Friday, January 31, 2014

3 Projects


1.  Line & Proportion Notebook

This week, I've been holed up on my couch - once until 3 am! - tearing examples of pleats, sleeve plackets, silhouettes, and colors from a pile of Vogue and Harper's Bazaar magazines. The pages above are for a Fall moodboard and a page on Tucks & Gathers, and I have approximately a billion other pages to complete.

Leafing through these magazines, mostly from 2010-now, is really interesting as a study of trends: in the past few days, I've found out that it's nearly impossible to find an example of a sailor collar on a contemporary garment, and that models Karlie Kloss and Laura Stone work a lot, and that the rest of the US must wear a lot more wool jackets and coats than we Northwest folks do, because the pages of Vogue are absolutely littered with them.

So if you stop hearing from me, it's probably because I'm lying in a pile of Vogues, page protectors, and thousands of little pieces of cut-up magazine paper on my living room floor, alternating between cackling maniacally and softly cooing at Dolce & Gabbana ads.


2.  Tailoring Techniques

I was halfway through my Tailoring Techniques class when I started the fashion show last year, so I jumped in last night to work on one of the final techniques I need to get it signed off: a patch pocket with a flap.

There's something really wonderful about the methodical care of tailoring: pressing seams with the heat of your fingers; gently pulling a basting thread to ease a seam; topstitching just a thread over the edge of the pocket to secure it. It reminds me that it's okay - and even desirable - to take time to do things correctly, and to enjoy the process, not just the result.


3.  Line & Proportion Illustration: Vintage-Inspired Plaid Dress #2 

I did my first illustration for this project a while back, and decided that I wanted to try different illustration techniques for each of my designs; I started with colored pencil and ink, and planned to illustrate the other three with Copic markers, paper cutouts, and watercolors. This is the second technique, Copic markers. The fabric is a check rather than a plaid, on an Hourglass figure with a Romantic style. It took me three hours of watching Dollhouse to fill in the check pattern, but in the end I'm really happy with it. It almost has a watercolor-like look, but it feels slightly more precise.  And this is a dress that I would definitely wear if it existed, which is kinda fun!

Welcome to new readers from Untangling Knots' recent post on Seattle knitters - if you haven't read it yet, I highly recommend checking out the other bloggers she mentions, as they are super great.  Thanks for reading, and happy Friday!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Thoughts on an Outfit: Stripes & Layers

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A couple of weeks ago, I finally caved and bought new pants that fit my slightly skinnier butt.  And oh man, there are few better feelings in the world than the one that comes from wearing clothes that fit!  I'm still working on my daily uniform, and I've settled into a nice groove wearing jeans, layers that usually include draped tops and vintage knits, and kickass shoes.  It's comfy enough to work or play in, but it still feels intentional and put-together.

I will say, shopping for clothing since losing weight has been a jarring and conflictingly wonderful and terrible experience.  On one hand, probably 75% more items fit me correctly, which is pretty great.  On the other hand, the inherent privilege I've been experiencing as a smaller-bodied person is unsettling.  Why does the size-6 me get to wear jeans that fit and the size-10 me didn't?  Why does our culture feel the need to pathologize larger-bodied people when clothes don't fit them, instead of simply working to change the clothes so that they do?  Why can't the fashion industry be more transparent and non-judgmental about clothing sizing & fit?  And why the hell is it fair that my smaller body gets a free pass on dealing with these issues?

I felt comfortable and beautiful as a size 10, and felt in many ways that being visibly satisfied with my body as a larger person was political - like, I'm here, I take up space, and I'm not sorry.  Although I like my "new" body, I'm not comfortable with it yet.  It's pointier and smaller.  I have weirdly prominent collarbones.  My face looks different in the mirror.  I haven't quite gotten used to looking down and having less of me there.  I'm also not sure how to feel about the fact that, consciously or unconsciously, I made myself smaller.  Even though it wasn't a choice so much as a side effect, it still feels as I'm tacitly approving of and conforming to societal standards - and pushing back against many of my core values - simply by existing in a smaller body.

I expect that it will take time to figure out all my feelings on the subject, but in the meantime, I'm practicing being kind and patient with myself.  (Thankfully, wearing cool shoes and eating Theo ginger chocolate are non-optional aspects of this process.)

Shirt: Thrifted
Camisole: My own design
Cardigan:  Thrifted, vintage Halle Brothers
Shoes: Fluevog Coffee Breva (2011, no longer available)
Necklace: Love Nail Tree

Monday, January 27, 2014

FO: Geodes

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Socks!  Hooray!

These were done except for weaving in ends, bagged, and then frozen for months on end, so it was a relief to finally be able to sit down and finish them off for real.  The yarn is Socks That Rock Lightweight in the colorway G-Rocks, and it was the first Blue Moon Fiber Arts yarn I ever bought - I think I got it in summer of 2007!  It tried and failed to become Jaywalkers 3 or 4 times before I finally gave up and shoved it deep down in the stash, to be unearthed last summer when I needed some plain socks to knit because my brain was short-circuiting from wedding planning.  Not much to say about these puppies except that they're bright, and they're done!

One WIP down, 20-something to go...

Friday, January 24, 2014

My WIP Basket Overfloweth

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As I'm sure many knitters do, I have a bit of WIP problem!  Almost all of my current works in progress are on Ravelry, but it was only a week or so ago that most of them came out of the freezer.  Now that they're through that process, I'm itching to finish some of them off, so last night I finished a hat that I started in December of 2011 - only a few months after I started at NYFA!  This is not even to mention the multiple shawls and pairs of socks that just need blocking and ends woven in.

Yeeeeah, so this is kind of my basket of shame.

Getting everything back from Beetlegate purgatory has made me reinvigorated about fixing, finishing, and generally clearing out my closet of unwearable items - I'm stoked about tacking hems, knitting the tops of hats, and knitting that last sleeve for sweaters that are otherwise finished!  Although I didn't make any official New Years resolutions, clearing out my WIP basket is definitely one of my long-term goals for 2014.  It feels good to finally have the tools to get started.


Also, just for funsies, here is some rat nose - Misters Squishy and Pooper were cuddled up on the top balcony of their cage, and they looked so cozy!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Sick Day Recommendation List

sick day

I woke up this morning with the beginnings of the same cold that Lumberjack had over the weekend, so I'm curling up on the couch with a giant cup of tea, chewing echinacea tablets like candy, and catching up on some reading.  I've also been thinking a lot about one of my illustration assignments, where I've decided to try different techniques in each one of 4 illustrations.  I've already done one in colored pencil and ink, and I think I'm going to try Copic markers, printed paper, and watercolors in the other 3.  I might do some experimentation with Copics today while I'm holed up on the couch!

Things I'm Reading & Looking At:

Paris in Color, by Nichole Robertson.  This little gem of a book is full of gorgeous photographs of Paris, grouped by color - and if you're anything like me, looking at it will make you seriously want a lemon pastry and a little mint-green motorbike!

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, by Susan Cain.  This book is a thoughtful and thorough exploration of what it means to be an introvert, with focuses ranging from physiology to education and beyond.

The Power of Vulnerability, a TED talk by Brené Brown in which she talks about both her research and personal experience with the subject of vulnerability in a really candid, wonderful way.

Colette Patterns Zinnia.  I've fallen in love with the sheer version of this swishy skirt!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Small Victories

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This week I started working on some of my large projects for school, and it's been surprisingly great and productive - and much faster than I had anticipated.  I was working on my pants and jacket slopers back in October, right before Mackie got sick and Beetlegate 2013 started full-force.  I was almost finished with the pants and had done one muslin of the jacket before everything went kablooey.  Then I went and lost a bunch of weight, and all my muslins went into the freezer, and the whole concept of school projects went into a big, overwhelming pile of stuff to blatantly ignore.

But then: you know how sometimes you think you've forgotten how to ski because you haven't done it in a long time, and then you actually go skiing, and you do just fine, and you realize that just because you can't explain how you did something, doesn't mean your body has forgotten how to do it?  Well anyhow, this is a real thing, which I'm gently reminded of it every time I can sit down and play a sonata I learned when I was in middle school, or when I can do a Continental cast-on myself but have to think pretty hard to teach someone else how.  How do you do it?  I dunno, you just... do?

It's with this in mind that I've come back to the actions of design: pulling muslin on grain; walking in side seams; easing a sleeve cap.  I thought that I had forgotten, but it's only that I got caught up in other things for a little while.  Yesterday, I finished my jacket sloper, and then spent the better part of an hour tracing out the pattern pieces for my Jasmine blouse and cutting them out of a length of quilting cotton as a muslin.  There's something really nice about sewing things slowly and thoughtfully, even if it means I don't have much to show for it.

I'm hoping that I'll have something sewn up next week, but we'll see.  Right now, the small victories are pretty intangible, but I'm hopeful that they'll keep happening until they're big enough to share.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

WIP: A Blankie for Hayden

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I mentioned a bit ago that our family is expecting a new baby - Lumberjack and I are going to be Uncle and Auntie to a little boy!  So, of course, I'm designing and knitting a baby blankie for him.  I finally got cracking on knitting it a few days ago, after realizing how quickly his arrival date is approaching.  (Mid-March is doable from now, right?  Right!)

I'm knitting it out of Berroco Comfort DK, and really enjoying the experience.  I've knit about a ball and a half up so far, and did a Russian join for the first time in my knitting career.  Since the finished blanket will probably be thrown in the washer and dryer, I figured it would be best to have as few ends to weave in as possible.  I'm absurdly happy about how I got the diamonds to line up with the edging, and I love the delicate look of the 3x3 basketweave stitch.  I hope that little Hayden likes it too!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Inspiration Library: Magazines, Catalogues & Quarterlies

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Since taking Portfolio at school last quarter, I've become a lot more mindful of different types of media as sources of inspiration.  I already had a pretty large collection of knitting magazines and books, so in the new year I've been making it a priority to expand upon the genres in my library that are less represented: photography, history & fashion history, and graphic design in particular.

After I graduated from college, I got lazy about reading.  I equated choosing not to pursue higher academics with choosing not to care about academic subjects at all, but in the years since, I've come to find that I loved and missed those subjects a lot more than I previously thought.  It's taken me a long time to warm up to the idea of jumping back into scholarly reading on my own, but I've finally started seeking out - and enjoying - dense reading materials once again.

So as a result of my rekindled interests, my favorite media to explore lately have been catalogues, magazines, and quarterlies, particularly when they have an intersectional bent.  It's especially interesting to look at the fashions of my favorite sartorial period - immediate post-war to 1962 or so - and then contextualize them in history and culture, and then think about how they are problematic as shit, and then consider how to appreciate them without accepting or endorsing their shittier aspects.  (Still haven't figured that one out - it's a puzzle!)


I started collecting vintage pattern and clothing catalogues as a passing interest - a Frederick & Nelson catalogue from a professor here, a 1985 issue of Vogue Knitting from a friend's destash there - and somewhere in the meantime, I amassed a small collection of them.  Then, a few days ago my friend Sparkle sent me a big, fabulous addition of Vogue sewing pattern magazines and vintage clothing catalogues in the mail, and I realized that my collection is not so small anymore!  When I take the time to page through these magazines and catalogues, I see inspiration hidden everywhere - perhaps not as literal interpretations, but more as seeds of great design that are sometimes encased in '80s backassfugly details and styling.  (Case in point: huge matching angora neck ruffles and sleeve cuffs on perfectly lovely fitted blouse? Um thanks, but no.)

I've also been checking out contemporary magazines and quarterlies at my local bookstores.  Vestoj in particular gets into critical fashion theory, which is an absolute relief to find after crankily consuming contemporary Vogue for years.  The mainstream fashion industry so often leans on tired cliches of exoticism and normalized sexual violence in editorial and advertising content, which is waved away as insignificant by the industry because, well... "it's fashion," as if that explained anything.  It's a breath of fresh air to see fashion being treated like any other medium: significant, complex, reflective of culture, and worth discussing in broader terms.

Not to limit myself only to fashion, though - here are a few current favorite publications of mine.  They are all very pretty, and range from light-hearted explorations of indie design and culture, to gorgeous, challenging selections of writing and visual art.

Vestoj - fashion through an intersectional lens
Lapham's Quarterly - thematic selections of literature, essays, poetry, and art from history
Kinfolk - "discovering new things to cook, make, and do"
Uppercase - "a magazine for the creative and curious"

Sooo that was a very long explanation of what I'm reading and thinking about lately.  If you have any recommendations of magazines or quarterlies that you find beautiful, interesting, or inspiring, I'd love to hear them!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Rattie Coworker


I'm working at the yarn shop today, so here is a picture of Mr. Squishy lurking behind Lumberjack while he works.  We recently got a new lens for our camera, so I've been taking lots of pictures - mostly of the rats, because they've got plenty of free time to be models, and they're naturally adorable!

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Building an Intentional Closet


Recently, I lost a pretty significant amount of weight for my frame, taking me from a US size 8/10 to a size 6/8.  It's the smallest I've ever been in my adult life and I have all sorts of weird conflicting feelings about it, which I might write about later.  But in the meantime, it's caused some sudden and troublesome logistical issues with my closet, namely that absolutely nothing fits.

Between this and the havoc wreaked by Beetlegate 2013, my closet is having an identity crisis!  So I'm hoping to take this as an opportunity to reevaluate and plan some sewing projects to fill the gaps.  I have a cute little fabric stash nowadays, and pretty much all of it is wonderful: romantic printed cotton voiles and lawns, cheery plaids, and soft, drapey jerseys.  It's an inspiration just to go through those drawers and see what sort of aesthetic I was thinking of when I got these fabrics, and it's giving me a good jumping-off point for building a wardrobe to fit my new size.

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My first thought is to work through my mini-stash of Colette patterns.  I want to make Hawthorn in all three views - the peplum top in floral cotton voile, the 3/4 sleeve dress in cotton seersucker, and the sleeveless dress in a multicolor-striped linen from Sparklepants's stash.  (The joys of sharing a studio: regular fabric swapping!)  I also want to make Jasmine, a little bias-cut blouse, with some Liberty Tana Lawn I got in Portland ages ago.

So, despite losing the ability to wear the majority of my vintage and handmade clothes - which is a total bummer - I'm excited for the opportunity to build a more intentional closet.  For daily wear, I'm thinking about wearing a uniform of skinny jeans, draped tops, and vintage cardigans; for work and dressed-up days, vintage or vintage-inspired dresses, skirts, and tops.  (And of course, kick-ass shoes every day!)  I want to strike a balance between comfortable and tailored; edgy and romantic.  I've always loved to combine vintage and contemporary pieces, so I'm hoping that this will give me a chance to explore and integrate these two different aesthetics in an interesting and cohesive way.

Monday, January 6, 2014

WIP: Amazing Multicolored Neck Blanket, Part II

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The Neck Blanket, she is growing!  My yarn is almost all through the freezing process, so I was able to start knitting or winding the rest of the colors that are left.  (Still to go: charcoal grey, light turquoise, deep turquoise, deep green, and emerald.  This thing is going to be massive.)  We've been on a movie kick lately, so I've been spending a lot of time with the Neck Blanket covering me from feet to chest, knitting away while watching Kubrick, Tarkovsky, and Adventure Time.

As I work on it, I'm reminded of the simple pleasure of knitting & purling; of the texture of different yarns as they move through my fingers.  When I first sit down to knit on it, I sometimes feel antsy or uncomfortable, and I start mentally compiling vast lists of chores and assignments and worries that I should take care of instead.  But as time goes on, the work takes hold of things.  It forces me to sit still, let my brain quiet down, and allow my warm toes and hands to bask in the joy of the Neck Blanket.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy New Year!


Misters Pooper and Squishy - as Garth and Wayne are called these days - would like to wish you a happy New Year!

With the turning of days, I've been warming up to some ideas for the coming year.  I hesitate to call them resolutions, or even goals, really - it's more like a fuzzy idea of the things I'd like to do in order to become who I'd like to be.  In the tangible: to cook and read more, to knit up more of my yarn stash, to sew more, to blog regularly, to fully recommit myself at school.


The less concrete goals: to push myself to connect with others, to let go of the guilt of not knowing where I'm going, to let myself be inspired.  To look forward, but also to look around.

I had a really good conversation a few weeks ago with a friend, and among the subjects were mentorship, potential, and feelings of loss and failure.  I've been thinking about that conversation a lot as I've been considering the new year, especially as I try to let go of old things to make room for new ones.

Although I'm tempted to exactly outline the sparkly, new-wardrobed Cory who will be writing this same post in a year's time, I'm more inclined to leave it fuzzy:

2014 will be a year of building both humility and confidence;

a year of being a student of many things;

a year of quiet and constant growth.

At least, that's my hope.

Cory and <30~ <30~