Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Random musings, good and bad

They are paving our street - it's the final stages of months of ripping up and rebuilding our street, which have meant us parking here there and everywhere, and dealing with a driveway that has been half ripped away, and sidewalks rebuilt. Friday, they started paving some of the driveways on our street, but by the end of day Friday, ours was still not done. Fine, we could deal with another weekend of half a driveway.

Saturday morning at 6:45am, yes, you read that time correctly, the whole house was shaking with the trucks rumbling down the street. Really? on a Saturday? Nice. The boy had a basketball game at 9am, so what the heck, I got up, showered and dressed so I could get the paper - Didn't really want to duck out in my jammies with all those guys up and down the street. I see a supervisor there, and mention that I will be leaving around 8:30, so please don't block me in - "no problem" he says. At 8:15 the boy and I go out to the car, and see fresh asphalt being dropped on my driveway, and a large piece of machinery at the base of it! WTF? I tell them that we have to leave, and they have to move, and I get "No, ma'am, you can't go anywhere for a couple of hours". Wanna bet? I see the supervisor down the way, and go get him - he's all apologetic, but still tries to tell me I can't go anywhere. As time ticks away, I finally convince them to lay down some plywood, and move the machinery, and I drive away, steamed. To be honest, I'm more worried that they're going to do a crappy job on my driveway after that little exchange, knowing that I'm not there to watch them. I'll give them credit, they did a good job, but I'm withholding final approval until they fix my lawn as well...

Thursday night, we had the school welcoming BBQ - the boy has the same teacher as last year, and he's finally in a straight grade 6 class after two years of split classes. We're happy about the teacher - she's great and knows exactly what he needs to stay involved. While talking to her, I was so pleased when she mentioned not only his physical growth, but his emotional growth - how mature he's become. She told me he's one of her "go-to kids" when she needs help from the class. I was happy, because I had seen his maturity over the summer, but wasn't sure it was obvious to anyone else. The kid continues to make me proud.

Time off is good. I've been able to spend some time on the house, which has been sorely ignored during the summer, since we were at the cottage all the time. Floors have been de-stickyfied, windows have become see-through again, and the spiders and their webs have been banished along with the dust hippos. (we're talking dust balls under the bed so big they could not be called bunnies by any stretch of the imagination.) Plus, I've been purging stuff bit by bit. The Goodwill drop off depot is my new favourite destination.

Last night I made an apple cake, using Robyn's recipe. Yummy! The only changes I made were to use a combination of Macintosh and Royal Gala apples (I find Macs alone a little too mushy sometimes - my favourite baking apple is Northern Spy or Mutsu - must go picking sometime), and I sprinkled large crystal Turbinado sugar on top with the cinnamon. It added a nice sparkle and crunch. Thanks for the recipe Robyn - it's a keeper.

Can I say how much I love So You Think You Can Dance? Love the host Cat Deeley, love the judges, love the dancers. Can I say how much I DISLIKE So You Think You Can Dance Canada? Don't get me wrong, I'm an extremely proud Canadian, and I think the dancers are beyond compare, and so ridiculously talented, but the host Leah Miller and the judges, especially Jean-Marc Genereaux and Tre Armstrong, have turned me right off this show. Leah Miller is all of 29, and has had so much plastic surgery and Botox, she can't move her face above her bottom lip. Seriously, only her jaw moves. But I realize that's superficial, however, her voice and everything else about her just grates on me. And Jean-Marc! Now, I'm used to Francophone speech and over exuberance - that's my Mom's entire family. But he's over the top annoying. It's too bad, but once Survivor moved to Wednesday in direct competition, SYTYCDC had no chance with me.

My absolute favourite show has got to be the Big Bang Theory. Love it, Love it, Love it! When Jim Parsons (Sheldon) won the Emmy, I was so pleased - he really deserved it - he plays such a great character.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

hell must have frozen over...

I have modelled shots!!

Don't be expecting many of these - I must have had a brain fart or something to allow myself to do this... and you have to deal with Sunday morning hair to boot...

First up - the Red Green Sweater. (notice the Brenda pose...) And seriously goofy grin - what IS that?
Up next, the Elsbeth Lavold Tappan Zee:
and finally, the sewn eyelet jacket I finished this weekend.It still needs a good pressing, and some shoulder pads to define the top line a bit. And looking at this picture, I should say it really does look better in person - Once it's pressed properly, it will be a nice dressier piece. I may add a frog closure or something, I'm not sure yet.

There was some other sewing as well - I whipped up a pair of pajama pants for myself - there's sheep on them! And wolves in sheep's clothing, but really soft, really comfortable cotton flannel. I wore them last night, and may never take them off...
There was also a couple of pairs of pajama pants for my son, but I'll save those for another post. It's amazing how much stuff I can get done when the boy is out playing with friends and the husband is off on a poker/golf weekend. Plus, he leaves for a business trip tomorrow for 3 days, so I should be able to get even more done!

Friday, September 24, 2010

the sewing haul

I ducked into Fabricland on Friday, to grab a couple of patterns, and maybe a knit or two. When I got there, they were having their three day member's sale, with many things half price. That threw my plans right out the window, and a bunch of money later...

Okay, there were some knits purchased. Three knits, to be exact. This patterned cotton jersey: and these two ponte romas:
The one on the left, while appearing red here, is actually a lovely pumpkin shade, and something that I had actually went there intending to buy. While she was cutting it for me, the salesperson raved about the fabric, and how nice it was to sew, how well it washed, and that it was her favourite of the moment. Well to me, word of mouth is the best sales tool, so I went back and got this mustard shade as well. Really, at 50% off, each cardigan will cost about $30 for a wonderfully heavy ponte knit. The drape on this is incredible, and I can't wait to sew with it.
There were patterns bought - these two for some simple tops (one a little summery, but hey, I plan on a Florida trip this winter, so...)

Plus another pattern that was bought specifically with the following fabrics in mind:

Both of these are suiting weight, again, both were 50% off, and impossible to resist.This camel coloured one is fleece weight, and soooooo soft. It's definitely going to make a great fall jacket - although I may go coat length on this - I bought enough fabric.This last one is labelled "mixed fibres", but I can feel some wool, and I think some silk, as well as some polyester for strength. Since it's going to be a jacket, I'm not worried about washing it - I will probably get it cleaned professionally, as I do most of my outerwear, Surprise, surprise, it has a border treatment - and eyelet embroidery that's about 8 inches high. I'm making the simple straight edged jacket, and yes, I've already started it. I only have the sleeves to add, so this should wrap up this weekend. Me, impatient? Well, maybe a little...
And finally, some cotton flannels for pajama pants for my son. From left to right, a baseball print, an I Love Canada print, red skull and cross bones, and piles of blue skulls. What can I say, he's 11, skulls are big thing.
Good thing I checked the pattern I use for him - his "growth spurt" this summer means I need to add 5 inches to these. He's so going to be taller than me in no time...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

where things stand

I've been working on a couple of cardigans - I know, I know, big surprise... The Rowan Tweed one is coming along - I need a couple more inches of length on the body, then there's sleeves and edge treatment. This time around, there should be plenty of yarn, so I'm very happy. Of course, that statement could come back and bite me on the ass, so we'll see.
I've also started a Featherweight style cardigan using the Noro Sekku I bought in Kitchener.

I'm loving the colours, and while the fabric being created is quite light, I have some ideas for it that may make it work. As the stripes are showing themselves, I'm thinking a simple dark brown dress will be the perfect complement to this sweater. Again though, it's still early, so I should be careful about making too many plans until more of this comes out.

I do have some plans for some sewing this weekend as well. And I have a very long weekend ahead of me - I'm not working until next Wednesday, due to some family things I need to take care of. (I love this freelancing thing, even though it's short term, until my next job comes up, which should be soon - we're just waiting on some legal things to clear up in the next couple of weeks). Susan and I have been discussing some patterns, and now I feel the need to make a trip to Fabricland and feed the sewing demon... Sorry Susan, I know our discussions were really to find you a great pattern, but I found a ton that I want to make! Plus, my son has requested some more pajama pants, so I have to restock my flannel and cotton supply...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

using what you've learned

This thread of thought came to me while I was leaving a comment for Brenda. (have you seen? She's written a sock book for Cabin Fever! Go see!)

Brenda had asked if I had to cut up my existing cardigans to get the pattern pieces for the new ones I've sewn. I didn't mostly because my Mom taught me well. In life, both of them taught me to be the person I am, and I can think of no better tribute to them than to be the best Me I can be.

But specifically, when it came to sewing - my Mom was the best teacher I ever had. She started showing me how to sew when I was about 8 years old, and always supported and believed in me. I took sewing in Home Ec all through school, and had to fight in high school to make something beyond the basic wrap around skirt. By that time, I was doing tailored pieces, so there was no way I was going to make a skirt style that I knew did nothing for me. The teacher actually wanted my mother to confirm that I could handle a more tailored item of clothing. To make a long story less tedious, I almost failed because the teacher did not believe I made what I did. (A slim fit dress with organza overdress for a wedding I was attending). (I was a jock in school, so slim fit dresses fit me better then than now...) My Mom actually came to the school to tell this teacher exactly what she thought of her and "yes, my daughter made the damn dress herself!" (I love my Mom.)

But the pattern drafting. Mom always says - find what looks good on you and use it. She often took existing items and modified them, using the best bits of each item. I learned to actually SEE a pattern, and know what parts of each piece needed to line up with the parts of the other pieces. So taking a sweater, and folding it in such a way as to see each piece is very easy for me. I admit, it's not easy for everyone, but then, not everyone has been sewing for 40 years, like I have.

I consider this both a blessing and a curse. The blessing part is obvious, but the curse? Seeing something I like, and having the first thought in my mind to be "Hmmm, I bet I could make that myself..." Sometimes, it's just easier and quicker to buy what you like!

Friday, September 17, 2010

It worked!

So I mentioned my love of cardigans. I wear them a lot - they're great layering pieces, and perfect for the casual lifestyle I lead.

I don't only wear knit ones, but sewn ones out of lightweight knit fabrics. I have two favourite styles - basic ones that button up the front, and a more drapey style, with no closures, but more fabric and a longer tail at the front.

Here's my go-to black one - I think I paid around $20 for it, and wear it often - usually with a black tank top and black cargo capris or shorts.
I took it and drafted a pattern for it (ugly Christmas wrapping paper makes great pattern paper).

Then I cut out some fabric I had bought, sewed it up, and here's the result:
One thing about this fabric - it was full of sizing when I bought it, since once washed, it was about half the weight that it was pre-washing.
I'm quite happy with this. I wouldn't have thought I would be, since it is so lightweight, but it really works well. So on that high, I took my other favourite sweater:
and came up with this:
I'm surprised by this fabric - I wasn't too hot on it at first, but it looks really good. Especially with a brown tank top layer, jeans and my brown suede boots. When I actually start wearing shoes other than flip flops, I'll even get a modeled shot for you. (the pattern does actually line up, it looks wonky here - probably because of the angle of the picture.
Oh, and the best part? Drafting, cutting the pattern, cutting the fabric, and sewing it up? Start to finish, 2 hours for each of them. What's not to love? I still have some more knit fabric - a great dark grey cotton lycra, and another beige and green based print, so I should have a couple more soon. Plus the hand and machine knit cardis I'm working on - looks like my cardigan wardrobe will be set for fall!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

much better...

The chartreuse Rowan has been reborn, and is proving itself to be much better suited to it's new incarnation.

It's actually a brighter green than shows here. I've joined the body after separating the sleeves, and I am loving how it is turning out. This yarn is fairly rustic, and suits a plainer knit than the Slinky Ribs pattern. I've left the edgings to the end, and haven't decided on them yet. I'm leaning towards an applied I-cord all the way around - it will add some weight to the edges without being fussy.

I seem to be in a cardigan frenzy - I bought some knit fabric to reproduce some favourite sewn cardigans - both buttoned and open fronted. I'll draft the patterns from the existing cardigans and go from there. They fit my lifestyle, which is becoming more and more casual, it seems. The previous job (still hanging on in a freelance capacity, as long as I want to keep it), was completely casual, five days a week. The potential new job will be a virtual office for a while, so working at home will mean I'll have to force myself out of the jammies in the morning. Casual cardigans over t-shirts or turtlenecks seem to be my self-appointed uniform. (When I'm not in a hoodie and sweats...)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

the Kitchener haul I paid for...

Yesterday I told you about what I traded for, todayis all about what I bought.

Tanis Fibre Arts Laceweight in the Midnight colourway. Stunning stuff - 2 skeins, each 1000 yds, enough for the Featherweight Cardigan.
Noro Sekku - a Cotton, Wool and Silk Blend - 5 balls each a little more than 400m. Again for a Featherweight style cardigan. Using Noro with it;s wild colours will either be a fabulous sweater or an epic fail. I'm hoping for the fabulous success...
Kid Silk from Clever Cat. Each skein is softness personified, and about 430 metres each. They are 60% kid mohair and 40% silk. The pink is for my Mom, and the black and silver is for someone else - not sure who, but it will speak to me soon. Headwater Wool in Daina (chunky weight). I'm planning a variation of the Freyja cardigan. I don't want it qhite so long, so I may make this top down, and use the floral yoke pattern. The sweater will be in the dark green, and the flowers will be in the orange and gold - orange around the outside, gold in the middles.

A fabulous mug from Soaring Studios. She's in Newmarket! That's really too close for my credit card's comfort, but her prices are so reasonable - I can see a collection starting - especially one of her yarn bowls... This mug is really too big for coffee (even at the quantity I drink), but I couldn't resist. I may keep needles in it, or I may use it as a water mug near my computer.

A Habu kit with paper linen and stainless steel yarn that I won as a draw prize. The draw prizes were pick of the table,and by the time my name was called, the table was pretty picked over, so I ended up withthis. There isn't enough of the stainless yarn for me to make soemthing else, so I'm not sure if this will ever come to fruition.

There was also a Gnome needle felting pattern (I seem to be addicted to gnomes), and some great buttons, also from Soaring Studio. (She also makes stich markers and other knit friendly items...)
And I wondered how much I could knit on the trip there and back on the bus - turns out I can get an entire neckwarmer for my son done. I made this up on the fly, and he seems to like it, although it's a little bit tight. But the flare at the bottom is good (It sits on the shoulders perfectly), so I'll crank out another few with a few more stitches added. All in all, another great trip. I enjoy the Kitchener fair for everything it offers - great vendors and great people. It's also nice to spend time with Susan - we don't see each other often, having mostly an email based friendship. It was also nice to get sompliments on my Tappan Zee cardigan - in a room full of knitters, you know they will pick out the hand knits!

Can't wait until next year - with any luck I'll have a couple of these projects knit up by then...

Monday, September 13, 2010

going to stretch it out...

Kitchener (or the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitting Guild Knitter's Fair) was, as always, fabulous. I met my Guild compatriots Saturday morning, and we boarded our charter bus. One more stop for a few more knitters, and we were off. With less construction and little traffic, we made good time, arriving by 10am. We met up with blogless Susan, and she and I did a little trading - she was destashing yarn, and I was destashing scrapbooking stuff, so we traded a bunch.
Susan gifted me with all that sock yarn up top - there's Trekking, Panda, and Fleece Artist. She also gave me bags of stuff to see if I could get rid of for her with the Guild, but Susan, I ended up keeping the Pink Shine Sport, Brown Shine Sport (not shown),assorted other sock yarns, and 2 balls of fluffy Noro, so I owe you some more scrapbooking stuff! The pink and brown Shine sports, a cotton/modal blend, will become sweaters. And because I'm not that fond on handknitting a sweater's worth of cotton, I think I will be dusting off the trusty LK-150 knitting machine and my Sweater Wizard software, and making up some cardigans.
The fluffy Noro (it's not Kuryeon, maybe Taiyo??) is lusciously soft, and with the two balls and muted grey and brown tones (with a splash of turquoise), will make a terrific men's scarf, using the ubiquitous 2 row rib pattern. Not for my husband, mind you - that splash o turquoise would turn him off...
Susan - much of the other sock yarn will go to my Mom, who has taken up sock knitting again, never gets around to buying herself good yarns. She will love you for this!
One thing - I looked and looked for Marlyce, and Brenda, and everyone else I wanted to meet up with - missed all of you! I did see Wannietta, but that's because she was on our bus - she looks fantastic, and has a tough road of Chemo ahead of her - go give her some love - she's a survivor, and I can't wait to see what she comes up with next!
Next post - what I bought at Kitchener...

Thursday, September 09, 2010

so, who's going to Kitchener?

This post is specifically aimed at knitters in Southern Ontario. Saturday is the Kitchener Waterloo Knitters Guild Knitters Fair. This is the day when the fall knitting season really begins, as far as I am concerned.
I'll be heading down by bus as usual - The York Region Guild and the Barrie Guild always charter a bus - it means knitting time there and back, and no traffic hassles.
I'm meeting Lucky there - we shop, we have lunch, then she leaves, and I shop some more until the bus leaves.
I've got some patterns that I want to find wool for, and I've "shopped my stash" so I don't duplicate what I may already have. I'm trying to stay away from single balls of anything, unless there is a fabulous pattern for it. Sweaters-worth quantities are the plan.
I'll be wearing my blue Tappan Zee cardigan, and carrying my bright yellow I KNIT messenger bag. Say hi if you see me!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

just made it...

I finished the Tappan Zee Cardigan, and was able to extend the sleeves to bracelet length instead of the short sleeves the pattern shows.
And see that little nifkin of yarn at the bottom? All 1 metre of it? That was what I had left over after casting off the bottom. I JUST made it...Can I say a few things about this? I love working with Elsbeth Lavold Silky Wool. Love it. Love. It. Is now definitely one of my favourites to work with.
I also loved this pattern. Top down (my favourite way to work), cardigan style, easy to modify by lengthening the sleeves. Instead of casting off when separating sleeves from body, I left the sleeve stitches live on waste yarn, and then knit down with the last ball of wool I had. (I split the yarn by weight - gotta love the digital scale!) I had a half ball of wool in reserve to ensure the sleeves were even, then used it to get as much length in the body as I could.
And, best of all, it fits, it looks great, and it's finished in time for me to wear it on Saturday to the KW Knitters Fair!

And the reason I"m happy that it fits and looks good is this:
Yup. There's the Rowan Wool Slinky Ribs sweater. Or what WAS the Rowan Wool Slinky Ribs sweater. It didn't look good, I didn't have enough wool to make the sleeves the length I wanted, and really, the wool was too rustic for the design. My mother in law almost had a stroke watching me unwind the whole thing on the weekend. She could not understand why I would do that. I asked her why I would keep an unattractive sweater that I would never wear. I didn't want to give it away because I loved the wool and wanted it for myself. She understood the logic, but still - it pained her to see "all that work" go away. Not me. It just freed up some beautiful wool for me to make something I will love and use.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

decisions, decisions...

I have to make a decision about the Rowan Sweater. I love the wool, I love the colour. I hate the fact that I can't get long sleeves (not enough wool), and I'm unsure about the style.

So, I either suck it up and take an hour to finish something I don't really like and won't wear, or I frog it, and use the yarn I love for something I love.

Yeah, that's an easy decision. Look for a pile of chartreuse Rowan Yorkshire Tweed soon. I may even have a pattern in mind for it...

Then there's Tappan Zee. I do love this one. (I really believe I'm better suited to making cardigans rather than pullovers - I wear them constantly, whereas pullovers are a rarer thing for me to wear). This Silky Wool is more blue than the gray that shows here - it's the colour of perfectly faded jeans that are soft and comfortable. The actual pattern is a short sleeved cardigan, ending right where you break the yoke into sleeves and body. I have enough wool to get some sleevage - I divided the ball I had left (gotta love the digital scale!) and started the sleeves. Since they are knit from the top down, I can knit until I run out - I'm going to get at least a 3/4 length sleeve, if not full length, so I'm happy about that.

There's one final decision to make, and it concerns Red Green. I've avoided trying it on, as the plan was for it to be a gift for a good friend at Christmas. Last night I tried it on. Sigh. Not only does it fit me perfectly, the colour is spectacular on me, and the it looks great.

So, do I give it away, or keep it?

(Actually, I'm leaning to option 3 - make another one! I have some blue wool for one, and it's virtually the same colour as Tappan Zee. Sue looks great in blue as well as red... But I'll probably just give her the red one, and make another red one for me - this one was always going to be for her... Then there's also the cream coloured wool for one, and man, would it look good in black or grey... Must order more Briggs and Little Wool... Decisions, decisions...)