Saturday, May 31, 2014

A thing I found

Yesterday I went to the yardage sale (actually, the More Than Just A Yardage Sale) at the Textile Museum. There was a section with three big bins of "miscellaneous" and you could cram a grocery bag full for $2. Deal!

One of the things I got from that pile was this.

It's cotton-like, woven, quite thin fabric. Maybe there is linen in there? I don't really know how to tell! I'm betting on cotton, though.

And it has a dress pattern printed on it in various sizes! You can see below that some of the white has smudged in the middle of the piece.

I love it, and want to make something like a bag (Oh, Mary, another bag?) that shows the white. But it seems that if you were to make the largest size of this dress, wouldn't you want the white lines to wash away? Now I am scared to wash it, but of course I'll have to bite the bullet and do it sometime!

It's a Women's Emb Dress. Apparently.
With a collar.

It's like a blueprint. And like the big quilt the museum has (which I can't find a picture of... rats). Hey, maybe I could just laboriously trace the white lines with embroidery!

I guess I will try a gentle, cold wash soon.

I'll keep y'all posted! I also got some other great finds and I'll try to show you more of those in the coming days.

Friday, May 30, 2014

My Alabama Chanin amuse-bouche

When I tweeted that I was going to do this, Mason-Dixon Kay replied:
Indeed, my bouche is certainly amused by this!

You get one piece of plain cotton jersey, and one piece with leaves stencilled on.

You can outline the stencil and then cut out the middle.

You get another piece of fabric with the same leaves stencilled on the wrong side, which you can cut out and appliqué to your top piece.

You can rummage around the house and find some beads to sew on in a scatter pattern or in a nice line.

You can even appliqué a leaf and then cut out two layers of fabric.

And outline leaves with beads and little blobs with stem stitch.

Lots of work to do! I can see why a handmade dress from this company costs a small fortune. It's a labour-intensive way to do things, but oh, so fun!

When I finish I will have a nice piece of decorated and embellished fabric. Will it get put on the wall, sewn onto something else, made into a Scrabble tile bag? Only time will tell!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Totally random lightning blog today

I just learned that I was the 26810th person to join Ravelry. Woo hoo!

Spring has finally sprung in earnest. The garden is out of control. I gave away several ferns and chunks of hosta, but it is still over-crowded. Oh, well!

I made a chocolate cake the other day, following a recipe I have used a million times. I used gluten-free flour, which I have done successfully several times, but this time I have lumps of flour throughout the cake, making it virtually uneatable. I even got ice cream to disguise it, but the kids ate the ice cream without the cake. Rotters.

I am making a sample Alabama Chanin thingmabob. I would love to show you a picture, but the whole "find the camera, upload the pictures, where is the cable" thing is holding me back. Sometime soon, though.

I also have two partial baby mats machine-sewn together. I can see how the sewing machine makes life easier, but I am still too rough and ready with it. Straight lines only. Cut things to fit on the fly. Don't mix fabrics.

However, I am also collecting a whole variety of fabrics, some in teeny pieces. My friend used to sew professionally for the theatre, and then she made luxurious cushions, so she saved every scrap to embellish them. Now she is de-cluttering, and I am finding myself with enough material to make about a thousand Scrabble tile bags. (Must find a new thing to make, as well.)

Oh, the camera, I must go find the camera!

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Rowan and Martin's knit-in

Rowan has a new yarn called Pure Wool Worsted. It comes in a zillion colours and they are showing it off by having a mystery knitalong, where you get a pattern for a square each week, knit a bunch in many colours and end up with a blanket at the end. The whole thing is designed by Martin Storey, hence the cute name. (Though perhaps the youngsters don't get it...)

Of course, I am not following the rules, but am knitting the squares in Rowan Denim. Sort of.

The first pattern was easy to just knit and knit, and I stopped when I finished a ball of yarn. I also messed with the pattern a bit and added half-triangles at the side because at first I thought that looked better. Now I think the zing of those "empty" sides might have been a good idea after all, but alas, too late now. (I think you can see the squares "as they should be" at that link above.)

Then I had a few days to kill before the second clue was released, so I just looked in my book of squares, attached a new ball of yarn and knit something.

Clue #2 was a star that I somehow didn't take a picture of. I will likely do one on another strip of this blanket, but it was not super fast and one had to think and look to make sure the star came out star-shaped.

Monday was a bank holiday in England, so Rowan released the third clue today. I had a few days with "nothing" to knit, so I started just doing double moss stitch in ecru. That got boring so I made this square in a square.

The lacy triangles are from today's new clue. I'll finish this strip, 3 balls of Denim long, and then start another one using the same patterns until pattern 4 is released next week. If all goes according to plan, by the end of eight weeks, I'll have a blanket.

This has sort of become my one and only project now, but I did knit a hat and a half standing in film festival lines.

The little ring of ribbing on the right has become larger. I used that brown for the ribbing and made the crown green. I also knit part of a sock for Arthur and a teeny bit of a sock for Elaine. It will all get finished sometime...

Monday, May 05, 2014

Ten days, eleven movies

Last year I paid attention to the Hot Docs film festival for the first time. This year I did quite a bit of pre-festival volunteering, which got me seven or eight vouchers for films, and I worked five shifts during the festival, earning more vouchers. Volunteers got to rush the opening night screening for free, and I gave Stephen some tickets, so it worked out that I saw 11 films.

I made lists as soon as I got the screening schedule, picked volunteer shifts based on where I wanted to be when, changed this and that, found that seeing too many movies starting at 9:30 pm was not a good idea, cancelled shifts, saw movies I didn't expect to... I have a better plan for next year already!

There were two movies I really wanted to see that I missed. One is 112 Weddings, which I stopped worrying about when I learned it would be coming to our local cinema in May; the other is Advanced Style, which went rush almost immediately. I was going to try to see it on Saturday but that didn't work, and I have since learned that they turned away 100 people from the rush line. I can just hope it shows up somewhere!

Here's a quick look at the ones I did see.

(And I now realize I should have been writing this as I went ...)

The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz: This was the opening film of the fest. Aaron Swartz was a young programmer and internet activist who irked the powers that be. It's a horrible story of how a good person in the wrong place at the wrong time can be "made an example of," and how an individual can get forgotten in the mess of legal showing-off. Really good, but very sad.

Sacro GRA: This film looks at the people who live around the GRA, the ring road around Rome. I kept wanting a map, but that was not the point. The road wasn't really that important. Even Rome wasn't really that important! It was just a few stories of quirky people doing their quirky things.

The Basement Satellite: Another tale of a guy with an idea. Our hero is an artist, not a technical whiz kid, but he wants to build a satellite and get it launched. Individuals usually don't do this!

We see him filling out reams of paperwork and trying to raise money for insurance and fees; finding a machinist who can make his parts quickly and precisely; soldering things together carefully on a strict deadline. He sold T-shirts, which took a lot of time and brought in little money, though it was his main fundraising idea. Really interesting, if a bit slow.

I Love Kuduro: Kuduro is modern dance music from Angola. This film was full of great characters and stories of people who'd lived through civil war, but there were just snippets of the music and dance scene. Not as great as I'd wanted it to be!

Alfred and Jakobine: Ah, an adventure and a love story, with an ancient London taxi!

Really fascinating -- Alfred and Jakobine were "shutterbugs" even back in the day, so the filmmaker had their Super-8 movies and photos from the fifties, when they drove their taxi around Africa and Asia. Lovely story and beautiful film.

Meet the Patels: This was my favourite! The characters were charming and real and funny. The use of animation here and there was brilliant. The story was gripping. (Will Ravi find true love??) I think this will win the audience award, but it's not been announced just yet.

Super Duper Alice Cooper: I was lucky to get tickets to this showing, with the directors and Alice Cooper in attendance. (Often the directors are at the screenings and answer questions afterwards, but on this occasion they actually got to sit in chairs and be interviewed in a more formal manner.) I remember singing School's Out in 1973, but then Alice Cooper faded from my consciousness a bit. This movie talked about his beginnings, his stardom, his excesses. Highly recommended.

(Funniest non-movie moment of the festival: We were waiting for the movie to start, people were coming in to the cinema, and Barack Obama walked in, wearing a suit and tie, waving to the crowd! We gawped, until I remembered that a movie called Bronx Obama, about a lookalike, was also showing at the fest! Photo to prove it.)

Everything Will Be: A beautifully made movie about Vancouver's Chinatown. These few blocks have been home to Chinese Canadians for more than a hundred years. Now, things are changing, with old buildings being knocked down, new businesses coming in, condos whose residents don't want to shop at little green grocers, and the mah-jongg societies still holding on!

ThuleTuvalu: Thule is in northern Greenland; Tuvalu is in the Pacific Ocean. The film follows a few families in each place as they see first-hand how in one place the ice is melting and the hunting season is changing, and in the other, the lagoons are becoming salty, the beach is eroding, the little reef that makes up the country is in danger of being flooded.

Shield and Spear: Very interesting look at artists in South Africa today.

One of the main stories was about this painting called the Spear, by Brett Murray, and how strongly the governing party objected to it. Also featured were photographers, musicians, designers, black and white, who are trying to move forward, to live in a country with real freedom of expression.

An Honest Liar: The Amazing Randi is a magician and escape artist, a professional deceiver of audiences. He objects to people who pretend to be "inspired" or channelling supernatural forces when they are using the tricks of the magician. He and Uri Geller have a long history! Really good movie, delightful story, fascinating interviews.

You can see trailers for gazillions of the festival movies here.

Of course I knit waiting in line. That's up next!