Showing posts from 2013

You'd Think I Could Remember Memory Wire

But apparently not.

Pursuant to a previous post, I resolved my problem with wanting to wear multiple bracelets that I could put on AND take off. It's Memory Wire of course. One continuous springy length that looks like many bracelets but wears like one. Loops and loops of lovely beads that wrap on, wind off, don't get tangled and require no closure (for the clasp-challenged like me).

If you've not heard of memory wire, it is a wonderful thing. It's fine stainless steel wire that is cold forged into a spring. It returns to its original shape after being stretched so it is ideal for jewelry that sits close to your body - like chokers and bracelets and rings. It comes in a variety of diameters and finishes and looks sort of like a flaccid slinky. It's easy to use, just don't cut it with your fine jewelry grade wire snips! I speak from personal experience here. It's as hard as well, steel, and will nick the heck out of the cutting edges of your good tools.

Now …

Lost, but gradually finding my way back. I think.

OK, there is no easy way to say this, so I'll just spit it out:

Going back to work after being on sabbatical totally sucked.

Was it worth it? Completely. Even with the beginning and end transitions being so hard.

Did I learn stuff. Of course. Plenty of new skills and improvements in process and quality. But the most important things I learned were quantum lessons. You know, the hugely tiny things that change how you think. I can sum these up in 3 points:

1) Apparently I do exist outside my job - after 25 years I wasn't really sure.
2) Apparently the program can run without me, albeit due to the strong curriculum and a great group of part time folks who filled in for me.
3) And because of points 1 and 2, I will retire the minute I qualify for a full pension.

This last point came as a big surprise to me. I love my job (OK I didn't love it at all for the first month or so going back) and I really enjoy the teaching, the students and my colleagues. But I now know for sure that …

In Jewelry, As In Life, Pretty Isn't Always Enough

Well maybe in life looks can get you a long way. But looks alone aren't going to get these bracelets very far...

In summer I love to wear bracelets. A lot of bracelets. I'd wear them all the time actually, but they are a problem as they clatter against the desk or the surface of my MacBook Pro while I'm teaching. So I end up taking them all off in class and then I leave them all over the place and the students (kindly) chase me around the lab to give them back or leave them in a little pile by my notes.

Instead of a lot of individual bracelets, I decided to make some multi-strand bracelets. Many strings, one easy (and this is a key word) on/off step.

Oh sure, they look great.  See the subtle colours in the coordinated palettes. Wonder at the variety of shapes and sizes and the interplay of iridescent, facetted and matt finishes. Appreciate the beauty of the fit and the professional application of findings. Marvel that the beads where selected from shops in LA, Toronto, Ne…

Catching up and the Revised Nelson Necklace

Oh wow. I haven't posted anything here for about 8 weeks! Not that I haven't been making. And not that I haven't been thinking about posting ... the pictures were taken. But somehow it just didn't get done. Let's just blame summer time. So expect a little flurry of posts over the next while as I get caught up.

Mostly I've been making things with beads this summer. I like to be outside as much as I can vs. sitting at a sewing machine. And Mark and I are often on the road, heading out for a day or two at some fishing hole or a weekend away with friends, so beads are the most portable solution to the need to be making something all the time. I can grab a few tools and some beads from the stash, pack them in my handy little travel kit, toss it in the back of the car and head out.

Here's the thing about my extensive bead stash - sometimes (OK a lot of the time) I forget what is in there. So going looking for something often results in finding something else. Th…

Heading to the Mother Ship

Here I am in New York City. It's a lovely morning and I'm up early and on my way to Alt Summit NYC ( - a conference on blogging and marketing. The event is hosted by Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, which means that I am heading to the mother ship in a few minutes.
Not entirely sure what to expect, except that there will likely be 198 young women, maybe one man and me in the audience. And if Martha Stewart should pop by (as she did at last year's summit), for a brief moment I won't be the oldest person in the room.
I'll let you know how it goes and what I learn in a later post.

Desert Inspiration

My trip to the southwest earlier this month was great! And so inspiring in many ways.

Right off the plane, Sheila and I went to the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. I've never been to Arizona in May and so I was surprised by the amount of blossom everywhere. And the cactus were in bloom too. By the way, there is a very nice new restaurant there called Gertrudes. Lunch there was a terrific way to start off our holiday.

Just at the entrance to the Gardens was this display of cactus, succulents and other plants in big pots. I saw similar things everywhere we went. Made me want a little version of this at home!

Of course, some climate variation had to be considered! Succulents (vs Cacti) seemed to be the way to go, seeing as they tolerate extreme heat and cold, and grow through times of both drought and moisture. Which sort of sums up the annual weather picture around here!

So, I rounded up some pots, dug a few 'hens and chicks' (various kinds of Sempervivum for those of yo…

Tassel Time

The other day I was rummaging in a box for something else and found a length of 12" white flapper fringe, some green and blue ombre dyed fringe and a 9 inch long incomplete tassel that I had completely forgotten about. I seem to remember buying the fringe at Designer Fabric Outlet in Toronto and making the green tassel sometime in the last century.

I love tassels. OK, you can get on with all the jokes that come to mind. I'll wait.

Better now? Good. As I was saying, I love tassels. I love their silky strings and the way they move. I have used them as decorations on things as diverse as gifts and window blinds and I routinely use them as pendants for necklaces. I like them hanging from door handles and cupboard knobs. If I had drapes with tie backs, I'd probably use them there too. I have a shoe box full of small ones, just waiting for their call to duty.

And I like making tassels. Especially big luxurious ones. You can make these from any kind or yarn or fibre really, but m…

Arizona Dreaming

The past weeks of sewing have made a nice little dent in the fabric stash and swelled the contents of my closet. This week I decided it was time to have a go at the bead stash. I'm heading to Sedona for a holiday soon and Arizona is on my mind.

Turquoise, red and silver always says South West to me. As you can see, I have a healthy stock of appropriate stones to pick from. And this picture was taken post-necklace.

The necklace is actually a set of two that can be worn together. The two outside strands are joined together at about collar bone level. The inside strand is a separate piece that can be worn alone. I guess it could even be turned into a wrap bracelet if needed.

Bead Specs: 

The antique looking 'silver' bird - and I do use that term loosely - is part of a pair of earrings that I bought on sale at Forever XX1. The sterling silver pendant with red and turquoise stones was an ebay steal for just a couple of dollars last summer. Sometimes you get lucky. The concho-esqu…

Pastel Flower Printed Shirt

What do you do when it is a cold and windy April day with an ice storm in the weather forecast and all you really want to do is get started on the gardening? Sulking is high on my list, followed by getting started on something sunny and summery.

I'd been mulling over an idea for a white cotton tunic or shirt with watercolour-like painting on it. Considering that my painting skills are even worse than my drawing skills, this seemed like an overly ambitious undertaking. But what the heck.

I had a good length of a nicely textured crinkle cotton in the stash to use and drafting the pattern and sewing the shirt was easy. But I was unsure about how to get the painting effect while still leaving the fabric with a soft hand and natural texture. I tried out a number of things and I decided on 2 options - very thinned out Colour Vie or watercolour pencil crayons.

Yes, pencil crayons. I had no expectation that these would work, but have a look at the sample at right. I scribbled on damp fabri…

My Four Points Dress

Last year there was some activity online around a pattern from Vogue (1312) which featured prominent angular structures in the skirt. Several bloggers offered up their own versions of this construction which came to be known as the tablecloth skirt or  'garment formerly known as tablecloth' although it really doesn't have much to do with tablecloths at all.  At the time I thought it looked fun so I bookmarked it for later.

Now it's later, and with the teasing glimpse of warmer weather over the Easter weekend, I thought I'd see about making something like this myself. I thought I'd go for a dress with a fitted bodice, short sleeves and pockets.  I had 3 metres of inky blue (photos are lightened for detail) light-weight linen that I'd bought on sale which would be perfect for this project, which I call the Four Points Dress.

Note: no tablecloths were harmed in the making of this dress!

Having recently finished drafting a well fitting sleeveless top pattern, I …

H&M Dress Refashion

It must be the official (not to say in any way actual) first day of Spring last week that made me have a bit of a tidy up of my closet. That or I was avoiding doing something else, which is when I usually find myself getting all organized. For example, at peak marking times I get the overwhelming urge to do things like alphabetize my sock drawer.

All I did was re-group everything in the closet by length and then by colour which makes it much faster to find something to wear in the morning. (Really Gil? How exactly do you sort an all black winter wardrobe by colour?)

As usual I found some items I hadn't worn for a while. Some were nice surprises, some were headed for the charity bag, others I still had hope for. One of these last items was this (cough) black H&M dress.

When I really stopped to think about it, I realized I have only worn this dress once - about 4 years ago in LA. I'd needed something that could pass as a LBD for an alumni event, but seeing as I rarely wear d…

A Tale of Two Tops

It was the best of times, it was the worst... no wait, it actually was the best of times in terms of sewing.

This week I have been working to draft up a couple of properly fitting top patterns for woven fabric. The first one I did is a hip length tank with darts and neckline options and the second is a long tunic with slightly dropped shoulders, boat neck and deep side slits.

I selected a grape coloured cotton linen blend from the recently reorganized stash for the muslins. Mostly I chose it because it was the right weight and I had a lot of it, likely 3 metres or more. And I remember paying very little for it at an end of season sale last year - or the year before! I figured I'd get two muslins and maybe one finished top out of it and wasting some of the fabric would not break my heart.

Surprisingly (to me at least) I must have done a pretty good job on the pattern drafting because both the muslins were about 90% successful right off the sewing machine! The tank top just needed t…