Monday, February 28, 2011

Down To The Wire

It's 9:30 AM on the last day of the month and


it's possible that the February Project of the Month could be finished tonight.  I woke up early today and got the yoke facing and one sleeve attached, and I hope to be able to get back to sewing fairly early tonight. There are cuff facings, but nothing too hideous and only two buttonholes to be made, so there's hope!

Saturday I dropped Jeeves off at the repair shop, then yesterday I finished this:
The fact that my "Mark-Be-Gone" marker hasn't "be gone" yet makes me a bit nervous as the other pen disappears in less than 24 hours, but maybe this one disappears with washing? 

I made the embroidery stitch a bit heavier by using 3 embroidery threads.  I wanted it to look slightly cartoon-like.  Not in a silly sense, just in a light-hearted sense.  I'm actually rather proud of myself for doing this, as I'm not good at drawing, I haven't actually embroidered anything since I was a child and then it was a few flowers, and this sort of thing would normally have intimidated me, but I wanted both pockets embroidered and was not going to let a little thing like Husqvarna's terrible service stand in my way.  There's more than one way to skin a cat!
....er, embroider a pocket. 

After the debacle that was Finishing Friday, Friday night I needed a cheap, quick knitting fling:
Yet another chemo cap!  With just a few more rows it will be a finished project, 100 yards of yarn used up, and one more stash entry in Ravelry moved to the "all used up" tab.  That's a pretty good fling, all things considered..............

Friday, February 25, 2011

There Are "Good" Finishing Fridays..

..and there are BAD Finishing Fridays.  Let's see if we can guess which one this one was.

I jumped out of bed bright and early because I had an entire day of sewing ahead of me.  It turns out that one can actually jump into sewing just a bit too early on a Friday.  This
is what can happen when one changes a needle before having coffee. Seriously--the needle (still threaded) just fell out.  Oops. 

Today is February 25 and the February Project of the Month,
had progressed no farther than washing of the material.  With 3 days to go, it was time to get cracking!

At first I thought I might make the pants as well, but when laid out
the material that had started out at 61 inches wide, according to the tag I had attached to it, had shrunk to 51 inches wide after washing.  Apparently when they say "line dry," "no heat fluff" in the dryer still doesn't cut it.  Or, I was having a seriously measurement-challenged day when I wrote up the tag.  Either way, oops number 2.

Being a craft jacket, the pattern had double pockets on each side, and I thought it would be a good time to test out Jeeves's embroidery again.  I had just been telling myself that I needed to get Jeeves to misbehave when using a Husqvarna embroidery design (because the repair guy at my dealership is a rather pompous man who believes that anything short of a machine blowing up must be user-error on the part of the silly women who use the machines that he is paid to "repair" and are the only reason he actually HAS a job), when
Yup!  It shifted the design again.  This time there is no WAY for the repair guy to try to make this out to be user error.  This is a design that came with the machine, I have a surge protector on the machine, it was not bumped, AND THIS IS HOW THE WHOLE PROBLEM STARTED THAT STARTED THE WHOLE REPAIR SAGA IN THE FIRST PLACE.  Yep--have I mentioned lately that anyone considering ever buying a Husqvarna sewing machine should have their head examined?

The electronics on my machine are still under warranty for just two more months, so
Jeeves returns to Holland's Sew Shoppe tomorrow.  With luck, I might see him again in late May or early June--depending on how hard it is to get parts for what the repair guy breaks this time.

So I diligently cut out another pocket to replace the one Jeeves had just destroyed, and thought it might be fun to try this:
A Husqvarna circular attachment.   The idea is that you attach the bar to the back of the presser foot bar, then there's a thumbtack that you drive up through a piece of material and into the hole in the bottom of the bar, and that holds the material securely while one sews a perfect circle around the pinned center of the circle.  Except this doesn't work either.  The silly thing just uses a thumb tack, but it doesn't stay in the hole in the bar, so the only way this $22 "accessory" can work is if somehow you find a way to hold the material flat enough on the base of the machine to keep the damn tack from falling out, which means you can't use the embroidery hoop as pictured on back because then you can't hold it down firmly enough, and when you're holding it that firmly you can't get a freakin' perfect circle ANYWAY because you're pressing so damn hard.  You gotta love Husqvarna--not too many other companies could mess up something involving a thumb tack--nor have the chutzpah to charge $22 for it.

This is when I made mistake number 3.  We all know that the danger to knitting angry is REALLY messed up gauge, right?  Well tonight I learned the danger to sewing angry:  Driving the pin into the wrist pin cushion a tad bit too hard and a tad bit too far to the side and not only driving the pin into the wrist pin cushion, but into the wrist as well.   Yup, this is one FUN hobby!

At least I got one pocket embroidered,
and have been playing around with a freehand butterfly on the new pocket,
which I am happy to say I remembered to outline in chalk before the Mark-Be-Gone ink indeed "be gone."  That might be the proudest moment of my entire day....

Thursday, February 24, 2011

I Have Been Released!!!!!!!!!!

Tonight I am no longer in hand-stitching hell:
The robe is done!!!!!  And before it was TWO weeks late! 

Of course, in the perverse nature of my crafting, the doll clothes I cut out of the same material:
also required hand-stitching, but at least it was much less.  The odd circle is a little doll beret, which has a little 2-inch piece of elastic in it to give it a little stretchiness to help hold it on, which is probably why most berets I have ever owned are knitted and have a built-in stretchiness.  Yarn is MUCH easier to work with than a 2-inch piece of elastic.  Since these are a gift for my niece's 6th birthday, I did try to keep the swearing down to a minimum, but I might not have made it if there had been any more hand stitching to contend with.

Projects 22 and 23 DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

So I Still Think It's Doable.....

There are 5 days left in February, and in order to stay on track with my goals I need to:

1.  Finished the February Project of the Month, which technically hasn't been started

2.  Knit up 1,256 yards of yarn

3.  Use up 6.4 yards of fabric

Isn't sleep highly overrated anyway???

Monday, February 21, 2011

Prepare To NOT Be "Wowed"

I have been working and working and working to get Andy's robe done today so it would only be a week late, but
I am still firmly lodged in hand-stitching hell.  The hem is all hand-stitched (which, to be fair, doesn't show up at all on this fabric and does look very nice), the cuff facings were hand-stitched, and the facing that goes all the way around the front is hand-stitched down on the inside.  That's where I'm stuck now.  I now understand why people had about 2 sets of clothing when it all had to be hand sewn.  If I had to hand-stitch all of our clothes, we'd be naked. 

I did start the Lotus Blossom tank with my oldest stash:
but set it aside in favor of this:
because I thought I might try finishing a project before getting side-tracked by a new one.  Hey, it could happen. 

Theo found a new love this weekend:
A sweater dryer!  I haven't ever used them since we've had him, and he was so excited by the new kitty hammock that he didn't mind an extended snooze on a wet sweater.  Andy minded, since it was his sweater, but we can't have everything.....

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Stash Unmasked

Yesterday, Carolyn asked how long the yarn for the new lace shawl (Lotus Blossom Lace) had been in the stash, and whether it was "old" stash or "new" stash, which made me curious about the stash in general.  The yarn I'm using was one of my exceptions in 2009.  I had promised my mother a shawl for her retirement gift, and for unknown reasons, ordered THREE 880-yard hanks of Knitpicks Bare Laceweight.  I ended up using just a little over one hank, so the second hank was justifiable, but that third one really smacks of abuse of a yarn-purchase-exception.  Which is sort of why I want to use it up.

However, the oldest yarn in my stash might be this one:

which I believe I bought before I bought my first house, which I think was 2003.  I also have 11 skeins of it in bright pink, and the only reason it hasn't been knit up in the past is that some rocket scientist at Jaeger yarn company thought it was completely unnecessary to list such useless details as yardage.  I might be a rather daring knitter at times, but even I am not going to jump into a project using an unknown amount of discontinued yarn.  Or at least not before a chocolate martini........

I thought I had one skein of dk to sport-weight cotton roaming around from this sweater,
which I made in high school (so pre-1988), but I couldn't find it when I was redoing the sweater, so it may not exist.

Where is all the older yarn, you might ask?  Well, until 2002, I was a project-by-project yarn buyer and had ZERO stash. 

 Yes, you read that correctly.  I have been knitting since I was about 7, but have only been a SUPREME YARN HOARDER for about 8 and a half years. If that isn't crazy enough, I can actually trace my stash accumulation to 3 events:

1.  My sister's first child (born in January of 2003) which really turned me from a knitter who did maybe one project every 12 to 18 months to an obsessed maniac knitter, who was pumping out baby sweaters like a mad woman. There was a lot of yarn purchased at this time, but the majority of it was also knit up into what my family has dubbed the "Sutton Baby Collection."

2.  My discovery of lace knitting (maybe 2004?), which meant I could buy relatively inexpensive yarn that took forever to knit up, and I can tie TEN 1325-yard hanks of Skacel laceweight directly to this episode (and, while I have THREE shawls to show for it, there's still a heck of a lot of this stuff in my stash)

3.  The stress of getting married/selling and buying houses/adjusting to being a stepmother/and the horrible ex-wife saga.  According to my account history at Elann, the majority of the yarn I have purchased from them--which is probably the single biggest source of my stash--came in 2006 and 2007.  We got engaged in January of 2006, started having serious problems with the ex wife in December of 2005 (which would continue to escalate for several years and we won't be fully free from for another 8 years), we put my house on the market in March, sold it in 2 days, I moved in with Andy until we bought this house in July, sold his house in August, got married in September, I lost my 16-year-old cat, Catanova, on Halloween, and we went on our honeymoon in November.  Even though a lot of that was good stuff, it was a very stressful year, and I seem to have coped with the stress by buying yarn.  Obviously, lots and lots of yarn. 

So, I think it might be fun to use up what I think might be my oldest yarn, so I'm considering using the yarn for the Lotus Blossom Tank.  It's a cotton/acrylic crepe which should have a nice drape to it.

Of course, today was spent with my sidekick
getting the final pieces of Andy's robe cut out (which was actually much easier once Theo ditched me to go snooze on the guest bed), and we've made great progress
Tonight I'm doing the hand stitching to attach the cuffs to the inside of the sleeve, then sometime this weekend I hope to attach the sleeves & get all the rest of the hand-stitching done (hem and facing), and I could pull this off just one week late.  Which is pretty good for my track record. 

 And last but not least, a picture f the pink jacket complete with buttons:
I adore this jacket.  When I have forgotten all about those 14 pattern pieces and the triplicate seam business, I might even be tempted to make a second one.

I fully expect my friends to stage an intervention if I am.....

Thursday, February 17, 2011

An Update - Maybe

Google has been updating and changing Blogger pretty regularly, which usually means that I have trouble uploading or moving pictures. Today, however, it has outdone itself: Nothing I type is showing up.

I am hoping that even though I can't see the words, they make it onto the blog--with or without typos and errors and misspellings.

----time passes, lots of swearing at Blogger, Google, 
and the idiot who ever thought up computers in the first place--

Aha!  I can upload pictures on one computer, but have to change to my Unix-based computer to get anything else to work.  Thank you sadistic bastards at Microsoft.

ANYWAY, I was able to find two buttons that reasonably matched the pinkish buttons I wanted to use for the jacket, so it now has buttons and has even been worn, but I managed to forget to take a finished picture.  I'll try for that tomorrow, depending on what Blogger has in store for me tomorrow.
Theo is helping me with cutting out the remaining pieces for Andy's robe...
which helps explain why it didn't get done for Valentine's Day.
Andy, however, managed to complete my gift just one day late:
A set of sock blockers!!!!!  He found a the patterns on a woodworking website, and made all of these without me even suspecting.  How cute is that?  Any guesses who gets the next pair of socks?

Though socks might be on hold for a while.  A friend of mine sent me a get-well gift,
My very first skein of Malabrigo!  I'm torn between knitting it up immediately or just treasuring the skein of yarn for a while.  Right now I'm spending a lot of time just petting it, which is also fun.

And two days at the hospital gave me a lot of knitting time.  Thanks to everyone for your well-wishes.   My father is doing extremely well--providing proof that staying active one's entire life does pay off in the long run, as he's actually gotten to combine some steps on physical therapy because he has so much muscle and is pretty darn fit for a man of 68.  I think his biggest problem is going to be learning that the new hip might mean slowing down just a bit--like not jumping on and off of haywagons or running after cows on the ranch.  I think he still has his doctor's permission to run FROM cows if need be, but that happens less and less on the ranch.  Cows that tend to try to trample or gore the humans on the ranch tend to become hamburger now.  Which since I have been kicked, trampled, and charged more than a few times, I thought it was a wise policy to adopt.

So with that extra knitting time this week, the new shawl is moving along really well,
as is the latest one-row scarf,
and I have finished a scarf for my niece's upcoming 6th birthday.  It matches the one I made for her 18-inch doll, so we're hoping that might give her an interest in learning to knit.
I'd like to get another hat done for her doll as well, but I will need to get everything mailed in a few days, so I may just start stockpiling doll clothes for Christmas.  I think I might be having more fun with the new doll than she is!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Happy Belated Valentine's Day!

And romantic that I am, I spent the day at the hospital while my father had hip replacement surgery.  Everything went well, and I have to say that it is a HECK of a lot easier to knit in a hospital when you aren't the ones getting the funny drugs.  So, the knitting mojo is back, and I promise I'll post some pictures later.  Right now it's shower, dress, and drive back over to the hospital for the day.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Uh Oh.

I had some free time yesterday AND DID NOT FEEL LIKE KNITTING.  Do you think I could possibly have caught some sort of rare jungle fever?  Or maybe it's the cross-stitching gods getting back at me for everything I have been saying about their art form?

It was a very frightening experience, especially since after finishing TWO projects on Friday my normal reaction would be to want to cast on 4-5 sweaters immediately.  Good heavens--you don't think I've been struck by moderation, do you??????

Friday, February 11, 2011

Warning, This Post May Be Hazardous For Those With Certain Heart Conditions

You may wish to sit down, as this might come as quite a shock.  Meet Finished Project number 19:

which still needs buttons because I'm still debating about what sort of buttons to use.
 I like the pinkish buttons, but I only have 6 of them and I need 8, and while I have enough of the rose-shaped buttons, I want to see if I can find something that matches better, using the roses as back-up if necessary.

And.....seriously, are you sitting down yet?  Meet Finished Project number 20:
Fleur is finally done!!!!!!  Forgive the lousy picture--three years at the bottom of the knitting basket gives sweaters a LOT of wrinkles, so it still needs to be washed and blocked, but after more than 3 years, the thing is finally done!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

See, I told you it would be quite a shock.  Let's be honest here--did you even think I would ever finish Fleur after all this time?  

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Thursday

Today, boys and girls, we're playing a new game called, "What the H*$# Was I Thinking?" 

See this?
Fourteen pattern pieces!  FOURTEEN just for some lousy jacket.  A jacket that is going to go into a closet that already contains at least 20 sweaters.  I can be warm without this silly thing.  And not just 14 pieces--14 pieces that have to be sewn together with THREE seams every single time, or even MORE seams when I make a mistake and have to redo a seamEven if each piece only needed to be joined in 2 places, that's eighty-four separate seams!!! Who has ever been THAT cold??????

Does anyone remember if there was a white chocolate martini or a big dose of Nyquil involved in picking out this project?????

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I MAY Be A Bit Behind

So Valentine's Day is 5 days away, and Andy's robe is only partially cut out.  And what have I been doing?


First I thought I'd start working on the pink jacket to get it off the project table
and it probably gets the prize for being the slowest project ever.  Because of the edge stitching and top stitching, every seam must be done three times.  And, to make it even more fun, there are tons of them.  I like it so far, though I always struggle with smooth edge-stitching on pockets, and the fact that the stitching is so visible on this jacket doesn't help.  I can't decide whether or not to add some sort of embroidery to this, or just to leave it as-is.  The top-stitching might be enough decoration I suppose, but something in white on the right yoke perhaps?

The material for the February Project of the Month has been washed and furred,
and because there is nothing like a sewing deadline to make me want to knit,  a little hat for my niece's doll was finished yesterday
and
That's right.  A new lace project--on size FOUR needles of all things.  Is this a project that will be done quickly?  No.  Is it a project that I need for a gift?  No.  Is it going to help me in the slightest to hit my 25,000 yards of yarn goal?  Highly unlikely.  So of course, how could I resist?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

I Am Obsessed!

Over the last two-three years, I have been adding my yarn stash to Ravelry in order to manage it a bit easier.  It obviously took quite a bit of time, but when I do get the urge to buy yarn, I can go online and browse my own stash, which does feel quite a bit like online shopping, and of course it helps to remind myself how much yarn I already have to knit with.  This is all good.  And when I use up yarn, I can move it to the "used up" tab, which means my stash is always current.

Since I started doing the chemo caps, using one ball of Elann Esprit yarn for each cap, I've been moving a lot of formerly "in stash" yarn to the "all used up" tab.   Each time, it feels like an amazing accomplishment, and I'm now up to 30 items in my "used up" tab.  Being able to see my stash progress every day in such a quick and easy manner is pretty exciting.  Not all the yarn I've knitted up in the last 3 years was even on Ravelry, so it doesn't really show a true picture of my progress, but it does show progress--which especially helps on days when I feel like I'm really not reducing the stash.

All of that is to explain this:
I had one hank of a discontinued bulky alpaca yarn, and while I would love to say that I had found a pattern that I liked and was looking for a yarn that would work, I was looking for a fast project that would give me another "all used up" entry on my stash.  Not that I don't love the hat--I do actually, and highly recommend the pattern--but I wanted a "used up" entry more than I wanted the hat.  Of course, that could have something to do with the fact it has warmed into the 40s this week making the hat too warm to wear currently.  Next cold snap I assume will be much more thrilled with the hat than the Ravelry entry. 

And,
the birthday socks are not only done and going to be delivered ON TIME, I got yet another "all used up" entry (entry 31.  A previously-finished scarf has now been blocked
and will also shortly been on its way as a birthday gift, though I'm a lot less concerned about this one.   For good measure, I also blocked the green January Project of the Month scarf,
so it can be moved off my desk and into the Christmas gift bin.  I'm pleased with the scarf in general, and since the recipient is Irish, I think he'll like it--if, of course, he realizes that the odd squiggles across the scarf are supposed to be a Celtic knot pattern. It could also be a tribute to tic-tac-toe, I suppose, but that would make a lot less sense.

Working on all these gifts has shamed me into digging out Andy's birthday sweater (you know, that was supposed to be done in JULY)
and I've added about 3 inches to the torso.  I think I need about 2 more inches, then I'll start the neck.  Now that it's been two years since my last steeking experience, I think can face it again.

I have also spent some time on the Pi shawl
which is going to need some very vicious blocking to become the circumference I thought it was going to be, but my backup plan is to save it for a smaller-stature friend if I can't block it quite enough.  I think I've banked enough small projects so far this year to not fall too far behind by attempting to finish a bigger project, so after this I'll be digging out that pesky dem fischer sin fru shawl, which I think has been in hibernation for 3 years now.

Of course, it might be time for a quick browse through my stash for another one or two skein entry........

Saturday, February 5, 2011

There Has Been Knitting!

But there has also been a lot of socializing, complete with still being sick, which explains the amount of knitting and the spectacular lack of blogging.  But I have been catching up on my craft tv show viewing, and am ready to reenter the crafting world armed with all sorts of new information!  For example...

*  When I use stabilizer for machine embroidery and it ends up unexpectedly puckering in the wash, I have added textural elements.


*  Next time I snag a thread on a silky piece of material, I am creating an heirloom "pulled thread" look


*  When I end up creating some article of clothing that I would not be caught dead wearing, I have created fun, wearable art


*  Three months from now, even long after all the winter decorations are put away but somehow everything still has glitter on it no matter HOW much I dust and vacuum, I have added bling to our living space.


I don't need to become better at crafting--I just need a better spin doctor!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

And Today's Lesson Is.....

If you ever get a wild idea to repair a bedspread or comforter, begin by taking a large, heavy object,
then beat yourself on the head repeatedly until the urge passes.

I am feeling better, but not 100% back to normal, so it seemed like a good day to tackle the bedspread problem.  After all, why ruin a perfectly good day?  I serged the remaining seams, then because I thought it best to reconstruct the thing in the same manner it had been put together (like a pillowcase around the batting), I sewed the edges together, and it was time to figure out how to attach the batting.  Luckily, I had a helper as usual. 
Interestingly enough, the batting is several inches too wide in every direction, which had been dealt with by simply folding the batting over.  Okay.  The problem was that the manufacturer also had some sort of spray adhesive that is much more durable and firm than quilter's basting spray--which was no help whatsoever.  So, I decided the biggest problem was going to be the bottom of the comforter, so
I did some really lousy hand-basting which probably won't hold the batting very well AT ALL but did help with the turning process.  
As did lots of swearing.  I did a bit of stitch-in-the-ditch at the sides to tack down the batting, but I'll be doing a bit more tacking by hand after this has some time to "hang" a little.  I'm a bit frustrated that it isn't "perfect," but then I remind myself that it's light-years better than the original construction, and it will lay on the bed just like it's supposed to even if I don't like everything about it.  And the best part is, I have 14 finished projects now!!!!  And the weird rash I have on my forearms from handling the batting will probably go away very soon................  Maybe I'm allergic to poor workmanship?

I was hoping to show off a second finished sock, but I didn't spend much time resting yesterday either, so...
It isn't finished, but I have turned the heel and am several rows into the foot.  They really should be on time for my friend's birthday, which excites me as he's probably the only person whom I haven't been spectacularly late on at least one gift for, so it means a lot to me to preserve my reputation with the one person who really believes me to be on top of things.

And in other crafting news, the iris ostrich plume scarf was finished last weekend, but I missed it in my photos earlier, so this
is what is should look like when it's all blocked.  There are beads, but they never show up in pictures.  I suppose I could solve the problem by using beads that contrast a great deal--like black--but I'm always afraid they'd look like bugs or dirt or something, and that's a lot of work to go through to have people continually try to pick the beads off the scarf for the rest of its life. 

 And in final crafting news, the February Project of the Month is....
a crafting jacket with pockets!  The bag is cute too, so I might consider that as well, but I'm always wishing that I had pockets when I'm crafting as women's clothing so rarely has useful pockets, so I thought this would be a great project to have.  I'll be making it out of a stretchy poplin, which I haven't used before, but I'm hoping will wear reasonably well.  And the really interesting thing about this project is that I could work on it at the same time as the pink jacket I'm already working on, because they're the same exact color.  Can we tell that this is actually one of my best colors to wear?