Tuesday, 27 December 2016

One last crafty review

It’s the end of the year, time for a quick retrospective.  Most of what I’ve made can be seen here. And you know what? I'm pretty happy with 2016 production.  There's a good balance of knits, quilts and garments. 

The pictures is not quite complete as there are quite a few garments that I haven't blogged about yet: I really want to come back to them especially this dress, this skirt and this top - I'm hoping to take full advantage of Alice's photographic skills to take pictures so I can feature them here.

Caroline

One of my biggest accomplishment has been for charity: 4 full quilts cut, pieced and quilted, plus a few more where I contributed to the quilting or the biding. Normally, I am a very slow quilter; I might take years to finish even a very small piece, so it has been quite encouraging to realise that I can work faster.

#QuiltsforPulse1

Knitting wise, nothing very spectacular to report but fun and fast projects. I'd love to up my game but the opportunities to wear knitwear are quite limited in Florida.

Mother daughter cowl

Now, shall I risk writing a list of what I would like to accomplish in 2017 (and no, its is not biding!)

- knitting: I know I'll be knitting little baby things and I already know there will be my most loved projects.  I also have the Waiting for Rain shawl to work on, it has been frogged a couple of times, put on the back burner for the moment, but it is second on my queue. I might make a cardigan for myself, I do have a few skeins of a beautiful charcoal yarn. 

- quilting: I still have some long suffering projects that need finishing, we will see how this goes. And I would like to push myself to new horizons, I'm tempted of making 2017 the year I'll embrace improv. 

- dressmaking: I am itching to try new kind of projects: jean-making, sportswear, lingerie, menswear ...  And because I could not resist, I have enrolled to the #sewmystyle project organised by Bluebird Fabrics: 12 months, 12 projects.

PS. this is my last finish for 2016 , the Flax sweater from TincanKnits.

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Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Best Nine

It's been clear for some time now, Instagram has taken over my social media interactions. I would love to blog as much as I used to (my best years were 2011 and 2012, when we lived in Singapore, when I did do any housekeeping and my kids where taking to bus to school!).  Still I will carry on blogging as long as I can and hope to have a few readers to follow me along.

Surfing on the trend, I’ve done my best nine and here are 2015 and 2016. It's very interesting (for me anyway) to see what attracted Likes. 

2015 - my #hrminiswap, Heather Ross mini swap was obviously a hit as well as the #scrapwrotexqal organised by Crazy Mom Quilts. Also I did post an awful lot (532 pictures!). 

carolinejg2015

2016: #quiltsforpulse is at the top. I already blogged about this, the Pulse tragedy has been shocking, revolting, but thankfully the Quilt for Pulse drive and the way quilters around the world responded has restored my faith in humanity.  On a more light note, I am delighted to see my #lesfleurs garments, made with #riflepapercofabric, are doing so well.  I am also very happy to see my #zinniaskit on the mosaic, I love this skirt so much.   Finally isn't it nice that's the centre picture is a family picture!

caroline.jg_full

Tell me, what does your Best Nine look like?

Monday, 5 December 2016

A 5 stars celebration!

2 weeks ago, the whole family, children, grand-parents, sisters in law gathered in London to celebrate Alice’s 21st birthday.  It was such a great event. Alice, her best friend and her best friend’s parents organised it all (the perk of living far away, we did not do a thing, just arrived on time to enjoy the party).

Brace yourself for an overload of pictures, but having a professional photographer makes such a difference (I even like pictures of myself :o)

Alice's Party

The party was at the London Rowing Club, which does not look as glamorous under normal circumstances, but add pink lights, fairy lights, gold glasses, black and white table runners and it’s time to party.

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Alice's Party3Alice's Party2

Alice's Party4

So just you know, we had a StarStarStarStarStarevening, more fun times the following days as we were staying for Thanksgiving too (our French family, celebrating an American holiday, in England at an Asian restaurant).

BTW, I’ll have to come back to this red dress, because I love everything about it.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Ordinary weekend

Sometime it’s good to try new things. So in an attend to be more culturally integrated into the Florida scene, we went to a hockey game on Saturday.  What?  Hockey game in Florida?  Yep, Orlando has its own hockey team, the Solar Bears.  They were playing against the Sting Rays from South Carolina, another States well known for its hockey legacy Winking smile.

It was fun, fast and quite rough.  The Solar Bears got a few penalties for starting fights, but in the end they won and all was well!

Hockey game

Monday, 7 November 2016

How did this happen?!…

Yesterday, she was a baby…

Alice3

A teen with a nice attitude…

Alice2
Alice1
Alice

And now she’s 21 (which does not make any sense since I am only 32).

Red heartRed heartHappy birthday, my beautiful girl Red heartRed heart

Thursday, 3 November 2016

80s revival – the legwarmers

In all honesty, this project does not deserve a post, but Juliette’s legs are pretty and strong, and when she asks me to make something for her, I am happy to oblige.

So here are the legwarmers, all the way back from the 80s: 48 stitches knitted in 2x2 ribbing for a very, very long time.  This project deserves the Oscar of the most boring project I have ever knitted.  The good thing is that it was so eventless that I knitted on the road, at the movie, in the dark…

legwarmers

The yarn is Wool of the Andes from Knit Pick – 100% Peruvian Highland Wool, at $1.99 for a 110-yarn ball, it’s a bargain. The colour is Blossom Heather.  I’ve used only 2 and a half balls, I could probably use the rest to extend the Vivid blanket.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Rosari skirts

The Rosari skirt pattern by Pauline Alice has been out for quite some time, and as usual I’m late to the party… When I first saw this skirt, it reminded me of a very similar one I had when I was probably 6 (I should check my pictures album when I go to my parents’).  It was in leather, light blue, with pressure buttons, quite short, and I remember loving it.

This summer, Juliette was looking to buy a skirt very similar to this, in mustard, but Juliette is tiny and no retail skirt fitted her, so I got the pattern, got some mustard corduroy from Fabric.com, some quilting fabric for finishes and off I sewed.

Rosari skirt

I made the Mini version, with Pocket C.  The construction is fairly easy and fast.  I got into a bit of trouble with the pockets, those curves needed attention: at some point there are 4 layers of corduroy to sew together.  The pocket flaps and the waist band are lined with quilting cotton to minimise the bulk.  In addition, I finished all the seams with Hong Kong seam.  If you’re not familiar with Hong Kong seams, it is the process of enclosing the edges of the fabric with bias tape, this way there’s not visible raw edge.  It takes time, but it makes the garment pretty inside-out.

Rosari skirt2Rosari skirt1

The skirt turned out very pretty and goes well with leggy legs!  It got a lot of wear since it’s been off the machine, hence the wrinkles.

When a pattern works well, I tend to re-sew it more than once.  So same version, same pocket, same fabric in different colour and different binding, but still very pretty.  I’m sure it will look lovely on Alice (the leggy legs’ effect).

Rosari skirt3

I have a slight worry with this one, the black velvet keep ‘loosing hair’ and any dust seam attracted to the fabric, leaving marks (see on the back view of the skirt).

Now, I’ll go an make a review of the pattern on Pattern Review.  I might also consider making one for myself, longer, try different pockets and maybe in denim.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Some break under pressure…

…others bake under pressure!  It’s been a weird kind of week-end, for no special reason.  So after having been unpleasant to my family, I resorted to a more ‘healthy’ fix, I BAKED.

chocolate chips cookies with caramel

Those are Chocolate chips cookies shaped into little cups, filled with salted caramel sauce, covered with semi-sweet chocolate ganache.

I’ve used a trusted recipe from Martha Stewart for the cookies: here to get it.  I’ve baked this a zillion times, but I think it’s time to re-invent it and make it with less sugar.  I dropped spoons of dough in a tiny muffin tray, then once the cookies were baked, but still warm, I press the centre with a wooden tool to shape them into cups.

Next the salted caramel sauce, I’ve used a recipe from this year Great British Bake Off.  Here it is (go to step 6 for the How-to).  And finally, for the ganache, I melted a bar semi-sweet chocolate, added some cream and piped it over the filled cups.  I think my piping skills need some improvement and I should work on my ganache too as it did not stay glossy after being in the fridge.

Apart from that, you’ll be happy to know that we did not eat them all, it was far too sweet…

chocolate chips cookies with caramel1

Also the crankiness is gone, and I’m going to blame my initial mood on the full moon.

Friday, 14 October 2016

London express – Fall edition

When your kids live in London, it is almost compulsory to do regular visits to England.  So a couple of weeks ago, I went there to make sure that they were well settled.  And yes, they were settled and already engaged in very busy student life (read: not much time for mom’s stuff, already booked with parties and friends’ stuff – and honestly, I am glad they were …

So after checking their accommodations, ordering some home supplies – how many hangers does one need?  is breakfast without a toaster possible?  how many inches of shelves space are needed?… I planned a couple of museum visits.

First stop, the Fashion and Textiles Museum.  I think it is probably one of my favourite museum in London.  I am not a great museum goer, but anything around textiles get me excided.  The TCM is quite small and from my previous visit it looks like the exhibitions always follow a similar setting: gowns/costumes on the ground floor with a single route to see them, then a few more on the first floor and finally a gallery of pictures.  I’ve seen an exhibition around Kaffe Fasset there, and another one on British designers to HM the queen.  The current exhibition is 1920 Jazz Age, 1920’s fashion, and as usual the display is great, the collection of pictures beautiful.

London Express - Fall edition2

London Express - Fall edition3

Next stop, the Victoria and Albert Museum for Undressed: a brief history of underwear.  I wouldn’t say I enjoyed this exhibition as much as the one at the FTM.  It was far more busy, everything was behind glass with reflection of the surrounding, and taking pictures was not authorised.  I took a couple of pictures of garments from their permanent exhibition.  I think I have something for the 50s…

London Express - Fall edition4

And this is Tottenham Court Road Station, the tube station by Victor’s home.  The mosaics are from Edouardo Paolozzi, check here to find out more.

London Express - Fall edition

And just one last set of pictures, the weather was gorgeous, not cold yet with a beautiful autumn light.

London Express - Fall edition1

Who said that the weather was gloomy in London?

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

The vivid blanket

When I drafted this post it started like this I'm going to try something new and have some kind of regular (ish) post on a regular subject. Sundays are going to be for Knitting. Obviously it did not work as plan...  As much as I like blogging and the memories it carries,  I seem incapable to channel enough motivation to come back here at least once a week.  Let me know if you have any recommendation to overcome this.

Well, back on the subject. Last time, I've shown you some magic knitting, this time is for the Vivid blanket. I've seen it all over the web.  Ok, maybe not all over the web, but at least on my favourite social networks,  Instagram and Ravelry.

Vivid Blanket

Vivid blanket is a pattern Emily Wessel the designer behind Tin Can Knits. It's a little bit lacy depending of your yarn choice.  After experimenting, I found that for me the best and fastest way to knit these, was to start on 4 double points needles, then switch to circular needle for the outer border.

I've use some Balmoral yarn (72% wool, 25% alpaca, 3% silk) from Sirdar which I had in my stash for ever; it has actually been discounted which is a shame because my blanket looks a bit too short.  I've made 25 squares, the dimensions are 34” square. 

Vivid Blanket1

I'm not quite sure how to go from there. Shall I find some similar weight yarn and make more squares? Shall I add a border in garter stitches? What would be a good finished size?  And anyway, what use have I for this in Florida?  I might opt for more squares as it makes it a pretty portable project. When I start working on this back in March, I was able to finish a square per day.  So one more row around the actual blanket means 24 more squares.  That’s totally feasible.  I could probably work on this while travelling, small, portable project.

To be continued…
  Vivid Blanket2

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Knitting magic

My goddaughter sent me this picture a while ago with a message which sounds like she was challenging me. That was enough to get me started.

Desktop4Pictures taken by my Goddaughter, somewhere in New Zeland

A quick search on Ravelry later, and I had this star pattern in mind. Rather than knitting the baby blanket, I've decided on making a scarf: I added garter stitches before and after the motive and on each sides. I also reworked the pattern in order to have a full big star on the centre.

And now, are you ready for some magic?  Depending on the angle you look at the scarf, you can either see white and black stripes or stars. Magic!

Magic knitting1

How does it work?  It is actually quite simple and clever. You need two contrasting colours of yarn, alternating 2 rows from each colour. The background row, in my case the dark one, is Knit on the front side, Purl on the back. The design colour, is Purl on the front, Knit on the back.  Knitting those 2 sets of rows will give a stripe texture piece. In order to create the motive, the Purl and Knit stitches are reversed where the motive happens.

Do find out more, you should go and check Pat Ashforth and Steve Plummer’s website.  Their work is super impressive, so detailed with so much craftsmanship, precise planning... They are sharing some very informative tutorials on how to draft a pattern from a picture.

Here is my very humble contribution to the world of illusion knitting.

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Collages1

Monday, 19 September 2016

The Dove blouse

There are a few things I tend to shy away from.  Things like mystery quilt, swap with total stranger or pattern testing.  Not that I don’t like to do any of these, but I am not a super fast maker and I tend to start a new project on impulse.  Well, I sign for a pattern testing on an impulse…  When I read that Megan Nielsen was looking for testers for her new pattern my thoughts went: ‘why not?’ – ‘but her patterns are for young people, and I am not’ – ‘let’s register, anyway there’s going to be too many testers, I won’t be chosen!’…  And guess what?  I made it to the testers team!

So here is Dove, made from some cotton/linen bought at my local shop, the Sewing Studio (I think the fabric might still be in stock).  Was linen a good choice for this blouse?  NO because it wrinkles like mad and I had to iron far to many times during the construction.  YES, because it gives the garment a Bo-ho look that I love.

Dove has a V-neck, comes with 3 different sleeves: elbow, flare and bell sleeves (I made version 2 – flare sleeves).  I wasn’t quite sure about the flare or bell sleeves.  But again, the idea of testing a pattern was also to get out of my comfort zone.

Dove has a high-low curved hemline.  Did I mention before that I did not like high-low hemline?  I was WRONG.  I LOVE the high-low curved on this blouse, again the Bo-ho feel.

Dove test

 

Dove test1

Construction wise, it went like a breath.  The instructions are clear, going through each step in details (that’s why I love Indie patterns so much!).  The curved hem and the neck are faced which gives a nice, clean finish.  I had to grade the pattern as busty-me would not fit in the larger size, adding 3 inches.  It works well around the bust, but I think the shoulders are slightly too big now.  I am planning to make another one, and this time I’ll do a FBA and probably lower the French dart, and still add a bit of ease at the back.  I might also have to shorten the sleeves, they are cut in the bias and they have ‘grown’ since I made it.

I am so pleased and thankful to have been part of Megan Nielsen pattern testing. I probably would never have picked this pattern for myself and I would have been so wrong.  It is lovely, the lines are modern and flattering and I learnt that I am still young enough to be hipster ;).

There is a round up of the Dove Pattern testers on Megan’s blog, you can found it here.  There’s also an Instagram handle #MNDove.

NB.  have you notice my necklace?  I made it!  It is a fairly easy knotting project: glass and silver beads with contrasting silk thread, Buddha head stone and homemade embroidery cotton tassel.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Amazing people


#QuiltsforPulse
Quilts made out of 93 blocks donated to the Orlando Modern Quilt Guild – finished size 66x66

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen this picture.  You might have liked it or even commented on it.  For all the Likes and the Comments, thank you, thank you so much.  This is probably one of my most popular entries on Instagram.  As much as I enjoy the attention, it has also made me reflect on a few things.

First, I really wish I had not made this quilt, I really wish the #QuiltsforPulse had no meaning, I really wish that there was nobody to receive those quilts, I really wish that the event which has made quilters from all over the world sew hearts had NEVER NEVER happened, that none of us had spent this summer wild amazed by this tragedy, that we did not have to congratulate ourselves for the enormous flow of generosity, being overwhelmed by everyone’s response to this drive.

Secondly, if you follow our Guild blog or receive our Guild newsletter, you might have seen the stats associated to the #QuiltsforPulse drive, but I am not sure it can encompass the scale of the project. 
This morning was our monthly meeting and the normally empty tables at the back of the room overflowed with quilts.  I don’t think anyone can really grasp how much work our committee members have been putting into organising the smooth running of this project.

From receiving the quilts and blocks, opening the mail (and getting rid of the packaging),
From sorting the blocks and organising them into kits to be sewn,
From coordinating the distribution of blocks to be pieced together, tops to be quilted, backings to be assembled, finished quilts to be bound and labelled (I went to pick up some quilts at the back of a parking lot and felt like a dodgy dealer ;),
From taking pictures of every single quilt for further documentation,
From coordinating with the various organisations involved with the victims and their families, and other people affected,
From working with suppliers so we have enough batting, thread, fabric to work on the quilts,
From organising thank you messages to quilters,
From keeping us informed of the progress,
From keeping us motivated, moving things along…

There are some amazing people behind all of this, working, giving their time and energy to ensure that all the received donations are given back to those who have suffered.  I want to express my gratitude and respect to all of them: they’ve been working and are still working to make sure that this worldwide act of generosity is passed around.  This drive would NOT have been successful without them.

If you want to see more of the quilts, have further details, go an explore some of those links: https://www.pinterest.com/OrlandoMQG/quiltsforpulse/, http://theorlandomodernquiltguild.blogspot.com/, https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/quiltsforpulse/.  Or go here and register to the Guild’s newsletter and here for the past issues.