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!!

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Now in Cow Town....

I've been gone from the blog for a long time (again) and that's due to the massive changes going on around here!  In the last 3-4 months I've up sticks and moved country!! Now coming to you from Calgary, Alberta, Canada!

This change really kicked off last year. We had our fantastic biking holiday to Indochina, then one of my colleagues moved to Singapore, and along with that there were significant changes going on with my place of work (which hasn't been a pleasant place to be for the last few years).  I had itchy feet, was bored, and truly dreaded getting up in the morning to go to work..... So when a job opportunity came up with my employer in the Calgary office, I applied.  And probably because our software is so specialised, and importing a Brit is cheaper than training someone from scratch - I got the job!

Because of the situation (customer relations and visa requirements), there was a very quick turnaround between me leaving my UK job and starting the Canada one.  So my poor long suffering boyfriend is stuck back in Blighty trying to sell the house, while I'm swanning around in the mountains with bikes and hiking boots.

And now my mother (Hi Mum!!) is complaining that I haven't been updating the blog, so she can't see what I'm up to (she didn't get on with Facebook, and doesn't use Instagram).  I thought I'd better start back up.  What better way to start, than with a western style shirt....

In honour of Calgary Stampede (ok, that was a month ago but I'm prepped for next year now) we have Simplicity 1538.  Lots of people were wearing plaid shirts at the Stampede (and at work during Stampede week - it's a uniform really....), but I wanted to make a more traditional style and I already had this pattern with the front and back yokes.

I bought the fabric here in Calgary, it was only $6pm and is quite a loose weave cotton so will be great for summer wear.  I cut a size 12 and graded out to 14 at the waist.  I often find the cuffs on shirts too tight so I cut a size 14 cuff and graded the sleeve out as well, but I think now they're a bit big - I'll try and get pictures at some point but I don't have a tripod here at the moment....  It might be a little tight around the top of the sleeve now - I have ex-climbing muscles at the front of my shoulder (pectoralis major? anyway that bit that creates the hollow of your armpit) that often create fitting issues.  So I might need to swap the sizing and do the sleeve head in a 14 and cuff in a 12.

I really like the yoke details, pockets and flaps in this pattern, and the general shape of the shirt, but I'm not so keen on the cuff placket.  It turned out quite neat, I just would like to have the placket visible - so I'll hunt around for different methods when I make this shirt again. Oh and if you look closely at the left cuff in the back photo below, you can see that I got the placket the wrong way round....

The instructions tell you to gather the excess in the back before attaching to the back yoke, but I didn't like the look of the gathers so created a pleat in the centre instead. The yoke pieces are all cut on the bias as well, so you get that diagonal plaid.

I did manage to match the plaid across the front and almost at the side seams, but the button placket is 'upside down'.  I haven't decided if I like that, or if I'd prefer all the lines to match across the front. I really should have got the pocket flaps in line as well I suppose.

I did try to flat fell all my seams, which was easy enough to do (plenty of tutorials if you search on line).  For the next one, I'd prefer to have the two rows of stitching on the outside though, so I'll need to remember to sew all the seams wrong side together first.  All the double rows of topstitching are in the pattern instructions as the 'Western Style' design feature,, and I even used Tilly's trick of moving the needle over (I used position 5) and lining the edge up with the centre of the foot to get the neater line.  If you look really really closely you can tell which were the first wonky tries, and what came later with more practise!

And just because I felt like it, I added a loop to the collar on the inside of the shirt!