Friday, May 31, 2013

Wrapping Up May

Tracking one's yardage is more fun some months than others.  For May, I have a dismal:

skeins of yarn:  3
yards of yarn:   767
yards of fabric:  3.875 (which at least beats the zeros for March and April)
ornaments:  20

Today is the 151st day of the year and I've made 151 ornaments.  Someone had better get busy--canning season is coming!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

There Has Been A Bit of Crafting Here..........

Mostly of the really bad sort.  I did manage to get all the buttons sewn onto the new dress,
which is when I discovered I put the buttonholes on the wrong side.  To be fair, I was partaking of a white chocolate martini while sewing the buttonholes, but I'd marked the silly things BEFORE the martini, so I have no excuse.  I really did look at the picture on the pattern and think I was putting it on correctly.  Oh well--it's certainly not the ONLY thing in my closet with buttons on the wrong side.......

I am finally ready to show you Saturday's project.  For once, Husqvarna's website posted a free pattern that did not require buying a whole new machine or $500 accessory, so I decided to make their striped bag.

I should have known better.  If Husqvarna can't get money from customers, they're not really interested in anything, so the pattern isn't great.  There's an 11 by 12 piece required, but they didn't mention which way the stripes were to go on the long side.  I even measured the schematic (which was perfectly square), checked the other measurements to see if there was a length v. width consistency in their pattern (there isn't), and finally just guessed.  This is the point where there might have been some swearing, and when Theo decided to support me from OUTSIDE the sewing room:
(after being photo-bombed by Calisto)
After finally getting everything cut out, I started sewing......and realized that the piece I was attaching to the main bag just didn't fit.  Hm.........I'd measured everything, then cut everything....from...the...remaining............
Oops!  These are the times when I'm glad that my hobby isn't chemical experimentation or anything to do with heavy machinery.  I had just cut the remaining pieces out of my bag.  

 The problem, it seems, was this:
Somehow I got it into my head that the piece on the right--which is heaven-knows-what, was the main part of the bag.  I'm not sure how, exactly, since it's probably half the size it should have been.  When I finally DO get this silly thing done, there will be a small, striped project bag to match.  I'll just look really cutesy instead of clumsy.....unless I mess that one up as well.

I'd actually been making this bag using the Bernina sewing machine, but when it came to attaching one of the pieces, the instructions specifically called for my "D" foot.  So, I decided this could be a "learning opportunity," so I dug out my "D" Husqvarna foot,
and my instruction book as I hadn't the slightest idea what this was for.  Turns out, it's my blind hem foot.  Which, honestly, led me to think we might be doing a blind hem, which I'm not very good at.  So, I threaded one of the Husqvarna machines, put the blind hem foot on, and went back to the instructions:

     With straight stitch 1 (left needle position) stitch piece D to piece A as illustrated

Now I am not at ALL good at blind hems, but even I know they aren't done with a straight stitch.  After a few experiments, I figured out that this is a new method of edge-stitching, which the blind hem foot works quite well on, but I still don't want to discuss the amount of time that took me to figure out.  And THIS is how the bag ended up in Time Out.

Some days, I am really thankful for knitting:
There are two more mitten ornaments,
 and I have now started the first sleeve for the March Madness Sweater!  Obviously, at this point, the goal is to finish the sweater before March 2014...........

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Alas, No More Google Reader

Google Reader is going away July 1 (I think).  The first reader I used to keep track of blogs I followed went the way of the dodo a couple years ago, and I had finally almost learned to like Google Reader--just in time for it to go away. 

I have been trying to use Feedly, which I truly, truly, TRULY hate, and which is responsible for my falling way behind on my blog reading.  Annoying websites are bad enough, but I'm falling behind with my crafting friends!!!  There may be cool new projects that I haven't even seen, and I haven't had a vicarious yarn-shopping fix in a while.  So you can see why this is a major issue.

How does everyone else keep track of blogs you follow?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Supply v. Hoards

In spite of help from Theo,
the gardening dress is finished
and got 4 out of 6 buttons while I was waiting for Blogger to upload pictures.  I will never stop having a button stash, partly because I like to buy buttons on sale when possible, and partly because the buttons I think will work when picking out a project aren't always the ones that I like when a project is finished, but it is rather exciting to be using up some of my stashes without adding to them right now.  I wasn't exactly bothered by the buttons, but since I'm using them, it's a "supply."  If I'm buying them and not using them, that's a "hoard."  This is not a definition I like to explore too closely when viewing the yarn hoard stash, but it works for the other stashes.

I also dug out one of the in-progress blue mittens from the mitten garland,
and put together a green felt mitten ornament for good measure.   Then, thinking I should explore some OTHER stashes-bordering-on-hoards, and dug out the bead box.

In January, I'd played around with little felt hearts, so tonight I decided to try making ornaments out of them.  The first one:
was going to be a set of three vertical hearts, but I just couldn't make it look right with the beads, so I settled for a single ornament.  The great thing about making 365 ornaments in one year is that one is making SO MANY of them that one can try different things and if they aren't perfect, oh well!  It's another finished ornament at least!

Then I decided to play around with seed beads,
which earns the distinction of being the hardest ornament to photograph yet.  Laying flat, the beads move too much, and hanging is hard to see.  I'm not entirely excited by these so far, but I am excited about using my bead stash.  The beads might have been hovering close to the "hoard" line, as knitting lace scarves with beads is both slow and tedious, while BUYING beads is neither of those, but now I am using them for other crafts!  And while I'm not "in love" with either of these ornaments, I have a LOT more little hearts to play with.  Maybe a little heart wreath ornament?   216 ornaments left to go, and lots and lots of beads...........


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Ahem....

Well, it's almost been a week.  Where the heck have I been?  I think mostly gardening, followed by exercising, followed in the last couple days by being sick.  Part of me doesn't actually mind the occasional sick day--a guilt-free day of knitting and movies once in a while is a pretty nice break.  But yesterday I didn't even feel good enough to knit (gasp!), which obviously totally unnerved Andy.  I don't think he'd ever heard me say that before.  I still don't feel great, but I hope that scary non-knitting stuff is over. 

I did finish the 4th ornament,
and was so excited with it that I immediately cast on ornament number 5:
which was GOING to be blue with a white snowman, standing on a snow-covered ground, only when I got to the chart with the snowman, I was so used to the "x" meaning color that I mucked it up and got a blue snowman instead.   He's cute, but he's not exactly what the pattern called for.  Oh well, he's finished. 

Deciding I was going to get this blue ornament thing straightened out, I immediately cast on the next ornament.  The one problem with motivation is that it doesn't always last as long as the project does.  In fact,
the only reason #6 is even finished is so I could finally count the white yarn in my yardage.  I don't know exactly how much yarn each ornament uses, but out of all the ornaments I've done with fingering weight white,
this is what is finally left of a 231-yard ball.  That makes this
a bit more daunting.  The good news, of course, is that I can make these ornaments for years without needing to find new yarn, as I'm no longer willing to order from Knit Picks.  

 I did some cleaning last week, and finally got a space cleared for this:
A friend of mine sent it to me for Christmas in preparation for my mad ornament experiment, and I was trying to get a space cleared for it in the sewing room, but finally decided this would do just as well, as it's right outside the sewing room.  Isn't that just the cutest thing ever?  I'm hoping it will help keep me motivated.  Today is the 143rd day of the year, and I have now made 145 ornaments, so I'm still slightly ahead and almost 40% done.  Which of course leaves a little over 60% to go.  Oh my--where do I come up with these crazy goals?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Finishing Friday Not Quite Finished

I decided to give my back another day's rest and move my workout to Saturday, so I got up bright and early to get a jump on a full Finishing Friday.  Unfortunately,
Theo got up early as well.  He hasn't been much interested in sewing for quite a while, but he MORE than made up for it today:
I didn't get my dress back until after lunch,
so while there has been progress, it isn't yet finished.  I did put the morning to good use, though.  6 new lace icicle ornaments,

which I swear exist because I'm excited about a Victorian Christmas tree and NOT because I was falling behind on ornaments. 

 Speaking of being behind, I started my 4th colorwork ornament today,
 which will only leave me 51 left to finish in the book by December 31.  Is it too early to panic?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Still Ahead By One

I just gave my latest creation a face,
so I have 136 ornaments for the year.  To be on track, I need 135, so while I've lost my lead, at least I'm not behind--yet.

There hasn't been much crafting here lately.  The dress has made some progress:
and there are a few more rows on the sweater front,
but mostly I've been exercising, gardening, and resting FROM the exercising and gardening.  I'm finally back to where I can walk in the pool without doing any further mischief, and the only way I'll get all the ancillary injuries healed is to get my hip to stay in place so it doesn't aggravate anything else, so I'm building strength as fast as I can.  Last week I managed 2 hours in the pool.  This week I'm shooting for 3.  I just walk as swimming involves kicking which I don't think I'm ready for, but I looked pool walking up online, and depending on what one weighs, pool walking burns anywhere from 500 to 700 calories an hour, so I'm getting a great workout in addition to building muscles.  I feel better, though mostly exhausted.  Still, one has to start somewhere.

The sewing room has received a bit more attention.  I have been browsing sewing room pictures on Pinterest, and I've decided that the people sharing pictures live in a different world than I do.  This:
in my world is pretty dang organized.  The scrap bin is now on top of some shelving, and it's just  the perfect place to either drop scraps out of the way or to access for test sewing swatches.  It doesn't look pretty, but it's very, very handy.
The shelves worked so well that we got a second set for the other side of the table.  There was a bit of debate about this as I'm still on my spending ban, but as we purchased the shelving in the garage out of our joint account, 2 sets of $20 shelving for the sewing room seemed fair game to come out of the joint account.  We're just wild with money over here.  The portable sewing machine case has finally moved back into the sewing room, and I'm starting to really believe that, in another year or two of not buying stuff, the sewing room could be non scary.  Or I could just be more tired from the pool this morning than I thought............

Saturday, May 11, 2013

It's Hot

Finishing Friday lost some time to physical therapy and pool walking, but I did manage to get this
cut out. I'd gotten very lazy and have been cutting out patterns on the floor of our bedroom rather than clearing off the table in the sewing room, but there will be some SERIOUS time spent today clearing off the sewing table because it turns out that the last thing a tired and sore back appreciates is crawling around on the floor. Go figure.

I made a bit of progress on the long-languishing jacket:
which is ready for the top stitching to stitch down the facing:
This is always the hardest part of this jacket pattern as no matter how carefully I pin, it puckers a bit.  Yesterday I pressed the facing, then applied steam to the shoulder areas and let it hang on a suit hanger to dry.  This is where a dressmaker's dummy would be REALLY nice to have, but I am considering holding off on that for another year until I've made a more visible dent in the sewing room.  If I do another year of the complete spending ban, there really might be a visible difference in the sewing..........(I hope)

On the knitting front, I have been really, really faithful to the March Madness sweater, but it's a bit harder to want to work with wool when it's hot, and it's supposed to be around 90 the next three days.  This is VERY early for such heat--especially since this is normally the weekend where chance of frost overnight drops to "only" 50%.  I'm thinking that won't be such a problem this year.  So,
Have you ever been just overjoyed to knit with acrylic?  I didn't remember ever being so myself--or at least not the uber-scratchy craft acrylic I bought for ornaments--but it was a JOY to work with by the time I had to set aside the wool sweater when my sweaty hands could stand it no longer.  I'm thinking these little guys might be VERY popular later in the summer when it's even hotter AND there has been canning involved...........

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Voting Time

Our house has these lovely hardwood floors,
which I sort of have a love/hate relationship with.  They are beautiful, and I love how look.  I am sure they're technically cleaner than carpet, but with carpet one rarely sees tufts of cat-fur blowing through the room like tumbleweeds.  And this floor has even broken Pyrex, which I have dropped on linoleum without breaking, and my favorite Christmas ornament became festive smithereens our very first Christmas here, so the floor is just a tad bit unforgiving.  It also scratches like crazy.  When we first moved into the house, we were really good about being vigilant about people taking their shoes off, but between parties when people just walk in and guests who are carrying food in and can't take their shoes off while their hands are full (and the occasional person who doesn't really care anyway and are on their way to being dropped from invitations anyway), we've grown a bit lax and our floor has just taken a beating.  If it was just wear and tear, I wouldn't really be that concerned because I like our friends more than the floor, but the scratches really damage the floor, and it's going to be expensive to have to refinish.  But, I hate welcoming people then saying--"oh, and you can't wear those shoes in here."  It sounds so militant.  So, I've decided that

1.  I need to include a request for soft-soled shoes or for guests to remove shoes at the door in the invitations themselves.  I have a basket of slippers at the door for people to use if they choose, but standing on this floor in bare feet can REALLY be tiring, so I want to give advance notice.

and 2.  I need to make a sign for the entryway asking guests to remove their shoes.

I've been looking at ideas online, and so far my favorite contenders are:

*  "Abandon shoes all ye who enter" (which appeals to my Latin major/literature dweebiness, but might be sort of obscure)

*  "Welcome--Thank you for removing your shoes"

*  "Please remove your shoes.......feel free to take a better pair on the way out"

I want a sign that is welcoming yet gets people to remove their shoes.  I can do it with machine embroidery and I thought putting shoes actually ON the sign would make it clear (though the first one would also definitely need a dragon).  Which would you go with?

Well, That's a Bit Embarassing

As I've mentioned, every month Andy and I get a personal allowance which we can spend in any way we choose.  We started this about a year after we got married, and aside from the initial difficulties of finding a way for it to work (did you know you can't carry a positive balance on a credit card?), it's worked really well.  And it's this account which is on my spending ban--not our life in general. 

It's just over 6 months now, and aside from haircuts, occasional lunches out, and the Great Decisions group, I haven't spent anything and have quite a tidy sum in my account.  Enough to sort of make me feel stupid that I must spend about this amount every year without really noticing.  I haven't knit all the yarn from my last purchase, read the books from my last purchase, or sewn up the fabric from my last purchase.  I just keep buying more.  No wonder my sewing room is so crowded.  It contains a small fortune............

Ahem...........I'm thinking a second year of this project is a definite possibility.....

Monday, May 6, 2013

Finally!

 Finally!  Blogger is uploading pictures again!  So, this
 is the first finished piece of the March Madness Sweater, and this
is the progress on the front piece.  Isn't this just a marvelous sweater?  Love, love, love it--even if it is now May and the idea was to finish it in March.  Of course, if reality and I were well acquainted, I wouldn't have 64,000 yards of lace yarn.......

We had a busy weekend with hosting a dinner party here on Friday and attending a Kentucky Derby party on Saturday, so I didn't have a Finishing Friday, but I have finished a new ornament today,
which gives me 132 ornaments, and 
I'm making some progress on the blue gift bags.  I would like to get a new summer dress cut out this week, but with all the socializing--and a whole lot of gardening--I'm a bit sore and am resting a fair bit today.  Maybe this Friday, though...............?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

You Have to Hand It To Google.......

The desktop computer in the sewing room runs on Windows, but my laptop is a Unix machine, so usually if I have problems with something on one of them, the other can usually make it work.  But lately Blogger is not uploading pictures, and whatever the problem is, it crosses both machines.  So, what you are NOT seeing pictures of today:

*  The March Madness sweater, which now has a completed back and maybe 2/3 of a front?  What would make the picture even MORE amazing is that I love this project so much that I'm being a monogamous knitter without forcing myself.  I know--this is such a rare occasion that it would be nice to have photographic proof.  But.....

*  Some in-progress felt gift bags.  They're not very far along, but I'd gotten out the blue felt to make the "blue-work" ornaments last week, and realized I didn't have any gift bags made from the blue felt, so I cut out a few while I had it out.

*  The lovely spring day, which is why the sewing room is empty right now

*  The sun-dried tomato and balsamic vinegar I just made for our dinner party tomorrow evening, which is why there isn't likely to be much crafting on Finishing Friday.

*  Probably at least one picture of my kitty sidekicks, as everything else in our world revolves around them, so why not my blog?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

71!

I made 71 ornaments in April!!!!!  To be fair, all but 24 were machine embroidered lace ornaments, but I was behind at the start of April and now I am slightly ahead of schedule!!!

This is such a rare occurrence in my life that you'll have to excuse me while I savor this moment...............