Monday, May 20, 2019

A few things

It's almost the middle of the year and I haven't done half the things I had mapped out. There's been a lot of procrastination as well as lack of motivation. Also, this year I've been feeling somewhat more stressed than usual and have been doing a lot of worrying. Hubs likes to say I always worry about the wrong things. Pray tell me how do I worry about the right things.

My worrying about the wrong things has seeped into my dreams. I often dream I'm running away from danger or trying to hide from danger. Once I hurt my neck because I was running and dodging laser beams in my dreams. No, I couldn't see who was shooting at me. (maybe it was hubs or my children?) I wake up exhausted (because of all the running) and my muscles hurt. Recently I started doing breathing exercises before I sleep and it has helped a little. The dreams are less intense and don't always involve running. Instead now my dreams involve some sort of crafting. Just last night, I was making hundreds of pom poms. It was rather tiring. So I think I should go buy a pom pom kit so that if I dream the pom pom making dream again, at least I have the tools and maybe it won't be so tiring.

I don't know if stress has anything to do with it but I have by some miracle lost lots of fats around my tummy. Usually if I lose any fats, it's around my boobs. Yes, the Universe is mighty cruel flat chested women. I'm feeling f%^&!ing fabulous about my flatter tummy. I'm not saying it's totally flat, just a lot less fleshy. Overall, I haven't lost much weight though. I'm still hovering around 58kg which is not my ideal weight. Ideally, I want to be 55kg but I now accept it's impossible because I simply cannot give up my sweet tea, cakes and biscuits. So I've focused instead on keeping my weight under 60kg and of course keeping fit. My upper body has grown larger permanently, it seems which is not a bad thing. I've dreamed of having a bigger upper body my whole life. Lately I've found it hard to sleep in my Uniqlo T shirts. They feel too small.

I've started sewing quite a bit recently. In the past, sewing has helped me deal with stress and anxiety. I started work on a bag pattern, abandoned it and started another one. I abandoned that one as well and now I'm working on a third bag pattern. This one I'm very likely to publish. When it comes to bag patterns, I have to feel the love or I can't push through. It should be ready in June or July. This year. Haha.

Apart from the bag patterns, I've tried working on other sewing projects. The thing is I keep getting distracted. I jump from project to project. I have to date, abandoned these projects: a bra, a table runner, 2 coasters, a dress with sleeves, another Racerback tee, a bead weaving thing, knitted lace with beads and something with patchwork.

Then one day I remembered I used to enjoy sewing embroideries on plain linen cotton which I turned into drawstring pouches. I still have quite a bit of plain linen cotton lying around and using it up will give me immense pleasure. Finally! A project I could finish. It's true. The embroidery is still enjoyable but it eats up a lot of time! I've completed the drawstring pouch but I'm not loving the drawstring options I have in my stash so a visit to Chinatown will be necessary soon. Does anyone else love making drawstring pouches as much as me? Anyway, I enjoyed making the drawstring pouch so much, I've begun work on a couple more.

I have another one close to finished and this one I just started with the stems. In case you're curious, when I do embroidery, I usually draw freehand with a water soluble pen. I am that kind of lazy.

One day I overcompensated and gave myself the challenge of making a tiny drawstring pouch. Yes, with lining and all and sewn not by hand but with a regular sewing machine. Was it hard? Hmm, hard can't quite describe the terrible, terrible hardship I endured to make this tiny, tiny thing. I don't know what I was trying to prove but I showed them! It took a lot of patience and every swear word I know to get it done. I probably pulled some muscles as well.

Recently, after 3 very long years, my son graduated from a local polytechnic. This guy... it takes a village. My son was good in academics when he was a kid. I thought I had struck the gene lottery when he could read, write and draw at age 2. He was particularly good in Math. I thought he would make an excellent Math teacher. (my dream, not his) Then one day when he was 15, he lost all interest in academics. Lots of not so good stuff happened after that but we managed to survive it all. We took a leap of faith and enrolled him in a polytechnic for a game design diploma. (because he liked to play games so much) As it turned out, it was a good decision. I don't know what the future holds for my son but I hope he makes a lot of money.

My daughter completed one year in university and is currently enjoying an extremely long vacation. (far far too long) Her school has been in the news the past two months. A student, Monica Baey publicized her frustrations with her university for its soft stand against a fellow student who had filmed her in the shower. The school had also failed to provide victim support for her. This thing really blew up and it even got mentioned in parliament. The universities pledged better security and you would think the voyeurs would lay low. But no, another university had 3 cases of peeping tom while the Monica Baey thing was blowing up. Then last week, at the same school Monica Baey attends, a peeping tom was caught filming a student in the shower. Despite knowing the school was putting more cameras and improving security, he still committed the act.Has he been getting away with it for so long, he thought he wouldn't be caught. Well, he's been arrested and I could be wrong but I'll bet he won't get off with a slap on the wrist like what happened to Monica Baey's peeping tom.

Last thing. I've often resisted falling for wellness claims. Wellness is a deep black hole that will suck away all your money. In return for all sorts of unproven claims. The past few months has been hell for my dry eyes condition. I went to the polyclinic and after an eye pressure test, it was established I'm in no danger of going blind. So the doctor gave me 2 bottles of eye lubricants and dismissed me.  The eye drops did help for a while but soon it was back to square one. In desperation, I bought Omega Vision which claims to help dry eyes. One bottle costs a little over a hundred bucks. Yes, one hundred bucks. But I waited for a sale and paid over seventy bucks for this bottle. Does it work? Not at all. Zero improvement. Basically, I got scammed. Anyway, recently, I discovered how to tackle my dry eyes. Dry eyes are very shifty. They get used to the lubricants and start acting up again. So what I do is switch to a different brand when my eyes feel lousy. And it works. I just hope there are enough brands out there for me to keep my eyes going for I dunno, 30 years?

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Racerback Adventure Tank

This afternoon, right before a gigantic thunderstorm, I asked my girl to do a photo shoot. I know. My timing sucks. The sky was dark and all the photos came out dark. No worries - photoshop to the rescue.

Last year I was on a sewing high and I planned to sew a lot of stuff but sadly I ran out of steam. One of the projects I never got to work on was this: I had already printed out and assembled the pattern for Racerback Adventure Tank by Fancy Tiger. This is not a free pattern so you'll have to google for a free one yourself. Recently I got a little sewing mojo back and I decided to once and for all get the Racerback Adventure Tank done. And I have the fabric. I had bought this jersey knit fabric which I found in the bargain bin at Spotlight ages ago. I don't know why I keep going to fish around the bargain bin thinking I'll find some treasure. Honestly, it's just remnants nobody wants. Still I bought this very soft jersey knit - less than 1 meter's worth because it's 50% off and jersey knit is expensive as hell.

What I like about this pattern is you only need the front and back plus 2 arm bands and 1 neck band. I mean how easy is this pattern? The fabric on the other hand is fabric from hell. It is so hard to work with. And it keeps curling. I think for my sanity, I need to buy some stay tape or whatever it's called the next time I work with difficult jersey knit.


The result? It is wearable but I made the biggest mistake. I had cut the wrong size for myself. I don't remember why I cut size S. I checked the sizing instructions, measured my body and yup, I had cut 2 sizes too small. I'm between M and L which makes my size a L. Surely 2018 Jane wasn't that much smaller than 2019 Jane. I'm aware that my upper body has become slightly larger this year because when I wear clothes I had made before, it feels a little tight around the chest. But to have grown 2 sizes larger - I can't accept that. So I'm going to put it down to human error. Maybe I was distracted.

So I gave the Racerback to my girl and it fits her! And she said she'll wear it.

I struggled quite a bit with the band. Firstly, you need to serge it together with the neck/arm. My serging skills are still hit and miss. I couldn't get the seam allowance even. For once, I really hate the grey thread on my serger. Don't even ask me to change thread - I'm that lazy. Yes, I know the easy way to change thread - tie old thread to new thread etc. But 4 cones of thread is too much work.


I don't have a cover stitch machine so I used a twin needle for top stitching. Not a regular twin needle but a stretch twin needle. It works but can you see the tunneling? Around the neck and arm, I think I can get away with tunneling.

When it came to the hem, no matter how I tried, I could not get the top stitch to look nice. The tunneling was awful. So I gave up the twin needle and switched to a stretch zigzag. This seems to work but looking at the curling edges on the wrong side just makes my blood boil. I should have serged the edges!


After I had completed sewing everything, I remembered that I have a stretch stitch balance dial on my sewing machine. I adjusted the dial towards "+" and tried hemming with some scrap jersey and yup, the tunneling is lessened a tiny bit but not completely gone.


I tried on the Racerback and if I hold my breath, I can get away with it. It looks a lot worse in person...

From the back you can see how small it is on me.

Will I make the Racerback again? Actually I might. I'll make size L and lengthen it. This Racerback has a slight flared bottom which I dislike. I hope I'll remember to take out the flare.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Skywalker Knitted Lace Shawl


The Skywalker Shawl is done. I repeat. The Skywalker Shawl is done. How long did it take me? Thousands and thousands of hours. And I may have permanently damaged one of my fingers. It's the finger next to the little finger. Is that one important?

So I learnt to knit Skywalker Shawl from a Craftsy class by Laura Nelkin which I bought during a sale a long long time ago, back when Craftsy and I were friends. It's not a bad class and easy to follow along. I usually don't like to listen to the chit-chat that teachers tend to indulge in... But other than that, not that torturous.


I finished the shawl in February and I even blocked it. Well, when I said I blocked it, I meant I blocked the necessary parts - the top and the bottom. In between, I decided was too much of a hassle. After the shawl had dried, I wore it to show off to my family and my daughter informed me that I looked like an old lady. I forgot what hubs said, probably something similar. So it seems, this thing I had slaved over will make me look a few decades older. Hmm...

The yarn I used is a Anette Eriksson eco cotton 85% recycled cotton 15% polyester. I know it was a dumb move to choose a dark colour but all the other colours available looked horrible.

Did I do a swatch? Nope. I still haven't got into the habit of swatching. I had to repeat some of the patterns to get it human size. Other than that I think I did a pretty good job. At first I relied a lot on lifelines. But the minute I hit 448 stitches on a row, I told myself it's insane to rip back. So I stopped using lifelines and I managed to survive a few dropped stitches here and there.

The pattern is divided into fancy stitches like Star Stitch, Galaxy Stitch, Nebula Stitch and Plasma Stitch. The Plasma Stitch was the worst! Sometimes you have to wrap the yarn twice or thrice over and over again and that's not the hard part. The hard part comes when you purl back and all the yarn gets soooooo tight you can't move them. And so you use all your strength and that's how I damaged my finger. The Plasma Stitch is so stupid to execute but the effect is nice though. The Nova edging is no fun either. It takes forever to knit all the edging and it really took all the fun out of knitting.

But... it's done. All the anger, frustration and hardship is behind me now. Would be nice if I could wear it out. If only I don't look like an old lady.

Here's me modelling the shawl. Sorry if I appear under-dressed (it's my tan line).

I learnt quite a bit about knitting lace working on this shawl. I'm pretty good at reading the charts as well. I feel I can go to the next level of lace knitting - whatever that is. But I still have 2 beginner lace #wip. And I don't want to start a new thing until they're completed. Once the weather gets cooler in April, I'll try to finish them up.
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My Bag Pattern Shop

https://www.etsy.com/shop/projectsbyjane

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My Embroidery Patterns

https://www.etsy.com/shop/projectsbyjane?section_id=15580078&ref=shopsection_leftnav_2