P.S. More Backpacks!!!

As promised....

Back in September a group of sewing buddies got together to make backpacks.  We spent one VERY long day and finally the group mutinied, cried "uncle" and said they would come back for a second day to finish up the project.  I was super proud that they really hung in there through a whole bunch of zippers and pockets, but it really is more than a one day sew. ....to be continued....

Three of the "packers" were planning trips before the second round sewing day was scheduled, so we had an 'emergency' sewing session to get their packs ready for the road.

This color blocked version is made with nylon ripstop in bright, happy colors.  It turned out great and weighs almost nothing!

This canvas pack has a darling butterfly lining.  (and yes, the bottom of the pack did get finished!)

The maker of this pack never shies away from a challenge.  She quilted several pieces of her pack before sewing them together.  I think she only went through one package of heavy duty needles!!!

...on another fine day later in October....The Bag Ladies got back together to finish their backpacks. I am very pleased to say that everyone went home wearing a newly minted pack!  Each one was perfectly suited to its maker and ready for lots of travels.

These lovely periwinkle and purple packs are made with water proof raincoat fabric.  It's light weight and keeps everything inside nice and dry!


Two more rainwear packs...this time in tailored navy with fun aqua straps and a classic "LBP"  (little black pack!)

This pack uses the same nylon print throughout which is lovely, however!...its' owner has the dubious honor of "most unsewing during the workshop!"  Because all the pieces were the same, sometimes the wrong ones ended up getting sewn together....oops!  Note for future packs, choose different fabrics!  I am very proud that even with all the ripping, the pack turned out beautifully and the maker is recovering nicely.  
She hasn't, however, committed to making another pack at this point.😏

"Hey, did we show up at the party with the same backpack?!"

...not quite...here we have another version of the "LBP" and a great mid century modern bark cloth print with cool rose gold colored zippers.  One of our crew arranged to have all the zippers and hardware for the workshop made into kits.  We used wonderful zippers and buckles from Sallie Tomato.  If you need bag making supplies this is a great website.  The zippers, particularly are excellent and come in a wonderful selection of colors.

I also finished my workshop pack...I had one that I was using to demonstrate with and I didn't want to be the only one who didn't finish her backpack....I really love the hardware on this one.  I got it at the Farm and Family in the horse bridle department!!!!  It also has an additional side pocket for sunglasses.  I don't think the group would have sat still for one more pocket! 😡

It was a challenging couple of sewing days, but everyone stuck with it and the results are terrific!  All the packs are different, but the one thing that everyone agreed on was what fun it is to sew together.  We just don't do it often enough!  I can't wait to see where all of these packs go.....to be continued....


Knitting Season Comes Early

It's here!!!!!   ⛄⛄⛄⛄⛄😩 I'm not ready!  My Japanese Maple wasn't ready either.....
it seems to be holding onto its leaves just to spite the weather Gods!  I love the defiance!

When the snow shows up the knitting needles come out.  I love sitting and watching the snow from the coziness of my living room.  (not so happy about going out and struggling through it!)  I make a fire, a cup of tea, and snuggle in and knitting just seems to be the thing to do.

I have been learning a new cast on.  I have been using a 'long tail' cast on since I started knitting...I didn't even really know there were actually dozens of cast ons that I could be doing.  A knitting friend showed me her new favorite book and I was smitten! 

I went right to Amazon and got my own copy (delivered super speedy the next day!)  It has all kinds of great cast ons AND bind offs, again, I never knew!  The instructions are great and accompanied by very clear photos.  And if I get really stuck I just head over to You Tube and somebody has made a video.  I am having fun!

The project I am working on right now is a 'left overs' project.  I have several different yarns all not quite enough for anything on their own, but gang them all up and BAM, a sweater....I hope! 

There is a lovely alpaca yarn that was hand spun by a friend for my birthday.  It is kind of a dark caramel color.  Then there are a few balls of a grey alpaca, no clue when or how they ended up in my stash.  And to make up the yardage, a couple of balls of black alpaca.  I must have been on an alpaca kick at some point. 

I really loved my recent project (here) that was worked in one by one stripes in the round.  I thought the caramel and grey alpaca would look super together.  I started with a tubular cast on, 😝in black and then started knitting stripes.  It sounds so easy when I say it like that.  Actually, I think I wore out the yarn knitting and un-knitting it to get the cast on right!!!!  I finally think I have it and when it's right, it looks simply marvelous and it is really stretchy!

I have no idea if I have enough yarn to get an entire sweater, I may be back scrounging in my stash for yet another orphaned alpaca before it's all said and done.  For now, I am enjoying the stripes.

I did finish a couple of knitting projects in time for "sweater weather."  Again, both of them are alpaca!  I guess I'm just a sucker for the soft, soft softness of the little critters.  The first project is a sweater that I actually followed a pattern! 😳  Yes, I downloaded a pattern from Ravelry and followed the instructions as written...mostly!😏  You can see the pattern HERE.  It's called Clara and it was the really cool bands that I fell in love with when I saw it.  (and the slouchy, oversized fit, and the fact that it goes down in the back over the tush....well, you know, pretty much everything about it!)  The whole thing is knitted or picked up and knit so when you get to the end you are done!  I love that!  And I love my sweater.  It is as cozy as the critters that donated the fiber!


(my attempt at and 'arty' sweater photo...)

The second project is one that I saw at my local yarn haunt and the only way I could get the yarn was to buy the 'kit'...so I bought the kit.  It was a ball of green/black alpaca (of course) and a pattern for a darned cute floppy hat.  

I tried out my new favorite tubular cast on, and I only had to do it twice!  Progress!  The hat was very straight forward, but it was knit on size 3, yes you heard that right, size 3 needles!  Yikes!  It was like knitting with toothpicks!  But the resulting hat is wonderful!  It is light weight and really warm.  A new favorite for sure.  And it looks stunning with the Wingspan scarf I knit a few years ago.


So knitting season is off and running.  I usually run out of steam just before I finish the second sleeve, so we'll see how it goes.  Maybe since we got our first dump of snow on Halloween!!!!#%*^# the knitting season will be extended this year and I'll get all the way through a whole sweater!


A Little Bit of Fall Color

Like all of the seasons this year, Fall has been a bit different.  By this time in most years we would be enjoying blazing red maples and golden oaks in every direction.  But things are staying pretty green and I'm thinking we may just go from green to bare on the first blustery day.

I did get the chance to take in some fall color on our recent road trip around Lake Huron.  Our color timing was perfect  as we rounded the north end of the lake in Ontario.  Crisp mornings, sunny afternoons, a bit of rain just to remind us that winter is just around the corner.  It was just the break I needed and really got me in the mood for fall.  And fall sewing.

I'm never sure which is my favorite...'wool season' or 'linen season.'  I guess it depends which end of winter I am sitting at!  But right now I am all about the wool.  For several years now I have been saying that I need to make a new travel jacket.  I have a Michael Kors black wool knit jacket that I have worn for years when I travel.  It is just the right length, just the right weight, I can sleep in it on the plane and then wear it out to a fancy restaurant...it just works!  However, it is starting to show the years and the miles.  I realized that I will keep on wearing it unless there is something to take its place.  I'm heading out to Sonoma for Thanksgiving so I decided that now was the time to get 'er done!

It wasn't that hard to find a candidate in my stash.  I collect wool jerseys the way quilters collect fat quarters, so I had plenty of options.  I chose a bottle green wool jersey that is quite heavy.  I hoped that it would give me the tailored look that my old jacket has without having to add much structure.  I had made the Merchant and Mills Ottoline (read about it here) jacket earlier this year out of an Italian linen and really loved the style and fit.  With a few tweaks I knew I could make it work for the travel jacket I had in mind.  Because I had such a specific idea in my head I was a bit nervous about whether I would end up with what I wanted or end up disappointed and still wearing my old black jacket.  But I am happy to say that it turned out just great!  I am so pleased with it.


First Ottoline on the left...second Ottoline on the right.  There is a family resemblance!

I did start with the Ottoline, but made quite a few changes.  I put a zipper instead of buttons.  I didn't even consider trying to put button holes in the heavy jersey.  I covered the zipper tape and the collar seam with a narrow Petersham ribbon to finish the inside since the jacket is unlined.  I used snaps at the cuffs and vents, again to avoid button holes!  I lengthened the jacket to just cover my tushy, which is one of the things I like about my old jacket.  The pockets have a round corner and a square corner and I added little brass rivets for fun.  And there is a little baby 'pocket' on the back yoke.  I used a lighter weight wool to line the yoke so it wouldn't get too bulky.


I can't wait to try it out on my trip to California.  I think it will be just the ticket!

While I was in the travel mode I decided to try and make a version of my go to travel shirt.  I have a whole drawerful of Smartwool quarter zip shirts that have become the only shirts I pack anymore.  Again, perfect weight, go wherever I want to go and so easy to wash and dry on the road.

For my shirt I found an absolutely gorgeous cranberry colored jersey.  Again I was nervous that I wouldn't get what was in my head, but the sewing Gods were watching out for me and it is just what I I had in mind.  Two for two...it was a good couple of sewing days!

Most of my Smartwool shirts have exposed zippers, but the only zipper I had that matched was an invisible one, so that's what I used.  I had to put a seam in the center front to accommodate the zipper and I really like the finished look.

I'm pretty proud of the matching job I did at the center front collar seam and I didn't even get one of those annoying dimples at the bottom of my invisible zipper!

I had such great success with my two new travel pieces that I am working on a third...it's a dress that I think I can wear as a jumper with the shirt...we'll see if the sewing Gods hang in there!  They do say three's a charm!  Even if the dress crashes and burns, I am ready to roll with my Smartwool quarter zip and my wool jersey jacket.  Bring on the TSA!


Remnants and Bargains

Just so you don't get the idea that I have completely fallen off the planet into the 'backpack twilight zone'......

...I have finished a couple of other projects....OK...so one of the other projects is a bag!  I guess I just can't help myself.

I was at the lake house and didn't have much in the way of projects, but I did have a couple of remnant pieces that I had picked up just because they looked like they should be together in something.  The something turned out to be a tote bag. 

...am I right?  The fabrics really do need to be together....and of course, I didn't have enough of either one to make the lining so I decided to have some fun....

I love the hot pink on the inside!  I used bias cut strips of a coordinating linen to make the straps and put some rivets at the pressure points to make them stronger.  Right now it is on probation as my knitting bag...we'll see...

Speaking of knitting πŸ˜‰...We have a lovely Fiber Festival here the middle weekend of August and I get all inspired.   I figure I better finish the old projects before the shiny new ones suck up all the attention!  So sometime around the middle of August, I usually haul out the knitting projects that I started in the wintery months that got put aside for the summer.  I make one last stab at finishing them in time for the next round of wintery months.  If they don't make it, I figure I better just frog 'em and start again.

This year's UFO was an amazing alpaca cardigan that just needed one more sleeve...technically it still isn't finished, but I figure putting snaps on isn't technically knitting, so I'm counting it!  (I have yet to get a picture of it so that will have to wait as well.)  BUT...feeling all righteous about a finished project, I dove into another one right away....feeling even more righteous, because I was using stashed yarn!

My cardigan was a rather large project on small needles, I wanted an easy, fast, instant gratification type project.  Nothing that was going to hang around for too long.  Big yarn on big needles!!!!! 

I'm sure the yarn that I pulled out came from the sale basket in a darling little yarn shoppe somewhere, but heck if I can remember.  I'm making this assumption based on the red lines through the original prices and new, lower prices written in the same red ink, AND the fact that there were three colors of said bargain yarn, none of which was enough for a sweater.   The yarn was however, BIG.  And really soft and cozy.  A blend of wool, silk and cashmere, yum!  I watched a You Tube about "jogless color changing" and started knitting....I really didn't have much of a plan.  I just kept making decisions when I would run out of yarn...I am rather fond of the result!

Having finished a UFO and used up a wad of my stash yarn, I felt quite justified in loading up at the fiber festival!  ...and I made sure I will have enough to make a whole sweater this time!


Look Out! I'm Packing!

I recovered from "The Month of Pants" just in time to start on "The Month of Backpacks!" 

You may remember back sometime in the spring I made myself...yet, another travel pack. (read about HERE.)  It was part of my never ending search for the perfect backpack.  The one that does everything short of packing itself!!!   I'm thinking all this pack making may actually qualify as a 'disorder' at this point....there may even be medication that I could get...Hmmmmmm? 

It surprises me as much as anyone!  I have never been much for sewing home dec stuff, or quilting, or anything that didn't end up on a hanger in my closet, so this fascination  (alright, obsession!!!!) with backpacks came out of nowhere!  But it has hit hard!

The quest for the perfect combination of pockets, and figuring out how to connect the straps and the HARDWARE!!!!  OOOO, I really love hunting for hardware.  I have been haunting every Ace Hardware in three counties!  Did you know that horse bridle D-rings and hooks make great backpack hardware??? 

And don't even get me started on marine hardware!  Yes, I think we are definitely into 'disorder' territory.

So when my Sewing Guild pals asked if I would help them make backpacks....duh!!!  Let's go!

Once the date was set and everyone had the instructions for cutting out the thousand pieces for their packs, I started to get nervous.  I realized that there are a lot of things that I do automatically when I'm sewing that I was going to have to 'splain to people so they could do it.  That's when the "Month of Backpacks" really heated up.  I decided the best way to figure out how to explain it was to DO it!  Several times!

My son had requested a pack and since his birthday was just around the corner, I made a 'guy-ish' version for him....


A sewing buddy wanted to try it, so we made 'matching' packs.  We both fell in love with the same fabric, so we decided we would just have to call each other and flip for who gets to bring their pack when we go out together.😝

And yes....matching the print was an issue!

I realized that one of the things that the ASG members were interested in was the front pockets for maps and water bottles.  I needed to try them out again....I thought this high contrast, raincoat fabric version would be easy for people to see the different parts and pieces...


This one is made with fabric that came from my first trip to London, eons ago.  It was supposed to make covers for my dining room chairs, but we moved before I got to them and the fabric has been following me around ever since.  Please check out the matching on the back pockets!  Pretty proud of that!


You might think that I would have it down by now.....but, after the sewing session with the ASG folks, I had a whole bunch of new ideas and changes that I thought would make it easier to construct, sooooo, I had to try them out....

All the pieces cut and ready to go.....
And the finished pack complete with map and water bottle pockets!
(and yes I will have to call my son if we decide to travel together!  I used the left overs from his backpack.)


BUT!!!!!!  Here are the packs that I am most proud to share!  These are the ones that were made by some of the ASG members during our backpack sewing session.  There are several others that will be finished later in October when we get together again, and I will add them to this post when they are completed and ready to travel.  

It was a really long day and we still have some work to do to get to the finish line.  But everyone is really hanging in there.  This is not a beginner project!!!  It takes lots of 'splaining and major levels of patience with their 'teacher,' but we are getting through it.  I love how each one is a reflection of the maker's personality.  Sew much fun!