Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Shout Out to AAA

I just have to say how glad I am that AAA is in service. I was deep into Boston at a baby's birthday party when I realized that my keys weren't in my purse. I remember locking the car but I couldn't remember checking for the keys like I always do. I dumped out the purse (what a mess! Not a good time to discover how badly it needs to be cleaned out!) I searched the kitchen where I'd been unloading things. With that sinking feeling, I went to the car and looked through the windows. On the third seat of our giant van (there are five rows of seats!) were the keys.

We have just one car and DH was several bus transfers and two train stops away from me on a Sunday when all the services are slow.

I was just about to launch into a full blown panic when I remembered that I didn't have to. It's almost like having a Fairy God Mother in your wallet - call them and all will be well. It was a long wait but just as the sun was going down and the cold was settling in, the white knight came riding up on his giant tow truck. We all agreed that we have never been so happy to get into the van!

The only downside to all of this is that the knitting was locked in the van with the keys!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Recycle This

Just as I am learning to let go of things and purge the clutter, the 7yo dd is learning to save the earth through recycling. I see garbage and she sees building blocks.

How could I squash such creativity? She has taken what I would have put into a landfill and turned it into a stuffed animal's delight. The first is a car wash for the animals. They go in "dirty" and come out "clean," she explained. The second is a hutch for a rabbit - the real rabbit she hopes I will buy her this summer! (Not sure where she got that idea - I have no plans for a live bunny)

So what if there are little pieces of cardboard all over the living room. So what if she unpacked a full recycling bin and scattered the contents from one end of the house to another. She is trying in her own little way to save the planet. Messes can be cleaned up but Earth can't be undestroyed, right?

I have to give props to DH! The man who has a to-do list longer than I am tall actually spent an hour - a full hour - untangling a snarled up pile of fingering weight yarn that had reached an epic state of tangliness. It was at least a quarter of the skein and much needed for my Flit and Float. At the end he handed me a tiny ball (it was fingering weight) and said simply, "Please don't do that again." I knew there was a reason I married him other than his good looks, charm and great sense of humor!

In the interest of not testing his love - is there a way of not doing this again? The yarn was wound with a regular ball winder and swift combo. I'm wondering if since I was pulling from the middle the yarn fell into the void and twisted around itself. I haven't had this happen before, but was it a fluke or does this sometimes happen? Should I put something in the middle to hold it open. If I do that, can I still use it as a center pull ball?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

tempting friends

The transition from freezing cold weather to just plain chilly but with the promise of warm weather soon sparked a bit of knitting limbo for me. Not quite a knitting slump, but in that direction. For months I'd been driven by a strong desire to knit warm things - hats, scarves, mittens and more scarves. Then suddenly it was gone. I still have two beautiful halfs of a scarf that need to be kitchnered! I've been keeping busy with the Flit and Float, but I had no vision beyond that. Nothing to drive me toward the next project. Until now.

My dear friend Allison, who gets me into all sorts of knitterly trouble has done it again. "We HAVE to knit this..." was the subject of the email with a link to a shawl called Ulmus. That's just what I needed - a good challenge. Step one was to find the right yarn. Perhaps for some this is the easiest part of the project. For me, it is potentially the most difficult. I know that I am going to have to live with this yarn for a very long time. I have a hard time letting go of things, even things I end up not liking all that much. If I get sick of the yarn midway through the project, it will sit unfinished in my drawer for years making me feel guilty every time I see it. Then there is the need to commit to a color. Sometimes, I can't find one I love and then other times I love so many I can't pick!
This time was different. I had just ten minutes to spend in the yarn shop since the rest of the family was waiting in the car after a long drive on our way to a party. It took me less than eight.

I saw the light blue and lavendar and fell in love with the combination. Individually, the yarns are gorgeous. Together, they are spectacular. The hand painted yarn is called Smooshy from It happens to be a superwash, although I didn't pay attention to that until after the purchase.

I can hardly wait to get started! In fact I can't believe I'm spending time posting this instead of casting on. But first, I am going to finish the flit and float. It's a fun pattern and I don't want it to turn into a UFO. Besides, this is probably my second favorite part of the project - that wonderful sense of anticipation when you have the yarn and the pattern but haven't hit the frustration of failing to read it properly. (My favorite part, of course, is when it's successfully done, being worn and winning compliments.)

When I was buying the yarn, I just thought I'd stumbled on a wonderful new combinaiton of colors. When I got, home, I discovered I'd encountered this combination before. It perfectly matches the material for my daughter's dinosaur dress. The too-cute, finally-finished one that she inexplicably won't wear! I added real button holes as she requested and trimmed it with satin, as she requested. It's a lovely addition to her closet, but you will note that this robs my of my favorite part of the project! (I'm not bitter! Much.)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

sew frugal? Not sew much

There was a time when I sewed to save money. I was just out of college and had more time than I could even imagine now on my hands and very little scratch. I took my pennies and bought a cheap sewing machine. Then I haunted the fabric sales and put together a stunning wardrobe (at least that's how I remember it).

It seems since then however, the world has gone all topsy turvy and now the price of the fabric alone is higher than the price of a finished garment! Never mind the thread, buttons, ribbons and rick rack to make it extra special.

I suppose it's still cheaper than buying something from a high end designer, but it's way more than the sale rack at Marshalls.

And still, I forge ahead because sewing is no longer just about saving money, I suppose. It's the satisfaction of taking a flat piece of cloth and turning it into a (hopefully) flattering skirt, shirt or dress. It's also about being able to make what I want the way I want, although I'm still working on that aspect of it.

This post is sparked, not surprisingly, by a trip to the fabric store. I'll admit that I'm not a math whiz, and that is part of my problem, but the bill was 30 percent more than I expected!

So here's my commercial:

one yard purple tinker bell fabric: $9 (at 25 percent off)
thread: $2.50
one spool of Bright green ribbon: $3.99
Happy child in swirly new dress: priceless

Monday, May 18, 2009

Too much floating not enough flitting?

The Flit and Float in the latest issue of Knitty grabbed my attention. (So did Shipwreck, but I know better than to go there!) The Flit and Float: So pretty, so light and airy, so intriguing. So complicated. So many charts and new techniques. But with warmer weather coming, I've lost my desire to knit in heavy wool, so this seemed like a good mid-season alternative.

I managed the Open Cast On with remarkable ease on the first try. The ruffles were simple, yet delightful. The picot bind off was a treat. Next came the bottom of the lace pattern, which also proved to be quite simple and very enjoyable. It uses double yarn overs. On the wrong side, you knit into the front of the first one and into the back of the second one. I was 18 rows into before I noticed that something didn't seem quite right. I looked closely to discover that the right side of the lace was the wrong side of the ruffles. I checked my directions - I clearly had started on the right side. I reviewed the charts. I'd followed that correctly as well. I thought perhaps I'd created a short row some where and frogged back to the beginning. I started off again and realized two rows into it as it was turning out what I had done wrong. The pattern says to add a stitch and follow the first row of chart A. It does not say to add a stitch and knit across the first row and then start pattern A!

Take two: I reknit the 18 rows and prepared to start back at the start of the pattern to repeat the chart 6 times, as the pattern says. Except, that's not what the pattern says. After two, three starts and puzzling about why it felt wrong, I read it again. It's possible that the words were changed after I read it the first time. But when I looked this time, it said to repeat rows 1 through 8 six times and then rows 9 through 18 once. Huh. Maybe that's why there is a big black line after row 8? (Duh).

Despite all the false starts and lack of discernable progress, I don't mind too much because the pattern is so gosh darned fun to knit!

The best part is that this pattern is the perfect showcase for some wonderful yarn my friend Holly Jo sent from Alaska. It's sock weight, but it begged to be made into a lace something or other.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sew long

I've gotten better in recent years about letting go of material that I don't think I'll ever use and yet there are still piles of it. Some of it is material I bought for a particular project that never happened. The rest is left overs - some large pieces some just bits and pieces. "You never know..." I think and leave it in the closet.

Maybe it's an unreasonable fear of not having something I'll need. Maybe I feel richer in being surrounded by stuff. Maybe it's a weak hope that having stuff will spark creativity. I think, however, it's doing just the opposite. I think I'm so bound by what I have that I'm not open to what I could have. If I haven't made the skirt in five (six?) years am I really ever going to? And isn't it out of style now already? I have two of those. Then there's the dress and top in a gorgeous burgundy - again, 5, 6 years? Maybe. But the small fleece squares I cut up for a quilt? In looking at them today I realized I'm still uninspired by them. Even worse, I feel slightly inadequate because I can't visualize turning them into an awe inspiring creation! Maybe it's time to let go.

Still it's hard, these things, these potential crafts are like my security blanket. I feel comforted thinking I can just reach into my closet and get what I need. But really, they aren't what I need and haven't been for awhile.

This tug-of-war that goes on over stuff is interesting to me. I know in my head that I can be happier with less. I've successfully decluttered before. There have been a few things I wish I'd kept, but I can't think of one right now, so how important could it have been?

On a side note - this may look like a picture of nothing special - but it is really a picture of hours and hours of puzzling and trying and retrying to thread the !@#$%^&*()__*&^^%$ serger! DH bought it for me 5 years ago after years of my lusting for one. Then 2 years ago, the now 3 yo mucked up the threads. What does it say about my life that it took me this long to getting around to fixing it! It's sort of done. At least I've got it to wrap threads around the edge of a cloth. Something's not quite right since it's not a smooth, even stitch. Maybe you can see in the middle of the picture. Regardless, I'm overjoyed to be this far along.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

How many readers

Does anyone know how to track readership in Blogger? I'm not totatlly technically inept, but I just can't figure this one out!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Sharing the love

You see these happy faces? They are filled with the joy of being a freshly minted sewer! Being surrounded by children so often, I realized I had a choice - neglect them and pursue my craft or drag them into it. Actually, there wasn't much dragging to be done - they came happily, hopping, skipping and swirling the sewing chair the whole way. We started with a very simple project - a drawstring purse made from a pattern created by folding a plain sheet of paper in half. All straight lines. We all had fun, but I've discovered that I do not want to be a home ec teacher! I just don't have the patience.