Sunday, 27 September 2015

Sunday Sevens - 27th September

1. Working downtown for the day so got to have nice lunch and coffee.... Very tasty  Black Forest mocha.

2. The fabric I won from Natalie's giveaway arrived. It's a beautiful vibrant cotton sateen. I wasn't really sure what to expect, but it's got a good weight and stretch. As much as we all love making pretty dresses, I really wear separates a lot more so I think this will become some trousers. I'm trying to sew more of what I actually wear rather than getting drawn in to whichever pattern is the current blogsphere craze, but it's so hard to resist!!! 

3. In preparation for winter in Alberta I really really needed more insulating layers (honest guv!). Never mind that I already have a feather and a synthetic one, what I obviously needed was wool. And posh expensive wool at that...

4. Illuminatia Garden and Lantern festival at Calgary Zoo. Quite cool, but I was wandering around by myself and feeling at bit gloomy. Hopefully Mal will be here when they do the Zoo Christmas lights and we can go together!

5. Creative Stitches show, and manning the booth for the Calgary MQG. Nice to get involved and meet more Guild ladies, but the show was a bit quiet and small. I didn't even do any shopping...

7. Finished my Cookie blouson, and look the seams match!! I should really take more photos and write a full blog post....

The Sunday Sevens series is the brainchild of Natalie at Threads and Bobbins.  You can find out more (and join in!) here.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Sunday Sevens - 20th September

Yes I know, late and I missed a week but I didn't really have much to show.... Here's my seven shots for Natalie's Sunday sevens!

1. Calgary corporate challenge... The mountain biking at Olympic Park was ridiculously hot, I went off way too fast on the first circuit and was knackered by the second so my time was terrible.

2. Corporate challenge again. This time the 10k run. Cooler temperatures, a bit of drizzle and an early morning start made for a much more plesant experience.  I'd forgotten how much I enjoy participating in running events. Note to self - must get out more...

3. A soggy ride to work, fortunately I take my own drying rack with me....

4. A sew day, so lots of progress on my cookie blouson... And practise crazy selfie shots in the mirror... Whoooaaa!

5. Up crazy early to meet the club for a hike, so I was treated to a cracking 'post Chinook' sunrise (I have no idea if this happens every time...)

6. A drizzly day in the mountains. Relaxing hike up to Burstall Pass in Kananaskis to check out the turning larches.

7. I can't do a blog post with only one mountain shot.

Friday, 11 September 2015

I am Made Up

Phew.... I made it.

A month ago, Karen of Did you make that launched a sewing community initiative to raise money for the National Literary Trust.  The aim being for people to donate funds, and pledge to make something within the month.

Well I've been sitting with lots of shirting fabric in my collection, and a plan to replace all my old work shirts with copies of Butterick 5526 (after seeing other bloggers raving about the pattern - e.g. Lauren and Erica), and I decided that would be my pledge.

And here it is. View D bodice (princess seams, love) with the long sleeves from views B/C/E, and lots of topstitching....  It nearly didn't make it to completion in time.  I had a week away with work and then Mal was over for 10 days from the UK (and we went and played in the mountains) so that all ate into my sewing time.  I'm trying to take more care with my sewing, not rush to get it finished but aim to take my time and improve the quality. I seem to be more relaxed about it these days, if I don't make a deadline I'm not staying up late and stressing myself out.

The fabric is a lovely light cotton with a slight stripe and sheen, and was one of my haul picked up in the fabric market in Ho Chi Minh City.  I can't remember how much it cost, but it wouldn't have been much, and I have high hopes of its longevity as the quality feels excellent.  The only problem was that it frayed really badly, which didn't cause any issues but I'm now prepared with Fray Check if it happens again!

I cut a size 12, and added an extra half inch to the side seams on the front and back pieces (so total extra 2 inches) but didn't make any changes to the princess seams.  Sorry, I don't have any means to take photos of me wearing the shirt (no tripod in Canada!) but I can report that the fit is spot on.  Usually I have to make adjustments for the armhole being too tight at the front but this feels perfect.  The only thing I might change is to make the cuffs a little wider as with the button done up they are a little tight (if you're wearing a watch).  The length of the sleeves is perfect though.

To make the shirt a little bit special (and because I can, after all that is the whole point of sewing your own clothes) I used some leftover patterned cotton for the inside of the collar stand and the cuffs. I love how it peaks out. Hopefully it looks quite stylish?!

All of my seams were flat felled. This is only the second time I've done flat felling and I think I'm improving a bit. It looks a little tidier than last time!  However, I do need to practise more on the sleeve seam, it could definitely be neater...

Monday, 7 September 2015

Sunday Sevens - 6th September

Happy Birthday Sunday Sevens! I've only been around a few weeks, but Nathalie's been going for a whole year. Hope I can keep it up that long!  It's Labour day today, so I've been a bit lax in posting but here goes....

1. Went out for lunch with the neighbours (and friends/family) as it was Mr E's birthday.  Mrs E just managed to pick the hotel where the Tesla tour was being hosted.... Funny that.  They were lovely and let us have a look around/sit in/take photos even though we'd not booked a test drive.  Very pretty....

2. Not much happening on work days as Mal was over for the week from the UK, but then I had a few days off and we went to the mountains.... First stop Johnston Canyon near Banff. A series of waterfalls in a steep sided gorge with a motorway style trail along the side. We miss timed the visit (lazy morning in Calgary) at got there at the same time as all the other tourists in the National Park.  But we did walk all the way to the top to see the Inkpots, whereas most people stop at the top Falls. The Inkpots are a series of small pools from underground springs, and you can see the water actually bubbling up from the bottom.  They're different shades of blue/green (hence the name) because of the variations in mineral content.

3. Next stop - Iceline Trail in Yoho National Park.  We weren't really sure what to do on our big day in the mountains as the weather forecast wasn't looking great, and there was a high likelihood of getting completely soaked later in the day. As we were staying in Field, we could start early (no long drive up from Calgary) so decided on Iceline.  You complete most of the ascent at the beginning of the hike to get up to the iceline (where the glaciers used to be, I guess) and then contour along the side of the valley before intersecting with Little Yoho valley, and then dropping down from there to the main Yoho valley.  We hoped that we'd make it to Little Yoho (and the valley/tree cover) before the rain hit.
Well it turned out the forecast was a little out.... We had the most stunning weather!  And the rain didn't reach us until about 45 minutes after we got back to the car!  It really was a great trail. The switchbacks up at the start aren't too taxing and then you have the most amazing views across the valley

4. Sorry, I couldn't just give you one photo of Iceline.....

5. The forests in the National Parks are full of mushrooms and fungi, and I feel the need to buy a book and find out more. The first one to look up is this! It was about the size of my hand, with strange block texture on the top. Very cool!!

6. The best Nachos in the world! Slow cooked belly pork and BBQ sauce at Truffle Pigs in Field, B.C.  We went there twice (as there is nowhere else to go in Field), and had Nachos both times!

7. Mal's birthday present (and the real reason we were in the mountains for a few days) was the Parks Canada guided hike up to the Burgess Shale Fossil Beds on Mount Stephen.  This is a restricted area, and you're only allowed to go there on a guided hike (they have CCTV with a live feed to the Wardens smartphones so watch out!). Quite a steep hike up, but once you're there it is absolutely amazing!! There are literally trilobites in every piece of rock.  You feel like you have to stand still and not move, as every step will be standing on fossils. Mal loved it (and I quite enjoyed it too!!).

Monday, 31 August 2015

Sunday Sevens - 30th August

Off to Huntsville, Alabama this week for a training course at company HQ so this weeks Sunday Seven will mostly involve meat and beer....

1. However I did manage to get to the NASA Rocket Center before the course started... It was fantastic! I could have spent another couple of hours there at least.... The Saturn V rocket was amazing!

An hour queuing got us lunch at the Chuckwaggon BBQ. Rustic is the word. The meat was fantastic though!

I can't go to a new city without checking out the fabric store! This is Hancock Fabrics. I was very good and bought shirt fabric for Mal, lining fabric for a planned jacket, some navy ponte Roma for work skirt or cardi, and a yard of dark heavy chambray. So the only unplanned purchase was the Chambray.

Ice cream made to order. Using nitrogen. Nice gimmick. Doesn't taste any different to normal ice cream! 

Had some very nice beer at the Rocket brewery.

Last night meal at Texas de Brazil. Lots of meat and alcohol consumed!

Managed to time our flights perfectly so I got back to Calgary within an hour of Mal getting in from Heathrow. Had a lazy day exploring Inglewood, Calgary's oldest neighbourhood. Some cool architecture and funky shops! Where else would you buy your Japanese cooking knife??

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Sunday Sevens - 23rd August

Sunday sevens is here again, the brainchild of Natalie at Threads and Bobbins.. So here are my 'things that happened this week that don't deserve their own blog post'....

An afternoon of cycling around Calgary visiting various Breweries. I wasn't particularly enthused about going on the morning of the event. Not sure why, just a bit tired and not wanting to have to make conversation with strangers I think. But in the end it was good - saw some people I already knew from the outdoor club and met a few more. Took the Ti bike as well, that's always good for admiring comments and geeky conversations about bike builds!

Accidentally bought some quilting pre-cuts. Have a few ideas but really should be finishing some WIPs first. Yeah, we'll see how that goes on....

First wear out for the Liberty fabric Onyx shirt (in the delightful surrounds of the office washroom...).  I think now I have three Onyx shirts I really should have a break, but I am completely converted to working with Liberty Tana Lawn. It is such nice soft fabric.

My first Calgary Modern Quilt Guild meeting. The Show and Tell was brilliant, so many cool ideas! Although the first question for my quilt was 'are you on Instagram?' And as soon as everyone started their showing and telling, the phones were out and snapping away like the paparazzi. It was hilarious!

Everyone has to see this picture of the shirt cuffs on my Butterick 5526. I am excessively proud of how they turned out...  The more I make the more I learn about taking my time and not rushing, and ironing. I usually hate ironing, but it has a big impact on how neat the finish looks.

My first big hiking day in Canada.  Friday we had a complete day of rain in Calgary which meant there was snow in the mountains, and when we turned up at the trail head at Moraine Lake on Saturday it was minus 2 degrees.  The route up Eiffel Peak takes the main sentinel pass trail (which was clear) and then branches off to follow the ridge line up to the summit.  Here's the view after we left the main trail and headed towards the ridge and then on to Eiffel Peak on the left of the photo.

Yeah, the getting through those rock bands near the summit were a bit sketchy.  Loose screen covered with a thin layer of fresh snow. We think we were still on the trail, but it was a little hard to see the cairns under the snow!  Amusingly we started with a group of six, two gave up on the lower slopes of the ridge when it got a bit rocky.  Then we reached a gully that required some scrambling and a further two of the group retreated.  But there we were joined by a couple of guys from BC, one of them decided against the gully scramble and the other continued on with me and the other remaining member of the original group.  So of eight, three of us made it to the summit!

Bonus!! And just because it was such a great day, you get an extra Rockies photo!

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Sunday Sevens - 16th August

My wonderful neighbours have done so much for me since I moved to Canada, so I'm repaying them by dragging Mrs E out on a bike ride every now and again. They have a 5 month old daughter, so she can't go far or for too long. But she appreciates the break from baby (hopefully!). We ended up out for about 1.5 hours heading north out of the city....

I spent money on a posh mattress. Anyone who's stayed at our place knows I haven't done that for a long time.... The floor is more comfortable than our old mattresses (and North American King size vs UK double? No contest! Also not shipping the beds over will mean more space to bring bikes, fabric etc etc!)

I went hiking. On a school night. I think this the first time ever!  Prairie Mountain is near West Bragg Creek out to the SW of Calgary. It's a favourite for evening jaunts and an excellent get fit/training walk, as it's only 3.5km to the top but with 700m ascent (that's a lot, some sections are over 45deg). The path is very well defined, there are no route choices, and the risk of meeting bears is very low (lots of people, no berry bushes).
I proved my fitness by making it to the top in 1h04, and then my stupidity by running down in 40 minutes. Cycling does not make you fit for running down hill, I couldn't manage stairs properly for the following two days....

Tracing patterns and cutting fabric. Why does it take so long? I just want to get on and sew!!! This is going to be my first Butterick 5526 shirt (for work, in white , although there may be some hidden surprises....).

In preparation for Mal's next visit from the UK in a couple of weeks time, I've invested in some hiking trail guides.  This is not your average guidebook, this is "Don't waste your time in the Canadian Rockies".  It grades the hikes on how good they are, the intros are informative and entertaining and the hiking guides are very well written.  It even comes with pamphlets for each hike that you can take with you (so you don't have to lug the book around).
This hike is from the "Don't bother" section....

It was raining (people in Calgary aren't used to rain, they stop - much like Brits do when it snows).  So I went shopping.  And I bought Tea.  This is very important. I am after all from a nation of Tea drinkers.  This tea is very nice and quite expensive.  The Irish breakfast is quite a strong blend (think Yorkshire tea) with a deep bitter flavour, and the Kenyan is weaker but still has more to it than what you'd get in the supermarket out here.

I was hoping to finish my Onyx top this weekend, but I got distracted (I'm not very good at finishing things...). All I need to do is sew the buttons on to the cuff tabs.  Isn't it the prettiest Liberty fabric though (for those of us not into twee florals)?

Friday, 14 August 2015

The Made Up Initiative

The brilliant Karen at DidYouMakeThat is kicking off a fundraiser for the National Literacy Trust, where we all donate and pledge to make something (anything!) in the next month.  Any promotion of books is a.good.thing. I devoured books as a child, and regularly "couldn't get to sleep" (code for staying awake all night to finish a book....). In fact, that may have continued into adulthood when I'm home alone... If anyone notices me falling asleep at my desk....

I'm in real need of some new shirts for work as my current (old) RTW ones are looking very tired and past their best. I bought the Butterick 5526 ages ago as I really wanted something that looks a bit more tailored and I think the princess seams give the effect. Then I saw all the excellent versions made by Lladybird Lauren and I was sold.

I've been collecting light coloured fabrics with this plan in mind. The top and right ones came from Croft Mill and the left I bought at the market in Saigon. You probably can't see it here but the top one is white and pink in a kind of brink effect, and is more Oxford shirt weight. The right one is a bit lighter and has a herringbone type weave. The left is the lightest of the three and a slightly shiny stripe running down it (which you would have seen if I'd taken a picture of the right side of the fabric!!).

Anyway, given that this pattern and fabrics have been languishing around for a while, I'm pledging to get one shirt made up in the next month. It's going to be tight (my last shirt took ages)! This  month I already have a week out for a work trip to the U.S. and Mal is here for a week so I won't get anything done then (too busy out doing things together yay!) 

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Sunday sevens - 9th August

In the attempt to blog a bit more, I'm joining in with the Sunday Sevens blog series hosted by Threads and Bobbins.  I first came across this while following Teresa's blog at Navy Blue Threads.  

The idea is to post seven photos from your week (have I cheated with a video??!), which is hopefully a bit easier than sorting photos and writing more extensive blog posts! Not sure how long I'll be able keep it up, so we shall see!!

Here goes.....


It was a long weekend in Canada last weekend so with the factored in rest day I still managed to get out twice! Yay! That's the problem with having so many outdoor interests - there's never enough time. So I went hiking in Kananaskis with Calgary Outdoor Club, an exploratory hike up Rocky Creek, just to see how far we could get. I think this was one of the trails that was destroyed in the floods of 2013. We wandered up for about 3 hours then turned round and came back. Not sure how far it was as it's quite slow going walking up the creek, picking our way among the rocks and small pools no more than mid-calf deep.... It was hot as well so the creek water was a welcome relief.


Headed out to Banff with the COC again and this time accompanied by mountain bike... A gentle paced ride around Tunnel Mountain - dry swoopy single track and some great views of the hoodoos.


Who knew than one person needs this much veggie risotto! Obviously carb loading after the weekend (and freezer stocking, now that I've figured out that reheated risotto for lunch is delicious!)


Some Liberty of London Tana lawn that I accidentally bought in Abakhan before leaving the UK, has now been cut for my third Paprika Patterns Onyx top (I promise to blog them all when I finish this one....)


Finished, photographed and blogged my new Simplicity 1538 shirt! So I could wear it to work on Friday with my cowboy boots (I love my boots)!!!


Lunch break quilt maths... I'm getting a bit behind on gifts and I really should start thinking about Christmas! This is a block designed by Jess (Elven Garden Quilts) for Alyce of Blossom Heart Quilts for The Bee Hive series (I know, complicated. Keep up....) I wanted to make a small quilt, so will the 12" blocks I'll do 5 rows of 4 blocks. Not sure I can manage from the current (very small) fabric stash, I might have to go shopping!! 


Another day in the mountains with COC, this time an early start to drive out to Yoho National Park and a walk up to Twin Falls. It wasn't a huge walk (16km, 300m) just a nice distance and good to get out in the mountains. The views of the mountains were amazing, but my favourite thing was the waterfalls.  I could have stood there for hours, listening to the roar and getting wetter and wetter!!