Thursday, 11 July 2013

Designing 101.

Every year my family draws names for Christmas. There are just too many of us for each of us to buy something for everyone. When we were kids we used to make something for everyone and it's funny, because we still usually make something (last year I knit Jacq a sweater. The year before I knit a blanket for my older brother Paul). This year I pulled my brother Mike's name. I haven't had him for years. He's a great person to knit for. He wears almost anything, and he's proud of it. I've never knit him a sweater, so this year I thought I should.

I ran into someone I knew from my yarn store days last week. She asked me HOW I design. What is my process? I had to think about it. I didn't really realize that I had process, but I guess I do. Using Mikey's sweater as an example, I'm going to try to explain design.

Step 1: Think about the person I want to knit for.

Mike is awesome. He's the middle brother. He's a strange mix of Hobbit and chef with a dash of lumberjack mixed in. He's short and stout. He's clever, funny, kind and generous. He is growing his beard (because he can) and sends me photos of the progress. It's great.



Mikey! Bearded, striped, awesome!

He loves hoodies and stripes... There it is! A hooded, striped sweater!

Step 2: Yarn.

If I'm lucky I have the yarn I need in my stash. This time I wasn't so lucky (ok, let's be honest, I love an excuse to visit the yarn store). I knew I needed something machine washable (he is my brother, I know his laundry habits, or the lack there of). I love working with wool. I wanted something woodsy to coordinate with his beard. Something classic but a bit eccentric. I stumbled upon Berroco Vintage. It's a machine washable wool and acrylic blend. It is soft, has awesome stitch definition, and great yardage. I picked up 3 colours of that and one of Cascade 220 superwash. (Some people do not recommend mixing yarns in a project. I will mix if the gauge is the same and the content is similar. Be cautious – they may wash differently).

Yarn pile! Love the colours!

Knowing how much yarn you might need for a project can be very difficult. I recommend looking at AnnBudd's Handy Guide to Yarn Requirements. I didn't use Ann's pamphlet this time. I've knit enough sweaters to be able to ball park it. I picked up about 1800m (or 1980 yards) of Worsted weight yarn. Always buy TOO much yarn. It's easier to use your leftovers for something else, you can't always buy more yarn in the same colour... ask me how I know.

Step 3: Swatching.

Many knitters will scoff in the face of swatching. I sometimes do too. Who wants to cast on a small square, wash it, wait for it to dry, then measure it? It's a pain in butt. But guess what... it's VITAL and it's worth the trouble.

My yarn is worsted weight and worsted is generally knit on 4.5mm needles (US size 7). So I cast about 50 stitches (I like 50, it makes math pretty easy). I worked in stockingette stitch (knit one row, purl one row) until the swatch measured 5 inches or so (ok, I didn't measure it). Then I cast off. I washed the swatch in the machine with a load of laundry. I laid it flat and waited for it to dry (it's humid here – it took two days and I almost lost my mind). When it was dry, I measured how many stitches there were per inch.

The point of swatching is to determine your gauge (Gauge is the measurement of stitches per inch). I knew I wanted a plain stitch pattern. You should always swatch in the stitch pattern you plan on using – otherwise the gauge will be inaccurate.

My gauge was 5 stitches per inch in stockingette stitch.

Step 4: Measurements.

To make a garment fit, you must know how big to make it (really Emily... that's very logical!). I didn't have Mikey around to measure him, so I guessed. I know that he is a man's Large. What is the measurement for size Large? I didn't know either, so I googled it. I found all sorts of measurements. I decided to settle on 44 inches, seemed to make sense to me. And if it were too big, it's not a huge deal. I also know that Mike is not very tall (about 5'5”). I'm a bit shorter than that. So I measured the length of my body from my underarm and added a two inches (about 17 inches). I measured the length of my arms. I knew I wanted to make a hood. So I did some silly measuring of the distance between my temples, across the back of head (to give the depth of the hood) then I measured from the top of my head to my shoulders, the length of my hood.

So here are my measurements:

Hood: 18 inches across, 14 inches long.
Chest: 44 inches
Length of body: 17 inches from underarm.
Arms (also a guess): 21 inches from underarm.

In a perfect world, I would have measured Mike, but he lives 650kms away.

Step 5: The Math!

Now it's time to do math. Don't worry it's not so bad. I'm not a math person (ask any of my teachers). The calculations are easy. You take the number of stitches you have per inch and multiply them by the number of inches you need. And that gives you the number of stitches you need.

Here are my very rough calculations:

Hood: 18 inches x 5sts/inch= 90 sts.
Length (no math needed): 14 inches.

Body (I'm working in one piece – more on that later): 44 inches around x 5sts/inch = 220 sts.
Length : 17inches from underarm.

Arms: 21 inches long from underarm.

This is my rough guide.

You can use this guide for any pattern. Do you want to knit a hat? How many stitches per inch do you have? (let's say 6 for the sake of argument). How many inches around is your head? (mine's 21). Here's the math: 6 (number of sts/inch) x 21 (number of inches) = 126 (number of stitches you need to cast on).

Step 6: Constructing

I decided I wanted to make a top-down raglan sleeve cardigan. Mostly because I like the way they fit, they are easy and their is no sewing involved.

A top-down cardigan involves casting on at the neck edge of a sweater (or a hood in my case). Then working the front, sleeves, and back in one piece, all while increasing at the appropriate places, then dividing into the front, the back and the sleeves. There are tons of patterns that use this technique (here are some fun ones: Bad Penny, Shapely Boyfriend,)

The sweater so far!

I had my math. I knew I needed to start with the hood. I cast on 90sts and worked the hood until it measured 14 inches. I then began to work in the raglan shaping (this is where I am now). I will work the increases until there are 110sts (half of the number of body stitches) across the back of the sweater. When I divide for the sleeves, I will work the body of the sweater until it measures 17 inches from the divide. When I knit the arms, I will make sure they are 21 inches long.

Every knitting pattern starts with the same things: gauge, measurements, and some simple math. That's it. The rest is determination and insanity.

Happy designing!

another photo! mostly because I love the texture of knitting and the colours are so lovely together!

Friday, 14 June 2013

Getting crafty - Retro top refashion

Well hello you ruddy lovely people!

Just a quick one today from me (Elizabeth) about this rad shirt that I made even more rad. (Who the heckles says "rad" anymore... get with the times!)

This, my friends is the before and the after shot of said shirt:


Growing up, my Mum always had a sewing project on the go. She even made my sister's wedding dress (as well as Emily and my bridesmaids dresses!) and so by proxy I sort of learned to sew! I liked this shirt to begin with but it felt a bit masculine. I decided to take the sleeves off, round off the collar, and dye it light blue. I took the following steps to get me to the final product:

Step one: Lay the shirt flat and inside out on your desk.
Step two: Grab a scrap sheet of paper to make a crude pattern piece (continuity is your friend)
Step three: Admire my bright pink sewing machine.

Step four: Start drawing the shape you want for your new arm holes. I roughly sketched it in first, then rounded it off with a darker line on top. This step may be the hardest.

Step five: Cut that pattern piece, and draw it on your shirt (I used an orange felt tip marker which didn't have loads of ink in it anymore, so it wouldn't bleed through the fabric)

Step six: Flip your pattern piece over and repeat step five!

Step seven: a lot like step four - turn the shirt around and draw a new shape for the back of the shirt. You'll likely want it to be wider across your back than your front (at least I did) just make sure where your shoulder is, that it meets up with the front, and you'll be fine when cutting and sewing time comes!

Step eight: cut the shirt about a centimetre away from the line you drew, so you allow for a bit of wiggle room for sewing.
Step nine: (Not shown) iron the edges down so that your line is where the crease is. This makes your life a LOT easier when you sew it!

Step ten: (Also not shown) Sew that baby! I sewed the seam about two millimetres away from the edge. It's a bit tricky keeping your line uniform, but take it slowly if you need to - I did!
Step eleven: (Also not shown... I stopped taking pictures at this point, apparently. Worst blog post ever.) Draw a circle on the back of the collar, and cut the corners off. Tuck the edges in and do your best to sew it closed. I really really really wish I took a picture of me doing this... but in my defense, both my hands were in use!
Step twelve: I dyed my shirt in very hot water with some ink! After it sat in the steamy steamy bath 30-40 mins, I rang it out and rinsed it in very very cold water. I let it sit in a sink of cold water for about 10 minutes, let the water out, and repeated.

Then, when all was dry and I was happy: I put on my cute new shirt and made a smug face and took a picture! CUTE SHIRT ALERT!

(cheeky little shout out to Jacquie's shop Wee Little Stitches and the amazing Doctor Who pattern she stitched up for my partner James' Christmas gift, which is hanging on our wall!) 

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

This year is going to be different!

Summer. The season of shorts, tanks, and bathing suits... sigh... Every summer I worry, I worry about how I look in shorts, tanks, and especially the dreaded bathing suit. Can you see my underarm rolls? Why are my thighs so lumpy? Is my muffin top showing? Is everyone looking? Are they judging?
Elizabeth, Mike, and I. Probably the last time I was photographed in a bathing suit.
I live in a city that is cold for most of the year. Sweater weather begins in August, snow starts in October, and if we are lucky, it is gone by May. I love it. It gives me plenty of opportunity to pile on sweaters, cardigans, and scarves (I do love knitwear!). Summer is short and vicious. High humidity, high UV indexes, and blaring sun. Thank the lord it is only for a few short weeks.

Why then, do I dread summer?

Quite frankly, it is because I am Fat. With a capital F. Always have been, always will be. I've spent my life covering up. I've spent too much time being modest and hiding my pale skin away under strategically selected clothes. Since I can remember I've been a “big girl”. I've been the funny, chubby friend. I spent my life building my character and personality, not my physique. I've spent my life hating the way I look. I walk into a room and assume that everyone is judging me on my size. I assume that people see my size before they see anything else.

I have a confession. I'm fucking done. I'm fucking tired of hiding and hating my body. Guess what, I'm fat. I'm fat whether I'm wearing shorts or long pants, if I'm wearing a tank or a sweater. And I don't care anymore.
The five siblings! We are all a little chubby! And I love it!

I vow that this summer is going to be different. I will not spend hours looking in the mirror. I will not suffer through the heat, wearing long sleeves. I will not step on the scale and decide my worth based on the number staring back at me. I will wear shorts. I will wear tanks. And I might even find an excuse to wear a bathing suit. I'm done being hard on myself. I am done of sighing at my reflection. I am done crying in change rooms. I am done thinking that "fat" is a dirty word.

My new summer dress!

This summer I will be proud of my body. I will eat ice cream. I will swim. I will remember that I'm not judging others and I really don't care if they are judging me. I will remember that being fat isn't a bad thing. I will remember that I am cute and I am worth more than my appearance!

Thursday, 23 May 2013

A Treatise on Sisters

She is your mirror, shining back at you with a world of possibilities.  
She is your witness, who sees you at your worst and best, and loves you anyway.  
She is your partner in crime, your midnight companion, 
someone who knows when you are smiling, even in the dark. 
 She is your teacher, your defense attorney, your personal press agent, even your shrink.  Some days, she's the reason you wish you were an only child.  
~Barbara Alpert

I've not always had sisters, but I've always been one - from the very first moment of my life - because I'm a twin.  For four years it was just Paul and me.  And then our brother Mike came along and I was out-numbered.  Happily a few years later Emily joined our family, and then shortly after that Elizabeth.  I finally had sisters!  And god, how they drove me insane.

Me, on the left - Emily and Elizabeth in the middle

I'm seven-and-a-half and nine years older than Emily and Elizabeth.  Now that we're all adults the age difference isn't a problem, but as a child and then a teenager I certainly didn't appreciate them fully.  My brothers had each other to hang out with and Emily and Elizabeth, being so close in age, were pretty much a pair from almost the first instant.  And that left... me - alone at the edge.  
Gardening with Emily
I was always sort of a 'little mommy', changing diapers and watching out for every one.  I helped teach them to read and to ice skate, I cooked dinner for the family (our parents both worked) and helped shepherd the bunch of us when we were out and about. I suppose that's probably common for big sisters of large families.  I took care of my siblings, and I loved them, but my friends were outside of the family - school mates and girls I met through Brownies and Guides.  

We lived in a small rural village, so summers were spent at home - either avoiding my siblings, mediating between them all, or spending my time buried in a book.  I certainly didn't consider my annoying little sisters to be my friends.  

Swimming with Elizabeth
 By the time I was in high school I could almost pretend they didn't exist - except for the amount of noise and laundry they made.  When I was sixteen, Elizabeth was only seven; what in heaven's name could I possibly have had in common with a seven year-old?  We didn't fight, certainly not like we could have, but I seem to remember there being a lot of impatient eye-rolling on my part at that age.

I went away to university at nineteen - my first time away from home - and it was finally then, in a city 350 kilometers from my family - that I realized how lucky I was.

We were a big family, yes and certainly didn't have a lot of money, but we had a lot of love.  It shames me now to think that I didn't realize that until I was practically an adult.  Suddenly these siblings, these sisters weren't so bad.  Every visit home was filled with laughter and chatter and I watched with awe as the little girls I knew grew into beautiful young women.

By that time Christopher had entered my life.  At nineteen I never imagined I'd eventually marry him (I might have daydreamed about it, but I certainly never thought it would happen!).  It was fun to see my little sisters through his eyes - especially since he didn't have any of his own.  He was always at a loss for what to say to two curious, creative, and outspoken girls.  Dating him and becoming part of another family (one SO different from my own) was a real education in just how magical my family really was.
And then, the year before I graduated university, our parents marriage (like so many others) fell apart.  In hindsight it was for the best, but at the time it felt like the world was ending.  Everything the five of us kids had always known was crumbling around us.  Paul and I were twenty-one, Mike eighteen, Emily fourteen, and Elizabeth only twelve.  That was the summer the five of us became a family, one apart from our parents.  The siblings sat down together, just the five of us, and decided that no matter what happened, no matter how bad things got, that we had each other, and that we always, always would.  I made up my mind that if things got really bad that I'd give up school, move home, and take care of my younger siblings - that I'd give them a place to live which was stable and happy.  Luckily, we never got to that point.  We had a few rough years, ones in which we all made a lot of sacrifices, but all of us, including our parents, got through it - somehow.  And on the other side of that life-changing event, I've come to realize we were left a special gift.

Going through that experience together forged something between us which wasn't there before.  I'd always loved my sisters, but now I love them fiercely.  They are phenomenal, amazing, brilliant women - women who I would step in front of a speeding bus for, women who I would move mountains for.  I have other friends, yes - but the relationships I have with them could never come close to the one I have with my sisters.

They represent all the good sides of me - we look a little alike, true, but there's more than that.  We've come through the same difficulties in our lives, from the same place, and when I look at them I see spines forged with steel, resolve strengthened by stubborn determination.  They don't back down, they never shirk.  They laugh loud, and love hard, and they always say what's on their mind.  They make their lives and lives of the people they love a thing of beauty.  They find joy when most think none could exist.  They make the best of what they are given.  They are, truly, the most amazing women I know.

We live far apart now, the three of us (well, all my family actually).  We're scattered to different corners of the globe and you would think that would make us less of friends, but instead it's made us more.  We chat every day.  We send each other photos and videos.  I know I can come to them with my problems or my triumphs and always receive their support.   And when we are fortunate enough to all be in the same room at the same time... it's chaos - sweet, loud, wonderful chaos.

Unless they are beside me, I miss them so badly it makes my throat ache.  My twin brother is getting married this September and that gives us all a reason to be together and I can hardly wait.  I am, quite literally, counting the days until I see them again (it's 127).  But in the meantime we have our online chats, our Facebook updates, emailed photos, and this... a project to work on together, one which I hope reflects who we are as individuals, but more importantly who we are as sisters - and as friends.

Never change Emily and Elizabeth - I'm so proud of you both; proud of who you have grown up to be, and proud of how you have always made me want to be a better person.  I promise I will always take care of you, listen to you, and laugh with you.  I will always love you and nothing, not even stealing my piece of pie at dessert, or trumping me in a hand of euchre, or borrowing my shoes and not giving them back, or swiping the last sip of gin, could ever make me love you less.

xo. Jacqueline

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Yarn dying for dummies.

Last week I had some days off (I know, it seems strange to me as well). I was itching to start a new knitting project. The sun was shining, it was warm, and the neighbourhood was quiet (tourist season hasn't begun yet). I decided that a walk to my Local Yarn Store (Yarn Forward and Sew On) was in order. I didn't know what I wanted or what I wanted to cast on.

The store is packed with colour (what yarn store isn't?) But I settled on some undyed Cascade Heritage Solid sock yarn. It's so soft and bouncy. It's actually one of my favourite yarns. I'm a junky for merino wool. But, I never buy white. Ever. I never knit with it.

Then it hit me. I could dye it! And it's super simple too. Here's my quick guide for dying yarn.

1. Get some undyed yarn (it has to be animal fibre -- wool, alpaca, llama, for example -- for this method to work). Make sure it is still in skein-form (it is also called a hank. It's one of those regional things like soda and pop). Also make sure that the skein has been tied a few times, this makes it easier to wind when it is time to knit with it.

2. Get some white vinegar and food colouring -- both available in any grocery store (it was even in the same aisle at mine).

Easy right?


3. Undo your skein, so it's a big loop. Soak your yarn in COLD water and vinegar for about 20 minutes. I use a 4 parts water to 1 part vinegar ratio. To be honest, I pour in just enough vinegar, so I can smell it. I'm not really good at measuring.

4. In the meantime, prep your dye. I pour a glass of water and add a bunch of food colouring. Remember that the colour will dilute, so if you want a dark colour, add more. The best part of this method is that all these items are food safe. This means that you can use your pots for cooking food after. I know many knitters use acid dyes to dye their yarn. I would love to, but I don't have room for a whole new set of pots. I also cringe at the thought of cooking something totally toxic in my kitchen. If I had the room and money for a dye studio, I would totally have one. But I still live like a student, so I stick to this method. It's easy, and it's safe for pets, kids, and oblivious boyfriends.

5. Once your yarn is saturated with water and your dye is ready, fill a pot with COLD water, add your dye and plop your yarn in. I then push down the yarn with a spoon. I add more vinegar at this point too. Just to be sure that the dye will remain colour fast.

This is a whole bottle of yellow food colouring, with a few drops of neon pink.

6. Throw a lid on the pot and turn the burner on to LOW.

7. Let the mixture warm up. DO NOT BOIL IT! I let mine hang out in the pot for about an hour. Check the water, when it is clear, all the dye has been soaked up. Turn off the heat and let it sit until the yarn is cool.

8. You now need to rinse the yarn. It is vital that the yarn and the rinse water is the SAME TEMPERATURE. I let my yarn cool completely before I rinse (sometimes over night). Once rinsed, let the skein dry. And voila! New yarn!

Here's how mine turned out.

2 new skeins of yarn!

The most important things to remember in yarn dying is that you need to keep things at a consistent temperature or it will felt (that means that it will shrink and turn into a huge mess... ask me how I know!)

Now I have two awesome skeins of yarn and I have no idea what to make with them. Any suggestions???


Tuesday, 14 May 2013

On getting older.

I wasn't really intending to get so serious so quickly, but hear me out.

On the eve of my birthday, I've been doing a lot of thinking. Mostly I've been thinking about getting older, what this means, that it’s beautiful, how many people don’t get to experience aging, and then considering life and how precious it actually is. Our family recently got some news regarding mortality and it was a big wake up call (I won't go into details, as I would like privacy respected) but it's really made me do some thinking. As much as we sort of dread age and getting on in years, how often to people stop and think what a beautiful privilege it is?

Tomorrow I'm only turning 26, but I've been finding more and more fine lines and grey hairs. At first this scared me, it made me feel old and miss my youth, but now I think, actually this is great! I love my life and the people in it. I am not a kid anymore. I don't have to feel like “the youngest child” anymore. I'm not inferior for being younger than my siblings because actually, I don't feel all that young anymore. I am sorting the adult parts of my life out and things I never thought I'd enjoy, I enjoy. Sure I wish I had more money or I saw my family more, but you know what? I have a roof over my head and four siblings and two parents who would move mountains for me, and I would do the same for them. I have a job I actually like and a partner who is my absolute perfect match. These things are worth smiling about. They’re worth creating deeper wrinkles for. This is life; and while we won't always be around, how lucky we are to be here now.  Tomorrow is just another birthday for me, but I hope I am lucky enough in life to have 80 more birthdays, and that someday I'll be an old wrinkled lady with a head of grey hair and a heart full from a lifetime of love. And you know, if I don't make it to 106, then at least I've lived at all.

So, to getting older! To living the life you're given during the timeline you've got. To getting older and wiser and moving further away from the face and body you grew up with. Nothing is constant but change and our bodies and minds are in flux just like the rest of the world. We are not invincible and that is okay.
Just be good, be well, be grateful, and be loved.

- Elizabeth

Self portrait, age 26.

Monday, 13 May 2013


So here it is - the kick off post, the beginning of this blog that we sisters will start together and carry on (we hope) for many years to come! Emily suggested we answer some ice breaking questions about ourselves, so here are my answers! Here goes nothin'! 

1. Name: 
This one’s easy! My name is Elizabeth. My middle name is Magdalena.

2. Do you have any nicknames?
So many nicknames! Wizbuff, Lizbeth, Lillybet, Lilly, Beelzebeth, Lizard Breath (the list goes on)

3. Use 10 words to describe yourself.
Silly, Kind, Family oriented, Reminiscent, Creative, Eager, Hopeless romantic, Foreigner.

4. What do you do for a living?
I’m currently working at the third best museum in the world (Mmmmmhmmmm) the British Museum here in London, England.

5. Favourite colour?
To wear? Probably navy or black. To look at? Probably royal blue or dark teal.

6. Who is your style icon?
I have several; Bjork’s confidence, Jean Seberg’s wardrobe (in Breathless specifically), Dita Von Teese’s make up, Elizabeth Taylor’s eyebrows, Adele’s body, Nigella Lawson's everything.

7. What is the best item in your wardrobe?
My vintage dresses. Two in particular are my absolute favourites. One of them is black with white and orange splodges on it but it’s very fragile and I don’t wear it a lot, and one of them is white with grey dots on it and it’s summery and fantastic and flattering as hell (albeit not in the photo below)

8. If you were trapped on a deserted island what 5 items would you bring?
Matches, survival book, a mirror, my phone with my playlists/recordings on it, sunscreen.

9. If you were trapped in a tiny room for of all eternity, who would you want to be trapped with?
It’s a complete toss up – it’s between my partner James, my sisters Jacq and Emily, and my brother Mike. You guys can fight it out and the last one standing can join me.

10. If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Potatoes, probably. Or cheese. Could I have both? WAIT! Chocolate.

11. What is your comfort food?
Potatoes, and cheese, and chocolate. I do have many comfort foods though, it’s hard to narrow it down.

12. What is your secret talent?
Not many people know I write poetry, but I do and I think it’s pretty legit. I am too legit to quit.

13. What is your not-so-secret talent?
I guess a lot of people know I can take photographs with some degree of skill.

14. What is your favourite movie?
Tough call – Lars Von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark, probably.

15. What is your favourite book?
What IS my favourite book? Probably something written by my favourite authour Augusten Burroughs.

16. What is your favourite song?
Bjork’s Pagan Poetry, or Simon and Garfunkel’s Kathy’s Song. (Though, it’s ultimately unfair to narrow it down completely!) I could make a very strong case for my newest favuorite - Keaton Henson's You. Go listen to it now, it will make you cry.

17. Who is your hero?
My late grandmother Magdolna. (Emily has written more about her in her section below.)

18. Who is your celebrity crush?
HMMM, well I wouldn’t say no to Andrew Garfield. Or Joseph Gordon Levitt (he was my first celebrity crush many many moons ago as well, despite his long hair!)

19. What is your greatest fear?
Being homeless or going to jail. I don’t foresee either of these happening, but they scare the crap out of me.

20. What do you hope to accomplish before you die?
I want to write at least one book, and I want that book to be published.


1. Name
Jacqueline Ruth

2. Do you have any nicknames?
Jacquie, Jacq, Jax... and sometimes my husband calls me Pickle, which I think is adorable but probably makes everyone else gag.

3. Use 10 words to describe yourself.
Determined. Smart. Geeky (I can admit it!). Big-Hearted. Reliable. Creative. Funny (at least I think so). Goofy. Worried (always)... that's nine... and... uh... Short.

4. What do you do for a living?
I used to work as a merchandiser/window dresser in Fashion retail... until my Etsy business weelittlestitches contemporary cross-stitch took off.  Now I stay at home, design cross-stitch patterns, and stitch for a living.  It's pretty amazing.

5. Favourite colour?
Teal blue - in every shade from dark and dramatic like the ocean before a storm, to light and airy like the colour of a robin's egg.   Unless we're talking about clothing, in which case black.

6. Who is your style icon?
Lately I've been really inspired by the "plus-sized" fashion bloggers out there (although I hate the phrase "plus-sized") - I really love Tanesha from Girl With Curves because her looks are classic and classy, and I like Lilli from Frocks and Frou Frou because she has a great eye for combining vintage and new and always looks adorable.

7. What is the best item in your wardrobe?
My wedding dress... cheesy I know, but true.  My Mom made it for me and the day I wore it (almost eight years ago) it made me feel beautiful and very loved.  Knowing how much work my mother put in to the dress made it so much more special than anything I could have bought off the rack.  It's not something I'll ever wear again I know, but it's the one thing in my closet which really has meaning.

8. If you were trapped on a deserted island what 5 items would you bring?
Sunscreen, a Swiss Army knife, the complete works of Jane Austen (in one book, so that counts as one thing, right?), a magnifying glass to light fires, and fishing gear.

9. If you were trapped in a tiny room for of all eternity, who would you want to be trapped with?
My family and my husband - but not at the same time since he'd probably lose patience with them waaaay before I did.

10. If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Does coffee count as food?  Yeah?  So then, coffee.  Failing coffee, wine.  Failing either of those, Pad Thai.

 11. What is your comfort food?
Peanut butter on toast.  It's all warm and melty and wonderful.  

12. What is your secret talent?
I'm a super fast reader and typist.  Really, I should do one or both of those for a living.  Typing is my super-power - I'm up to 90+ words per minute.

13. What is your not-so-secret talent?
Most people know me as a cross-stitcher and embroiderer... but I also crochet like a boss, so craftiness is my not-so-secret talent.  Plus I make a mean cup of coffee.

14. What is your favourite movie?
Probably Ferris Bueller's Day Off... it's not exactly life-changing or deep, but it makes me laugh/feel better every time I see it.  It's like the cinematic version of peanut butter on toast for me.

15. What is your favourite book?
Yikes!  I have to pick just one?? That's impossible!
The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery.  It's one of her lesser-known works and it's my absolute favourite, although I do love the Anne and Emily books too.  I've read it at least once a year, every year since I was 8.  Or Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier - another book I read every year - it's such a wonderful, underrated, and subtle thriller.

16. What is your favourite song?
Shine by David Grey.  I could listen to it on a continuous loop and never get tired of it.

17. Who is your hero?
My husband's grandmother.  Gran was happily married for more than 50 years and battled breast cancer twice.  She was sweet and kind and very warm and welcoming.  She was just this tiny little woman and yet she was the strongest person I ever met.  Even though she passed away a few years ago, I think of her often.  She was a wonderful example of how a person should be.

18. Who is your celebrity crush?
At the moment? LOL... it changes often, but as of right this very second I'd have to say definitely Tom Hardy.  Or Kit Harrington because dear god, that man knows how to rock a beard. 

19. What is your greatest fear?
Rodents.  And failure.  Not that I'm afraid of failing myself so much as I am afraid of letting other people down.

20. What do you hope to accomplish before you die?
I'd like to pay off my mortgage!  LOL.  And like Elizabeth, I'd like to publish a book - whether it be a novel or a craft book.

Emily: (last but not least):

1. Name.
Emily (middle name: Patricia)

2. Do you have any nicknames?
Em, Gemmy, Emilio, Estevez

3. Use 10 words to describe yourself.
Stubborn, silly, creative, patient, cute, weird, smart, geeky, kind, friendly.


4. What do you do for a living?
Like more Arts majors of my generation, I am an Assistant Manager of a women's clothing store.

5. Favorite colour?
What day is it? I change my mind about once a day. I'm really into turquoise right now. And burgundy. And charcoal grey. And plum

6. Who is your style icon?
Adele! She's so curvy, lovely, and fearless!

7. What is the best item in your wardrobe?
On a trip to Budapest, I bought a peasant shirt at the market. It's awesome! I love it so much. It's black with little blue flowers embroidered on it. I've worn it so much it's starting to fall apart.

8. If you were trapped on a deserted island what 5 items would you bring?
4.5mm, 16 inch circular knitting needle. Worsted weight yarn. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. A colouring book. A box of 64 crayons.

9. If you were trapped in a tiny room for all eternity, who would you want to be trapped with?
I know I should say my super awesome boyfriend or my family... but I'm going to say: Nathan Fillion.

10.  If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Potatoes. You can do so much with them. And I freaking love them!

11. What is your comfort food?
Poached eggs on toast.

12. What is your secret talent?
I'm a pretty good writer, I just don't tell people.

13. What is your not-so-secret talent?
Knitting. I'm pretty fly at that.

14. What is your favourite movie?
The Breakfast Club, followed closely by Footloose (the original. There is nothing better than Kevin Bacon dancing out his frustrations in the world's tightest jeans.)

15. What is your favourite book?
Generation X  by Douglas Coupland. Read it now. It will make you grumpy for a while, then it will make you feel much better about life.

16. What is your favourite song?
Oh, that one is tough. Right now: Big Parade by The Lumineers. But the songs I always go back to are: Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkel. Oh Very Young by Cat Stevens. Taxi by Harry Chapin. Northwest Passage by Stan Rogers.

17.Who is your hero?
My grandmother. She was the strongest and most stubborn person I ever knew. She lived in Europe during both World Wars, the Depression, and the Hungarian Revolution. She then escaped to Canada and lived in extreme poverty for many years. She also helped raised my crazy siblings and I.. coolest lady ever!
This is my Gramma -- with Elizabeth. Circa 1987.
18. Who is your celebrity crush?
I have so many... Patrick Wilson, Steve McQueen, Nathan Fillion, Lena Dunham, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel... just to name a few.

19. What is your greatest fear?
Heights. And ladders. Falling from the height of ladders.

20. What do you want to accomplish before you die?
I'd like to write a book. But I would also like to read all the books on my shelf that I have never read before.