How to drive someone crazy from 1100 miles away

26 January 2008

Look! I can be taught! (But only by myself...)

Do we ever have news! And pictures, to boot!

First up, the blocking board came in the mail. Hurrah! These are the pillows I took that entrelac class for (way back in September, I know. Shut up.), stretching themselves into 14x14 squares like little yogis. And breathe....

No, I haven't stitched them together and put in the pillow forms yet, what's it to ya? You can see I decided on single row stripes for the top right one and some mitering while carrying two yarns together for the bottom left, for anyone who recalls me wondering what I wanted to do with them.

Also, I can scratch "First Sewing Machine Project" off my goals for the year. Next up is "Second Sewing Machine Project".

I chose to make a tote bag. Mostly because I wanted a fancy pants knitting bag and couldn't find one in my price range that I actually liked. However, can you classify a large tote bag with no interior or exterior pockets as a fancy pants knitting bag?

If it has some kicky beaded fringe, you can.

Here I am basting something.

Here I am machine stitching something.

And here's the finished product. Tres chic, non?

Fringe detail. I was a little camera happy for a change. I am thinking of slip-stitching the fringe a little tighter, but for now I'm just happy it's done and that I learned.

Yes, there are mistakes, and no, I'm not telling you where they are. Let's just say that someone who doesn't know what they are looking for won't be able to find them.

So I hear a fully lined and interfaced bag made of slicker-than-snot brocade and poly-silk* with a decorative band and beaded fringe detail is not actually a beginner's sort of project, but the last time I listened to the "rules" about that sort of thing, I failed miserably (can anyone say first garter stitch scarf that ended in divorce?). I say, if the end product is something you are going to enjoy using and showing off to your friends (which I already have to many oohs and aahs), then you should go for whatever strikes your fancy. I think I learned a hell of a lot more from trying to figure out what the frack interfacing was and how one works with it than I would have if I'd tried stitching straight lines on paper. Don't get me wrong, I practiced plenty of straight lines and curves (I stole a pile of cotton napkins from work, shhh, don't tell), practiced pivots, read books and blogs and instructions until I thought my eyes would fall out. I bought an entire sewing box full of the recommended goodies and taught myself the use of them all. Then I figured "to hell with all this research" and found myself a lovely book from which to teach myself hands-on (my preferred method of auto-didacticism). If you are thinking of taking up sewing as a hobby, this book is freaking awesome. Diana Rupp writes with personality that never makes you feel like you're being taught as much as guided (very similar to Debbie Stoller's style in Stitch n Bitch). She has a voice that talks to you rather than instructs, and this book never reads like a textbook. She's got some cutey patootey patterns included with the book (one of which is going to be the above-mentioned Second Sewing Machine Project), and her instructions are very thorough. She makes no bones about how the prep work is going to take a lot longer than the actual assembly, and has given me a new appreciation for Martha Stewart's task-mastering with her little tips in a box labelled WWMD? (What would Martha do?). Those little boxes made me giggle while keeping myself organized and neat.

I just want to know, why doesn't she have a show on DIY Network yet? Why isn't she on Styleicious?

*not a real fabric, but slippery-ass polyester blend woven to look like raw shantung silk that I took the liberty of re-naming. You're welcome.

11 January 2008

There ought to be some theme music

For something this freaking great.

Dudes, seriously. You are about to see TWO finished sweater projects on the same blog post from yours truly.
(I'll pause while you squeal with excitement and disbelief)

I know, I feel the same way!!

So, here's the Eyelet Cardigan, bought as a Blue Sky Alpacas kit from kpixie. Seriously, go shop there. They have nice stuff and nice people to sell it to you, and they were a little involved in sweater #2 we will be featuring next.

Did you enjoy my dimples? That's how excited I am to have this sweater; the usual smirk has left my face and left nothing but a sh!t-eating grin behind.

And because I don't think you can quite get enough of it, here's the rear view, with the extra added bonus of my sexy booty.

I do have one issue with it; it's a little big. However, it's knitted cotton, so I think a quick turn in the clothes dryer will shrink it up a little. Tell me if you think I'm wrong.

Just when you thought it couldn't get any better...

I finished Skully (SnB) for Yoshi.

Just look at all that handsomeness, modelling that slightly lumpy sweater (no, it hasn't been blocked yet, I was too excited to take photos while it was still light out).

Yes, he's goofy; yes, he's dorky; yes, he's mine all mine. He obliged me with a shot of the intarsia.

Oh, how I love that man o' mine.

This thing was a total pain in the arse. I actually can't believe Yoshi hasn't fallen down yet, because it weighs something like ninety pounds. I ran out of yarn on the sleeves, made modifications I wish I had never considered, ripped and reworked the neck two-three-five times. But he actually likes it, which I did not at all anticipate. It's not exactly Florida-appropriate, and will be a total bastard to wash (which is why blocking is on the back burner), but he liked the way it looked, and didn't find it particularly itchy. I am flabbergasted.

And if he doesn't really like it, well, damn that boy's convincing and bless his little pea-pickin' heart for wanting me to feel good about it!

Holy ballwinders, that's a lot of in front of the TV knitting. Pardon me while I catch my breath...

Okay, so now that's out of my life. What's next, kiddies? Well, stash overhaul, of course! I think once I get sorted (in a week or two), I'll post all the leftovers here and on the Knitty Coffeeshop Forum and if anyone out there in blogland wants 'em, you can let me know. And I'll send you some loverly Dragon Treasure forthwith.

Oh, crapola, I just realized I have nothing on my needles*. Just look what the WGA strike has done to me.

*nothing on the needles does not mean I have nothing that needs finishing work or blocking, so calm down, I'm not going to die.

05 January 2008


Anyone making New Years' Resolutions out there? Seriously? Why would you wait till now to change your life? Why didn't you just do it when you first thought of it?

Okay, enough of that. I have a few things on my list. I usually don't care at all for this type of thing because I feel that if you want to change, you shouldn't need a special occasion to change upon, you should just change, otherwise you are prolonging your bad habit and will therefore make it that much harder to quit doing whatever it is you do that makes you so damn annoying.

For example, I have "quit smoking on my birthday" every birthday for the last five birthdays. See, in my head, I am self-justified by saying " I don't want to be a thirty year old smoker", but the truth is, I was only twenty-nine years and one day. The difference between one day to another does not make you a full year older; it's a gradual process. As is quiting smoking, apparently, because I am now a thirty-one year old smoker. However, I keep my smoking to a minimum (no more than four cigarettes per day, most days it's three) and have done some research. The scientific fact of the matter is, as little as I smoke is not enough to raise the toxicity levels in my body to a harmful level. At my current rate of consumption, I'd be worse off if I lived in New York City or LA, simply due to environmental hazards in the air. So it's not that I think I'm going to die before I reach thirty-two, or that I am desperately concerned for my pocketbook that the two packs of cigarettes I buy per week (if that) is eating into my stash money. It's that I think Yoshi deserves to go to bed next to someone who doesn't stink. So this is the year I am going to knock this bad habit out of me for good. Get ready for the crankiness to go up a notch or two, because I find that less than two cigarettes a day does put me on edge. I'm sure you will work with me on that.

Next up is the stash. The stash is out of control. I want to be that knitter who has only one drawer of stash, not four (they're really, really big drawers). I feel I am being wasteful by having so much. I also feel that whenever I buy yarn, I am making a commitment to it, to turn it into something useful and beautiful that I actually wanted. I don't want a pile of pretty string, I want knitted things! So really, it has to go by way of knitting it as much as I can. Which may or may not help with the quitting smoking. It must get re-organized, then thrown out, donated or knitted. Again, it's a process, and one I've been talking about for too, too long.

There's another little something on my horizons for this year as well. About two years ago, I bought myself a nice sewing machine. I have no idea how to use it. This year, I am going to learn how to sew simple garments, bags and housewares. This has already been started by buying up a few books at the Barnes and Noble, as well as a pattern for a bag I really want to make. So, the self-teaching is coming back. I figure I taught myself to refinish furniture, knit, built myself a dining room table out of two stained glass windows and sheer force of will, can hang wallpaper and decoratively paint any wall, fix my coffee maker, repaired my couch numerous times, taught myself to bind books, embroider, hand sew stuffed critters out of discarded socks, hey, how tough can teaching myself a machine really be? I am going to do my best to make my sewing machine a little more useful. Even if it means asking the nice girl I work with to come over and show me what to do. I know, socialization, too. What will I think of next?
Is three enough? Quit smoking entirely, bust the stash once and for all, and create a learned return on the investment of my sewing machine? Yeah, that's enough. Let's not get crazy, here.

Next time, pictures of the Eyelet Cardigan, which is quite finished and ready for it's photo shoot, but I am personally in no fit state for picture taking. Maybe I should resolve to get out of bed before one in the afternoon.