Monday, 28 January 2013

Tea and perfume

Saturday afternoon it struck and out we went hunting for a teapot shortly before the shops closed for the day. I do have a teapot although the lid broke years ago (I have to find a ceramist to make a replacement since i love that teapot. I made a rather hurried tea cosy for it), but it is way too large for my everyday needs ;)

So last shop and last minute we found a really nice teapot, and also two cups with saucers to match, which we got since all together it was a pretty good deal (around 14€). We've used it a few times already and it is perfect for two or a very thirsty one. At least if it can be kept warm. You know where this is going ;)

I entered frenzy mode as I do and started a cosy that evening, finished the "base" and put it to block on the teapot. Sunday I dyed some yarn and knitted decorations for a few hours. I haven't attached them yet, mostly trying out things. I want mostly ferns and lily of the valley. I also cut up a half made mushroom (just knitted and felted) in nearly half to make a smaller and bigger... bas-relief? couple of mushrooms, needle felted some spots and attached them.

I also crocheted (!) around the spout hole a little since it was too big, and loops for the buttons which I also attached. I can't crochet to save my life so I was learning a little about it. I crocheted some leaves! yay me.

And dye, yep I dyed several wool yarns with the same dye batch (green and yellow), not same concentration or times or temperatures for all, a very ad hoc business:

The original yarn at the bottom
The cosy is functional for now and I only want to work on this in the weekends so that will be all for now.

Also a while ago I received a package! I swapped on Makeup Alley for the first time in years, and for the first time in perfume. I am falling into this vortex lately, but the fact I am penniless may yet save me. I've had a BPAL moratorium for years now, which I plan to keep (I have a ton that needs using), but more commercial or "niche" perfume has begun to creep in. This is an industry some aspects of I really dislike, and others I can't afford, so I am trying to remain very selective (just samples may do) and/or aim for vintage. So in the mail I got this nice little vintage bottle of Anaïs Anaïs together with a few samples. Away I shipped my partial bottle of Kenzo Ete something which I didn't really like and another bunch of samples.

This little thing is quite powerful, even though I remember it as a subtle thing (an elfin-looking friend of mine used it in the 90's), I just opened it and the little I got in my fingers smells quite strongly. Funny how taste and perception change.

I also got a pick up paper from the post. I think I know what this is and it is already pissing me off that there is quite a customs charge to it since it was a gift... I think a battle with Belgian post is lost beforehand...

Saturday, 26 January 2013

And speaking of give-aways... a KAL.

The Ledrada give-away was a success, and a KAL in my group has emerged from it. This is so exciting, I'm also joining! Now choosing yarn.

Debbie Bliss Andes 370022

So much fun I am now considering to do this regularly. Hosting a give-away of one of my patterns or eBooks, with its corresponding KAL, every month or two. Maybe every months is overwhelming.

Fun! What do you think?

More hair stuff / color

I used to blog about haircare, mostly as a record-keeping sort of activity, because let's face it, memory is a very unreliable thing indeed (especially mine, I have to admit), and when it comes to not-really-important stuff like which shampoo I was using in 2002, even more so. But on occasion I have found useful to keep this information somewhere. If it actually is of any use to anyone else remains to be seen (see below for more on that).

I "blogged" for a bit in the Long Hair Community. I have to say I never really felt at home in that website. I've made some friends that I keep and met really cool people there, but it also attracts a lot of biblical freaks that quote Corinthians in their signature (the woman's long hair bit, not the preceding nasty bit about how disgraceful long hair is for a man, which as a metalhead to the core naturally I find disgraceful, and as a reasonable person I find it absurd... but well, not to a greater extent than the rest of the book, really). I digress! Suffice it to say that I felt uncomfortable and I fitted in like a fish out of the water. And well a zealous approach to haircare doesn't suit me, either. But I have learnt a lot in there. Mostly which rules to break next, I guess ;D

Then I moved on to blog... let's say keep records privately in livejournal. It was boring and my hair type is quite rare, (perhaps in some parts of the world it is not, but I haven't met so many of those people), so not much use to anyone.

Long story short, I do not feel like keeping exhaustive records anymore, but I though keeping a few notes may come in handy, and bore you to tears, I aim to please ;)

I think I'll be changing my hair colour "routine" soon so I'll be writing down what I've been using til now.
I used a lot of different stuff to try and fix the mess the hairdresser made, but the one colour I've used a lot and worked rather well was here below on the right, a box dye from l'Oreal. This is a rather flat colour, but probably just what I needed to even out the stripey mess. Lightens up my rather dark hair a lot (at root level, prolly due to scalp heat, doesn't work nearly as well on lengths), but it also darkens any highlight. So I've been using it for root for a long time now. Half a box is enough. I do have half a ration left but I think I'll stop using it once that is finished.

The boxes on the left are from the "pro" shop, and need to be mixed with developer (I've been using the cheapo brand 20% - let me also tell you that the box dye ends up cheaper, at least when I buy at the local pro shop, I should find some discount Dutch online shop). 7.40 is funnily enough the same number than the box dye, and I think no coincidence (same brand). Probably not the exact same formula (seems reversed somehow, the color is liquid and the developer much thicker), but the colours seems nearly identical, perhaps less flat (doesn't lighten or darken quite so much, perhaps the box has 30%?).

The 6.64 is much redder (the others are orange), and I've used it to give some colour variation. Quite subtle but I've only used it twice. I like it.

So my plan is to keep on using 7.40 and 6.64, and get a darker orange brown and some 10% developer to start darkening my roots. Could do with a little less maintenance. I also have to stop coloring my eyebrows, at least with the lighter tones, which is way too light for eyebrows. Looks perfect with some eyeshadow but I don't wear it every day. My eyebrows are too ashy so we'll see.

Apart from this I'be been using random bleach leftovers to get to this point, and recently gave myself a very few highlights. I'll probably keep on doing that on occasion.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Hair update

Clicking around I stumbled upon this post, and I realized I never updated! Well, since then, I've been trying to fix my hair. Below several steps of the process:


Left to right, oldest to newest. I've since given myself a few subtle highlights, but it is not very different from that. The white balance and lightning conditions in these photos vary. It is more of an orange than a red. I think the last despite the artificial light is quite accurate

So yes, I went the DIY route... I am glad I did. Right now I am using a combination of straight bleach (very sparingly and carefully... but to lighten you have to bleach!), "professional" dyes with developer, and box dye (the dyes are rather similar and actually all l'Oreal, I am very happy with their red performance - the "pro" ones have this "Rubilane" thing - my guess is the box dye also does).
I mostly box dye on the roots since it is easy and works for me, and I use just half a package for the roots. I don't touch the lengths much in fact.

I've discovered that my hair grows pretty fast (roots every 2 to 3 weeks, which varies), so the lack of growth must be breakage. Not surprising. The dye doesn't actually have much of an effect on this (I mean it breaks anyway) so I may as well have fun. I've so far only had positive reactions. And I do like it which is what matters most.

It is not what I had in mind, exactly, but I guess it will do for now. I may still darken my roots as I originally intended, which would make for much less maintenance (it does not bother me yet, though!).

Ledrada update & giveaway

Just this weekend I was away in Barcelona, and while I was trying to finish a pair of socks for my mom, I was also lecturing her for not using the shawl I made for her, knits are meant to be worn, not carefully stored away in the closet for... later?

So she said she would. Even though she doesn't want to "spoil" it. Life is too short to worry about that! I also had to talk my father into wearing his socks.

Anyway. I came back to a nice message from Aimee, aka froggymonkey from Knitting in circles podcast, pointing out a few mistakes on the pattern I wrote for this shawl, Ledrada (her project here). I published this one year ago, and as we say time doesn't pass in vain, one does learn and there were improvements to be made.

I corrected the mistakes and the chart, improved the line by line instructions, adding the stitch count to them as well, increased a needle size (I now do this by default since I am such an extremely loose knitter and the needle I used is never to be trusted) and also clarified the modification instructions a bit.

So to celebrate, I am giving away 5 copies of the eBook (which includes the mittens, photo below). Comment in this topic in Ravelry to get yours!

Update: this was so successful I ended up giving 13 eBook copies away, thanks everyone!! :D

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Project progress

So, finished and blocked the shawlette. Happy with it!

And work on the russety mittens continues:

I want to make hat and cowl to match these, but wonder if I'll have enough yarn. I think not. I am also tempted to get another colourway (greys?) and knit a bigger size for Pim. Perhaps he would find it too "busy"? this one is a very plain man ;P

Friday, 11 January 2013

Silver beads

So this shawlette has actually taken over the orange mitts... it is finished!

Blocking now. I want to knit some beaded cuffs to match :)

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Sewing and knitting

I bought a very pretty coat many years ago (see it here worn by my dear friend Anna). It came with a detachable fake fur collar-lapel thing. It looks beautiful and it is rather effective against a cold draft, but the fur itself leaves much to be desired.

A few years ago I found an incredibly soft, long haired fake fur at the local yarn store, and bought quite a bit of an ivory colour. With this I made an extra tall collar, I put the elastic loops in the same places my other collar has them. I still have a lot of fur left. Thinking of lining a little cape UFO I have in the chest.

Anyway, my plan was to buy some in black to make another collar for my black coat, or to put into this cape, but when I went to get it, some time later (this fur was very expensive) they had ran out. All this time I've been checking if they restocked it, and finally asked. They said it was just too expensive, and also difficult to find. You tell me about it.

I still haven't seen it coming back, but this Monday, they finally had some very soft fur. It is not nearly as long haired, but it is also very nice. I bought a little for a simple collar following the same shape than the original:

Left, new collar, right, original one. It feels like garbage bags chopped up very thin.
I made it yesterday, some interfaced rustic silk, salvaged from an old dress, makes the lining, and some loops of elastic attach it to the coat. And this is how it looks in another of my coats. Why, just sew some buttons on the inside of the lapel, and you can attach the collar to it:

Excuse the picture quality: 10:30 AM, pitch dark indoors.
Continuing on the UFO chest project, yesterday I mended some of Pim's trousers:

First I sewed a patch of fabric on the inside, and over the hole in this woven fashion, I don't know how it is called in English. My skills leave much to be desired, so I knitted a little patch to go over it. This is knitted in very thin laceweight with 1.5 mm needles, making it my smallest knitting to date. 12 sts on the side make for 3 cm approx. I cast on the outside edges and swirl decreased towards the center. It is St st and would curl, but it is sewn down, so... It passed the BF's approval since it is the same colour and quite discrete. We'll see how it holds up after washing, this may get interesting... I sewed along the edges but also along the swirl, so hopefully it will maintain the shape.

Oh and this one, I cast it on Monday. Just a yummy yarn (in the skein at least), needles and improvisation. Triangular shawl, perhaps. Just for fun. It doesn't seem like the yarn should be frogged, so we'll see what comes out of it.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Knitting and sewing

I have been working on the mittens I posted about before, but I am now debating if I should change the top. It may be too pointy.

Meanwhile, as usual, I could not resist the urge to... cast on! For a scarf and some cuffs in red, with silver beads! perhaps a hat too :) I may have enough yarn. The yarn is Drops Baby Alpaca Silk, which I love.

I started with the scarf... lette? It has some shaping via short rows:

A very simple thing, as it should be in this case! It is going fairly fast. I got quite a few beads and at first my idea was to bead it all the way along the length, but then I thought this would be a little too much and decided to do just one smaller motif, not centered.

Yesterday I tidied up my sewing nook. It is so, so challenging to keep it tidy!

That furry thing there? a fake fur collar I am making for my coats!
It is really tiny, everything except my "portable" 40's Singer 306K, which sits under my vanity, is in there, plus inside that closed (the door on the left) which is quite shallow. Everything being all the fabric, notions, haberdashery, ironing implements including the board (I had to move the iron itself to another shelf though) polyfill... it is really very stuffed in there.

The cabinet to the right is my beloved Singer 15-88, with the original bill from 1953 (it costed about 8000 francs, which is about 200€, which was a lot of money back then! it still works like the first day though*).

The basket on the left contains the most likely to ever be finished UFOs, and on top of it sits my vintage Bernina overlocker.

For the first time in my life, I decided to let go of some UFOs. They were just hopeless. That was only just enough for the other UFOs not to overflow :D I decided that I really have to work on these. Many are no-brainers, simple things like band t-shirts that need smallifying.

Started yesterday already. I had a shirt and a long-sleeved t-shirt from Pim that needed elbow patches. He had these sandpaper elbows for a while there, I guess.

These have been in the basket for possibly years, shame on me!
I also hemmed a nearly finished dress I made some time ago. Over a year ago I think ;P I found these woolen knits in the fabric store and I made two dresses. One was a very fine fabric and I made a long-sleeve reversible dress (not that I ever wear it with the wool on the inside, which is itchy and not actually warmer, but it felt like such an accomplishment at the time!), lined with viscose jersey, that I have worn a lot, so that one at least was successful. The other, this one below, is sleeveless, shorter and more fitted. The fabric is thicker, fluffier and has no drape. It was a mistake to make a dress at all, it should have been a cardigan or so. But it is so very warm so I should wear it at least on cold days.

The neck and armholes looked awfully weird, but picking up sts and knitting three rows or so with a rayon yarn really did fix that nicely. I now have to steam it a bit and hope it is wearable outside the home.

*Ok, I admit I wasn't there to see it ;P

Thursday, 3 January 2013


I cannot get enough of these rich, orangey-browney reds lately. Is that russet?

And I always liked linen st so much, how come I haven't yet designed anything with it? well this will be my next and I have to say I am in love with the fabric, the yarn and the colours: