Christmas ruminations

Tomorrow is December 1rst.  I don’t really like to do much about Christmas before December arrives.  Sure, I send out and request Christmas wish lists for folks that require mail service to give and receive gifts.  I start amassing stocking stuffers during my weekly grocery shop.  But I refuse to put up decorations.  (I do let hubby put outdoor lights up because it is easier in snowless November than in the waist deep snow of December).  If the radio starts with the Christmas tunes I turn the station.  One of my favorite stations has been playing only Christmas tunes since November 1 (grumble grumble!)

But tomorrow I will start thinking in earnest.  I have to pick a day to put up the tree.


This photo is several years old but I still have that shirt. I wear it every time I put up a tree…including at work. I secretly love the Grinch.

It is best to do that before the decorating insanity starts at work.  In my old job, I had to help stand 7 trees-one was close to 20 feet tall.  I had decorate 3-4.  By the time I got to mine I had no desire left!  (Damn lights).  untitled

This year, in my new job, it seems I only have to stand 3 and decorate 1.  And none of them are over 6 feet.  Sweet.

I also have to get my butt in gear for the shopping.  We have no children in our clan now so some of the fun has gone out of it.  And we have all reached the state of life where we just run out and buy the little things we need and want so there is nothing to put on our lists except big-ticket items that no one person would reasonably buy for another.  So we are moving towards the gift card option.  This gives the person the option to hoard cards from one store to “save up” for something they want/need or hold onto several different store cards until they think of something they want or need.  Shopping will be a snap…just stand in front of a wall of cards and start selecting.  img_6568The Santa in me wants to have at least one or two well thought out gifts that the person may like but not think of buying themselves.  But lots of times it is simply walking by something in a store or craft sale and having an item cause me to stop and think of someone.  I can tell you this because my brother and sister-in-law don’t read my blog…They have two wiener dogs,  Jenny and Leonard.  Jenny is brown and Leonard is black.  I was walking in the store and I saw these.img_20161130_081036236.jpg

And they dance!

Completely useless but funny!

An added joy this year is my older boy will be home for Christmas.  He missed the last three.  The first year he was in Australia.  I found a tree ornament that year of a kangaroo.  I cried when I hung it on the tree.  The next two years he was in Germany and I cried when I hung the stupid kangaroo on the tree.  I also cried (messy, need to leave the room cried) every time I heard “I’ll be home for Christmas” and “Blue Christmas”. Really inconvenient in stores and a bit scary in the car.  No crying this year!

Wishing you all Merry Christmas prep!

HSF 2016: Challenge #11 Red

Challenge #11: Red (the flowers and the lining are a rusty red.)
What the item is: purse
Fabric/Materials: polyester fashion fabric, cotton lining.
Pattern: self drafted
Year: I will use it for late Victorian or early Edwardian era costumes
Notions: Vintage, possibly Edwardian purse frame.


I can see I need to trim some threads. 

How historically accurate is it? The fashion fabric is not because of the fiber content. I can’t speak to the weave or pattern-I lack the expertise in those areas. It looks plausible to my amateur eye and suits my needs. The lining would be less “risky”. I wish I had a date for the frame but since I don’t, I will give this 50%.img_20161127_213658667.jpg
Hours to complete: 5
First worn: not yet…haven’t made the dress yet!
Total cost: $15 for the frame. I used about $2 worth of fabric.

Just a quick note

My blogging has been spotty lately.  I have been working on things…just not getting them done.  I don’t have a stash of cabinet cards to share with you…(I must get out there and shop for them!)  Except for a fun but non-photographical stitch and bitch with my costuming cohorts there have been no gatherings to share.  I’m in a material dry spell.  Bare with me and keep checking in here.  These dry spells to eventually go away!

Crazy inspiration sources

I’ve been binge watching the many Star Trek series.  (Thank you Netflix)  And lately, I’m on The Next Generation.  In the second season, Data and Jordi go into the holodeck to solve a Sherlock Holmes mystery.  The doctor goes along and I gasped and hit pause when I saw her dress!holodeck_tng_s02e03

I have a real thing for black on red (old high school colors don’t ya know).


Cute little jaunty hat too!


Ooooo, that black soutache is so yummy!  And the broach is lovely too.3a60dae00ee7b40a11b26a6afdd774c4

I’d be lookin’ smug too if I looked that fine!

My first instinct is to say “I must make that!”  But then I realized I have one that looks too much like it already.  Not exactly, but too close to go through the process of making another one.


Last worn at CoCo’s Circus themed social.

I was also temporarily side tracked by a comment from one of my readers.  She asked if I’d be making a dress for Canada’s 150th birthday, which will be happening next July 1.  I considered it for a second and then decided against it ….for now.  I have two dresses that are 1860’s and one is red and white (and black).  It will do…especially if I can find a pattern for a corset so it fits better.

My plans for this coming year is a complete Edwardian suit (one year to late for women’s vote anniversary and several years past the Titanic anniversary).  Plus an earlier period corset.

I didn’t get side tracked…again

Okay, I lied.  I got side tracked again.  And I broke my “no new wool” rule.  To be fair though, it was only $3 and it only took a few hours to whip up.  Okay, so I whipped up a modern neck warmer that I don’t really need…I just wanted to see what it looked like knit up.  It came as a thin strand with huge fluffy bobbles evenly spaced along it.  img_20161113_173006921.jpg

I like the colors and it is wonderfully soft.  But if I were to make it again, I’d make it narrower and longer…more scarf like and less neck warmer style.img_20161113_173000892.jpg

But, who am I kidding.  I wont make it again.  I got it out of my system so I wont be buying more of this…I hope.

HSF: Challenge 10 heroes

Challenge #10: Heroes

What the item is: Ladies knitted hoodimg_20161111_165153158_hdr.jpg

Who your hero is and how the costume applies to them: This wasn’t my original plan but that will never be finished in 2016 so I came up with this. My hero is my Grandmother. She taught me to knit and it is she who gave me the love of “creating” and the interest in the past. Also she was the most loving person I know. A walking hug. This is an homage to her because it is a historic knit and it is cozy like she was.

Fabric/Materials: Chunky weight wool. Mixed fiber. Used about a half ball.

Pattern: victorian-8

See previous post for my tutorial.
Year: likely mid to late 1890’s

Notions: 6mm knitting needles (10 US 4 UK). Ribbonimg_20161111_165220833_hdr.jpg

How historically accurate is it? Both the ribbon and the wool is a synthetic blend. The wool is also chunky weight and I’m not sure that was a standard size in Victorian times. The pattern and technique are good. I believe it would have been worn by all classes of women but upper classes would have only worn it in the evenings. Farm woman would have worn them all of the time…any cold day where the big fancy hats were not worn. I give it about 65%.img_20161111_165205258_hdr.jpg

Hours to complete: About 10

First worn: n/a

Total cost: The wool cost $6. I had a coupon and I only used half so about $2


Wool hood or How the crafters mind works

How the crafters mind works:  I was working on a project because I had gotten bored with the project I really wanted to finish.  This side track project uses wool a friend gave me.  I decided there wasn’t going to be enough so I went to buy more (from the store she said she bought it from).  The wool didn’t have a label so I had to “guess” by look and feel when buying more.  I should have taken a sample with me because, of course, I was wrong.  What to do with the “wrong” stuff?  Well, I found a cute pattern on Pinterest (aka Crafters Crack).victorian-8

Well, crap!  I’m now distracted from my distraction from the project I really wanted to get done!  This is why there are at least 30 knitting projects sitting in various stages of completion!  There was no date on the pattern that I could find but the book it comes from, Fleisher’s Knitting and Crocheting Manual seems to have started in the late 1890’s and continued into the 20’s.  Based on the look of the thing, and what I have seen in the Costume Museum of Canada’s collection I’m thinking this is more 90’s than 20’s.  Disclaimer: I can’t prove this at all!  Just an opinion!

The wool I have is a Chunky weight (5) so I knit it as directed (using the same number of stitches and rows as in the pattern) using 6 mm needles.  I have a mega melon so I think if I had used worsted weight yarn it would have been too small. Those of you with regular sized heads should use worsted weight yarn and needles recommended for that wool.

I cast on 100 stitched and made 60 rows using only the knit stitch.  That is the definition of “knit plain”.  I love that!  NO purl stitch to slow me down!

Then, keeping in the knit only pattern, I decreased every 10th stitch for one row.  Knit the next row.

Then the next row I decreased every 9th stitch and then did a row of knit.

Then decrease in every 8th stitch for a row and then knit a row.

Then decrease in every 7th stitch for a row and then knit a row.

Then decrease in every 6th stitch for a row and then knit a row.

Then decrease in every 5th stitch for a row and then knit a row.  Cast off and sew up the back, which it the edges where you just cast off.

The edge, which is the end of the rows you knit will become the neck.  Omitting the 8 ridges (or 16 rows) on either side of the work, pick up stitches.  I found picking up stitches in between the rows easiest.  Knit one row.

The instructions next say to knit 18 ridges increasing every second row.  I found it easier to think of it as knitting 36 rows and I increased 1 stitch at the beginning of EVERY row.  That way I didn’t have to keep track of where I was.  Cast off.  This is where I screwed up a bit.  My cast off was too tight so the work curls a bit so I recommend a LOOSE cast off.img_20161111_094727641.jpg

You can crochet scallops around the edge if you want.  I’m on the fence about that.  No point to them if they are curled under anyway.img_20161111_094715903.jpg

Now the 8 ridges or 16 rows that got left out in the neck cape get folded back and sewed down, creating a channel.  The instructions say to sew on decorative bows and strings.  I think they mean a tie when they say strings.  And I think the tie is run through the channel so that you can pull the hat tight around the face on a cold blustery day.img_20161111_094704844.jpg

I have to go to the store and find a ribbon that isn’t so much like plastic but I think I like the red.  I think people would have changed out the ties and bows to go with outfits.

The instructions also say to crochet a cord about a half yard long.  At first I thought the point of that was to be the tie so I made it much longer.  It didn’t work.  The hat is too loose around the face to stay on and it feels like you are being strangled. That is how I came up with the idea that the tie is run through the channel. But the pattern does still say to make this half yard string so I measured from the corner of my jaw, around the back of my neck to the other corner of my jaw and made a cord that long (this was close to the half yard measure).  I strung that along the top of the cape, securing the two ends.  I believe the point of that string is to reduce the stretch in the knit so it sits firmly around your neck.

I will post pictures once I have bought the better ribbon and attached them.

Now the next question is: When would this be worn.  Probably 1890’s.  Obviously winter.  Was is worn in doors?  Was it worn under or instead of the big hats found in the era?  Was it worn only when feeding the chickens and running to the out house?  Was it only in extreme weather when one gladly forgoes fashion in favor of not dying of hypothermia?  Was it day wear or evening wear?  My theory is it was worn out doors.  In extreme cold.  It would have been worn when it was not appropriate to wear your big fancy hat so in the chicken coop and outhouse  and in the evening when off to a ball or concert.  What do you think?

Can anyone read this


This carte de visite comes with no photographers stamp so there is no clue as to location of the studio.  The ladies sleeves are quite large so we can guess early 1890’s for time frame. I love the frilly thing at her neck!

The back has an inscription that I can’t make out.  Perhaps someone else can figure it out.sam_3075