Saturday, October 29, 2011

too good to pass up

On the way home from "emergency automobile inspection," (translation: taking the Explorer to be inspected after I discovered that E-Rex never did it because he thought someone might have said that they though there might not be, automobile inspection in NJ anymore.) I had other plans for today, but I didn't want to push grace any farther than it already had been pushed.   

On the way home, I  made a pit stop into the JoAnn store in Paramus because I had a moonlight madness 30% off everything, including sale items, card in my wallet and I thought it would expire on the  29th.  With snow in the forecast, I doubted that I would get out for a JoAnn run tomorrow, and if I did, it would probably be Interstate, not the Paramus location.

I found a few things that were Buy One Get One Half Off.  When I combined those bargains with the additional 30% off everything, my purchase total was just higher than 50% of the already discounted retail prices for everything.  That was nice.

Then, I went to Guitar Center for a book for one of my students.....which they didn't have.  That wasn't.

Friday, October 28, 2011

it's a waiting game

Our high school reunion party is scheduled for tomorrow night at 7:30, at the Brick House in Wyckoff.  I was not the school spirit type, but I have to admit that I'm looking forward to seeing some  classmates  I haven't seen since we graduated.  With the nor'easter heading right for our area and the height of it anticipated to be mid day, I confess being a little bummed.  Will the reunion be rescheduled?  I won't mind, but who's visiting from a distance that won't be able to make it on another date?  Is the Brick House booked for Sunday? 

I'll have to wait and see.   

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

cubics interchangeable knitting needle review

Not too long ago, I was thrilled to find that Webs, America's Yarn Store, began to carry a line of knitting needles made by Knitter's Pride.  Knitter's Pride also makes knitting needles for Knit Picks, which I have used for years. I have always had  2 issues with the Knit Picks needles: I wanted a second color cable, so when one knits circularly on 2 circular needles, one circular would have 1 color cable and the other would have another.  It would save a lot of double checking time. I also wanted the acrylic set to be available in any color, not only the crystal clear ones that are available.  They are difficult to use in some lighting. Although I had these small issues, I still used and loved the needles. I just wished for the improvements.

Well, fast forward to Webs' launch.  Not only are their cables black/charcoal gray rather than the  purple Knit Picks ones, but the acrylics are in an assortment of color keyed by needle size.  Great!  However, the best part of the launch is the inclusion of Cubics needle tips.  I have wanted to try the Kollage square needles for a long time but I already had a huge collection of the Knitter's Pride ones and the Kollage needles were pricier, so I stifled my yen.

I ordered 1 set of Cubics tips and some cables from Webs.  I have used them for a few projects and they are in my WIP Chocolate Cherry Spanish Dancer Shawl.   It's true that the square needles are extremely comfortable to hold and with which to knit.  I don't know if I'm simply suggestible or if it's true that stitches are more consistent with the square needle profile.    The Cubics tips are only available in a few sizes at this time.  I have since ordered 2 pair in the  3 most common sizes with which I commonly knit.  I'd like to see an entire size 4 - 13 set become available. Currently, the smallest size available is  6.

My overall review of these needles? EXCELLENT!  They're great feeling, are beautiful wood that is warm in your hands, produce lovely fabric, are priced right and have a no questions asked guarantee.  

les paul in mahwah

For much of the month of September, my "free time," whatever that is, was occupied with activities related to the grand opening of the incomparable Les Paul in Mahwah exhibit at the Mahwah Museum.

Les Paul was an extraordinary jazz guitarist and a genius who influenced 20th century culture more than any other single individual.  Virtually everyone's life has been touched in some way, by his inventions, if not by his music.

Because I broadcast the Guitar Technique Tutor Podcast every week, I contacted the exhibit coordinator, Dr. Charles Carerras. He was gracious enough to not only grant me an interview, but to allow me to see the exhibit before it was open to the public.  That first viewing was about a week before the official opening.  I was astounded by the scope of the exhibit.  Les Paul's workshop and much of his recording studio are literally in the exhibit.  Les Paul's 3 most infamous creations: the Octopus, the Lathe and the Log were all there!  At that time, they weren't yet in protective cases. It was like a dream.  The exhibit has 3 video screens on which to watch the old Les Paul TV show, to see Les Paul talking about how he created the Log, which was the first solid body electric guitar (made of a single piece of wood for the neck and body in order to increase sustain, and without any acoustic amplification) and to see Les Paul's creation/invention of multi-track "sound on sound" recording.  By appointment,guitarists can play one of Les Paul's guitars. through his amp, on a stage in the museum. Currently, the dates available are booked but the museum will be releasing some more winter and spring dates soon.  To say the sneak peak was exhilarating would be the understatement of the century.

Later that week, I attended a lecture by Les Paul's  friend and autobiographer, Michael Cochran.  It was illuminating.  Then, there was the tribute concert at Ramapo College.  The headliners were Lou Pallo, who was part of the Les Paul trio for years, John Colianni, a phenomenal jazz pianist, Bucky Pizzarelli, who I can't believe still has his chops, considering his advanced age, and several other great musicians.

I got to see the Gibson bus, because Gibson attended the opening weekend festivities and attended and video taped the grand opening ribbon cutting ceremony.

So, for a couple weeks, it was all Les all the time.  My podcasts from those weeks were titled, Genius and Les is More.

The museum director, has kindly extended a private viewing invitation to my students.  We have found a date when most are available, so in December we will have exclusive access to the museum, before the general public will be admitted on that day.  

Whether you're a guitarist, music lover,  jazz cat or kitten, tech buff, or a person who is fascinated by genius, visit Les Paul in Mahwah any Wednesday, Saturday or Sunday between now and the end of June, 2012.  After that, the exhibit will remain but be reduced in size, as some of the collection is on loan from the Les Paul foundation, the Grammy Hall of Fame and private collectors.

I could write about this for hours but I'll spare you. If you're interested, check out my podcasts mentioned above.

Here is the ribbon cutting ceremony (this video had audio when I posted it)

first spanish dancer

A few months ago, I completed another knitting project. The Spanish Dancer shawl, from Knitty.Com.

I have worn it several times and it always garners compliments.  For a change, I used the yarn specified in the pattern, which is a Claudia Hand Painted fingering (sock weight) yarn in superwash merino. The color I used for this, the 1st Spanish Dancer, is  called Mountain Sky.

Pretty?  Right?

It was a very simple pattern. Anyone who can knit, make decreases and follow simple, clear instructions, can make this shawl.

My 2nd Spanish Dancer is on my needles.  Several projects and the soon encroaching Christmas crafting crunch are looming.  I wish it was finished, but it can't be a top priority right now. :'(

cubixx2 photo link

Although the CubixX2 sweater was completed during the summer, I never posted the photo link.  I enjoyed the process of this sweater and it was cool and comfortable when worn.

bobbled hoodie

Ah, the storied "Bobbled Hoodie" by Tahki Stacey Charles Spring 2008 book, that I've been working on for a while.... It's done and I wore it several times last week. Every time I put it on, I smiled.  I smiled broadly, in fact.

I used stash yarn (which is my focus for the foreseeable future) rather than the yarn called for in the pattern.  I had gotten a killer deal on 2 bags of Wick by Knit One Crochet Too in Sea Gold, a blue, cream and goldish color.  As is my custom, after reading the pattern, I decided to knit the front and back simultaneously until they differed (past the beginning of the arm hole shaping.  I'm a bit paranoid about parts matching when I don't knit the entire sweater in the round, so once the pieces were different, I clipped a marker to every row on which I knit bobbles, so when seaming, I would have a very accurate joining guide.  I also knit the sleeves simultaneously.  If I had given it more thought, I would have knit the whole thing in the round.

The last step of the pattern before blocking and sewing together/weaving in ends, is to knit the hood.  I knit that miserable hood TWICE.  I triple counted my stitches  and both times the hood just didn't work.  

Having knit quite a bit of I-cord to lace through the placket, I decided to make an attached I-cord edge around the neck.  It would coordinate with the laced I-cord and also with the bobbles. 

Ah, but what to do about the name, "Bobbled Hoodie?"  That wouldn't do.  So, I call it, "Marie," in honor of Marie Antoinette, who also had her head chopped off.

chemo hats for Dottie

Last week, when I spoke to Dottie, she mentioned that now that she has no hair, the slightest chill in the air makes her head and the rest of her cold.  Well, she's surely dealing with enough adversity.  She said the silky scarf type head coverings she sometimes wears when she goes out don't really keep her warm. So, of course, I volunteered to make her some hats.  I had already purchased Simplicity 2494 pattern set of fleece hats, intending to make 1 or 2 of the designs for her. After looking at the  pattern pieces and instructions, I decided on one particular pattern that is a cloche. The others were more complex than I wanted to tackle.

Cutting the fleece to the shapes of the pattern pieces was a challenge that I overcame by making templates for the pattern pieces.  I'm sure there's a more precise way to do it than my way, but it sufficed.

I only made 1 of the fleece cloches because I wanted to be certain Dottie liked it and that it fit her properly.  That cloche was made on Sunday.

On Saturday, E-Rex was out most of the morning and afternoon. I had slated the day for cleaning, but because I was thinking about Dot's cold chemo head, I did a little stash diving, in  search of soft bulky yarn.  I found some oddments of  Lion Brand Homespun, from previous gift projects.   I grabbed a large crochet hook (I don't remember if it was M or N), started with a double loop, made 8 half double crochets, pulled the ring tight and increased the 8 hdcs every round to create a circle the size of the top of her head and then crocheted evenly until the hat reached the length I wanted.  It went so quickly, I started another one (At that point I was UIC: under the influence of crochet.  Knitters needing to make yarn things quickly are prone to this because crochet goes so much faster than knitting.) The second crocheted hat was made similar to the 1st one, but with single crochet rather than half doubles.  I think I made each hat in less than an hour.

After a little more stash diving, I found some Wool Ease in a mushroom-y color. I knit 2 watch caps in 1x1 ribbing. One, I made short for sleeping and around the house, the other, longer, for outdoors.

Monday, I reached Dottie (was unable to  on Sunday.)  We told her we were coming down to deliver hats.  She gave us a hat-shion show and I was so happy they all fit fine.  She loved the fleece hat, so now that I know it fit her and she liked it, I will make the same cloche in a cream color fleece and in black fleece.

Have a look at my photos in Flickr if you like: Chemo Hats

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

random timing or masterful coincidence?

I recently received an email ad from Webs America's Yarn Store.  I like their prices on some things and all the orders I have ever placed with them have been handled efficiently and quickly.  I know some people have had issues, but I have not.  They have introduced Knitter's Pride knitting needles and crochet hooks. The knitting needles come in straights, dpns, circs and interchangeable circs.  The colored wood line is called Dreamz, the natural wood line is called Basicx,  the the nickle plated line is called Nova, the square wood line is called Cubic, the solid rosewood line is called Symfonie and the acrylic line is called Trendz.

First, the Dreamz, Nova and Trendz look to be the Knit Picks Options needles (which are also made in India, probably by the same company.) Knit Picks's Harmony line is multi-colored wood while the Webs  offering is single color needles with each size being a different color. The Novas look the same and the Trendz acryllcs  are in transparent colors, which I have suggested to Knit Picks in the past.  The perfectly clear acrylic Zephyrs in their line can be hard to look at, depending upon the needle size and the yarn you're using.

The cables and needle size markers and end stoppers look the same too.

I ordered 1 pair of Cubic and a cable because I have heard so many glowing reports about the comfort and great stitch consistency that the use of  square needles. I suspect that the cables will be interchangeable with the Options ones of which I have a plethora. If they are, I will likely be purchasing from Webs because their price point on the acrylics is over  $10 less and if I don't increase my interchangeable stash with the Cubic line, I probably get some Trendz.

The most interesting thing about this offering from Webs is the timing.  Kelley and Bob  at Knit Picks are taking more of a support role there, now and Bob's son is at the helm. I understand from a podcast a while ago, that he's been there for about a year learning the business and integrating into his new career, but now, he's  really the decision maker.  I can't help but think Webs timed this perfectly to leverage  sales  away from Knit Picks.  Maybe not, but if not, it's a remarkable coincidence.

I'll review the Cubic needles after they arrive.

Monday, September 12, 2011

new blog for foodies

A few members of my Grace family have just started a new blog.  I love them and I know this blog will delight you if you're a foodie and like to share in the discovery of beauty and fine dining. The bloggers are Chris Ruel, Miriana Ruel (Chris's wife of just over a year) and Scott Ruel (Chris's brother.)

As of tonight, there are 2 posts. I hope you will enjoy the blog as much as I know I will.

church sign for 9/11 week

This was a tough week and yesterday (by 8 minutes) was the toughest. We're a stone's throw from NYC and just a few hours from Shanksville, PA. Everyone knows someone who lost someone or lost someone themselves.  I checked with Pastor Jeff before putting anything on our sign this week. (I had been buffeted by rain storm after rain storm after hurricane and not updated our sign for several weeks.) Pastor said he was going to preach about 9/11.  We talked a short while about the additional aspects of the day that believers need to remember. Here's what I posted this week.

In triumph and tragedy
Our hope is in the Lord

tsc bobbled hoodie

I was hoping this hoodie would have been done last week, but I haven't had as much time as I'd have liked to knit, crochet, sew or ... play the guitar. I have made very good progress, though.  I'm about a third of the way into the raglan shaping of both sleeves. The front and back are done. I think there was an errata in the instructions for the placket through which the i-cord will be laced, but we'll see.  The only thing I will have to knit after the sleeves will be the hood, which may be a perfect size or it could require some adjustment. I don't want a gigantic hood on this short sleeve hoodie.
It's hard to see how textured this hoodie is, but it's got a row of bobbles spaced at either 7  or  13 stitches apart every 10th row.  Apart from the ribbing, placket and i-cord, the bobble pattern is over the entire garment. I'm not using the TSC yarn. I found a great deal on Knit One Crochet Too Wick, a soy/ polypropylene blend that is rumored to wick moisture away. So, this is a warm weather hoodie.  It would be nice to wear it a time or 2 if we have some Indian Summer days.  I will take pictures of it before and during blocking and then, assembled.

How's the yarn?  Well, it's interesting. Once washed and blocked, it's softer than during knitting. It's the tiniest bit splitty and very snaggy, much like silk.  You need smooth hands and slippery needles to enjoy knitting with this yarn.  I think I paid a little more than a dollar a skein when I bought 20 skeins from an eBay seller. So, the cost of this garment will balance the cost of some garments I recently made and am making out  of  Claudia handpainted fingering.  

Sunday, September 11, 2011

last purchases at Borders

It's a shame that Borders is closing forever. Our neighborhood one will close in a couple days.  It was a very convenient book store/cafe in the same mall as our local grocery store, JoAnn Fabrics, TJ Maxx, Bed Bath and Beyond, CVS, Michaels, Dress Barn, etc. just a mile or 2 away.  E-Rex liked to sip coffee there every so often, and I loved that I could get iced coffee made with a cold brewing method.

In these waning days, I couldn't help but go over to see what I could find at a bargain price.  A few weeks ago I picked up a couple magazines and an Interweave Press hefty one called 101 Patchwork Projects and Quilts 2011. I wouldn't have purchased it at full price but I think it was somewhere between 50% and 60% off. Since I'm knitting for me this year (which is making me feel a bit guilty, but I'll get over it) I will be sewing  a good number of Christmas gifts.  This bookish magazine has tons of small but interesting projects for gift giving.  (When I'm done blogging tonight, I will be stash diving to match projects with fabric I have.) So, that was a great acquisition.

A friend who does not read this blog - or at least I don't think she does - collects vintage Barbies.  Last week I found a book called I (heart) Ken, My Life as the Ultimate Boyfriend.
I think she'll like it. I know she has a Ken or 2 from her childhood -- very vintage. At the crazy 80% off price, it will be a little "extra" with her Christmas gift.

I poked around the music and craft books after I found the Ken book.  I found Twinkle Chan's Crochet Goodies for Fashion Foodies. It has some hilarious projects - surely not all to my liking, but I can think of a few people who would find a food scarf a welcome, funny fashion statement. Stay tuned for news of which one(s) I make.

I also found a book that I picked up and put back 3 times because of its title, Vampire Knits by Genevieve Miller. Any of you who know me well, know that the Vampire bit was bothering me.  Hey, I don't go to Starbuck's because their logo is a siren!  So, Genevieve Miller got some designers together to create designs themed around the whole Twilight phenomenon.  I haven't and won't read the books or see the movies. I don't do pagan. So there I am in Borders, it's closing and I can grab this book of knitting patterns, several of which are appealing if I can look past the names and inspiration. What to do? Well, I paced around a while.  I concluded that it was better for me to purchase the last copy of the book at that location because I would not be the least bit drawn into anything dark by it, as some might be.  So, I bought it. 

Then, with books in hand, I sifted through a very untidy shelf of "stuff." Lo and behold, I found a set of interchangeable  wax seals. No joke!  I'm sure they were sold for scrap booking, but they would work fine for sealing correspondence. The set I purchased included a handle that had a screw on bezel and a selection of "baby" themed coins, or seals: carriage, foot prints, rocking horse and birthday cake.  I also found some individual coins (the term for the part of the seal that impresses the wax): thank you, heart and a bouquet.  These are not high end, but I like the interchangeability. I have a few other interchangeable sets and at the ridiculous price, it was a nobrainer for me.  

This isn't the set I purchased, but my heart and birthday cake are pictured in this set.  The big surprise was that the sealing wax contained in the set was Stuart Houghton, which surprised me.  Usually, sets contain the junky sealing wax that's really like melted crayons with a little resin in it.  Not good for anything.

I did very well on all these purchases.  I didn't need any of them, but I will make good use of the things I purchased for me and I think my friend will like Ken as much as Barbie does.

Friday, August 12, 2011

you can't always do what you want

What I'd really like to be doing is reviewing the last book I finished, Slave, by John MacArthur (2 thumbs up, for now) and linking to Flickr photos of projects and recent activities.  I'd also like to be blogging about  WIPs,  some ChaChing bargains, a personal update and more.

After the financial reports of this past week, I put:

When the storms of life rage
The Lord is our refuge

on the Grace sign this week.

My GuitarTechniqueTutor.Com web site overhaul is in progress.  I think I'm 75% or more done, but I can't say that with certainty.

All the blogging I'd really like to do has to wait until GuitarTechniqueTutor.Com is shiny, new and fully functional.  Then I'll be able to resume podcasting, too.  I hope that will be within the week - maybe less, if my work has been as accurate and measured as I think it's been.

I tested an app that I can use to blog from my iPod Touch, and it seemed to work flawlessly.  That will be handy for short posts.

I am hoping to get here regularly ASAP.

Saturday, July 9, 2011 CubixX2 finished

Yeah, yeah... I'm still not up to date with the Flickr uploads and tags, but I'm going to post info now. When I can get to everything else, I will.

So, I completed the CubixX2 sweater.  I KIP-ed the ends of the sleeves at Borders on July 4th.  I did the assembly at home. 

It's done, ends are woven in, label is sewn in and photos have been taken.  I used one yarn the pattern called for, which is Knit One Crochet Too Ty-Dy. The pattern called for another Knit One Crochet Too yarn for the black color, but I substituted an Aslan Trends yarn, Glaciar del Cielo, in black - which isn't on their web site any longer, so it was probably a close out yarn.  The put up of yards is different but the yarn substitutes perfectly as far a s gauge and weight. Both yarns are 100% cotton and I got both of them on sale last year.

I liked the pattern. It was well written.  I especially liked knitting a 100% cotton sweater that is not going to grow into a tunic. Cotton yarn has not elasticity and will just keep stretching and growing, if the knitting stitches don't prevent it from doing so.  Well, CubixX2 has brilliantly placed slip stitch rectangles arranged in a visually pleasing design, which counter act the tendency of the yarn to stretch out to your knees.   The designer used 2 different Ty-Dy color ways.  I used just one.

When I knit or crochet with self striping or space dyed yarns and I'm making 2 of something, like socks or sleeves, I need the 2 things to look as similar as I can make them, so I make sure I'm starting from the same part in the dye pattern on 2 different balls of yarn.  I do it with my self patterning sock yarn and I did it for the  cute  3/4 length sleeves on the CubixX2.   If you make this pattern and decide to "match your sleeves," as I did. You may want to be sure you buy  1 extra ball of each of your Ty-Dy. If you make a large swatch and have to coordinate dye pattern, it may eat up a little more yarn than called for in the pattern.

The sizing was true, the gauge was accurate and the recommended amounts of yarn were correctly. I always buy an extra skein/ball - just in case.

I think I'll wear it to church tomorrow. I was tempted to wear it to meet the Material Girls when we had lunch yesterday, but it was hot and sticky out. Tomorrow morning should be just the right temperature.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

tanks a lot

A few nights ago, I altered the 7 tank tops I have had for a few years. They're nothing special. I only wear them around the apartment -- or out if it's over 90 degrees. I didn't mind that they were loose (2 sizes too large, now) but because they were so loose, the arm holes, which were generous became gigantic and far too exposing. 

Tuesday evening, I took them up at the shoulders.  Nothing too tricky, except the width of the straps on the front differed from the back so I had to stretch the narrower strap to match the wider one, so the shoulder join didn't look crummy.

Although I use polyester thread in most of my sewing projects, other than piecing cotton fabric, I used cotton on these because I usually throw them into a hot dryer after they are washed.  For these, the little bit of temporary shrinkage is a plus.

One more small sewing chore is ticked off my To Sew list.  Yay!

not as slim as I thought

I'm off to the 2nd of 2 consultations for this week, in about an hour. Last night's went well. I will be guitar shopping with new student, Mike, on Saturday. The prospective student I'm seeing today already has a guitar because her dad already plays. My 3rd consultation has been postponed until some time next week because the potential student has family coming for the long weekend, and he's running behind schedule with things that must be done before they descend upon him.

My "summer" schedule isn't as small as I expected, which is a good thing.  I will be teaching late afternoon and evening Tuesday, all day through late evening Wednesday and all day through early evening Thursday (but if the last consultation yields a student, he will probably be assigned to Thursday evening too.)

I'm taking next week off from podcasting for the 4th of July holiday. I believe I began podcasting the 1st week of July last year.  Wow!  45 shows later, it's part of my weekly routine. I know that it influences potential student to call for lessons, so despite that it's a large time commitment to plan, record, mix and distribute, I'm going to continue.  I will be freshening up the web site in July, prior to approaching a particular string maker about sponsorship.

So, my usual summer down time is less this year, and chock full of things to do, including a reading list I would like to get through as well as sewing, knitting, crocheting and playing my guitar more than I am ordinarily able to.  I will have to manage my time efficiently, which is something I can do well, but don't always want to.

I will probably not teach the evening students the 1st week of August, because I want to assist at our VBS. The theme this year is Home Town Jerusalem, which should be wonderful.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

slim schedule

This is the time of year when half or more of my students disappear for a month or the whole summer, and so it is in 2011. Despite the crummy economy, I have recently taken on  2 new students, Lani and Hugo.  One is a child, the other an adult. I have  2 consultations scheduled for this coming week. I think one is about 95% likely to convert to a weekly student.  The other, I don't know about.  I get the impression he may be less committed to the idea of learning to play, but it's just an impression.

I'm going to try to smoosh (that's a technical term) my students into 2, or at the very outside, 3 days, and have 4 days in a row off. With the E-man out of work since February 1st, there isn't any chance of going away this year.  3 days on and 4 off is fine. I will still be able to get some things done that I never get around to during the academic year, and I will have enough of a break of routine to be a little refreshed (I hope.)

The  1st week of August will be VBS at Grace.  I am hoping any students having lessons that week will be able to modify their lesson times to give me the evenings free.

lower lash mascara!?

I thought a really good first Ridiculous post would be appropriate.

Have you seen the commercial on TV (or in print) for Clinique's Bottom Lash Mascara?  Now, I'll admit that I don't spend hours a day on make up, but I do face and eyes every morning.  But come on! Separated mascara for just your lower lashes?  I know, I know, they're short.  I thought the universal beauty tip for them was ----- wait for it ------- holding your mascara wand vertically instead of horizontally.   I'll be amazed if it sells.  But, hey, who am I?  Pet Rocks sold back in the day.

Sorry if I offended anyone who purchases the product.  

I'm still here

It has been months since my last post. It is what it is.  I am working on getting photos on Flickr and tagging and organizing them.  But so many things continue to interrupt my plans. Ditto for keeping things up to date in Ravelry.  Because summer is traditionally slower for me, I hope to catch up and be "current" on this blog and in Ravelry.  I'm so annoyed by not having all my photos available on Flickr that at times when I could write for a while, I just don't do it.

I know I don't currently have the time to turn this into a podcast - which is what I'd prefer it be.  Keeping up with weekly podcasting for my guitar instruction is all but overload, but it is yielding student inquiries, so I dare not discontinue doing my weekly show. 

In the past 4 or so months, I have been slowly getting back to sewing - which makes me happy. Tomorrow, my plan is to alter some tank tops that have gaping arm holes (not bra-friendly at all)  and T-shirts that are too long in addition to too big. I'm looking forward to it.

I have finished my Spanish Dancer (from shawl and love it.  I plan to make at least 1 more, perhaps more than that.  It was a super easy pattern - all garter with a center double increase, knit on i-cord and a picked up and knitted ruffle.  It called for Claudia hand painted fingering weight yarn, and shock of all shocks, that is the yarn I used. (It might be a first!)  As soon as I finish sorting out Flickr, I'll link to my photos.

The CubixX2 sweater, also from, is 3/4 done.  The front and back are awaiting shoulder connection and both sleeves are about 1/3 finished.   After the sleeves are attached, all that will remain to do is the neck edging, which is like the bottom edging on the sleeves and body, and weave in the ends.  I will be happy to have that done.

I am going to add a few labels to this blog, among which will be ChaChing (great sales and deals that I find) and  Ridiculous come to mind immediately, but there may be others.

I have about 40 minutes before my laundry will be done and I have to do some other things, so I'm going to post a few of the many updates I'd like to make.  Stay tuned for photos, eventually.

Friday, February 11, 2011

the past few weeks

Well, despite that I have not uploaded all my photos nor linked to them here, I have been fairly productive. I'm still working on MOLCU (My Own Little Crochet U) - so that remains in the WIPs category. But into the Done! column goes:
  • Honeycomb Beret (needs to be blocked and a button sewn on after I try it on blocked)
  • Honeycomb Collar (also needs to be blocked and 2 buttons sewn on after I try in on blocked)
  • Sam's Bed (FINALLY!!!!!!!!!)
  • My Morehouse Alligator Scarf (I love this scarf.  I don't care what anyone thinks about it - positive or negative - it makes me feel good and it makes me smile to wear it.)
Now, I am lengthening a few pair of hand knit socks (long story) and working on a new pair.  My current WIPs.

I will be swatching for my CubixX2 pull over and the Spanish Dancer Shawl. (And recording my swatch details on a cute card I designed for said purpose that I obtained from Vista Prints)

My sewing machine malfunction of a week or 2 ago has been vanquished by brute determination. I plan to sew tomorrow.   Super yay!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

construction continues

As I continue to get this blog where I really want it, I will probably pull some old posts off previous blogs, so they will all be here and in 1 place.  I apologize for any subscribers getting repeat info that they read ages ago. 

My goal is to complete "construction" by February 1st.

what not to watch

While I was uploading some new copy to my web site earlier today, I had What Not to Wear on TV for background noise. I rarely do that - it's usually music, but today, it was Clinton and Stacey on TLC.   If you know me, you know I'm not in any way, a slave to fashion.  I like what I like.  Now that I have lost almost 55 pounds, I am more conscious to add flattering clothes to my wardrobe, than the heretofore loose, shapeless things I was relegated to for many years. But, I'm not obsessed.

The woman in whose life Clinton and Stacey were intervening, was a flaky, free spirit, tiny woman who definitely needed help dressing.  Her wardrobe was a complete mishmash of dresses made out of her former kitchen curtains, a garment made from hand woven fabric, hand knit sweaters, kooky scarves that other people made, a strange bag, cast off clothes from the children the wearer baby sat and on and on. Among that milieu were some one-of-a-kind things.  A plain boyfriend style sweater the woman knit from the silk of silkworms she raised and yarn spun from a friend's goat. No doubt it took ages to spin and knit the sweater.  It looked ordinary, but well made and proportioned for her tiny frame.  There was a blouse or dress that looked hand painted. I think she got it during a trip overseas.  Although you might not wear it to a business meeting, it would do for running errands, if you were a bohemian type - which this woman clearly was. 

I have witnessed Clinton's and Stacey's rigid enforcement of the "everything must go" rule, and their even more rigid insistence on a particular style and flavor for the women they assist. Isn't there room for unremarkable but nice in people's real lives?  Of course there is.  I don't know that I'd take their offer if I had high quality, one of a kind garments that pleased me.  Sure, the whole point of the show is to demonstrate how $5,000 can get you a new wardrobe and look.  But a new look doesn't require that not one thread of something old  remains.  

The few minutes of the show that I saw, grated on me more than it usually does. I guess their lack of appreciation for things I probably wouldn't want to part with either got to me. 
What do they do with all those clothes that are ridiculed and discarded?   Do the donate them?  Do they recycle the textiles? If they make you throw away a hand knit sweater, can you unravel it and keep the yarn?  I haven't spent any time researching it, but I hope they don't just throw everything away.  People who have no clothes would be blessed to have wearable clothes, regardless of the fashion statement they convey.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

for the new year

Some people who read this blog and know me asked me to post what I put on the sign at Grace, when I change it.   So, I'll begin with what I put up a couple weeks ago.  When weather and ground conditions permit, I usually change the sign every week. In this bitter, snowy weather, it will be far less frequent than that.

The current sign reads:


I posted it because, in addition to Pastor Jeff teaching through the book of Ephesians this year (Sept - June), he's taking a few week break and preaching about getting back to a simple walk. 

wistful might be too strong

This weekend VK Live is scheduled to take place in NY.  I've been considering just going to have a look around, since it was announced in the summer.  I purposely didn't choose to take any classes. There were 2 reasons for that: There wasn't a class I needed to take and since it was scheduled in January in NY, I thought the weather might be iffy.  Sure there was a class or 2 I'd have been interested in taking, but nothing I couldn't live without.  Then, there was the issue of cost.  My budget is too tight, especially since the E-man's last day of work (involuntarily) will be February 1st. Be all that as it may, I'm still slightly sad that I won't be ogling the eye candy. 

So, as VK Live approaches, I'd love to be there and feel the buzz of yarny energy, but I'm not going to go into the City just to look or to break the bank.  This year, I'm hoping to do a lot of stash busting and watching for extraordinary opportunities to save on quality supplies, whether yarn, fabric, tools or trims.

I will probably make this Perry Ellis Skyline Sweater some time in the coming year or 2. The people at Vogue Knitting suggested using the basic design element in something the attendees of Live wear or carry to the event.  Very clever.  When I make mine, I think I'll make the sky blue and the buildings silvery.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

a good yarn

Double entendre intended. Last week, I had a large gap of time between 2 guitar students, but not close enough to home to warrant wasting the gas and time to go home, only to return to the general area again an hour later.  So, I went to my favorite LYS, Creative Knitworks.  I have 2 queued  projects that required another skein of yarn before I can comfortably begin them and I took a shot that I could find them there. 

One project is the CubixX2 top by Helene Rush.  

When I pulled the yarns from my stash (which I'm making a concerted effort to bust in 2011) I determined that my estimate of a substitute yarn I planned to use, might be a little shy.  I might be able to make the top if I ripped out my swatch and used that yarn and didn't make any alterations.  So, my idea was to see if I could get at least 1 more skein. But, the original purchase of yarn was during a July 4th sale and it was clearance yarn at that time.  I was ecstatic to find just one skein of it in the ultra clearance rack - the last one in the store. Yay!
This is the yarn, but I am using black. It's Aslan Trends Glacier Del Cielo cotton. The multi shown in the top in the photo is Ty Dye, which is the yarn I'm planning to use.

The other is the Spanish Dancer Shawl by Sandi Luck.  

Originally I planned to use skeins of different Claudia Hand Paint fingering merino but on this one, I was also short by a skein. Something was definitely up with my in July. The colorway I wanted another skein of was Mountain Sky.  When I found enough of that gorgeous color to make the whole shawl, I opted for purchasing all of it. So much for stash busting.  I just love the colors and will surely use the orphan skeins originally slated for this shawl, in other projects. 

The colors are actually more dusty than this, with the main color being a very pale sky blue.

tech meltdown

I had grand designs on working on this blog a little more this weekend, but our tech challenges re-arranged my week and now, just getting to the "have to"s is occupying most of my time.

There I was minding my own business when my free iMac just shut off while I was using it  on Tuesday.  Not a big concern, short term because I had just backed it up on an external drive.  It was given to us because it was unreliable, but had been behaving itself since July.  Okay, so I'd have to do anything necessary on my BlackBerry until we got the iMac to turn on and remain on until we wanted it off. Not exactly hardship.

But then, Thursday when I shut off the morning alarm on my BlackBerry, the track pad seemed sticky, in that it was barely responsive.  Well, it seriously malfunctioned all day - rendering my cool cool cool communication dynamo a wimpy telephone.  A lot of good that does when everyone except the E-man contacts me by txt, bbm or email.

Ed got to the bottom of the computer issue and I'm using it to create this post (but I'll back up the system as soon as I'm done) and VZW is sending me a replacement Bold, which I should have Monday, unless I'm not home when it's delivered. In that case I'll have it Tuesday.

I still aspire to get to making a table skirt and finally finish Sam's bed this weekend.  We'll see how far along I get.

Monday, January 3, 2011

what I learned from sam's bed

Before I received a call from a quilter friend, Michelle, last night ~ which was a marathon conversation and took me away from the sewing machine, I learned a great truth I have heard many an excellent sewing enthusiast, like Material Girl, Donna say: It's wise to make a muslin sample before you sew the good stuff.

Well, now I understand and I'm so glad I did.

You know, how when you make a pillow for your sofa, couch, love seat, bed etc, and you don't want to use a zipper, you overlap the back panels for easy access to the pillow and for easy removal for laundering etc.? Well, I learned a great thing: When you're making a 36" dense foam pillow cover --- you can't make a big overlap because the foam is so rigid, you can't get the pillow into it.  Ah ha.  

Now, I will make the fleece and denim cover with one of the long bands overlapping, rather than the off-center back of the bed.  Wow, am I glad I did the muslin.  

The bed is late - which I can deal with. But at least now, it will be finished and usable. Yay!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

review: knit the season

So, as Christmas approached, I decided to read Knit the Season by Kate Jacobs, the knitlit author of The Friday Night Knitting Club and Knit Two. I'd had the book since it was published but not cracked it open for the year or 2 since. First, let me say I LOVED the Friday Night Knitting Club, and like everyone else who read it, wept at the part at which one should weep. (Not giving it away if you'd like a good read.) I thought Purl 2 was okay.  I didn't love it. I thought it was a little too predictable, but it was okay. Let me also say that I went on the wait list at my library to get Comfort Food,  Kate's book that immediately followed The Friday Night Knitting Club. I was the second or third person to read it from my library, and I returned it after reading 2 chapters.  I loathed the main character and wasn't willing to endure her, and thereby waste my time reading.  It just didn't float my boat.

Well, Knit the Season was not a pleasant read.  I'm a musician and the only way I can express it, is that the rhythm of the writing was way off.  May I be so opinionated as to call it forced? I knew the characters and understood everything Ms. Jacobs was writing, but her choice of words and prequel passages were just so cumbersome to me. I stuck it out and finished it.  It was okay, at best.  If I didn't like the character, Dakota, I wouldn't have finished it.

I was disappointed with this book. I think the Friday Night Knitting Club was a block buster because it was so real.  I don't know that making it a series was the wisest choice, given the 2 books that followed.  I must say that I am looking forward to the film of The Friday Night Knitting Club, which I understand is in some phase of production.

happy 2011 & Christmas knitting review

Well, the new year is here. I have tinkered with this blog for a while today ~ although not too much has been accomplished. I still have to add lots of links.  I did make a feedburner feed for it.

All the Christmas knitting was completed "on time."  The last project was finished at 5:20 pm on Christmas Eve and we had to leave to meet the recipient at 5:35.
I took pictures of everything and will get them into my Flickr gallery this week, without fail. I didn't create anything terribly breath-taking, but everything was well-received. The list of Christmas gift knitting was:
  • Morehouse Swiss Cheese scarf in denim and natural Wool-Ease
  • Morehouse Alligator scarf in Lion Brand Superwash Merino
  • Morehouse Swiss Cheese scarf in Lion Brand denim Wool-Ease
  • Ann Budd Ribbed Scarf with Crocheted Edge in Lion Brand Superwash Merino
  • Merino Sea Cel Bias Scarf with Ruffle  in Lion Brand Superwash Merino
  • 4 Berroco Minutia '09 mini sweaters in various left over yarns
  • ZigZag scarf in Lion Brand Homespun
  • Rectangular Shawl in KaraBella Magic
  • Tahki Yarns Honeycomb Beret and Collar in 2 strands of Lion Brand Wool-Ease
  • 6 Bernat Family Toques in Lion Brand Wool-Ease
  • 2 Nanette Blanchard Balaclavas in Lion Brand Wool-Ease
  • Original Welted Vine 2 Button Gaiter in Lion Brand Wool-Ease
  • Original Welted Vine Shawl Pinned Gaiter in Lion Brand Wool-Ease
The biggest hit, by far, was the Alligator Scarf. I made it for a friend who teaches young children in a poor, cold-in-the-winter school, where she frequently keeps a scarf around her neck all day.  (She received the shawl pinned gaiter, too.)  After she opened the Alligator she told me that she always dismisses the kids by saying, "See ya later, Alligator."  So, they're going to love that scarf.

The Swiss Cheese scarves were warmly received too. So, kudos to Morehouse Farms.  Great patters.  The Alligator was a lot of fun and I have one on the needles currently for me.

Other projects in progress are:
  • toe up socks
  • lengthening a few pair of socks I made last year (long story)
  • a balaclava for me (stash buster & after getting wind burned last week when we dug the cars out of snow, I can definitely use one)
  • Bernat Honeycomb Beret and Scarf
I have yarn pulled for a shawl and sweater too. I want to do some stash busting in the coming months.

In 2011, I plan to knit for me, for a change.  I haven't made anything for myself, other than socks, for years!  So I'm looking forward to knitting and crocheting for me.  In this new year I also plan to finish up all my machine sewing UFOs - one of which is a late Christmas gift. I'll be such a happy person when all the WIPs are current ones, not UFOs.

I have to finish that 36 x 24 dog bed UFO this weekend. That's where I'm headed now. Then I can finish my tree skirt (extremely early for  Christmas '11 ~ doesnt' that sound better than late for '10?), a mini wall quilt I hope to hang on our apartment door if I finish it before spring and a Christmas panel I machine quilted that needs binding.
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