Sunday, October 31, 2004

Happy Halloween!

mmmm, cupcakes Posted by Hello

And I also present to you, Felix the ferocious yarn-eater.

That yarn looks sooooo good! Posted by Hello

My yarn! Posted by Hello

Friday, October 29, 2004


"I'll just glue it. I don't know how to sew"

Heard in (the very very very long) checkout line at Hancock Fabrics. I doubt the two guys holding the stack of multiple colors of felt yardage (and who look like they could play for the 49ers) sew either. Or the guy on the phone (to his wife, I presume) asking if he should get the pattern even though it's a children's pattern and not an adult's. And the guy holding two skeins of thick, brown yarn (that looked kinda like hair) was probably not going to knit it.

Yes, it's that time of year again. At least all the once-a-year Halloween costume "sewers" bring in revenue for our fabric stores. That's a good thing.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Cats + Yarn + Leather Couch = AAAAARGH!

My night started out just fine. My husband and I went to the nice downtown area after work so I could stop at the LYS and get some size 13 dpns. Quite pricey little things. I couldn't find any cheapie ones in that size at the craft or fabric stores so nice bamboo ones it is.

Once home, I immediately cast on for the kitty bed and was pleased at how quickly it went. However, it was a constant battle to keep the cats out of my work. The female queen kitty isn't the problem - she just watches intently and sometimes decides that when I knit it's a good time to sit on my lap. The male tuxedo-cat is the problem. He wants to attack the yarn. I really should take a picture of him. He looks possessed. During one of the times I pushed him away with my foot, he grabbed onto the arm of the leather couch and...oh, I'm going to be sick. It's not just a scratch. It can't be buffed out with leather conditioner like the half million other scratches he leaves when he races around during kitty-krazies. It didn't go all the way through but it's definitely cut. About 1 1/2 inches long. My husband says leather repair is expensive (can't be as expensive as this sectional couch was). I searched on the internet this morning and learned some stuff. Mainly that the DIY leather repair stuff doesn't really work. A professional can fix it but when I read that it involves sandpaper I quickly knew this was not something I would attempt on my own. A professional can and will fix it...eventually. Since the scratch isn't bad and isn't on a cushion that would get stressed (but could be taken to a shop for repair), I will leave it alone. I'm sure there will be more and we might as well wait to call in the professionals.

I try to keep the cats' claws trimmed but don't always remember to do it. Like closing the barn door after the horse gets out, after the couch got clawed I got out the cats' nail clippers and trimmed some nails. The tuxedo-cat protested and bit me through my sweatshirt sleeve, leaving a nasty bruise.

As for the kitty bed, I'm about half-way through. I'd like to think that the cats' fascination with it is because they somehow know I'm knitting for them. But they've also responded this way to the scarves and hat I recently worked on. And they know where I keep the yarn.

Oh, and I must add that although the bamboo dpns (Crystal Palace) were expensive, they're worth it. I noticed a big difference when I switched to the Clover bamboo circular needles - nice, but not nearly as nice as the Crystal Palace.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Some pictures I found...

Here's a picture of one of my great knitting projects. Yeah, impressive, isn't it? I also hand stitched the edge of the fleece blanket.

Booties Posted by Hello

And here's a picture of me knitting. It was about 4:30 am and I was "babysitting" a 250 million dollar satellite. Yes...really. It wasn't a very intense job, hence the ability to knit 'n sit. I was there in case something went wrong during the initial two weeks after launch. Nothing did. And that was a good thing for both my knitting and for you. You probably see the pictures from this satellite when you watch the weather forecast on the evening news.

Night shift Posted by Hello

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

No pics

Ok, so I’m not a very consistent blogger. And I’m even worse at posting pictures. I didn’t even take a picture of the scarf like I said I would. But my knitting streak is going strong and someday I’ll post some pictures of my accomplishments.

I finished my hat and promptly decided to rip back and make it longer. I have extra yarn, so I might as well.

I made some stitch markers because I just couldn’t bring myself to buy and use the boring plastic rings. I bought 16mm metal split rings from the jewelry making section of my LCS. I already have plenty of beads and wire in my craft stash. They’re fun to make and it’s great to use up those odd beads.

Encouraged by the knitting in the round for the hat, I decided to make a cat bed. Since the bed is to be felted, I needed to use 100% wool but I wanted to do this on the cheap. The last cat bed I made was peed on repeatedly until it had to be thrown away. Well, it probably had something to do with the fact that our elderly cat took his last breaths in it. Maybe they knew this or maybe it smelled odd to them (despite machine washing it). The little kitten sitting in the offending cat bed right after I made it is Abby - a formal feral whom we adopted at 5 months. She's still afraid of humans, even two years later.
If I make another of these cat beds, I will make the fabric separate from the foam so it can be washed easier or the foam can be replaced. But these knitted beds look cozy and my cats have been telling me they want a soft place to sleep. I was able to find 100% wool chunky yarn at my LCS – the only stuff they had that wasn’t mixed with acrylic or nylon. I bought enough (probably more than enough) to make three beds. We have four cats – the fourth bed might be a mish-mosh of the leftovers. When I got home I realized that although I had the right circular needles (13), I needed dpns to start and the only large dpns I have are size 10. I tried knitting with these and worked my way up to about a 5” diameter circle before deciding that it was just too tight and it would look bad to transfer to the 13 circulars. So I frogged it, much to the astonishment of my husband who saw that I was knitting during the whole time we were watching the Office special on TV. C'est la vie! So today I might go out for break to my LYS and buy the right dpns and start over tonight. By the way, this was the first time I ever knitted with dpns – it was a bit awkward at first, but I think I got the hang of it.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Round and round I go, but to the left

Who knew knitting in the round would be so fun? I sure didn't. I started knitting my Sinsation-yarn hat and I can't stop. I honestly have never knitted in the round and I've only knitted with my circular needles like you knit with straight ones. The circular needles are very convenient to use on the airplane - no accidental (well at least very minimal) bumping of your neighbor or worries about getting smacked by the beverage cart. The hat pattern is just a simple one that Fengari gave me when I bought the yarn. The Sinsation yarn is oh, so soft but at $11/ball, it wasn't in my novice knitting budget to make anything larger than a hat, which still takes two balls because there are only 38 yards per 50 gram ball. I just started on the second ball. A few more rows and I can begin to decrease. I'm going to need to refer to my books to see how to decrease properly. Do I just pick up two stitches and knit them together? I can't remember.

I've been reading Stitch 'N Bitch and discovered that I knit left-handed, English style. When I taught myself to knit in college, I used a book that had pictures for left-handed and right-handed knitting. Being left-handed, I naturally followed the left-handed pictures. In hindsight I wish I'd stuck with right-handed knitting, which is how my great aunt and grandmother taught me a long time ago. It'd be easier to follow patterns if I knitted right-handed. The author of Stitch 'N Bitch suggests lefties learn right-handed Continental style, where you work the right needle into the left but hold the yarn in your left hand. I've thought about trying to change but I'm afraid it's too late. Perhaps not too late, but I am just so much more comfortable working the left needle into the right.

There are many things I've learned to do "right-handed" but over the years I've switched to doing them left-handed and I am so much more comfortable. Here's the list of what I do right and left handed:
  • Using scissors: right-handed. When I was 5, my grandmother had ordered me left-handed scissors, but I couldn't wait and learned to cut right-handed. I still have the un-used left-handed scissors. Given my penchant for sewing scissors, it may (or may not!) be a good thing I learned right-handed.
  • Cutting with a knife: left-handed. I'm no chef, but chopping, slicing, and dicing are all easier with the knife in my left hand.
  • Writing: left-handed. Well that's an obvious one. I don't think one could write right-handed and call themselves a lefty! Once in 5th grade I injured my left hand and had to write right-handed. Not good.
  • Hand sewing: left-handed.
  • Tennis: started out right-handed but now play left-handed. Actually I once used a bizarre combination of the two. I used to switch hands to avoid using the backhand stroke. I served lefty though. I don't really play tennis. I've had a few parks and rec lessons and my husband and I messed around with it when we were dating.
  • Archery: my brother taught me right-handed but I switched to left-handed when I discovered my left eye is dominant. Yes, I can shoot a bow and arrow - and pretty darn well, thank you very much. My brother taught me (he tried to make me into the little brother he never had) but I also took it in college to fulfill a gym class requirement. I chose archery because I didn't have to run, which I hate. The class consisted mostly of local guys used to deer-hunting. They were surprised a girl could master a bow and arrow. And so was I, so I signed up for another non-running gym class...
  • Shooting: left-handed. In my gym class I shot a 22-rifle and made Marksman. In the Air Force I shot a 38 caliber handgun and missed earning my Expert badge by a smidgen. Yup, the left eye is definitely dominant.
  • Swinging a bat: right-handed. I blame my brother for teaching me that way, but at least I didn't "bat like a girl." In fact, the boys in the fifth grade were quite impressed that I knew how to swing a bat.
  • Throwing a ball (or anything else): left-handed.
  • Catching a ball: right-handed (i.e., in my left hand). I blame my brother and a lack of left-handed gloves. I'm a rotten fielder so it's a good thing I don't play softball. The rare times that I've played, I've had to take the glove off to throw the ball. I could probably catch left-handed, but since I always have to borrow someone's glove, it's almost always a right-handed glove.
  • Kicking a ball: left-footed. No, right-footed. Gosh, I can't remember. It's been a long time since I kicked a soccer ball or play ground ball, but I think I used to kick it with my right foot.
  • Ice skating: left-handed. Another gym class I took in college was ice skating. In that class I don't remember going much beyond front and back skating, but years later when I took classes again, I advanced to single jumps and spins and discovered quickly that I skate left-handed. My natural tendency is to turn clockwise while most right-handed people are more comfortable turning counter-clockwise. Sarah Hughes, Johnny Weir, Todd Eldredge, Rudy Galindo and the pairs team of Tiffany Scott and Phillip Dulebohn are all clockwise skaters.
  • Using a computer mouse: left, then right, now back to left. This is an odd one for me. For a while I used the mouse on the left but when my left shoulder started to ache, I switched to the right. I also found that getting used to using the mouse on the right was helpful when I needed to use someone else's computer. But at work I recently switched the mouse back to the left and I'm more comfortable with it there. At home, the mouse is still on the right. I have my own computer and my husband has his, so it's not a matter of having to compromise with my right-handed husband. The really odd thing is that when I use a laptop, I find myself using my right hand to control the cursor.

So there you have it. I imagine that most right-handers don't even give it a thought as to which hand or foot they use or which way they'd spin on the ice. But I guess when I look over the list, I'd say that I should probably stick with left-handed knitting.

And speaking of knitting, I'm really looking forward to starting those socks now. Round and round and round...

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

A Tangled Mess!

Yesterday evening I had a little time before dinner while my husband was de-stressing from work on the XBox so I wandered into the spare bedroom where I keep my cutting table and a lot of fabric and yarn. I didn't emerge for a few hours. Needless to say, dinner was late...and quickly prepared. My husband was still engrossed in his game (no, he's not addicted to it, now is he?). So what was I doing in my room of fabric and yarn? I wound three hanks into balls. Yes, it took me that long and I still have one more left. This is yarn my mother-in-law bought me in New Zealand and while it's a lovely dark green mohair/merino blend (quite a nice surprise, coming from her), she failed to understand the concept of dye lots and I have three in one lot and one in another. Oh well. The hanks are 100 grams each, so maybe I have enough of the one dye lot for a sweater or something.

I don't know whether the hanks were already a mess or whether they got that way from my less than careful storage. They were still in the tissue-filled gift bag I received them in. I think at the time I received them, in the mail as a Christmas or birthday present, I wasn't in a knitting phase so I didn't pay much attention to it. But last night I felt the urge to spin it into balls. I have a ball winder, so that makes the job very easy. The hard part is dealing with the hank. I don't have one of those umbrella-looking gizmos (haven't a clue what they're called) because it's very rare that I buy hanks of yarn. But the ball winder was a necessity to produce balls with a center pull for my (unused) knitting machine. I did my best to sort out the hanks, but they had gotten twisted and confused as to which yarn belonged on which side of the hank. This is why I spent hours untangling. I'm a master at untangling. I have patience and a strong need to do the job perfectly. Did I mention I'm a Virgo? If it weren't for the cats, the hours would have been pure Zen. Strange but true - I was lost in the work. And the cats? MEOW! I WANT THE STRING! Need I explain it any further? I tried booting them out but our tuxedo kitty scratched at the door and wailed. I would periodically open the door and squirt him with water, but that only silenced him for a few minutes. Then he was back. The girl kitty gave up and decided it was more fun to harass tuxedo-boy.

So I have one more hank left. More Zen tonight I think. I think I will sneak in the room while the cats are eating, but I don't think it will fool them.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Knitting and sewing weekend

Well, not so much knitting, but shopping for knitting - that's always fun, right?

First, the sewing. On Saturday my darling husband pushed us forward a tiny notch on our home improvement projects. He hauled out the drill and the curtain rods I bought last month and put them up in the kitchen. So this prompted me to pull out the sheer polyester fabric I bought at G-streets in Rockville, Maryland last summer. The fabric was a bargain at $2.77/yard and there were 7 yards of the 56" wide fabric. I decided I wanted to a do a sort of valance, just a simple rod pocket at the top, one piece along the entire window, with a length of 24 inches. Anything longer and the cats will mistake it for something they can dig their claws into. The drape's only function is to provide some color and texture since there are blinds on the windows already. I calculated the fabric repeat and factored in the width of the two windows and by some miracle I had exactly the amount of fabric I needed for drapes that are 2 1/2 times the width of the window. I've only gotten as far as cutting the panels (cheers for the serrated Ginghers - a perfect scissor for sheer fabrics!). I ran into problems figuring out the best way to join the panels. I'm inexperienced at this, but I think I will serge the panels together, on the advice of my mom. I was going to use a French seam because the fabric frays easily but that makes joining the pattern even trickier since the first seam sewn is not the final one. Plus mom thinks the French seam may be too stiff. I'm concerned about matching the pattern exactly, but mom says it'll be lost in the folds of the drape and not to worry too much. I didn't get any further on the drapes because my husband needed me to help finish the planter box we started last weekend and plant some plants. He was on a roll with the home improvement projects.

I woke Sunday to rain - the first storm of the season. I was glad we'd done the planting the day before. A rainy day seem like a good excuse to do some sewing and knitting but I ended up doing some shopping instead. My husband was called into work so I tagged along and dropped him off at work and then visited a quaint downtown nearby. There was a sidewalk arts and crafts show going on but it was fairly dismal due to the rain. Of the displays that were up, most were covered in sheets of plastic. I browsed the art but was mainly interested in going to Knitter's Studio and not just to get out of the rain. I walked away with some new bamboo needles for my next project (a hat from Sinsation yarn) and this book on knitting socks (you're right, Alison, it's just knitting). It took some restraint but I managed to avoid buying any more yarn. I visited my stash yesterday morning, reclaimed the yarn from the unfinished baby bunting, and fondled the other skeins I purchased for projects long forgotten. There's barely room for my fabric stash - I simply can't afford space for a yarn stash too!

To fuel my current knitting urge, I cracked open Stitch 'N Bitch last night and began reading. It's a fun book so far. I also might sign up for a lesson from Knitter's Studio. Believe it or not, I don't think I've really knitted in the presence of other knitters. I honestly don't know if I'm knitting correctly. Even if I am, I could probably benefit from some help in how I'm holding the needles, throwing the yarn, or how tight or loose I'm knitting. I specifically asked if they could help a lefty knitter and they say one of their instructors can. I hope so.

Friday, October 15, 2004

One down...

I finished knitting the burgundy scarf (hopefully I'll post a pic this weekend) and cast on a second. I'm using the same yarn, but in brown. This time I put some yarn aside for the fringe. I didn't make fringe for the first one but I decided to try it on this scarf. I haven't decided whether to give the burgundy or brown on as the gift - perhaps the decision will be made for me if I don't finish the brown one in time.

I like having a TV-knitting project and am already thinking about the super soft yarn I bought at Fengari to make a hat and the sock yarn (also from Fengari) to make, well, socks of course. I've never knit socks before and I'm a little intimidated by the thought. I'm a self-taught lefty and don't even know if I'm knitting correctly. I think that's why I'm afraid to take a class or join a knit-along. I'm afraid people will point and laugh and tell me I'm doing it all wrong. Oh, I know they won't. Knitters and sewers tend to be very nice people, but I'm still afraid to find out I've been doing it all wrong.

I haven't knit too many things and certainly haven't finished many. I used a book to teach myself how to knit while I was in college (drove my roommate nuts that I had time to knit). My first project was a garter stitch scarf. It wasn't half bad. The gauge only sorta-kinda got out of whack! I don't remember the exact order of my next few projects, but they were much more ambitious: baby sweater, pants and booties for my nephew, vest for my mom (out of yicky craft store acrylic - sorry mom), and a vest for myself (haven't worn it in many, many years but it's still in my drawer). Then a series of unfinished projects began. Most were too ambitious and thus un-finishable for a novice knitter.

I attempted an argyle pattern sweater but my gauge was wrong and it was never going to fit. I think I knit the front and one sleeve and threw it away during one of my moves.

I tried to knit a big, soft sweater in a graphic black and white pattern with a huge cowl (yeah, it was the 80's) and remember knitting almost the whole front (or back) during a blizzard in Colorado, but again I screwed up the gauge and had trouble changing colors. I ripped it out but I still have the yarn. If I recall I made at least two attempts to knit the thing.

I attempted to knit a bunting for my sister-in-law's baby shower (my niece is now 7) but my tension seemed to change between back and front pieces and because I'm a lefty and followed the instructions exactly, the front pieces ended up reversed. Not knowing how to fix the pattern has prevented me from trying anything non-symmetric ever since. I don't have to tell you that I didn't finish it.

I started a baby dress for no one in particular but I was hopeful that I'd have the baby who would wear it. It remains unfinished and is a reminder both of my infertility and of the days I spent sitting in the family room with my dad while he was dying from liver cancer.

Then I started on another sweater, for me, from a pattern out of Knitter's magazine. I worked on it during many coast-to-coast flights I took for my job. It's a complicated stitch, of course, and not something I can just pick up and start working.

I have actually finish some things: baby booties for a friend's baby and another scarf. Last January we took a road trip where I spent 3 days in the car, so I went to Walmart and bought some chenille yarn and some knitting needles and, well, knitted.

So scarves are more my speed right now. I have enough complicated sewing projects to make me nuts and the simple knitting is just perfect for TV watching.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Christmas gifts

Every year I have great plans to make things to give as Christmas gifts. I always bite off more than I can sew, knit, embroider, needlepoint, bake... This year I thought I'd start early. Well, I may have started, but I didn't finish. I only exchange with one of my sisters (and her family) and a sister-in-law (and family) so at least the list isn't too long. I also try to make my mom something even though she doesn't "do gifts." This year I planned to knit a scarf, sew two small paper-pieced quilts (to be framed), and I always have ideas to embroider shirts, bags, towels. One quilt is started but no where near finished and the scarf is coming along ok. I worked on the scarf last night while watching TV but progress is slow. Good thing I'm not knitting a sweater!

As Christmas approaches I prioritize my gift making. Highest on the list are the gifts that must be sent - unfortunately, with the exception of anything I may make for my husband, everything must be shipped this year. Next on the list are local gifts and finally, if I still have time, I work on the Christmas decorations I hope to make every year. Needless to say, I haven't ever gotten to the stockings, or embroidered table runner, napkins and placemats I'd like to make every year!

And then of course there's my never ending list of garments I'd like to sew or knit and quilts and home dec items (I have the fabric for curtains for nearly every room in the house and I need to hem some purchased curtains for the den). Yesterday I received my Burda WOF and there were so many things in it that I wanted to make. I lamented to my husband that I had no time to sew them and he suggested I quit my job. Yeah, but then I'd have no place to wear them!

So I guess I will just continue to slowly work on one or two projects at a time and remember that I have made quite a few things, either for myself or for gifts.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Baby blanket

I'm slowly working on a baby blanket for my niece. She's actually a grand niece but I feel really old writing that, so I'll stick to just niece, thank you! The blanket is simply one yard of flannel and one yard of fleece with the corners cut on a curve. I plan to embroider her name, birthdate, birth weight and length on it and bind the edges with fleece binding. It really shouldn't take so long but anything I sew takes a long time. My niece was born in late August, so I really don't want to let this go too long.

This is the first lettering I've done with my new Pfaff embroidery software. Actually, this is the first embroidery that I've done with it at all other than trying some of the tutorials. I haven't stitched it out yet - I said I was slowly working on this! It took a while to fuss with the software and figure out how to do what I wanted. It turned out to be a lot easier than the old PC Designer software. Last night I had a spare 30 minutes so I decided to try sending the design to the machine. I found the cable, hooked it up to my Pfaff 7570, turned it on, fired up the File Assistant software and got "Communication has not been established with the machine. Ensure that the machine is switched on, and the cable is connected between the computer and machine, then click OK." Hmmmm. Machine is on. Cable is connected and it must be talking because the display on the machine changed to the computer and sewing machine icons. I tried different com ports. I rebooted. Same error. Rats. I thought about trying different (lower) baud rates for the com port, thinking that the older 7570 may need a slower connection vs. the newer 2140 and 2144 models. Rather than disturb my Monday Night Football-watching husband who would turn this into a 4-hour computer project, I turned to the Pfaff website instead. After a few minutes in their FAQ, I found the problem. File Assistant does not work with the 7570. But I can send designs to the machine using the VIP Customizing software. (This Pfaff software has so many modules - I can't keep them straight: Stitch Editor, Stitch Artist, Customizing, File Assistant, Digitizing...) The File Assistant looks useful, but alas, not for the 7570. But I was able to transfer the design using Customizing, so all is well.

Next step: sew a sample of the lettering

Shopping:yes, sewing:no

I hit the sales this past weekend at both Joann's and Hancocks. I bought the three 11 1/2" doll patterns I wanted and also picked up this Japanese Kimono pattern. You never know when you might need to make a Kimono and for 99 cents...well, I couldn't resist.

After Joann's I ventured over to Hancocks. A Kohls store just opened next door and it was quite a zoo. Why is a new store such a draw? It's just another discount store. The parking lot was nearly full with crazed shoppers. I parked over by the Hancocks, on the side of the building where it's normally empty but Saturday it was full of Kohl's shoppers. And the crowd spilled into Hancocks as well. Hancock's put a table of remnants and sports fabrics out front. They're not dumb. I'm sure they got quit a few new customers in there. They had all the cutting tables and registers manned. I specifically went there to buy a set of Mundial scissors. Not that I need more scissors, but it was a great deal: bent dressmaker and small scissors for $15, vs. normal $36 price. I plan to use the dressmaker scissors for cutting fleece because I'm leery of ruining another pair of my nice Ginghers. I think I ruined them cutting poly fill but now I'm also swearing off fleece as well just to be safe. Interestingly, the small scissors are exactly the same as a pair I bought at a quilt shop a few months ago for $14. The small scissors are slightly serrated and work great for trimming seams. I didn't need a second pair, but then I don't really need half the scissors I do have. I seem to like scissors. Here's my inventory:

  • 8" Gingher knife edge - cheetah handle
  • 8" Gingher knife edge - damaged and waiting to be sent for sharpening (one of these days...)
  • 8" Gingher serrated - a must for cutting chiffon
  • Gingher pinking shears - don't use these so much now that I have a serger
  • Gingher applique scissors - fabulous for trimming seams
  • Gingher tailor points - a must for clipping and trimming bulky seams
  • Gingher machine embroidery scissors
  • Gingher stork embroidery scissors
  • Gingher large handle embroidery scissors
  • Gingher thread nippers
  • Mundial 8 1/2" dressmaker shears
  • Mundial 5 1/2" hobby/craft scissors - pink
  • Mundial 5 1/2" hobby/craft scissors - blue
  • Bohin blue Dressmaker scissors - trés chic - bought them from Martha Stewart catalog
  • Weiss embroidery - came free with a order a few years ago
  • Weiss embroidery - came free with a order a few years ago
  • unknown bent embroidery - purchased from Nancy's Notions before I appreciated nice scissors
  • 7" Olfa stainless steel - purchased in the clearance bin at Hancocks - a great all purpose scissor
  • Fiskar - 8" bent scissors - these are my paper scissors
  • unknown 5" scissors - ordinary scissors but they fit in my little thread caddy and are handy

Happy with my scissors I decided to go ahead and buy the fabric I almost bought a week ago when I encountered the new Mr. Hancock Employee. Fortunately he was no where to be seen so I bought 2 1/4 yards of a camel colored poly suiting and 1 1/2 yards of a chocolate brown stretch polyester.

I came close to sewing and even cleaned off most of my cutting table in preparation to do so, but I got sidetracked helping my husband fold clothes - he's not exactly skilled in that department. I do think he just doesn't want to learn to fold a fitted sheet so that I have to do it. Attempts to sew yesterday were also thwarted by the need to do some yardwork. We made a trip to the hardware store and bought wood to build a raised planter, which we didn't quite finish on account of darkness. Well, that's what happens when you start outdoor projects at 4:00 in the afternoon!

Thursday, October 07, 2004


My Barbies arrived yesterday. I felt weird opening them. I tried to be careful not to rip the packaging just in case I decide to sell them later. I don't know why I was doing that. I thought I made up my mind that I wasn't going to do the eBay thing, but still, there were so many twisty-ties, rubber bands, thread, and tape holding the dolls in, I felt like I was committing a crime by releasing them from their plastic prisons. The model doll's hair was actually sewn to a piece of plastic to keep it spread out behind her in the box. Both dolls' heads were connected to the box with plastic ties like that used on clothing tags. The Paul Frank doll's hair is slightly a muss. She has a pony tail with hair wrapped intricately around it but it's not hair that can be undone without disastrous results. One piece is sticking out that's supposed to be wrapped around. I don't want to go through the fuss of returning the doll over a bit of mussed hair, so I think I will try to fix it myself. I may email them for suggestions - for example, do I glue it? Would a little vaseline keep it in place?

The model doll isn't as poseable as I thought. Not that it really matters. Her arms have more pivoting at the shoulders than normal Barbies. The right arm is permanently bent at the elbow and the left is straight. The legs do not bend at all - one is slightly bent and one is straight. The packaging for both dolls come with certificates of authenticity and the model doll comes with a bio. It appears that she was "born" in Brazil, is a Scorpio, likes the beach and shopping and dislikes being inside. Yeesh. She's 11 3/4", and has more slender hips and smaller breasts than Barbie. I think the extra 1/4" was added to her (too thin) legs. Her hair is long and straight - thank goodness she doesn't have any intricate ponytails! The dolls also came with stands so I won't have to buy any to display the dolls. My husband asked me if I was now going to need to buy a case for them. I'm not really sure how he really feels about me spending over $100 on Barbie dolls. However, he curiously checked out Barbie and in the act of disrobing her (I guess men's minds are always there), he discovered that she wears molded panties. I was surprised to find that his sister never had Barbies, so he missed out on that element of being a brother.

The clothes rack that came with them as my gift for spending over $75 is very cute. It's just a simple black metal stand but it has four wheels and they actually roll. Cute.

Joann's is having a Simplicity pattern sale this weekend so I plan to pick up a few more doll patterns. I have my eye on this, this, and this. When I was 13 I made a prairie dress for my Barbie, complete with bonnet, petticoat, corset, and stockings and entered it in the local 4th of July fair. I sewed the whole dress by hand without a pattern and attached seed beads all down that back as buttons. I won a blue ribbon. The next year I attempted to make a medieval dress like something from "Romeo and Juliet". Again I didn't have a pattern. I think I won a second place ribbon that time. Those ribbons meant so much to me because I didn't play sports or entered competitions where I could win trophies or ribbons. I always wanted to display ribbons on my bedroom wall and I did. They got good and faded too!

Friday, October 01, 2004

Help wanted

Both Hancock Fabrics and Joann’s have Vogue patterns on sale right now. Hancock’s are 75% off and Joann’s are $3.99 each. The new Vogue catalog is out and I’ve been chomping at the bit waiting for the sale. Yes, I know I could have paid the usual 50% off price they sell them at every day, but if I can get if for less, I will. To a point. Last night I decided I wanted to buy a new shirt at the mall after being frustrated wearing a just-a-bit-too-small shirt yesterday. The shirt was uncomfortable and I was frustrated that I’ve gained some weight over the last year. The mall is across the street from Hancock Fabrics whereas Joann’s is a few miles farther away. I also prefer Hancock’s to Joann’s. So saving a few dollars was not worth driving out of my way and having to deal with surly management. My plan was almost perfect.

As I approached the entrance of Hancock’s I saw the “help wanted” sign but didn’t think anything of it since they always seem to be advertising for help. However, when I saw the bolts of fabric stacked on the cutting tables I knew it was trouble. But I wasn’t there for fabric, I was there for patterns so I made a beeline for the back of the store where the pattern catalogs are located. I silently cheered when I saw the new Vogue catalog and when I found the patterns I wanted. I should have headed straight for the register but nooooooo! This is a fabric store. I can’t get out that easily! I browsed for more patterns but nothing caught my eye. Then I wandered over to the fabric (mistake!) and found some nice looking camel colored suiting. It was poly but for $5.99/yard, I thought I could make some muslin pants that might just be wearable. Next to it was some chocolaty-brown 4-way stretch poly. As I walked to the cutting table, I envisioned a trendy crossover top, a Jalie tee or something like that. The cutting table (still piled with bolts) was not a good sight. A young, frazzled, very naïve looking young man was cutting some brightly colored fleece for a customer. He was about to hack off a yard (with his cheap, dull scissors they give their employees) when the customer informed him that he needed to cut at the end of the panel, that they’re printed like that because they’re supposed to be blankets. A very bad sign indeed. There was another woman ahead of me, clutching a spool of ribbon and a few other items. Right in front of her was a tall pile of bolts of fabric. I prayed that those weren’t hers or the current customer’s, because at the rate Mr. Hancock Employee was cutting…I didn’t want to think about it. I considered just how badly I wanted the fabric. Fabric I surely don’t need. The current customer’s kids were getting antsy and climbing over the cart. She feebly attempted to entertain them in between instructing Mr. Hancock Employee on how to cut fabric. I gave up. I put the bolts back and went to the checkout. At least the other employee, a young girl I’ve seen there before, was manning the register. There were no problems or questions when I produced my American Sewing Guild card for my 10% discount. My transaction went quickly and smoothly. She stuffed some Hancock publications in my bag along with a flyer announcing a “big sale” coming up. “We’re going to be open late that day”, she chirped. I glanced at the flyer that said: open 9 am to 8 pm. “Oh, it must be a Saturday”, I replied, knowing that they close at 6:00 pm on Saturdays and I often run out of thread at 5:59 pm. I hope they hire some help by then.

I dashed off to the mall to buy my shirt. After trying on what felt like at least 296 items I finally found three shirts and a pair of pants. I was discouraged by the wild variations in fit of the pants but absolutely dismayed at the poor sewing. On one pair of dress pants from a well known manufacturer’s “second line”, the waistband was puckered and sewn slightly twisted. The “stitch in the ditch” sewing missed the ditch. I refuse to spend $55 for a poorly sewn pair of pants. I just can’t. If I were a faster sewer, I’d have been better off spending the time at the sewing machine than at the store.

I hope to find time to sew this weekend but we have some yard work to do. So if the weather has cooled down, then that’s what I’ll be doing – when I’m not watching the college football games of course.