70s Shirtdress


Inspired by the New Vintage Wardrobe  Flickr pool, I bought a vintage sewing pattern off etsy and drove out to my mom’s house to spend my entire day off hunched over a sewing machine.

She suggested that I raid her stash instead of buying muslin to do a test run with, and after surveying my options I decided it was finally time to cut up the tablecloth turned dropcloth I had been not-so-secretly wishing I could wear for the last ten years.  Despite my best efforts at piecing, there are a few paint splotches, but I am so pleased with my ability to successfully follow directions that I don’t care.  I put in a zipper!  And made a collar!  And set in sleeves!

I know this dress was meant to be because I had, in my possession for absolutely no good reason, a 22 inch plastic turquoise zipper just waiting to be used.

I probably shouldn’t pop the collar though.


Paper wallets


There are a ton of youtube video tutorials on making these, none of which I have the patience to watch.  Here are my instructions for making a paper and packing tape wallet:

1.  Gather your materials:  magazine pages or other paper of your choice, clear packing tape, scissors, pencil, and a ruler.

2.  Cut your paper to the desired size, using an existing wallet as a guideline, or a dollar bill and credit card.  If you are using money as your template, remember to make your pieces slightly larger than your dollar bill/credit cards.

3.  Cover your paper pieces in packing tape, then tape them all together.

My previous wallet, made out of pictures of produce from Martha Stewart Living has lived a long and fruitful life*.  It is time to move on though.


The new one, made in about half an hour this afternoon, is made from a map of Papua New Guinea:


Not as tasty or colorful, but still pretty cool.

*I carry my wallet in a pants pocket rather than a purse, and it lasted about a year and a half.  This is similar to the lifespan of most commercial wallets I have bought.

June update


I have three projects to report on today:


Firstly, I finished the  Stripes and Torchon Lace shawl.  I started this an entire year ago so that I would have something portable to knit on the plane ride when I visited Rory last summer.  It is huge (39″x87″) and difficult to photograph.

The second image is true to color.


Secondly, I started yet another pair of socks.   These are made being done up in malabrigo yarn sock in “terracotta” in mistake rib from Barbara Walker’s A Treasury of Knitting Patterns.

I’m reinforcing the heels and toes with Woolly Nylon.  I was able to find an exact match colorwise (can you tell where it starts and stops?  I can’t.), but the serger thread gets jumbled into a terrible knot in my messenger bag, turning these socks into a not very portable project.


Lastly, despite my failed attempts in college to overdye all my t-shirts black using RIT, I decided to give it another chance.   I had a lovely cotton skirt I had picked up from goodwill two years ago, but had never worn due to the off-white color, as well as two pairs of rugby shorts that  I picked up due to their low low price and long long inseam, but again, were impractical to wear because they were white.

I used one box of pearl gray to dye the skirt and one pair of shorts, and one box of fuschia on the second pair of shorts and a promotional t-shirt I was gifted.


I’m considering it a total success this time.  The skirt looks sort of beige in the photo, but in real life it is more of a pewter or silver color.


My fractured bone is hollow like a chocolate bunny so I’m still not allowed to hit anything, but I did get the cast off and the go-ahead to knit.

I decided that since I was going stir-crazy being unable to knit, sew, play rugby, or go running, that it was high time to get my vegetable garden started. There are two planter boxes in my backyard, and though they clearly haven’t been used for at least five years, probably longer depending on which previous tenant built them, I thought that getting them set up would be a pretty easy job. I was able to do the first one pretty easily last week: Matthew came over and helped me trim back the trees blocking access to the box, I dug up all the weeds/grass/gross wild onions, mixed in some good soil and planted my tomatoes and cucumbers.

The second one has not been so easy.

A little bit of background information: my lease specifies that my landlord pays a gardener.  What this translates to is that the landlord pays someone to mow the grass and water the plants.  The front yard looks nice, but in the back there are some overgrown trees and shrubbery.  The trees I mentioned trimming earlier?  Are actually two overgrown bushes that are planted IN THE SECOND PLANTER BOX.   Additionally, there is a giant sprawling lemon tree covering the other side of the box.

Here is the lemon tree:

And here is the mass of branches we had to cut back from the planter box trees:

That’s the pile that didn’t fit into the green waste bin.  Luckily this is pick-up week, so I’ll have an empty bin to fill up again come monday.

I mentioned these issues to the landlord, hoping to get the lemon tree pruned and the overgrown eyesore planterbox trees removed.  He wants to do the opposite:  tear out the lemon tree and keep the planter box trees.  I did get permission to continue to prune the trees in the box, but he doesn’t want them removed.

So, I cursed at my housemates a bunch, went out into the yard, cut the bushes back further and started digging.  Predictably, the roots have taken over at least half the box.

At this point I’m really not sure what to do.  On the one hand, I am still working with only one arm and I suspect that the roots have worked their way outside of the bounds of the planterbox and will be difficult to extract.  On the other hand, I really want more space for vegetables, and have already bought several bags of manure/soil to mix in to make this ground usable.  I’m considering doing some container gardening in the gigantic birdcage left in the yard from a previous housemate, but while that has the advantage of keeping out the squirrels/raccoons/deer who eat my compost, it would also be more difficult for me to access the plants and has the added cost of buying pots.

Any ideas?



I had big plans to finish leftovers this weekend.  All I’ve got left to do is knit the armhole ribbing and weave in a few ends.  That should take two hours tops.  Probably less.Instead I’m looking at three to six weeks.

I consider myself pretty lucky that in six years of playing rugby this (a fractured ulna) is my first major injury, but lucky or not, it still sucks.  I am supposed to be invincible.

Blue wrap skirt


Sewing skills I have learned this week:
-drafting a pattern from an existing item of clothing
-making pockets
-using the blindstitch function on my mother’s machine

I kind of want to make twenty thousand more of these.  A friend of mine uses the phrase “the best thing since pockets in pants” because – don’t laugh, as I am being completely serious here – carrying a purse is so much more of a hardship than slicing your own bread.  I love this expression, but it neglects to include the absolute joy and wonder of pockets in skirts.  I think I’m going to shorten it.  The best thing since pockets.  Period.

Champagne Classic was this past weekend.  We only won two out of our six games, but it was, as usual, loads of fun.  It was also an opportunity for me to be ridiculously productive. 

I cast on for Leftovers in the airport friday afternoon.  Between sitting around at the airport and sitting around at the pitch between games, by the time I landed back in SFO Sunday evening I had knit ten inches of sweater vest.  

I am loving the massive ribbing at the bottom and how quickly this is progressing.

The theme for the social saturday night was “party animals”.  Because I think team costumes are always more fun than individual costumes, I threw together some construction paper penguin beaks (which got turned into visors, as wearing them on the nose interfered with grain-based beverage drinking) and organized spray-paint stenciling for friday night in the hotel parking lot.  

I’m convinced that as far as last minute inexpensive costumes go, this was near genius, but I might be a little biased.  😉



My favorite cardigans are falling apart.  I spent a considerable amount of time last winter repairing them, preceded by an even longer period of searching for appropriate weight and color yarn to use for darning.  Despite my efforts, they continue to deteriorate.  The elbows are wearing thin on the blue, and the stitching on one of the buttonholes has unraveled.  The cuffs and collars are disintegrating on the green, and although I know how to darn holes, I can’t figure out a good fix for these edges.  

It’s not unexpected that they are going to pieces:  they are hand-me-downs from my mother, are at least forty years old, and I wear them nearly every day.  But while I had very little trouble removing the matching wool a-line skirts from my closet when they became too tight to breathe in, the idea that I have to retire these sweaters from my wardrobe is causing me some distress.

I am somewhat ambivalent about fashion.  I want to look put together and stylish, to wear clothes that reflect who I am, but I have trouble putting forth the effort required for shopping and coordinating and sifting through styles that that don’t suit, please, or fit me.  These sweaters, however, strike a strong connection deep down inside of me.  I love them not just because they are familiar, but because they are perfect.

Accepting that my cardigans are on their last breaths, I have started looking for alternatives.  So far this has involved several exploratory shopping trips to various department, thrift, vintage, and yarn stores.  I don’t actually expect to find “the” sweater any time I walk into a new store, but I remain hopeful that by browsing I am signaling my intentions to the universe, bringing me one step closer to a suitable replacement.  Just like you can’t sit at home and expect Mr. or Mrs. Right to show up at your front door, I can’t go about my life just expecting a perfect wool cardigan to magically appear in my closet.  I’m calling it “sweater dating”, but since for the most part I am just giving them the up and down with my eyes before rejecting, not even taking them into the dressing room for an introduction, “sweater cruising” might be a more appropriate term.

Here are some sweaters that I am contemplating initiating (potentially long and torrid) affairs with:

Katherine Hepburn Cardigan

Lucy in the Sky 

modified cropped fitted cardigan

If only I could decide on the right yarn.

I finished this back in August, and after several creative blocking attempts threw it into the back of my closet convinced that it was unwearable due to baggy sleeves.  In the intervening months I have realized that a) I have absolutely no intention of re-knitting the sleeves and b) it’s not like I don’t wear ill-fitting clothing all the time anyway.  I put it on this morning and wore it to work where it’s flaws did not drive me crazy, so I’m rescuing it from the purgatory of failed knitting projects and throwing it into the regular rotation.

I’m not in love with it, but it’s not terrible either.  I am done using knitpicks wool of the andes, though.  This was done up in “firecracker heather” and it’s a perfectly nice color, but it’s time for me to start spending the money required for wool that feels a bit nicer between one’s fingers.

My favorite part is where I duplicate stitched my initials and the year into the hem, a la Elizabeth Zimmermann.  It’s a nice little touch, don’t you think?