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WIP: Borneo Beret

I brought a little knitting project with me to keep my occupied on my 15+ hour flight to Borneo for my honeymoon last month, using the yarn I bought at Purl Soho on my NYC trip. Unfortunately, I’m not a huge fan of how it turned out. I might end up just unraveling it and trying again.

Crafty Little Secret - Borneo Beret -

Look how tanned I am! Doesn’t it look like I just came back from a tropical holiday??? LOL

Crafty Little Secret - Borneo Beret - craftylittlesecret.comCrafty Little Secret - Borneo Beret - craftylittlesecret.comPattern: Blushing Beret by Breean Elyse Miller
arn: Cascade Eco Duo, Caramel 1711 (1/2 – 3/4 of the 197 yard skein)

Things I liked about this beret:
– the yarn is sooooooooooo soft and lovely to work with
– I didn’t realize it was self-striping when I bought it, but I think it works with the beret, so that was a pleasant surprise.

But. Overall, I am not really happy with how this turned out. It kinda looks like a knitted skull cap, not quite the look I was going for. The pattern does specifically state that “this beret is meant to sit on the back of the head and look pretty!” Well… sits on the back of my head all right!

If you look at the other Ravelry projects that made this beret it looks waaaaaaaaaay better (Notice the girls in the photos all have cute little bobs too). I find this a lot with hat patterns. Honestly guys, I think my head is just way too big!!!!! LOL!

I’m going to unravel this and knit up another hat. I was looking for something that would be worn a little on the back of my head, but preferably still covered my ears. Do any of you big headed ladies out there have a favorite pattern???

PS. I’m CraftyLilSecret on Ravelry. I’ve just started keeping track of my projects on there but I’m going to try to keep them up to date now that I’ve started.


Me-Made May ’14: Roundup and Reflections

Me Made May '14 RoundupSince this was the first time I’ve ever participated in Me-Made May, it was a great chance to reflect on my me-made wardrobe and my style as a whole. Some of the discoveries I made were surprises, and some were things I would have guessed

Most worn: Scoop Neck Top
This wasn’t a huge surprise to me. Since I’m not working right now, my day-to-day wardrobe is pretty casual and this Scoop Neck tee is a work horse! I bought the fabric for this top for about $3 from the remnants pile at Discount Fabrics in SF, so I’d say I’m definitely getting my money’s worth!!

Not worn: V1152 Wearable Muslin and Unblogged Cocktail Dress
These weren’t a huge surprise ever. I’d expressed my doubts as to whether I’d wear the V1152 red and white polk-a-dot top when I made it and still haven’t made the alterations it needs. The cocktail dress I haven’t blogged because I made it waaaaaaaaaaaaay back in the mid-90’s – it was my high school prom dress!!!! (Maybe I’ll dig up some photos and share some then-and-now pics) This is less of an everyday dress – short, tight and covered in a bright crazy 70’s floral print – so I’m not surprised in the least that it didn’t get worn. It usually only gets pulled out of the closet once or twice a year.

Themes: Jewel Tones and Stripes
I keep meaning to go through all the Wardrobe Architect exercises but I still haven’t gotten around to it. (Tilly also wrote a thoughtful post about sewing for your lifestyle here) One of the things I found cool about Me-Made May was that it was the first time I’ve ever really taken stock of what I wear on a daily basis. Now I have a collection of photos to look at and try to figure out some themes in what I wear. I don’t have any major surprises in the colors and patterns that appear in my wardrobe – I love stripes and tend to gravitate toward jewel tones (teal, bright pink, purple, sapphire blue…).

Me-Made Wardrobe Gaps: Bottoms!!!!
I had NO me-made bottoms when I started this month. None! Clearly that’s a gap I’ve gotta fill. Luckily, Katie from The Creative Counselor is hosting a Back 2 Basics sewalong this week to help people fill in such gaps in their me-made wardrobe. I got a wee bit of an early start on my sewing and finished off a basics skirt that I’ll post before the week is up! I’ve got the fabric for a pair of Thurlows all picked out but I’m not expecting to get them finished before the sewalong is over since I don’t have much experience sewing pants. I’ve got some medium weight magenta jersey that I got for Christmas in my stash too, but I can’t decide what to make!

Surprises: Skirts and Dresses
Many of you have already figured this out, and I’m sure I knew it intuitively and was just ignoring the truth, but I look way cuter in skirts and dresses than I do in jeans! And many of my skirts and dresses are no more difficult to wear! The biggest surprise for me was my (unblogged so far) nautical striped dress. I sewed this up over a year ago but always seem to forget about it and am rarely inspired to wear it. After looking back over the month of wardrobe pictures though, I definitely think it’s one of my cuter casual looks! I will definitely be working it, and skirts, into my wardrobe in general.

Hindrances to Wearing Me-Made Items: 
I noticed a few common themes with the items that were worn less this month.
1) Too fancy. Especially while I’m not working (though to be honest, working in an academic lab didn’t inspire me to wear nice clothes anyway), I just don’t wear a lot of fancy clothes. Believe it or not, I probably looked more pulled together on a daily basis this month than I usually would.
2) Too high maintenance. Although I love it, my first Mathilde blouse didn’t make an appearance until the last half of the month for the laziest reason possible. It needed ironing. Seems like the type of thing that shouldn’t be a hindrance but it was, and I’ll keep that in mind during future fabric shopping.
3) Need work. One of the reasons I didn’t wear my V1152 muslin was because the neckline needed adjustment before wearing it. However, I was finally inspired to increase the size of the sleeve bands on my first Mathilde blouse, so if I like the make enough I’ll take the time to fix it!
4) Location, location, location. This one probably sounds weird. Our master bedroom doesn’t have a closet so we had to buy a wardrobe to hang clothes in our room. Unfortunately, with two tiers of rungs I can’t hang long dresses in the wardrobe without them hanging all over the bottom rung of clothes. So I keep my dresses in the closet in our spare room. Out of sight, out of mind I guess. I’ve taken the dresses that don’t wrinkle much and that are casual enough to be part of my daily wardrobe, folded them over hangers and hung them in my wardrobe. Hopefully this will help me remember I own them and I’ll be inspired to wear them more often!

Did you participate in Me-Made May this year? What insights did you get into your me-made wardrobe? Any big surprises?

Bay to Breakers!

Today is a very San Francisco day……the Bay to Breakers race! This race has a special place in my heart because before I moved to the Bay Area, my mom and I came to SF for a long weekend holiday. Unbeknownst to us, it was the Bay to Breakers weekend. We were wandering around Haight-Ashbury wondering if it was always that crazy????

The race has been happening for 102 years and the tradition is to dress up in crazy costumes (I’ll leave you to search it on YouTube….warning: you’ll see lots of nudity). I don’t know if this is a well known fact about San Francisco or not, but every time someone says “costume” here a percentage of the city hears “go naked”. But whether naked or in costume or just dressed crazy, I’ve never found a city that loves to dress up as much as SF!

The Crowd

Trying to show just how many people are on the streets for Bay to Breakers – People as far as I can see!

The race route runs from the San Francisco Bay to the ocean (hence the name), about 12K, and tens of thousands of people participate every year. Many people run the race (as I did last year, accomplishing a major goal!) but maaaaaaaaaaany others just….drink it. The people who live along the race route hire DJ’s and throw huge house parties all day, starting at like 8 am.

B2B House Party

A typical house party along the race route. I chose the least naked picture I could 🙂

Anyhoo, I was a pretty bummed when I woke up yesterday with a bad cold because I knew I’d be all the race fun today. Luckily, I hadn’t put any effort into planning a costume. But I thought it would be a good chance for me to share some costumes from previous years!

2011: Oompa Loompas
Oompa LoompasI’m usually the first person to go crazy making costumes from scratch (as evidenced here, here and here), but this just goes to show you can make a great no-sew costume with a trip to the thrift and hardware stores! We found the white shorts and brown sweaters at the thrift store then embellished with white duct tape!

2012: Hi-Liters
Hi LitersOnce again, a no-sew super easy costume. We got all the supplies for less than $20 at Michael’s (including the t-shirts). We bought some black duct tape and stuck the letters onto the shirts. The cap hats are sand pails that we drilled holes in and ran some yarn through to tie onto our heads. We found the bright tights at American Apparel and my booty shorts were recycled from my Roller Derby Halloween costume. The Hi-Liter costumes were actually a big hit, and somewhere along the way we accumulated some Nerf balls that we would hand out to people so they could try to get them in our bucket hats.

Anyway, to help ease the pain of missing out on a great annual SF event I thought I’d share it all with you!

Me Made May 2014 – Pledge

I first heard about Me Made May (run by Zoe of “So, Zo…“) last year and thought it was such a great challenge, but really just didn’t have the me-made wardrobe for it. This year though, I made participation one of my New Year’s Re-Sew-Lutions!

BUT….when I made that resolution, I didn’t realize that I’d be in Borneo for part of the month!!!!! Clearly that’s going to require an edited pledge.

The honeymoon trip will be a lot of beach time and a lot of jungle time. We’ll only be in an actual city for a couple days, tops. As Zoe points out in her description of the challenge, the point of this challenge is not to panic sew a bunch of new outfits during May. Since sewing swim suit and trekking gear doesn’t really turn my crank, I won’t be wearing many me-made clothes on the trip. Instead, while packing, I’ll just trying to make a conscious decision to pack me-made options whenever it makes sense.

For the rest of the month though….no excuses! I’m going to wear Me Made everyday (repeats allowed). “Me Made” will include both garments made from scratch and ones that I’ve refashioned.

I’m hoping that participating in MMM’14 will:
1. Help me figure out why I don’t wear some of my makes and how to alter them so that I will wear them (I’m looking at you V1152 Muslin and Mathilde #2!).
2. Give me a little extra motivation to finish some of my languishing WIPs
3. Help me feel like my makes are wardrobe staples instead of occasionals (like my Eva dress!)

Without further ado, my official pledge:

 ‘I, Eileen of, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’14. I endeavour to wear as many me made items as possible while on vacation (first two weeks of May) and at least ONE me-made item each day once I’m home for the remainder of May 2014’

I haven’t done this before so I’m not totally sure what works best but I think I’ll try to do an outfit roundup after my honeymoon then weekly outfit roundups once I’m back.

Check out the challenge and make your own pledge over at So, Zo…!

NYC Fabric Shopping Roundup

I’ve been a little off the blogging map lately, but it’s for good reason! I spent a week in NYC visiting with friends, then had a good friend visiting here in SF for a week and my honeymoon trip to Borneo is imminent!!! Sometimes too busy to sew is a good thing.

One thing I really wanted to do in NYC, which has become one of my favorite (LOL, the first time I wrote this I typed “fabric” instead of “favorite”) ways to explore a new place, was to explore the fabric shops! One of the friends I was visiting in NYC was my Maid of Honor from my wedding. She and I met at a “Women Who Like Beer” meetup when she was living in San Francisco, we immediately bonded over our shared love of beer and crafts and she eventually became my room mate before she moved back to New York and I moved in with my husband. Who better to accompany me on my fabric shopping tour of NYC???

Outside Purl Soho

We actually started the day in Soho because that’s where my hotel was. And what else do you do in Soho but check out Purl Soho on Broome St? I’ve pinned many a lovely project from their blog (including this quilt that I’ve been dying to make forever but never seem to get around to) so I was really excited to check out their store.

Purl Soho Embroidery HoopsTheir store was exactly what you’d expect from their blog. Full of soft neutrals punctuated with electric yellow and neon pink. Soft knit sweaters and scarves that you want to gather into a huge pile and snuggle. The shop has such a clear identity and shows off their inviting folksy, modern country style. If you’re a fan of Liberty fabrics, I think this is one of the few places to find them in the US. They’re expensive, but you save yourself the huge shipping fees from the UK.

Inside Purl Soho

Sandy giving into the Liberty temptation

After touching pretty much every skein of yarn I settled on a super soft and snuggly but surprisingly neutral (compared to my usual choices) yarn. My friend bought a pre-cut half yard of Liberty fabric that she plans to use to make coffee cup cozies for her and her friends. Isn’t she the sweetest?

NYC Garment District

The decidedly UN-informative Information Booth in the Garment District.

Next we headed to the Garment District. Onward and upward!

A few weeks ago I sent out a request for fabric shopping hints in NYC and got great advice from Oona and Ginger (thanks ladies!!). I had a great time in NYC and especially loved my afternoon spent in the Garment District gawking at beautiful fabrics! I even made a route map with a few intended stops (because that’s the kind of go-with-the-flow lady I am)!

NYC Fabric Shopping Map

I started at Rosen and Chaddick Fabrics and was quickly overwhelmed by their huge stock of suiting fabrics. I spent most of my time there petting a $300/yd bolt of cashmere blend, but didn’t find anything that really captured my imagination.

Steinlauf and Stoller

Next I hit up Steinlauf & Stoller, thanks to Ginger’s suggestion, to check out what a store full of old school tailoring supplies looks like. I don’t do enough tailoring to have much use for many of the things but I could appreciate what a fantastic supply they had. For those of you that are into lingerie sewing they had the largest selection of bra bits that I’ve ever seen!

Our final stop, as it turned out, was Chic Fabrics. This store is paaaaaaaaaaaaaaacked. And the dude who runs it is kinda on you the whole time, but he seems to know exactly what he’s got packed in there. Two or three people came in while we were browsing and asked if they had this or that fabric and the dude would immediately reply “Nope” or “Yup, over there”. I ended up buying a surprisingly tame fabric as a souvenir – 2.5 yd of a soft wool blend grey suiting. I’ve had it in my head for a while that I’d like to try a pair of trousers and now I have the perfect fabric at a nice price.

NYC Purchases

My very responsible and restrained purchases in NYC

I had really wanted to check out H&M fabrics, on Oona’s suggestion, but a funny thing happened on the way to the fabric store…. Random fact about San Francisco: they just don’t do Irish Pubs properly here. I spent my grad school days in Halifax, Nova Scotia and spent a significant number of my evenings in the pubs around town. I miss my Irish pubs! Oh, there’s a few here and there in SF, and the best are in the Richmond District, but I haven’t found one that’s exactly right. Long story short, Sandy and I found an Irish pub with a happy hour and that was the end of our fabric shopping!

In fact, it was somewhere around beer number three or four that inspiration suddenly struck! “We must go dance on a light-up disco floor!!!”

Ok, this decision requires a bit of back story. I have a bucket list with items ranging from relatively easy to knock off (like “Eat Turducken”, or “Ride in a limo sippin’ on gin and juice”) to more exotic things (like “Hike the Inca Trail”, or “See the Northern Lights”). One of the items that you’d think would be easy to cross off was “Dance on a light up disco floor” (like the one in Saturday Night Fever). These disco floors are surprisingly hard to find! Sandy, being the good friend she is remembered that the Culture Club, not too far from the Garment District, has a disco floor. Suddenly fabric shopping had been bumped down the priority list!

Light Up Disco Floor

Bucket List Item: Dance on a light up disco floor……CHECK!!!!

What a fun way to wrap up an awesome day of my favorite things – friends, crafts and beer!

Turns out my friend’s office is just a couple blocks from Bryant Park, so the next day after work we wandered by to check it out. Apparently, when it’s not busy hosting Fashion Week, Bryant Park is a pretty cute and functional little space! There was a cafe to grab a drink, a carousel for the kiddos and, my favorite part, tables set out with free board games to play!! Sandy and I sat down and played Guess Who? for an hour or so while waiting for the rest of our gang to finish up with their work tasks.

Bryant park carousel

Bryant Park board gamesI find it hilarious that after FIVE full days in Manhattan, these are all the pictures that I took!! Not a single one of me with my husband or my other friend that I stayed with for the last few days of my trip. Nope, just fabric shopping and board games! Well, that’s not quite true. I also have one phone picture of a dinosaur and a picture of deep fried pickles (because I love them and they don’t seem to be a “thing” in California). Oh what the heck, might as well share those photos too!

Deep fried picklesDinosaurYay New York! Can’t wait to see you again and to finish up my fabric store hit list!!



Upcoming: Trip to NYC

I’ve just booked a last minute trip to visit some friends in NYC in a couple weeks! I’ll have a couple days to entertain myself and was just wondering if anyone out there is familiar with NYC fabric stores and can recommend a shop or two to check out?

I know of Mood and found an article online that also recommended B&J Fabrics, Rosen & Chaddick Fabrics, Brooklyn General and Zarin Fabrics. Anyone been to these shops or have any hidden gem ideas? I’m not 100% sure what parts of the city I’ll be getting to but likely only Manhattan and Brooklyn. While in Manhattan I know that I’ll be staying a couple days in Soho and a couple days on the Upper East Side (around Rockefeller University).

Any other non-fabric related “must see” suggestions for me to check out while I’m there? I’ve been to New York twice before so I’ve done some big tourist things like go to the Park, the Natural History Museum and Times Square. Maybe a cool flea market or something?

I’m so excited to have a little last minute trip to look forward to! I’m just hoping the East Coast is finally done with all the weather they’ve been having. I was always a wimp about the cold but living in California has absolutely ruined me now and I no longer have any cute winter wear. Just dumpy ski jackets and…..functional….winter boots.

Yay! Spring (I hope) in New York!!!