Friday, June 30, 2006
I had a post planned for today, but then I found out that today is my last day at my job. Kinda blew all thoughts of anything else out of my head.
I'll reconnect with more Wonka updates later.
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Okay, okay. Now that I have that out of my system. Today is Wonka accessory day: wig, hat, brooch, and cane and gloves. The only things left to do for Dan's costume are to buy him boots (on order), and *sniff* shaving (which he won't do until the day of the party, of course). But we're close enough that I can unveil...
His Chocolate Highness, Willy Wonka!
Hat, wig and brooch:
- The hat was, um, a trial. It took me two weeks to complete, and I pray gods that I will never, ever have to make another one. That said, I am not completely dismayed with how it came out. It's not professional by any means, but it's the best I could do, and it'll pass. I'll be posting a tutorial soon, if you're
masochisticambitious enought to ever need to make your own.
- The wig was purchased from Twin Cities Magic and Costume, and cut down to size. Isn't it amazing how close it is to his hair color? I would have liked to make it even shorter, but then the wig mesh would show. Although, looking at it now, I think we need to color it darker.
- A friend cut the brooch out of metal based on the design Dan gave her. We just glued a pin back to it.
Gloves and cane:
- The gloves were purchased from Walgreens, I believe. They're a little light, but at this late a date, I'm not complaining too loudly!
- Dan made the cane, which consists of a curtain rod finial, a dowel rod, a plastic tube, a wooden spool, and about $2 worth of Nerds. I've got some pics on how he did it, which I'll either post another time, or let him post on his own blog.
And check out the new artwork on the sidebar for Reconstructing Wonka. Is my sweetie not amazingly talented?
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Mini-reviews follow; I'm afraid I'm not up to my full write ups today.
Book 1:The Lady and the Unicorn
Tracy Chevalier, 248 pages, historical fiction
This book takes what is known about the tapestries of "The Lady and the Unicorn" and weaves a rich tale around that knowledge, full of intrigue, court politics, and sex. Now this is my kind of book! The plot of the book is both simple (the weaving of the tapestries) and so much more. You meet Nicholas des Innocents, the lecherous designer of the tapestries, the family that weaves the tapestries, and the Le Viste family who commisioned them. The ending is suitably bittersweet.
Funny enough, the entire time I was reading this, I was firmly convinced that a man had written it. Perhaps I associate stark prose with men, I dunno. And "Tracy" as a male name is not unknown. It wasn't until I saw the bookjacket that I realized my mistake. I still can't tell it's written by a woman.
And, lest you think I mean "stark prose" to be boring and undescriptive, think again. Here's an excerpt from The Girl With a Pearl Earring (which I'm reading now): "After she had gone her face lingered like perfume." Isn't that a wonderful phrase?
Book 2: Tarot Journaling
Corrine Kenner, 141 pages, nonfiction
This was a departure from my usual reading in many ways. But I've been toying with the idea of getting back to my cards lately, and this title sort of leap off the shelf at me - in a completely non-leaping kind of way. In a section of the bookstore that's filled with glitzy covers, I've learned to look for simple covers and simple titles. I skimmed through much of the book sitting on the floor, then finally determined that it had enough use to bring home with me.
Ms. Kenner is very down to earth, and realizes that all her readers may not, in fact, be witches. In fact, this is probably the least "magical" oriented book on tarot I've ever read, which only increases its worth. She shows journalers how tarot can be used as a writing tool and focus, and she shows tarot readers how journalling can add depth to their readings. Tidbits are sprinkled throughout the book. Things like adding a dedication, epigrath, or title to your journal; or using the cards in a deck to do "readings" for the characters in the book you're writing. (Seriously - is that not cool? I hear Sarana and Marco clamoring for a reading right now...)
A good read, and something I'll probably refer to casually as I get back into my studies.
Book 3: Island of the Sequined Love Nun
Christopher Moore, 322 pages, fiction, fantasy, humor
(So ... between this and the "court politics and sex" phrase above, how many weird Google hits do you think I'm going to get?)
Ah, the only Christopher Moore book I'd never read. I've told you all how I feel about Moore before, so I won't bore you with it again. But I knew I was going to love this book before it even came home with me, bright pink cover and all.
If you've read ... I think it's The Stupidest Angel ... you've seen Tucker Case and Roberto the fruitbat before. This is their story. Well, their's and a tranvestite Latino prostitute named Kimi. And a naked Sky Priestess and her Sorceror. And a god named Vincent. Yeah, it's their story.
Plot points defy me when reviewing Moore's books. There's a plane crash at the very beginning, involving alcohol and a prostitute (not Kimi - another one). There's a deal too good to be true flying a Learjet on a god forsaken Micronesian island. And there's more alcohol. A lot more, actually.
If you've read (and liked) Moore before, read this. If you've never read Christopher Moore before, you may find one of his Pine Cove novels to be more accessible.
Summer Reading Stats:
Books read: 3/14
Pages: 711 (that's pathetic. That's less than one Jordan book - and it only takes me 10 hours to read one of those)
Finally, proof of the hat's existance (though sadly, still uncompleted):
If you look in the background, you'll see the beginnings of a W brooch, the gloves for Wonka, the debris from the hat making, and a bottle of ibuprofen - also debris from the hat making.
For the love of all that is good and holy, I'll stay up as long as it takes tonight, nailess finger and all, and FINISH THE HAT. Tomorrow, you will hopefully get to see another Reconstructing Wonka post. (Hey, sweetie? Can I get Reconstructing Wonka artwork for my sidebar?)
Monday, June 26, 2006
For you other Twin Cities residents: Apparently, there's a used book store in West St Paul that works on the honor system:
"Here at the Book Lounge and Vending Café in West St. Paul, a black Brink's security box replaces a cash register and the human behind it. Owner Alex Russell trusts his customers to drop the appropriate amount — $4 per book or $20 for seven — in the pay box."
Read the full article here.
Seriously, how cool is that? I wonder how you can make donations of books ... theoretically, I suppose you could just stop by and "accidentally" leave them.
If you're a book lover and in the Cities, would you consider patronizing this place? It's such a nifty idea, it needs to continue...
See? Can't very well sew with that! Er. A freak accident caused me to rip my nail off the nail bed, so it was a little painful yesterday. Tonight, I WILL finish the hat. Really. All I have to do is sew the hat band on.)
Until then, here's my Knit Sock Kit Swap Questionnaire.
- What are your favorite colors? - *grin* I'm not going to answer this. If I wanted to knit in my favorite colors, I'd buy my own yarn. Surprise me.
- Are you a new sock knitter? How long have you been knitting socks? - I don't really consider myself a new sock knitter. I've been knitting socks for about a year, and I'm confident that there's no challenge too great. I'll figure it out - eventually.
- Do you prefer solid or multicolored yarn? - I generally prefer varigated to self-striping. I like sold color or subtly shaded yarn for complicated stitch patterns, stripes or varigated for simple.
- What fibers do you prefer in sock yarn? - Generally superwash wool, though I've been dying to try out some cottons. 100% wool is okay, but not my first choice - I prefer it to be machine washable. (And, since you didn't ask ... I like fingering weight yarns. I don't have much use for bed socks, so I like to knit socks that will fit in my shoes)
- Where do you usually knit socks? - Anywhere and everywhere! Socks are my "takealong" project. Although fancy socks get saved for knitting while watching Dan play video games.
- How do you usually carry/store small projects? - I store socks in progress in a large basket that also holds the bulk of my sock yarn. Socks on the go just get rolled up and shoved in my purse or school bag.
- What are your favorite sock knitting patterns? - Um... I love them all? I do like socks that carry the pattern down onto the foot, rather than just having a patterned cuff.
- What are your favorite sock knitting techniques? - I always knit cuff down, on dpns. Not that I wouldn't like to try something else, but I haven't gotten around to it yet.
- What new techniques would you like to try? - I might like to try toe up socks at some point.
- Do you prefer circulars or dpns for sock knitting? - DPNs, definitely.
- What are some of your favorite yarns? - The usual: Koigu, Lorna's Laces
- What yarn do you totally covet? - So many that I've never tried that sound scrumptuous: Bearfoot, Trekking, STR, Fleece Artist ...
- Any pattern you would love to make if money and time were no object? - The knit stockings reconstructed from Queen Elizabeth I's wardrobe.
- Favorite kind of needles (brand, materials, straights or circs, etc)? - Susan Bates, aluminum. I like Addi's, but of course they don't make DPNs. :) I'm not fond of bamboo, because it grips the stitches too much. I've been eyeing the new rosewood and ebony DPNs longingly, but haven't gotten a chance to try any yet.
- If you were a specific kind of yarn, which brand and kind of yarn would you be? - Oh, uh .... something comfortable to wear, but on the expensive side. Like, um. Cashmerino aran?
- Do you have a favorite candy or mail-able snack? - Yes. Candy good. Yes.
- What’s your favorite animal? - Oh, any type of cat.
- Do you have pets? What are their species/names/ages? - Leia (f - shorthair), Willow (m - longhair). Both domestic something-or-other cats. Roughly, what, maybe 9 or 10 years old? Something like that.
- If you were a color what color would you be? - Okay, if you're a Star Wars fan ... you know those robes Padme wears as a handmaiden in Episode I? The ones that shade from a rich gold on top to a really dark rust on the bottom?
- Describe your favorite shirt (yours or someone else’s). - A shirt I bought in Florida two years ago that has a picture of Betty Boop wearing a crown. It says "In a world full of princesses, there is only one Queen."
- What is your most inspiring image, flower, or object in nature? - Nature generally fails to inspire me, but I'd guess roses.
- Tell me the best quote you’ve ever heard or read. - Just ONE? Er. Sorry, can't do that.
- Do you have a wishlist? - No, but the sock related stuff that's on my mental wishlist are sock blockers and the nifty new DPN holder cases that slide onto the needles.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
I stopped wearing them about four years ago when I sprained my ankle so badly that I was on crutches for several months. Even after I no longer needed the crutches or the air cast, I wore flat shoes, waiting for the strength in my ankle to return.
After that, well. I took a job waitressing again, then a job at a hotel. Neither job is really conducive to wearing high heels. Then, my knees started acting up, and it was a toss-up whether I could get out of a chair without assistance most days.
And I've been steadily putting on weight over the years. With the weight gain came the desire to cover up, to hide. My boots, so loved, were now too showy, too playful. The new, bulkier me didn't look quite as good perched on top of all that heel.
Today, I dragged the one lonely pair of boots I could find out of the closet, and wore them to work. My knees aren't too happy about it, and I'm sad to say that I find the 3 1/2" heels more uncomfortable than I ever thought I would. But I am wearing my boots. In a sense, I am returning part of myself that I thought I had lost. I may be overweight, but I still have the moxie to pull off black suede boots with a 3 1/2" heel.
Take that, world. I reject the label of "fat." I reject your outdated notions that I am unworthy because I am overweight. I am no less of a person, no less of a sensual, living creature just because there's more of me.
I still need to lose weight, for my own peace of mind as well as my health. But I will do it wearing my boots.
Monday, June 19, 2006
Today's Reconstructing Wonka update is going to have to be two posts, I think, as there are just too many pictures for one.
This post: Wonka's vest
Generally when I sew, I cut and sew something that seems almost right, and then fiddle with it until I get what I want. You've seen from the shirt that I've moved a little bit away from that in this costume because I'm short on time, and I need this done.
The vest returns me to the "okay, that almost works, how can I make it better" mindset.
I had a vague idea in mind from the movie: something with no collar, a rounded neckline, and a side closure that buttoned.
I used this pattern, sans sleeve, collar, and peplum to make the vest. I had to increase the length a bit, because there's actually a seam in the middle, hidden by the sash.
The finished product (before I bore you with the details of what went wrong and how I attempted to fix it):
Once I had a mockup, the problems began.
- It was too short. Okay, so I lengthened it again. Problem solved.
- Now longer, it was too loose at the waist. Dan made a wonderful, fabulous remark of "don't most vests have a little tie in the back?" Well, I'll be damned, so they do. Why didn't I think of that?
- The collar was too wide. I couldn't fix this. The best I could do is move the buttons so they conformed more to Dan's shape to keep it from gaping. I'm still not satisfied with the line of it.
There were other problems that I didn't bother to photo-document: the whole thing is just too big, and the front flap has a seam that I could have taken out, but didn't. The vest would have a cleaner look if I had. And now I'm starting to think that I've chosen the wrong fabric after all, and that a different one would have a better sheen to it. And I still need a pocket or a button or something to hold the chain across his waist.
Frankly, I'd consider this is the middle stage of my sewing: I know what I'm doing now, and it's all about little tweaks to make it better. But this is costuming, and I'm (as usual) under a time constraint. I'm calling it done. No one but another costumer will notice the slightly bizarre fit once he's got the coat on, anyway.
And I'll make him a better one for next year.
You can see in the completed photos that I did finally put buttonholes and cufflinks into the shirt. While Wonka's cuffs may be unfolded, I didn't make these cuffs wide enough to button over Dan's hands. So they're folded. I'll cry on the first person to point this out at CONvergence. Here's a closeup. (The "cufflinks" are two buttons sewn together with DMC floss, but they turned out rather well.)
The coat is also "done." It was purchased, and the only thing that I did to it was take up the cuffs, which were way too long. I'll post a picture of Dan in the full costume soon.
Next up on my list of things to do is the top hat and "W" neck brooch. Thankfully, I leave the wig and cane in Dan's capable hands.
Friday, June 16, 2006
Sadly, not so.
I've been knitting:
I've been sewing:
I've been reading:
Summer Reading: Books: 1/14 ; Nonfiction: 0/5
(Review coming when I have more time.)
I've been cranky.
Yesterday was the worst of the cranky days this week, until I got home. Then, THIS:
A pretty blue package from my colorswap pal, Erin! (Damn, address is at home - I'll link it later.)
It contains: A skein of Araucania Nature Wool; a set of Crystal Palace Daisy knitting needles, size 10; a tin of hand balm; a blue notepad, a bar of Lindt chocolate; and a roll of Droste Pastilles. I don't know what pastilles are, but they seem to be little coin shaped pieces of very heavenly chocolate.
Cheered me right up, that did. Thanks!
Sadly, Fridays are no longer date night at Chez SilverRose - we've entered All Wonka, All the Time mode. So the Reconstructing Wonka updates will come more frequently, and everything else is pretty much on hold for the next three weeks. Sorry!
Monday, June 12, 2006
By virtue of being the most portable, socks get to be my carry-along projects. Unfortunately, this necessitates being easy, as well. Over the past few weeks, I've started and stopped innumerable stockinette or ribbed socks. They were so boring that I abandoned them in disgust. (You know you were wondering where my socks were.)
So I've started a new, nonboring pair of socks.
Want to know what's really funny about these socks? They appear to be a redux of, yup, Japanese Feather. *snicker*
I sewed a lot this weekend, but I didn't actually finish anything, so no Wonka updates yet. We did collectively spend about $600 on the party this weekend, though. Oy!
Also, I've joined Kat with a K's Summer Reading Program. My goal is to read a book a week, at least 5 of which will be nonfiction.
After a light scouring of my apartment, here's the To Be Read (TBR) list I've dredged up.
LibraryThing says this is 32 books. I hope to read 14 of them this summer. Now, I know this is not actually a complete list, only the ones that had actually been set aside for the TBR pile. There are more mixed in with the shelved books too. But this is a start, at least. And that's if I don't buy any more. (Yeah, right...)
Thursday, June 08, 2006
Until then, I will persevere. 3 more rounds left.
I leave you instead with the image of one of Willow's favorite hiding spots. I never notice he's there until I nudge him with my foot and he complains.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Designing went somewhat better last night, as I at least didn't end up ripping out what I'd done in disgust. Here's what I have so far:
When I wasn't stealing time to knit, I was actually doing what I was supposed to be doing: the Wonka vest. Not much got done, because I was both easily distractible and cranky last night. Hopefully I'll devote myself to it on Thursday and get it done in a night.
I also made dinner. Hey, this cooking thing is catching on! While this is so humble that I don't even think it can be classified as a "recipe," I'll share it here. My dad used to make pulled pork sandwiches for us when I was little, and I followed that same premise here, just substituting chicken.
BBQ Chicken sandwiches:
(makes about 6-7 sandwiches)
--2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 5-6 breasts)
--1 18 oz bottle BBQ sauce of choice
--Whole wheat hamburger buns
Put the chicken as is into a crockpot. Pour about half the bottle of BBQ sauce on top, and stir it up a bit to make sure the sauce coats the bottom of the pot. Put the lid on, turn it to low, and leave it alone for 8-9 hours. The BBQ sauce will seem a little watery. That's okay.
After 8-9 hours, lift the chicken out of the crockpot, and use a fork (or your fingers, if you let it cool first) to pull it apart. The chicken should pretty much shred on it's own with minimal help from you. (If you happen to snitch a taste at this point, the chicken may taste a little dry. That's okay.)
Dump the now shredded chicken back into the pot, and stir in the rest of the bottle of BBQ sauce. Put the lid back on, and heat for about another half hour, so that the flavors mingle a bit. You're going to need to stir it pretty frequently at this point, so it doesn't burn.
Spoon onto buns and enjoy!
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
I tried to give my back a rest again last night, and I think I'll be okay to return to sewing today. It seems like everyday my anxiety level rises a little. I can't even pinpoint the level of procrastination I'm on just now. The only sparse comfort is that everyone else is just as behind as I am. Hmm. That's really no comfort at all...
While I didn't do any sewing last night, my sewing table did see some excitement. Willow was apparently having a mid-life crisis last night, and was tearing around the house, chasing anything that wasn't nailed down - including the cord to my iron, which he managed to pull completely off the table with the fury of his attack. Thankfully, it wasn't plugged in, so he suffered no more damage than a good scare and some bruised dignity. Gods, it was funny, though.
I did pursue another hobby that I've woefully neglected while I've been in school - I actually cooked. Real-live-not-from-a-mix-or-a-can food. I made muffins from scratch. It's been so long since I've done so that my skills are a bit rusty, but the muffins turned out okay. A little dense, but still edible. The apples added quite a bit of both flavor and moisture, so I can eat them without butter. That makes my diet happy. Here's the recipe, if you're interested. (Sorry, Robbyn, they're probably not diabetic friendly. BUT I did consider using applesauce instead of the sugar and butter. Since you're pretty handy in the kitchen, you might give that a try...)
Despite the complete lack of photo evidence, I also got some knitting done. But I'm attempting to design again, which is a slow and torturous process, at least for me. At the end of the day, I had zero net progress. I'm trying to design a child's hat and scarf set for Dulaan. I'm using the scarf as the swatch for hat patterns. :) Eventually, I'll hit on the right pattern, and I'll be good. (Right? Somebody that's designed before please reassure me that eventually I'll get something I like.)
Well. That was full of rambly goodness, wasn't it?
Monday, June 05, 2006
For now, here's some actual knitting! With one more Christmas present finished, I cast on for another one. (That makes 3 gifts on the needles right now.) Several times, I cast on.
I swore that I would never knit a blanket. Seriously, it takes so much longer than crocheting that it seems a foolish effort (for me). A few months back, Hancock Fabrics had Chunky USA on sale, so I bought 6 skeins of blue and 3 of gold, with the intent to crochet a blanket for Dan's dad. I didn't know that Lion Brand was going to discontinue the yarn, and that those 9 skeins are all I would ever have. Knitting takes much less yarn than crocheting, so ...
In what may prove to end up named "Colleen's Folly" I'm knitting a blanket. I had to cast on several times as I struggled to find a ratio that would be wide enough, long enough, and not take more yarn than I had. (Yes. I swatched. The swatch lied.)
This will be what my family calls a "car blanket." Go to a picnic but the picnic table's dirty? Cover it with the car blanket. At the park and want to sit down? Sit on the car blanket. Go swimming with the kids, and now they're shivering in the AC on the way home? Wrap them in the car blanket. Find yourself stalled by the side of the road in the winter? Wrap yourself in the car blanket.
And so forth. Thus, it will be a small blanket, but thick, and machine washable. The Chunky USA is ideal for this. The colors? A friendly rivalry between Dan's father and I. He likes Minnesota (makes sense, considering he's lived here his entire life), and I'm a die hard Michigan fan. What does one football fan give another? A GO BLUE blanket.
Since this is mostly just stockinette, it makes a wonderful carry-along project for Sunday's games. And I've got 6 months to finish it, so I'm not worried.
In other sort-of knitting news, my Green colorswap package came this weekend. Isn't it lovely?
A green mesh bag, a felted clutch, 5 skeins of Wool of the Andes in "grass," a skein of Silky Wool, a pendant with a green stone on it, and a green clay face charm. Thanks, Knitlette!
Friday, June 02, 2006
Modelled somewhat reluctantly by my ever-lovely sweetie, Dan. (Hey, it's finally a picture of someone other than Ryan!) The picture does not do the hat or the model proper justice, but I was so damn pleased to be done with it that I stuck it on his head, snapped a quick picture, and tossed it into the Christmas presents box.
Once again the gals over at Knitting Chatters got to listen to me gripe about finishing a project. This one was a real pain in the, well, tuchus. :) The name comes from me trying to juggle the knitting needles and type "Tychus" at the same time. I ended up typing "Tuchus," and we all thought it was so funny that the name stuck.
Perhaps it was one of those "you had to be there" kind of things.
- Pattern: Tychus, from Knitty.
- Yarn: Mystery stash acrylic, navy and white
- Modifications: Robbyn is right - this hat would be too big if knitted as written. It's so stretchy that you really want to err on the small side. Her solution was to omit one pattern repeat, so there were 4 wedges instead of 5. For some reason, I've never liked "round" things with 4 wedges (my gored skirts always have an odd number of gores, for example), so I took a different route.
I omitted the last two rows of each half-wedge. The pattern has you short row until you are knitting only 20 stitches out of 38 on the last row of the half-wedge. I knit until I was knitting 24 stitches. The left out one MC and one CC stripe per half-wedge. This decreased the bottom of the hat by 15 garter ridges, where leaving out one repeat decreases the hat by 16 garter ridges. Pretty even, I'd say. :)
Thursday, June 01, 2006
(Clicking on the images will bring up a larger image)
What I was able to tell about the shirt from the movie:
- Wonka wears many different shirts, but the red paisley from the cover is probably going to have the highest recognition factor.
- The shirt has a flipped up collar secured with a "W" pin.
- The cuffs do not overlap, which means they are French cuffs. However, there is no fold visible, which means they're turned down, rather than folded up as is traditional. This would account for the extra length of the sleeves.
- On further inspection, there appears to be either piping or discoloration of the fabric at the cuffs and collar. I chose to ignore this detail to save my sanity.
Red paisley in all its glory
- McCall's pattern 4745 in size large, directions followed exactly, EXCEPT view A is used for collar, and view D is used for cuffs.
- Did you see that I followed the directions exactly? I haven't done that since I learned how to sew. But there are so many fiddly little details in this pattern that I didn't want to miss anything. Yes, I do realize that the only part of this shirt that will ever been seen are the cuffs and the collar, but I'm like that. Heck, I even put the pocket that Dan won't be able to get to on the front.
- Minor modification: Left off the button holding the collar shut. It wouldn't have served a purpose, and might have made the pin sit funny.
- Still undecided about how to do the cuffs. Perhaps with two sets of cuff links for each one, left unfolded so it covers the hand a bit.
A close-up of the buttonless collar.
Check out that topstitching! Everything in this pattern was topstitched except the side seams. Every last blessed piece! I have a newfound dislike of topstitching. For a shirt that will never been seen. *sigh* Sometimes I think I'm insane...
Detail on cuff
Gee, look, more topstitching! Folded up for now, and buttonhole-less until I figure out what I what to do. I can put in the four the pattern specifies, and make two sets of cufflinks for each sleeve, or I can put in two buttonholes near the center. Hmm....