finally finished

It seems I've taken to posting monthly.  I will need to work on being better about that.

I finally finished sewing my bag of the summer — just days before September.  I started it way back in June, about a week before my vacation; but about 2/3 the way from completion my sewing machine started making a horrible noise.  So I decided that was Life (or something) telling me to put away working on the bag and start doing all that other stuff on my list to prep for vacation (you know like get the house clean, have clean laundry to pack, make sure Dog is set for his kennel visit).  When I got back I took the machine in to the shop and they tried to recreate the noise with absolutely no luck so it came back home with me.  But of course I still thought it was making that awful noise when I worked on the bag, it must have had something to do with sewing through 4 layers of canvas instead of 1 layer of corduroy like they did at the shop.  Anyway, earlier this week the bag was staring at me and I decided I was either going to finish it or thoroughly break my machine trying.  All in all I spent part of 4 different days working on this bag (one of them I was even helping a friend learn how to make her own tarot card draw-string bags).

The pattern is Wasp Bag from  Machen/Machen and it's free :)  I didn't totally follow her instructions, partially because I envisioned the straps and horizontal band differently than she did and partially I just mixed up the order of process to suit me (I made the straps last for example – oh I also did the interior pocket differently) but I loved the shape and am happy with the bag.  It was my first time installing a magnetic snap and the first time I put a zipper ala Creative Little Daisy's Zippered Pocket Tutorial (of course I changed that a bit too, making the pocket a loose stand alone pocket just stitched in at the top).  This was also my first time using fusible fleece interfacing; I felt it was a little bulky around some of the seams but I like the shape and relaxed body it gives.  Nothing bugs me like a clear outline of purse contents in a flimsy fabric purse and so far the interfacing keeps this at bay.

I bought the purse-body fabric almost two years ago (at JoAnn's when they had a nice 45" canvas section), meaning to make a small messenger bag out of it – but then I found my go-to, very PNW Overland bag that was exactly the size I wanted and had many of the features I wanted as well as marked down because it was a discountinued colorway and my nearly signature lime-green.  So I was happy when I saw the wasp bag pattern and realized this fabric would go great.  The straps are made from leftover green canvas bought last summer at Ikea for a summer picnic blanket (that project, sadly is still waiting to be finished).  I wish I knew the name of the blue lining fabric (a quilting cotton) so I could buy more of it since I love it.  The orange polka-dot fabric was some scrap fabric hanging around.

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August 28, 2008. Tags: , , , . Thoughts. 1 comment.

Socks in just under a year

According to my Ravelry project page I started these Charade Socks in August 2007.  Yikes.  That said, socks are my whenever-on-going-travel project and so do not get high priority in the knitting queue most of the time.  And I had to knit about 2.3 socks to get 2 socks (I had to rip out 3 to 4" of the first sock because it was too small and dense).  Also, I am very happy to learn that when I mostly knit on a sock it only takes me about 1 month, I cast on sock number two on June 19 and managed to get a measly 2 inches (if that) done during my six hour flight.  Anyway, I plugged away, knitting just a few rows a day here and there.  Last weekend when we went camping I was just starting the gusset and somehow during those 4 days managed to knit up to the toe.  Wow!  I actually needed to tink back 6 rows due to knot believing I'd get anywhere near that much knit and not bringing the needed info (sock #1 foot length and the toe shaping instructions).  So I finished up the toe earlier this week and just wove in my ends today.

 I hate weaving in ends.  I'm also pretty crappy at doing so, but muddled through it.  I do have to say it was a lot easier when I stopped using the large blue plastic tapestry needle and started using the smaller, bent tip Chibi needle. For some reason sock #2's stitch pattern has a lot more definition than sock #1.  Hopefully it will even out once I wash and wear them.

pattern: Charade
needles: 5" size 2 dpns (the 5" needles are great, except when all the gusset stitches have been picked up)
yarn: Crystal Palace Panda Wool (46% bamboo, 43% wool, 11% nylon) in color 9628 Periwinkle – 2 balls

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July 28, 2008. Tags: , , . Thoughts. 2 comments.

Recycling center

For the past 9 years I've lived in places where I do not have curbside recycling pick-up.  Luckily I've always had access to a recycling center of some sort.  However many recycling centers/containers are designed for those with curbside pickup.  For a long time we've made do with multiple paper bags to hold all the recyclables.  It got messy and cluttered.  When we used a single trash can we had to sort into bags before walking it to the recycle center.

Long story short I have settled on this solution:  wire shelf on casters from Bed, Bath & Beyond (not quite the right size but at 1/3 the cost of perfect-size shelf it was close-enough), and hanging bags from s-hooks.  I just had to sew the bags – I planned on using canvas but then I was walking through Ikea and saw the big blue bags and remembered how people (like Africankelli) were re-fashioning them into other bags.  So I bought one big blue bag hoping it would be enough for two smaller bags.  I grabbed my seam ripper and ripped out the bottom and side seam as well as the handles.  I cut the side piece in half, then determined how big my bottom of each bag could be and cut two bottoms from the original bag bottom.  I cut the long straps in half for two sets handles plus cut the short straps up to attach d-rings for hanging.

These two bags hold so much more than the one bin that fit on that shelf plus I'm not worried about rogue liquids weakening paper bags.  The handles are also much more comfortable than when I carried a very full paper bag. Success for less than $30.  The added bonus is that it holds the washcloths and hand towels I keep at the door to wipe muddy, wet Dog paws (and legs and belly and back and tail) and the top functions as a landing strip for mail and keys and such when we walk in the door.

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May 22, 2008. Tags: , , . Thoughts. 4 comments.


I have a lot of fears.  And they keep me from far too much too often.  Okay, that sounds a little drastic, and it isn't quite that drastic.  In college I used to joke that I had a high sense of self-preservation when I wouldn't jaywalk across the 5 lane road that separated my dorm from the rest of campus, of course by my junior year of crossing this street daily I had no problems crossing half-way in between the two crosswalks or waiting in the median for the other traffic direction to clear.

But I really didn't mean to go all deep with this post.  I just took a little dip into one of my sewing fears – invisible zippers (and ruining lovely fabric).  I've had intentions of sewing a couple pillow covers for the two extra pillows that didn't really have a home (but would look nice on the office futon if covered).  I found the fabric last fall and even measured and cut it out.  Pillows. Four seams.  Except, being me, I had to make it difficult.  I used contrasting fronts and backs and I wanted a zipper so it would be easy to remove the cover for washing.  And a regular zipper would look odd along a seam and I didn't want a designated front and back so that meant using an invisible zipper.

I've been wanting to tackle invisible zippers for a while now – except I couldn't find much instruction on how to insert an invisible zipper.  Tutorials abound for the regular zipper (despite the fact that every sewing reference book I've seen has instructions and instructions come with many regular zippers).  I didn't have any manufacturer's instructions with my purchased invisible zips.  Luckily I had one invisible zipper tutorial bookmarked and I did remember reading another set of directions somewhere.  Plus I realized that I might not like the pillow covers as originally envisioned but the fabric would make a very cute doll-sized quilt if the pillow covers failed.

So I jumped in… and finished the pillow cases:

They aren't perfect, and they don't fit perfectly but close-enough counts this time.  I also finally got around to clearing the futon and covering it with my old chenille bedspread and placed the teddy bear my grandmother made for me on it.  I should make the teddy a new collar though.

(side note: it turns out that I did this project about 3 weeks ago and it just took me that long to clear the bed to be photograph worthy)

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May 22, 2008. Tags: , . Thoughts. Leave a comment.

FO: Retro Redux Shrug

All done.  I skimped out on a couple things since I was knitting on a deadline.  I started knitting this on February 20th with the intentions of wearing it to a friend's wedding on March 15th.  I finished the shrug on the second leg of my flight to the wedding locale on March 13th and then weaved in the ends from the last ball of yarn at the hotel that night.  I maintain my general rate of no more than 1 ball of yarn per week (blargh).

Stats: Retro Redux Shrug from Lace Style; 3 entire balls of Karabella Aurora 8 yarn; Bryspun needles in size 8, 9, 10 and 10 1/2 (oh and a 2x" bamboo needle in size 8 for the collar); long tail cast-on and basic cast-off (I think there was a better choice but I ran out of research time); I downsized the pattern in wing-span length but not cast-on numbers.

I'm pretty happy with it, though I think it stretches a wee bit much over my shoulders making them feel unnecessarily wide and while it didn't keep me quite warm enough in the very cold room where the ceremony took place, I got quite warm while dancing at the reception and by the end of the night it started to fall off one of my shoulders.  I loved knitting with Aurora.  I plan on wearing the shrug again as soon as it gets warm enough (dratted cold weather) and while I have lots of knitting on my to do list I would be interested in knitting this pattern again.  It was dead easy to follow, though I would have liked more guidance on the right cast-on & cast-off choices.  I struggled and worried about the fit as well.  I ended up taking away like 4 inches from the smallest size wingspan (distributing those 4 inches between the various sections) which was a very good idea for me otherwise the cuffs would have been below my elbows (of course there is the excessive stretching across the shoulders…).

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April 22, 2008. Tags: , , , . Thoughts. 2 comments.

Sheldon is done

I just realized that this is my first finished object of the year.  Wow.  I'm totally slacking.  Well, my first knit finished object, I've sewn a few things.

So check out TurtleButt!

He has a body and clothes and legs and everything.  I sewed the last two legs on at my knit night last night.  Leave it to wanting oohs and ahhs over a cute knitted toy to get my project finished.  Tonight I plan on dragging TheHusband to the bookstore to buy some board books for my nephew then we can pack up and send the birthday present.

I knit Sheldon with the recommended yarn, Knitpicks Shine Sport, but with slight color tweaks using green apple (his body) and butter (his shell) instead of grass and green apple.  Additionally you can see that I decided to make his bottom shell the same color as his top shell and use the turtle body color for the contrast color.  I knit this on US 3 needles because I didn't own any size 4 dpns at the time.  Despite the 5 or 6 page printed pattern it wasn't difficult, you just need to be comfortable with dpns, increases and decreases (or be ready to learn increases and decreases), and it didn't take too much knitting time.  I started knitting around February 2 and had all the pieces done by February 17 my problem is that is didn't work on it consistently but took multi-day long breaks.

What I will do differently next time:

  • stuff his body in intervals as it was no fun to stuff his boy through the tiny neck opening
  • stuff his shell even less
  • leave longer tails after the cast-off of the legs to use for sewing
  • leave a slightly bigger neck opening
  • follow the pattern's advice regarding the i-cord
  • I'd also like to learn a better way to seam the beginning of the i-cord to the end of the i-cord

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February 28, 2008. Tags: , , , , . Thoughts. 1 comment.