Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Year in Review

It's the time of the year to look back at what's been in preparation for looking forward to the new. It's been an awfully quite year at casa BrineyDeep (I scaled back at the end of 2013) but I'm looking forward to hitting my stride again in 2015 as my biggest 2014 project is getting awfully close to completion (yay!).

2014 was a big year for me between the new house, the new puppy, and the new sewing machine. I'm happy to say that I'm still in love with all three.

The new sewing machine translated into quite a lot of sewing this year, a theme which I expect to continue in 2015. Sewing highlights include a slew of mini charm bags and my favorite project of 2014, the bad passwords dress.

On the knitting front, I knit one Ysolda pattern this year and found a new obsession - Fiber Optic gradients. I finished a gradient shawl and, most recently, a gradient sweater and am looking forward to using more of my small stash of gradients in 2015.

All in all, it's been a good, though quiet, year. I'm looking forward to gaining more free time in 2015 and working through my to-do list of knitting and sewing projects. Here's to a great year ahead!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


It's been a wee bit crazy around here the last few months but I'm very happy to say that one thing did come off my needles: my Fiber Optic gradient sweater. I showed you the start of the sweater in this post from September and I'm happy to say that the final sweater is just as lovely as I envisioned.

Two gradient packs was the perfect amount of yarn for this sweater (honestly, I'm just lucky I'm not a larger size). I ended up with about 10 yards of yarn leftover and a bunch of 1" scraps. I'm rather proud of this efficiency.

The one thing I don't love about this sweater is that the ribbing at the sleeves and hem flares and flips up. It does not look nice and drives me a bit crazy. I need to figure out if I can stabilize it with a ribbon backing or if I have to rip the hems out to redo them. The sweater is currently in my "need to think about" pile (yes, I have one of those and it's not small) until I figure this out.

Other than the flippiness, I'm very happy with the final sweater. I admit that the yarn is doing most of the heavy lifting here. This is in no way curing my obsession with Fiber Optic yarns.

The good news is that I have two more Fiber Optic gradient packs on hand, one in ebony to holly and the other in smoke on the water. I don't know what I'll do with them but I'm leaning toward using them together as stripes. Won't that look lovely?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Charm Bags

Even though I don't have a lot of crafting time at the moment, I still must admit to being on a sewing kick. The new sewing machine is one reason I'm sewing more and the other is quilting pre-cuts, particularly mini charm packs. It's amazing how quickly pre-cuts can be sewn up into something cute. I made two small bags (onetwo) in the springtime and just finished a few more.

"Color Me Happy" (top) and "Sweet Serenade" (bottom), both from Moda

From start to finish, I can whip up one of these little zippered pouches out in just over an hour, which is super gratifying. These two bags are made of a 4x5 grid of mini charm squares and lined with another 4x5 grid (see last photo), which uses up 40 of the 42 squares in the pack. The result is a lovely 5"x8" bag.

"Mirabelle" fabric from Moda

I also tried out a flap version of the bag, but I like it less than the zippered version (the zippered bags are bigger and the flap isn't  a nice smooth closure)). The good thing about this version is being comfortable enough with the concept of making bags that I know I can modify the design. Sewing skills, I have them!

I have one more mini charm pack on hand and I have a feeling that it too will end up as a bag. The bags are just too cute, I can't not make another!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Color Progression Progress

I bought a bunch of Fiber Optic gradient yarn at Wisconsin Sheep & Wool and just cast on a project that will use two of the gradient packs: a Sugar Maple sweater. I admit to falling in love with this pattern after seeing the Fiber Optic dyer wearing her version using a different gradient colorway. I think the sweater is going to look sharp in the onyx-to-crimson progression.

The pattern itself is pretty straightforward - it's a tweaked top-down raglan - but the hard part is dealing with the 30 mini-skeins that form the two gradient packs. I need to keep the skeins in the proper order, do joins, and take care of ends, but it will all be worth it to see a smooth and subtle color progression in the finished object.

I'm using a couple strategies to make the yarn wrangling easier. The first is joining by magic knot, as shown in the video above. I'm not usually one for joins using knots (they distort the fabric a bit), but this was the easiest way to waste as little yarn as possible and avoid the added density of woven-in ends.

The other thing I'm doing is joining as I go, as it seemed easier to deal with yarn from one mini-skein at a time. To keep everything in order, I strung all of the mini-skeins onto a spare bit of yarn (shown in the first photo) at the beginning of the project and secured the yarn with a slip knot. Now, it's really easy to grab a new skein whenever I need one.

I'm pretty happy with my systems for dealing with the mini-skeins and I can't wait to show you more of this sweater as it progresses!

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

WI Sheep & Wool

Its September in Wisconsin, which can only mean it's time for Wisconsin Sheep & Wool! This year's trip was lovely as I again met up with some Ravenclaw friends from the Ravelry Harry Potter House Cup.

Row 1: stacymarie, NoNeinNyet, Piper, MariaCrafts
Row 2: jayannell, CathyCake
Row 3: isisonearth, OneNeedleKnitting, Xamonster
Row 4: BrineyDeep (me), semperfila, bandbabe
[Photo courtesy of CathyCake]

I honestly spent most of the time at the festival hanging out with these ladies and catching up. It's always wonderful to meet in person and I wish we could do it more than annually. At least we have Ravelry for the rest of the time.

Besides hanging out and knitting (or in my case spinning) we saw some of the sheep dog trials, which are always a favorite. We also caught the walk and knit competition which is a walking relay where teams get points for both speed and the number of stitches finished. Very fun.

On the shopping front, let's not talk about the damage I did at the Fiber Optic booth. I am still totally gradient obsessed.  We'll see if I can knit everything up before next year's Sheep and Wool, although I am ready to cast on one large gradient project.

And finally, as is customary, I end my post with a sheep photo. Sheep!

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Actual Knitting

I was looking through the last few months of posts the other day and realized this blog has pretty much been all sewing all the time since I got my new sewing machine. You can't fault a girl for being excited about a new toy but, seeing as this blog is nominally a knitting blog, we're definitely due for some yarns goodness.

Happily, I finished and blocked two knitting projects this past month: an Orchid Thief shawl and a second pair of Twiglets mitts (first pair blogged here). The Orchid Thief shawl has been on my to-make list for about a year now. I specifically remember buying the MadTosh Merino Light for it at the 2013 Sheep and Wool festival. There's a nice symmetry in finishing this shawl just in time for this year's Sheep and Wool (but it may be more of an excuse to buy more yarn because I used up last year's haul).

The other project I just finished is a pair of Twiglets mitts. I really like these mitts because they are quick to make and the lace pattern is easy to memorize. This is my second pair and I can definitely see myself making more.

So there are the latest knitting adventures: beautiful gray lace. My next yarny adventure? Wisconsin Sheep and Wool!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Bad Passwords Dress

When I'm not blogging about crafting, I actually run another blog for scientists on managing research data. Recently, I've written about anonymization, good null values, and backups, but it's passwords that I really want to talk about today. You see, I'm mildly obsessed with bad (read: all-to-common/easy-to-guess) passwords. It started this spring when I wrote a post on strong passwords but became a full out obsession when I saw this tweet:

The dress in question was made by security researcher and professor Lorrie Cranor. She's made both a dress and a quilt based on the most common passwords from a 2009 breach of the gaming site RockYou. More importantly, she made the fabric available via Spoonflower. You can probably guess where this is going next.

I made a bad password dress! I used the large, clean version of Lorrie's fabric and had it printed on cotton poplin. For the pattern, I went with a shift dress, Colette Laurel, to avoid breaking up the pattern with seam lines. The result is what you see here.

A couple notes on the project itself. First, I'm not too crazy about Spoonflower's cotton poplin. It will work fine for the dress but is a bit stiff overall. I doubt I'll order it again. Another note concerns Laurel. It's a great pattern from one of my favorite designers but, simply put, shift dresses aren't all that flattering on me. I still think it's the right style for this fabric, but the pattern will probably move to the "won't make again" pile. Finally, I want to state that my sewing machine's invisible zipper foot is officially awesome.

Overall, I am very happy with the dress for the sheer nerdiness of it all. It may not be the most flattering thing in my closet, but I have a feeling it's going to become a conference-wear staple.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Mending By Machine

I feel like all I've been doing on this blog since April is gushing over my new sewing machine, but seriously guys, my Janome is awesome! I played with another new-to-me feature recently - the mending stitch - and was again highly pleased with the results.

I experimented with machine mending on a dress with an L-shape rip in the button band. The mending process itself was really simple: iron a square of interfacing onto the back of the rip then run the mending stitch over the rip to stabilize the area. Honestly, the hardest part was sewing the button back on.

I'm excited to add machine mending to my make-do-and-mend repertoire - it's just another bonus of finally using 21st century sewing technology!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Passel of Patterns

I come from a family of makers, one of whom is my maternal grandmother. She's wonderful and a great maker. Not only have I been the lucky recipient of several of her knitting and sewing projects over the years but more recently she gifted me a pile of her old sewing patterns. Believe me, I was very excited to receive two boxes full of sewing patterns in a range of styles and sizes, baby to adult.

The hard part of this whole thing is figuring out where to start with all of this goodness! Thankfully, one pattern caught my eye: Simplicity 7449. Simplicity has put out several patterns with this number over the years and I believe that this particular one is from the 1980's.

I admit that part of my reason for choosing this pattern is because I stumbled upon this Sunnyside Twilight Buttercup fabric while shopping for fabric for another project. The Sunnyside fabric immediately jumped into my mind as something that would look lovely for the yoke of a shirt. I, at least, think it turned out well for this.

The top was pretty simple to put together, as it uses Dolman sleeves - meaning sleeves are done with the general shape of the front and back pieces instead of the normal procedure of setting in the sleeves. I also finished the neckline with bias tape which, besides being simple, is quickly becoming a favorite technique for finishing.

I did add a few other special touches to the top including psuedo-flat felled sleeves. I meant to make french seams but got my fabric pieces backwards. Oops. Making the seams look flat felled was the best compromise to this error. The other thing I did was use one of my sewing machine's decorative stitches to add a little heart to the bottom right hem. Between these small details and my mastery of the basics, my sewing is definitely improving and I'm certainly taking more pride in it!

Happily, I finished this project in time to pack it for my summer vacation - a family trip to Germany! It was a wonderful adventure for me, my husband and my in-laws, though I still have SO MANY photos to go through. One of them is this one below. I could not resist taking a photo of my new shirt next to one of Germany's most famous attractions, Neuschwanstein Castle.

So there you have it, a pile of patterns, a new handsewn top, and a family adventure. It's been a very exciting month.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Spin Spin

I'm in the Start All The Things phase of crafting and, in an effort to not get overwhelmed, I'm trying to clear out a bunch of the works in progress hanging around my craft room. One such project was this braid of fiber, half spun up on my spinning wheel.

The fiber comes from Sheepish Creations, whose fiber I've spun up on several previous occasions. It's such a cheery fiber, though not in my normal color palette, so I suspect it will end up as babywear. Any pattern ideas for 140 yards of worsted weight?

Of course, finishing this skein of handspun only makes me want to start spinning more fiber. Not exactly the point of finishing this spinning, but I won't say no to more crafting mojo.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Variations On A Theme

Sewing is continuing apace at casa BrineyDeep, though I'm mostly working on some small items. First on the list was fixing my bucket hat from last month.

I fixed the hat by unpicking the crown-band seam and sewing a new seam with a deeper seam allowance. This took in a lot of the extra depth from the crown, but it also made it so that I was putting a seam into a place that had not been sewn over before. Sewing on "fresh" fabric is really important because even one seam weakens the laminated cotton.

I have about 1/2 yard of this fabric left, but no immediate plans to use it. It's a tricky fabric to work with, so it's just going to wait in my stash until the right project comes along.

In other sewing news, I made another patchwork bag. This one is a little bigger than the previous one, as I used these 3.5" Riley Blake fabric squares instead of a 2.5" Moda mini charm pack. I'm totally fine with the change of size because I adore this fabric, particularly the crown print on the lining.

Thankfully, I have lots of projects on my to-sew list. Otherwise, I could easily become obsessed with sewing charm pack bags. They're just too fun, quick, and adorable!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


I love making things for other people. The only downside is that I can't blog about them for a while. Which means that you're only now seeing the very first thing I sewed on my new sewing machine: this little monster plush I whipped up for my niece/goddaughter.

I was actually in the middle of making this plushie when I discovered that my old sewing machine died. Not a fun way to make that discovery, when you're full of excitement about making a cute project. But this little guy did turn out nicely on my new machine.

I just love his little monster face and am coming to enjoy the fact that his arms aren't quite level with each other (oops). It gives him some character, right?

All-in-all, not a bad use of some leftover fleece and a stab at pattern drafting. I think I need one to cuddle up with myself.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Greater Good

I recently asked The Husband what his favorite movie is, to which he replied, "I don't know. Probably Hot Fuzz." This answer excited me - not just because I also love that movie - but because I had an ulterior motive: I wanted to make him one of the cross stitch designs from the Etsy shop weelittlestitches and, happily, the shop has an awesome Hot Fuzz pattern.

After a little secret crafting, Husband now has a cool Hot Fuzz cross stitch hanging out on his computer desk. It's pretty adorable (and definitely makes me want to watch that movie again).

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Tutorial: Butterfly Headpiece

It's no secret that I love hats. I often find myself perusing hats on Pinterest and on one of my favorite blogs, the Royal Hats blog. While I'm more of a true hat person, I can't resist the occasional headpiece and a recent offering from this Etsy shop got me hankering to try making a headpiece for myself. The result is this kaleidoscope of butterflies.

All told, the headpiece was easy to make and very inexpensive, costing me roughly $5 and an hour of time. Since it's such a fun piece of headwear, I thought it worth sharing some notes so you can make one yourself.

Here are the supplies you will need to make this butterfly headpiece:
- 6 feather butterflies affixed to wire (Oriental Trading, $4.25 for 6)
- Metal headband (Oriental Trading, $4.25 for 6)
- E-6000 glue
- Needle-nose pliers
- Small wire cutters

To start assembly, we'll set two butterflies "flying" an inch or so above the headband to give the piece dimensionality. These butterflies will be on the side of the headband, about 2-3 inches down from the top of your head with some space in between each butterfly. Use a mirror to be ensure placement is visually appealing.

To affix a butterfly, wrap its wire several times around the headband, leaving about an inch of wire between the butterfly and the wrap to suspend the butterfly above the headband. Once securely wrapped to the headband, wrap the tail of the wire several times around the suspension end of the wire to secure it. Cut with wire cutters and use needle-nose pliers to tamp down any sharp ends. Apply glue to the wraps and use a toothpick or pin to push glue in between the wraps and the headband for a better hold.

Remove the wires from the remaining four butterflies, as we'll affix each butterfly directly to the headband with glue. The butterflies should be crowded together, with variations in orientation and angle. Again, use a mirror to check for visual appeal before gluing the butterfly body (not the wings) directly to the headband. There is no right way to do this, so just go with what looks best.

The glue takes a day or two to dry, after which you'll have a lovely butterfly headpiece to wear out into the world.

I'm really looking forward to wearing mine, especially because it's finally spring in Wisconsin!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


I may be a wee bit distracted from crafting this week by the arrival of this little guy:

We rescued a 14-week old lab-mix puppy last week. His name is Augustus (aka August, aka Auggie, aka Auggie Doggie). He is just as cute in real life as in these photos.

So not much crafting is going on at the moment, though I did make him the colorful kerchief seen in this photo. Scrap fabric + trying out my new sewing machine's overlocking stitch = win! He might not like having it around his neck, but I think it makes him look even cuter. Hooray for puppies!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


I am coming to believe that the best part of having a new sewing machine is getting to play around with all of its special features. The free lesson I received on my machine (yet another perk of buying local) really spurred this experimentation because I now have a basic understanding of what all my stitches and accessories do. And let me tell you, I am now in love with all of the feet that come with my Janome DC2013.

I used 3 special feet for my latest project: a patchwork wristlet. This project is from a mini charm pack kit that I bought on a quilt shop hop last summer (and can I say I'm totally sold on charm packs - no cutting and coordinated fabrics? awesome) and was perfect for trying things out on my machine.

Right off, I used the machine's 1/4 inch foot for all of the patchwork seeming. I wasn't convinced that I needed this foot, as I really don't quilt, but the seam guide was amazingly helpful and I will definitely use it again when I need 1/4 inch seams. The other obvious foot to test was the zipper foot for installing the wristlet's zipper. This foot is pretty straightforward but I like that it can be mounted to either the right or left of the needle, depending on what you're sewing.

1/4" foot - zipper foot - ribbon/sequins foot

The third foot to be tested was a ribbon/sequins foot that I purchased separately from my machine. This little foot guides 1/4 ribbon, elastic, and strands of sequins into the sewing area so you can stitch it directly onto your fabric. What is really appealing about this foot is the ability to use decorative stitches on top of ribbon for beautiful trimmings. I still need to play around with this foot more, not only to get ideas but also because my trimmings aren't coming out straight yet.

Besides giving me a chance to test out a few of my new sewing feet, this was a really fun and quick project and I'm very happy with the results. It's got me thinking about more uses for [mini] charm packs and making new plans for experimenting with my new sewing machine. All told, that's the best kind of project.