Fall Phobia

Normally when fall approaches I get very excited. (Mainly for all the pumpkin spiced things... yes, I'm one of Those.) But this year I found myself not wanting the summer to end. I just wasn't ready.

With all my wedding jam prep being done, my current knitting project at a redundantly boring spot and Matthew away for a week I went into a bit of a sad sack stupor. Good thing though, because I got at least something off my 'To Do before fall' list. One more step to being ready!

That checked off item was this Inspira Cowl. I had some shifting colourways yarn from a previous project that I had to use and wanted a change from my eventually-to-be-lovely sweater shawl. So onto Ravelry I went! And found this very simple but super fun looking free pattern. Very very easy pattern to follow and a great intro to colour work, if you're looking for one! (Also, did I mention Free? Haha.)

Anyways. It was a quick knit but reminded me that all the lovely scarves and hats will be coming out for another season. Yay! 

Bye summer.... I'mma miss you. See you next year! <3

-Andrea

The Half-Assed Hobbyist

Pressed Forever

I am always impressed with Mother Nature's ability to create beautiful things. 

I have posted before about this orchid. I've had for a number of years now. This past year it finally bloomed though, and I was ecstatic! These beautiful pink blooms are the most fantastic I've seen.

It was a sad moment when they started drooping, at the end of their bloom life. So I thought, why not press them? I didn't know whether or not you could actually press orchid blooms so I did a little googling and the answer came up yes! So into the most ridiculously huge textbook I had they went - University Physics, of course. I pressed them in between acid free packing paper I had laying around from moving the china from E-town. 

Now is was a waiting game. 

I waited for 4 months, from April to August. I've heard some flowers can take up to 6 months but I wanted to take a peak. I was not disappointed. the colour slightly dulled but the forms were perfect! My little bloom friends, pressed forever. 

My orchid had since bloomed again (with handy tricks from the internet again). The blooms recently were starting their droopy decent. With my book free from flowers once more it was time to fill'er up! This time though, I lightly spritzed the flowers with a vinegar-water mist. Hopefully the acidity with help them hold their colour better. Fingers crossed. 

Regardless though. They will be beautiful. My Forever Flowers. 

-Andrea

The Half-Assed Hobbyist

Linen Love

It's usually the case, when I find a pattern I like, that it's an ancient vogue pattern. The Fiancé's Mum went pattern hunting, and after my brief adventure back in AB this past spring, I borrowed one of her hunting spoils. (At some point I should start giving them back.... or straight up start saying 'stealing' instead of 'borrowing'.) Anyways! It's a lovely full length dress with pleats and tucks at the waist. Perfect for the hot summer coming up. And! I have a ridiculous stash of linen to use up. So no fabric shopping required. (Score...? -cries-)

The pattern itself, being a rummage sale find, had already been cut. Luckily, for the largest size! Because it's such a very block-y pattern though, I made the executive decision to iron the pattern to the smallest size. No tracing necessary. Fabric washed, dried and ironed, it was pattern cutting time! (I will admit to needing to work on my spatial awareness... as I ironed my arm with the linen setting. Booo.)

My grand master plan for this dress was to technically Not make this dress. Specifically, after getting the pattern home and reading up on it's construction, I realized that the dress was done up using 12 hidden welt button holes all up the front of the dress. Nuuuuuupe. Not going there in a linen dress. So I edited the pattern so that it would have a V-neck at the collar and a side zipper for boob-ular access. Sounds complicated but essentially I cut the front skirt and bodice on the fold and made a slit in the bodice front for the V-neck, finishing it with bias tape. Bam!  

Another grand master detail was the blue lace. I have this old wicker sewing kit, an heirloom from my grandmother, and inside it is about a million different laces, bias tapes, ribbons and appliqués. This lace is my favourite. Delicate and feminine but not super frilly. 

Fabric cut, detailing planned, I got to work constructing the bodice. The front and back bodice include tucks at the waist, which I've never done before. Simple enough though! Except, after all the construction was finished, I figured out there is a sense of direction to them... Shhhhh. Note for future projects. 

This was also my first collared project too. But the collar went perfectly. -pats self on back- Go go gadget planning skills! The lace attached before sewing the edge seams was a bit stressful but with a measuring tape and a dream, there is a way! The sleeves, with an interfacing sleuthily invisibly stitched to inside of the sleeve, was the perfect way to finish to bodice. Simple lines. Simple form. Love love LOVE.

Next was the skirt construction. Another bonus of this pattern: Pockets. Always pockets. The pleats in the skirt front make for a very nice waist too and match up with the tucks in the bodice, you know, if you don't mess up the tuck sense. Lol. Back to raving about pockets. Since I had changed my pattern to include a side seam, and I didn't want to fuss with the pockets in the zipper so I moved them down about 9cm. I'm pretty tall so the pockets are still within normal-not-knee-cap pocket range. Success! Now was the moment of truth. Measured, cut and stitched, the waist fit like a dream. One could say it was by design. Ehhhhh? =D

Now the finishing bits that are always the most boring and typically the most complicated: Zippers and hems. But first! More lace appliqué around the waist!  Probably the calm before the zipper. 

So. Keeping in mind that I major edited this pattern, I had planned for the side zipper to sit above the pocket (so I didn't have to fuss with sewing a seam AND a pocket in the same line of stitches. Uck.) I had two options: Invisible zipper that was orange tan or regular zipper that colour matched. My colour coordination got the better of me and I decided to make it regular.

Now to plan how I wanted to sew it in. There are a couple pretty standard ways of zippering. But unfortunately, I had not left lots of extra fabric in my seam allowance to do most of them. Minus planning points. I used my zipper foot to stitch as close as I could to the zipper teeth on both sides, making sure that the first places I stitched were to secure the lace in the right spots. No shifting allowed! I did some hand stitching afterwards to reduce the gap but it's still pretty visible. Good thing it's the same colour as the linen, eh? 

With the zipper in place, it was hemming time! I decided to mirror the stitching I did for finishing the sleeves, making the hem invisible (more commonly called a blind hem). It's a neat trick using a machine stitch instead of by hand (which is the more traditional way of doing it.) Essentially it's a periodic zig-zag stitch where you place the zig-zag to Just Barely catch the front fabric of the skirt. Then when the hem is turned out and pressed, it's like there is no stitching at all. Magic. =D

AND DONE. Well. I suppose I should case all my seams. But that's for another day. Until then, I'll lightly wear it ;) Haha. 

-Andrea

The Half-Assed Hobbyist

Chastity, thy name is Spider plant

I love my plants like my own children, well, if I had any. My houseplants and my outdoor garden, all my plantlings are precious to me. But it's extra special when my baby plants have babies of their own. My tomatoes are blooming and fruiting outside and, inside, my spider plant has been working on some new additions as well. 

Spider plants are strange in the way they propagate. They have two very different ways of doing it. The first way is standard plant procedure: make flowers, plant sex, make seeds and hope for the best (statistically favourable hope, of course). The second way they do it is quite a bit more interesting.

Spider plants grow little plant tendrils that extend out from the base of the original plant, and, on these tendrils are soon to be new little copies of the main plant. Essentially the plant is sending out little copies of itself beyond it's root system in order to find more soil and grow. Smart. Plant smart! Well, smart if it were, in this day and age, kept in a garden surrounded by soil. Now-a-days those tendrils will be lucky to find moist air they can start to 'grow' in. Enter houseplant owner!

I had two of these tendrils growing off my spider plant earlier this year. They grew two sets of babies each before I finally gave in and decided to deal with them. (Normally I cut off these tendrils so that my plant will focus on growing itself, instead of babies. But I got preoccupied so I had let them be.) 

My little plant babies however had spent a lot of time growing and there were in fact two separate plantlings on each of the two tendrils. I thought about cutting them apart but decided perhaps they would break apart of their own accord if I gave them a little force to contend with. Turns out this was the right choice as the both easily separated with a little persuasion. Then it was into a little jar with some water to propagate some roots. 

It really should have only taken 2 weeks, but I left my little rootlings in that jar for about a month. Their root systems got all big and ready to plant. 

Now it was just a case of finding some lovely (and cheap) pots from IKEA, filling the bottom with rocks (to keep excess water out of the soil) and filling the rest with potting soil. One day I'll have a back yard to do this, but till then, the kitchen sink can be half garden centre as well. 

My little babies seem pretty pleased. Now to find new homes for them =) <3 (And wait for more! Haha.)

 

-Andrea

The Half-Assed Hobbyist 

Coconut Coriander Stew

There is something about stew that, no matter the time of year, is really terribly comforting. I know that it's summer, and hot out, and the last thing anyone wants to think about is sweating over a hot stove. But for me, Stew = #worthit. 

Coriander Coconut Stew

Oil
Flour
1 - 2lb chuck beef steak, cubed into 1 inch peices
1 large onion, chopped
One 2-inch piece ginger root, peeled and minced
1 TBSP minced garlic
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 can (400 mL) premium coconut milk
3 cups vegetable or beef stock
4 yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
Salt, to taste

  1. In a large dutch oven, heat ~2 TBSP oil over medium heat. 
  2. In a bowl, measure ~1/2 cup flour. Dredge beef cubes in flour. Tap off excess flour. Place beef cubes carefully in the dutch oven. Be sure to leave space between the beef cubes. (The beef may have to cooked in two batches.) Brown beef on all sides. Remove from pan and place on a plate.
  3.  Add ~2 TBSP more oil to the dutch oven. Add onion, scraping to loosen browned bit from bottom of dutch oven. Cook onion until clear, about 5 minutes. 
  4. Add minced ginger and garlic. Cook until fragrant, about 5 more minutes. 
  5. Add coriander, cumin and cinnamon, stir together and cook for 2 minutes. 
  6. Add coconut milk and stock. Stir to dissolve coconut milk solids. 
  7. Add back meat and add potatoes. Bring stew to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer over low heat. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  8. Add carrots and simmer for another 20 minutes. (If using red potatoes, add both potatoes and carrots at the same time.) Salt to taste.
  9. Remove from heat. Serve!

Nom. There is really nothing like a good stew. Even in the summer. Might just me crazy me though!

-Andrea

The Half-Assed Hobbyist