Saturday, July 31, 2010

Puttin' On The "Big Girl" Panties......

I know how to work my sewing machine, but it isn't here.  I barely know how to work the serger, but it is here.  So is the big instructional workbook I bought
because the manual that actually came with the serger is almost completely worthless (I say almost because on a hot day, I can fan myself with it, so there is that....).  Rather than mope about the lack of Jeeves like somebody I know,
I decided it was time to actually learn to use the serger for more than 2 stitches.

I have actually taken the new serger owner class at my local dealership, where I learned (among other things) to never turn the handwheel away from me.  The instructor said she thought it was because it was hard on the machine.  Nope.  On page 5 it clearly states to always turn the handwheel TOWARD yourself because to turn the other direction will flip the threads off the take-up lever and the serger will have to be re-threaded (which will strike fear into the heart of anyone who has a serger, believe me).  Looks like I'm not the only one who didn't read the workbook.....

I also learned that these little do-dads

are for keeping decorative or non-cone thread on the spools and to stop them from catching on the edge of a spool.  Now THAT is good to know.  So far I had solved that problem by having decorative thread in large coffee mugs, which is only moderately effective and makes it hard to serve afternoon coffee.

I also completed 4 lessons, including this one where I learned to adjust stitch length
including a section where I learned what happens with one of the needles isn't threaded properly...
Not on purpose, but good to know.

My last lesson was on turning outside corners, which is getting better but still needs some practice.  Tomorrow I learn to turn inside corners.  Whoo hoo!

And, lest you think I was neglecting my knitting, I started here for the day
and have now joined that second ball of yarn to the Pi shawl.  1 ball & 600 more yards used up from the stash!  Sadly, I think this means I'm only about half done as my last Pi shawl took about 1400 yards, but at least I'm on the downhill side at least!  Some days, I will grasp at anything!

Friday, July 30, 2010

It Never SOUNDS That Big

The magic of the Pi shawl is in its simplicity.  You start with a certain number of stitches, which can actually be any number though single digits make the most sense.  Then after one row, you double the number of stitches.  Then after after a couple rows, you double it again, doubling the number of rows each time as well.  It always sounds so simple......

.......and I always forget how freakin' many stitches that last increase turns out to be!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

There Has Been Knitting!

Okay, not a lot of knitting, but some.  Mostly this week has been gardening and socializing.  Which is all good--especially the socializing--but it does sort of cut into the knitting time.

After playing around with different ideas, I decided to go with the original pattern for the final Pi shawl section, largely because it was based on the same number of stitches and I thought would "blend" well:
Since I now have double the number of stitches as the last section, it's going much more slowly, but I think this will make an interesting effect when done.  If not, I have LOTS more yarn........:)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Day 21 of "Jeeves Watch"

Jeeves has officially been gone for 3 weeks now--not counting the earlier two weeks.  So yesterday I called my dealer, and the repair guy said the part is still on back order because they're having to make it.  


I bought Jeeves in 2006.  I got a good deal on Jeeves because they were phasing him out as the newer version--the 955e--was coming out, which doesn't seem to exist any more either.  The repair guy (yeah, the same one who doesn't check his work) said that they haven't had this problem before.  So my question is:  if they haven't had this problem before, then somewhere there should be a nice full box of spare parts if they haven't needed them.  Unless, as soon as the last machine rolled off the assembly line, they burned all the extra parts, destroyed any unsold machines, and then--like whoever it was in history who had his architect murdered so no one would ever be able to duplicate his palace--shot all the people who had ever made parts for the machine to make sure the knowledge didn't fall into the wrong hands. I'm just hoping to get Jeeves back by the end of August. 

Rats....looks like I might have to finally figure out how to do all the cool stuff with the serger....

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Pi Shawl Progresseth!

I am just finishing up the last rows of the 48-row set on the Pi shawl, so I'm about to start the what-would-be-96-row-set-if-it-didn't-make-a-monster-sized-shawl part.  I'm trying really hard to NOT have to take it all off the needles, so with the aid of some stuffing, here's where I'm at

Everything so far has been sort of V-shaped, though the center part looks more like a flower than anything else.  I'm thinking of using this
for the next part, or is it a little too much "V" happening?  I could do something in more of an over-all pattern like cat's paw, or even something really open like faggotting. 


Friday, July 23, 2010


Just minutes ago, the beaded ostrich plume was finished!
Blocking will come later, but I am quite pleased with it.  I pressed a bit with the iron as I was working just to be able to see how it looked, but I have been promising myself I could get back to the Pi shawl as soon as this was done, so if you'll excuse me.....I have a hot Friday night date with some merino!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Day 16 Of Jeeves Watch

I called the dealership yesterday, and the part still hadn't arrived yet.  I believe he said it was coming from Tennessee.  According to Google Maps, it would take 1 day and 8 hours to drive from Boise, Idaho to Tennessee.  Throwing in a night to sleep and a few stops for eating & peeing, that still doesn't explain how it could take longer than 16 days for a part to come ONE DIRECTION ONLY.  I realize they probably shipped it via the cheapest rate possible because it is warranty work & they can't stick me with the bill, but it does make me wonder about shipping companies.  If you give them insane amounts of money, your stuff arrives pretty darn quickly--like in that 1 day, 8 hour time frame.  If you give them a slightly less insane amount of money, they'll deliver it less speedily--like someone taking breaks to stop, eat, and occasionally pee.  If you give them the least amount of money possible, how do they stretch it out for longer than 2 weeks?  Strap in on the back of a sight-seeing bus that is doing to stop at every wax museum and large ball of twine exhibit on the way???????? 

I have accepted that I won't have Jeeves for Finishing Friday yet again, but I can't help hoping that I might get him back before we hit day 20, so I have been doing a little "stocking up."  You know, just in case the three garments and the summer towels weren't quite enough for the upcoming marathon.....

First we have more towels:
then I found some tablecloths on clearance that I want to embroider.  These will be decorated for Soup Night,
and these with snowflakes for winter
(There are two of each because when we do parties we always bring out a folding table to put in our dining area along with the regular table.  The thought of finally getting to do embroidery hasn't snapped my brain THAT far yet.......)

I will, of course, be doing a test run on scrap material this time, because this
is what happened when I trusted the repair man to have double-checked his work.  The thread tension was set WAY too tight, so the thread kept breaking, and because the buttons didn't work, I couldn't back up.  So, it's basically ruined but at least now I know not to trust the repair man to have actually checked his work.  $89 in labor just doesn't go as far as it used to, I guess........

I also picked up some material for a new picnic bag idea I've been kicking around.  I want a heavy material that would be durable but washable, so I picked up some green denim
for one version, and this
for another.  It's the old blue & white woven stuff called "ticking" that they used to make mattresses out of.  I remember seeing a lot of it as a kid, and it must be pretty tough stuff.  I think I'll embroider designs on each of them--something a bit old-fashioned for the ticking.

Meanwhile, Theo is holding out for cutting out YET ANOTHER project
but I'm standing firm.  At least until tomorrow....................

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

11 Days To Go

I have 53 finished projects and 11 days left in July........I think I'm going to fall behind.  For someone who doesn't have "knitterly optimism" (a.k.a. a complete lack of reality), falling behind would be a certainty, but I'm still holding out hope.  Of WHAT is anyone's guess, but on the off chance that Jeeves is ready this week (and the even slighter chance that the dealership actually calls to TELL me he's ready), there could be some manic sewing on Friday, and I do have 2 new projects cut out........and I swear that the beaded ostrich plume scarf really has gotten a lot of attention......even if the darn thing is almost the same size it was 4 days ago.  NOTE TO SELF:  Lace may be too frustrating for "I-need-to-see-some-dang-progress" sorts of days.....

5 projects in 11 days.........I think I see a potential problem here..............

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Prepare Yourselves For a Shock

Andy was gone this weekend, and since I couldn't spend the weekend sewing, I decided to sort through my sewing pattern stash and match up a few with fabric--you know, like I actually remembered what I bought material for in the first place........

And, after only about an hour of rummaging around in the closet, I found................
THE MISSING PAJAMA TOP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  You know--the one that has been missing for two and a half years.  Of course, now I don't know where the rest of the material is, but as Andy pointed out, if all else fails, I could just bind the edges of the armholes & he'd have perhaps the first EVER wife-beater flannel PJ top. 

It was underneath several yards of green suiting, which has now been "assigned" to Andy's next Halloween Costume......
A Zoot Suit!  I told him not to hope for the costume to be done by this Halloween, but since he's been waiting for a PJ top for 2 1/2 years, I doubt he was really expecting speed.  

With my two helpers ever-present,
I sorted patterns, washed and ironed fabrics, and now have 19 new sewing projects bagged and ready:
And TWO more are actually cut out
(though only one photographed, apparently) and waiting for the return of Jeeves--though I'm not holding my breath.  No word from the repair shop, and since last time he came back with about twice as many problems as he went in with, there is a possibility he will come back not working at all.  Let's hope not.....

There was also a fair bit of knitting...
and you'll have to ask Blogger how I got them to appear side-by-side like that, as I don't have the faintest idea.  The beaded Ostrich Plume is now doubled in size, and the Pi shawl has progressed enough to be a nice little pocket to hold its own yarn--always a perk for a portable knitting project.  I'm getting close to finishing the 48-row section, and will be needing to pick out the next stitch pattern very soon.  I'm thinking something with a leaf motif, then maybe a leaf-type of border.  If I can at least get ONE of them finished by the end of the month, that would help.  Of course, if would help to stay away from lace entirely this year....but when have I ever been known to exercise common sense.  Hello!  20 sewing projects...........................

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

698 To Go!

Or thereabouts.

Someone asked me how many skeins I have left in my stash after removing 220.  I'm using Ravelry, and don't actually mark off yarn that I've used on an unfinished project, so their spreadsheet shows 705 skeins left in my stash, but I know that at least 7 of those have been used up, so I'm under 700 skeins.  If I use them up at the 2008 speed, I'd be totally without yarn in about 6 years--in the strictly hypothetical sense, of course, because if I ever got down to having enough yarn to fit in ONE tub, I'd be buying up yarn so quickly that my credit card numbers would probably melt completely off my little card.  So getting down to no yarn is just completely out of the question.  BUT, if I continue Cold Sheeping until the end of 2011, I could be down to under 600 skeins, which sounds like a nice number.  Maybe that will be my stopping point?  I admit, 500 is a nice number as well--heck, I have nothing against 100 to be honest--I just don't think I can get there......

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


I started "cold sheeping" on January 1, 2008.  Since then--aside from some year-end reward yarn purchases--I have been knitting exclusively from stash.  I admit, I was starting to feel like I haven't even made a dent in my stash, but on a whim I recently tallied up my stash-busting to date:

Today I used up my 200th ball of stash yarn.

No matter how you look at it, 200 skeins of yarn is a lot of yarn.  Want to know how much 200 skeins of yarn actually is?  It would look something like this:
From a how-much-closet-space-it-took-up point of view, this would be quite a conservative picture as I have knit up all my really bulky-weight yarns, and a good chunk of this pile is laceweight because it is the easiest bin to get to, but it is STILL an amazing amount of yarn.  No wonder the stash didn't all fit into the sewing room!

I believe the planned/allowed purchases would come to no more than 35 skeins, so even with that, for the last two and a half years, I have knit 4 times the amount of yarn I've purchased.  Can you believe it?  Usually I've maybe been averaging knitting about half the yarn I purchase in a year if I'm lucky (and have misplaced the credit card for a REALLY long period of time).....I am just SO excited about how much yarn this really is!!!!!  Or I will be--right after I get those 200 balls of yarn put back into the closet.........

ETA:  Double-checking my math, I have now used 220 balls of yarn from the stash.  Even better!  Later tonight I will add it again and am hoping for 240.........

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Obsessed With Pi

Sweaters?  What sweaters?
I wish there was a good way to photograph a Pi shawl without taking it off the needles--which I am far too lazy to do--but this isn't too bad for an in-progress picture.  In some ways, this is a lot of the fun, because I don't even know exactly what it will look like when it's finished and blocked. 

At least I picked a really pretty way to fall dreadfully behind on the 100-projects-a-year goal.......

Friday, July 9, 2010

Let's Pretend It's July First.....

because that will make the math easier.  I'm halfway (sort of) through the year, and my stats stand thus:  (I'm always so excited when I can use the word "thus."  It makes me feel like those 4 years getting an English degree were a well thought out plan of action)

Yards of yarn used:  7050.5
Skeins of yarn used:  35.35
Yards of fabric used:  49.315
Projects finished: 53 (but there were actually 51 as of July 1)

Which (easy math time) puts me on target to end the year with approximately:

Yards of yarn used:  14,000
Skeins of yarn used:  70
Yards of fabric used:  98
Projects finished: 102

Not bad, I suppose--I'd have used up more of the stash than I did last year, but not as good as what I'd like to call the Great Yarn Reduction of 2008 (19,183 yards and 118 skeins).  However.....the year is young and this time the new part for Jeeves is being shipped from Kentucky--which is three times as far as where the last one came from (in a zippy 2 1/2 weeks)--so there could be some PRIME knitting time around here this month.

Which is all a very mathematical way of saying.....

 Why am I obsessed with the pi shawl in laceweight & and size 4 needles when I should be thinking bulky weight and size 10s????????????????

Thursday, July 8, 2010

47 To Go

It's July 8, and I have just under half the year to go and just under half the projects to go.  So what am I doing with my spare time today?
Working on the new Pi shawl.  As I need a little over 8 finished projects per month, what could be a more foolish idea than launching into a 1500-yard lace project--except, of course, starting a new quilt, which mercifully I haven't done. 

I'm not using Elizabeth Zimmermann's suggested pattern.  Not that there's anything wrong with it, but I've seen so many Pi shawls on Ravelry that I needed something different.  AND, since I'm making it up anyway, it makes a great portable project:  no pattern means no pattern to cart around.  The color is actually a bit more accurate in this picture
but the pattern so far might be easier to see in this one
Not that I shouldn't be working on Andy's birthday sweater--or cleaning the house, for that matter--but Pi shawls are amazingly addictive.  I don't know why--pi as a math concept never really did much for me.  Actually, most math never really did much for me.  I think the Pi shawl is exciting because there is NEVER ANY PURLING.  And, since I'm making it up, it's really interesting to see how each round will look and how it will progress, because I honestly have no idea how it will look.  I actually only have the shawl stitch patterns planned out to the second-to-last set, and haven't thought too much about the edging just yet.  So it would be impossible to figure out what it will look like because I don't yet have any idea how I'm going to do a very large chunk of it, so it's rather like a little knitting surprise party for myself.  And not in a bad way--like forgetting that a certain baby sweater will need space for sleeves........   

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Not The Best Weekend

So, you might have guessed that I didn't have the greatest holiday weekend.  Surprisingly, the Knitting Gods didn't think a broken "newly repaired" sewing machine & a cold were quite enough.  I ran into a snag on the Baby Reefer Jacket
which, to be fair, is completely my own fault, but annoying just the same.  I decided to make the two fronts & back all in one piece, and just divide for the sleeves.  Simple, no?  Actually, no.  It turns out that the sweater is made with drop sleeves, so there I was knitting away, when I finally double checked the pattern and realized that I was going to end up with one great big piece of knitting with no armholes.  AND, there are no schematics for the pattern, so I have no idea how far down the body the sleeve will actually reach, so I decided to break at a reasonable spot for the sleeves and hope for the best.  I can either steek or sew a bit if I'm off, but I'm really hoping it will be the sewing option.  I have steeked and will be steeking Andy's sweater, but it cutting knitting still just feels fundamentally wrong. 

AND, if that weren't enough, I cut out an entire ensemble this weekend--you know, when I was planning to have a working sewing machine--and discovered that I had missed this
I've gotten used to manufacturers printing farther & farther into the material, but this was originally a full 2 inches from the selvage edge of the material, and is now on the side of the pants.  It was nice of Joann Fabrics to autograph it for me--just in case I forgot which manufacturer would do something so absolutely irritating, it will be on my pants!  When I am in a better mood, I'll be making a sort of band to go down each side to cover it up, but I think it's time to start shopping elsewhere for fabric.  The last 3 projects I've made with fabric from Joanns had some sort of flaw/hole/billboard on them, and I'm just tired of the poor quality--not to mention the insanely long lines at the stores.

I did manage to finish the July Project of the Month:
a little fleece baby blanket that just needed hemming.  Usually I like to do a more creative decorative stitch for the hem, but once Jeeves came home from the shop, 22 out of 35 stitches NO LONGER WORKED, so I thought this would look a little sharper than my other options.....although the button hole was a strong contender. 

Beading always cheers me up, so the beaded Ostrich Plume scarf saw a lot of action this weekend
From this angle you can sort of see the beads.  I LOVE THIS SCARF!!!! 

I lead a Yahoo Group dedicated to Elizabeth Zimmermann patterns, and we've decided to do a July Pi shawl knit-a-long, which of course is a terrible idea since I'm trying to finish 100 projects and should be thinking hats not shawls, but.....

So I went to my laceweight bin
which STILL can't actually close, and faced with ALL those options, I was really leaning toward this:
which I have no less than 4 skeins (2400 yards) of, and wouldn't you think I'd be thinking, "Whoo hoo!  Great way to use up at least 2 of those skeins?"  Nope!  I actually had to check Elann's website to make sure they were still making the Baby Lace Merino IN THIS COLOR before I could convince myself to use it!!!!  Well, obviously I've gone round the yarn bend now.  I have no less than 10 balls of this stuff still in my stash--not counting everything else.  I've had some of this yarn for so long that it has become part of the family!!!!

Hm..........I wonder if the IRS would buy that argument if I show up with 350 dependents on my taxes next year.......?

Monday, July 5, 2010


So...Jeeves is not so much fixed.  In fact, more things worked on Jeeves before I took him in.  I'm not even sure the original problem was fixed because most of the buttons don't work now, and without them, I can't test it.  Color me unamused.  He goes back to the dealer tomorrow for what I hope will be a shorter stay.  It could be that not everything was connected after they replaced the circuit board, but that still leaves the glaring fact that the repair guy didn't bother to test ANYTHING, which is irritating to say the least.  No referrals for them!

THEN, in case that wasn't annoying enough, we had a 3-day weekend with beautiful weather....and I got a cold.   I guess that works out okay--I'd have been annoyed if after Jeeves being gone two weeks I couldn't sew because I had a cold, or if I was feeling great and had a sewing machine that could do less than half of its functions because of a repair guy who doesn't check his work, so as long as I have two lousy things happening they might as well team up & make one lousy weekend rather than ruining an entire week. 

Back to the Nyquil.......

Friday, July 2, 2010

A Finished Object On Finishing Friday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I got up bright & early this morning to find my little side-kick just waiting for some sewing time.
I've been anxiously waiting as well, but my waiting is just not that cute.  I'd cut out a jacket while Jeeves was gone, and just put the finishing touches to project number 52

Here's an important lesson:  Under any other circumstances I would never have finished this jacket.  The material--while it will be totally fun to wear--is so light that it was a nightmare to cut out, and I only managed to finish the narrow hem around the ENTIRE jacket by utilizing all my pins as well as scotch tape and; a fabric glue stick that I REALLY hope is as water-soluble as it says it is.  Luckily, I was so excited to be able to sew again that I didn't even swear while making it--which Andy will tell you is a really remarkable feat for me, if not an absolute first.

I would have started sewing last night, but there were a few technical details to attend to.  Know what this is?
This is a power strip.  NOT a surge protector.  I realize I may be the only one on the planet who didn't know that, and that may be what caused poor Jeeves to fry a circuit board
though I might have just really irritated him.  At any rate, this
really IS a surge protector, complete with a little foot switch, which Andy says will be good in case of storms.  We're having a lot of severe storms here so far this summer, so I didn't want to risk running Jeeves until we had a real surge protector, so that's why there was no sewing last night.  Instead....
A new baby sweater!  Andy's sweater is getting a bit long for really portable knitting, and nothing involving beads is portable, so I decided to cast on for a Baby Reefer Jacket.  I'm knitting the front & back pieces as one, and as it's mostly stockinette it is going rather quickly.  I LOVE projects like that.

Now, the big test for Jeeves.....embroidery.  I'm hoping to finish the summer towels tonight.  And then..........

Thursday, July 1, 2010


And I'll be going to bed at 7:00 tonight to be fresh and ready for Finishing Friday tomorrow!