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.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Easy Zipper Handbag Pattern

Some folks asked for a easy zipper bag, particularly for people terrified of sewing with zippers and here it is. I made the size small so you don't need much fabric to get going. My Easy Zipper Hangbag Pattern is now available in my Etsy shop. Click here. The pattern is currently discounted at 25% until Monday 11th March 2019. No coupon is needed.

You're probably wondering where in the world I got the gorgeous fabric, right? It's a Ikea fabric. Nope you won't find it in the shop. I bought it years and years ago. I found a small remnant in the storeroom and used it to make the bag. Usually when I make a bag for a pattern, I would make sure I have at least 2 yards of fabric because sometimes you need to retake some photos and you have to make another sample and another sample... So I was living dangerously.

I love the fabric print as it is but I couldn't help adding some embroidery to it. Some knots and running stitch. Can you tell which is the fabric print and which is my embroidery?

If you need more information about the pattern, please go and check it out in my Etsy shop here. Please heart it while you're there. It helps my shop! Thanks.

To buy this pattern directly from me here on my blog (it's an instant download digital PDF), click on "Buy Now" button below but please read my F.A.Q. (if it's your first time) before you do so. The price has already been adjusted to reflect a 25% discount so no coupon is needed.

Friday, February 22, 2019

10 Things

Tuesday was officially the last day of Chinese New Year but I noticed the shopping malls continue to display Chinese New Year decorations. Shouldn't there be a rule that stipulates when ALL Chinese New Year decorations must be removed. I'm just kidding. I don't really care.

This year's Chinese New Year was super hot. And super sleepy. I really wanted to enjoy Chinese New Year despite my natural resistance to meeting people. Unfortunately for three days before Chinese New Year, I started to itch horribly - my face, my body, my hair, everywhere. I had to take anti-histamine which reduced the itch but gave me insomnia. So I barely slept and felt like a zombie. At one of the homes I visited, I even took a little nap. Actually, the nap took me.

We managed to get a family shot. I wore a Denizen raglan tee with Mango shorts.

It was so hot I brought out the big guns - my Safari hat.

We did the lohei (pronounced low-hey) 3 times. It's a tradition that involves preparing a raw fish salad and everyone tosses the salad for good luck and fortune. Here's some history if you're interested.

I have one rule when it comes to eating - no raw food. Fortunately the first lohei done at my mother-in-law's home has nothing raw. It's quite delicious and every year, she does some variation.

The second lohei was at my brother's home. I have a huge extended family. The person with white hair is my mom. I think this lohei has raw fish so I didn't eat it.

The third lohei was done at my aunt-in-law's home. This one had a weird smell. I didn't eat it as well. I have another rule when it comes to eating - no weird smell.

Every year my mother-in-law gives us a pomelo to place on our dining table. Why pomelo? Because the Chinese character for pomelo 柚 sounds like 有 which means "to have". So the presence of the pomelo hopefully brings wealth. Listen to pomelo here. Listen to "to have" here. Anyway, since Chinese New Year is officially over, we don't have to keep the pomelo on the dining table anymore. I hate to reveal this but for many years, we'd left the pomelo sitting on the dining table until it rotted. This year hubs said we should TRY to eat it since it hasn't rotted yet. Yup, we've never eaten pomelo before. While we figure out a way to eat it, I've put it in the refrigerator. Hopefully we don't get diarrhea from it.

Earlier I mentioned I had a bad case of the itch? After Chinese New Year, I discovered the cause. I had bought a new pair of knitting needles and for 3 days before Chinese New Year, I had been knitting up a storm. I kept smelling something metallic while knitting but dismissed the idea that the yarn was the cause because I have used the yarn before and no itch. It never occurred to me it was the knitting needle mainly because I have a few knitting needles by Addi and I never had any issues. So what happened was I started to itch when I knitted again. It slowly dawned on me it could be the knitting needle because this particular needle was different from the stainless steel ones I've used before. These needles are bronze and the metallic smell is quite strong. I decided to wash the knitting needle in soap and water. I gave it a really good scrub. After that when I used the knitting needle again, I didn't itch anymore. Isn't this strange? I wonder what was on the knitting needle that caused my skin to itch. So glad I could use the needles after all that because they're quite expensive.

So far this year I haven't done much sewing. But I managed to rescue my swim suit which is something I'm very happy about. I bought a new one-piece swim suit which I thought fitted me but when I wore it to swim, I realised that it constantly gave me a wedgie. I couldn't bare to wear it again because how to, right? I tried to give it to my daughter but it's too big for her. Then I had a brilliant idea. I cut off the lower half of the swim suit and serged the raw edges. I'm pretty pleased with my Janome overlocker. It can serge anything without having to adjust any tension! For the bottom, I bought a cheap pair of swimming shorts so I'm able to wear my swim suit as a 2-piece and not waste it after all.

For my next sewing project, hubs has given me his beloved blanket to mend. He has also requested that I do not use any creative methods. Grr...

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Checklist for Chinese New Year 2019

1. Visit Chinatown
To get into the spirit of Chinese New Year, a visit to Chinatown is a must. Many of the little roads are no longer open to traffic so you can walk, I mean squeeze your way from stall to stall. I visited Chinatown on 19th Jan and it was already packed. It's probably much worse now.

2. Look at lanterns
Of course the lanterns in the malls pale in comparison to the street lanterns hung over the roads at Chinatown.

3. Look at pigs
We read about the dirty pigs on display at Chinatown that people were criticizing so of course we had to pay them a visit. I thought the pigs weren't dirty enough. Have you seen real life pigs? They're filthy. I didn't get to see the pigs lighted up but here's a video that some one made including a walk around Chinatown. Click and see if you're up for some noisy Chinese tong tong chiang! music and not allergic to the colour red.

For cleaner looking pigs, we went to Mandarin Orchard. Not quite the same.

4. Look at Chinese New Year decorations for sale at shops or on display that you would not see the rest of the year. (there's a big obsession with pineapples, forgot why)

5. Prepare new notes and red packets.
Check out the McDonald's packets. So "classy".

6. Shop for new clothes.
Bought this one.

Did not buy this one.

Passed on this one as well.

This one was a maybe except the only colour available was yellow. I avoid wearing yellow.

7. Buy mandarin oranges.
I bought 5 but used them for a photo shoot and left them in the sun. I should buy 4 new ones for Chinese New Year for the mandarin orange exchange thingy. I mean, that's the least I could do considering how the relatives I visit will feed me.

8. Get new shoes
Pass. There was a time when my family would get new clothes as well as new shoes for Chinese New Year. But I own a fair number of footwear and so does my girl. Hubs has enough shoes to open a shoe shop... My son has 1 pair of sneakers, 1 pair of formal shoes and 1 pair of sandals. In his eyes, that's sufficient so we let him be. Everyone gets new clothes because hubs is pretty particular about that.

9. Get new hair
I just spent 3 hours at my hairstylist's salon getting a cut trim and some light hair colour. I wish my hair would grow slower. My hairstylist loves my hair a bit too much. Each time I ask for a cut, it's a negotiation. If I ask for 2 inches, she'll bargain it down to 1 inch. It's like she owns my hair.

10. Clean my home
I already did a big clean up in December so I'm letting myself off the hook.
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