Friday, June 22, 2007

Inspiration Welcome

Summer always seems to be a hard time to get a lot of serious sewing done. There are just so many things that need attention right now, and sewing is one of the things that gets put on the back burner for a bit. I'm still getting some knitting done, as I can do it anywhere, while the sewing is much less portable.

Except for the planning and inspiration processes. I'm almost never without a small notepad or notebook, and I love to make lists of planned garments, coordinates, fabrics, etc. The fun just never ends! As an adjunct to this, I am looking at lots of publications for ideas, as well as online sources of course.

I just ordered the new Marfy catalog (Fall 2007/2008) today.

There are supposed to be six free patterns with it this time. The Spring issue had 3 more free patterns than advertised, but I think that was a fluke. I'm kind of excited to know that it will soon be here. I went ahead and ordered it with courier delivery, so it may even be here next week!

I got my new copy of Ornament Magazine yesterday.

I really like this publication. It has a lot of things besides textiles and clothing, but everything is of a very high standard, and one idea does lead to another....

I've also been redoing my closet and finally decided to seriously begin using my former sewing room (an extra bedroom) as a dressing room and closet adjunct. So, with a lot fewer clothes in my main closet, it's much easier to see what I have, what I want to wear, and where it all is. I also ruthlessly weeded things out, much more so than I've ever been able to bring myself to do before, and I'm so pleased with the results. It's definitely a work in progress, and probably always will be, but I'm going to try to keep it up.

I'm happy to say that the wisteria is finally blooming, although certainly not as much as it would have earlier if not for our very late, very hard freeze this spring. Since the vine is fully leafed out, it's also not as dramatic as the earliest bloom usually is, but it's very nice to see it. I've been pruning bushes, weeding the lawn and flowerbeds, and dividing waterlilies and moving them around to various ponds which need more or less shade. I just keep telling myself that it's really good exercise.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Xmas Sweater Progress

Photo Link

Here's my progress so far on my brother's Xmas sweater. I think it's coming along nicely, and the pattern has been very nice to knit. I love the cable patterns, especially the main panel. It looks complex, but it's an easy 32 row repeat once you get the hang of it. The other patterns are 8 row repeats, so they fit together very well. Once you get to the bottom of the armscyes, you cast off some and then knit back and forth on the front and back. The sleeves are also knitted in the round and then set in. I think this will give a much nicer shaping than using a steek. This is a Norwegian pattern I believe. It's from the Drops site anyway, and is Men's pattern 59-6. They seem to have really nice, free patterns, and there are a lot to choose from.

I'm using Bendigo Rustic yarn in Midnight Tweed. It's mainly a deep navy, but has flecks and heathering of red, teal, purple, green, etc.

Our local library has a wonderful audio download program, and I've been listening to audio books while knitting. Also while gardening, etc. I just finished Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. It was such an engrossing story, and very sad, but very satisfying. It also includes many references throughout to embroidery, weaving and sewing.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Norah Gaughan Shell is Finished

Photo Link

I finished the Norah Gaughan shell today that I've been working on. I used Bendigo's Cotton yarn, and I really think it turned out pretty well. My sister thinks it would have been a bit nicer if I had reversed the front pieces, and put the design panel on the right instead of the left, and I think she's right. Live and learn. I should know that things generally look better on me with the interest on the right. I'm sure I'll wear it anyway though.

It really was a fairly quick knit, and quite enjoyable, especially the patterned front panel. The front is done in 3 pieces which are seamed together. I'm sure there's a way to do them all as one, and I thought about it, but I wonder if the fact that there are seams on each side of the cabled panel gives it a bit more stability than if there weren't.

This was very nice yarn to work with as well. The pattern called for yardage that was just about 2 balls-worth, and so I ordered 3, just to be sure. It really took me very little over 1, so I have a lot left over. I did the Back in the Small size, and the Front in Large, changing to Small as I neared the shoulders. It went together with no problems.

I'm editing this to say that the just over 1 balls-worth is actually more like just over 4 regular 50g balls, since I used Bendigo's yarn, and they put theirs up in 200g balls. So I actually used just over 200g of cotton yarn. Hope this didn't mislead anyone!

I also have just found out that
Bendigo has a website, so you can see their products there, and order too. I don't know how the colors will look to you, but on my monitor they seem not nearly as pretty as they are in real life, so do order a color card. They've always sent those to me for free, and it's wonderful to have it.

Still windy today, but not as bad as yesterday. Many baby robins, grackles, cowbirds, and bunnies out today eating and bathing and generally enjoying the wind-free morning. I imagine they were all hiding under a bush or something yesterday. It was a dangerous day to be out.

On a somewhat sad note, Pearle's brother has the farm they grew up on and there's been a windmill there for 100 years. It's been shut off for the last 10 or so. The head (fan part) blew down yesterday. Luckily it missed all the buildings, but it's so sad to see an empty windmill tower on a place. Also, there's nothing to see which way the wind's blowing out in the country anymore. There used to be windmills in every section, but there are fewer and fewer all the time. This one was on top of a hill, on a high tower, so it was visible from a long way, and almost always got enough wind to pump water, although it wasn't used anymore, which is why they're disappearing everywhere. Now this one's gone too.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

And the Wind Blew!

Quite the disaster in the back yard this morning, as I was planning to water flowers and weed a bit. I put up the patio umbrella, as there was no wind, and it was already sunny and getting hot. I went around the house to get more hose and came back in just a couple minutes to find the umbrella had vanished! It was nowhere, and we have a large yard. I didn't see how it could just vanish, but it had. It was a large, heavy umbrella made of wood and canvas with a brass pin to hold it up, rather than a crank system.

I looked up and it was on the garage roof, behind the pergola. As I stared and wondered how I would ever get it down, it came down. Hard. Right in the flower bed, breaking a few of the ribs naturally.

Needless to say, that was the beginning gusts of the wind coming up, and it's been blowing between 35 and 50mph even since. It's also about 90 degrees, so not a very nice day.

I went out after lunch and weeded a bit anyway, and since then I've stayed in and worked on the finishing for my Norah Gaughan shell from her Knitting Nature book. I think I'm going to like it.

Oh, one other weird occurrence. I dyed my feet red Sunday night.

Not on purpose. I was cleaning a pond, which is a wet job, so I put on a pair of cheapie slip-on canvas shoes which I'd never worn, as they're a bit small, but water wouldn't hurt them. Or so I thought. When I was done, I went in the basement door and started to take off my grubbies, and took off the shoes, which were completely saturated, and there was a perfect pattern of where they had been in bright, cherry red! I was horrified! The first thing I thought was that I wouldn't be able to wear sandals or even open-toed shoes to the luncheon on Monday. (First things first, of course.) I scrubbed and scrubbed, and they'd look clean and in a moment, they were red again. It was as if the dye was just coming out of me. I finally got it pretty good, and told Pearle if I had some weird allergic reaction, it was the shoes. I had visions of weird, lead-laced dyes, since the shoes were very cheap and probably had no quality control whatsoever. Apparently I'm fine. Just hope it wasn't Red Dye #2.

Life is so exciting, isn't it?

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Fast Thread

Posted by Picasa

I have been listening to some experts who like cotton thread for garment construction, and since I've tried silk and liked that, I thought another natural fiber would probably be very nice also. I bought a couple spools of DMC 100% Cotton 50wt. Machine Embroidery Thread at a sewing expo last summer, and didn't actually try any until now. I bought a couple colors "on spec" and just didn't get to one of them before. Anyway, I have decided that I like this thread very much after using it on my Flounce Blouse.

Next problem, where to get more? I found a supplier at Soft Expressions. They have all the colors and a decent price too. What I didn't realize was how fast they were. I ordered just after midnight Thursday, and the thread was in my mailbox this morning! About 58 hours all told. I think they might hold the record, although for speed plus distance, Bendigo still has them beat. Anyway, that's my little box of thread above. I'm not sure what I'll do with the variegated spool, but I think it might be fun for topstitching something.

It's been raining here, and I've been doing some semi-major housecleaning and clearing out. I've got quite the assortment to go to the Salvation Army (because they will come and get it) and I need to just call and have them come, and then again later when I have more. I'm actually letting some of my sewn garments go. They're not particularly new, but they're timeless pieces (I tell myself) and someone should get some use out of them, and maybe even like them.

I did finally break down and buy a Roomba as well, and I've been so pleased with it. (This is what they look like, in case you haven't seem one.) I have almost all wood floors on the first floor, and it's wonderful on non-carpeted surfaces. It's fine on carpet that's not too deep a pile as well, so it does pretty well almost everywhere. I get the biggest kick out of watching it just keep on rolling along when it comes to furniture, as it's able to go under most things, and it will disappear under a sofa skirt and then reappear pretty soon going the other direction. It's almost more like a toy than a tool, but it's not just for fun, it does the job. The other day I felt so virtuous because the dishwasher was washing, the Roomba was vacuuming, and I was out mowing the lawn.

Well, I probably am easily thrilled.