Sunday, April 30, 2006

Good intentions

I am so much better sewing and knitting in my head. I get so much done. But then there's the reality and good intentions and plans don't always happen quite when I'd like. There's the all the new things I wanted to make before our trip to the desert heat of Arizona. Two pairs of shorts are cut out, but with only two days before we leave for Arizona, I'm not sure if I'll actually get them sewn up. We'll see.

On the other hand, I did get the gauze skirt sewn. This is my first skirt with godets, so I didn't know what to expect. Now I do. It took much longer than I'd anticipated. All the raw edges had to be finished (in this case, serged) before construction; that's eight panels and eight godets. Then attaching the godets; that's sixteen seams (that have to match at the point) plus seaming above the godets. The pattern doesn't say what the circmumference of the skirt hem is; let's just say it's large. This is the first skirt I've made that took almost an entire spool of thread.

But I haven't been sitting on my hands either. Knitterly things are done and in progress.

There are the baby overalls: Done and delivered

The Sunrise Circle Jacket has been knit for a couple of weeks, but I was in search of the right buttons.

Somehow round buttons just didn't seem right. I found possibilities at The Sewing Place and Vogue Fabrics. I'm leaning to the semi-circles from Vogue Fabrics.

Another good intention was to complete the Twisted Front Top from the Spring 2005 Adrienne Vittadini book. It really helps to read the directions through and pay attention. Neglecting to do both resulted in more frogging than normal. It will make a good motel project and maybe I'll have something new to wear after all.

And just because I feel I've neglected the dogs (in the blog - not in life), here are Cody just looking cute and Mandy with snow on her back from March.

Monday, April 24, 2006


Well my plan to have an easy finished vest isn't happening as quickly as I thought. Turns out I didn't knit up both sides the same, so left side is shorter and shoulder wider than the right. The bad news is the Spring 2004 VK must be with the other sleeve. The good news is I found the original pattern that Shirley Paden faxed me. Oh well.

I love to sew, but I really dislike laying out patterns, so my plans of a day of pattern cutting hasn't happened. Instead I got one skirt cut out - the khaki colored gauze. It took some mighty creative layout because I didn't have quite enough fabric in the stash piece; it had been cut into (and made into who-knows-what). I managed, though - just and it involves piecing one of the godet. But it took so long, I stopped and went back to knitting.

My ambitions of having several new things to wear for the road trip to Arizona have been scaled down. But I will get two pairs of shorts cut out sewn and finish the skirt.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Shopping my stash

The Vogue patterns I acquired at 70% off from Mill End have been sitting on my desk for a week now. I stare at them lovingly trying to decide exactly what I'll do with them. Well, yesterday I decided to clean up my desk (a futile task, I might add). It netted two results - I found two bills I'd neglected to pay in my bill paying cycle and more interestingly, a big pile of patterns (including those I'd ordered and then stashed in a box somewhere.) Because I need to concentrate on general summer wear, I put away the evening dresses by Tom and Linda Platt (just too pretty to pass up) and Vera Wang (IF Evelyn ever decides to get married, I'm betting this will be the gown I make for her).

I took the others and went to shop my stash. Most of the fabric has been aging for long enough that I don't know when or where it was acquired.

Shorts out of blue rayon batik fabric and Vogue cap sleeve top in cotton/lycra from Mill End

Saf-t-Pockets reversible pants in two rayon batiks

Very aged stash gauze will be made into cool new McCall's skirt

New fabric, new patterns: Loes Hinse cruise pants in Cotton chambray with black weft threads, from Mill End and Saf-t-Pockets jacket in CNT rayon batik recently acquired at the Sewing Expo in Puyallup.

The revelation I have from this little outing is that I have some lovely fabrics, but not a lot for coordinating more than a single outfit. I guess I'll just have to get some more fabric...

Shopping the UFO pile

We had a lovely afternoon (and into the evening, as it turned out) with Dianne and John on Sunday. After brunch, Tom and John went out to work on the pool and Dianne and I settled down to knit. We were discussing how often knit patterns have mistakes. Some can be attributed to the author. Others may be a result of the publisher. Sometimes it's both.

In the Spring 2004 Vogue Knitting, Shirley Paden's Traveling Shells Cardigan spoke to me. I found some stash cotton on a cone that worked to the same gauge and started knitting away. Then I started "tearing out my hair" because the lace pattern, as it was published, had me working two odd or right side rows (and two other things I don't quite recall). I wrote Vogue Knitting, but got NO response. I posted on some discussion sites - nothing. Finally I did a google search for Shirley Paden. Maybe she had a website. Nope. Then I found her listed as an instructor for an upcoming class at a New York City yarn shop. They had an email, so I wrote them requesting information on reaching Shirley Paden. Two days later I received a phone call.

After some discussion, we determined where there were mistakes and what they should have been. Shirley offered to fax me the original pattern as she had submitted it to Vogue. Turns out the editors had edited out some important information - like the pattern repeat was rows 2-19 in the chart and had mislabeled a row (that one I sorted out for myself.)

With the corrections the one piece front and back was a breeze. Then I started the sleeves and then I set the project aside with second sleeve on the needles, and through the move to West Linn have misplaced, sleeve, yarn and needles, but I have the body, which I've decided will make a lovely vest. So one UFO is on its way to FO status.

What's wrong with this picture?

Friday, April 14, 2006

Propellor head

I love databases. I love being able to go to a database and find the information I'm looking for by typing in a work or phrase. If I want to organize information or script a process with lots of data, I turn to FileMaker, my database application of choice since its very beginnings in the early Macintosh days.

I guess that comes from 25 years in the computer industry. In retrospect, I also attribute it to my very organized father, though I didn't realize it at the time.

I mention this because I'm preparing to use the embroidery function of my machine for the first time and realized that my thread was all over the place. So I bought a Sulky case for my Sulky thread and found out I really need one and a half, but they don't make half cases, so a second one is on order. Or would I need more because there are other threads from other companies on the same type of spool? And what colors do I really have? And then there are the Madeira threads I seem to have accumulated, even when I wasn't sewing; what do I do with those and how many do I have?

That's where the small propellor starts spinning on my head. Did you know that Sulky actually provides an Excel spreadsheet of their threads with number and color? How cool is that for a database junkie like me? Through surfing and a little data manipulation, i found other lists of numbers and colors and now have a handy-dandy database with my embroidery threads. Of course normal people would just count the spools and look at their pretty collection of threads, but they don't have a small propellor on their head.

Some years ago I started a database to organize my sewing patterns and actually scanned in most of the envelopes. Yes, I could thumb through them in the file cabinet, but what's the fun in that? So i've resurrected the database (2 software versions later) and can now search for a garment, page through the pattern images, pick out a pattern and go to my organized cabinet to retrieve it.

And then there are all the knitting patterns I've downloaded or found that I like ( and are great for this). Do I really want to print them out? Not till I want to knit them. My little database has pictures and links to the original pattern online or the file that I can reference to decide if I have the yarn I have will really work.

Combining my fiberly endeavors and database goes way back. In the early days of the internet, on my website, I had a searchable database of the Threads magazine tables of content. It was only after Taunton Press finally posted their indexes and made them searchable that I retired the database; it had served its purpose well.

Okay enough of this internet stuff. There's knitting and sewing to be done.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

On and off the needles

At dinner celebrating March birthdays last month (Tom's and Dianne's), John asked me how may projects I had going. I stalled and never really answered because I don't think I wanted to admit to the number...and I still haven't counted. I like the process of knitting and I though I do like to finish things, starting something to see how it's done, seems to be what it's about for me. So as I prattle on about my accomplishments, it's only fair to talk about what's still on the needles from days, weeks, and months ago. I think I'll refrain from showing too many projects that are a year-old or more; I'll just get to some of them eventually and add them to the list of finished objects.

There's the top from the cover of Handknit Style that I started after Christmas. I substituted Elann Luna and Plymouth Spice yarns for the more pricey yarns called for in the pattern. The front breezed by, but by the time I got to the plain old stripes on the back I got a little bored. The sleeves are on the needles and I moved on to other projects, but the see through bag with all the yarns (20, if you're counting) sits out in the bonus room to remind me.

Almost finished

The baby overalls are knit up, but still need to be finished with snap tape and a pocket with a cute appliqué. This is where I get to combine sewing with my knitting because I'm going to use my handy-dandy new machine to embroider a little dog onto the front pocket of the overalls. The pattern is from Vogue Knitting on the Go Baby Two.

On March 26th, I started the Tsuki scarf. On April 10th, it was completed and ready to send to Scotland to its new owner. Knitting the with Artfibers Tsuki yarn was like knitting air, but I really enjoyed it, so I'll probably order another ball or two to knit a real lace pattern.

A new project
Since I finished the scarf, I needed a new project (never mind the UFOs). I found the Sunrise Circle Jacket in the Spring '06 Interweave Knits, and was intrigued by its shape. I started knitting lace because stockinette can be boring to knit, but there's something to be said for "mindless knitting" because I started the jacket Monday and have completed the back.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Fiberly Friends (and a couple of tangents)

I think it was probably 9 years ago that I read a post on some list from someone looking for a couple of Threads magazine issues to complete her collection. It just so happened my collection was complete and I had a couple of duplicates, including the issue she needed, so I wrote her.

When Patti Ferguson wrote back, she told me that I wasn't charging enough and sent me a check for double what I asked for. Then she wrote to tell me that she'd looked at my website and pointed out all the things we had in common - growing up in the Denver area, graduating from Colorado State, and being military brats. Then there was the knitting and sewing. I wasn't really doing much of either at the time - only thinking a lot about it - but reading Patti's emails I was always inspired.

I coined the phrase "fiberly" to describe our knitting and sewing endeavors, and Patti adopted it - referring to all her friends who did anything with yarn, fabric, threads, and fibers as her "Fiberly Friends." A year ago she organized a weekend in Chicago for the Fiberly Friends and after all that time emailing back and forth Patti and I finally met in person. I also had the great pleasure to meet Patti's mother-in-law in from Kansas, her sister and sister-in-law, along with Pam from Indiana and lots of locals, including Joanna and her mother.

Yesterday, Joanna had sent out pictures from another party hosted by Patti, but didn't have a good picture of her host. I did - from last year, so I finally scanned it for posting - the three P's - Pam, Patti, and Patty. Pam was wearing a jacket and slacks of her own making that fit her perfectly. Patti was wearing a pretty drapey dress, and I had on the vest I made for my mother-in-law from my father-in-law's ties.

Recently, Patti has connected several Fiberly Friends through email. Talk about inspiring work! Take a look - Liana has a blog and Kathryn and Pam have photo albums.

70% off!
Now that will get anyone's attention. Mill End, a local fabric store is offering 70% off Vogue Patterns - through next Sunday, April 16. Yesterday, I made my shopping list and headed over. I stuck to my list and came home only with the nine patterns some burgundy silk chiffon (20% off sale) to underline a little black dress for the cruise - Vogue 8182, if you're interested. The clerk pointed out that I did manage to save more than I spent, so it was a good trip.

The other thing that kept the visit in check was time. I'd dropped Tom off at his first acupuncture appointment and only had an hour in the fabric store. Tom's shoulder has been bothering him for a while, and we now attribute it to the blinding headache he had when we were in San Francisco. He'd probably aggravated the shoulder by schlepping around luggage. A visit to the nurse practitioner confirmed what we believed. A visit to a masseuse helped relieve some of the tension. And at the latter's suggestion he went to a accupunturist yesterday. He said it didn't hurt at all (even tickled - a man who is not ticklish). Time will tell if all this will actually help the circulation in his shoulder to heal it.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Small things

Last year, a month or so before we moved to Oregon, I found a list of Portland knitters and read a post from another knitter who was moving to the area in March. So Michelle and I started corresponding. In May, we met for the first time at Mabel's (one of no fewer than 16 yarn shops in the greater Portland area). We've been getting together at different yarn and coffee shops at least monthly since.

Yesterday, she and her 9-month-old son Robert came over for snacks, knitting and a movie. I made biscuits from Bob's Red Mill flour and Crackly Topped Ginger cookies from good ol' Gold Medal flour (there's a story around that...). And we watched Sunday in New York.

It's a good thing Robert likes dogs, because Mandy sure likes babies. (Okay - Mandy likes everybody).

Speaking of babies...
There seems to be an epidemic of babies this year - at least with people we know. One neighbor just had a son, another is expecting in June. Two friends are expecting this month (including twins). Maria just became a grandmother last week. So I decided I need to make some baby things. The first completed baby object is a shirt. It's like a real shirt - only small. The Butterick pattern says it's for newborns, but it looks pretty big. Good thing babies grow.

Next, it's the little corduroy trousers I've cut out.

On needles, I have a pair of overalls in a stash cotton. They're just stockinette, so a little scrunchy (technical knitting term) and uninteresting to photograph. But I will take advantage of the new machine to embroider an appliqué to put on the front pocket. The pattern from the Vogue Knitting on the Go Babies Two. Cute patterns.

What's with the cookies?

In a previous life, before I really embraced fiberly endeavors, I used to do a lot of cooking. Now, most of the day-to-day meal preparation is done by Tom, who, like my father*, is a great explorer in the kitchen. Most of the time his creations are good. Some are extraordinary (he makes the BEST hamburgers and omelettes!). Some - not so great. (There was the lamb loaf early in our marriage that even Stanley wouldn't eat!)

I am still, however, the baker in the family. I've been baking cookies since I was seven and still have the last vestiges of a scar to prove it. I have ginger cookie and chocolate chip cookie recipes that have been great successes from my youth in Colorado to living single in Sacramento to married days in San Jose. But when we moved to West Linn and my drop cookies turned into lace cookies.

Was it the new ovens? Was it the humidity? Was it the flour?

So I turned to cooking chemistry on the internet. Sunset had the best information, including chocolate chip cookie recipes to test to get different result (flat/crispy, puffy/caky, chewy, etc.) Shortening vs butter, hard flour vs soft flour, number of eggs all affect cookies in different ways. I did some serious cookie baking (and I'm sorry to say ate my way out of my favorite pants...but I've been working on that.)

Turns out it was the flour. We discovered the Bob's Red Mill store in Milwaukie, OR. They have a all purpose flour that I decided to try. It made the BEST biscuits from my already favorite recipe. But because it is so fresh (being milled locally), it was too soft and moist for my cookies.

So now I have two different AP flours in the house. Bob's for more structured baking and Gold Medal for cookies. My Crackly Topped Ginger cookies are now crackly again and the favorite 60's era Betty Crocker Chocolate Chip cookies are soft and chewy. Hooray!

*When we lived in the Philippines, Daddy used to take a tray of spices and sauces, along with a fondue pot, and sit in front of the football games broadcast on the AFTV (Armed Forces Television) and make some of the best spaghetti sauces, chilis, and stews. He was definitely the chef of the family. To this day, my mother would rather do just about anything than cook.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Knitting and Sewing and Dogs, oh my!

By way of introduction, it's only fitting that I provide examples of three of my favorite topics.

There's knitting:

Scarf in Artfibers Tsuki silk/merino yarn.


I've really been inspired by sewists online and locally in the American Sewing Guild chapter I recently joined, so I decided to get an early birthday/anniversary present.

...and dogs:

That's Tom with Cody and some yarn.

...and Mandy looking for some invisible flying object

Something new

I do my best thinking in the wee hours of the morning. It's usually very dark (I did say "wee") and I lay in bed thinking about what project I'm going to work on. Then I get up and I'm sidetracked by e-mail. But eventually, I'll get to that knitting, sewing or organizing that I had planned. With the light of day, it all may change, when the dogs are up and the Tom gets up. But it's the early morning hours that I'm at my best.

I've had a website for ten years, but just decided it was time to start a blog to share progress on projects and life in general.