Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Spinning wheel transaction complete

As I write this, the Ashford wheel is in my car. I'm completely thrilled. It's smaller and more portable than I imagined it would be, which is a good thing.

It's obvious this is an older model Ashford that although it hasn't spun much wool, it may have spent its life as a decorative piece and probably has been through a few moves. The treadle is missing a bit of veneer, for example. But overall it looks in great condition. I didn't look it over that closely because even if it's missing a part, and I don't believe it is, it's still a bargain at $50. The woman told me it had a few hours on it and that she bought it as a student (and she's older than me, so unless she went to school recently...). She's very happy it's going to a good home and so am I! She even gave me the wool she never finished spinning so I have something to start with.

On the sewing front, I got cracking on a few Christmas presents last night by tracing off the patterns and cutting out one of them. My top secret list of handmade Christmas presents is:

  • ______ _____ and ___ for knitting meetup gift exchange - done

  • _____ ____ and ___ for sewing guild neighborhood group gift exchange - partially complete

  • _____ for ______ - done

  • ______ for ___ - partially done

  • _____ for _____ - pattern traced

  • ______ for ___ - fabric cut out

And I'm still knitting a baby gift, but it doesn't have to be done for Christmas and wouldn't be anyway. I work on it while watching TV or during the knitting meetups.

December is going to be very busy.

      Tuesday, November 29, 2005

      Oh my

      This was offered today on our workplace "flea market" for $50. Ashford spinning wheel. With accessories. Never used.


      Like I need another hobby. But how could I pass it up? And it wasn't me who saw the ad, it was my husband. He remembered the brand of wheel from the lamb and wool festival we went to. He IM'd me about it.

      [14:15] DH: (sends URL to look at ad)
      [14:17] me: wow - super price!
      [14:17] DH: that's what I thought
      [14:17] DH: if you're interested in one...
      [14:17] me: hmmmm
      [14:17] me: would be kinda cool
      [14:18] me: not sure where I'd put it
      [14:18] DH: just thought I'd let you know. There's lots of other stuff on the Flea Market today
      [14:21] me: I think I want it...

      Took me all of 4 minutes to think about it!

      I called and it was still available. I left a message with his wife. Perhaps I'll be trying my hand at spinning tomorrow night.

      Nov 29 update: After a voicemail message that apparently went nowhere (or to someone else's phone) and an email to the wife, she called me back. She'll bring the wheel tomorrow. I can't believe she's selling this wheel so cheaply. I almost feel like I should offer more money. Almost. She was pleased that I'm excited about it and plan to use it. I am excited about it. What an early Christmas present!!

      Tuesday, November 22, 2005

      It's about time

      LED Christmas lights! Hooray! I can decorate the house with lights for less energy and for much cheaper than before.

      They're made by Phillips. They're on sale right now at Target for about $10 for a 20ft strand of 60 lights. Yes, they're more expensive than the regular energy guzzling kind, but I'll feel better about lighting up the house every night.

      Now if they'd just come out with an affordable fiber optic-lit Christmas tree that was larger, had sturdy branches for ornaments and was not so gaudy looking, I could replace my 20 year old 4ft artificial tree.

      It's a secret

      I can't show what I've been making because I'm working on gifts. I'll have to remember to take pictures before I wrap them up so that I can show pictures after Christmas. I always enjoy making gifts and I hope the recipients like handmade items as well. Unfortunately it drives me batty at this time of year because I try to do too much. And every year I vow to start those Christmas presents early but it never happens.

      Thursday, November 17, 2005

      Well I'm still not buying the yarn...

      I just saw that Joanns changed back to 10% off of 8 skeins or more. But the free shipping coupon expired yesterday. And why was I even looking at Joanns after my last, ranting post? Well, they just emailed me coupons for 50% off of one item and I was curious if it would mean 50% off of all 15 skeins or one skein. It's off only one. Ok, I still don't need to buy that yarn and I must stop thinking about it.

      Joanns - you lose!

      Yesterday I was very close to buying the yarn to make that coat, despite my list of of why I don't need to buy it. In a moment of weakness, I put the yarn in my online shopping cart and entered my free shipping coupon and...wait a minute. The total came up $3.00 more than the day before when I put the yarn in the shopping cart. What??? Then I realized that Joanns changed their offer! Earlier in the week they offered an additional 10% off for orders of more than 8 skeins. Yesterday they changed it to 5% off. My email from them, which announced the sale, also said 10% off for more than 8 skeins. I realize it's only a $3.00 difference but it's because they changed their offer that I will not buy the yarn. I suppose if I really, really wanted this yarn, I would call them to complain and insist they give me the 10% deal, but I took this as a sign to not buy the yarn.

      It's also another reason why I dislike Joanns. Thankfully they're not the only fabric store in town and certainly not the only one on the internet. Thank goodness. Why do I dislike Joanns? Oh, let me count the ways:
      • They don't carry much, if any, quality fashion or quilting fabric. If you want cheap, garishly printed fleece, Joanns is the place.
      • Their stores are almost always a mess and fabric gets trampled on and dirty
      • The manager at my local store is a awful - I've witnessed her chew out employees and she complains about stuff to customers
      • They hire employees who don't sew and can't help customers
      • They measure and cut fabric poorly, sometimes resulting in pieces that are short of what you asked for and paid for
      • Their store policies prevent employees from doing anything nice that will ensure repeat business. I recently bought some end-of-the-bolt sale fabric which was in two pieces. One piece was 2 7/8 yards and the other piece was just about a yard. I was charged full price for the 1 yard AND the additional 4 inches on the piece. A good fabric store might give me an additional discount for that remnant, not charge me for 1.11 yards. Sheesh.
      • They stock a lot of cheap, holiday decorating crap
      • They've started to carry their own line of notions, which look to be inferior in quality
      • It takes forever for them to put out the new patterns
      • Their trim selection is pathetic
      • They discriminate based on location - depending on where you live, you get either a 40% or 50% coupon in your mailer. I get 40%.

      The only good thing about them are their pattern sales and the coupon. I've used those coupons to buy most of my Gingher scissors, well at least the scissors they have in stock, which aren't many. I wait for pattern sales to buy Vogue, Simplicity, McCalls and Butterick patterns. They also carry Burda for 50% off. But if I need thread or zippers or binding tape, I'd rather go to Hancock's.

      So you lose, Joanns and another store will win because the $54 (and not $57) I was going to spend at your store will be spent on yarn somewhere else.

      Wednesday, November 16, 2005

      To knit or not to knit

      When the Vogue Knitting Fall 2005 issue came out this coat caught my eye:

      I think it caught my eye because it's white and reminds me a bit of this jacket that I sewed because they both have the same "nubbiness":

      I didn't seriously think about making the coat for a number of reasons:
      • I have lots of yarn projects already
      • I don't want my yarn stash to approach my ridiculously huge fabric stash
      • I have lots of wool fabric from the above mentioned fabric stash suitable for any number of coats, why should I knit one?
      • I have a long gray sweater "coat" I bought and don't wear all that often
      • It will take a long time to knit
      • A size large takes 15 100 gram balls of Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick & Quick, so $6 x 15 = 90 - I could make a nice sweater out of better yarn for that money
      • I'm not sure I need another coat

      And then Joanns had to go and put the yarn on sale, with free shipping. $3.60 a ball is much more enticing. I was thinking about making it in this reddish brown color that has bits of other colors in it:

      What to do. What to do...

      Tuesday, November 15, 2005

      I'm back

      You didn't know I was gone because it was a surprise. My husband and I flew across the country to attend a surprise 75th birthday for my mom. She was certainly surprised to see us! Thankfully her heart withstood the shock. We had a wonderful time and the weekend went by much too quickly. On Sunday we visited the World War II and Vietnam memorials in DC. I took loads of pictures and hope to get some up on Flickr soon.

      And speaking of pictures, here's some free advertising for Kodak. I used their services at to put together a photobook of pictures I'd taken of my dad along with some others I had as a gift for my mom. It turned out really nice I think and I give their service a big thumbs up. I believe a few other companies, such as Shutterfly, have these photo printing services as well. Check it out if you want to make a special album of pictures to remember a vacation or to give as a gift. Or make calendars or mugs or cards or whatever.

      I got a lot of knitting done on the 6 hour flight back but I can't blog about what I'm making since it's a gift. Now my family and friends reading this are all going to wonder if they're getting a hand knit item. Are they hoping or dreading? Don't worry, you might just be the lucky recipient of something I'm sewing right now. So I can't talk about my sewing projects either.

      Thank you all for your suggestions on what to make with the Rudolph designs! I actually have a sock hoop so I can embroider on socks. I've never used it and this would be a great excuse to try it out. Gift tags - or just gift decorations would be cute too. A wall hanging is a great idea too. My husband also told me he'd wear a shirt with the abominable snowman on it. I forget he reads this blog. I really should get the embroidery machine set up. After I download the 300+ pictures I took this weekend and send copies to my relatives along with the other pictures I promised I'd send. Avoiding TV will be tough because our DVR (PVR, TiVO or whatever you call it) is filled with lots of programs we taped. But the Eagles are on Monday night football...and there's ice skating too.

      Friday, November 11, 2005

      Christmas is coming...

      I have half a million Christmas projects, as usual, but I hope I can find some time to embroider some of these designs I have from one of my favorite TV Christmas specials:

      I don't know what I will embroider them on, but they just make me smile! Embroidering a bunch on a sweatshirt would be too cutesy and I wouldn't wear it. Would embroidering one on a shirt still be too much? But which one? I love the abominable snow man. Polka dotted elephant is cute and so is the doll. Or Yukon Cornelius. Or Herbie. Maybe I'll just do ornaments.

      Wednesday, November 09, 2005

      Beautiful fabric

      I love the fabric at Textile Arts. It's a bit too pricey for me, but I still can drool over it. These are some that I really like:

      They also sell goods made in their wonderful fabrics, like these umbrellas:

      Friday, November 04, 2005

      Knitting and keeping busy

      Knitting with others is awesome! Who knew? Lots of people, I know, but I just haven't been one of them. I went to my first knitting get together, "Stitch 'n Bitch", meetup ...or whatever you call it, on Wednesday. I met some fellow knitters and learned some great stuff and just enjoyed sitting, knitting, and chatting.

      I was working on Liv but put it aside for two reasons: 1) I goofed and forgot to start increasing and 2) I started working on a gift for someone

      #1 was easily remedied by a wonderful knitter at the meetup Wednesday night. I was two or three rows beyond where I was supposed to increase and rather than rip it back I was going to just increase too late and make up for it by increasing 7 rows later instead of 10. Well, Mary showed me how to go back to the row I was supposed to increase in, pick up a stitch and carry it up through the rows. Perfect! Plus, I was listening (imagine that!) when she mentioned that you have to carry the stitch through the rows correctly depending on whether it's a knit or a purl row. Well, good thing I was listening. Later on, while working on the gift I'm making, I found that I'd goofed up my seed stitch on the previous row. Just a small section at the end of the row where I put two knits together instead of a knit and a purl, so about 10 stitches were off pattern. Now I'm knitting something with 180 stitches per row. I was not going to undo nearly 360 stitches. I stopped and thought: can I take a knit stitch off and make it into a purl and vice versa? Yes! Happy dance. Problem fixed.

      #2 reason for not knitting Liv is the 180 stitches per row gift I'm making. It's going to take a while to finish it but thankfully it's just seed stitch and if I goof up again I know how to fix it!

      My husband asked if I'm into knitting more right now than sewing. Sort of. It's interesting that this time last year I dropped my sewing for knitting. It could be because winter is approaching and it's nice to curl up on the couch with some fiber. Although it doesn't get below freezing here in Northern California for more than a day or two, it does get chilly. We hit a low of 43 the other night! Brrr! :-) I still have a lot of sewing projects to do and somehow I'll fit them in around knitting. But with the high price of natural gas, the choice between sitting at my sewing machine in a fairly chilly room vs. sitting under a blanket on the couch will be fairly obvious, don't you think?

      So my busy weekend is about to begin. Trunk show tonight. All-day seminar tomorrow. Sewing get together on Sunday. Whew!

      Tuesday, November 01, 2005

      Happy Halloween!

      This is my latest creation: Spooky the Sock Cat. Spooky is snoozing by the pumpkin and bag of treats for the trick or treaters. When he closes his eyes he thinks he disappears, as black cats with black whiskers, seem to do.


      Today I wore my yearly Halloween costume. It's a cut-out-and-sew-up vest I made a number of years ago when I was just getting back into sewing. Definitely something that's only worn on Halloween, or to a sewing convention if it happens to fall in late October.

      Taking a cue from a vest my mom made (or rather ripping off her idea), I underlined the fabric with flannel and then "quilted" the vest by sewing around some of the characters. Even though the flannel wasn't thick enough to really give a quilted effect, it does make the vest feel a little more substantial than two pieces of thin cotton. Also mom's idea, I stuffed the witch's pot, the moon, and the scarecrow's hat and pumpkins with fiberfill.

      I remember that I had fun making the vest. It was before my project list (and stash) overflowed. I made this when I was still learning to use my Pfaff and enjoyed using the embroidery stitches to write my name on the decorative tag and the blanket stitch to attach two more decorative patches to the inside of the vest.

      My vest got a couple of notices at work, where no one else seemed to join in the Halloween spirit. One co-worker, who also sews and machine embroiders, gave me a nice compliment. She recognized the fabric and had made one herself, but mine was much nicer, she told me.

      And now Halloween is nearly over and the vest will be put away for another year. We had more trick or treaters than last year...four! Last year we had none at all and it was a weekend and we were home. I can't explain it! We live in a typical suburban neighborhood so it's not like we don't have neighbors or kids around. Last year we hung blinky-light skeletons in the window and put out little lighted plastic jack o'lanterns. This year we didn't get around to it. There may have been some kids who came around earlier but we got stuck in traffic coming home from work. What is it about Halloween traffic? It's always bad. I suspect it's the recent time change and people "forget" how to drive in the dark. There also may be many parents trying to get home so their kids can trick or treat. Oh well, now I have to show restraint from eating the leftover candy, including the candy my co-workers will be sure to bring in tomorrow.