Monthly Archives: August 2010

Lady Grey Sew-Along.

In celebration of my new sewing machine, Joan, I decided to try the Lady Grey Sew-Along.

See, there is this website that I found some time ago called Colette Patterns, which sells gorgeous, unique patterns. I am particularly in love with Beignet, Ceylon, and the much coveted Lady Grey. Gertie from Gertie’s New Blog For Better Sewing (click on the image for the link) will be leading a sew-along and providing some much-needed advice on fabrics and construction, so I figured I’d join in and try my hand at something advanced. I haven’t sewn clothing in a long time, but I’m hoping that between now and the start of the sew-along, I can try sewing the Beignet skirt and see how that turns out. I think I should be okay.

Fingers crossed! I’ll post some updates here on how the project goes.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore.

This is my second time reading Graceling. What with working at a children’s/YA bookstore for three years, and then working at a library and finally working on an MLIS, I haven’t had much time for rereading books. It was good to finally reread a novel that I enjoyed the first time around.

Katsa is Graced, meaning that she was born with an inherent and enhanced ability. She is a warrior, killing and performing violent acts for her uncle, the king of one of the seven kingdoms. Graceling is a story about her journey from being her uncle’s pawn to an individual, independent young woman who fights for what she believes is right. Like with any story about a coming-of-age, she makes some interesting discoveries about herself along the way.

This book is perfect for teen girls (and adult women!) who like strong female protagonists and can’t bring themselves to read Twilight. It’s also great for Twilight readers, to expand their horizons on the fantasy genre and the idea of a female protagonist. Although I would classify Graceling as fantasy, it would also have appeal to readers who don’t normally read fantasy – it’s sort of medieval fantasy, and there is actually no real magic in it, just the idea that some people are born with enhanced abilities.

Joan makes Sashiko Pillows.

I actually finished a crafting project today! Yes, I started it several months ago, but thanks to the new sewing machine I finished it this afternoon.

My new Pfaff sewing machine is named Joan, by the way, in honour of this fantastic character from Mad Men:

Joan Holloway: smart, feisty, and has great taste.

So I first saw these sashiko pillows on The Purl Bee blog. Sashiko is decorative Japanese embroidery, usually done as white thread on blue cloth. This sashiko pillow is bright and colourful, and I was immediately drawn to the colours and the pattern, so I ordered two of the same pattern to embroider on my own. I just bought the thread and cloth at Fabricland, so the colours don’t match up exactly. (Plus, the photo on that page is very vibrant – it makes my pillows pale in comparison!) These are 14″ pillow forms.

Sashiko pillows.

I’m glad I made two of them. I absolutely love them! They just add a splash of colour but I still feel like they are subtle, because all the colours are against a white background. I love picking out the colour patterns in the stitching.

Lonely in Ottawa.

Corey’s gone away for four nights to attend his friend’s wedding, so I’m here in Ottawa on my own. It’s very strange – we just arrived on Sunday and spent a few days unpacking before Corey had to leave. I’m still not quite used to the house yet, but it’s getting there. I put away some more things today, so that helped me feel more settled in. I’ll take some photos once everything is set up.

The drive to Ottawa was great – cloudy for most of the way, which is just the way I like it. If it’s sunny, I squint a lot which makes my head hurt, and wearing sunglasses just makes everything tinted. Corey drove the U-Haul up, and Sarah and I each drove our separate cars, as she shared the U-Haul with us. We had a total of eight people unloading at Sarah’s house, and six people unloading at our new home. Having good friends to help you move is just lovely, especially after you’ve just driven 7 hours.

Anyway, now that Corey is gone for a bit, I’ve been trying to keep myself occupied. I went out today and bought myself a few treats. Well, the first “treat” was a little expensive, but it’s been planned for awhile so it wasn’t exactly a spontaneous purchase or anything. Let’s see what it is, shall we?

It came in this cardboard box:

Hmm.

Opening the box…

Is that... no, it can't be!

It can only be one thing…

Only one descriptive marking...

A brand new Pfaff Hobby 1132!

Dun-da-da-da!

I’m pretty thrilled. I gave away my mother’s sewing machine when we moved to Ontario. It was too heavy to ship, and it was constantly breaking down, so it wasn’t really worth the haul. I didn’t buy a new one when we moved to London because I knew I wouldn’t have any time to sew. Now that I’m in Ottawa with a co-op job lined up, I figured I would have some free time for some serious crafting. First, I’ll start off easy with some cushions. Next, I’ll attempt a slip cover for our ugly couch. This can go one of two ways: I spend hours figuring out the pattern, how to cut out pieces, whether I have enough to make separate covers for the cushions, etc.; or I can just kind of throw the fabric over the whole thing and see how it goes. So far I’m leaning toward the latter option.

But that’s not all! When I got home from my sewing outing, I decided to take a walk in the neighbourhood, which we haven’t done yet because we’ve been too busy unpacking. Corey and I live in the Westboro neighbourhood, which has tons of cool shops, gourmet eating, and outdoor adventure stores. (Kind of like Kitsilano or Kerrisdale in Vancouver!) We actually live just southwest of it, although it is within walking distance.

I actually didn’t explore Westboro proper today – but there are lots of great shops outside of Westboro too. I might have explored more but I got caught in a thunder shower and rushed home.

We live just under a 10 minute walk from the main drag, and today I passed such lovely spots as the Three Tarts Bakery, another bakery called Three Bakers and a Bike, a Chinese restaurant, a Thai restaurant, a sushi place, a fresh pasta store, local grocery store, a butcher, and a bookstore/coffee shop called Collected Works.

I see from the homepage of Collected Works that I should have bought the new David Mitchell book, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, but I didn’t see it otherwise I would have! Instead, the remainder of today’s treats include:

Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende, Geist, and Graceling by Kristin Cashore.

I’ve already read Graceling but I loved it and would like to own it for rereading purposes. It’s a great novel for girls who like fantasy but aren’t into the whole Twilight business. It’s got an incredibly strong and believable female protagonist. I also haven’t read Isabel Allende for a long time so I thought I’d try her newest novel. Plus, I just needed a bit of Geist back in my life, as it is a Vancouver published literary magazine.

So that’s it. Now that I’m not buried in school work, I can update more.

The Swan Thieves, by Elizabeth Kostova.

The Swan Thieves, by Elizabeth Kostova.

A non-spoilery review.

I was excited to read the newest novel by Elizabeth Kostova, who published The Historian in 2005. I enjoyed the story a lot and at times I didn’t want to stop reading. In fact, The Swan Thieves became my bedtime reading novel, which I haven’t done in months so that must be a good sign. However, I did find some issues with the voice and characters.

The main character and narrator is male, but it took me a few chapters to really believe it 100%. In fact, I misread a sentence so I mistakenly believed that someone called him by a woman’s name, and I thought, “Oh good! It makes sense!” And then I realized that I had read the sentence wrong and that his name is actually Andrew. I thought the narration was very good, but it was difficult to remember the gender of the narrator at times. And in this case, the gender was important because of the romance elements.

I was at first put off by the idea that some of the chapters were narrated by women, mainly because I find it hard to switch from narrator to narrator when I’m putting so much emotional effort into understanding the first narrator and trying to think in a male voice. I ended up really enjoying them though, and I think it helped that they were women’s voices.

The mystery element was good, and I was very satisfied once the big reveal happened. Throughout the novel, there was an almost supernatural (but not scary) feel to the mystery, which was the big hook for me. As well, painters and painting were very important to the plot, and I liked reading about the idea of beauty and artistic processes.

Overall, this was a very enjoyable book, but not a stunning work.

Twist Collective: Fall 2010

The new fall issue of Twist Collective was released earlier this week, and I am now regretting that yarn diet more than ever.

I love this Gwendolyn pullover with a hood by Fiona Ellis:

Gwendolyn by Fiona Ellis

It just looks so incredibly cosy, and I’d want to wear it on an autumn stroll somewhere in the English countryside.

Acorns by Carol Sunday is also incredibly cute:

Acorns by Carol Sunday

The acorn pattern looks very simple but it also catches the eye.

I have about a week and a half left of my program, then Corey and I are moving to Ottawa where I’ll enjoy about three weeks of spare time before I start my new co-op position. Those three weeks will hopefully be filled with knitting and sewing, so hopefully there will be many creative posts to come. In the meantime, I’m just trying to stay awake in my classes.