Monday, 25 February 2013

How to turn a dreary winter's day in Toronto into hella fun

From L to R:  Sandra, Chloe, Reethi, Tracey, Gillian and Jagoda

 1.  Invite a bunch of sewintists to go shopping and eating and drinking and swapping.

And yer done. Really, that's all you need. 

I thought I took a lot of photos, but it turns out I didn't.  Perhaps having to take off gloves and getting everyone to stand still in the cold wind were not conducive to lots of photos.  Or maybe it was just that all the talking, shopping, eating and drinking got in the way. 


Probably best if you visit everyone's blogs directly to check out their photos (I'll keep updating the links as everyone posts):

Our Hosts: Gillian @ Crafting a Rainbow    and Adrienne @ All Style & All Substance

Sarah from Pattern Vault

Kristin from K-Line

Kris from Victory Patterns

Also blogless (as far as know):  Jagoda, Catherine, Anastasia and Sandra.

I managed to come away from the meet-up with only one new piece of fabric (a beautiful batik print Egyptian cotton), one swapped piece of rayon jersey, and a few patterns.  But I am having some serious not-buyer's remorse for leaving behind that gorgeous black and white polka-dotted microfibre at LA Fabrics.  Jogoda:  did you go back and get some??

Thursday, 21 February 2013

I'm not saying this will work, but give it a try

Good morning everybody.  Can I just say again how astounded I am that this project has been so popular.  I guess there really was an unfulfilled need for something like this to bring our virtual community together in real life.  If this leads to meet-ups and collaborations, please let me know!

Of course, I showed this to someone who isn't part of the sewing community, and his first response was, "What, you're doing this for free?"  *rolling eyes*

So in my last post, I lamented being such a technical noob and not being able to design a button.  (Hey, I can run $1 000 000 high throughput equipment, but a simple bit of code makes me run in the other direction.)  Rochelle of Lucky Lucille made this great image, and then Tempest of fanbloomingtastic turned me on to this awesome Grab My Button generator (is it just me, or does that sound kind of NSFW?).  Anyway, long story short, here is my first attempt at making a button with real html code.

Perhaps the next time I try to launch a project like this, I should do a little homework up front.  Oh, and not start it on one of my busiest weeks of the year.  :P

Use at your own risk. 

Another Sewing Scientist

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Tuesday, 19 February 2013

I can't make buttons, but I can use them

First of all, I have to say THANK YOU to everyone who spread the word about Mapping the Sewintists.  We have so many pins that we've spilled over onto another page, and it looks like we're about to run into a third!   >9000 hits in <3 days!  Almost 200 pins!  You guys are awesome. 

OK, but the truth is that I just spent 1.5hrs of my extremely scarce me-time trying to figure out how to make a button for the Map the Sewintists project.  I know it shouldn't be that hard, and I've read through a couple of online tutorials, but I'm just going to have to admit defeat.  I have about and hour left in me before I collapse.  In the next few days I have to write and submit an abstract for this summer's American Society of Parasitologists' conference, test my new assay, prepare for my weekend meet-up in Toronto, and then pack for a 10 day spring break / work at University of South Florida combo for me and the offspring.  Whew.  I'm tired just writing about it. 

Bottom line:  if there is anyone kind, handy, and time-free enough to make a button for the Map the Sewintists project, I will be forever grateful.  Put your name all over it.  Write "ha ha ha Vicki doesn't know any html" on the top.   Whatevah.  I will love you forever.

Now if you excuse me, I have a box of half-priced valentine's chocolates and the latest episode of Walking Dead with my name written all over them.  Zzzzzzzzzz.......

Monday, 18 February 2013

In which sewing and science collide once again.

I work in a lab without a gas line, which is pretty much essential when you're working with microorganisms.  You need to keep a flame going on your workbench to sterilize the area and your instruments, otherwise you end up with so much bacterial / fungal contamination and your experiments are ruined.

Since I don't have a gas line, I've been making due with an old alcohol burner.  The problem is, wicks are incredibly hard to come by these days.  I mean, who uses kerosene lamps anymore?  Who uses alcohol burners?  I've had the lab manager scouring the supply companies for weeks, while my poor old burner was coughing on its last wisps of wick.

Then I was at Fabricville the other night, looking at twill tape, and the light went on.  Twill tape is 100% cotton.  It's strong and cheap.  It will fit in a burner.

There ya go.  Sewing saved my science.  And at $1/metre, it's about the cheapest scientific supply you can buy.

ps:  please don't forget to get involved in the Map the Sewintists project!  Click here for more info and here for the map.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Map the Sewintists goes live!

View Map the Sewintists in a larger map

I had a brain wave yesterday morning while I was supposed to be herding kids out to the car for a road trip to Ontario:  how can sewing and crafty people find each other IRL and never miss another meetup?

I quickly slapped together that post, and thanks to Shannon for pointing me in the right direction, and to Gillian for being my first tester, we're ready to go live!

Here's how to participate:

Open this link to get to Map the Sewintists
Click on the red Edit button on the left
Click on the blue pin on the upper left of the map
Click on your location to drop the pin
A box will open that will allow you to add your name or blog URL in rich text
Save et voilĂ ! 
**********update from users:  it appears that you cannot pin if you are using a mobile device / tablet; also, you may need to use Firefox since other browsers may not work; finally, you must be signed into your google account.  If worse comes to worst and you can't pin after trying all this, just comment below with your location and info you want to include, and I'll pin you!

I would strongly advise people to only pin their general location or closest city, since we don`t want creepers peeping in our windows while we sew in our unders, do we?

Gillian and I have also added some fabric shopping locations around the world, so please share your collective wisdom!  I'm going to start spreading the word online.  If you like the idea, please reblog so that we can get the word out to everyone who feels isolated from the "cool kids" in NYC and London  ;)

Hopefully this will develop into a useful resource for all of us around the world.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Can we map ourselves?

I'm probably the most tech-unsavvy person with a blog, so I'm reaching out to you young'uns / techies who may know how to do this:

I've noticed that whenever a meet-up is announced, lots of people chime in and lament how far away they live, how isolated they feel, and how they wish they knew more crafty bloggers in their area.  There must be a better way for us to find each other, don't you think?

View Larger Map

I've been toying with the idea of creating an open map on which we can pin our general locations, if we want to.  That way, whenever someone is travelling, or simply in need of a crafty meetup, we can see who is nearby.  And maybe meet some new bloggy friends right around the corner that you never knew were there.

What do you think?  Possible in google maps or google earth?  In another ap that I'm not familiar with?


Friday, 15 February 2013

In lieu of actual sewing, here's some stuff about me

Trisha over at Made By Trisha thinks I'm interesting enough to get in on the Leibster awards, so who am I to argue?  ;)  Here, in no particular order, are 11 random things you should know about me:

1. I choke on everything.  I can't remember the last time I went a day without choking on something.
2. Hence, I'm a certified First Aider.
3. I've travelled in 26 countries on 5 continents, most independently, but in Bhutan I had to go with a tour group because independent travel isn't allowed.

4. I can only speak English and passable French, but somehow I always manage to make myself understood wherever I travel with my smattering of other languages.
5. I first went to Africa at 8 month pregnant.


6.  If you ever visit me, don't eat the ice cream.  I always eat straight out of the container.
7.  I used to work at a kayak club, even though I am a very weak swimmer and I had never been in a kayak before my first day on the job.
8.  I love red wine, and the heavier the better.  I generally don't like anything lighter than a malbec.
9.  I can't remember the last time I read fiction.  I'm a non-fiction junky.
10.  Thanks to having the combo of kids + Netflix, I've now been tortured with the entire oeuvre of Dora, Diego, The Last Airbender, Wonder Pets and Futurama.  When do I get *my* turn to choose the show?
11.  I haven't sewn anything yet this year.  Eeep. 


1. what's your day job when you're not sewing?
As you can probably tell from my incredibly mysterious blog name, I am a scientist by day.  I work for the chair of parasitology in a university research lab on a drug discovery project, with partners in Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Sudan, Kenya, and USA.  It involves growing a lot of stinky microorganisms in between exciting meetings / tech transfers to the above mentioned countries (only USA, Botswana and South Africa so far).

2. what's your birthday (you don't have to include the year if you don't want to)?
April 5th.  I'm coming up on mid-40s which used to sound old to me, but with two little kids and 20+ years left to retirement, now seems young.  

3. what's your favorite fabric to sew with?
Shwe shwe.  It's a medium weight cotton that is traditional in South Africa and Botswana, and comes in a mind-boggling array of prints.  It's easy to sew, and because print mixing is traditional, I'm afraid that I get carried away and want buy everything.   

4. what's the best sewing tip that you could give me?
Have a dedicated, organized sewing space, even if it's just a small coffee table.  Setting up and clearing away takes time.  If everything isn't ready and waiting for you to grab a spare minute, you're less likely to even start.

5. what's your favorite notion?
Tracing paper and wheel.  I had so much trouble marking patterns before I started using these, much to my detriment.

6. what's your favorite project you've sewn (and include a link if you posted about it)?
The project that excited me the most was my Venda skirt, sewn almost two years ago.  I don't wear it that often because it's pretty loud, but whenever I do, strangers stop me to ask about it.  The project that gets the most wear is my Sick as a Leopard skirt.  It goes with everything and works all year 'round.  In fact, I wore it yesterday!

7. what's a pet peeve of yours?
A sewing pet peeve?  setting in sleeves.  I've never done a nice one.  No matter how carefully I gather, how nicely I baste, how well I ease....they end up terribly.  I need some professional help.

8. what are your favorite tv shows or movies?
Anything BBC.  Like everyone, I love Sherlock, Downton Abbey, etc. but I've recently gotten into Call the Midwife, The Paradise, and old Ms. Marples and Poirots on Netflix. 

9. what's your favorite type of music (name specific bands if you'd like)?
Lyric driven.  Tom Waits is a god, and Blue Valentine + Franks' Wild Years could be my constant theme music.  Leonard Cohen, the whole McGarrigle/Wainwright clan, and Joni Mitchell for CanCon.  I've recently jumped on the Regina Spektor bandwagon too.  

10. why did you decide to start blogging?
I hadn't really done any sewing for about 10 years, then I was home on maternity leave with my daughter in 2009, I started doing a bit of home-dec sewing, and then the daycare asked me to sew all the covers for the new sleep mats.  Once I got re-started, I wondered if there were any free sewing patterns available online.....and I discovered that the online sewing community was huge!  I started with Burdastyle, then started reading blogs and commenting, so it was a natural progression.  It was an extension of my usual habit of keeping notes on everything.

11. why did you decide to start sewing?  
I never decided to start; I just grew up in a house where there was a sewing machine in regular use and learned the basics from my mother.  She sewed a lot for us when we were little and she was taking care of us at home.  As a teenager, I took classes in school and through my local 4H club, so I had the foundations before I left home.   I toyed with the idea of studying costume design at university, but I was more enthusiastic about the sciences, and I figured it would be easier to be a sewing scientist than a sciencing costumer, if that makes sense.   

Thanks Tricia.  Now go check out her blog too.  

Monday, 11 February 2013

GTA meetup

I know I certainly need a little break away from my usual weekend routine with the little monsters....I mean darling offspring, so a minibreak in TO is just right: 

Are you in?

There is also the BIG exhibit going on at the ROM that I may just try to catch:


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