Wednesday, April 29, 2009

shhhhh ...... sew good

Pssst.... Don't tell my yarn stash - my fabric stash has been wooing me. Long before I was a knitter, I was a sewer - a passionate seamstress who mastered welt pockets and hand tailoring for jackets. I even made own my wedding dress (still hanging in my closet even though it will likely never fit my daughters since I am only 5 feet and they are all going to be much taller). Then I learned how to knit and I had a couple of babies while my big kids grew into teenagers. Knitting is portable. Knitting can be done in the car or while watching television or standing in line at the post office (although I've never done that). I became passionate about knitting. I mastered lace (sort of) and cables without a cable needle (mostly). I became versed in wool, cotton, alpaca and tencel in the string form. My sewing machine and serger gathered dust in the studio pressed into service only now and then to fix a hem or two. I destashed the cloth (good move) and sent my library to new homes (great move) so that those things could be enjoyed by others. I kept just a few remnants, just in case....

Then the other day I was depressed and in need of a pick-me-up. I just happened to be next to a fabric store. I swear the fabric reached out of the store, draped itself around me and yanked me inside. The colors, the textures, the patterns, the possibilities, it was intoxicating. It was a kid in a candy store sort of delight. A pattern for a darling children's dress leaped off the rack and into my hands. It tickled at my brain...remember, remember, remember...oh yeah, I have fabric that the girls picked out at home bought two years at a store that has since gone out of business (a moment of silence for the wonderful Fabric Place, which sold both fabric and great yarn).

It was like a visit from an old friend. I forgot how much fun we have together. It's not really like I'm cheating on's not like we have an exclusive relationship, right? Yes I have yarns calling my name and patterns dancing in my head but I can't seem to settle on one right now. I have the SOS on the needles and I seem to be able to do no more than one row a day (very complicated pattern) I'm at the grafting point for a scarf that I won't need until next October.

I'm taking it slow with sewing - just a little bit every day. One day cut out the pattern - the next cut out the fabric - next we'll sew just the sides maybe. Conveniently, the seven-year-old is dying to learn how to sew so the timing could hardly be better.

I know I could buy the dresses for less at the store, but there is something so fundamentally satisfying about turning a flat piece of fabric into a three-dimensional garment. The secrets the short cuts - they're all coming back to me - iron at every stage, store the pattern and accessories in a plastic bag on a hanger with the fabric, mark the fabric right after you cut it.

I still like knitting for its portability but sewing goes so much faster. It's just easier when you're not actually making the fabric!

I know my two friends can coexist peacefully. What I learn from one, I bring to the other. They complement each other. Once I'm done with the sewing the dresses, I can knit the girls shawls to go with them :)

You can see from the fabric that my girls have a bold sense of styles - bugs and dinosaurs? What could be better. Thankfully their taste hasn't changed in two years!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

I'm still here

I'm still here - if anyone is looking for me - don't dispair. I've been swamped with work and coping with teenagers but I'm still smiling (most of the time).

I've not been knitting nearly as much as I'd like although I still think about it quite a bit. I did manage before the snow melted to finish the mittens 3yo dd requested. She picked out the color and explained to me what they should look like. They match a hat made earlier in the season. It's a great way to use up left over yarns. The mittens are started on scrap yarn and then felted. the cuff is made by cutting out the scrap yarn and picking up yarn through the holes left behind. She was very pleased and hasn't even lost one.

I also made the hand towel from the new Mason Dixon book. This is a great project - you cast on something like 90 stitches and then decrease by two every other row so it goes faster and faster as you get toward the end. I really like that it has a button. I've attached it to the stove and it doesn't go walking away like every other dish towel in the kitchen!

In the midst of all the craziness, we had a birthday. Despite my best efforts, my six year old wen ahead and turned seven!. Seven!? I must have been in denial because the whole cake decorating thing slipped my mind. Thank goodness her birthday comes right after Easter - Jelly Beans work quite nicely in a pinch.
As promised I took her to the trapeze to celebrate. She had such a worried look on her face when we arrived and such a huge smile by the end of her lesson! She's ready to go agin as soon as possible. Her dad was worried that she would be too scared - silly daddy, she's the daughter of two daredevil parents - not a chance in the world.
Suddenly today, summer struck in Boston. It's as if the sun suddenly remembered we're here and took pity on us. I'm thrilled - not a complaint in the world except that I'm not quite done with the angora scarf that I started way back when it seemed that winter was never going to be over. I have just the grafting left but no incentive to do it. I could just tuck it away for next year. That's not a good idea, is it? No, I think I just need to bite the needle (so to speak) and dive right in. Is it purl on knit off or Knit off purl on?
Happy happy spring!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

blocking schmocking

My technique on blocking the scarf may not have been great, but I'm sure it was at least pretty close to what I'm supposed to do - but alas, it still didn't work. The scarf still rolls more than I'd like it too. Oh well, on to the next project....

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Block heatd

It's funny that my good friend Holly Jo mentioned blocking wires in her comment to my last post since as I was unpinning my scarf I thought more experienced knitters would be looking at my feeble attempts at blocking and think that I need blocking wires!.

Instead I have points sticking out all along what are supposed to be straight edges! Blocking made it lay flatter, but it took out the sproing. That's something for me to keep in mind for future projects.

I also discovered a needed improvement to my design (some might call it a flaw) the scarf was made with a series of different patterns. I have this great distinctive heart design on one end but on the other is more subtle knit and purl design. There is another lace panel, but it falls where the scarf is wrapped around my neck, so it isn't really visible. I'm not terribly bothered by this - it's just a lesson-learned sort of thing. Interestingly, I found a dropped stitch during the blocking process - it hasn't run away, just slipped down a few rows.
On a side note - I broke down and bought a big box of swiffer covers. I love the idea of a knitted alternative, but in reality I'm not convinced it worked as well. You can see that it doesn't look quite so pretty after a few washes. I'm not convinced that we weren't mostly just pushing the dirt around. Maybe it would work if you had several and could change them midway through the job. Maybe it would work if you don't have children who don't bother to change covers whether they're disposable or not! I think I'll stick to knitting wearables for now.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Extra Credit?

Do I get bonus points for reblocking a knitted item? I made this great "sampler" scarf last year out of a gorgeous alpaca. The length and width are perfect but it rolls into a thin piece of fabric hiding the delightful patterns. I tried this time giving it a good soak and then pinning it out on a spare mattress. I'm not 100 percent certain I'm doing this right, but I don't think I'm doing any harm.
Hopefully, it won't be needed much longer anyway, although the weatherman says to leave winter wear out a bit longer. We're supposed to be in the 40s this week. Today it rained so hard they had to postpone the Red Sox home opener - One more day for Red Sox nation to get excited!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

What should I have done?

There's a great web site where you can send a message to yourself in the future - You write all about the fun you are having or not having, your hopes and dreams for yourself and fun little messages like -stay as cool as you are right now and if John X knocks on your door DO NOT answer it, or whatever you feel like you should remind yourself. It's a real kick to hear from who you were a year or more ago.

But, wouldn't it be even more wonderful if you could send a message to you in the past?
Mine would be something like this:

Don't buy that shaggy pink yarn - it will sit in a bowl on your desk for years and you will have no idea what to make with it but will horribly guilty for not making something.

Buy 7 skeins of Cascade 220 in pink, 7 in purple and 7 in (????) while they are sale at Webs Anniversary sale because you will need them in the fall.

Don't even bother casting on for another Knitted Babe because as cute as everyone else's are, yours have scary eyes and the hair takes forever so it will sit unfinished in your drawer for years - again making you feel guilty every time you see it.

Go ahead and cast on for the Secret of the Stole but don't even bother trying to make the deadlines for it. That will drive yourself crazy. You will learn a ton from doing it and you will finish it eventually.

When aren't sure about how things are going with your boyfriend Al, relax - you're going to be happily married to him for many, many years to come.