Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Secret gifts

Now that Christmas is past, I can reveal more of the gifts I made. Click on the image to go read my write-up on the patterns on

This apron was for my sister:

I made these slippers for my mom:

And these fleece socks were for my nephew:

Monday, December 26, 2005

Merry Christmas!

Christmas traditions -

The elves that I grew up enjoying every Christmas now grace my mantel.



Krumkake, which are from my Norwegian heritage, and sugar cookies from my grandmother's recipe.


And then a new tradition. Last year I made toys for our four cats. This year I knit these toys for them from a pattern in Stitch and Bitch Nation:

Cat toys

They didn't get a very warm reception at first, despite the catnip inside:

And what are these?

Felix eventually decided they were ok:

He discovered the cat toy

But later Felix was not very happy when I tried out my new camera flash on him during his nap:

Not amused.

I never did get to the ornaments I was planning to make. I was going to embroider designs from the Rudolph TV show on felt, reversing one image to make them double sided. But my sewing machine cabinet broke. Broke! And in fussing with trying to fix it I just lost interest (and time) to get them done.

The cabinet, which was made by Horn of Australia, has a sewing machine lift consisting of a wire cable and pulleys, not the back-mounted hydraulic lift in every other cabinet I've every seen and now I know why! The plastic pulleys all disintegrated over the 6 years I've had the cabinet and I had no luck trying to get it fixed through my dealer and I didn't want to ship it to Australia to get it fixed. My husband and I fixed the mechanism ourself twice by replacing pulleys with screen door replacement wheels, which were nearly an identical match. But we never replaced all of them because the final pulley was a double wheel. Well, that last wheel finally broke to bits and our attempts to fix it failed. I am going to order a hydraulic sewing machine lift from and just replace the whole mechanism.

It's probably a good thing I am out of commission as far as sewing goes. We have drywall and floor refinishing and painting to do anyway.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Stolen art

I'm helping to get the word out. Susie Ghahremani had six pieces of her artwork stolen from the Giant Robot art show in San Francisco on Dec 16th. If you see them, please contact her. Thanks.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Knitting Stuff

Here is the knitting needle rollup and notions bag I made for a knitting group gift exchange. I wrote a review on I didn't use a pattern for the rollup, although I did look at Simplicity 4542 for ideas. The bag is simple to make - I probably could have figured it out on my own but I used these instructions on this entry.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

I feel badly for my neighbors

Their house was burglarized yesterday. The burglar(s) entered through the bathroom window, stole jewelry, and left through the garage. None of the neighbors saw anything suspicious enough to call the police. When we came home from work my husband noticed a white car in their driveway but didn't think anything of it. Another neighbor reported that he saw a white car drive off quickly. We were even out by our cars in the driveway for about 5 minutes and didn't notice anything strange.

The neighbors aren't home very much. The wife moved in about 5 years ago as a divorcee with two daughters and has since remarried so I think they sometimes stay at his prior residence. The daughters are now grown, and I think both married, and sometimes they are at the house with friends. It's hard to really know what's suspicious or keep track of what vehicles belong there. When I left for my sewing group around 6:45 last night, I noticed the garage door open and our trash cans were still out. They didn't have any cans out, which isn't unusual, but generally if they come home and see our cans, they'll bring them up to the house and vice versa (although we didn't even bring our cans up last night).

We live in what I consider to be a safe neighborhood although it is a densely populated area, so some bad stuff is bound to happen. We had a radio stolen from an old truck once and someone broke the locks on our cargo trailer twice but didn't take or even disrupt anything (my husband joked that maybe they put something in it instead). I suspect a kid stole the radio since whoever it was crawled through the tiny sliding window in the truck cab. With the cargo trailer, someone might have been looking for tools, which are highly pawn-able. The robbery next door may have been one of opportunity or it might have been cased. The neighbors are Iranian. You look in their window and you see opulent marble floors and fancy furniture, so doubt someone could expect the jewelry box would be a good hit. Apparently only the bedroom was ransacked and the jewelry stolen.

As for us, we have an alarm system. We had talked about getting an alarm system for a while and it took a TV show to get us to finally have one put in. Yes, a TV show. The show was called "It Takes a Thief" and was on Discovery channel I think. The premise of the show was that a former burglar would look for a likely home to target, then approach the owners with the idea that they would try to break in and if they were successful, the show would help them correct their lack of security. The owners fell into two categories - those who believed their house was secure and those who admitted that they were lax. Unbelievably, people didn't lock doors because they'd lost the key or there kids didn't have keys, or they'd leave windows open or they'd just have really cheap non-deadbolt locks on the doors. During the burglary, the owners would sit with the host in a van outside their house and watch via cameras positioned throughout the house. In ten minutes the guy was in and out with the owner's credit cards, checks, cash, jewelry, expensive handbags, and anything else pawn-able. Sometimes they'd find the keys to the second car and steal that as well. The owner would then see what was stolen (and get it back of course), the house would be cleaned up, and an army of people would come in to install an alarm system, deadbolt locks, and a safe. Unfortunately for my neighbors, Discovery was not involved in their burglary. The wife may never see her precious jewelry from Iran again.

The sad thing is that our neighbors have a relative who owns an alarm system company. They just never got around to having one put in. When we had our system installed I thought it was a bit overkill, but not anymore! We also put in a safe and a locked box for our spare keys. Someone told me that they thought having an alarm system would advertise to thieves that we must have something worth stealing. Well everyone has something worth stealing, even if it's your bank statements with your name and account number on them, or your social security card. I feel awful for our neighbors, especially if it was a crime of opportunity and the burglars chose our neighbor's unalarmed house over ours. We don't have opulent marble floors but the tools that are out in plain sight while we remodel would be enticing as well as the other electronic toys we have. But my few pieces of good jewelry are in the safe or on me.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


Oh this day is not going well. First I had to return home after leaving this morning because I forgot my laptop and paperwork I needed for work and thus was late for a meeting. And now I just noticed the wool sweater I'm wearing has two moth holes on the sleeve. I really like this sweater and even though it wasn't handmade or expensive, I'm sad. I hope I can fix it somehow. The sweater looks like it's boiled-wool, but it's not. Since it already looks felted, I wonder if I can weave the holes closed - or fabric-glue them from the back, if that would work - and wash it. I hate dry cleaning because of the chemicals and the cost so I try not to buy garments that must be dry cleaned. I wash my silks and wools in a front loader, which seems to do ok for non-structured things, i.e., not suits. Fortunately I no longer wear suits to work.

The moths drive me nuts. We have cedar in our closet and we put out moth pheromone traps (which are empty by the way) and still, we find holes. I don't want to have to haul every piece of wool that can't be machine washed out to the cleaners but I'm afraid I may have to do that. I guess I have to go through the closet, inspect every piece of wool, and either discard it or get it cleaned/washed. Bleh.

And they sure better not get into my yarn or fabric stash!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Gift exchanges

Here's a tip...if you participate in one of those gift exchanges where you can either pick a wrapped gift or "steal" a gift from someone who's already opened one (and then they get to either steal someone else's gift or choose from a wrapped one)...choose one that's already unwrapped. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with one small skein of chenille yarn in a completely wrong color for me, large plastic knitting needles and a small glass vase (when I already have too much glassware and am in the midst of donating or selling it). If the person who brought it to the knitting exchange reads my blog, well, I'm sorry it wasn't matched up with someone more appreciative. I was sooooo hoping someone would steal the gift from me and it almost happened but didn't. I guess I'm a little disappointed that I spent a lot of time making a gift and didn't receive something I like but I know "them's the breaks." The recipient of my gift loved the needle rollup and notions bag I made (pictures to come) and that's what really should matter to me. But you can bet that next Tuesday at my sewing group gift exchange I will pick a gift that's already opened. Yes indeedy.

So now I'm totally burned out from gift-making and rushing to get things done and I've decided not to make the gift I was planning for the sewing group gift exchange but will instead bring something I bought a while back specifically as a gift and forgot about. It's a really nice gift that I got at a good price so I hope the recipient likes it. I would really like to have made something for the group exchange but I'm pooped. I sewed the last stitch on one of the handmade gifts last night and packed them all up. Whew! Oh and my eBay items are on their way to their buyers. Double whew! I sold 7 out of the 9 items I listed and while none had the bidding wars I hoped for or sold for a lot, I'm still happy that they're going to people who want them. And I have a bit of cash in my PayPal account now for future purchases or patternreview membership fees or whatever.

In these next few holiday weeks I have plenty of other things to do. Cookies to bake. Trees to trim. Drywall to put up. Yes, drywall. We...or shall I say my husband, started the demo for the living room project. I would have preferred to have waited so that I could enjoy the pre-Christmas festivities of cookie-baking and holiday movie watching, but I know he's sick of me putting this off. He even got tired of waiting for me to finish packing up the last items in the living room and started tearing out walls with stuff still in the room. Oh well. He knew I was a procrastinating Virgo when he married me. To his credit he does have two of the four recessed lights installed and power to the center of the room for the ceiling fan. I just wish we could work a bit better together on these projects. I guess having been able to redo a bathroom, kitchen, dining room, family room and computer/sewing room without divorcing means we have a good marriage. But I wish he'd remember that I'm not trained as a carpenter, electrician, plumber, painter, tiler, interior designer, lighting consultant, or architect and he shouldn't expect me to act like I am. And oh yeah, I'm not a mind reader either.

So I'm still bugged by that stupid gift exchange and I know I should just get over it. I'm trying to think of what I can do with the gift. Any suggestions? I can't re-gift it to my sewing group because it's not sewing related. If there's enough I could make a scarf (barf) but I already have one in chenille plus a bunch of other scarves and don't need more, especially in this climate. Ditto for a hat. Plus, the color is wrong for me. I could make a scarf or hat and give it away but it won't be as a gift for this year so I guess the yarn will go to my stash and the vase will go to the back of the china cabinet. And the needles? They're blue and sparkly. Maybe I can give them to my niece.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Working like one of Santa's elves

I have nearly finished another Christmas gift. This was supposed to be a quick project but I was just not thinking last night. I sewed, ripped, sewed, ripped, sewed, ripped. ARGH! I did it right the first time but thought it was wrong so I redid it...the wrong way...and then finally got it right. I do want to make more of this item, so maybe the next one will go smoother. I sure hope so!

This weekend will be a busy one full of errands. I'm going to check out a LYS for a maintenance kit for my Ashford spinning wheel. I mostly need the oil but would like to have the extra pieces in the kit just in case. I'm also hoping to pick up a copy of The Ashford Book of Spinning. I've yet to try any spinning on my wheel. We oiled it with some sewing machine oil just to get it going and also polished up the wood so it looks real nice. I did a bit of internet searching to see what kind of oil to use on the wheel and found that sewing machine oil will do in a pinch but it needs something of a heavier weight, about the weight of 10W30 motor oil. I'm not about to use motor oil because I think it would be quite messy and might stain the wood. I can wait to get the right oil.

Also on my to-do list this weekend is a trip to Calico Corners in search of a sturdy curtain rod. We have a sliding patio door in the family room and I put up a traverse rod so we can close it off with curtains for both warmth and privacy. Up until now I've had linen curtains on it, which worked fine but they off no insulation for the winter months. I bought some velvet Ikea drapes, but they're a bit too heavy for the traverse rod. The top of the rod shows and it's hard to open and close them. I'd like to put up a nice metal or wood pole with rings but I want something that doesn't require a center support so that the drapes can be pulled all the way across. Fortunately it's just a standard sliding door size so I hope I can find something.

This will also be a weekend of packing and shipping. Hopefully I'll get the Christmas presents done, remember to take pictures, wrap them, and ship them out. But I also have 9 things up for auction on eBay and the auctions end tonight. As of this writing, two have bids and will definitely sell and five others have people watching so I expect most of those will also sell. I've been a buyer on eBay but this is my first time as a seller. Let's hope it goes smoothly, because I have a bunch of other things I would like to sell. If you're curious, here's my auction page. Nothing crafty for sale (yet!), just stuff I no longer want but hope to sell to someone who does want them.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Keeping up the blog

If you are on my blogroll, you might be seeing a bunch of edited posts showing up. I'm moving pictures from my soon-to-be old internet provider website to the blogger photo space so I have to go back and change all the links. Such a pain.

One more finished

I finished the _______ for ___. Can't say what it is or even who it is for because I want to keep the fact that it's handmade part of the surprise of the gift. So that leaves one gift partially done, one is in the sewing stage, and the sewing guild neighborhood gift exchange gift yet unfinished.

I have to remember to photograph the gifts before I wrap, and in some cases, ship the gifts.

Such a hectic time of year, but I'm pleased with myself for actually completing some handmade gifts! Every year I strive to make gifts and most years I have to resort to store-bought items because I take on more than I can finish.

After the gifts are finished, the Christmas lights hung, the tree put up and decorated, and the cookies baked, I hope to make some Christmas stockings or ornaments. I'd really like to stitch out those Rudolph designs, maybe just on some white felt (if I can find some this time of year!) or I'll get more productive and use white muslin, which I'll then stuff with fiberfill. I'd also like to make the kitties some new catnip toys, perhaps knit some mice, since last year's felt toys went over quite well:

One year later, most of them are quite shredded or completely demolished.

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.

      Friday, October 28, 2005


      I picked up Liv again after spending time finishing a UFO scarf and good grief, I've frogged the first inch or so 4 times. Four! I'm terrible at frogging back only a few rows. If it's one row I'll unknit (or unpurl) the stitches but in this case I'd only started so I just unraveled the whole darn thing. Four times. I learned in a Stitches class that when working a complicated pattern, include a strand of another color yarn a set number of rows apart. That way you can just unravel back to the colored yarn and slip your needles back on. Sure I'm working cables but I didn't think this was so complicated to warrant this approach. Now I'm not so sure. I seem to have a problem following the chart. I understand the chart, it's just that I think I know what it says without really looking at it and I keep messing up. And perfectionist me won't let that happen because I'm knitting the very visible, very eye-catching front cables. I want them to be correct, even if it means spending all evening to complete an inch four times over. Fortunately the yarn is holding up just fine and not splitting. Hooray for good yarn!

      I'm all signed up for Stitches West. I registered for 12 hours of knitting classes on Saturday and Sunday and the banquet on Saturday night. I'm going by myself but hope to meet people, knit a lot, shop, and learn some more knitting skills.

      I haven't been doing any sewing lately. I find it difficult to sew during the week because after we get home (late) from work and eat dinner, sometimes after stopping at the grocery store, we find ourselves on the couch with the TV on for the remaining few hours before we go to bed. We did manage to pry ourselves off the couch one night this week to get to the gym, but I overdid it and now I am very sore.

      This weekend will probably be dedicated to packing up the living room (so we can start the room redo) and getting stuff together to donate. I'd like to do some sewing but if I don't , it's ok because the following weekend will be all sewing, all the time. My sewing guild is hosting Lyla Messinger for a trunk show on Friday and an all-day seminar on Saturday. Sunday is a get-together with my sewing friends I met on the internet. Busy weekend!

      Tuesday, October 18, 2005


      So many projects. So many projects.

      These are just the home dec things I want to get done...someday.

      1. Hem and join (via velcro so I can wash them later) blue velvet IKEA drapes for family room sliding door
      2. Pillows using these fun low pile fabrics:

      3. Valence for family room sliding door
      4. Dining room drapes
      5. Storage ottoman - Butterick 4677, the cube style one, covered in this ostrich skin pleather:

      6. Finish faux fur throw - will definitely want this when we have the heat turned way down this winter to avoid monstrous natural gas bills.
      7. Guest room drapes
      8. Living room drapes - but first we have to redo the living room walls, floor and lighting. would think our house is quite drape-less due to my procrastination in getting these home dec projects done. Well, at least there are shades on the windows. So when are these going to get done with Christmas around the corner? Yes, I have a Christmas gift project list but for obvious reasons I can't post it here!

      Tuesday, October 11, 2005

      I'm still here

      I'm here...just not blogging. I haven't been sewing but I have been knitting.

      I finished the back of Liv and last night I finished the cabling at the bottom of the left side. I'm contemplating working the right side up to the same spot and then joining the two and knitting the rest of the front as one piece instead of knitting each separately and then stitching the two together down the center front. It just seems easier to me to knit it as one piece and I'm afraid of having different tensions by the time I stitch the right side. Of course I would have to interpret the pattern a little differently at the neck edge but then I'm already having to do a lot of interpreting due to being a lefty knitter. The back was easy since it was just reverse stockinette and when I got to the decreases I just had to swap the SSKs for the K2TOGs. The increases were a bit trickier. The author uses lifted increases, which I'd never done before. I thought the example in Viking Knits Collection didn't tell me everything so I looked in the other book I have by her, which helped but also was confusing. I sort of followed the instructions and sort of improvised and somehow got it to look just fine.

      The cable pattern is knitted from a chart with one chart for the left side and one for the right. I knitted up a sample first and quickly realized that rather than read the chart backwards, as a lefty would normally have to do, I needed to knit the right side as the left and vice versa. And no swapping of SSKs and K2TOGs - just follow the chart. It worked. Though I'm sure glad this pattern doesn't continue for the whole sweater! I've knitted from charts before and after a while the pattern becomes a rhythm. This pattern requires a bit more concentration. The WS row was easy - it made sense when I needed to knit and when I needed to purl, but each RS row was different and it was very easy to confuse the cabling until I got the feel for where the cables were going. This was my very first time doing cables and I only frogged two entire rows twice, so I think that's pretty good. Of course I have three more visits with these charts.

      Another thing I learned is that it's nice to knit with nice yarn and not so nice to knit with cheap stuff. If you're going to spend a long time handling the yarn, as you do when you knit a sweater, then I think the yarn should feel really good. Also, if it doesn't feel good to knit then it's probably not going to feel good to wear. I've decided that the acrylic/wool stuff I used for the sample will never be used for anything except samples. I couldn't wait to pick up the Cashcotton again. Very nice stuff.

      Just because I've been knitting (while watching TV) doesn't mean I've forgotten about sewing. My Fall/Winter 2005 Marfy catalog arrived and I'm drooling over every page. Gorgeous clothes. I'm anxious to make the free patterns too: a short cape, a loose blouse, and a straight skirt for anyone curious about the free patterns. This is the first time I've ordered any Marfy but since Vogue is now selling some of the patterns, I thought I'd give them a try. I'd heard they were excellent patterns but not for the faint of heart. This is true as they don't provide instructions and the patterns have a lot of detail like darts, pleats, pockets, and ruffles...and the details are often used very creatively. But as I sew more and more, often using the very sparse instructions in the Burda magazines, I'm getting more confident and knowledgeable in my sewing. So why not? At the very least I have a cool catalog of Italian fashion to browse.

      On my sewing table are the beginnings of my Month of Softies entry. The very beginnings. Not a stitch has been stitched and scissors have not yet been applied, but hopefully I'll get there.

      Tonight I'm going to a sewing guild neighborhood meeting. One just started up in the evening for all of us sewers who have to work to support our fabric habits and can't attend during one of the many daytime meetings. Should be fun.

      Friday, September 30, 2005

      Got silk?

      Yesterday I escaped work early to go to a sewing "show and tell" at Thai Silks and it sure beat working, although I did have to bring some work home to do later. Anyway, the "show and tell" was fun. It was the first time they put on this little party to invite people who've made items from their silk to show them off. All I can say is wow. There are some talented sewers, quilters, and crafters in this area. One older woman painted gorgeous flowers on silk. She blushed and denied it when they told her she was an artist. Another woman made period doll clothes that were exquisite. There were some costumers, including one who made a corset that was incredible. The lone guy in the crowd wasn't actually a sewer but he designed some cool looking silk shirts to wear when he performs with his harp.

      After the "show and tell" they raffled off some prizes: yards of silk, samples of silk thread and ribbon, and some books. Unfortunately I didn't win but later on, when I was still browsing fabrics in their store, they came up to me and gave me one of the gift bags they gave to the people who showed off their items. In the bag was a silk tie, silk scarf, piece of wide black lace (also silk?), and a big bag of silk swatches. Cool.

      They also had a one day only 25% off storewide sale, hence my prolonged browsing. Yes, I have an overflowing stash at home and no, I don't need anything, could I resist? I bought some white silk jacquard and four yards of this silk crepe georgette

      I know it looks really wild in that swatch but trust me, it looks much better in real life. Although the swatch is more accurate to the way the pattern looks in the charmeuse, which is why I bought the georgette. I haven't decided exactly what to make with it but I'm thinking some sort of blouse or jacket that would keep the fabric more flowing and also in folds so that the overall pattern is not so visible. While I like the William Morris-like print, it's quite busy so I'd rather let the color combination come through more than the pattern itself.

      Wednesday, September 28, 2005

      Grownup toys

      The camera, a Nikon D50 digital SLR, is a birthday gift from my husband. I thought my Nikon Coolpix 5700 was a great camera...and it is, but digital SLR rocks! No more lag when I take the shot. You can fire off shot after shot in rapid succession. I wish I'd had this camera at Le Mans! There would have been more pictures of cars and less of empty track (since the car was long out of the frame when I snapped the picture, even when I tried to time it). The SLR has a manual focus as well as automatic so I no longer have to wait for ever for the Coolpix to figure out what to focus on. This will help tremendously with close up shots because I had many times where the Coolpix just refused to focus at all.

      The only problem is that I'm back to toting a camera bag containing multiple lenses! I enjoy point and shoot cameras for their portability but when you want quality pictures and control over your shots, then I guess you have to live with extra gear. At least I don't have to tote around rolls and rolls of film. And pay for the processing. (camera photo from by the way)

      The truck replaces a 16 year-old F-250 diesel. My husband said the truck was old enough to get a learner's permit and drive itself. And no, I did not take that picture of the truck with my new camera. I found the photo on

      I never liked driving the F-250 beast - not that I did drive it. I drove it once for a very short time when we were tugging a cargo trailer (empty at the time) on a cross country trip to retrieve stuff from my mom's basement. About 250 miles from my mom's house the transmission failed. Fortunately a friend lived nearby and came to rescue us. We left the truck and trailer at a gas station garage, rented a car, and continued to mom's house to work on cleaning out the basement while the truck was worked on. The mechanic thought he could "save" us money by replacing one part, despite our request and his agreement to rebuild it. Yeah, thanks buddy. The transmission still leaked but we made it to my mom's house where we then had to scramble to find a place to rebuild the transmission in short order as we were already running out of vacation time. The transmission held for the 3000 mile trip home but the spedometer and odometer didn't work and the passenger power window failed somewhere in Missouri. We had the transmission worked on two more times after we got home. In addition to the unreliable transmssion, the window seals leak, and the air conditioner doesn't work. Then someone broke in through the back sliding window and stole the radio (it was a fairly inexpensive one we installed, but still...).

      So it was time for a new truck. We've been remodeling our house and do the work ourselves, so we do need a truck for all those Home Depot and dump runs. And I might actually enjoy driving it!

      Monday, September 26, 2005

      Knitting 101

      Sometimes it's the basic things that catch me. Today's knitting question: Is every two rows the same as every other row?

      And when the instructions say something like increase every 4 rows, is the 4th row the one you increase on or is the next one? I figure it would be the next one. Take for example a stockinette stitch with instructions to increase every 4 rows. I would begin the increase on the first row and count this as row 1.

      row 1: knit ---- increase
      row 2: purl
      row 3: knit
      row 4: purl
      row 5 (1): knit ---- increase
      row 6 (2): purl
      row 7 (3): knit
      row 8 (4): purl
      row 9 (1): knit ---- increase

      Am I right or am I wrong?

      So for every two rows:

      row 1: knit --- increase
      row 2: purl
      row 3 (1): knit --- increase
      row 4 (2): purl
      row 5 (1): knit --- increase

      Hmmmm...that looks like every other row. So why didn't they just say that? So I think I'm ok and won't have to rip back the last two rows I knit last night!

      Wednesday, September 21, 2005

      Busy week

      I've been busy but not busy at the sewing machine, I'm afraid. My birthday was last week and so was our anniversary but they were sort of overshadowed by a big meeting at work. This meeting caused me to stay late on Monday, bring work home on Tuesday (my birthday!), spend Wednesday evening at dinner with the out of town work visitors (at least I got to drink wine), and by Thursday evening (our anniversary) I was completely spent.

      I had intentions of getting lots of things done over the weekend but also high on my list was just relaxing. I did manage to do a bit of that. I spent some time just sitting and working on this:

      I bought the yarn (Rowan Cashcotton in Apple):

      and the book:

      in Mendocino. Actually, my husband found the book, liked the sweaters and thought I might too so he encouraged me to buy both the book and the yarn for this project. He's sweet. And apparently not (too) annoyed by the yarn and pattern books I already own and have not used.

      I thought the name of the designer and the "viking knits" theme was familiar and when I checked my bookshelf I found Viking Patterns for Knitting, by Elsebeth Lavold. How about that?
      The sweater is coming along slowly, despite the fact that I pick it up every time I sit down to watch TV. I watch a lot of TV but still haven't gotten very far on the back. This is perhaps why I have not knit many sweaters. Maybe I will post of photo of my progress, but maybe I will wait until I get to the more interesting cables in the design motif on the front. How exactly I'm going to do those cables, having never knitted cables before and being lefthanded, I don't know. There is a chart and I can follow charts and supposedly if you're a lefthanded knitter you don't run into left vs. right problems, but we'll see. However, I will definitely be sure to make a sample of the charted motif.

      I'm still intending to get pictures of our Mendocino trip up on I have them posted on I don't know if this link will work for anyone to view them on that site but it's worth a try.

      Jalie polo shirt #2 is in pieces on my dress form. I finished the front placket and sewed up the collar pieces. Although I love this fabric - a rayon knit - I am not happy that I chose this particular fabric for this pattern. The fabric is quite thin and can't really support the lump created in the front of the shirt where the two placket sides are sewn together. I had no idea this would happen and will have to consider it a learning experience because there's nothing that can be done about it now. But I will not let this shirt become a wadder so I'll continue to work on it. I adjusted the shoulder seam to try to eliminate some of the excess fabric under my arm. I think that will do the trick. Now I just need to adjust the sleeves to compensate for the smaller opening.

      Monday, September 12, 2005

      Quilt Museum

      The San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles opens in its new location this Saturday. I visited the museum in its previous locale and found it to be quite enjoyable. This new location is supposed to be larger and hopefully more permanent. The museum started in 1977 and has moved to about 8 locations since then. I'll have to make a point to visit it more often to check out the different exhbits.

      And while I'm on the subject of local museums, I've been meaning to get to the Lace Museum in Sunnyvale. One of these days...

      Tuesday, September 06, 2005

      A lovely weekend...for us

      I had a lovely, long weekend in Mendocino. I relaxed. I walked on the beach. I shopped. I knitted. I enjoyed delicious food. And I thought about the poor people who've lost loved ones, pets, homes, possessions, and jobs in the Gulf Coast. I couldn't not think about them. Our room did not include a television and I didn't read any newspapers, but that didn't matter because the images from last week were and are still firmly planted in my mind. I've done what I can - donated some money. I wish I could do more but I'm neither skilled in rescue or medicine, nor am I located near the disaster. Four years ago we were vacationing in Oregon and Washington when terrorism struck and rocked our nation. How does one enjoy a vacation when you know others are suffering? I did enjoy it, but feel guilty that I did. I guess I shouldn't feel guilty - our enjoyment of our vacation didn't add to the suffering and if we'd cancelled the trip, the B&B, stores and restaurants would not have benefited from our spending. But to the people of New Orleans, Biloxi, Gulfport and the surrounding communities...I'm sorry that you could not enjoy your Labor Day weekend. And I'm sorry for the tragedy that has befallen you.

      I debated about using my blog for talking about the hurricane's devastation. Since many bloggers have, I really didn't have anything new to add. I will say that the crafting/blogging community has joined the effort to raise money through sales of handcrafted items or by making quilts for the now-homeless victims.

      Also, if you don't have an emergency plan for yourself and your family, then you should. Living in earthquake country, I'm poised for "the big one" but sadly am not completely prepared. We have food and water set aside but I'm embarrassed to say that the other supplies are not amassed. Here's a checklist for suggested items to have in your emergency kit.

      I was going to post more about what I did this weekend, the yarn I bought, and my new knitting project, but I'm not in the mood anymore. Maybe tomorrow.

      Thursday, September 01, 2005


      Pears from our tree, now bathed in a sugary syrup, vacuum sealed, and waiting to be opened on a rainy wintry day (no snow here!).

      Wednesday, August 31, 2005

      I guess I do sew a lot

      The film canister I use for old* needles is quite full and my bobbin holder displays a rainbow of thread colors from past projects. I guess I do sew a lot.

      Right now I'm working on Jalie polo shirt #2 in the pink rayon. Laying out the fabric for cutting was a real annoyance. The fabric is stretchy and I don't have the benefit of a print to help me lay it out straight. The knit on this fabric is very tiny but eventually I was able to use my fingers to find a fold along the straight of grain. I was dismayed to see that it was cut off grain and feared that I wouldn't have enough fabric for the 3/4 length sleeves. However I managed to squeeze them in. I have all the pieces cut, the collar and placket pieces are interfaced and I've begun work on the stitching the front placket. Yeah, progress!

      But no more work on the shirt until after Labor Day weekend. Tonight I need to can the pears we picked off our tree before they all go bad and tomorrow night I need to pack and tidy up the house in preparation for our mini-vacation. We're headed to a B&B in Mendocino this weekend. Ahhhhh. Relaxation. I'll be sure to bring some knitting to enjoy on the porch with a view of the ocean.

      *You're supposed to change the needle with every project or after so many hours (10-12 I think) of sewing, but I cheat a little and stretch the use to sometimes 2-3 projects, depending on the type of needle and the project. This idea of changing the needle is relatively new I think and probably encouraged by Schmetz, a major needle manufacturer. There are plenty of sewers who keep the same needle in the machine for years, and I'm sure they don't realize that it's probably dull and causing skipped stitches. It's probably a bit overkill to change it so often but needles are relatively cheap, especially when you take advantage of the periodic 50% off notion sales at the chain fabric stores.

      Tuesday, August 30, 2005

      Speak to me

      My fabric speaks to me. Does yours? Mine tells me what it wants to be. Last night I looked through some of my fabric stash for fabric to make a second Jalie polo shirt. I remembered that I had stashed some fabric in the blanket chest in our bedroom and was dismayed surprised to find some that I'd forgotten about, including a pale pink stretchy knit. I'm embarrassed to say that I don't remember where it came from. Probably emmaonesock. This fabric spoke to me right away that it must be the next polo shirt. And I think it will be nice. It's a pale pink, a very ballerina pink, and I think that if I made a simple t-shirt from it it would look too lost against my skin. It needs the collar and neckline of the polo shirt, so a polo shirt it shall be.

      Then another fabric from this batch of blanket chest stash spoke to me. It's a light blue sweater knit with a chenille feel to it. This fabric said it needed to be Kwik Sew 3155. The only problem is that this pattern calls for a knit with at least 25% stretch and although this is a sweater knit, it has essentially no stretch. I looked through all of my Burda WOF patterns (I keep a notebook of the pages with the line drawings) to find something else that would work but this fabric persisted. It must be KS3155. Ok. But now I will have to figure out if I need to make adjustments to the pattern to make up for the lack of stretch.

      Update to above posting...

      Funny...I thought I might have blogged about the blue knit fabric when I bought it and it turns I did. And what did I have in mind to make with it at the time? Yup, the hoodie from Kwik Sew 3155. I guess it spoke to me even then.

      And the pink knit mystery is solved. I checked my old email and found an emmaonesock order that listed the purchase of the stretchy baby pink fabric (yes, I'm a bit obsessive about keeping old emails about the fabric I bought). But I wish now I hadn't found it. It's a bit of an ouch. Turns out the pink knit is a rayon lycra for which I paid $18/yard. I bought 1 1/4 yards but it now measures out as less (which means my sleeves will again be elbow length and not 3/4). Either I was shorted a bit (possible, it's happened on other fabrics I ordered from them) or it shrank when I washed it (also possible and probably what happened- I washed it on warm and dried it too). It was purchased, along with some other rayons knits of the same price, during a terrible fabric-buying weakness.

      But I can afford it and I shouldn't deny myself nice fabrics. Plus the $18/yard fabric is far better off being made into a garment I might be able to wear than forgotten at the bottom of a blanket chest. If the cost bothers me that much I guess I can figure that it balances the $2.77 I spent on the fabric for the first Jalie polo shirt, right? Besides, I'm not sewing to save money - I sew to save myself the annoyance of shopping for clothing only to see ugly fabrics sewn sometimes badly into things that I could make myself...for a lot less (ok, so money does factor into it a little). But the real reason I sew is because I enjoy finding a fabric that catches my eye and then listening to the fabric tell me what it wants to be. I enjoy turning the fabric into something to wear and I like that there's only one like it in the world!

      Monday, August 29, 2005

      Finished projects

      Drum roll...I finally finished the Jalie shirt! Yes! The world's slowest (and pickiest) sewer has stitched the last stitch on the shirt. I finished it in time to wear to a BBQ Saturday night. No, I wasn't sewing the hem on the way to the party, but I did stay up until 2:30 am the night before party (guess that would be the morning of the party). Fortunately I could sleep in, although I did have to get up around 6:30 to feed the cats or risk being "whined" into total awakeness.

      I'm pleased with the results and will definitely make a few more. I posted a review of the pattern on patternreview.

      (click for larger)

      And while I'm posting pictures, here's the Kwik Sew skirt I finished earlier this summer. Here's my review on patternreview. I was waiting to make the New Look 6952 blouse to go with it, but since I'm having fit issues with this pattern, I may not get to this anytime soon.

      (click for larger)

      So now that the endless Jalie shirt is done, I have my entire stash "yelling" at me with project ideas. Well, not the entire stash. Now that it's the last week in August, the spring and summer fabrics are going to have to wait. Not a problem - I have plenty of sweater knits, wools and autumn-colored fabrics to consider. But I think I will move on to a second Jalie 2562 right away before I forget how to consider incorporating Georgene's suggestions for improving the fit and before I forget how to make the darn thing and repeat the same mistakes. Now the only problem is deciding which fabric to use.

      Friday, August 26, 2005

      It's the idea of it

      I have many hobbies and many interests. My interests outnumber my actual hobbies and that's probably a good thing that they are just thoughts and I haven't turned them into hobbies. Yet. It's so tempting to try something new. In some cases it may just be the idea of the new hobby that interests me because I don't have time or space for the hobbies I actually do. My main hobby-time right now is spent on sewing and knitting, with sewing far exceeding knitting in terms of actual projects completed and stash and supplies for new projects. But knitting and the other hobbies are close behind. I consider a hobby anything I do, have tried and want to do again, and especially hobbies for which I've bought equipment and supplies. I'm not saying I'm good at any of them and I certainly don't have ongoing projects for most of my hobbies, but I try. Here's the list:

      • sewing: clothing, quilts, home dec, doll clothes and toys
      • knitting: hand and machine
      • crochet (I tried it and in addition to my knitting yarn stash, I have crochet cotton to make lace)
      • embroidery: hand and machine (including making computer digitized designs)
      • needlepoint
      • cross stitch
      • scrapbooking
      • rubber stamps (for greeting cards and scrapbook)
      • computer art (primarily for greeting cards)
      • jewelry making
      • stenciling
      • general art: watercolor, acrylics, colored pencil, paper collage
      • dollhouse miniatures
      • polymer clay (ok, not quite a hobby...yet, but I purchased a multi-color pack of Sculpey intending to try it out)
      • fabric painting (ok, also not quite a hobby yet but I have all the materials on hand to do it)
      • photography
      • gardening
      • home improvement (we're talking redoing the kitchen ourselves kind of stuff)
      • woodworking (most is in conjunction with home improvement but I learned to use the scroll saw at 9 years old and inherited most of my dad's and grandfather's machinery)
      And if that's not enough, these are the things I've thought about doing:
      • weaving (very tempted after seeing some gorgeous woven scarves)
      • bobbin lacemaking
      • stained glass
      • screen printing (isn't this a nifty kit?)
      • pottery
      • candlemaking
      • soapmaking

      I know I'm going to be coming back to this post to update it because everytime I go to post it I come up with yet another hobby or wanna-be hobby.

      Wednesday, August 24, 2005


      I cut out and stitched up the new collar last night. That's it. That's the extent of my progress on the Jalie shirt. I haven't even sewn it on the shirt yet. Some of the time was spent cutting out and ironing on the new interfacing . Woohoo. Such progress. At this rate I'll finish the shirt sometime in mid-September.

      But to be fair, I do work a full time job and my husband and I stayed a bit later at work last night than usual. Plus we stopped at Costco-land on the way home to replenish our supply of fruit, pretzels (BIG bag), and milk. Lots of fruit. And a pair of pants that turned out not to fit. I hate that Costco doesn't have dressing rooms. I hate that Dockers' sizes are not consistent. But I like being able to pick up a pair of pants, some sneakers, or a package of underwear while doing my routine food shopping. And sometimes they fit. I know I have plenty of fabric and patterns to make my own pants and underwear (not the sneakers of course) but I'm a slooooooow sewer. If I relied on my sewing to supply all my clothes, well, let's just say it's a good thing I don't.

      Tuesday, August 23, 2005

      Why it's good to read the instructions, part II

      This time I needed to take my own advice. I sewed the collar pieces together perfectly, with nice points and beautiful top stitching. And then when I was attaching the collar piece to the collar stand with 1 cm seam allowances I realized my error. This pattern uses 1/4 inch seam allowances. $*&#(~! Yes, the difference is only about 1/8 inch but this adds up and the result is that the collar would sit back from the front edge of the shirt by a bit more than it's supposed to. Would anyone notice? Would it bother me? Could I salvage another collar out of the remaining scraps of fabric? I don't know that anyone would notice, but yes, it would bother me and yes, I could squeeze another collar out of the scraps. Barely. I have just enough for one collar piece. I can seam the other collar piece that goes underneath and unless we return to the 80's fashion of wearing our polo shirt collars up (blech!) then I'm ok.

      Other than the collar fiasco, the shirt is coming along. I didn't push and finish it before the BABES get together (obviously) but I did get enough done so that I could bring it along and get opinions on the fit. The shirt fits OK, but I had weird gathers on either side, right under my arms. Thankfully, Georgene, our ever helpful expert with loads of experience in patternmaking, was on hand to help. She realized right away that I had too much fabric under the arm and needed to take it up at the shoulder seams. I certainly did not see that and would have not figured it out on my own. But I'll have to remember that for next time because it's not bad enough to try to redo. I also enlisted Georgene's help with the New Look blouse but I received an F for not having put the sleeves in my muslin. Lesson learned - you need the sleeves in order to get the fit correct. She did say that I was pretty close with the rest of the fit and thought that the vertical drag lines I had in my sleeveless muslin would probably go away once the sleeves were in. Perhaps after I finish the Jalie shirt I'll turn my attention back to this blouse.

      The BABES get together was a lot of fun. Tamtay took some pictures, which are posted on her blog. We started the day by sharing some recent sewing accomplishments. Georgene brought some RTW sweater sets that she beautifully embellished with trim, ribbon and beads. She has such a good eye for this! LisaM wore her gorgeous knit dress from a New Look pattern. Neefer showed off her terrific Asian-themed top with handmade frogs, which she says are easy to make (hmmm, I'll have to try that). I modeled my white Burda jacket (which I was so glad I brought because the fog makes SF quite chilly!). After some fitting help from Georgene and some nibbling on munchy-food, the swapping began. I lightened my fabric stash by transferring about 9 yards to sewing friends. Then we went shopping. I was good and only brought home 2 1/2 yards of some aubergine colored stretch crepe that I bought at Discount Fabrics and some buttons I bought at Mendels.

      Friday, August 19, 2005

      Why it's good to read the instructions first

      I'm usually very good about reading instructions. In fact I drive my husband nuts with my insistence on reading and following recipes to a "T." Thankfully I did stop and read the instructions on the Jalie 2562 pattern before I got too far. I discovered that Jalie identifies the right side and wrong side of the fabric opposite of what I'm used to from other pattern companies. Usually a dark color is used for right side and white is used for the wrong side. But apparently this Canadian pattern company wants to be different. Fortunately no harm was done and it only cost me time with the seam ripper. As a result I didn't get as far along on this shirt as I'd hoped. I was sorta, kinda hoping to have it done to wear on Sunday to my BABES get together but with my super slow sewing ('cause I take time out to read those instructions!), I don't think that's going to happen. And I'm not going to push it. Although it's nice to wear something I made to a sewing-group meeting, it's not a requirement.

      Wednesday, August 17, 2005

      I need a new shirt

      I'm not in the mood to tackle the fitting woes of the New Look blouse but I do want to sew and I want a new top. And I need to use up some fabric...which is a whole other problem! So I ventured into sewing room #2 the guest room and looked through the pile of stash fabrics that I haven't yet swatched and boxed up. I found a piece of knit that said make me into a shirt. It's only a one yard piece but I have in mind to make Jalie 2562. I really want to make the 3/4 length sleeve version (version B) but I only have a yard of fabric, so I'm going to try to squeeze a little bit more length on the sleeves in version A. I traced the pattern and hopefully tonight I will find some time to cut it out. And hopefully it will fit. I'm not too worried because I made the Jalie 2005 T-shirt last year and this is a knit. Knits are forgiving.

      But sewing may take a back seat to other activities tonight. First on the agenda tonight is discarding the old metal shed. Thank goodness our friends have a dumpster right now because they are moving (boo hoo!) and are letting us have some space in it. The shed came with the house and although it's very handy extra space, which is essential when you don't have a basement (why oh why don't they build basements in California?), it was time for it to go. Problem #1: the shed is 4 feet wide and the space on the side of the house is 6 feet wide. Problem #2: the doors didn't close right any more. Problem #3: it was getting rusty. Problem #4: it had no floor and just sat on bare concrete - just a welcome invitation for all things critter. While our trailer is loaned out to other friends who are also moving (we do shower, I swear), my boxes and boxes and boxes of fabric are stacked in the garage. If they are not already in the way, then they will be soon. But putting the boxes of fabric in the bare-floored shed wasn't a good idea. Because of the critters. We plan to replace the metal shed with a skinnier one made of plastic and with a floor in hopes that it will be impervious to rain and critters and still provide some storage.

      The other activities for this evening are to continue gathering and pricing garage sale stuff. Our friends with the dumpster are also having a garage sale this Saturday. At first I thought about adding a few items to their sale, but then it grew into bringing my own table and helping with the sale. Fortunately we agreed to make it a short sale: 8-12. It'll be good to get some stuff out of the house. Starting with my old dishes. I was also amazed at what stuff I had stashed in my cupboards that I don't use anymore. What doesn't sell will go to Goodwill but if I make a few dollars I plan to buy some more pieces of my new dishes.

      Out with the old:

      and in with the new:

      But no fabric or patterns at the sale. If I have any to part with I'll be lugging them up to SF to the BABES (Bay Area Bash Expressly for Sewists) get-together on Sunday. I will have to show maximum restraint however since we're planning to go to Mendels and Discount Fabrics in the Haight.

      Wednesday, August 10, 2005

      In the news

      I am always happy to read articles in the newspaper related to sewing (even when most of them are for quilting). Imagine my surprise when the front page of the business section of our local paper highlighted a local seamstress who makes period costumes. Here's the link, although you may need to sign up to read it (hint: try to get a login and password you can use without going through the whole annoying process of giving out your name, email, etc. to yet another online site). She's probably going to get loads of business as a result of the article but it sounds like she's busy enough already making around 50 costumes a year. I once, very briefly thought about sewing ice skating costumes and by chance a co-worker (and friend) who skates at the rink I do does make costumes on the side. But I couldn't put up with the clients and I'm no where good enough to make other people's clothing anyway. As it turns out my friend doesn't sew much for herself. I guess that's what can happen when you turn your hobby into a business.

      Monday, August 08, 2005

      "Around the house" pants

      I finished these pants a few weeks ago but just now got around to taking a picture of them (by the way, in case you're wondering, the cool wavy mirror is from IKEA). The pants are really comfy and are great for hot summer nights. I used a loose-weave cotton I picked up from Fabrix in San Francisco. The pattern is #103 from the February 2003 issue of Burda magazine. I posted a review on, although there really wasn't much to say about this pattern except that it's easy to make.

      Saturday, August 06, 2005



      Finally - the pictures from Lambtown last weekend:

      Hot sheep in wooly coats. It was only about 100 degrees out there!

      Hot sheep in wooly coats

      This Kiwi could really shear a sheep! He beat the local guy.

      Getting a haircut

      And what do you get from shearing a lot of sheep? If I had this much wool, I could make a lot of sweaters...and hats...and scarves...and socks...

      I want all this wool!

      And then it was time for all the naked sheep to go home.

      Naked sheep going home

      But here is one last pretty, chocolate-y sheep:

      Chocolate sheep