Pattern Review: Syrah Maxi Skirt

My main sewing machine has been in the shop for going on three weeks so I haven’t even tried to finish the Cheyenne Tunic I was working on. I had a couple of knit projects laying around so I figured I would tackle those since they are primarily sewn on my serger.

First up was the Syrah Skirt by baste and gather. I’ve wanted to sew a maxi skirt for a while and this skirt pattern seemed to be perfect. There are many different options for lengths and seams. I also had nearly 3 yards of this random knit that I had purchased like a million years ago to “practice” on. This pattern uses a ton of fabric and in the end I’m SO glad that I made a practice skirt first.

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First I will say that this knit is not high quality. It’s from Joanns, but it’s probably going on 6 years old and really doesn’t have a nice hand to it. I do like that it’s a bit heavier and so I opted to make a version without the inner lining.

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I know that this is a fairly straightforward sort of garment to make, but there were a few directions along the way that I feel like she could have offered a more detailed explanation. This is a great pattern style to make if you are new to knits and if I were new to sewing I’d be a little frustrated and lost. Probably my biggest frustration was the waistband. There are two different options for the waistband, but she only shows one version (the more complicated ruched one) in the directions and then it’s implied that you do the same with the other version. But the pattern pieces are completely different looking so if you were new to this whole sewing thing (or not paying attention like me) you could easily sew the wrong sides.

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I sewed a size medium and while the length and fullness of the skirt are fine (and kind of fun!) the waistband was HUGE! I had to take it in at least 3-4 inches from the pattern piece. And even still it’s not quite as snug as I’d like it.

Overall, it’s a good pattern and would be good for beginners. That said, I would sew slowly or use some crappy knit to sew your first one just to get the fit right.

Reading: January 2017

One of my goals this year is to journal more regularly regarding what I’ve been reading. Here are my notes from January.

Currently

Emma
I’m trying desperately to finish Emma. I love Emma and it’s probably one of my favorite PBS Masterpiece shows. I’m loving the book too, but I’m choosing terribly bad times to read it – like right before bed. I end up falling asleep after only 2 pages; which to be fair contains a lot of text, but still. The more I read Emma, the more I realize I’m so much like her. I’m so quick to make assumptions, the self-talk that Emma goes through regarding her frustrations with people around her is so similar to me…her self talk regarding Mrs. Elton, for example, absolutely cracks me up.

Upstream by Mary Oliver
I lucked into this book at the library last week and quickly snatched it up. I wasn’t sure what to expect with it, but I had seen it around the web-o-sphere so much that I felt I needed to read it. I knew it was a collection of essays, but honestly I feel like it’s more a stream of consciousness from a poet. I love the descriptions that she gives and it’s a book I do think I’d like to have on my shelf. I’ll write more about it when I’m finished reading it I think.  My favorite quote so far has been:
The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work. who felt their own creative power restive and uprising and gave it neither power nor time. from p.30

Humble Roots by Hannah Anderson
This has been a great book. I’ve only got a few chapters left and overall I’ve really enjoyed her approach to writing. It is a book about humility (and pride), but it’s written in such a way that it’s truly convicting – yet hopeful at the same time. More on this when I’m finished with it too.

On Being a Writer by Kroeker & Craig
I’m on the fence about this book. I’ve liked it and I’ve participated in some of the exercises in it, but I’m not sure that it was what I thought it would be. I am about half way done and I was very gung-ho with it when I first started, but now my desire to read it has kind of waned. Honestly now I just want to cross it off my list.

The Signature of All Things by E. Gilbert
This one I’m listening to on audio. I’ve loved it for the first hour; the story and characters have been so interesting. But as I listened to it yesterday I became a little nervous about where she’s heading with these characters. There were some parts of the book that I wouldn’t want to read, let alone listen to. So I’m a little bummed out and wondering if I should keep listening or not? It’s hard to abandon a book when you’ve invested an hour of listening time versus just a few chapters of reading.

The Headless Cupid by Z. K. Snyder
Ms. Snyder was one of the first authors I read and then proceeded to read all of her books as soon as possible when I was in upper elementary school. She’s been one I’ve been eager to share with my daughter based on my own memories and love of her stories. It has been an interesting read. I didn’t remember all the witches, magic and occult stuff in it and I’ve had a hard time trying to figure out if we should keep reading it or not. I know that in the end it is a ghost story/mystery and the witches part of it really isn’t the focus. It’s definitely led us to have lots of conversations about magic etc that I don’t think we ever had while reading Harry Potter.

Finished

Heidi
We read this for my daughter’s book club and it was the sweetest book. You do have to be careful which version you read. Ours was the original version by Joanna Spyri and was a copy from Veritas. It was such a great story about waiting for God and resting in his timing from the perspective of a little girl. Such a sweet mother-daughter read.

Secrets of Wishtide by Kate Saunders
I’m not sure about this one. I gave it 3 stars on goodreads. It was a fine mystery story and there were moments where it went along quite well, but overall it sort of dragged. It wasn’t a book where I wanted to read it during the day so it clearly remained my “just before bed” book.

Revenge in a Cold River by Anne Perry
I’ve long been a huge Anne Perry fan and honestly I think it’s more because I’m invested in her characters more than anything. Her older books are wonderful reads if you love a good Victorian mystery. The last few I’ve read of hers haven’t been quite as compelling. I do wonder how long she can keep going after having written so many books about the same groups of characters? This one was one of her better ones about William Monk, but it was really just a story focused on him. I love his wife and really missed the the interaction and just her story too.

What’s Next?

I don’t know! I have a few I grabbed at the library last week – one from my master list and then a Wally Lamb book I hadn’t read before (love him). But I am making myself finish Emma before I pick up another fiction book. I’m really wanting to read The Nightingale because I keep hearing it recommended so I think that’s where I’ll head next. After Humble Roots – I’m not sure what I’ll focus on for my spiritual reading.

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Embroidery: Helen Keller Pattern

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Introducing the new and updated Helen Keller pattern. I’ve loved this quote for so long and last year I drafted up a pattern that wasn’t quite what I was hoping for. After some good Adobe Illustrator lessons, I was able to update and improve this pattern and really create what I had been longing for all the time.

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This is a great pattern for an advanced beginner looking to add some new stitches to their repertoire. It uses a backstitch, split stitch, stem stitch, long/short/brickstitch and more.

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This pattern is available for instant download in my etsy shop.

The lovely Sarah from In the Quiet Hours stitched up a sample and I love how she modified some of the stitches and chose a different colorway. This year I am reaching out for pattern testings via Instagram. So far it’s been such a great experience and I’ve been so grateful for the comments and help they’ve provided as I seek to become a better pattern writer.

Embroidery: Latest Projects

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This was my to-be embroidered stack a few days ago. Thankfully I’ve finished most of the hoops in this stack and I’m back to working on my original 2 projects before everything sort of exploded.

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I’m not doing much in the way of custom orders this year – at least not yet. But one of my first requests was to stitch up some handkerchiefs based off the song “Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music. I used some blank hankies from Sublime Stitching and the colorway was a request by the customer. I think they turned out pretty cute.

 

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I have had the pleasure of keeping some of my work in a local shop in town and honestly I’ve struggled over the years with what to put in there. Usually it ends up being an overflow of things I’ve tried to sell online that didn’t really go or just other random sorts of odds and ends. This year, my goal was to put some things in there that were more of a series. I thought about the hoops that have always done well and usually it has been those with a mix of simple embroidery and whimsical fabric. So I decided to go through my stash of favorite fabrics and make some hexagons of various sizes and go from there. I’m pleased with how they turned out. I think it’s a great mix of colors, styles, fabrics and price ranges. You can find these locally at The Village Tinker hopefully sometime in the next week or so.

 

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I’ve learned a lot lately about Adobe Illustrator and I’m in the process of redoing all of my patterns. It’s been a slow job, but I’ve really enjoyed finally learning (and succeeding) at something that really freaked me out for so long (i.e. – anything adobe) I’m currently restitching this pattern (along with a lovely pattern tester from Instagram) and I’m excited to re-release it in the coming weeks.

 

butterflywings
I’m working on a larger stumpwork butterfly. I want this one to be three-dimensional so it will have a felted body – at least that is the plan. It’s been fun watching the wings take shape.

Learning: Letting Go

One of my biggest struggles when I scroll through Instagram are all the lovely photos of what appears to be student led/interest led learning. There are days that I struggle because I know this girl child of mine does not like school. It doesn’t matter where it happens, learning is just not her thing…unless she’s learning what she wants to learn. But still we press on and I try to motivate her by all sorts of different means. And I long for the time when I can see her delve into a subject and get excited about it.

But after finding a branch covered in bracket fungus yesterday, she has spent the morning with a microscope which then led to a nature walk to collect more lichens and fungus from the park. All of these things pushing aside our plan for the day, but bringing to real life all the things we’ve been reading in our science read aloud.

These are the days that I long for and yet when they come I’m so frustrated because my plan has been thwarted. But this is the beauty of it all and while I struggle I also learn to let go. But isn’t that life? We long for something and then when we get it we are frustrated because it disrupts our life.

I’m thankful for these slow days and slower seasons that are teaching me to set aside my plans and open up my heart and life to His.

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Goal Setting: Thoughts on 2017

If there is one goal that I have for 2017 – one little word even – it’s FOCUS. The hardest thing for me to do when I am at home working and homeschooling is staying focused on something…anything! I feel like I drifted through 2016 for lots of reasons. Some of them because I was just avoiding some things emotionally and others because I just had too many distractions.

I have a tendency to become too goal oriented and list makey and then get so overwhelmed by the lists that I just chuck it all. So this year in an effort to try and manage this I am setting goals monthly and ordering my days differently. Such as, I’m going to have laundry days. I know that Mondays Mal and I hate going anywhere and Wednesdays are my low energy days so these are the days we are most likely to be home all day. So those will be the days I get through the laundry piles and make bread etc. Fridays my husband gets off early so I want those to be my grocery store and general “getting out of the house alone” times. Alone being the key word here.

I want to create space in my mornings to write so I’m hoping to get to bed earlier and get up earlier so I have more time to do that. There are other things I’m processing through in order to reduce my distractions online in order to help me write more – but I’m still processing through those. I know that I want to post here more often and so I’m hoping to have at least one day a week where I devote to posting.

I’m still wrestling with my hopes and goals for Etsy and daisyeyes handmade this year. For the time being I’m working on updating all my pdf patterns and I am continuing to take a break from custom orders. If I had one major goal for daisyeyes this year it would be to start offering embroidery kits again and learning how to screen print. I’m crossing my fingers this one becomes a reality. I’d love to do a video component to my website – offering instruction for adults and kids, but I’m not sure how that might play out.

Garment sewing and working through the Wardrobe Architect project is another huge aspiration. I got the Colette Sewing Planner for Christmas so I’m working through that and I’m loving it.

Here’s my top 6 items I want to sew this winter:

 

I’ve got hopes for my kiddos to get them helping out more around the house and I’m hoping we can establish a little more rhythm to those things and just our family in general.  All of us thrive on routine and when the routine gets out of wack we all get out of wack so realizing that I’m hopeful we can remedy that a little bit.

And if you need a good kick in the pants reminder that doing anything takes effort and hard work – this is a great read.

This light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17–18)

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