Saturday, July 27, 2019

What I did for Plastic-free July

Not much actually, that I wasn't doing before:

  • Getting our dish detergent, laundry detergent and hair conditioner bottled refilled at a local Ecostore refill station.
  • Intercepting compostibles before the boy puts them in the rubbish and diverting them to the compost bin
  • putting empty, clean, bread bags (and other suitable plastic bags) in our reusable shopping bags so they can be used to hold fresh produce items.
  • emptying out our plastic-bag-lined indoor rubbish bins into the big rubbish bin (rather than lifting out the bags as well)
  • picking up bits of rubbish off the street and putting them into a nearby bin, if there is one.
  • avoiding buying stuff we don't need
  • eating vegan most breakfasts and lunches (the boy does the dinners and they are usually carnivorous)
  • Taking my own containers when I buy my lunch, or eating at the cafe instead of taking away
  • saving up for a set of period undies for TLM (who is not yet at the stage of needing them)
  • washing my face with bar cleanser
  • using cloth napkins instead of paper towels
  • trying to use handkerchiefs instead of paper tissues (unless I have a cold and need a LOT)
Next up I am deciding whether to replace disposable pens with pencils or with fountain pens and bottles of ink.

And I still haven't been able to satisfactorily replace my moisturisers with waste-free versions (as it's winter and my eczema-ry skin does best with the petroleum-based stuff with added urea). But I have had good results with basic mango butter + almond oil mixes which I buy in a glass jar. And I may try to do it myself so I don't end up with a ton of glass jars with plastic tops over time.
I also haven't had great luck with bar shampoo yet, but there are quite a few to try so it's only a matter of time (surely!).


A sewn, woven cardigan

I had it in my head that I really wanted a v-neck cardigan. A slouchy one that I can wear over a shirt, buttoned up, and then walk around with my hands in my pockets. Sort of like this one from Envelope -
.
I spent some time knitting one up from The Knitter, using leftover acrylic/alpaca yarn left over from the jumper I made for the boy. It had a column of Viking-inspired cables going up each side, front and back. Then I tried it on and it was a bit tight.

So I gave it to The Little Madam (now nearly 14 years old!) and resolved to make another one.

I went to the local yarn shop but I couldn't decide on a yarn. I went online and couldn't decide either. So in the end I bought some double-sided fabric on sale from the Fabric Store and used my Tamarack Jacket pattern to sew one up.

I did have to cut it down a lot in size. I probably should have used the cutting lines for a size 6 or 8 instead of for the size 10. After all, there as none of the thickness involved that the jacket is designed for.
As the fabric is reversible I wanted the finished product to be too. The red side is the "fun" view and the black side is the "business" view.
This is the black side out 


This is the red side out. after taking this photo I did fix the pockets so they are more symmetrical.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

I fell off the green wagon on our weekend away

I thought that it was hard to minimise waste in HK. Well it turns out it's hard to minimise waste when away from home.

We stayed in a really nice little apartment in Christchurch - but it had no recycling bins let alonea compost bins. I did consider asking Reception about it, and I should have. But after I had to tell them about the bed having a loose leg I felt like that was enough complaining for one stay!

At least we did not do takeaways, instead eating out a nice eateries or else buying small amounts of food from the supermarket to make our own food. But yeah, by the time we left we had also left a few uneaten bits and pieces that would have made great compost...

We also have a few more shopping bags than we really need now.

I shall pick up more litter to absolve myself.

Patchwork jeans

After cutting out my selvedge jeans pieces I thought there was enough fabric left over to make most of another pair of jeans. So I did. Though I did need to supplement with pieces salvaged from a pair of the boy's discards.



I used the Style Arc Sandra pattern again, but created a seam down the front and back of each leg (by folding each leg piece in half before cutting). I used the leftover selvedge denim to  make the inside front and inside back pieces, the yoke and waistband; and the boy's jeans to make the outside front and back pieces, pockets and belt loops.

The boy's jeans were a bit holey when I first got hold of them, and I'd originally made this long skirt out of them (which I liked, but didn't wear much).  The patches are from another, dark blue pair of jeans of his and a tartan-y piece from TLM's old jeans.
Something happened around the front pockets so that they are a tad higher than they should be  -but this is really the only thing that is slightly off. They fit really well. I think the softer denim at the sides helps these jeans to be comfy and have a bit of "give", compared to the selvedge jeans which are still quite stiff even though they have eased a bit with wear.

After taking these photos and wearing them for a day I shortened the hem just a little, about 2 cm. I have left the old denim raw at the hem but hemmed the dark denim bits. To me they are just about perfect!


I made myself a pair of selvedge jeans

I did it. I cut into my rigid Japanese selvedge denim and sewed myself some selvedge jeans (sorry no photos yet).
The sewing pattern I used was the Style Arc Sandra narrow-leg jeans, with the leg shortening and rise shortening described in my earlier post (about the jeans made with minimal stretch denim).

I made these additional modifications:

  • a flat bum modification in the back leg pattern, to reduce the amount of below-the-bum wrinkling 
  • redrew the legs so that the side seams are straight up and down, and the inner leg seams are moved to keep the leg width the same - based in this diagram on Pinterest (thanks Reyna Lay).

I decided to wash the denim before cutting into it. I can't tell for sure whether the fabric is raw or sanforised, but if it's raw and I wash it I'm sure the jeans will still fade nicely - just not as markedly as they do on unwashed raw denim.

Once I cut out all of the pieces I realised that I might have enough denim to make another pair as the leg pieces take up less than half of the width of fabric. Or I might make something easier to wear, like a skirt!

Apparently rigid denim jeans are supposed to fit tightly at first, and they should loosen as you wear them and conform to your body. So I made them tight around the hips.

I've started wearing these in, though they still don't have or hems. They might shrink in the next wash, or I might decide they are just too uncomfortable to wear and not worth finishing!

These definitely fit better than my last pair as there are less back thigh wrinkles, but its difficult bending down in them.  I followed the advice to do the squat and lunge while wearing them, and squatting is a bit of a strain.  Am I too old to be breaking in stiff jeans?



Sunday, June 16, 2019

On the difficulty of being a discerning and conscientious consumer when you have health needs

I was going great with the solid moisturiser bars until winter struck and with it, ezcema flare-ups.
I did push on through but my skin was just not getting enough hydration, so I have had to go back to my plastic bottle of sensitive skin moisturer made from petrochemical ingredients, plus my plastic tubes of body moisturiser with the urea from petrochemical ingredients.

I will keep trying though!

I lost a friend and patted a cheetah

So during Queens Birthday weekend I found out that I had lost a dear friend. She had been living in Taipei (TLM and I had stayed with her at the end of 2018) and was looking forward to finishing up there after one more year, and then retiring early. I was in shock for a couple of days after finding out. We saw each other at least once a year although we were on opposite ends of the earth, and have known each other since I was about 16. I'm so going to miss her.
...

The boy recently had his 50th birthday, and he wanted to do a Close Encounter at the zoo with their two cheetahs. And because he is lovely he wanted me to do it with him.

The zoo's cheetah's are hand-reared so apparently the cheetahs both enjoy human contact. One went straight to the far corner, looking over now and again. The other strolled over, strolled past and repeated - sometimes stopping by for a pat.

It was quite different from having a close encounter with the red pandas, but that's the be expected...



These are all photos of the same cheetah - either Cango or Kunjuka, I forget which. Behind him are the boy's lower legs and, to his right, mine.


Friday, April 19, 2019

Style Arc Sandra narrow leg jeans

Although I have lots of pairs of jeans (8?), at any one time half of them are either too big or too small for me.

And with this logic I present my latest finished sewing project - Style Arc Sandra narrow leg jeans. I used denim with minimal stretch and cut a size 10. Though I could probably have gone with a size 8 around the back hips as I took about an inch off through the hip. Other that this the only modifications were to shorten the crotch a smidge and the legs a lot.

Just so you know, I was going for a slim leg look rather than a skinny leg.

Not bad eh? It didn't occur to me to "style" my make...until I saw this photo 

Side view of an attempt at a "jaunty" pose

The back view is really unimpressive but trust me - when i'm not posing for a bum shot it looks fine!

I bound the bottoms of all my leg seams with scraps of Liberty print fabric (leftover from my shirt making). So I can show off my red leather laceup boots!
Overall I'm pleased with the final result though having seen the back view photo I can't stop myself from hitching the jeans up whenever I change position. I've decided it's a flat bum effect and may do something about it next time I use this pattern.

Funny how the fit around the hips and bum is quite different from that of my Style Arc Sandra wide leg jeans.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Fast food and plastic avoidance

There's no avoiding plastic when it comes to eating fast food - at least, not when the boy is in charge of getting it.

TLM and I have our own ways to get around it though.

If we are getting sushi, we take a reusable box each from home, along with our own chopsticks - I do anyway -  TLM is happy to eat with her hands.) This only works if it's one of those shops where you choose your own individual pieces - not so well with St Pierre's where it's all pre-packed and sitting on the counter.

Taking our own boxes has also worked for our local Indian, Vietnamese and Malaysian takeaways (in most cases they are boxes that came with our earlier takeaways from there). It's surprisingly easy to just ask if they'll put the food in our containers, and so far every one I have asked has been fine with it.

Another option of course, is to dine in at the eatery. No boxes and no washing up! Though amazingly I have been to coffee shops where they serve up your coffee in a disposable cup even if you are drinking it on their premises!

Fish and chips - a relatively sustainable option (as long as you don't think about by-catch), in that it's all wrapped up in plain paper which I can later rip up and put in my compost bin.

Which makes McDonalds sound not so bad, regarding packaging anyway. Their straws are plastic but most of the stuff is packed in cardboard,which is recyclable (when it's clean ) and compostable (when it's not). I just hate eating their food.

Friday, March 01, 2019

Doubly reusable

At one point last year I thought perhaps the highly anticipated menopause had arrived, because I had two consecutive blissfully period-free months.

Hopes were dashed on the third month, but even if the meno really had paused for good it's nice to know that I wouldn't have to throw away the joyfully coloured reusable pads I've had since the mid-2017.

It turns that, when they aren't being used to stem the crimson tide (so to speak), they are also a true knicker-saver during allergy season - when hacking coughs and explosive sneezes overcome puny pelvic floor muscles.

That's nice.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

My first partial button placket

I finally confronted my fear of pattern-matching and made this top using one of the lovely shirt fabrics I got in Hong Kong. You can't really see it here but the stripes are dark blue and mid-green. I used Butterick 3383 as a basis (petite-ing the bodice length, cutting a 14 everywhere except around the sleeve and armcye, which was a 12). I used a button placket pattern and instructions from a Japanese sewing book - but I can't tell you which one is was as it's gone back to the public library.

The buttons are from an old men's shirt that I pulled apart for parts...

I managed to pattern-match pretty well from front to back and from side to side, but utterly failed to do this between sleeve and bodice

TLM, my photographer, made my bum look tiny! And my shoulders look massive...The pants, which I posted about just earlier, fit damned well if I may say so myself.

And the front view. Buttoned up the neckline is a comfortable distance from neck, but the walk home in the sun was hot so I was pleased to see that it looks fine unbuttoned too.
You can't see the trousers in their entirety but I can tell you that they end at the ankle.

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Wide leg jeans a la Style Arc Sandra

I've tried Style Arc pants patterns for stretch fabric before and I've been able to get them to fit well with a minimum of adjustments. But I wanted a pattern for non-stretch fabric. I also wanted to work out whether I'm going to be able to make rigid selvedge jeans (and whether they will turn out ok) from the Japanese selvedge denim I bought in Hong Kong.

So during the Black Friday sale last year I bought a printed copy of Style Arc Sandra. But this is a narrow leg jeans pattern, I hear you say. Yes it is. But I am going to use it to make narrow leg jeans, wide leg jeans and in-between leg jeans. I just wanted it for the waist-bum-tum-crotch fit, which I was confident would be good.
Back view - I moved the patch pockets for maximum bum flattery

Front view - you can see the contrast fabric I used to bind the waistband, and the tiny patch on the front to fix a rip in the fabric which I didn't notice at the time. That's when I realised why I had found the fabric already cut and tossed on top of some other rolls!
Inside front, showing the lovely pocket lining shape that guarantees the linings will never pop out of the pockets.
Mods

  • I shortened the pattern at the legs (because I am 5'0" but also because I wanted the jeans to be cropped) and also the crotch height.
  • I laid out the leg patterns as though I would have with selvedge denim - right up against the selvedge but still on grain. This mean the leg would be wider since it is mean to taper down toward the hem. I also added to the width on the other side - because I wanted to make wide leg jeans. If I go on to make actual selvedge jeans I am supposed to taper the inside leg a lot to keep the original hem width.
  • When sewing the inside leg seams I stretched the back leg between crotch and knee. This is to reduce the amount of fabric that ends up at the back leg when you are wearing them. I think it worked.
  • I didn't have enough fabric to cut a curved, seamless waistband - so I cut two pieces and sewing them together at the back.
I also meant to put the coin pocket on the right instead of on the left which is how the pattern has you do it. But something went awry when I cut out the coin pocket piece and I ended up putting it on the left after all.

There are no flat fell seams. The seam allowance is about 1 cm so I just didn't bother. But if I make proper jeans from this pattern later I'm probably going to have to increase the seam allowance before I cut the pieces out.

I don't yet have a photo of me wearing the jeans, but trust me - this is the most well-fitting pair of trousers I have ever made! I have worn them quite a lot already and they're really comfortable and I feel good in them.

Solid moisturisers

I have been wanting to try solid moisturisers as a way to reduce the amount of plastic I have in my life - I get through a lot of moisturiser because I have dry, sensitive skin.

I started with a box of face care samplers from Ethique. I have tried an oilier one for night time /  winter and also the one for normal-oily skin. Neither of them bother my sensitive skin and both of them do a good job of keeping my skin from drying out. I also tried a cleansing bar and that has also been great at removing makeup without stressing the skin.

So I would definitely recommend Ethique if you want to try their face products.

As for body moisturisers, I wasn't confident that the Ethique products would suit me because they seemed to include fragrance ingredients. So I had ordered a selection from Clover and Clay. They have their own blends but also allow you to choose a custom blend. I ordered 3 of their house blends plus a custom blend that excluded any essential oils (because I'm suspicious of anything that smells nice). The most successful for me were the mango butter blend and the cocoa butter custom blend (ie without any essential oil).  Both were soft and moisturising and easy to apply.

So I was all set to get some more, but they have moved and won't be making any more till around April. I am definitely looking forward to when they are back in production.

In the meantime I ordered a solid moisturising bar from Dirty Hippie. They only have the one, and it is a basic blend that smells of beeswax and no fragrance. It comes in 3 sizes, and the middle size comes in a cardboard cylinder that applies like lipstick. I found it comically phallic! Apart from this it is not as easy to apply as the Clover and Clay because the applicator doesn't work as well as it could but also because it's not quite as soft so it's harder to tell whether I am getting enough onto my skin.

However it seems to be doing the job and should keep me going until I can get hold of the Clover and Clay stuff again.

So every now and then I fall back on my existing supply of creams just to make sure I'm not unintentionally letting my skin dry out. I have definitely noticed lately how wrinkly it has got, but this might just be a result of my middle-age-ness.

It's now just a matter of convincing the boy to use this stuff as well, as he is still buying the Head n Shoulders and shower gel etc.

Sunday, February 03, 2019

Still an alopecian - just

It's been eight months since my hair fell out completely for the second time, and while much of it has regrown (the crown is looking relatively bushy) I still have to wait before going out in public bare-headed.

There are still two bare patches at the back of my head, one on each side. Over time, the hair on top of my head will grow long enough to cover those patches. But that time hasn't come yet.

Also, this time last year I had side burns that I really liked. But this times the side burn hairs are sparse and white. This is a problem because from a medium distance those hairs are invisible so that from the front it looks like I have a Hitler hair-cut. So that's not very stylish. Also, .

And yet I am sick of wearing my wig.

Looking back at our holiday photos - some bewigged and others beanie-ed - I actually prefer how I look in a hat. I think somehow my head looks more oval and my forehead more high, when it is not framed by a fringe. Perhaps my next wig will have a lace front, so that I can go fringe-less (or side-swept) without fear of displaying the hard edge that I get with my current wig.

I had to go out of town for work last week and decided that I would pack headscarves instead of the wig (because it's too hot to wear a beanie). It was certainly a style statement, which with my very large shirt resulted in a pirate-y effect.

There is of course no photo.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

A very large shirt

One of the fabrics I bought in Hong Kong was a lovely shirt cotton with purple pinstripes. I traced a pattern from the Stylish Dress Book by Yoshiko Tsukiori - View D Button-up blouse in Liberty print.
I traced the size 14 based on the bust measurements. I am in between size 12 and size 14 for this book and probably closer to a 12. However after making it up I think maybe I should have made a 10...
But even if I had gone with a size 10 the sleeves would still have been waaaay too long.

I'm still going to wear it, if I can figure a way to style it.

Sunday, January 06, 2019

Recycling me-made jeans

A couple of with trees ago I made some jeans using a Mcalls pattern and some stiff non-stretch denim. The fit is really off though so I didn't wear them much.
So I turned them into a summer shoulder bag.
I inserted 4 additional inside pockets, including a zipped pocket rescued from TLMs old school backpack.  There is still no satisfactory bag closure tho, nor for the outside pockets.

Friday, January 04, 2019

First make of 2019

We came back to hot weather but my bung ankle has prevented me from going for walks or to the beach. Instead I started sewing and made this simple linen maxi dress.

I added side pockets and trimmed it in change at bias binding. Also inserted bias bound godet-like pieces at the lower sides.

From the photo I ca

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

It's harder to be green in Hong Kong

Yes they recycle. Yes they have recycling bins.
But we often could not find one when we needed one.

Also, it is hard work avoiding the plastic. When we bought takeaway dim sum it came in polystyrene and plastic bags, along with plastic cutlery. Yeah we could have brought our own reuseables, but I didn't want to buy any. So instead we mainly ate in (when we weren't having lovely lunches or dinners with my aunt).

It is also really really hard not to eat meat in Hong Kong. I knew there is a vegetarian eatery in Mong Kok, but I never managed to go there. And all the relatives are meat eaters - so I decided we would just go with the flow rather than make nuisances of ourselves when eating socially. Usually when eating out there is just one vegetable dish on offer - and it's cooked with meat. (Though I will add the food is delicious.)

Though I was pleased to be able to avoid partaking in the shark fin soup, it was unfortunate that this dish was on the menu.

In Taipei, the plastic thing is slightly better in that there is collection of used cardboard. But the main great green thing about Taipei is that you can get great vegetarian and vegan food there (but there are plenty of meat eaters so vegetarian isn't a default option). We had great vegetables and great fake meat (made of tofu), our favourites of the latter being the fake kung pow chicken the the fake sweet and sour pork.

Hong Kong and Taipei - the final episode

Our other leg of the trip took us to Taipei to visit our friend. Because we would be staying with her, it was just for a few days, and I knew we would want respite from sightseeing after a very busy week and a half in Kowloon - I didn't bother to get a map of the place before we went. I did get a book out  of the library and make notes about places to see and things to do though.

It turned out to be a week of food. Our friend does not do walks, so despite living at the edge of national park we didn't get to go there. But we did get to sample a large variety of north-Chinese influenced foods (including dim sum and spicy pork schnitzel); wonderful tropical fruits; and smashing frozen desserts.

Mango ice plus fresh strawberries at Ice Monster



Almond and black sesame with red beans, also at Ice Monster. This sounds like an acquired taste, but it is well worth acquiring!


deep fried bread roll at Celestial Restaurant - the crust is thin and crisp, the insides are a soft cloud of  mmm

The first course of Peking duck (at Celestial Restaurant) - pancakes, duck skin etc. The second course, of duck flesh, arrived soon after but I was too busy eating to take another photo.

On day 3 in Taipei I forgot to look where I was going and sprained my ankle going down some stairs at the National Palace Museum (about ten minutes after going in). I was totally bummed out at missing seeing the contents of the museum but the staff were great about wheeling me off to the infirmary, packing ice around the ankle and so on.

However my ankle was still not up to scratch for the long flights home, so we arranged for wheelchairs and assistance. Wow - flying is a breeze when you are a special needs passenger...

Hong Kong and Taipei - Part 6

I read an article about the Kowloon Walled City before we left for Hong Kong, and I was fascinated by the idea of a lawless, super-crowded city that was still going strong when I was doing my OE (it was only demolished and replaced by a lovely Chinese garden in the early 1990s, and it's now called Kowloon Walled City Park).

What it looked like in 1972. Due to a legal weirdie this piece of land was not overseen by either the British government nor the Chinese one. Unlicensed dentists and doctors did well here, as well as factories and the "legal" businesses that bought from the factories.
What it looks like now.
Days after we left there I continued to be utterly fascinated by this place when it was a bustling mini-metropolis full of people trying to live away from the prying eyes of government officials. There's a book about this place called City of Darkness but it seems to cost around $US200 per copy so I can only hope there's a copy at the public library...

There's some good information about the city and about the book. This is the best site I found.

Hong Kong and Taipei - Part 5

We went to Tai O, a village on the island of Lantau which is famous for it's houses on stilts. Hong Kong's airport, their Disneyland and a whole lot of designer shops are also on this island - but on the opposite end of the island. So Tai O still feels remote.

Apparently a fire in 2000 destroyed many of those houses, so there aren't so many in the traditional design.
The streets are only wide enough for pedestrians but they are still called streets.

This abandoned stilt house is in the traditional shape

Above and below - views from the boat


Hong Kong and Taipei - Part 4

Wong Tai Sin is a big temple complex north east of Shamshuipo. I remember going there with my mum, my bother and my aunt.

It's popular with people wanting to get their fortunes told, and that time the fortune teller told me not to try to have everything my brother has because he is older and bigger than me. I think my mother might have taken that to heart...

This time around I didn't bother with the fortune telling as I wasn't sure my Cantonese is good enough to understand the answer. But we did enjoy the personifications of the 12 Chinese astrological signs, and the lovely Chinese garden that apparently wasn't there last time.

The dragon

The front of the temple gets covered in smoke because of the burning incense - and the cauldron of burning logs.



Hong Kong and Taipei - Part 2

We went to visit a tomb from the Han era. It's in Shek Kip Mei I think. The tomb itself was interesting-ish but the really interesting bit was the exhibition about Hong Kong's earliest government housing. My mum and her siblings lived in one of these - shared a tiny apartment with other families; there was one bathroom shared by all occupants of one level; and some families lived in the corridors.

We went on to visit the last remaining of these buildings, which is now a (pricey) youth hostel with a museum section. This had mock ups of the apartments, as they were originally and over the decades.

My aunt lived in an apartment like this when I first visited as an 8-year-old. The trauma of my experience of a squat toilet at her place has never left me!


One view of the living space/bedroom
And another.
When I find the photo of the kitchen I'll add it here.

Hong Kong and Taipei - Part 3

We went to Ocean Park. It's a lot more over-the-top Disneyland-like than it was last time I was there (about 30 years ago!), but the aquarium is still a fantastic way to see marine life.



Hong Kong and Taipei - Part 1

Happy New Year!
TLM and I just arrived back from visiting our Hong Kong relatives and a dear friend in Taipei. We had a great time, ate lots and saw lots - but it is soooo good to be home again.

Just so you know, I'm not going to be posting about our rellies and friend here, since I don't do the personal blog thing. This is strictly a travel series.

Have a look at our hotel room in Shamshuipo (Kowloon) -
Our room was literally two beds wide, though we had a deep window sill that we used as storage.

That's the view of the toilet/shower, with basin at the foot of one bed.
The view of abroad - from our hotel window.

Yes it was a piddlingly small hotel room - but it was very clean and located really close to the airport bus; fabric shops; Apliu Street flea market; the quirky fashion shops of Cheung Sha Wan and many small eateries. It was also quite close to Shamushuipo MTR station, which is on a central line.

Also, the reception staff a helpful and there is a social space occupying one level of the hotel which is handy for hanging out in the afternoons and evenings while the cleaners are working on your room or for meeting friends. The one thing that would have improved our stay immensely would have been a fridge.

My brother and his family had been in Hong Kong for a week already, and due to fly out a few days later. One of our joint activities was walking around the flower market and the bird garden,

Sorry about the boring photo. It was much more impressive than this!

Most of these birds are "walked" here by their owners, usually in cages. They are left here while the owners take off for tea or shop for live bird food (which I really should have gotten a photo of).