Married to the Sea

I haven’t posted in a few days, as you may have noticed, because I’ve been making people drive me in a giant Northern VA-Charlottesville-Richmond¬† triangle for friend visits. I wasn’t idle, though. While I was away I whipped out my knitting needles and made a pair of fingerless gloves, something which I used to abhor for not being useful until I realized last winter that they really help while typing in a poorly insulated apartment.

The motto on the gloves, Hold Fast, was a traditional sailing tattoo, a charm or preventative against falling from the rigging. Now that I’m thinking about it, I’m sad that I didn’t replace the word “hold” with the word “type”, since I rarely find myself at sea but am often at a keyboard…


Velociraptor Head!


It’s not quite done yet; there’s a couple of little things that need tweaking. There’s a few places where I can still see the newsprint through the paint. But the silver plaque is so professional! Ish.

Look how cute he is, with his lil’ cardboard teeth and his marble eye! Don’t you just wanna hug him, even at the risk of injuries?

Sweater dress? Why, yes!

I went to the thrift store today with my charming friend Carli, and found, mysteriously, two sweaters that were exactly alike except for color. Same size, same brand, same everything. So, what did I do? I combined them!

It’s not the most flattering garment I’ve ever made; it has a tendency to hang. But it is incredibly warm and brightly colored, and it’ll be just the thing for chilly fall days. If those ever arrive. Keep your fingers crossed, folks.

I also had most of the blue sweater left over when I was done, minus some ribbing for the bottom and the bottoms of the sleeves. I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to get that; I might have to sacrifice part of another sweater to do it, creating a vicious cycle of sweater alterations. I’ll post that one when it’s done, probably in the next few days.

Total cost for this dress? $10. And I get a second sweater out of it, to boot.

I may have perfected the art of the man’s shirt to dress recon. Maybe.

I have a minor obsession with men’s button-down shirts, as you might have noticed from previous posts and a strangely truncated run of tutorials therewith. I like that they arrive as pre-constructed things with lots of style and structure already; it’s fun to play around within the limits of the original shirt. And I’m finally starting to get really good at it. For example, here’s my latest baby:

If you’re a particularly obsessive reader of my blog, you might have noticed that this is the shirt I was complaining about in the post “On Failure.” I ripped out all the seams I’d sewn into it and began taking it apart with an eye toward making a little sundress. It’s a heavier fabric, but I like to wear short dresses into the fall, so I figure it’ll be okay. It’ll look especially nice with tights and cardigans.

If you look up at the dress, you’ll notice a particularly neat detail. See how it comes in at the waist and then fans out at the top? That was part of my multi-step solution for getting rid of the extra bulk of the fabric while still having a full skirt and bust.

You’ll also notice that there are no buttons on the front of this dress. That’s because my mother came in while I was doing a try-on, mentioned that the buttons were pulling in the front, and suggested I spin the dress around and wear it backwards. It turned out that it looked much better that way. Here’s the back:

The back is heavily darted and tailored because it was originally the front, but I think it looks good. I have a tendency to ignore the backs of dresses; maybe what I need to do is just make a front and then spin the dress around.

I’m feeling particularly autumn-y this week, maybe because I just got back from Portland and the Virginia stickiness is getting me down. So I put my electric fan on its highest setting and took a photo of the dress in its native environment, a fall outfit:

(Socks and boots both gifts from my mother, who knows exactly how to pick things for me. In case you can’t tell, the socks feature crows on a telephone wire.)

This outfit makes me so happy. It’s sort of innocent and country-girl but also sort of witchy, a perfect combination for fall. I have this whole story in my head that goes with it, and maybe later I’ll get myself out to a place where there are some hay bales and do a photo shoot. I can already tell that this is going to be one of my favorite outfits as soon as it gets cool enough to wear long socks again; in fact, I’ll probably wear it on a day I know is probably going to be too hot and then tell everyone I “misread the weather report.”

Total cost for this project? $2 and change, plus a lot of time. And a lot of seam-ripping. But turning failure into success is beyond price.

Back–with a VENGEANCE

DISCLAIMER: If this post seems more chipper/less coherent than usual, it’s because I’ve been awake for over 36 hours now and have crossed 2 time zones to bring you this post. Hooray for red-eye flights and caffeine!

Hey, y’all! You know how I’ve been posting nothing but clothing tutorials and clothing pictures, and how this blog is called the CRAFTER’S Manifesto, not Let’s Look At Rose’s Outfits? Well, here’s a project at long last that isn’t on my body. Although it is still incredibly sexy. It’s a work in progress, but still amazing:

Can you tell what it is that I’m making? If not, check out this other photo:

In case you still can’t tell, I’m making a paper mache unicorn head. This project was inspired by a present from a boyfriend (now ex) who made a delightful pirate head which adorns my wall. I’m thinking that it’s time for Blackbeard to have a friend. Or several. Paper mache is a delightful medium, although not for anyone who doesn’t like being sticky.


On the plane I read Rant, a novel by Chuck Palahniuk, Portland’s favorite son. I’m staying at the famous, the literary, the possibly haunted Heathman Hotel. I just got back from a trolley ride to Powell’s Books, the largest independent bookstore in the U.S., with floors upon floors of books on all possible topics.

To be honest, I’ve been feeling a little burnt-out lately. I’ve been blogging at a breakneck, post-a-day pace, trying to come up with a new creation every day, and I feel like the stuff I’ve been making has gotten a little stale, a little sloppy. Being in a place where I can’t sew for five days is going to be great; I can feel it already. I’m storing up good ideas for later.

The outskirts of Portland feel kind of like the setting for a Hiyao Miyazaki movie. These futuristic trains pass by landscapes made of broken concrete barriers and hillsides covered in wildflowers and old industrial buildings. From the window of the train I saw this building, which looked like three singlewide trailers put up on 50-foot-tall stilts:

That thing above the guardrail but under the tower. Can you see it? Can you?!

But the best part of the trip was Powell’s. After waking up at three in the morning, spending eight hours in planes and airports and somehow arriving five hours after we’d left (damn you, time zones!) I was exhausted and disoriented. But then I went to Powell’s. And saw this:

This picture represents a very small chunk of their Epic Shelves of Crafting Glory–namely, the section specifically devoted to textile design. Not to be confused with the much larger sections representing Sewing and Fashion. I couldn’t capture them in their full glory because the aisles are too close together for me to back up enough. Here’s a similarly tiny chunk of their section on knitting:

Excuse me while I dig myself in, never to emerge. Everything about Powell’s is inspiring, from their patrons (who all wear funky outfits, some of which are hipster and some of which defy explanation) to their bathroom graffiti to their wise decision to buy every book in the universe instead of trying to offer an edited collection. If I don’t come home a better knitter/writer/patternmaker, it won’t be for lack of information.

Crafty Things to Do During the Heat Wave

This morning, I checked the weather forecast, only to learn that it’s supposed to be about…oh, 97 degrees. For the next four days in a row. Ew. Just…ew. So I immediately began scouring the Internet, as only I can do, for things to do to keep cool. Here’s my favorites:

  • STAY INSIDE, and avoid contact with hot outdoor air, by taking some time to reorganize your crafting supplies. Threadbanger has a great blog post on clever and innovative ways to get your things sorted out.
  • IF YOU KNIT with wooden or plastic needles, stick them and your yarn in the freezer for a bit before you knit. It reduces the sweatiness factor of a hobby that’s usually a little too cozy for summer. Don’t do this with metal needles or you might get stuck.
  • BUILD A squirrel-powered sculpture. I’m not sure if this will help you stay cool, but you should do it anyway. Maybe you could build a squirrel-powered fan.
  • MAKE YOURSELF some ice cream. Doing it by hand instead of with an ice cream maker takes some time, but it has periods of downtime, in which you can play video games or stare at the freezer door wishing your ice cream was done.
  • GO NOCTURNAL. It’ll probably drive your parents crazy, but since it’s the middle of the summer, try switching all the way over to a night-oriented sleep cycle. The forecast calls for 70 degree nights; wouldn’t you rather be out jogging then? And if your parents work, the only time they’ll see you is at 7 AM. They’ll think you’re an early riser.
  • MIGRATE. This is the solution I’ll be employing tomorrow at dawn. If you can’t migrate, then follow my Portland adventures gratuitously through this blog.

By the way: if you end up making a squirrel-powered device, please let me know in the comments, or send me a picture. I’ll post it and give you full credit for being an amazing human being.

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