Nyssa Jayne Makes It! on shoesandblues.com

i got u a cat

I work in customer service, where interacting with an upset customer can turn a day into an absolute bummer.  My workmates and I will rally around each other, and send each other animal gifs and YouTube clips to raise a smile.  Actually, you know what, sometimes we do it anyway because who can resist a cat gif?  We can’t.

My boss Kerryn showed workmate Fiona and I this cartoon on the eve of her birthday:

The best of Tumblr.

(I did some research so that I could cite this correctly, and it appears that this series of cartoons is actually an exercise in reblogging on Tumblr.  Some of the Tumblrs mentioned in the graphic don’t exist anymore, but the final post, with the complete set of images, still appears to be available here.  I compiled the images together from this Imgur post.)

So on Kerryn’s birthday, Fiona and I arranged this series of gifts for Kerryn.  Tina had balloons, Mira had the cake, and Fiona even made the trip to Officeworks to print off a Ryan Gosling.  I was in charge of the cat.

Chilling out on a record player.

I didn’t really twig until later that the kitty in the cartoon didn’t have a white belly.  The cat I had in my head was Fiona’s cat Weasley.

Sleazly the Wondercat!

The pattern is from Best in Show: Knit Your Own Cat (thanks for the gift, Kathryn!), and although there is a ginger cat pattern, I opted to knit the standing kitten pattern.  I used left over fuzzy acrylics I had in my stash, and the majority of this kitty was made up (I almost wrote “compiled” — too much coding for me!) while waiting for my aging computer to put together some of my uni assignments.

He was quite a quick make, but the putting him together was fiddly.  However, I’ve knit a couple of cats now, and I think that this pattern is the most cat-like pattern I’ve come across, which made it very satisfying.  Neil said that, “this looks exactly like the picture in the book!  It even has the weird shaped head of the cat in the book!”  On future cats, I might try and think of ways to round out the head a little more.  (I’ve photographed him with some MySpace angles here to bring out his good side).

I should mention the gift was a success, there’s plenty of photos of Kerryn grinning manically from behind cake and balloons.  There was also a photo of Ryan Gosling riding the cat, which I think is a compliment.

May 27th, 2013 | 1 Comment
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The Last Twelve Weeks

A semester is twelve weeks long at RMIT (and most other tertiary institutions I imagine).  Over the last twelve weeks, I’ve been doing a lot of this:

Mobile Application homework.

That’s a snippet of an app I’m writing for an Android device in one of my classes.  It’s a little bit like sewing — you have all these pieces, and you think to yourself, how on earth does that go together?  Then slowly, you watch it take shape, you have little lightbulb moments where you think, “of course!” and before too long, it’s 3am and there’s a whole lot of stuff you’ll fix tomorrow, but it’s finally done.

Well, I’m almost done anyway.  Then it’s back to pictures of garments, cats and rockstars!

May 21st, 2013 | 1 Comment
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The Ballad of Rocky and Adrian

When the crew attend music festivals, we take along two hobby horses, Rocky and Adrian.  Both horses used to talk if you squeezed their ears, but after much partying and time spent in Michael’s shed, they eventually lost their voices.

After Meredith, I wanted to help them out, so I fixed up their voiceboxes.  Adrian (the first horse in the video) just needed some solder on the speaker that is her voicebox.  Rocky’s voicebox required replacing altogether.  I did plan on taking apart an existing toy, but couldn’t find any to sacrifice.  I ended up at a certain factory where you might create your own stuffed companion and they sold me a “voicebox” on its own (of course, they called it something naff like “heartbeat”).

Check out the ponies in action!  Adrian comes on first, then Rocky.

This post will be going live at about the same time we put the finishing touches on our tents at Golden Plains this weekend, where I’m sure everyone is very excited to hear what Rocky and Adrian have to say.

March 9th, 2013 | No Comments
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Mollie Wants Her Elephant

I was doing some regular Tuesday night type stuff the other day, like freaking out with Neil about having no more episodes of ‘Community’ to watch, when I noticed an elephant had taken up residence on our record collection.

Holy shit an elephant.

Okay, that’s a lie, I knitted the elephant and then posed it on top of the records.

Did you know that elephants like to watch 'Community'?

That’s a picture of the elephant watching TV.

The pattern is Flo The Elephant from Knitty, and if I’m completely honest with you, it was about as much fun to knit as dental surgery.  It felt like it would never be finished.  I think I started it a year or two ago, but in an attempt to finish up some old projects, I pulled it out and seamed it up.

Yeah yeah yeah you're cute.

I’ve decided to give it the daughter of some friends of mine.  Mollie is the first baby of my group of friends, perhaps the only for awhile, so she is getting lots of cuddles and cute things from her “aunties” and “uncles” (her Mum and Dad’s crew).  And while she won’t be a baby for long, the toy is baby proofed — there are no buttons or pieces that can fall off, all the details are embroidered instead.  I was pretty faithful to the pattern, except for the tail, which is an I-cord and not a flat piece seamed up.

It’s always good to finish up a project, especially one that has been lingering so long and been annoying me so much.  Fingers crossed the little one likes it!

February 11th, 2013 | 2 Comments
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A New Lease on Life, Part One

When my grandmother passed away a few years ago, I was in charge of sorting through her clothes.  I took a lot of them home initially as you can imagine, because it’s hard to make snap decisions about sentimental things, and ever since I’ve slowly filtered through the garments.

Lots of them were worn out, some didn’t suit me, and some didn’t fit me.  I have managed to donate the bulk of them, but I did come across some floral day dresses that were clearly handmade. The bodices are badly damaged on them and even if I could salvage them, none of them would fit me.  However, the skirts on the dresses are fine, and as the material is gathered or pleated on all the dresses, it means there is enough fabric to work with.

Gran loved to recycle, that she would turn old rubber gloves into rubber bands was my favourite trick, so I figured that a fitting tribute would be to refashion the dresses.

Refashioned dress.

I forgot to take a before shot of this dress, but I will make sure to remember for next time.

I cut the peter-pan collar out of the bodice pieces, I kept the skirt pretty much as-is, save for evening up the seams and the hems, and used a remnant of black satine I had in my stash for the new bodice.  The pattern is Colette’s free pattern Sorbetto, which means the dress doesn’t need any closures like a zip, however on the next make, I think I will do something a little bit more fitted.  I did try to use some elastic around the waist, but it created a lot of bulk and wasn’t any more flattering, so I removed it.

Close up.

Ignore the cat hair, I could lint roll for days and still be hairy.  The button is from Jimmy’s Buttons in Fitzroy, which if you ever get the chance I recommend visiting.  The ladies who work the shop may be cranky (I’ve not met Jimmy), but they have some fab buttons and laces, and will help you out and ring you up, which is all you need really.

Dress without a belt.

The dress can be worn without a belt, although Neil suggested it was a bit shapeless.  One of my favourite bloggers on my feed, Boo Dog and Me, wrote about enjoying her newest dress a little more relaxed around the waist, and there is no debate, it is a comfy, comfy feeling!

There is a tiny little fit issue that becomes apparent without the belt, and that’s the fact that I should have done a swayback adjustment in the back.  I’ve amended the Sorbetto pattern for next time, and the problem isn’t as apparent when the dress is worn with a belt, because everything gathers up a little.

Dress with a belt.

All belted up!  It still looks relaxed, but the extra cinch-in is just that little more flattering.

This dress was a little bit of time in the making — I cut the wrong sized Sorbetto initially, so I put it away for awhile to forget about it.  However, with the dress finished, I now have a perfectly-amended Sorbetto pattern, and some more ideas on what to do with the remaining dresses.  One of them I may just turn into a skirt, but I would like to do another dress, perhaps with a zipper or some buttons so that I can get a neater fit.

I did wear the dress to pub trivia and we came second — image how well we will do if the next dress is better?  That’s how this works!

(Actually, nothing is better than Marcus doing karaoke.  Congratulations to he and India, looking forward to their wedding in the next two weeks!)

February 5th, 2013 | 2 Comments
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Better Late Than Never

When we go to camping music festivals, like Meredith and Boogie, we like to dress up.  Sometimes it’s within a theme, other times it’s just to be fancy and outlandish, at least compared to a workplace dresscode.

I had planned to have this skirt finished by Meredith last year, but when I didn’t see that happening, I didn’t force it.  I planned some other outfits for the weekend instead and packed this project up for when I would have some more time to finish it.

Lolita inspired skirt.

Instead of using a pattern, I used a tutorial, Miscy’s Basic Lolita Skirt Tutorial to be exact.  I have a soft-spot for Lolita fashion, but not a lot of desire to wear it head-to-toe.  I would consider this “inspired by” Lolita.  It incorporates the basic cupcake shape of the skirt that is so important to Lolita (and is my favourite part), but it’s otherwise a little more toned-down and, dare I say, grown up.

Close up.

To create the fabric, I sewed together alternating strips of two different cotton fabrics.  It helped create the width as asked for by the tutorial, and all those seams also helped create some stability in order for the skirt to puff out.  I did count how many strips there were, but the number was high and I think I’ve deliberately forgotten it due to how boring it got sewing them all together.

I did intend for the skirt to be longer, but I didn’t cut all of the strips out evenly.  To avoid loosing too much length hemming, it is hemmed with some bias tape made from the same material as the waistband.   While I’m extremely happy with the length upon completion, I need to remember that that is a coincidence.  I also feel that some of the floral strips are off bias a little.  This whole experience has meant that I have a new found respect for quilters!

The skirt is lined with some black acetate from my stash.  I also took the chance to learn how to use my rolled hem foot on the lining.  It’s not perfect, but with practice, I think I will finish more hems with that foot as it was very quick and the effect overall is really neat.

The fabrics were all remnants I picked up from Rathdown Remnants.  I still have a bit of the pinstripes and the flowers left over.

Me wearing the skirt!

I’m wearing a petticoat with the skirt to help give it some volume.  I know I said it was a festival skirt, but after wearing it all day doing “normal” things, like going to the dentist and buying bread, I really think I’d like to wear it more often…

January 31st, 2013 | No Comments
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Poor Tilly!

My furry flatmate, Tilly the Cat, is a sensitive soul, with sensitive skin to match.  As people, we know that if we stop scratching then our skin will heal, but you can’t tell that to a cat.  He just thinks he’s itchy all the time.

Recently Tilly’s neck has been giving him problems, so we returned to a solution our vet recommended, which was to cut the top off a sport sock so that kitty can’t scratch.  We don’t have any old socks lying around, so I knitted Tilly a little “cowl” to help him heal.

Poor Tilly :(

It’s a 2×2 rib, completed in the round with double-pointed needles, using some 100% wool I had spare.  It’s big enough to keep Tilly out of trouble, but still small enough so that he can’t get his feet in to scratch his neck.  He only looks a little bit silly, but it doesn’t bother him like Elizabethan collars do, so he’ll wear it for as long as he needs to, which we think will be around a week or so.  Poor little cat!

January 27th, 2013 | 2 Comments
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Heathered Pink

“I thought you hated knitting socks?” Neil asked when I cast on a pair recently.

“I don’t hate knitting socks,” I said.  “I just hate knitting the second sock.”

I think the incident that has stuck in my mind is the time I knit a pair of knee high socks in a 2×2 rib.  I mean, that is enough to put anyone off socks.  However, I was a little strung out when I started these socks and just needed a knitting project that would occupy enough of my brain to distract me, but not so much that I would lose it if something went wrong.  For me, knitting lace usually does the trick, for I find that half of the accomplishment is in remembering the lace pattern.

Totem socks.

The pattern is Toe-Up Totem Socks, although I didn’t make them as long as you might normally do, and I cast on less stitches so that the socks didn’t end up too big.  As a result, the lace pattern wraps around the instep a little more, which I think is kind of neat.

I have to put them away until the cooler weather for now, but I’m kind of excited to pair them with my Swedish Hasbeens or my saddle shoes.  Or even just my pyjamas on a Sunday morning.

January 23rd, 2013 | 3 Comments
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Employee of The Month

Penguin is a character that followed Neil and I home after a trip to Phillip Island.  Penguin (that’s his entire name, like Prince or Madonna) is a security penguin and looks after our house when we’re not in it.  He claims to be one of the original Phillip Island penguins, although he’s also said that he would hang out with the St Kilda penguins too.  Apparently he used to work the door at The Espy.  He talks a lot.

Today Penguin’s job took him beyond keeping the cat in line.  I am working on a blazer for Neil and this evening, I completed pad stitching the under-collar.  The next step would be to block the collar on a tailor’s ham.  I don’t have a tailor’s ham (yet!) but I do live with a Penguin.

Very smart, Penguin.

Don’t worry, he’ll get overtime pay for this.

November 15th, 2012 | No Comments
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On a Boat!

Last night was Johnny Rock’s now-annual Halloween on a Boat! party.  In the hours before we docked, Johnny announced the gig had actually sold out, which deserves a round of applausein itself.  Expectations were suitably high, and absolutely smashed.

There was DJ’s on the first floor, and bands on the upper-deck, which made for plenty of variety and room to groove, despite hitting the 300 person capacity.  The DJ’s played party classics (apparently ending the night with Lonely Island’s ‘I’m on a Boat!‘), the bands were very rock ‘n’ roll, and oh my, the Massive Weiners were so tasty.  Combined with a fully stocked bar with enough bartenders to man it, and it was a night that, at least from the punters perspective, ran smoothly and without fault nor excessive lineup, booze shortages, and other problems that often plague original ideas.  However, Johnny’s organisation was faultless, which contributed hugely to the success of the evening.  Johnny’s words this morning summed up the enthusiasm, “The birth of my first born child will pale in comparison to how awesome this night was.”

As it was a Halloween party, I have to mention the costumes.  No expense was spared, if you weren’t dressed up, you were well and truly in the minority.  Neil was dressed as Bond, James Bond (yes, that’s beer in his plastic martini glass).  I went dressed as Dorothy from ‘The Wizard of Oz’.

I love dressing up, but it can be costly, whether you rent or buy, so I try to DIY where I can.  Many of my previous costumes have been sourced from my own wardrobe, which is handy, but I like to source op-shops as well for pieces to use as well.  I went a bit further with my Dorothy costume and made the dress from scratch, after being inspired by The Insider’s post on The Warped and The Weft.  His description of the pattern, Simplicity 4136, said it was “the perfect frock to last from Halloween party season right through into breezy summer days.”  I figured if I could wear the dress again, it would justify the time and the cost I would be putting into the costume.

When I got the pattern home and started to pick out pieces to make the toile with, I realised that the blouse is attached to the dress, and that the dress is actually more like a pinafore, with the very top of it hitting me at a really awkward point just under my bust line.  The whole thing required a bit of a rethink.

Front and back.

I decided to use the blouse piece, rather than the pinafore piece, on the front.  I cut across the top where I was comfortable the dress starting, then removed the excess fabric the blouse has by creating princess seams.  I shaped the side fronts the best I could based on the underwear I would be wearing with it.  The was the alteration that I feel would be better solved by using a different pattern, however I am glad that I took on the challenge.

The front alterations affected the band that goes along the top of the dress, and I ended up redoing the band once the dress was complete, because it affected the shape of the front sides.  As the band is cut on the bias, it does follow the slightly round shapes of the front sides quite nicely.  Phew.

I made the back of the dress with the back pinafore piece of the pattern.  The only alteration I made was a swayback adjustment, my first successful one too, and holy moly, it made so much difference.  The zipper no longer ripples down my back.

Speaking of, the zipper is a hand-picked lapped zipper, mostly because I’m not very good at installing zippers with a sewing machine.  Zippers used to frustrate me no end, but after reading Gertie’s tutorial, I’ve come to embrace taking the extra time.  I even like handsewing now.

One of my favourite parts of the dress is the embroidery on the inside that attaches the top band to the dress.  I know you can’t see it when it’s worn, but I know it’s there.

Secret embroidery

The other major alteration I made to the dress was ditching the full skirt that the pattern included.  I love a full skirt, but I figured it would keep the dress firmly in costume territory, so I decided to be a little more subtle.  The skirt is instead from The Coletterie’s Truffle dress, with the darts converted to pleats.

Jane posted this picture to Instagram last night of Kathryn, The Queen of Hearts, and I in costume.

The Queen of Hearts and Dorothy

All up, a happy Halloween!

November 3rd, 2012 | No Comments
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