Thursday, January 19, 2012

Yarn Harlot Ideas for Xmas Presents - Part Four, The Final Chapter

I really wanted to finish this.  And I am waiting for a work process to run.  So I figured it was a good time for it.

Day 23 - Gift Certificates
In some ways, I like the idea.  In others, not as much.  Not very personal, but always useful. 

Of course this is said by someone that has one from *two* Christmases ago.  *sigh*  Great gift, but I kept thinking I would use it to buy the yarn for an alpaca coat for the Eldest Munchkin.  Which would run about $20-30 *more* than the rather generous gift certificate.  And she will outgrow it...  So it is still sitting here unused!

Day 24 - Respect & Day 25 - The Proper Way to Receive a Knitted Gift

These two are intertwined. I will leave it to the pro to explain it best.

I am pretty blessed for the most part.  DH appreciates handknits having come from a family of women who knit.  He has gotten pressies from his mom for multiple occasions because they take that long to finish.

EM is adorable.  She asks "Who made this for me?" nearly every time she puts on something.  Though we have tried to explain there are factories.  She is still in a world where things can be handmade.  It is wonderful.

On occasion, I have gifted things to people who don't appreciate them.  And that is annoying.  They do not get a second handknit. 

On a related note...

I have one nephew who's wife loves the handknits I made her kids.  The other was pleasant enough, but I don't think her kids ever wore them.  Now the kids are all big enough that I don't think they fit anymore.  There was a Tomten I made for the one who liked the handknits.  I really have thought about asking to borrow it back since it would fit my Little Guy.  But I really don't know if that is extremely rude. 

I still am trying to figure out what to do with a bunch of handknits I made the EM.  I don't want to simply frog them.  But they are too small.  I should try them on the doll I got her for Xmas.  But I don't think they are small enough for an 18" doll.  I am kinda surprised there isn't a Ravelry group for baby/kid clothing swaps.  It would seem ideal to pass things along after we spent the time on them.

Back to work.  Hoping to finish before 10...  We shall see.

Monday, January 9, 2012

2012 Goals

(Cross-posted to my personal journal too.)

I hate making resolutions.  But the video-cast I watch, Round the Twist, went over what her goals were for 2012 and reviewed her 2011 ones.  I think it is good for me to set some goals.

They are in no particular order.

- Spend time with friends or have some solo time without DH & the kids
I love my family dearly.  But I need some solo time, either with friends or just doing something for me.  I am not even putting a number on this.  Though I did tell DH I think we could both use one night a month to ourselves where the other watches the kids.  I think we could both use it.  I know he would like to go shooting again. Been ages.  And I would love to see some friends.  Maybe I could even try finding a knit night somewhere local.  I think it is a good thing for me and the family.

- Complete at least one pair of socks
My knitting has been all about the littles or gifts these days.  I just checked my ravelry projects to discover that last thing I knit for me was 2010!  So nothing for the entire last year...  And what's more embarrassing is that the last pair of socks I knit were completed May 10, 2009.  I have a pair that have been on my needles since December 29, 2010 that are toe-up.  Done with the foot.  Problem is they are very detailed cables.  My brain isn't so good with that these days...  I am thinking I just need to pick some yarn I like and make *simple* socks.  I wear my handknit socks all the time during the winter.  And the ones I have are getting pretty ratty with some.

- Put buttons on at least half of my WIPs with missing buttons
There are currently *seven* items that are knit but just missing buttons!  (And one missing beads that need to be sewn into it.) That is pretty embarrassing.  And the oldest has been there since 2008.  Embarrassing also to admit there are 12 WIP currently listed...  So 2/3rds are about missing button or beads.  Of the other four, one might need to be frogged because it may no longer fit DD.  One is the previously mentioned socks.  Another is a scarf started in Nov. 2009.  Only one is recent!  (And I stalled on those as I have been mostly making up the pattern and just haven't had the brain power to figure out what to do with the heel turn...  *blush*)

That has led me to add...
- Finish at least half of the WIPs
Here is the list so I know when checking my goals:
Mary Janes for DD Daughter - 30% done
Simple Shrug for 18" Doll - Missing single button
Shrug for DD - Missing single button
Maeve Socks - 55% done
Suri Bias Scarf - 50% done (though could end any time really)
Baby Jacket with Moss Stitch Edges - Missing buttons
Crest of the Wave Scarf - Missing beads
Aviatrix Hat for Ella - Missing single button (embarrassing as E never wore it because of the missing button but it fits LG)
Simple Cardi for Bella Ella - Missing buttons
Flora Dress - 40% done
Cardigan for My Hobbit Elanor - Missing buttons
Beaded Evening Bag/Purse - Missing button

- Have at least three dates with my DH
We have gotten out a few times.  But embarrassingly few.  I think it is time for us to get out a bit more.  It does take money as we have to have someone watch the littles.  Though I appreciate when my SIL watched them for free when we were down in southern NJ.

- Spin
I haven't spun.  At all. Since DH was born back in Sept. 2009.  Over two years ago.  Kinda embarrassing.  I miss it.

- Get back to some activity
Since the gym in my building closed their space where they had classes, I haven't been doing much of anything at all.  With the new apartment, I rarely make the walk from the house to the PATH.  The old place didn't have any useful transit.  Where as the new place has a bus that picks me up half a block from the house and drops me in front of the train.  I keep swearing I will make the walk in the morning.  But I am always running late.  So it doesn't happen often.  I am hopeful that when I am done breastfeeding the Little Guy that I will have a bit more time at work because I won't be having to pump.  That should be right around the start of spring.  So I am hoping that even if I don't join a gym again, I can start taking lunch hours again and go for walks.  It would be good.

I will see how it goes.  I really don't know how many of these I will reach.  But we can see.  *smile*  Figure it is good to set some goals.

Monday, January 2, 2012

I Love My Husband

Okay. This is about sewing and not knitting, but I had to share.

My DH got me a sewing machine for Christmas.  I rarely ask for something specific.  I like being surprised.  But I really wanted a new machine. 

I had two machines, one is an industrial machine DH got me about 8-9 years ago.  Love it.  But it is super powerful and not good for small, detail work.  The other is a Kenmore I have had at least 15-20 years. 

The problem with the Brother is that things are really off with it.  I used it to sew cotton velvet, faux fur, interfacing and boning for this stunning dress.  It was modeled on a Jane Seymour dress. I didn't have the industrial machine at the time (guess what prompted that). Frankly, it was a lot more than the little machine could handle.  It hasn't worked right since.  The tension goes off no matter how much I adjust it.  The stitches aren't even.  Basically, I end up with a load of problems when I try to use it.

I did say I wanted one-step buttonholes.  I really loathe sewing buttonholes when it is such work.  And given I wanted this machine to sew things for the kids & DD 18" doll, I figured that function would get a fair bit of use.  And if you have read my blog, you know my relationship with buttons isn't a good one.  *laugh*  So anything that makes it harder is likely to mean I never *actually* will do it.  Yes, I am a lazy sewer as well as a lazy knitter.  Why do you ask?  *grin*

Of course, I didn't state it in a way that parse to DH since he isn't a sewer.  So he got me a machine that does buttonholes.  The slow, 4-step way.  *groan*  I have messed up many a project with my buttonholes.  Thank heavens when I was doing my medieval sewing most of the time they didn't have buttons. Otherwise they would never get done.

So for the first time ever, I asked him to exchange a gift for me.  I never do that.  But I figured this will be with me for many years to come with any luck.  So I want it to have the abilities I desire.

He was so sweet about it.  He went out as soon as possible to exchange it.  (We saw family the two days after Christmas.)  We talked about what I would love.  And he got me the Brother SQ9050 100-Stitch Computerized Sewing Machine with Alphabet Font.

Wow.  Wow. Wow!

I have to say I didn't know sewing could be so good.  *grin*

I *love* the machine!  It sews like a dream.  It has more stitches than I will ever use.  But man, it is soooo good.

I did a sampler with some stitches and such to test drive it.  Love the sampler.

Stitch Sampler

Stitch Sampler
Playing with toys

It does 7 different button holes even.  And get this, it will *sew on the button*.  Yep.  You tell it the distance between the button holes.  It does the rest.  And did I mention the one-step buttonhole?  Gets better.  The foot has a spot for the button.  You put the button in the slot and it *figures out* how to do it all.  *le sigh*

It is sooo sweet. 

I confess that given the letters are only about 1/4" high, they won't get used a ton.  But it is sweet knowing they are there.  And when the kids need things labeled, there is something fun about being able to sew labels for them!  And it is so easy.  You type in the number for each letter and it does it all for you.  Soooo cool and super easy.

The first project I decided to sew was a skirt for the 18" doll Santa got Elanor for Christmas.  I went stash diving.  Though it is funny how much fabric I still have and how little I think I can actually use for stuff I want to do now.  I built my stash when I was doing medieval recreation.  So the thrust is so different.  I can't imagine using at least 3/4th of the fabrics since they aren't machine wash!

The item I pulled out was a brown cotton velvet skirt.  I think I bought this when Karen and I worked together and would haunt the $10 stores.  So I know it was $10 or less.  So I figured if DD ruined the skirt, who cares?  It was cheap.

I looked at the patterns and decided on McCall pattern M6257.  I figured I could replicate the skirt for Elanor.  So I cut out what I thought would work for her. 

Though I made an error with Elanor's skirt.  It is tighter than I would like.  But it does fit.  It just won't fit for very long which is too bad.  But I can keep the pieces and maybe build it out if she loves it.

The doll skirt came out really well.  It looks cute.  Though I am annoyed with the pattern.  The front of the skirt has a waistband which is a separate piece.  Which was *smaller* than the front of the skirt!  Ummm...  What?!  I trimmed it a bit but there was no reason it should be more narrow than the front.  The illustration shows the edges matching up too.  So it definitely seems like a pattern error.  I checked the paper pattern and they are indeed different widths.

Also, a pet peeve of mine that I had forgotten.  If something needs to be cut on the fold, *MARK IT ON THE PATTERN PIECE*.  Not on a line next to the pattern piece.  Not in the written part.  *On the piece itself*.  What is more frustrating is that out of five pieces, only two had it marked on the piece itself that it was supposed to be on the fold.  *groan*  Glad I checked thoroughly.  That is easy with five pieces.  I hate to see what would happen with their people sized patterns.  *sigh*  But I will be cautious.

The completed piece is very cute & fits well.  So I am happy.  But it definitely tells me proceed with caution.  It bugs me because the point of buying a pattern is that someone else should have done the work for you.  The fitting, the figuring out what works best.  And if I hadn't caught the errors, I would have had to toss pieces.  And it already took some creative piece placement to get the pieces cut out of the remainder of the skirt.

Doll with Sewn Skirt & Knit Sweater

I am definitely enjoying the sewing machine.  I am still debating if I am going to add a decorative stitched border to the edge.  Not sure it would work with this pattern.  So I may just make something else.  *grin*

Wish I had more time off.  Back to the office tomorrow.  It has been lovely having some time home!