October 29, 2013


No, this is not a post about collecting Halloween candy while dressed like a pirate.

(side note: Talk Like A Pirate Day in September is my birthday! Always a bit of extra fun with all the AAARRRRR jokes, the only type I can reliably remember!)

The mix I played at last week’s hoop class was Best of Bootie 2012 – a wonderful mix of mashups, find it in all sorts of downloadable forms here!

I first heard of Bootie (and mashups, in general) at Burning Man. I can’t remember if it was 2006 or 2007.. wait, just realized which Burning Man date I was dancing with, and it was Goldilocks, and I met him in 2007.. SO, in 2007, I was wandering Burning Man with Goldilocks (he already had that playa name, and gave my mine: Fluffy), and we came across a DJ stage where they were taking one recognizable song and mashing it up with another.. and it broke my brain in the most glorious way!

I’ve been a big fan of the mashup genre ever since, and Bootie is my main online source for mixes. Visit their website here, or find more of their music on Soundcloud here.  Want to hear some other mashup artists?  I also like Girltalk, and Dj Earworm puts out an annual effort that includes the year’s top 25 hits according to Billboard’s Year End Hot 100 list… all in one song!

Here is his United State of Pop 2013, enjoy!

October 18, 2013

A delicious day…


My “days off” usually contain some amount of work, and today was no exception. A staff meeting at the yarn shop, some work-ish knitting, and a bit of blog writing (my own, and for another website)… it is also pretty normal for any of my days to include two or three different types of employment: contract, self-employment, or my regular part-time work.

The things that set today apart were all little things, that in combination created a very lovely and wonderful day of surprising recharge. Success in unusual areas, like shopping for a swim suit – 2 piece, fits me, I feel awesome in it (in a fat-positive belly-love kinda way) AND it was 60% off; finding the perfect trim for a second attempt at putting a zipper into Lempicka (if you’re a Vancouver local, remember that Dresssew’s busiest point of the year is Halloween, and plan accordingly); discovering my favourite brand of undies at a pretty deep discount at Winners, in my size, and having the funds to be able to replace the YesTheyHaveHeldUpForYearsButTheElasticIsNowShowingAndReallyChristaDon’tYouDeserveNewOnesYet pile at home… plus a misty foggy bike ride in the morning, and a wonderfully sunny crisp ride home after stopping in for tea and then an early dinner at Chau Veggie Express (my new favourite vitamin delivery method) on Victoria Drive between 34th and 35th Ave.

That giant bowl full of coconut curry goodness is the #17 – Golden Temple Prayers, accompanied by #21 – Namahata, tasty crunchy salad rolls. Not shown in the photo is an amazing dairy-free coconut shake, and the delicious macaroons I enjoyed earlier with my afternoon tea. Friendly staff, west-facing windows to catch the setting sun, and quiet enough that I could occupy a table with my knitting for the better part of three hours without guilt.. this was the bliss I needed today!

Back home, my accomplishments included figuring out how to load some excellent DJ mixes onto my phone for future bike rides (on speaker, not headphones!), and then tackling the stack of dishes that have been piled in the sink for a couple of days. I find music really shifts my energy levels, and “jackin’ house” is my new favourite genre.  Oh, the things I learn from Soundcloud…

Here’s the mix that I played at hoop class on Wednesday night – the Cosby a capella bit starts about 3/4 of the way through, at 46:25. Marty Funkhauser is Canadian, currently (according to his bio) in Lethbridge, Alberta. Find his Facebook fanpage here, or click on the Soundcloud window to go find him over there!





October 11, 2013

Lempicka – a new cardigan pattern on Twist Collective

Front view of Lempicka Cardigan shown on model

(All photos by Jane Heller – aren’t they lovely?!)

Lempicka has gone live over on Twist Collective, a late addition to the gorgeous Fall 2013 issue! I love this cardigan, and with one already on the needles for me I’m still also planning to use the design lines in some garment sewing (or bleaching/painting) in the near future.

I was inspired by the stained glass of Frank Lloyd Wright, and the fantastic architecture of South Beach in Miami that I got to see firsthand, thanks to a waterpolo tournament many years ago in Fort Lauderdale when the Seattle Otters team needed some extra players. An early prototype had lines that made me think of mid-century shiny chromed cars – you can see a photo on Ravelry here, but due to some unflattering placement of design lines on the chest, it has since been frogged so I could reuse the yarn. (Apparently I thought the fullest part of my bust was about three inches higher than it really is… whoops!)

The sample that I knit for Twist Collective used Elann.com’s Peruvian Sierra Aran yarn… and they’re having a Full Bag Blowout Sale! You can still buy single balls at the regular price here, and thanks to Elann’s great website, you can even check that you’re ordering the same dyelot in the full bag and the singles!

Here are the pattern details in case you want to shop right now:

Finished measurements:

Bust: 31 (33 ¾, 37 ¼, 40, 43 ½, 46 ½, 50, 52 ¾)” / 79 (86, 95, 101.5, 110.5, 118, 127, 134) cm
Length: 24 ¼ (25, 26, 26 ¼, 27, 27 ¼, 27 ½, 28 ¼)” / 61.5 (63.5, 66, 66.5, 68.5) cm
Intended to be worn with 0–2″ / 0–2.5 cm positive ease.

11 (13, 14, 17, 18, 19, 20, 22, 24) balls elann.com Peruvian Sierra Aran

The pattern gauge is 18 sts to 24 rows, with a recommended starting point of a 5mm needle when you’re knitting a gauge swatch. You do that, right?

My personal version is close to being finished, just half a sleeve and the zipper to put in, then some blocking. I’m planning to try the no-sew method of zipper insertion recently featured on TECHknitting as I wasn’t super-happy with the way the zipper in my sample turned out. I’ll secretly share that the sample/prototype wound up with an extra stitch at each front, so it was turned into a “Oh, I meant to do it that way…” facing that sandwiched the zipper between the icord and the now-2 stitches of the selvedge. Don’t worry, this mistake didn’t get added to the written pattern, so you won’t face the same issue.

Another secret to share: I’m usually good at meeting deadlines, but this issue was a challenge. I had set aside all of my extra work during May to give me a month to work on Penta and Lempicka, which would usually be sufficient… then Kate wanted to see Penta as a shawl, not just a blanket, and had set me up with a wonderful knitter who would work up that sample. Sounds great, yes? But.. this is the part where I realize that my working style (knit sample while taking notes, then write pattern) doesn’t mesh well when there is another person on the same knitting and shipping deadline. Lempicka was already knit when I set it aside to work on Penta.. and Penta took up most of May. I was knitting a full-size adult blanket in worsted weight yarn, and Karen was knitting a full-size adult shawl in FINGERING… and we were emailing notes and photos and comments back and forth.. and then it was June.

Want to know what June contained? My regular part-time job and teaching knitting classes at Three Bags Full, plus teaching a 60-hour lifeguard course, plus all of the production meetings and then the actual event of a four-day juggling/hooping/circus festival I help produce, PLUS house hunting because I finally admitted I couldn’t live as a roommate with my ex-, and then packing the house and computers and internet and moving… … and it was a gong show.

Things I learned in June: trying to use my iPad to crunch spreadsheet numbers from my desktop computer wouldn’t work, because Numbers on iPad apparently doesn’t believe in fractions; saving files in multiple locations means that it gets really hard (er, impossible) to properly track the versions; and that it sucks to be struggling with pattern writing on Canada Day on your partner’s brother’s dinner table while everyone else is socializing and enjoying the family gathering. Oh, that? Yeah, Canada Day is July 1st. So, I was seriously past my deadline.

This is the part where I acknowledge the huge amount of work that the tech editing team at Twist Collective did on this pattern.

The tech editors take a pattern, check it for mistakes, make sure that it contains all of the information needed to complete the pattern, and then make it match the Twist Collective style guide so buyers get a consistent product. In Lempicka’s case, along with having to wait for the pattern to be delivered in full (” Here’s the body, but the hood isn’t done yet, sorry!” “Oh, whoops, I forgot the abbreviations list!” “Ack, that version I sent wasn’t the latest one…”) the TE had concerns about my grading for the larger sizes, an unusual increase that I was using but hadn’t explained fully, and the format I had used to lay out the different instruction sets for all of the moving design lines. So, Lempicka got a giant rewrite and a delayed release, but I’m happy with the final outcome.

Once I get photos uploaded, you’ll see that my version is a little different than the published version: three stitches in each design line instead of two, short row shaping in the bust, and the hips have more flare. I’ll have notes in my Ravelry project in case you’d like to modify your project similarly, and you’re welcome to ask questions over in the Christa Knits group.

Knitting Lempicka? Please share your progress and final photos! Let me know when you’ve posted them on Ravelry, and I’ll send you a coupon code for a free pattern from my Ravelry store.


Back view of Lempicka Cardigan shown on model

October 2, 2013

Music for Movement and Food for Fuel

I have been thinking about adding music links to the blog after every hoop class, to share the podcast or playlist that kept us moving and grooving for the hour session. Since I’m tweaking a few things on the site today, I’ll share the links BEFORE tonight’s class!

This is Marty Funkhauser’s mix “I sure love Fondue Parties” – if the Soundcloud thingy isn’t working, you can follow this link.

One of the things I love most about social media is the opportunity to discover things that I wouldn’t stumble over by following my usual internet patterns – Ravelry and Pinterest don’t have a lot of music, but my friends and acquaintances on Facebook share links all the time! This particular mix was posted by Michelle, a roller derbyist I met at a hoop jam at Sideshow, and it kept me in a great mood through a couple hours of intense home organizing yesterday.

Pinterest also played a big part in yesterday’s successes: I invited my sweetie over for dinner, and made these two dishes:

Romanesco Gratin, from eggtotheapples’s blog here – I only used one head of Romanesco, but it nearly filled my casserole anyway!

Maple Dijjon Potatoes with Apples and Sausage, from alaskafromscratch’s blog here – the nearby shop didn’t have chicken sausage so I substituted pork Kolbassa, and it was tasty!

Cooking regularly is a new thing for me. I’ve gone through phases over the years, making a lot of soups, or weekly batches of crockpot butter chicken, but I’m really enjoying dating a foodie omnivore who is supportive and appreciative of my attempts in the kitchen. Having watched cooking shows like Iron Chef, Top Chef, and Diners, Drive Ins and Dives, and received lessons in knife skills from my sweetie’s chef daughter, I feel empowered and capable of either following recipes to get a predictable result, or experimenting with flavours and techniques now that I have a better understanding of cooking methods and taste combinations.

Special bonus from my date night cooking? Tasty leftovers for lunch on the next day when I work from home!


August 15, 2013

An old tagline, and a new pattern.

The website continues to take form, and I’m digging the current minimalist WordPress Theme (at the time of this writing, it is Minimous by Andrew Thompson). Thanks to a timely thread over in the Designers group on Ravelry, I’ve just learned about imbedding Google Fonts, so you should be reading this in “Oxygen” under “Quicksand”.. hm, that’s a funny combination now that I notice it!

Today has been a mostly awesome day – delightful customers at work, joyful fun at hooping class, and discovering that not only has the Fall 2013 issue of Twist Collective gone live, but the photos of my design Penta are awesome, AND ALSO one was chosen for the cover image!!!



And that old tagline I mentioned?  You can see it right now, up there under my name…


These were my first business cards, the layout, design and printing gifted to me by my lovely sister Heather when she was working in a newspaper office doing graphic design and business stuff. (She’s much happier now as an electrician keeping a large production wood mill running day and night!)  I didn’t have a specific job, but I really liked making things, and I wanted a card that would cover it all.

In redesigning this website, I’m bringing all of my various trades and talents back into one place, and I need something to describe what I am about and what I do.

Creativity (mostly unlimited) still works.


PS – curious about the logo on that old card? It is based on a vine design that my longest-friend Paul used to draw on my face when we’d go dancing at an alternative/goth nightclub years ago… and I have that X, with vines and hearts and all, tattoo’d to the left of my bellybutton, almost as big as my hand. Loved it then, love it still!


August 11, 2013

Coming up for air…

Wow, the last four months have been a crazy whirlwind of activity!  Designing, working at my other jobs (training lifeguards, teaching first aid, selling delicious yarn, leading hoop dance classes), helping to organize and present a hooping/juggling/circus festival.. and finalizing the end of a relationship by moving out.

In the middle of that, my webhost upgraded their technical-stuff-I-don’t-really-get, and my attempts to migrate this site over to the newer version of the technical-stuff-I-don’t-really-get didn’t work, until now!

(Now is, of course, almost 1am when I should be up at around 7:30am to go teach Standard First Aid, but instead I’m incredibly excited about getting on with the website rebuild)

In case you’ve missed me, and can’t wait however long it will take for me to get this up to full speed, please reconnect with me on Twitter, @christagiles.