2016 projects, Completed (with project notes), General, Uncategorized

Spats Complete

20160907_074409
Sassy!

What a weird little project but honestly? I love them. They are a bit funny and my husband “doesn’t understand” but I think they are great. I also know I’ll be using them because I have some shoes, two pairs in fact, that are extremely comfortable and fine but are slip-ons/backless. That doesn’t work for me because I basically exist in leggings and skirts all fall, winter, and spring. I need booties, not backless shoes. These little spats make those shoes totally wearable with leggings now. I actually think they make the shoes look better in general.

 

As always, I have some notes:

20160907_074307
A poorly photographed heel loop
  • I used Red Heart Super Saver in black. I used this for two reasons. 1) it is cheap acrylic I had kicking around and would have no problem tossing them in the bin if they didn’t work out 2) it is cheap, hard wearing acrylic that I can toss in the washer when they inevitably get dirty.
  • I knit them in a 2×2 rib. When I did my increases I added to the first knit ridge until I added 4 (on each side), which then allowed me to break it off into 2×2 ribbing again.
  • They JUUUUUUST fit to the top of my ankle but frankly I should have knit them to be longer. What can I say, I was impatient. Future spats (of which there shall be many) will be taller, perhaps even with enough length for a folded over cuff.
  • I had heels in mind when I knit these, especially my two pairs of slip on heels, and I wanted to make sure the spats would stay in place. I crocheted a loop into the back of each spat large enough to slip over the heel and slide (snugly) to the top of the heel. This works brilliantly.

 

20160907_074254
SPATS!
General, Sewing, Uncategorized

Wool Coat Repair

12313581_10156329548615603_8403725211885493968_n
My unflattering but entirely toasty “Super Cold Weather” winter coat, saved for playing in the snow and days of excessive windchill. 

I live in Atlantic Canada, and it gets super cold and snowy here. A proper winter coat (or two or three) is key to survival. I have a big multi-layer water proof wind proof snow proof movement proof coat that I use for REALLY cold days (-30 and below) but for just normal cold days I generally wear my wool coat.

Oh how uninspiring this coat is. I got it at the Gap maybe 3 years ago for maybe 40$, which is NOTHING for a winter coat, but I guess you get what you pay for…

Behold….

20150207_123722
Such a snore! And totally unflattering! Where is my waist?!

It is outstandingly boring and not very flattering. It has always been a bit big on me (not generally a bad thing for a winter coat because that allows you to layer under it) but the main problem is the utter lack of any sort of tailoring/shaping. Believe it or not, I have a waist but damned if you can see it when I’m wearing this coat!!!
At the end of last winter this coat finally gave up the ghost. The lining had been in tatters for a while, and the pockets had holes and I had to reattach most of the buttons at one time or another, but when the entire shoulder seam split open I declared it dead. “FINALLY!” I thought to myself, because I am much too cheap to buy a new winter coat unless it is truly necessary. Also, plus size winter coats are just… ugly. And unflattering. I’m sorry, but no plus size woman wants to wear big giant shapeless puffy coats with tacky faux fur lined hoods, and yet that seems to be the majority of what stores offer.
M6800_aSince I’m getting into sewing my own clothes, my genius plan was to make my own winter coat. This coat specifically (McCall’s M6800). I had a brilliant plan to make the version with the hi-low bottom and have a truly fabulous lining that would show, making the coat spectacular in its eye-catching-ness and general beauty. But I’m cautious. Wool coat material is pretty expensive and I didn’t want to spend the money only to have it turn out awful, so I asked my sew talented mother if I was being nuts to think this was a good idea.

Long story short, yes, my mother thought I was nuts.

Heartbroken doesn’t quite capture my sadness, but I trust my mother’s judgement on this. I’m sure in time it will be a task I could take on, but maybe not yet.

So what to do about a winter coat! I refuse to be saddled with an ugly coat all winter (again), but I also hate spending money needlessly, so I have come up with the following solution:

I am going to fix my old coat. I’m going to take it all apart, do a bit of tailoring to bring in the waist a bit to give me some shape, I’m going to remove the annoying button tabs on the shoulders that my purse gets stuck on every single time, and I’m going to re-line it. I got the lining fabric today, and it is FAAAAAAAAAAAABULOUS. Or ugly. Can’t decide, but either way I love it. It is bright purple with red blood splatters! Shockingly, it was in the clearance section of my local Fabricville, but it is appropriately slippery for a lining, and just stupid enough of a pattern to crack me up and make this whole endeavor a lot more appealing. Plus, only 6$.

The way I see it, if I screw this project up the worst I am out is 6$ and some time because if I don’t fix the coat I’ll have to buy a new one regardless, right?

This weekend is going to be fairly sew-heavy it seems. I want to at least get a start on my coat, but I also have to sew a shirt dress for myself. It is a test run before my “Sew Spectacular” weekend with my cousin next weekend where we’re both going to sew up a storm.

DIY Projects, General, Redecorating, Step parenting, Uncategorized

Redeco: Rubik’s Cube Room Murals

Rubik's Cube wall mural
My giant Rubik’s Cube mural. So proud of it!

I have been a busy step-mom. My kid is off camping with his bio-mom so I took the opportunity to redo his room. First step, obviously, was painting the walls, banishing the horrid bright yellow from my home. His room is now the same colour as my sanctuary, which is a nice soothing grey (Sherwin Williams Serious Grey). I love this grey so much, to me it is the perfect grey. Not too dark, but still dark enough to feel cosy. Very neutral undertone – not overly warm or overly cool, though I would say if anything it edges towards a slightly cooler undertone. It is a wonderful colour.

Anyway, with the walls painted I then started working on phase two, which was the main event.

My large hand painted murals of Rubik’s Cubes.

Yes, I am insane. And yes, they were fussy and a lot of work, but frankly not as much work as I was expecting.

Here are the steps I took to get this done:

  1. Located and purchased an overhead projector. I was able to get mine second hand off of Kijiji for 40$.
  2. Printed off black and white pictures of Rubik’s cubes.
  3. Traced the pictures on to transparent sheets. (I actually couldn’t find proper transparency sheets, so I just used those clear sheet protectors instead. Made tracing really easy. Just put the page I was tracing in the sleeve, traced it using a Sharpie, and then took the page back out.
  4. Projected the image on to the wall using my projector and traced sheet.
  5. OPTIONAL: Trace the outline in pencil. I only did this for the first one but frankly didn’t feel it helped, so for the second one I just painted from the projection rather than the tracing. Worked well.
  6. Paint the projection on to the wall. I used a matte black paint that we had left over from when I painted our movie theatre room. I found I did need to do a second coat.

DONE!

Rubik's Cube wall mural
Only 2.5 feet high, but glow in the dark too!

The “exploding” smaller one was the first one I did and is about 2 and a half feet high. I think my projector was at a bit of an angle because the cube is sliiiiiiiiiiiiiightly distorted but it still looks good. Doesn’t hurt that I have also painted the inside of the squares in glow in the dark paint. FUN!

The larger one is about 4 and a half feet high and looks way better, in part because it is bigger and therefore the lines and curves were way easier to paint. Small mistakes aren’t so apparent.

And let me be clear, these are NOT perfect. But they are hand painted with love. He’ll always know that I, his loving step mom, painted them using her own two hands. Every imperfect corner and squiggly line just speaks to my having done it myself. Anyone could have purchased a peel-and-stick wall decal. I HAND PAINTED mine, so clearly I win. 😉

Rubik's Cube Curtain Tie-backSo with the murals done I just have final details to finish up. I hung some new curtains and made Rubik’s Cube curtain holder-backer things using some inexpensive slightly broken cubes given to me by a friend/co-worker. Same friend is 3D printing me some glow-in-the-dark cube stands as well, which is extremely awesome. I still have to suspend some Star Wars models we have from the ceiling. And I have some more things to make glow in the dark, like the ceiling fan blades. Small details. The room looks awesome though. I’m really pleased.

 

#workconversations, General, Uncategorized

Don’t insult the hair

Manager to the guy in the cube beside me: So Alan, can you come work on this other project for a few months? [in a stage whisper] Unfortunately you’ll have to work with Lesley again.

Alan: [also stage whispering] Oh man, well, that would be pretty awful. I don’t know.

20160829_150229
My hair really does look good today. Plus, new lipstick! (NYX Indie Flick!)

[they both look over at me. I am oblivious.]

Manager: … does she have her headphones on? Lesley?

Me: Huh?

Manager: You’re missing the jokes and teasing!

Me: Dude, I am deaf to insults and teasing at this point. Unless you insult my hair. Insult my hair and trust me I’ll be paying attention.

Manager: Your hair actually looks quite nice today.

Me: I know. I’m amazing. [goes back to work]

 

2016 projects, Cross Stitch, General, Uncategorized

Mario cross-stitch complete!

13717239_10157181971195603_2490675778638601622_o (1)TA DAAAAAAAAAA! Totally turned out awesome, amirite? For my first cross stitch I feel it was pretty flipping successful, and I am happy to say it has been framed and hung with pride in my guest washroom.

So my thoughts in general on this project:

  • I missed a row in his legs. It isn’t a big deal and incredibly hard to notice if I didn’t tell you, and even after I tell you you still may not be able to see it. But yeah… missed a row.
  • Finishing this project was supremely satisfying in the same way that finishing a large knitting project is supremely satisfying, except that this only took me two weeks.
  • Cross stitch is pretty portable and in some ways more portable than knitting (especially compared to my sock yarn blanket, which is oh so not portable)
  • Cross stitch FOs are rather more understood and appreciated by the public at large in a way that knitting just isn’t. In terms of HOURS this probably took me as much time as, say, my Rainbow mitts or my bonnet, but people’s response to those two items were decidedly less enthusiastic and “wow” than their response was to this. And in terms of complexity/effort/skill required, this was a lot easier than the other two. Just, you know… stitching exes over and over.
  • Its a fun activity, but little too “pay attention”-y. Hard to do while watching something on the TV. Listening to TV? Sure. Watching? Not so much.

 

I will cross stitch again (I have already started a new Harry Potter cross stitch), I like that the end result can be hung up and displayed for all to see, but I don’t see it ever replacing knitting as my true love.

2016 projects, Completed (with project notes), General, Real Life, Uncategorized

Welcome Back Mittens

14034838_10157336521250603_2674321381275197185_nSaturday this past weekend I just… needed to knit. I haven’t really had a knitty frame of mind for a few months. Maybe it is because I had sort of overdosed on knitting and my brain just needed a break from it. Whatever the reason, I haven’t knit much in months and had been focusing on other crafts/hobbies to fill the huge gaping void that knitting usually held in my life.

But then saturday, something changed…

[pullquote]Lesley’s Basic Mittens

US9 Needles

Patton’s Shetland Chunky in “Blue Jeans” colourway

  • Magic CO 18 (9 on each needle)
  • KFB the first stitch on each needle, knitting the rest (increasing by 2 each round) until there is 28 stitches total (14 on each needle)
  • K until the bottom edge reaches where thumb meets palm, but the other side also easily stretches to the bottom of palm
  • 6 stitch afterthought thumb
  • K another inch or two, until the mitten top reaches wrist plus a bit
  • 2×2 ribbing for 4 inches or so.
  • stretchy bind off
  • pick up stitches for thumb. Pick up 2 in each corner to close gap but knit those 2 together. If it still looks gappy do it again the next round to close gaps.
  • knit until reaches the top of the thumb, then do rounds of K2tog until 2 stitches left. Pull end through those stitches.
  • Weave in ends.

[/pullquote]

I had a craving for yarn and clicking needles.

I went to my stash… oh my lovely stash… and pawed through it all. I delighted in textures and colours and breathed deeply in the sheepy perfume of my more rustic wool blends. I rubbed various skeins against my face (the only TRUE way to feel yarn as far as I am concerned). I unearthed some long-dormant projects (like my Stripes Gone Crazy sweater) and tsk’d at my failure to show them the respect they deserved. As I mentally re-inventoried I was reminded of all the projects and plans I had made for all of these various yarns and my knitter passion was set aflame once more. Hell, it is a damned blowtorch.

Note the lack of comma in the subject line. I’m not welcoming back mittens. That would be silly. I’m Canadian; mittens are a mainstay in my life and to welcome them back would imply they left at some point. See? Silly. No, what I am referring to is “Welcome Back Mittens”, the mittens I made to welcome myself back into knitting.

14053945_10157336521195603_176939692907972448_nAre they simple? Yep. Dead basic top down mitten with an afterthought thumb. No pattern, no plan. No fancy colour work, cables, or techniques.  Nothing new or complicated or challenging to see here. Just plain old mittens. But hot damn, I made them and I finished them in no time and they are awesome. And for once, they are the same size. When I wing things that come in pairs (mittens, socks, etc) they NEVER end up the same size, but these? These are PERFECTLY THE SAME SIZE. Even the thumbs are the same size!

This has to be a sign.

The knitting gods smiled upon me, friends, and welcomed me back.

General, Outfits, Real Life, Uncategorized

Lipstick Obsession


So,… red lipstick. I only started wearing lipstick about a year ago. Sure, I owned a couple tubes of super bland “natural” colours that I occasionally wore when I went out to a bar or something, but even then I was more likely to swipe on the Blistex and call it done. Now, though, I’m all about the lipstick. The switch happened when I accepted a new job. I decided since I was an unknown there that it was the perfect time to redefine myself and establish a new personal style. My best friend suggested red lipstick, not because she wears it herself but because she thought it would suit me.

She was correct.

20150718_215700.jpg
This was my first attempt at wearing red lipstick. This is where it all began… (NXY Perfect Red)

I started wearing every day red lipstick when I started my new job. At first I felt weird about it, worried that I wasn’t pulling it off and that I looked stupid. I had to sort of force myself to put it on, do a bit of a “be brave!” self pep talk every day, but before long the red lip felt very natural. Now I feel a bit naked without lipstick. Well, maybe not naked, but definitely unfinished.

Because it is me, and because I get obsessive about things, I have since amassed a moderately large collection of lipsticks. Most of them are bold bright reds since that is the colour I wear most often, but since summer hit I have found the red lipstick a bit harder to match with my outfits, so I have added some hot pinks and corals to my collection.

13880155_10157287736970603_8980495916897582526_n13912380_10157287737065603_8803406513473063310_n

Lipstick is funny. I mean, I went from being uncomfortable wearing it to now feeling weird without it. I do still own a couple natural/nude shades because sometimes it is fun to shake it up, but in general if I’m not wearing red I’m wearing a bright pink. I’ve been lucky so far because pretty much every shade I have purchased has looked good on me (or so I feel). I don’t do well with more purple-y shades I have found, though I do have a couple that edge towards that blue undertone that still work. I actually seem to be able to wear both red undertones and yellow undertones, though the warmer shades do seem to suit me better. I actually own a couple shades that are damned near orange and absolutely love them. And yet one of my favourite pinks (Milani Fruit Punch) is on the more blue side of things but looks really good. Weird.

 

So after a year of lipsticks I have come to the following conclusions:

  1. Lipstick is super fun to wear, but it isn’t for everyone. It does take effort to make sure you aren’t smearing it all over your face, especially if you are a face-toucher.
  2. For me, matte lipsticks are better than shiny/glossy ones.
  3. It is really easy to justify purchasing a new lipstick, hence my ever growing collection.
  4. Straws are your best friend.
  5. If you wear red lipstick other people seem to think one of two things: That you’re a hussy, or that you are super put together.
  6. NYX and Milani are flipping great brands and oh so affordable. BIG fan.
Depression, General, Health, Outfits, Real Life, Uncategorized

I’ll take my victories wherever I can get them…

Current status:

  • Weight Watchers: Derailed entirely thanks to my being on vacation and out of town for most of the past 2 weeks.
  • Current Weight: Somewhere between a full grown buffalo and a blue whale
  • Depression and Anxiety: VERY poorly managed (but have an appointment to see my doctor about it next week)
  • Coping Mechanisms: Eating my feelings

 

I’m basically a wreck, but I’m still managing to pull myself together enough to look like I’m a functioning human being. I’m really got the whole “fakin’ it” thing down pat. Capture.PNG

General, House, Redecorating, Uncategorized

The Nook is finally done, for real this time

13614947_10157203093885603_2783870602323498588_n
My 2$ decorating solution!

The Nook is done. I feel totally happy with it now and am declaring it a finished room. The main outstanding thing had been the wall above the loveseat. It really needed SOMETHING, and I had been thinking a large mirror, but there is something odd about having a mirror that faces directly out a window opposite it. Then yesterday, while my husband was duitifully cleaning out our garage, I saw these old dollar store plastic screen things I had purchased maybe 8 years ago, back when I was single…

PERFECT!

They are just the thing to break up the wall, add a bit of visual interest, but still keep the impact of the indigo walls. They cost 2$ back in the day when I bought them, so to say this was an inexpensive solution would be an understatement. Seriously, the dollar store can be a solid place for decorating if you are choosy and creative.

The other thing I did was reorganize the plants. The nook gets a TON of sunlight and is a perfect spot to have lots of plants and a sort of lush feel about it. I got a bunch of plants from my parents who arguably had too many and were appreciative of the opportunity to offload some of them. So with those plants, the few very sad plants we had in the old out, and the tall money tree my husband bought to go in the corner (20$!! Thank you Costco!!), we had a good collection to fill that room with. I repotted a bunch of them, dividing the ones that had long since outgrown their pots, and moved some about, and the finished room is pretty wonderful.

General, Health, Marriage, Real Life, Uncategorized

Married couples share everything… including stomach bugs. :(

nosharingMy husband oh so generously infected me with his stomach bug, just in time for him to make a miraculous recovery. I’m glad he’s feeling better but I’m pretty unhappy. Stomach churny and nauseated. Jonathan feels bad for infecting me, but no way could he have known and I know he didn’t intend to. It is just part of sharing a home with people, passing sicknesses back and forth. Luckily Noah is with his bio-mom this week so he should be spared this particular bug. And I will recover, this isn’t the end of the world, but in the mean time I’m working from home today, doing what I can, but I feel pretty crap and don’t anticipate having the most productive day in the world.

A side effect of this bug is that I have sort of let WW go by the wayside while I have been sick, and basically just been focusing on eating what doesn’t make me feel like I’m going to die. On top of that, come this weekend I will be on vacation for a week, and while I will try to make good choices I am well aware that won’t always be possible. Basically, WW is on hold for the next two weeks. 😦