Author Archives: Peachy

Looking Back at the Diploma Experience

December 10, 2016

My life has gone through a whirlwind and recovery phase since my last post.

September 2015 through April 2016 was one of the most challenging times in my life as I finished my Fashion Design Diploma, continued teaching one day a week, coached one son’s soccer team and ferried children to soccer games and piano lessons/festivals/exams. I couldn’t have done it without the help of my family–so a HUMONGOUS thank you to them–especially my husband and my mother. I don’t think I have ever pulled as many all-nighters in my life as I did during this year, but it was the only place I could find the time to complete homework, so I did it. I’m amazed I was able to.

To summarize, over the course of this second year I learned how to

  • design, draft and construct a bustier, swimsuit, jacket, coat, and the three complete outfits in my collection
  • machine knit a pullover, pant and the poncho in my collection
  • use draping techniques to create an evening dress
  • make a hat
  • perform a variety of surface design applications to create fabric and then construct a silk painted dress, a resist/dyed velvet top and skirt, and a heat pressed polyester dress
  • create a comprehensive portfolio showcasing two separate collections

among a variety of other things too numerous to list. It was a busy year made just a little more challenging since the program was being cancelled and the classes I wanted to finish a Textile Focus would only be offered during my last two semesters. I took a full course load in the Fall semester (15 credit hours) and more than a full course load for the Winter semester (20 credit hours).

The year culminated in the Absolute Style Fashion Show. In addition to all of the work our small group did to make this show take place it couldn’t have been possible without the support of our teachers and university staff, the Student Union Society as well as a number of other donors.


Photograph courtesy of the University of the Fraser Valley

The fashion show was not a necessary part of our graduation so we were so thankful it could happen.

On the day of the show we had both an afternoon and evening performance. Seventeen amazing models did a tremendous job in making our designs look fabulous. There are no words to describe the thrill you feel when you see the tangible evidence of your many hours of designing, drafting and sewing hit the runway.

Here is a look at some of my pieces.

My circus themed, mime bustier, modeled by Jordan.

Photograph courtesy of the Abbotsford News and the University of the Fraser Valley

My coat modeled by Megan.


Photograph courtesy of the the Abbotsford News: John Morrow

My dress, created in our computer aided drawing (CAD) course, modeled by Alexis.


Photograph courtesy of the Abbotsford News

My monokini, modeled by Jordan.


Photograph courtesy of the Abbotsford News

My jacket, with matching pant, modeled by Jaymi.


Photograph courtesy of the University of the Fraser Valley

Three of my surface design projects walked down the runway. The first of these pieces was a red dress I don’t have a picture of. The second was a velvet outfit where the surface design effect was created by rocks being tied into black velvet. The velvet was then put through a turquoise thiorea dioxide vat dye process to become the fabric for this two piece outfit modeled by Chanel.


Photograph courtesy of the University of the Fraser Valley

My third surface design project was my painted silk dress, modeled by Alexis. You can find a few pictures of my process here.


Photograph courtesy of the University of the Fraser Valley

My crazy striped sweater and pant suit also made it onto the runway, but I failed to get a picture of them too. Here is fellow classmate, Christine, modeling it for me. You can find the larger version of this picture on my Instagram feed at peachycooo. Or on model, Charlynn, in this very short video I managed to take. It’s worth having a peak at the video, just to see that the back and the front are different.


My group weaving project, we (me, Jessica and Colleen) called the “Peacock Batwing” was modeled by Aislyn.


Photograph courtesy of the University of the Fraser Valley

And my draping, where I also made the accompanying hat, was modeled by Jaymi.

Finally, the last collection of the night was my graduate collection, Texture, which was based around natural fibre, a 1970s feel and a natural palette.

Here are Jaymi and Megan wearing two of my collection outfits.


Photograph by Peter Jensen Photography

And here is Ava wearing my poncho.


Photograph courtesy of the University of the Fraser Valley

If you want to have a look at the last few seconds as Jaymi, Megan and Ava walked the runway in my designs, you can see it here on my Instagram feed.

It was an amazing celebration of two years of work.To top it off I was the recipient of a Telio scholarship.


Photograph courtesy of the University of the Fraser Valley

Again, a HUGE thank you to my support network, a group of family and friends who came to watch both the afternoon and evening shows. I couldn’t have made it through without you.


Photograph courtesy of the University of the Fraser Valley

Local Fibre in Fashion

August 27, 2015

In just a week or so I will begin my second year of the Fashion Design Diploma Program at the University of the Fraser Valley.  (My intake is the last one for the diploma program as it morphs into what may possibly become a Business of Fashion Degree.)

My goal in taking the program was to develop my understanding of textiles, garment structure, drafting and construction methods as well as collect a myriad of other useful tools under my belt. What I will do with these skills is still up for debate and is something I am constantly thinking through…though I have some ideas I will share at some later point.

One of the program requirements during our second year is to develop a collection of three cohesive complete outfits that will be part of a runway show at the end of April 2016. (An aside – here is my dress from first year, and here is my woven cardigan.) Though my ideas haven’t been vetted yet, the collection I hope to be create will focus around using natural fibre, with a goal to source as much of it locally as possible.

One day this summer I spent an afternoon in Langley, with shearer Johanna Walker, skirting some fleece.

Fleece   Bagging Fleece

Over the summer I have collected some alpaca and Romney fleece, as well as some local Romney yarn.  I have gotten as far as washing and carding the alpaca and am currently spinning it into a one-ply that I haven’t decided will be either woven or knit. I will update as I can.

Candy Cane Cowl

January 15, 2015IMG_1856

I love how that sounds. Candy Cane Cowl. An alliteration lover’s dream.

I am such a nerd. 🙂

This past December I finally decided I needed to think less about designing something and actually do it. I’ve wanted to design SOMETHING for a while. I thought for my first written project I would keep it simple, go with something that didn’t involve shaping, and make a cowl, with stripes like a candy cane.

Why did I choose intarsia for my first project?!?! Maybe my subconscious thought I should learn to like it more. Maybe. Do I like it more? Not so much. But hey, it’s not that bad.

I looked into my meager stash of yarns and found…da da da da…some Real Jeans indigo dyed cotton that had been hanging out in a plastic bin for probably about 10 years. I had 3 royal blue skeins, 2 dark blue and one light blue skein. My candy cane stripes were going to be of the blueberry flavour variety.

Using 4mm needles I cast on 58 stitches in the royal blue. For the wrong side row I knit 2 (for a 2 stitch garter stitch edge), then purled 54 stitches and then knit the last 2. (I did this for every WS row.) Then I began my pattern.


I knit (there was some cabling involved) the entire row in the following order 13 royal blue, 8 dark blue, 9 royal blue, 3 light blue, 9 royal blue, 9 dark blue, 6 royal blue. How I added cabling was through the first two stitches of almost all of the colour changes–just to make things a little more interesting. Then I continued the pattern and on the RS rows just offset each colour change by one, moving the diagonal stripe to the right. When I have time to figure out how to chart this I will. Not to make excuses (but I am totally going to) I am enrolled full-time in school, work one day a week and coach soccer for one of my kids. I’ve been a little busy.


Now I just need time to actually finish my own cowl…

My Shetland Shawl…Part One

August 7, 2014


A happy distraction from my garden.

I started Granny Cheyne’s Shetland Shawl this past May. This challenging lace shawl pattern is based on a family heirloom Margaret Stove restored. She speaks about the restoration process in her book as well as the history of heirloom lace shawls.

Shetland shawls are traditionally knit in one piece beginning at the corner of the outer edge. The entirety of the border is knit first–the edging usually quite narrow with a series of points along one side. This particular edging had 84 repeats. Each repeat took me about 20-30 minutes (depending on whether I made any mistakes or not) so after about 42 hours worth of work that part was finished.

IMG_1653   IMG_1660

Next was the first border. I started by picking up into EVERY stitch on the straight side of the edging. While knitting the edging from the straight side, the first stitch was always slipped instead of knit. So instead of the straight edge having a stitch for the RIGHT side AND the WRONG side (1+1=2) you only have one for each RIGHT/WRONG side grouping (1).


Where the border meets the edging

I forgot to time myself during the border stage but it took at least 20 hours. I also got some extra practice with the first part as after doing about 0.75″ of work I ripped a hole in the fabric as I tore out my life line.

PRO TIP — If your life line sticks figure out what’s wrong instead of pulling harder.

Thankfully I was only at the beginning of the border and felt it was better to just rip out the 3 hours or so of work than to painstakingly tink backwards to the hole and then repair it.


First Border

Once finished the first border I started the center piece, which is what I have almost finished at this point.


Center Piece

I have also had some serious project envy (a group has been working on the Mountain Moss Shawl) while working on this shawl and my next project is going to involve a huge chunk of either stocking stitch or garter stitch. However, I’m also noticing that my level of comfort and consistency working on this type of lace has greatly improved. Even though I was pretty comfortable working with lace before this project.


A final happy distraction. 🙂

Candied Ginger

December 9, 2013

I have made candied ginger for a number of years. It lasts for quite a while stored in an airtight container and it’s amazing to use when I’m making any type of ginger cookie.

The recipe I have used before is the one from David Lebovitz here. It has worked out well, though I haven’t always taken his advice to cut the ginger as thinly as possible. I find I like it better cut a little thicker.


According to his recipe you need to use a 4 cups of sugar and water for each pound of ginger. This year I had 1.5 pounds of ginger so I used 6 cups each of water and sugar. Here is another good recipe if you want the ginger to be done faster, but as one reviewer commented, if you want the ginger flavour strong, take the time to boil all of the water off without dumping any away.

This year I followed the first recipe, but only boiled the ginger in water once. The ginger stayed very spicy. I also had to leave the house midpoint, so my husband took the boiling ginger off the burner and let it harden into a huge mass before I came back. It had been pretty much finished by this point, but on my return I had to re-liquify the whole thing before attempting to drain the ginger from the syrup. Not a lot of it drained. Mostly the “syrup” hardened and I placed the ginger pieces onto parchment paper carefully by hand (as it was still pretty hot). I didn’t bother putting the pieces into granulated sugar as the sugar already on the ginger pieces crystallized.

IMG_1132 IMG_1136

Perhaps I screwed up somewhere, but it still seems to have worked out well yet again. It’s not rocket science. 😉 Mmmm…ginger. 🙂

Pennsylvania Dunkers from “The Christmas Cookie Club”

January 3, 2013

I made some cookies for Christmas “last” year which included a recipe from the story “The Christmas Cookie Club” by Ann Pearlman. The cookie appears to be a new favourite of my dad’s so I probably shouldn’t lose the recipe.


Pennsylvania Dunkers

  • 1/2 lb (2 sticks) softened butter
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups sifted flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans (I used a rubber mallet — that was fun!) You can toast the nuts, though I didn’t bother.

Mix together the butter, sugars, egg and vanilla in a large bowl. Mix very well. In a separate bowl mix together the dry ingredients and nuts. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the sugar mixture. Mix very well with your hands.Separate dough into four parts. Shape and pat into logs approximately 6 inches long, 2 1/2 inches wide, and 1 inch thick. Wrap each log tightly in wax paper and freeze for three hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To bake, slice thin, about 1/6 inch, with a sharp knife. Bake for 8-12 minutes until just slightly browned at the edges (if you cut thinner it will take less time and give you more cookies). Watch closely as they can get overbaked easily. Each log makes 25-30 cookies.

Cookies are very crisp and great for dunking into tea or coffee.

Getting Ready for the Christmas Party

December 2, 2012


For several weeks now I’ve been preparing for the big event tomorrow. Each year we invite our friends to celebrate the holidays the last Saturday before Christmas. I’ll need to post some of the pictures of my prep work later, but as I am in the midst of trying to get all the food sorted, it will have to wait.

Right now I’m going to attempt some cranberry chutney. I found this recipe for Apple and Cranberry Chutney and really hope it’s going to work. I don’t know why but I really don’t like oranges except by themselves, and many recipes for cranberry chutney seem to include oranges. Bleh.

Update:I halved the recipe except for the cranberries. I tasted the nearly finished batch and found it too sweet for my liking. Perhaps it’s because I used Gala and Granny Smith apples. However, after adding more cranberries (500g total) I was happier.

Here’s the recipe I used:

  • 500g cooking apples, peeled and chopped into small chunks
  • 250g eating apples, peeled and chopped into large chunks
  • 225g onions, chopped into small pieces
  • 25g fresh root ginger, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp peppercorns
  • 250g granulated sugar
  • 125ml cider vinegar
  • 500g cranberries

Place all ingredients except cranberries in a large heavy-based saucepan, then gently heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 50 minutes, stirring regularly until the apples and onions are tender, the mixture has thickened and no watery juice remains.

Apples and Onions

Add the cranberries, then cook for a further 10 minutes or so until just softened but not burst.

Cranberries Added

Spoon the hot chutney into sterilized jars and seal. Store unopened in a cool, dark place. The chutney will keep for up to 6 months. Chill on opening.


So about a week ago I made plain, simple bagel chips by cutting up some plain bagels and baking them in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. I didn’t add any oil or flavouring. I ended up with these lovely chips, that my youngest devoured. Thankfully he missed seeing the big container of them so I still have some left for tomorrow.

I also wanted to make another flavoured set of bagel chips, but haven’t been able to until tonight. I found a recipe here that I wanted to try next. This time I doubled the recipe and omitted one ingredient since I didn’t have any onion powder in the house. However, I did have Montreal Chicken spice so I used that instead. I also used plain bagels that had sesame seeds on top.


  • 4 large bagels, any variety
  • approximately 125mL butter, melted
  • approximately 90mL olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp Montreal Chicken spice or another seasoning mix
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Slice bagels into thin discs. In a small bowl or cup, melt butter with olive oil. Add butter and olive oil to a flat dish. Tip and rotate baking dish until entire bottom is coated with butter and oil. I used a medium sized glass dish and then just poured enough butter/oil mixture to cover the bottom. Once the bagel chips soaked it up, I added more mix to the dish.

Place bagel slices in the dish, press down, flip and repeat. Transfer soaked bagel slices to a baking sheet. Repeat process with all bagel slices.

In a small bowl, mix spices and sprinkle over bagel slices. OR, just sprinkle straight from your store-bought seasoning mix.

Bake for 5 minutes. Flip slices. Bake for an additional 5 minutes or until desired crispness is reached. (I did one batch with the flip and one batch without flipping. I couldn’t see any huge difference so I’d rather be a little lazy and just bake for 10 minutes on one side).

IMG_9665 IMG_9673

Blaithin Swatch

October 23, 2012

In May, Kate Davies introduced her Blaithin and Blaithin Junior Cardigans. You can find them here.

I immediately liked them both, but was more taken with the Junior because the sweater design for the yoke wasn’t interrupted by a change in colour. I thought about making the adult version in a similar way.

I ended up taking graph paper and coloured markers (I know, so non-techie of me) and I worked through some colour combinations with paper swatches.

I finally decided on the colour combination Kate originally used.

I just tweeked the pattern a little bit.

I have to say I’m really pleased and can’t wait to see what happens as I continue knitting. My next class, at the Working Hands Fibre Arts Studio with Venessa Bentley, will be in December, so once I finish the sleeves this project will be on hiatus for a little while…waiting for December.

I know there will be lots of opportunity to wear it…even if finishing the project is delayed for a while.

You can see the finished version on Ravelry here.

My Thanksgiving Appetizer: Oven Roasted Tomatoes and Garlic with Goat Cheese

October 6, 2012

And, so I take my first baby steps.

What have I created today? Mmm…how about some wonderful vine-ripened, oven roasted tomatoes?

I’ve made them twice now and am wowed by the amazing flavour that pops in my mouth when I’m eating them. It’s fantastic what 12 hours in the oven (at the lowest temp), covered in olive oil, some garlic and pepper can do to these tomatoes. The best part–I was sleeping while this creation was taking place.

The second tasty item that’s in my oven right now is some roasting garlic. Yum!

I will be heading out today to Thanksgiving dinner at a friend’s place and will bring the tomatoes, the garlic and some goat cheese to enjoy on some crispy toast. Can’t wait.


Pour a little olive oil onto the bottom of the pan you’ll be using.

Cut tomatoes into thin-ish wedges. However many you want…just don’t overload the pan.

Add some roughly chopped garlic…maybe half a head. Sprinkle on the tomatoes.

Grind some black pepper on top and add a bit more olive oil.

Turn oven to the lowest temperature and leave tomatoes there for 12 hours. (I have gone to sleep and woken up to this amazing dish.)



Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Chop the tops off your heads of garlic—just enough to expose the cloves inside.

Pour a little olive oil onto each.

Leave in the oven for approximately 35-45 minutes. Just check the garlic to make sure it’s turning a lovely golden colour, but not burning. You’ll notice some of the cloves pushing themselves up out of their skins.

Enjoy on some crackers with goat cheese. Mmmm…