Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Um..............

My goal--well, one of them--is to knit 25,000 yards of yarn before the end of the year.  To be on track, I need to be at 6249.999999999999999999999999999 yards by the end of March.  Currently, I'm just below 4000 yards for the year.  Impossible, you say?

Well.........I have two more days, and the latest lace shawl is closing in on the end of an 880-yard skein, the new baby sweater is finishing up the last of a 115 yard skein, and I've picked up the red socks that were languishing because I couldn't remember where I'd put the pattern book, but are full into the second sock and the second half of a 440-yard skein (or 462 yards as Ravelry insists), so there could be a fighting chance that I could at least end the month a bit closer to target.  Of course, if I finished all three in the next two days I could actually BE on target, but amazingly, even I am not that delusional--which is quite possibly a first for me.  

Do you think there are people who actually do hobbies in order to relax?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Look What I Got!

This:
arrived yesterday from RobinH, my partner-in-insanity last year with the 100 projects goal.  There is NOTHING knitters do as well as gifts for other knitters, and what could be better than celebrating reaching crazy goals than by swapping gifts?  

Aside from some fantastic LOCAL yarn,
Robin sent me REAL maple syrup (drool), something called Maple Cream which I haven't heard of but sounds marvelous
and now will inspire me to find a really good muffin or waffle recipe worthy of such amazing-sounding stuff.  And....
these are milk chocolate maple creams.  Having only had really hideous maple-flavored mass-produced chocolates, I had no idea how amazing these would be.  OMG!  Seriously, these are incredible--and I'm not even a huge sweets person.  In fact, they are so incredible that here's the link to their website: 


I just can't describe it. 

THANKS ROBIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Let's Call It "Progress Friday"

In an AMAZING show of self-restraint, Jeeves is NOT listed on Ebay tonight.

Today's recap:  the latest chemo cap having been finished on Wednesday,

and great progress having been made on the new baby sweater and am just finishing up the front pieces,

I felt knitting has received enough attention this week that I felt confident devoting Finishing Friday to sewing projects.  Especially since a rare bit of sun coming in the window
had lured Theo away from my sewing table and I could actually use it for something BESIDES a kitty hangout.  I cut out new pieces for the quilt,
and cut out interfacing for the floral jacket,
ALL without kitty assistance!  I don't think I've ever had so much time to myself in the sewing room since we adopted Theo.  It was a bit of an odd sensation, but a really productive one.

Earlier this week, I had finally relented and set up Jeeves for a trial run.  Not that I thought that he had been fixed--actually, I knew he hadn't--but with the outstanding incompetence of Holland's Sew Shoppe, I wanted to see if he'd returned with just the same problem or new ones.

As you might remember, the repair guy insisted that--aside from the fact that I had been doing fine for the previous 4 years--that all the problems are being caused by ME not using enough stabilizer.  In spite of the test embroidery they included using only one freakin' piece of stabilizer,
 
he's patronizing enough to state that I should use several pieces--you know, because my having boobs obviously means that I can't embroider as well as he can, so I should double the stabilizer.  I really, really hate this dealership.  I decided to make gift bags, using only the designs that actually came with the machine,
because the fewer excuses the repair jerk has, the better.  And I was able to get several bags embroidered
before the exact same problem that Holland's just charged me $60 to "fix" happened again.  The bastards.  I'll be doing more sample embroidery, and will assemble an entire portfolio of examples of the problems to take back to them.  In the meantime, I have emailed Husqvarna to complain, and will be finally contacting the Better Business Bureau.  Really, I don't think I'm asking too much.  If I'm going to be CHARGED for repairs, they should actually try to repair the machine, no matter how big the repair guy's ego is.   

 I have one bag totally finished,
and am just attaching handles to the rest of them.   Jeeves is out of warranty this month (the 5 year electronics warranty.  There's a 20-year mechanical warranty, but that is obviously, to borrow a rather apt phrase, not worth a pitcher of warm spit), but the two cards that were replaced last year each carry a one year warranty, and as this is the same problem that foreshadowed the first card going out, I have a few months to see if the card will fail during the warranty instead of after.  I am compiling a list of things I want to embroider, as Jeeves's days are so obviously numbered and it will be some time before I can afford a new embroidery machine (which will obviously NOT be a Husqvarna).  So, we may end up with 15 years' worth of gift bags, as I'd prefer Jeeves malfunction on felt rather than really nice material, or I may start getting really creative with felt project ideas.  Coasters perhaps?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

ARGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Today I happened to be discussing novelty yarns with someone on Ravelry, and it just struck me:

I still own some novelty yarn, and it isn't listed in my Ravelry stash

DAMN!  Dang!!!!!  I really hoped that the 190 items listen in my Ravelry stash actually included all the yarn I own.  Dang dang dang dang dang!!!!  I don't know where the novelty yarn actually IS at the moment, or I would be outside right now hucking it at passing cars.  

I know why it isn't listed--I didn't want to admit that I owned any of it.  When novelty yarns first appeared, knitting inexplicably became HIP.  The dorky hobby I had been ridiculed for doing most of my life was suddenly "cool" and "in" because of weird yarns that looked like someone had shaved the Muppets and spun the results into yarn, and wasn't going to pass up my one and only chance to be "trendy," no matter how obnoxious the yarn.  

My problem is that I grew up during the last knit-and-crochet-are-hip era, and back then, the trendiest things that were (presumably) "hip" and "groovy" (this was the 1970s after all) were the very things that got knitting demoted to "dorky" for the next 25 years: pom poms, fringe, things combining objects such as cans and plastic rings with yarn, acrylic yarn.  Even 5 years ago, "novelty" yarns were just screaming to me, "we're going to make knitting dorky again," so after making a few obligatory scarves, I banished my remaining novelty yarn, never to be mentioned again and CERTAINLY never to be publicly admitted on Ravelry.  After all, while I have the reputation for crazy cold-sheeping marathons and a rather reality-challenged stash, even I have my limits..........................

Sunday, March 20, 2011

March Project Of The Month

While I really, really wanted to spend Finishing Friday working on the tapestry jacket or the new quilt, it occurred to me that doing strange projects like "Project of the Month" bags might be far easier and even less stressful if I stopped waiting until the very last minute to finish them. (Go figure).  So, most of Friday and the better part of today has been spent madly sewing, and

ta-da!  A dress which is not overly well done, has huge problems where the trim and the zipper coincide, and won't be able to be worn for at least another 3 months without hypothermia.  But a Finished Project is a finished project. 

I decided to go with the pink trim for the well-thought out reason that I simply couldn't find anything else.  I did have a little lavender ribbon-type yarn that matched better in color

but it was too thin and I thought might look slightly anemic.   And I decided that even if the results weren't perfect, I've never sewn on trim before, so it could be a Learning Opportunity if it didn't turn out well.  Using invisible thread and one of the several zig-zag stitches in Emma's repertoire (which someday I need to figure out the various uses of),
I think it will stay attached at least as long as the mystery material holds up.  I have a vague recollection that I purchased it at the sale table in Wal-Mart, of all places, so my expectations aren't high.  A retail empire built upon a reputation of selling the cheapest crap possible is not to be trusted.  But, chalk up another 2.5 yards from the fabric stash and the March Project of the Month done!

Now, I'm off to set up Jeeves and take him for a test run.  I don't have high expectations, and will be doing some felt gift bags so that when if the same stupid problem surfaces in spite of whatever the idiotic less-than-inspiring repair guy said, I won't have trashed a more valuable piece of material. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Trouble Ahead

I just caught myself rejecting a basket for the upcoming Virtual Knitting Retreat because it was "too small."  So much for moderation...........

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Virtual Knitting Retreat

Have I mentioned this month how cool Ravelry is?  The group I'm most active in is the "Stashdown" group.  It's a group of about 3600 knitters who have more yarn than they care to admit, and are trying to knit partially, mainly, or exclusively from stash.  It's like a support group for those with "yarn purchasing issues."

Anyway, today I signed up for the group's first "Virtual Knitting Retreat."  Since we're spread all over the world (and most of us have tied up our money in fiber anyway), it would be impossible to really get together for a knitting weekend, so we're going to have one on-line.  It's April 7-10, and everyone is to post a picture of their project basket for the long weekend, then hopefully get all the way through it in 4 days.  Obviously, a smart person would find a small basket for this.  And, you know it is possible that that will be my choice............. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Dang It.

Um, Mother Nature?  Yeah,  I've moved on to SPRING crafts.  Can we focus just a bit?  It is March here.

Monday, March 14, 2011

I'm Back, Take Two

It's been a pretty hectic month or two here, so when an opportunity came up to get out of town for a few days, I jumped at the chance.  Theo may never speak to me again, but Thursday I packed up Bernie, some knitting projects, and a few less-necessary things like clothes and headed out for some ALONE time. 

Now, this would have been a perfect WIP-reducing weekend.  Instead, I made a second white chemo cap,
which, of course, looks EXACTLY like the last one and would have been a very boring thing to be knitting IF finishing it didn't mean that I could move the stash of white stretchy yarn to the "all used up" tab in Ravelry, which brings me to 34!  (Did I actually set 150 as my goal???????)

You might think I would be getting tired of chemo caps by now, but they keep finding their way to new owners and I still have a few balls of the yarn to use up, so
That's right!  It's like the movie Groundhog Day only with chemo caps.  The same thing over and over and over, but without any rodents.  Which is probably for the best.

Did I take along Andy's sweater or the Pi shawl or any of the existing WIPs?  Of course not.  I took

a new baby sweater.  One of my cousins and his wife are expecting their first baby, so I thought the Baby Reefer jacket in purple would make a nice, gender-neutral gift, though the double-breasted buttons might make it a bit more feminine than masculine.  I tend to be of the opinion that it shouldn't matter, but I have discovered that this opinion is rarely shared by the fathers of little boys.  I've never worked out how certain shades of lavender or green threaten anyone's masculinity--nor exactly whose masculinity is being threatened by non-blue colors in the first place, but this seems to be a big thing.  Still, it's a cute sweater pattern, and if the end result doesn't look machismo enough for someone who is still breast-feeding to wear, I'll put it in the baby gift bin to await a girl baby or a more secure father....whichever comes first. 

I have started with the sleeve, as those are usually my least favorite part to knit, and managed to miss a line in the instructions telling me to add 6 stitches when I change to stockinette.  Oh well.  It will still work and I'll just make the same mistake on the second sleeve so they will match.  It's probably going to be a good thing in the end, as I am making this with just a little less yarn than the pattern calls for, so a slightly narrower sleeve will save some yarn, which is good as this yarn has been in stash for a few years and would be pretty difficult to match in any way--which, apart from potential suffocation from a stash avalanche, is the biggest risk for a yarn stash.   

When one is trying to finish 111 projects in one year, simple projects that are easy to complete are REALLY the best idea.  So, of course, I started a new quilt:
I now have 30+ of these squares, and if I do the size of quilt in the book, I need 63 or 64 of this block.  There's a block that goes between each of them, and some special side blocks that I need to do, so I think I'll be deciding the size of the quilt by my tolerance for doing the blocks, but so far it might be a full-sized quilt.  I love how the green and the leaf print go together, and if I weren't on a fabric ban would probably have rushed to Joann's to stockpile more of the leaf fabric--which explains the need for the fabric ban.  Funny how that works.

And, remember my asking you to step in and bring me to my senses if I ever decided to make that pink jacket again?
Too late!  I am actually making a second one, but this time using home decorating fabric.  Obviously, weekends away are NOT good for whatever grasp on reality that I might have had.  Triple seams combined with dry-clean only fabric--what's not to love???

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Saga Continues

Tuesday:  Received a call from my Husqvarna dealer:  "Did he call you to tell you your machine is ready to be picked up?"

Me:  "No, is it fixed?"

Dealer:  "Well, I think so.  It's ready to be picked up."

(Hard not to just glow with confidence when dealing with these folks)


So, last night my husband and I stopped by to pick up my machine.  $60, because they charged me for a "tune up."  Presumably somewhat different than the "tune up" they charged me $89 for in July, which caused more problems than it solved.  AND, of course, told me I was probably causing the problem  by not using enough stabilizer.  And the fact that there had been no problems with the amount of stabilizer I had used for 4 years just doesn't matter to these bozos.  However, I have a list of the tickets, the repair issues, their responses, and the first circuit board (the one I think is actually going out) still has until July under warranty, so when I am less angry I will go on an embroidery frenzy to see if either by some miracle they actually did find the problem (I know, but one can only hope) or to force the card to fail while they have to pay for it.

And, as if I wasn't already to the point where I would have cheerfully smacked the dealer over the head with the closest hard object, the repair guy told me my machine (still under warranty) would make a perfect trade-in on the new Husqvarna Ruby.  Sure, right after I ask Andy's ex wife to move in with us.

It's an amazing thing to meet people who are truly and utterly delusional.

Monday, March 7, 2011

I'm Back.

I spent the weekend with my parents to see how they were coping after the hip replacement surgery.  My father is almost speedy, having given up the walker a few days ago and now, only 3 weeks after the surgery, walking better than he has in the last couple years.  However, it is still very much winter there, and being unable to get out and about for 3 weeks is getting to him.  I don't blame him--I'd be going stir crazy and I can knit when confined.  Speaking of, meet the weekend project:

Yet another chemo cap.  My mother wanted one for a friend with cancer, so I started it on Saturday, finished it on Sunday, and I think it is on its way to its new owner today.  Personally, I prefer it when the caps sit around and are totally and completely useless, but at least MOST of them are still not needed. 

The shawl also saw a little action

and is now almost to the point where I will divide for the "v" of the sides.  I think that might make me close to half finished on it. 

I also managed to find some buttons for the craft jacket this weekend,

so that will be finished up hopefully by tonight, though there is a small, rather angry somebody

who feels a bit neglected and hasn't stopped telling me off since I got back about two hours ago.  I have explained very nicely that cats usually do not enjoy road trips, and that there are dogs at the ranch who probably wouldn't enjoy a visit from a strange cat, but I just don't think I'm getting through to him.  Looks like there may be some extended groveling tonight.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Cold Sheeping - How Many More Years?

This is my fourth year of Cold Sheeping (knitting only from stash and buying NO yarn at all, except to finish a project or on one of my year-end reward purchases when I allow them), and I have been making a lot of progress on The Stash, but there is still a crazy amount of yarn left. 

So, it looks like I will be continuing to Cold Sheep for a few more years, but the idea of doing it indefinitely was getting to me, so I have decided that I will continue until my "All used up" tab in Ravelry shows 150 entries.  As it now has 33 entries, and most of my entries are not single skeins of yarn, this is going to be a long endeavor.  Years.  The other thing I have decided, in order to keep my sanity during this stash marathon, is that I will get to spend $100 on yarn each year.  That way I won't feel too deprived, and I've set a high enough number so that if a few purchases are things like sock yarn that will take up lots of entries in my stash, I'll still end up with a significantly tamed stash by the end of the project.  And there is just the slightest chance that by the end of this project, I might have finally learned moderation.............

Or not.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Finishing Friday

This week's Finishing Friday got off to a head start last night with a finished scarf

and the crafting jacket finished today by noon.
OK--yes, technically this was supposed to be finished in February, but I think even our mortgage company might give us 5 days for a "grace period," so I see no reason why the Project of the Month shouldn't get one as well. It still needs 2 large buttons--which I don't have--and will need to be washed, but I'm pleased overall.  It's rather bigger than I thought it would be, and I'm not sure if it's just supposed to be fairly big or if this is one of those "no-woman-wants-to-wear-a-large-so-we've-made-the-medium-humongous"  sort of things.  Still, I think it will be nice to have in the crafting room, and add 2.75 yards of fabric to the "all used up" category.

Swearing that I would do better this month, I decided to cut out the March project of the month:
 though my suspicions of anything called "easy" were confirmed almost immediately.  See this piece: 
It's the elastic guide, and though it doesn't show up in the cutting diagram, that itty-bitty writing on the right states it has a 3/8-inch seam allowance.  Now I haven't been sewing very long, but in my limited experience, elastic doesn't usually get a seam allowance--especially one that is actually wider than the elastic called for--so I thought I would check the pattern instructions to make sure that it really was an elastic guide and not something that really did need to be cut out of fabric--and would presumably then HAVE a 3/8-inch seam allowance.  So:
 The good news is, it really is for measuring the elastic.  The bad news is, the person who wrote the instructions for this
 
 pattern believes we are making PANTS.  This is going to be good.

I did get everything cut out,
 but we are having dinner with some very lovely friends tonight, and I didn't want to start sewing anything that was almost certainly guaranteed to leave me in a bad mood by evening, so I decided to sort through my stash of trims to see if I had any that would work for this dress, and this
is the closest contender.  There are two strips of trim at the waist and I think some around the sleeves, but I'm going to see if I can find something in a color I'm already using.  Maybe purple?  Lavender?  I don't want anything TOO frilly just in case I end up with pants or a hat or something........

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Stash Revisited

My February crafting totals stand thus:  (don't you just love it when you can use rather archaic words in a sentence?)

Number of finished projects:  11  (exceeds goal)
Yards of fabric used:  9.625  (exceeds goal, but still behind for the year)
Balls of yarn used:  6.25   (no goal set)
Yards of yarn used:  1037   (nowhere NEAR goal)

Some people might find it somewhat (or totally) insane to have goals related to one's hobby, and they could certainly be right, but then they don't have a stash that is threatening to explode out of the sewing room either..........

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Sniff

Sometimes even the most crazed of us have to accept defeat.  Though, in my defense, I must say that had I not gotten sick on Monday, this
might have truly been finished in February.  I did at least finish this
just under the wire, so I do at least have something to show for myself this week.  (Besides lots of napping with Theo).

Yesterday I did pick a new Project of the Month bag to find this:
which involves some of the oldest fabric in my stash
and fabric that I fear might not be of the best quality.  Just as most knitters I have known had to start with cheap yarn before they could appreciate why one would buy expensive yarn, I had to start with cheap fabric before getting this concept in sewing.  So, I am not sure how well this will turn out, but I am going to wash the mystery fabric today and if the dress falls apart after one wearing, we'll call it a "muslin" and celebrate the fact that I have used up 3 yards of old fabric stash.  And hopefully if it falls apart I won't flash anyone...or at least no one I know.

:)