Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Ok, I get it

Last night after dinner I pondered what to do with my evening. My husband was in bed with a cold and I didn't feel like watching TV. Of course I could have, and probably should have, done some laundry and cleaned up the house, but I didn't. I worked all day and I'm also trying not to catch my husband's cold, so I thought I'd do something relaxing. Naturally I thought about working on the Burda WOF jacket that is taking me forever and an eon to cut out, let alone sew, but instead I had the urge to play Xbox. This is unusual for me as I don't really get into the video games. Or so I thought. After three hours of trying to drive Homer Simpson around in a car to complete missions, which mostly amounted to smashing into things, or collect gold coins, I now get it about video games. I see why my husband can spend so much time playing the games. They're addictive! "Just one more..." "ugh, I almost finished the mission and then time ran out..." "there are probably more coins around here somewhere..." And before I knew it, it was time to go to bed.

I did have the added bonus of a furry friend come sit by me for a little while as I played. Amazingly, it was not the usual Felix or Ella, but Sergei! Sergei is the formal feral kitty who is still scared by everything. We adopted him at 6 months of age... 5 years ago! He won't let anyone approach him to pet him, let alone pick him up, but I am finally able to give him a pet when I put his food bowl down. So I was stunned when he jumped up on the couch and settled in on the blanket next to me. He just looked at me and I didn't dare move or reach out to pet him. Then after a while he turned around and snuggled with his back next to me. I was able to pet him and scritch his ears. He's ok if he doesn't see your hand coming at him but he still wasn't quite sure about it all, just like when I sneak pets when I put his food down. And then Ella jumped up and scared him off. Oh well, it was great while it lasted.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

My first Etsy purchase

I've known about Etsy for a while. It's an online place where crafters and artisans can sell their wares, but I never really browsed it much. Because I make things I tend to look at other people's sewn and knit items and think "I can make that" rather than "I'd like to buy that." If I had unlimited funds and space in my house, I would love to support every artist in his or her craft, but that just isn't going to happen. However, I don't make jewelry and when I saw a beautiful pendant on Claudia's blog, I clicked my way to Ling Glass, the Etsy seller, and bought this glass pendant for myself:

I really like it and am very pleased with the workmanship. The pendant is about 1" square.

However, I will have to continue to refrain from browsing Etsy because I fear I could quickly go broke and fill up my house with lovely items. I saw another pendant on Ling's shop that was calling me, but I had to just say no. The downfall of online shopping is that it's just too easy to click the buttons and wait for the mailman to bring the goods. But I do love my new pendant and will wear it often.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

For the kitties

I spent last Saturday morning doing some community-project sewing with my ASG group. We made over 100 pads for the Humane Society of Silicon Valley to use in their cat cages. Woohoo! I bought some animal-themed fleece from Joanns to contribute to the project. The pads required two 21x26 inch pieces of flannel, fleece, or cotton. Two and a half yards of fleece was enough for four pads. A piece of batting was added, but if the fleece was thick, as mine was, we omitted the batting. The edges were just serged and ties were sewn on so the pads can be secured to the cages. Here is a picture of one of my pads in-progress:

I thought my own kitties might like a couple of these in the same fabric to lounge on, so on the way home from ASG I stopped at Joann's to buy some more fleece. Joann's on a Saturday afternoon can be a bit crazy. Here's my tale of woe: it was a different Joann's than the one I bought the original fabric for and while they did have a bolt of it, the bolt was located way up on a shelf. So first I had to wait in line just to ask the clerk to get it down - fortunately the line was short at that time. Then I had to wait in a very long line to get it cut. Two clerks were cutting but one disappeared to fetch something for the customer and the other clerk's customer was unsure how much fabric she wanted and of course waited until she was at the counter to decide and get the clerk's opinion (I think the clerk had none). Then the clerk misplaced the empty cardboard from the now-finished bolts and it out took a while for her to sort things out. By now the first clerk was back with a monstrous home-dec roll of batting but I thought I'd be in line all day waiting for the customers to calculate how much they wanted and decide if they wanted to spend that much. They had a bolt of muslin in their hands so I suspect they were maybe recovering a piece of furniture or making a headboad they saw on an HGTV design show. Anyhoooo, I finally made it to the cutting table and got my yard and a quarter cut. Afterward I should have just walked straight to the checkout but nooooooo, I did a lap around the store to see if there was anything else I wanted (non-fabric, because that would require cutting). Mistake. By the time I got back to the checkout the line with just my fleece because there wasn't anything else I wanted, the line had stretched to 10-12 people. All this to make two cat beds and it's not like I don't have fleece at home...I just didn't have cute red fleece with black paw prints on it. But my kitties are worth it, as are the shelter kitties who now have 100 new colorful, warm, and comfy mats to sleep on.

I'm pleased to say that when I got home I didn't just toss the fabric on the bed in the guest room and let it be buried under the other fabric that I haven't gotten around to sewing. No! I cut out the mats and serged them right up. The mats were met with approval and have now been adorned with cat hair.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sewing and knitting

Remember this top?

The pattern (Simplicity 3893) was noted as one of the "Best Patterns of 2007" on patternreview.com and my top was one of two selected to show off the pattern. The article is only available for 7 days to non-registered users, so the link will break on Jan 23rd unless you're registered. I'm flattered it was shown in the newsletter. This is the second time I've had one of my garments shown like this - my twist top from a couple years ago was one of the "Best Patterns of 2005" and my top was chosen to show it off. Woohoo!

I made a second Simplicity 3893 as part of the outfits I sewed for our trip to Paris. I was so busy finishing everything last minute that I didn't have time to photograph it. But here it is, and it's actually on me and not my dress form.

And now for some knitting blog content. I thought I had an aversion to metal needles but when I accidentally bought some metal 16" size 2 circulars, instead of wood, for my latest project, I discovered metal needles aren't so awful. They are actually are quite good for "grippy" yarn like the Rowan Scottish Tweed I'm using. I'm still not sure I'll use them in dpns though, because I fear I will drop more stitches off the slippery metal than I do with wood.

I bought a bunch of Rowan at a LYS sale recently...as in three project's worth. One is a small project, but still. Yikes. Stitches West is next month and how can I possibly not buy yarn there? But I love this Rowan. I love the tweediness of it.

Rowan Scottish Tweed 4ply

Rowan Felted Tweed

Is there a theme here? I was thinking Fair Isle or maybe just stripes for both projects, which is why there's a variety - 4 colors of the Scottish and 3 of the Felted. Of course I've only knit a couple little swatches in the Fair Isle class I took last year at Stitches West, but then I'm always up for a challenge.

And speaking of challenges. I guess I don't have enough hobbies in my life. Look what I bought.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

It's been a week already?

I know I wanted to blog more this year, but gosh...time flies.

Since last week, I

  • Traced off Burda WOF pattern #119 from the 12/2007 issue, realized (sadly) that I didn't have enough of the fabric I wanted to use but I "managed" to find a candidate or two, or three...or four in my stash.

  • I made cupcakes

  • I did some spinning with friends (sorry no picture, although I did bring my camera, I forgot it in my purse!)

  • I did some knitting. I'm still plugging away at Lara, otherwise known as my big orange sweater. Yikes!

  • Bought more yarn. Ugh. But it was on sale. And it was Rowan tweed. My favorite.

  • Watched movies. Sadly, nothing memorable.

And now for your enjoyment, here is our silly Ella. She's an 11 year old "kitten" who still chases her tail. And she falls off the chair in the end...intentionally I'm sure. (for some reason you have to click on the play button twice)

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

A New Year

My first resolution of the year should be to blog more often. Believe me, there are lots of blog entries that never get from my brain to the internet.

Christmas came and went but a good time was had by all, which means me, my husband, and our four cats. I had 2 weeks off from work (woohoo!) so I tried to do everything I've always been meaning to get to but in the end I mostly watched movies, knitted, and relaxed. Not a bad way to spend a couple of weeks. I did accomplish some things, like decorating the house for Christmas, spending the day in the city with my friend spinnity, swatching and packing some fabric away, and baking Christmas cookies. But the vacation just flew by. As it does.

As far as resolutions for the new year, I mainly just want to be happy. But here goes:

1. Blog more often - see, it is first! What I really want to do is use my blog to communicate to friends and family. I want to document the things I've made and share them with others. So I will try to get the blog ideas out of my head and onto the internet.

2. Lose weight. Oh yeah. This is on most everyone's list and is on mine every year too, even when I don't make a list. We have a gym membership and we bought Dance, Dance Revolution for the XBox 360 (yes, we did!) so maybe I can dance some pounds away.

3. Embrace my hobbies. I get frustrated because I have so many interests and not enough time to enjoy them all. But I need to let go of that frustration and just enjoy what I do. I should not fret that the spinning wheel is sitting idle because while it sits, I'm sewing or knitting. As long as I am enjoying what I'm doing, then I should not feel bad that the supplies and equipment for other things are sitting idle. They will get used eventually.

4. Think before I buy. I've already been doing this although it's really tough when it comes to fabric and yarn, but I have shown restraint. When faced with tempting purchases, I try to summon up the little voice in my head that reminds me of the materials I have at home that are unused. The little voice also reminds me that I don't need more things in the house. I have to ask what the purpose of possessing the object is and if it is really worth taking up valuable space.

5. Find the good in my work. I'm talking work-work here, as in J-O-B. This is a tough one. I have issues I can't go into here. Suffice it to say that I need to hang on for the next 7 months to a year (hope it's not that long) until another contract job comes along. I don't want to leave the company I'm with but leaving the contract job at this time would not be good for my company.

6. Nurture relationships, be they friendships, family, or my darling husband. Good relationships can't be one-sided so I need to do my part in order to keep them good.

And now to put #1 and #3 into practice. One of my neglected hobbies has been machine embroidery. When I first bought my Pfaff, I thought I'd be embroidering lots of things and I did do some embroidery early on and had fun with it. But over the years I've only been collecting designs and expensive software and not much has been embroidered. We recently upgraded our home computer operating system to Microsoft Vista and that prompted me to find a way to get my embroidery software (VIP) working again. With help from my husband and the internet, we found the right drivers for the dongle and the correct type of cable and I'm back in business. Even though I had sewing, knitting, spinning and weaving I wanted to do, I took time out to embroider some Christmas designs I've been meaning to get to for a while now. These are from a Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer collection I bought a while back. I intend to make them into ornaments, which is why I embroidered mirror images. I stitched them onto felt and used tear-away stabilizer on the back.

These were taken with my new camera, a Nikon Coolpix S200, which my husband gave me for Christmas. I asked for a small camera that I could slip into my purse and take with me to make snapshots of friends or things I make. It's a great little camera. It doesn't replace my Nikon D50 SLR of course but there are plenty of times when I just want a picture and don't want to deal with the lenses and stuff. My husband also got me a small camcorder, something else I asked for, so that I can take little videos of things. Here's a boring little video of my embroidery machine in action, taken with my new RCA Small Wonder. I'm sorry I chose to video when it was stitching white thread. Oh well, I'm learning!