Friday, December 26, 2008

Control or How I Plan to Do More in the Time Available Without Actually Cloning

A little while ago I spreadsheeted (not really a word) the birthday knitting for next year to try and keep me focussed (stop laughing). Then I realised that all my craftiness needs to be time-managed so to try and shoehorn a bit more in, I have added sewing projects as well.


Column headings on the spreadsheet are
  • :date due:
  • :craft type:
  • :portability: (because time at home and awake and able to concentrate on craft = about an hour a day but I can usually squeeze another hour or two in by having portable projects with me at all times)
  • :recipient:
  • :item:
  • :materials (what to use and if I had to acquire anything else):
  • :date to be given:
  • :notes: (I find it useful to record if I need to blog the project and on which blog - helps me remember to take photos etc)


In the madness of the days before Christmas I needed to feel in control of something so I invested 3 hours uploading (newly acquired) boodle to Ravelry, searching for and queuing patterns, annotating both the queue and the stash record with the pattern info and printing out the patterns. Another few hours here and there were invested in gathering together yarn, pattern, needles and notions and popping them all into project bags (this is where having waaaaay too many needles etc. comes in really handy). I attached a tag to each project bag with a sample of yarn. The tag lists pattern information, due date etc. and contents of bag. Bags were then divided into portable and home projects with some of the portables stashed in a box in the boot of my car. On the sewing list is extra project bags!


Fabric and notions stored with pattern (or at least the scrap of paper with my idea sketched on) and either put in a bag with a label, or pinned to the garment with a label with details of date due, notions and work needed. If I haven't finished something, or it's something I can do in stages, I leave a note of where I'm up to. Trust me, you can sew on several buttons between putting dinner on and turing the chops.

I'll let you know how it all works, but at least I feel organised and potentially super-productive.

Do you have a favourite craft organisation or time-management tip?

Also on Unravelled.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Psst - sale starts early!

If you aren't in Melbourne I am sorry to disappoint, but if you are listen here.

I went in to Myers today to look for some T-shirts. My three favourite T-shirts (which are all MATERNITY ones from TARGET because I am so CLASSY) are very much the worse for wear. I haven't been able to part with them because aside from their age they are perfect. Light weight cotton with enough lycra to have stretch but not so much as to have no structure. They fit me really well - tighter up top and looser down below, V-neck with short and flattering shaped sleeves.

For two years I have been searching for replacements in vain. Don't get me started.

Anyway, since I am going to the beach on Boxing day I had reached the end of my tether and was all up for some compromise to save me from looking quite so much like a sad old lady wearing badly aged maternity Ts with my shorts.

And can I tell you? All the boxing day sale merchandise in the plus size section (now on level 2 Lonsdale during the store renovations) has already been marked down. The sales chick told me they don't have time to do everything on sale day and there isn't that much business up there in the few days before Christmas so they just go ahead and mark everything down early! I'm not a big fan of the sales - can't stand the crowds and never find anything great - but now I think I've just never started early enough.

Showing unbelievable restraint I looked only at T-shirts (well, and bras, but that's a whole other post) and ended up buying 5, all at half price or less. And I could have bought more! Basic run of the mill stuff by Regatta, Yarra Trail and the like, slightly more groovy stuff by Urbane and Piper and some really cool designer stuff by Mink and Estelle were all well discounted, basics as well as more hit and miss lines. There were also lots of dresses, pants and all the rest. Not that I was looking. One top I bought was not shown as marked down, but they still took 50% off at the register.

So if you can squeeze the time out of Christmas eve and you are in the market for some new clothes, head on down.

And guys - will someone please do us some posts here? Large needs some author support!

Monday, December 8, 2008

the crane

One of the things I find really frustrating is how interesting patterns and garments so often don't come in larger sizes. It's bad enough that I find good jeans and T-shirts hard to come by, but when it comes to something a little more innovative I'm doubly disappointed.

And while in theory I can find great patterns and upsize them myself, somehow it is all the more scary. Stepping outside the box exposes me to a much greater level of scrutiny (if only by myself) and I feel like everyone will think I am deluded to figure I can carry off an unconventional look. If a skinny girl did it they might not agree with her taste but if a fat girl chooses a bad look, it is bad because she's fat.

One of the things I really like about the Pattern Magic books (check out the flickr group here) is the way they highlight techniques, rather than actual garments. Many of the highly unusual and challenging concepts contained in the books can be used in a wide variety of ways, making them accessible to all body sizes and shapes.

For example: this knotty skirt detail would work on any skirt, shirt or T-shirt hem, this woven construction is not at all size specific and these raised boxes could be placed anywhere on any garment.

My much thinner friend made the paper crane jacket from Pattern Magic (other examples here and here) and I really liked it. I liked how it looked but I also loved the incredibly clever construction technique (see a diagram here).

But I was nervous to try it. I felt it was most likely something that would look bad on me. I thought it might be a skinny chick's thing. With a little encouragement I took the plunge and although it took a few tries to get the sizing right (I started too big. Of Course), the end result is fantastic. Made from a cotton/viscose/elastine jersey (super cheap from darn cheap fabrics in Heidelberg) it is the ultimate flexible garment. I can throw it on over anything for an extra layer. It is light enough to fold up and carry in a handbag and it doesn't crease. The construction is so clever that once you have worked out your sizing it only takes an hour or so to make one.

And I like that it looks unusual without being bizarre. From the front it looks a bit like a wrap hanging off your shoulders, from the back like a loose cardi. Because the jersey grips a bit, you can pull up the shoulders and make it look much more like a jacket with a bunchy neck or let the sleeves pool down at the wrists and it feels much more wrap like. You can let the fronts hang open or pull them closed, you could add a closure pin or button if you wanted.

I'm not sure I would enjoy wearing a crane made from non-stretch fabric, since the pattern relies on a certain ratio between the hips and shoulder width to sit well in a stiff fabric, but the jersey version is now well centred in my wardrobe. And I have some black wool knitted rib waiting to be made into another one.

For this garment and the many other interesting ideas, I'd highly recommend a tour through the Pattern Magic books 1 and 2.