Sunday, August 29, 2010

Let's Just Call It "Progress" Friday

A LOT of progress.  With a sidekick who is still not quite sure if he likes Bernie,

I finished the last block for the Christmas quilt, sewed all the blocks together, added a small border,
then swept the floor downstairs so I could do this
I'm sure other people have different ways of doing this, but taping the backing onto the floor and then pinning everything onto it is the only way I don't get massive puckers in the back of the quilt.  In the future, if I were to use this quilt design again, I would make even numbers of blocks for each row--that way all the edges would end with the same color.  But, I think this is going to be a nice size, and I am STILL hoping to finish it for a Christmas gift (I know--I could have brighter ideas during the 100-projects year), so I'm going to live with it as it is.  The backing is massive because I first had tried putting together a back piece that was only slightly bigger than the quilt top....and discovered after washing it, ironing it, and taping it that I had somehow made it about an inch too small and had to start all over.  Let's just say that the next one was perhaps a bit of an overreaction.......

Bernie's walking foot--which I bought when I bought Bernie because I just haven't spent enough money lately--comes with PARTS.  That was a bit intimidating, I have to admit.  There are two guides, two feet, and something which I am still unclear about, but which doesn't seem to be necessary if one isn't using the guides. 
I am just doing a simple stitch-in-the-ditch (or mostly--I'm rather crooked at, often....), so after figuring out which foot is for quilting & which for other sewing and THEN figuring out how to change the foot, I was off!  I'm rather pleased with myself to have gotten so far in one day. You might have noticed that quilts seem to have a disturbing way of dropping off the blog either part way through the piecing, or right after the top is together & a border or the pinning to the batting is needed.  In one day, I made it past my own personal quilting Bermuda triangle, and I haven't yet really derailed past this stage, so there is hope that this will make it to FINISHED PROJECT STAGE! 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Knitting on a Knitting Blog?

Really, what is the world coming to?

I have taken a bit of a break on the sewing marathon to give the sock a bit of attention, and I have turned the heel!  It's a really interesting heel
It's a basket weave pattern, using the slip 1, knit 1 pattern I usually use on heel flaps, but making a 4-row pattern of it, moving the slip 1 over by one stitch on the 3rd row, then back again on row 1.  I'm really pleased with it--it gives the thickness of the slip 1, knit 1 pattern, but looks more interesting. 

I've done the gusset decreases & am now just at the foot knitting, so I'm hoping that moves pretty quickly.  I have a whole second sock to do, after all......

Not that I've taken a break from sewing entirely.  I decided to take a break from garment sewing, so I played around with my first attempt at applique. 

I was pleased to find that there is actually something good about all those darn reply cards packed into every magazine,

they make decent pattern templates. 

I don't know if I have used fusible webbing before, but I have quite a bit on-hand, so it's possible.  I decided to use felt to start with, as I was thinking a looser zig-zag might look good
though if I were to do this again, I would use a satin stitch.  I haven't decided if I should add a handle to the little bag or not, and if I do, I want to incorporate a little red decoration somehow.  I would normally use decorative stitching, but that is one area that Bernie just isn't really that good at.  Maybe I'll have to wait for Jeeves.

Speaking of which, after TWO calls to the dealership, they finally called me with an update:  the part is IN and should have been shipped out to my dealer today, and I should have Jeeves home in about 2 weeks.....or about 9 weeks after taking him in for those of us who are counting.  Still, I won't complain....or won't complain more than I already have.  At least the part has finally been made/invented/whatever and there is an end in sight.  Interestingly enough, when I sarcastically wrote that I was hoping to get Jeeves back by the end of August, I was actually being a bit optimistic.  At least I should have him back in mid September at the latest.  Hopefully working this time.  I suppose I might have felt silly buying Bernie and then getting Jeeves back just a few days later.....but I think I could have gotten over it.......

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Picture Time!

Last night we were meeting a friend for dinner at 7:30, so I was sewing like a madwoman to finish this
which is the FIFTH paisley piece from this
pattern.  I've made the dress (above), pants (complete with Joanns logo,
 so they are now known as "house pants" and will eventually be joined by another pair of pants that won't be advertising anybody on my hips), jacket,
and sleeveless top--which looks exactly like the tunic but shorter and without the sash.  Later I'll add a black jacket of some sort and maybe some sort of black tunic, and will have a pretty complete ensemble, provided I don't get sick of paisley. 

The vintage pattern is done as well,
though I seem to have messed up the closures and need to figure out a way to close the piece that wraps around the back without the loop that I thought was to go on the front.  I'm thinking snaps, but I was so annoyed when I discovered my mistake that the dress is currently in the Project Protection Program and will only be fixed when I can look at it without wanting to shred the thing. 

SO, going back to our little tally, there are now 131 days left in the year, and I need 40 more projects, so one every 3.275 days.  Okay--so slight improvement over where I was a week ago, but I admit, that 0.275 day thing just doesn't excite me as much as say......every 4 days might have....and I ONLY need to finish up EIGHT projects today to get to 4............

I'm no longer just a resident of Crazyland.....I am now their QUEEN!!!!!!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

6 Projects So Far!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bernie and I are taking a break from our mad sewing marathon to give you an update:

We have finished SIX projects together so far!

Eat?  Sleep?  What????????????

Just a little over 4 months left in the year and 40 projects left to go!!!!!!!!!

(And the weather is lovely here in Crazyland........just in case you were wondering.......)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get....

Meet Bernie!  I tried finding a used one, but the used Berninas were going for more than I wanted to pay for a used machine, so yesterday I mustered up my courage and bank account, and bought this--which technically solves my stash problems too, because now I don't have any money to spend on yarn or fabric anyway......

It's a purely mechanical machine, and this is the one that home ec and theater classes used, so I figure if it can withstand teenagers, it will work for me for the next 40 years.  And even when I eventually DO get Jeeves back, it will be a good idea to have a heavier machine for bigger sewing projects since Jeeves has more things to go wrong.

Speaking of Jeeves, I called and left a message at my Husqvarna dealer yesterday before setting out to run errands and pick up Bernie ........and no one has called me back yet--more than 24 hours later.  I think I would have gotten Bernie even if Jeeves had been ready to be picked up yesterday, but the poor service from Husqvarna just keeps adding up.  If they start consistently not returning my calls, I'll be making a call to the Attorney General's office and the Better Business Bureau.  You can't advertise a warranty and then effectively not honor it.   

My first sewing project is this
and I was hoping to have it finished last night, but that's bias tape all the way around the dress, and it takes quite a while to to put it on each part.  BUT, I should have a project done today!!!!!! 

Someone is unimpressed..
Since Jeeves has been gone most of 2 months, I don't think Theo believes we're actually sewing again.  Maybe in another week......

Monday, August 16, 2010


There are 137 days left in the year.

I need to finish 46 more projects in order to reach my goal.

That means I need to do slightly better than a project every 3 days for the rest of the year. 

And I'll be starting on that right after I get some oxygen............

I'm More Than Halfway!!!!

I have less than half of the edging left to do!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  YAY!

(And tomorrow will be the 6-week mark of Jeeves's second trip in to the dealer, and of course no word yet. I wonder if I even have 50-50 odds of getting him back by the end of August?)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Little Hitch In the Plan......

I learned a LOT yesterday.  Some of it quite by accident--probably most--but all rather helpful:

*  Used sewing machines, while being everywhere when one doesn't want them, are nowhere to be found when one does

*  Even a shop that built up a long reputation on being able to service old sewing machines can be sold, and the new owners might decide to sell new machines only, even though presumably they paid for a reputation regarding repairs that they are quickly losing

*  Ebay really does have everything

*  Browsing Ebay is a great way to lose 2-3 hours of one's life

*  After a couple hours of browsing on Ebay, I have an insane urge to learn to make Fedora hats.  

*  Bidding on used sewing machines is rather exciting, though the idea that I could win an auction, pay for it, and have a machine shipped to me possibly before I get my own sewing machine back is pretty amazing.   We'll see.

*  Even though I'm bidding on an item that won't end for 4 more days, I still keep checking it.  Maybe it's the excitement of having a definite end in sight of the "no-sewing-machine" saga...........

*  Not being able to sew is prompting me to learn about sewing.   I could almost view this as a good thing if Jeeves's second trip to the dealer wasn't about to hit the 6-week mark.

*  Butterick still makes a "basic" pattern that one uses for tailoring/editing/whatever.  Or one can still find it in the very bottom bin in a pattern cabinet, along with all the other patterns no one wants anymore.  Not that I know what to DO with this pattern yet, but a sewing book I'm reading says I need one, and for $0.97, I'm willing to believe them.

*  New Berninas cost WAAAAAAAAAAAY more than new Husqvarnas

*  New Berninas only have a two year circuit board warranty--Husqvarna has a 5 year warranty.  So, I might not have been better off with a Bernina....just out more money.

*  An afternoon of knitting doesn't necessarily make up for a morning of not being able to find a sewing machine.

*  Not everyone makes a batch of pickles before going shopping.  Go figure.

*  A woman who took a tailoring class in college said her professor had them use gingham (small checked pattern) to work with so they could easily tell if their lines were straight.  THAT's a good idea.  Generally I won't sew with stripes because I know my lines aren't going to be straight.

*  Some part of me seems to be a bit superstitious and I really thought the dealer might call to tell me Jeeves was ready once I had committed to buying another machine.  That part of me gets disappointed a lot--like yesterday.

*  Playing with new VERY EXPENSIVE sewing machines is fun, but I sew enough now that I'd be willing to thread my own needle (which I do anyway), and while the "bells and whistles" features are fun, I'd be a lot more willing to part with my money if they sunk the same amount of money into developing parts that worked for longer than a few years, or machines that could still operate if the circuit boards fried. 

*  There is a $12,000 sewing machine in the world.  I didn't get to play with that one, though.  Perhaps they saw me drive up in my 16-year-old car and decided I could either A) not afford it, or B) was too cheap to part with that much money, or C) all of the above.  However, if anyone ELSE has that kind of money to spend on a sewing machine, I would be more than happy to come over and play with you and your lovely toys for an afternoon.............:)

Thursday, August 12, 2010


It's official.  I am OBSESSED.
I have now done 9 pattern repeats on the edging, so if we ignore the whole grafting-yet-to-come part, I am 28% of the way through the edging.  Whoo hoo!!!!!!!!

I admit, I have become obsessed about seeing how this turns out.  I'm now far enough along that I can sort of stretch it out a bit over the ironing board,
but the part I'm most curious to see is this
I tried blending two designs over the last increase section, and I am hoping they'll blend fairly smoothly when blocked.  Pi shawls do take some severe blocking because of the way the increases work, so this may or may not work well when stretched, but I will find out soon!

And tomorrow is Finishing Friday, and STILL no word from Jeeves, and unfortunately I just saw someone on the Husqvarna Facebook "fan" page post that she had been told a MINIMUM of 6 weeks to get a part for her machine as well, and hers is brand new and still in production. looks like it isn't just because my machine was discontinued, this may just be standard operating procedure for Husqvarna.  THEN I got an email from Husqvarna advertising their newest machine that is coming out and wouldn't I like to come in and take it for a test drive.  Oh my.  Normally, I think I'm a nice person and I try very hard to write to companies when I've experienced good service more often than bad service, but I have finally written to complain to Husqvarna.  I might not be quite as furious if they weren't trying to sell me new machines every darn week, or if Jeeves hadn't worked better before I took him in for repair, or if the repair guy hadn't not checked his work, OR if Jeeves hadn't initially come back minus a part in the first place, OR if they had called to tell me the part was on back-order, but they've just missed every opportunity to provide even the simplest customer service.  Last week when I said I just hoped to get Jeeves back by the end of the month I was actually sort of joking, but it's now mid August and it's beginning to look like it might not happen.  I think that's really unacceptable. 

SO, tomorrow I am going to a store that carries older, purely mechanical sewing machines to see if I can find an older machine that can at least sew in a straight line, and maybe zig-zag if I'm feeling really wild.  You can bet I won't be considering another Husqvarna......

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I'm On The Edge!!!!!!!!

Actually, I'm on the edging....

but as today marks 5 weeks since I took Jeeves in to be fixed for the second time, the first one may be pretty accurate as well.

I'm using an 18-row edging pattern, so I'll need 32 pattern repeats total, which leaves 30 left to do.  That sounds SO much better than saying I have 1152 rows of edging to do total--of which I have done heartbreakingly few....There are times when being ABLE to do math and it being a good ideaI to do math are just not the same thing........

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Not So Much "Finishing" Friday

Okay, I admit, I'm getting a little bit cheesed at Husqvarna in general and my local dealer in particular.  Tuesday will be 5 weeks without Jeeves, and I have no idea if the part has shipped or if it's still on back order.  So, I decided to do something different on Friday, so I went out to lunch and to my favorite used bookstore. These
were $2 each, and have some clever ideas--along with some seriously outdated pictures, but for $2, who can be picky?

I cast on the yellow socks!  I am using the Ribbed Lace pattern from Sensational Socks, and so far I love the pattern.  It's actually a k1, p1 rib-based pattern, so I have high hopes for socks that will actually stay up, which none of my knitted socks really do.....except for that pair that cuts off circulation just a bit, but I think one pair of tourniquet socks is enough for anyone.....

Someone is refusing to hang out with me at all.....
If there isn't sewing soon, I may have to relinquish my status as Primary Human. 

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Yarn Therapy

I'm glad I'm finally learning to work the serger, but it's still very foreign and hard to do--and I may never recover from the "blind hem episode"--so I felt like spending a day with yarn.  It's friendlier, never cuts or grabs anything, and never requires such a thing as a blind hem.  But I needed a break from the lace shawl, so
Some friends gave me a dye kit and this yarn back in March, but I've been a bit nervous to try it because I was afraid of messing up the yarn somehow, but since I still can't do any sewing I decided to give it a shot yesterday. 

Since the yarn is gift yarn, I wanted to make something for myself with it, and decided that I wanted a pair of yellow socks and a pair of red socks.  I started with the yellow, thinking it might be easiest to fix if I messed it up, but this was actually pretty simple. 
The instructions say to simmer on the stove for 30 minutes or until the water is clear, which for me took a bit longer, but it did indeed work!

And I love the color.  These will be very happy socks.

Emboldened by my success, I moved on to the red
which needed a bit of extra dye as I was mostly producing variegated yarn rather than a solid color.  I guess in the yarn world, I can call it "kettle dyed" and sell it at a premium, but I was sort of aiming for a mostly-solid color. 
which it actually isn't, but it's closer than it was.  The REALLY unfortunate part is that in order to get rid of the white spots, I had to remove the string holding the hand in place, so this is currently a great big red snarl, but at least it's a great big red snarl without any white spots.  That's something, I suppose.

By this time, I was REALLY having fun, so I dug out some yarn I have been saving for a shawl
and the bottle of teal dye that I bought with it. 

5 skeins are a bit harder to work with than 1,
 but I was trying to get them all in the same "dye lot" as it were, so I kept moving yarns back and forth between the pots.  I added a bit of extra dye and lots more time, and the results are definitely "kettle dyed" rather than a solid color, but
I'm still quite pleased with them. So pleased, in fact, that once I get my "to-do" list done today, there will be some yellow socks being started.........

Pi shawl?  What Pi shawl?????????

Monday, August 2, 2010

At Least I'm Making Progress

As of tomorrow, Jeeves will be at the dealership for an entire month, NOT counting the original 2 weeks before he came back with less working than when I took him in.  I have no idea when I might get him back, though I admit I am hoping I might have him back (and fully working) by the end of August, though I am trying not to depend on it.  Which creates a problem for the August Project of the Month.  It can't be a sewing project as I may not have a sewing machine this month, and starting another knitting project would just delay all the other knitting projects which seems counter-productive when I'm trying to reach 100 finished projects this year.  So, I'm hoping I can learn enough about the serger to make an entire project on it.  Granted, I've done napkins completely on the serger, but we have more napkins than we know what to do with--I just can't think of any additional napkin options.  So, for right now, there isn't an August Project of the Month.

I think my serger exercises are going well.  This shows three new techniques:
A finished beginning, inside corner turned, and a finished end.

is a blurry picture of a technique I don't quite get.  It's a corded overlock, and the idea is to sew ribbon or cording in to a seam for stabilization or decoration.  That's fine, but the book doesn't explain exactly where the cord is supposed to be--you can see it wandering a little between the two straight stitches and then moving into the looped area.  The drawing for it is just of the machine, so that doesn't help.  So I can't say I've really "learned" this one.

has promise.  A decorative edging stitch COMPLETE with turned corner (okay, I'm proud of that part) that probably has a lot of applications......though right now I can't actually think of any.

is the same sort of idea, just done on a ribbon to create a decorative braid.  I need some practice on this one to get the stitching even, but this is my favorite technique so far.  Of course, now the big question is, "What can I put decorative braid on?"  I'm very excited about this one. 

And I learned to gather on purpose
having accomplished it several times on the serger by mistake.  I think that's progress.

I have now completed 15 exercises, not quite understood one, and have completely gotten my arse kicked by one:  blind hem.  I cannot get this one!  I am not even getting close.  I worked on it for over an hour and the only thing I ended up with was a strong desire for alcohol and a slight twitch in my right eye.

In desperation, I went back to my lovely old standby:
Knitting!  The Pi shawl is getting bigger, though I think it probably needs to be all the way to Theo's feet before I can start on the border. 

What, you don't measure your knitting by cat??????????