like precision and neatness would really enjoy stitching Hardanger pieces. Once the basic techniques are mastered (Kloster blocks, buttonhole stitch, wrapping bars, dove's eyes) the pieces stitch up very nicely.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Royal Wedding Luncheon Celebration

Marilyn invited Sheila and me to a luncheon at her home yesterday in anticipation of the Royal Wedding.

She prepared a lovely light lunch for us.

Celebratory selfie.

We toasted the bride and groom with Prosecco.
 Sherry was available after luncheon.
We had a lovely time eating, drinking, and chatting. I did some stitching - finishing the wrapped bars and dove's eyes on the pincushion top of the test piece.

All the test pieces are stitched now. Next will be backing the openwork, then stitching the pieces together and stuffing them.

I got up at 6am to watch the wedding this morning, taking my pillow and blanket down to the couch downstairs. Of course, I enjoyed the music, and didn't find the service to be extraordinarily long. It seemed to go without a hitch. It was a lovely event.

Friday, 18 May 2018

Stitching Is Almost Done

I cut the threads and got most of the bars wrapped last night.
The right side shows it finished with the bars wrapped and the dove's eyes done.

Only 6 more bars to wrap, then on to the dove's eyes.
On the bottom is the inside of the needle book with outlines of where the pockets will go. I still need to stitch a spot to attach the felt for the needles above the right pocket.
I'm thinking of backing the openwork with the same grey fabric as white might make the grey fabric look dingy.

I do plan to assemble the test piece (on white fabric) first before tackling the good piece. I have all the required materials.

So far it's been pretty fun. I'm pleased to have a Hardanger project than can be useful as the many doily, table runner, and table cloth patterns aren't really things I'd ever use in my home.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Biscornu - Long Overdue

I unearthed a stitching UFO from years ago in my office/craft room the other day. All the stitching was done but my progress had stopped when I tried to sew the top to the bottom. I just couldn't get it right so I abandoned it.

Since then, I've made several more and learned that the key to successful sewing it together is to make sure you have an even number of running stitches on each side and the same number of stitches on each side. This ensures that the piece can accurately be divided in half - helpful when sewing the last half of stitches on one side to the first half of stitches on the other.
Photo - Nordic Needle
A good explanation is here.

I took a look at my running stitches and noted I had an odd number. The fix was easy - just make more running stitches one thread inside the original border. This creates an even number of stitches. That done, the pieces sewed together really easily.
I don't remember what pattern I used but any square pattern will work for this.
Just make sure your fabric is truly evenweave and square.
If I recall correctly, this was 28 ct. Monaco cloth and DMC 902 floss.
It's about 7cm across (2.75"). A petite little thing.

When I did a search for the Nordic Needle photo above, I found all kinds of intriguing images of biscornu patterns. They bear closer inspection...

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Barbados Bag

I've been wanting to make this cross-body bag since I was down in Texas and my cousin did a Facebook post about making one. The #120 Barbados Bag was designed by Pink Sand Beach Designs. And calls for 1/2 yds or fat quarters (depending on where they're used in the bag) of 4 fabrics plus a half yard of a lining fabric.

I have such a problem committing to fabric choices but was able to find everything I needed in my stash and in my favourite colours, too!

The bag took me a long time to make.  I only had written instructions and I do much better being shown or having a video to watch. Cutting and labelling the pieces took over an hour. I used masking tape labels as I knew I'd get confused otherwise. That worked very well for me.

It basically took a whole day, but here it is.
It has a zipper pocket in the front and a zipper closure on the top.
 I made a piece of double fold fabric for the zipper pull
and a little key charm for the front pocket zipper pull.
The back has two deep pockets, perfect for business envelopes.
I lined the bag and the front pocket with lime green fabric that coordinates with the main fabric. There is a deep pocket above the front zipper pocket.
I used a heavier zipper for the top of the bag thinking it would get much more wear and tear than the front pocket would.
There are two small pockets inside.
I probably could have cut half an hour to an hour off the completion time as I made a couple of mistakes that required a lot of picking out of stitches. The next bag won't take nearly as long. The pattern could easily be changed to make a wider bag.

It could also be made with an adjustable strap using D-rings and a swivel clip. I chose not to do that for this first one. The only thing I would have done differently is I would have top-stitched along the top by the zipper. The design also called for two lines of top-stitching on either side of the zipper on the front pocket.

Only one is really needed. I was also supposed to do this double top-stitching along the strap and I only did one.

The finished bag measured 25cm wide (10") and 28cm (11" long). With boxing the corners, the bottom was 20cm (8") wide. My iPad mini in its case fits with room to spare.

Monday, 14 May 2018

Mother's Day Birding and Yellow Warbler Study

Skip and I went birding at Thickson's Woods again yesterday. I got some great pics of a male yellow warbler. Of course the main diagnostic is that it's primarily all yellow with slightly darker wings.
The adult male has reddish streaks on its chest

This wren's identity has eluded me for days. It doesn't lift its tail when it sings. It doesn't have much of an 'eyebrow'. It's bill isn't very curved. Skip thought it was a house wren but it didn't look exactly like the one in the bird guide.
I got a really good picture of it yesterday. Once home, I loaded the image into Google images and immediately got the response that it was indeed a 'house wren'.
This Baltimore oriole found a virtual smorgasbord of midges caught in a spider's web. He feasted there for quite a while.

Back in the woods at the 'corner', a redstart worked the trees for a long time. It was very active so this is the only good shot I got. Sibley defines it as a 'small, long-tailed warbler'. The bright markings make it easy to spot.

Walking down the lane to the lake (Ontario) a couple of flotillas of mergansers were enjoying the sun and the fish.
The white stripe on the neck is the diagnostic for a red-breasted merganser.
Male red-breasted merganser
Back in the woods, the fiddleheads are emerging.

We wondered how someone thought to try and eat one the first time.

In a few weeks, they'll be beautiful ferns.

On the path was this very small butterfly. It was about 1.5cm in diameter and, although washed out in this photo, a beautiful light blue.
Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon)
Back at home, Google images told me it was a Spring Azure butterfly (Celastrina ladon). The inside of the wings is a little darker but it didn't cooperate and open its wings so I could get a good shot.

We only have a couple more weeks of birding opportunities before the leaves are too full to get good sightings.