A Big Bag

It’s not quite like MaryPoppins’ Carpet-bag, not because I don’t like hers, but because I’m looking for instructions to make one ;) It also doesn’t fit a lamp, or a night stand or an umbrella, but it does fit all the stuff I carry on Mondays to school1.

It’s a simple zippered flat bottom trapezoid bag. Bottom is wider than top and the sides are straight. It has two long wide sturdy straps so you can hung it over your shoulder to carry all the stuff. It’s fully lined, and there is a (giant) hole on the lining to insert a cardboard base to make it stiffer. It also has two small pockets inside, for tissues and other small things that I don’t want to have floating around.

  1. Folder with papers, couple of thick books, pencase, bottle of water, tupper with lunch, fruit for mid-morning snack, and other tidbits. On the way back it also carries my cardigan and scarf

Yoga Mat Bag

So, I’m signing up for Iyengar Yoga in the end. I’ll go tomorrow to enroll. The pilates class is all full. And the Integral Yoga is too spiritual for my taste. I’ll only have one class a week, but it’ll be nice.

I needed a bag to carry my mat, so today I sewed one, from a bit of cotton canvas from Ikea. Less than a meter of Ikea Bettina (discontinued) cotton fabric, one 80cm zipper, and some black thread later, I got this:

Yoga Mat Bagyoga mat bag
yoga mat bagYoga mat bag

Now I can take my mat along with style :)

Book Junkie

I love reading, love it. I used to read one book per week, now with university and work, I’m down to about a book every two weeks, more or less. So, I was running out of reading material, and after I asked Jan for a few books to read, I decided to order some other books. What did I buy?

  • The Secrets of Jin Shei, by Alma Alexander.
  • In the Company of the Courtesan, by Sarah Dunant
  • Empress Orchid, by Anchee Min
  • Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World, by Isa Chandra & Terry Hope
  • Cocina Oriental (Asian Cooking), from IKEA cooking book series
  • Cocina Vegetariana (Vegetarian Cooking), from IKEA cooking book series
  • Cocina Festiva (Party Cooking), from IKEA cooking book series
Pile Of Books
(click the pic for a bigger view)

On top of that pile of books, my first Moleskine notebook. I fell in love with these expensive notebooks a while back, and finally I caved in and bought me a large blank one. It’s being used for random writing and doodling, for collage, for memories, that sort of thing. Where did I buy it? Altaïr bookstore stocks all the notebooks in Madrid! I’m pondering getting a City Notebook for Madrid as well, so I can note down all our finds.

On a side note, I have a five day weekend! The first of may is Workers’ Day, the second is City Holiday, and I’m taking the 30th of April off school (classes have been changed, anyway – so I’m not missing anything). Plans for this loooong weekend include: knitting, sewing (I have some pretty Ikea fabric to make a yoga mat bag and a weekender bag), studying (gotta boost up the study time, exams are coming up, dammit!), taking care of sweet bunny and pet sparrow, cooking, reading, sleeping, working on freelance project, and doing pilates (Yay I’m being a good girl and doing pilates and it shows!)

Been Out

And now I am back, but I won’t be very prolific with posts either this next month and a half, since it’s the last leg of the semester: lots of studying and exams galore.

So what have I been up to? Uni vacations were spent mostly with Jan, in Belgium. You can read a recolection of the events in our shared blog and you can see pictures in our gallery.

I finally took a pic of my first skein of yarn spun on the wheel. Or the first skein of yarn spun by me evah, as you prefer:

Sirri Hand Spun

That you see under the yarn is a stuffed hippo from Ikea:

Happy Hippo!

I did some sewing as well, “pimped” my wheel, so to say, but of course I forgot to take pics of it. The pimping consists of a cotton cover (for all those days when it’s unused) and adding a cute carpet under it, so my feet won’t freeze while I’m spinning.

Stay tunned, I might pop in between studying sessions and exams!

Back To School Requires Lunchbox!

So, here I am, already one week into this semester, and next week I start labs in the afternoon. That means I have to take my food to university, because, to be honest, the cafeteria isn’t anything to call home about. And they don’t have a vegetarian menu *pout* So, this year I decided, instead of eating salad every time I have to stay, taking my own mjummy food, heat it in the microwave there, and eat healthier.

However, this whole “take your own food to uni/work” is not very stablished here, and there are no proper lunchboxes, or bags, or anything. And ordering would take at least two weeks to get here, and be expensive. So what’s a girl got to do? Think! Take some fabric and make your own lunchbag:

ikea fabric lunchbox bag

That’s 110cm of a 45 cm wide Ikea fabric made into a drawstring bag with handles. Of course, this bag hides things. I’ll take my food in two Ikea tuppers, and my drink in an Ikea thermos. Of course, I’m also taking cutlery, and I made a pouch out of a scrap of (more Ikea) fabric to hide it. Wanna see it?


What did I learn with this? First, plan your sewing project. I just went to Ikea, bought the tuppers and the thermos, and then guessed how much fabric I’d need. Yes, I was in a hurry! I could have used 50cm more for a couple pockets, maybe. Second, the sewing machine hates me. It’s a cheap machine my mother got years ago, and she’s never sewn with it, it’s only me who started using it recently. This time, I had to clean it because the tension was very wonky (weird, but just cleaning worked like a charm, didn’t take it to the repair shop like last time), and a needle broke mid-project. And third, I can make an easy bag in a morning if I need to.

A Little Dyeing Experiment

This Easter I was in Belgium (see full post on our blog, and all the pics on our gallery). Since we have a big garden and room to work, it was the perfect time and place to dye the fabrics I had bought for making our medieval costumes.

We bought our dye and chemicals from Zijdelings, a workshop on textile design and mailorder service from the Netherlands (part of the site is English, but if you want to order, get ready to browse in Dutch). We got pre-reduced indigo, soda ash and thioureum dioxide. Fast service, and average prices – indigo is expensive, no matter what.

We did a pre-bath mixing 4 tablespoons of indigo, 4 tablespoons of soda ash, and 8 teaspoons of thioureum dioxide in 700 ml of tap water. Mix well and carefully(!), you don’t want to stain anything blue, like your fingers (I did *ahem* skin washed off in two days tho). Remember you are using chemicals, so be careful, work in a ventilated area, don’t touch the chemicals with your barehands etc etc etc . We let it rest a whole day in an airtight closed jar until it turned greenish.

The next day we filled our big bucket from Ikea with about 30 l. of (cold) tap water, and poured the pre-bath in. Mix carefully and let rest a bit. If you are careful and do not introduce much air in the bath, you’ll be able to dye right away. Else you have to wait until it turns greenish away. Now, put your fabric in and let it under the water (the fabric will have air bubbles and you have to push it down constantly) to catch the dye for some 5 to 10 minutes (I really didn’t time this process – the colours are totally non repeatable). Fish the fabric out, wring out well without splashing much using gloves, your hands will thank you ;p and extend your fabric so it gets aired and it turns blue. Keep dipping the fabric in the same fashion until the colour is slightly darker than desired (it will wash off a bit). With this bath and white linen fabric we got a pretty dark blue shade after three dips, that will be Jan’s tunic.

We did let the dyebath rest overnight, and used the nearly exhausted bath to dye the tan linen fabric as well. Two dips later we got a blue-greenish shade that I love and that will become my dress. Want pics? See here a couple:

Dark blue indigo dyed fabric on the drying line Light blue-greenish indigo dyed folded fabric

For the whole set, please visit the photo album in our gallery.


Flash Your Stash! Or What Fabric I Bought.

I went to buy fabric for certain sewing project I need for August. This will become re-enactment clothing for Jan and me, after some dyeing, cutting, sewing, embroidering and some more things. There is enough for a dress, a skirt, a tunic, a pair of trousers, and some handkerchiefs!

One little pile of linen fabric

another shot of such linen fabric

That pile of fabric has 7.5 m of light tan linen, 4.5 m of white and 3 m of chocolate brown 100% linen fabric, all 1.40 m wide. At only 4 euros per meter! And of the white, I only paid 4 of the 4.5 meters cause it was the end of the bolt!

*Happy Sade*