Project Catch-Up

Current works in progress:

  1. Choreography for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” presented by the studio where I now teach
  2. 6 tutu peplums, sleeves, and bodice appliques for said production
  3. Puck’s costume (dip-dyed green-bottom-into-nude-top unitard with attached leaves and cape) for the same
  4. Hippolyta’s Act I costume for the same
  5. A floral chiffon maxi skirt for me to wear to the same
  6. A summery peplum top (Simplicity 1373) in white cotton with embroidered strawberries
  7. A floral stretch cotton sateen sheath dress to wear to our end-of-year showcase
  8. Choreography for said showcase
  9. A red faux linen (cotton and poly, but fairly decent) cropped jacket to go over summer sundresses
  10. This list

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This Taffeta Is Cursed

Remember when I ordered that Casa Collection in the beautiful, discontinued Cornflower? That was late Saturday evening. There were 4 yards in stock. I ordered all of them. Today, I got this email from JoAnn:


What the what, JoAnn? I ordered this stuff 4.5 days ago, and you’re just now discovering that it’s out of stock? Perhaps unfortunately, I also stopped in at the store and picked up the last bit they had in stock in their Red Tag clearance section (42″). What does one do with 42″ of fabric? I was going to use it to make slightly taller sections of blue on my color blocked curtains, or to make coordinating pillows, but that seems silly now.

Newest idea: White curtains with (excessively?) thin blue trim at the bottom edge.

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Taffeta Woes

What do you do when you learn that the fabric you have set your heart on is *gasp* being discontinued? Commence with the melodramatic commentary.

My curtains are RUINED! The color scheme for my living room is in shambles. The necessary monetary funds for this project continue to multiply, while my budget grows ever smaller, dimishing into a pile of NO MONEY AT ALL.

*Ahem* Now that that is done with…

I visited JoAnn Fabric on Friday, after photographing my living room furnishings, and compared my photos to several different fabrics in person. This confirmed that the Party Taffeta was not available in the right color, but made me reconsider the Casa Collection Taffeta in cornflower. I had originally thought it would be too stiff, and didn’t like any of the colors that I’d seen, but I found about a yard of cornflower in the red tag fabrics and fell in love. It looked lovely with the textiles I already have in the room, but it shifted things away from green and toward blue, just like I wanted. It made everything bright and inviting without being trendy or overly bold. I also liked the Country Classic Solids in sprig green, medium blue, and light blue (apologies for these not corresponding to colors listed online; I’m not sure which ones they are either), but I’m still pretty sure I want a taffeta for the sheen when everything else in this place is so flat.

Seeing as the fabric was available in such a small quantity, I asked the woman at the cutting counter what my options were. She was very helpful, letting me know that special orders need payment same day, so you can use coupons on them (Seriously? How did I not know this before? This is awesome!), but since the fabric was in the red tag section of the store, my best bet for a good deal would be to order online (where it was still listed as regular price) and be able to use a coupon, even if I had to pay shipping.

Next issue: Casa Collection Taffeta comes on 8 yard bolts. I need yardages that evenly divide into 4 1/2 yards. I called JoAnn’s customer service to ask about their policy regarding splitting yardages on orders that were more than one bolt (I needed 18 yards total), and, after some looking things up, discovered that Casa Collection Taffeta in cornflower is being discontinued. There were 4 yards left in the online warehouse, and if I wanted to drive an hour, I could maybe pick up the last 8 yard bolt at another JoAnn store location, but they couldn’t guarantee that the store would even have it any longer.

(See previous teeth-gnashing and anguish for my reaction here.)

So… Color blocked curtains? If I order some cobalt and white fabric as well I can do something like one of these:




Do I really like any of them? I’m not sure. I ordered the cornflower taffeta ($17 for 4 yards, including shipping, using a 50% off coupon), because I really love that color. Maybe it will be some pillows or a dress eventually; maybe it will go into curtains; maybe it will sit in my fabric stash for years and I’ll take it out to pet on occasion.

What do you think? Are color-blocked curtains too trendy? Will I hate myself for hacking this fabric up into 1 yard segments? Or will I love having at least  bit of it hanging in my living room?

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Creating a craft supplies nook (and generally getting settled into my new apartment)

Lately, I’ve been working to settle in to my new apartment. I moved in last month. I managed to fit all of my belongings (less the things that were at the Gentleman’s apartment from his amazingly generously letting me stay at his place while I got moved to the Cities) into a 10′ U-Haul truck. No kidding. That’s everything.


My lovely friend and her boyfriend helped with everything from driving the truck to loading and unloading; there were an absurd number of freight elevator trips in both the storage unit building and the new apartment building. We were incredibly graceful throughout the whole process. This is how ballet dancers move things, people. I should start a moving company and charge for the show as well.


Of course, this was in the middle of Nutcracker season, and I quickly found out that I would be performing in The Nutcracker with my new studio, despite the fact that I am “retired.” (Query: Is a professional ballet dancer ever truly retired?) My parents were in town for Nutcracker and Christmas, and being onstage with the Gentleman again was lots of fun.


I had the rest of winter break to recover, and then the insanity started.

I am one of a handful of teachers at the studio where I am teaching now, and one of only three who are there 6 days per week. One of us three had a baby two weeks ago, and is now on maternity leave. The second (my boss) went on a surprise “babymoon” that her husband planned so they would have one last hurrah before she gives birth in April. In these past two weeks, we’ve had three snow days on top of the crazy sub situation created by maternity leave and vacation time. It has been nuts. And on top of it all, I’m still putting together my new apartment.

It’s a great place. It has some crazy columns (stay tuned for colorful plans for those), lots of kitchen storage and counter space (more than twice what I had in my old place), a huge living room, and it’s generally awesome. Here’s that amazing kitchen before I moved all my stuff in and it got all messy:


The Gentleman helped me unpack. He was thrilled to take bubble wrap off the myriad dishes, glasses, etc. that I have.


Now that I’m finally all moved in, my head is full of projects to make my space work. First of all, I need a dedicated craft space. I haven’t had one since I moved out of my parents’ house and had essentially a whole room in the finished basement. Obviously, that’s not happening, even in a large one bedroom apartment. My plans involve curtaining off the far wall of my living room and setting up shelving so I can pull back the curtains and have access to all of my craft supplies, or close them and have a neat and tidy space.


Obviously, this plan does not account for the massive amount of mess that I always have everywhere (hello, dirty dishes on the kitchen island, I’m looking at you), but I’m thinking that having an epic amount of storage that I can just close the curtains on should help with that too. (I promise I won’t put dirty dishes on the storage shelves and close the curtain on them. I just may have more kitchen counter space if I’m able to dump all my sketches, paperwork, magazines, etc. somewhere else.)

In case you can’t tell, this is a HUGE wall. It’s 11′ wide, 12′ tall. For my shelving unit, I wanted something simple, sturdy, tall, and able to fill as much of the space as possible in one unit. I was originally thinking of using the wire shelves I have on hand, but they’re nowhere near big enough for this job. They’re loaded up with paper crafting supplies and sewing notions, but I still have bins stacked up in my bedroom.

On top of wanting large shelves, I quickly decided that, since I’m renting and not allowed to screw anything into the walls, it would be easiest to use the shelves to help support the curtains that will cover them. I’d originally thought to create a steel pipe curtain rod and support, but that would be ridiculously expensive. So I started looking at wire shelves that I could possibly hook a curtain rod onto. Those were just as ridiculously expensive, and none were quite the right height.

Luckily I live in a city that has an IKEA store. This configuration of Ivar shelves looked perfect. After a few weeks trying to figure out how to fit a 132 1/4″ shelving unit into a 132″ space, I remeasured and determined that the space is actually 132 3/8″ wide. Let’s hope IKEA’s listed measurements are precise!

Ivar comes up to about 8″ below the top of the cabinet over the fridge, so I’ll use a couple of extra wood uprights to help lift the curtain rod (probably a piece of electrical conduit) up to the ceiling. I’ll be making back-tab curtains that reach from ceiling to floor. For this space, that’s a lot of fabric (27 yards if it’s 54″ wide), so if anyone wants to suggest a good place to find cheap taffeta in a light teal-ish color, I’d be grateful. Current top picks are from JoAnn (although I’m not thrilled with the color choices in my favorite fabric of theirs, the Party Taffeta), (Softline Netherwood Taffeta, Crestmont Lustra Sateen Twill in Sky (too light?) and Teal (too dark?), Two-Tone Taffeta in Dark Teal (too bright?), and Microfiber Twill in light blue), and Mood (Bluestone Silk Taffeta which is way too expensive but my absolute favorite, and this cotton twill shirting which is likely too matte).

And, of course, as soon as I’m done with this massive storage wall and curtains thing, I’m thinking of building a bed frame. Stay tuned to see if I ever get around to that. I have sketches, so it’s promising. (Disclaimer: The previous statement was written by a perpetual dreamer who is far too in love with the planning process of any project and rarely actually finishes things.)


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Still More Sock Progress

Wednesdays are my one day off every week, so they always put me in a good mood. To top it off, the sun has finally come out after a couple days of rain, and this weekend is MEA weekend, so I have nothing to do until next Monday. Plans include massive amounts of laundry and apartment cleaning, lesson planning, sleeping, and getting things done to finalize my move to Minneapolis.

In the past few days, I’ve gotten a lot done on the Gentleman’s socks. I am past the foot (with lifelines thrown both at the transition to the gusset, and one pattern rep before that in case I need to re-size), and the gusset has a mere six rounds left before I move on to the heel turn.


The stitch pattern is lovely and springy, drawing the fabric in just above the toes when unstretched, and giving lots of ease when it needs to.


The vast majority has been knit while on the bus, or waiting at bus stops, although I have accomplished a fair amount while watching Netflix.

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Moving on from Socks to… Socks.

Dad’s second pair of Raggi socks are finished!


I’m very happy with how I managed to work out the pattern with the larger yarn and to make the stitch count work out. The toe-up heel flap is exactly the same as the one I worked on his Hickory Socks, and it took some interesting math and charting to make the stitches flow correctly through the ankle and leg. I finished off the top with Elizabeth Zimmermann’s sewn bind off from Knitty.


Now I’ve started on a new pair, this time for the gentleman. Fittingly, I chose the stitch pattern from The Gentleman’s Fancy Sock from Knitting Vintage Socks. I’m working it from memory and people’s project photos on Ravelry since all my knitting books are still in the storage unit, and I’m knitting it from the toe up (are we surprised?). Luckily, I got my Hennepin County Library card this week, and I’ll be able to go to the library tomorrow to browse their selection of knitting books.

The first toe is done, and I’ve started the stitch pattern. Excepting the cast on and first couple of rounds, it’s only been worked on my way to and from work. Public transit may smell funny, be slightly unreliable when you get down to the southern suburbs, and require dealing with other people, but there are benefits.


In other news, while I’ve been convincing myself for weeks now that the downtown apartment is what I want, an apartment opened up in the building that I originally wanted to move in to in Uptown. I had called this summer, heard that there would be no openings, and put my name on the waiting list for next year. Last week, I got an email saying that they had an opening next month. Since the downtown place is still under construction, I made an appointment to see the place, and fell in love.

The downtown apartment was much more finished, with soffits covering the ductwork, etc. but shortening the ceiling, the tops of the closets finished and closed off eliminating storage space, and generally feeling a little smaller than I’d anticipated. I went in to my viewing of the Uptown building anticipating the apartment to feel the same size, since the square footage and closet space were nearly identical, but it felt huge. The windows were much bigger and more open, the ductwork and electrical conduits were raised to the ceiling and left uncovered leaving more space and more of a cool loft feel, and the polished concrete floors just added to it. The best part was the closets. They were finished up to the standard 8′ ceiling height, but the tops were finished, so there was an extra portion of storage space on top, all the way up to the 12′ ceiling. The apartment that I chose is actually 150 sq ft larger than the downtown one, with more windows, and overlooking the grassy courtyard in the center of the building. Plus, it’s in Uptown, so I’ll be in the middle of all my friends, in a much more puppy friendly neighborhood, and closer to cheaper grocery stores, etc. I’m ridiculously excited.

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I started a second pair of Järbo Garn Raggi socks for my dad on February 24, according to my Ravelry project page. I worked on them steadily through March (when I had time during rehearsals and teaching and going insane being at the studio 7 days per week) trying to get them done before my parents came out for the show. I didn’t.

They became my take-along project when I was going to the studio to assist in rehearsals for the Minnesota Dance Festival, and I got the first sock done up to the top of the cuff, and then they got set aside through my insane summer of living between Minneapolis, Fargo, and Michigan. Cut to four months later.

The first sock made sense. There was a toe, a foot, a gusset, a heel turn and flap, and a leg.


The second sock made sense right up until the last row. It looked like it was in the middle of the No Hole Heel from YouTube, but the stitch count was correct even though I knew that the next stitch had to be a decrease.


It had been languishing on a pair of size 2 circulars, while the nearly finished sock was on the 3s. I managed to get them switched on the bus, but I just couldn’t figure out the stitch count. This morning, I was able to look at the other sock and found the absurdly simple solution: a purl front and back increase on the center stitch of the heel flap that created the center column of the Elm pattern.

I’m back on track now, following the chart just as per usual, and I have a knitting project to take on the bus with me.

In other news, I bought some navy cotton broadcloth to make M a bedskirt, I have a plan for fixing the reverse lever on my Sears Kenmore for next to nothing, and my new teaching job is going wonderfully.

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