Monday, January 08, 2007

Pirates and Resolutions

Thanks for all the kind comments on the weekender! I've tried to email everyone personally, but all emails are showing up as "noreply." In any case - thanks!

I know I'm a couple days behind New Years for this, but I've been whittling down my resolutions for the upcoming year. So, here are my five knitterly resolutions for '07.

1. Get comfy with making my own mods for a better fit.
2. Only make projects that I know I will wear.
3. Make a fair isle sweater - perhaps a Dale...
4. Do a little designing of my own.
5. Be a better blogger!

And just for kicks, a few non-knitting related resolutions:
1. Keep challenging myself with sewing, I'm seeing some quilting in the near future.
2. Stay consistent with running - maybe another marathon?
3. Keep in better touch with my friends! (I say this every year).

Okay, that's all the housekeeping for today. Now onto a finished object from (gasp!) last year.

(fluff courtesy of 50% Alpaca)
Yarn. Berrocco Ultra Alpaca, 1/2 skein each black and natural

Needles. Size 3 Clover Bamboo 16" circs, Size 3 Bryspun dpns, Size 2 Susan Bates 16" circs.
Mods. Subbed yarn, used larger needles for lining.
(you can see the join in the back, there)

Dates Knitted. December 29 to December 31.
Comments. This pattern rules. So quick and addicting watching the little skulls come alive (ha ha). The yarn was a little 'eh for me. It's soft enough that I thought it would be an appropriate lining yarn (not the best idea, not the worst. a little itchy, but no so much I can't wear the hat). Great yardage, though, I can make a whole other hat (or mittens!).

And for those of you who like this sort of thing: the inner workings.

That's all for tonight. More pics of Beau need taking before I can post that FO, I started a secret project (oooohh!!) and bought yarn for some hot Eunny Jang colorwork projects. Oh, and I finished a marble arch sock.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Done: Weekender Bag

Happy 2007! I hope you all had a good time ringing in the new year. I have some lofty goals for this upcoming year and some musings on last year, but that's for another post because--


(the top looks kind of bumpy. I think it looks crisper when I'm holding it.)

Pattern. Weekender Bag by Amy Butler
Exterior Fabric. Amy Butler, Sunbloom Collection
Cording Fabric. Amy Bulter, Charm Collection
Lining. Khaki Fabric from Joann's

I relied a lot on the tips from other bloggers who made this bag and wanted to give something back to the blogging community, so here are my....


1. Dominating the cording. As the layers increased in the sewing, keeping the cording sandwiched in place became challenging. I had the best luck pinning the fabric together parallel to the fabric edge, rather than perpendicular. Stopping so often to remove pins got a little annoying, but was better than ripping and resewing.

2. Topstitching = Enemy number 1. I don't get it. I can't sew a straight line when I need to, but you could line a ruler up with all my hidden seams. I think a lot of my trouble stemmed from keeping my sewing machine on a rubbermaid container. I was hunched over and without proper leverage. My skills improved greatly with my new craftspace.

3. Pins = Ouch! Prepare to prick yourself a million times. I'm not just talking about fingers, either. I think I pricked my legs just as many times while pinning the rest of the bag. And at least three of my fingernails have big white marks from being jabbed with pins. I look calcium-deprived.

4. Embrace cutting. This bag requires cutting, more cutting, and then even more cutting. Also, read Amy's instructions and actually follow them. Despite whether or not you think your way is better than Amy, just sit back and trust her. My interior fabric was different length than the pattern specified, so I thought I would take matters into my own hands. Famous last words, right? Everything worked out, luckily, but this episode marked cutting as my least favorite part of the process.

5. Let your perfectionist side take over. If you see something that sort of bothers you and you think you can live with it, just fix it! If a component of the bag frustrated me and I didn't feel like reworking it but still wanted to work on the bag, I would just move on to the next part. Two steps later, I would decide I *needed* to fix the shoddy part. It's not always easy to go back.

6. Learn from bloggers. Read other bloggers advice. I can't tell you how many times I read and reread
Steph and Angela's entries from this project. Thanks for the help!

7. Shopping. Plan on shopping around a lot. I went to Joann's three times and still didn't have everything. Surprisingly, I found the missing piece (heavyweight interfacing) at Walmart. Plus, I had to pester the salespeople for help in finding the right interfacing, cording, etc. Salespeople are your friends.

8. Buy more than enough thread. I've read this advice on many blogs, but it's valuable. Thread is so cheap and when can you ever have enough? I think I bought four spools! That might have been over the top, but it made me feel better. Plus, my sewing machine is marked with an evil, thread-eating bobbin. I swear! It's not sewer error.

9. This bag is giant! Seriously, HUGE! I love it.

10. Make interior pockets. Explanation below.

Pockets. I am by nature, the messiest, least organized person. Some people (namely my husband) would go as far and call me a slob. So, one giant compartment with a few side pockets does not give me any help in this area. What's a girl to do? Make more pockets! I knew I'd at least need a zippy side pocket for my keys and cell phone, so I used
this tutorial from Craftster.... It was invaluable, I followed it to a T. Check out my zippy pocket:

Because I had some extra fabric (I accidentally cut the fabric upside down, flipping the lotus flower pattern) and was feeling motivated, I made a three-pocket side compartment on the other panel. To do this, I cut two pieces of fabric the size of the front pockets and sewed the top and sides together. I then pressed & top-stitched the top and sewed the pocket to the main panel. I took some measurements and stitched three pockets, then continued with Amy's directions. The panel pockets (note the flipped lotus flowers):

Fabric for cording. I ran out of the lining fabric, so I had to use some lighter weight Amy Butler fabric I had in the house. It looks pretty sturdy, but I'm not sure how it will hold up over time. My hunch is that I'm in the clear (fingers crossed).

(I think the bag could already use some ironing!)

Overall, this bag was a fun project and it's already seen a lot of use - even before it had a lining. If you're thinking about making it, go for it. Even if you're a beginner sewer, you'll learn a lot. Just take it one step at a time.

Now, it's time to begin bag number 2!

PS - For you all crazy cat people like me, look at Zoe climbing the screen while I was outside photographing the weekender!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

New Projects for the Road

The yarn is packed.

And most of it's in the form of new projects. Here we have the Orange Hat (pattern still undetermined) and We Call them Pirates Hat, still in yarn form. Also in the knitting bag are the top priority Leg Warmers and Marble Arch Socks. With 14 hours of travel time, I plan on getting lots of car knitting accomplished as well as lazy NJ knitting.

Friday, December 22, 2006

off to the jerz

I'm not sure if this is cheating in blogland, but I forgot to post this last week when I wrote it - oops! Original post in black, updates in green.

I just realized my last post of any substance (i don't count memes as substantial) was 12 days ago!

So, we're off to my parents' place in Jersey and I still have to pack for myself, j, and the animals and we're leaving as soon as J gets home from work. It will be our first roadtrip with both pets. Besides their constant fighting like cats and dogs (ha ha, I kill me!), they both have eccentric car personalities. Zoe yowls like a human infant and sniffles for a good portion of the ride. She's also persists in sneaking by me onto the dashboard, or better yet near the brade pedal. Miles secretly throws up. Secret because I keep an eye on him, but don't notice until the ride is over. Needless to say, no knitting will be accomplished.

Update: Zoe did in fact yowl the entire way and Miles secretly threw up on the return trip to CT. Other than that, endless holiday traffic, and night and rain descending on us at about 4pm, the ride was a success!

In checking out my last entry, I actually laughed out loud at everything I thought I could finish before the holidays. Talk about overzealous. What I seemed to forget is that amongst all the crafting, there's always something that gets in the way. The little thing like work, sleep, cooking dinner, shopping for last minute gifts, watching Grey's Anatomy. You know, the important stuff.

Despite my utter defeat, here's where I stand:
Homeade Cards - Storebought cards sent - i did emboss them, though! FINISHED

Beau, J's holiday sweater - *so* close to finishing up the sleeves (now that's a broken record). Front and Back blocked and awaiting seaming. I forgot how long sleeves take - especially man sleeves. it's like knitting a whole other front and back. grrr. Here's where it stands now (with sneak peak of the Weekender Bag):

(that's the cat kneading the sweater pieces. She likes to chew on the sweater while kneading - I think she's a freak cat)

Update: Sweater - finito and worn on Christmas (I finished sewing the buttons on about 30 minutes before we left for the holiday party, but that's not important). Hubby looked damn fine sporting the new FO!

SIL Legwarmers - 1.5 complete. Already had gift exchange and promised them next week. Oops. I'm a terrible secret santa. 1.75 complete

Gift Tags - Handmade and more importantly, FINISHED!! Check it -

Sweater Ornaments - I forgot them were on my list until I reread my entry. That sums it up.

Weekender Bag #2 - Fabric arrived....yeah, that's all. No shock with this one, though.
Update - The fabric choice was a surprise to my sister. She asked for the sunbloom fabric I used for my bag, but I soon discovered it was discontinued (what a bummer, huh - I had plans for many of the designs). I checked high and low and finally broke the news to her. She suggested I just choose a fabric. I was finally ordering the fabric and noticed a website I overlooked on Amy's site (we're on a first name basis, obviously) that had the fabric!! I was ecstatic, but kept the news to myself until xmas morning. So, yes, I'm basically making the exact same bag again.

Cookies - One batch. okay.

Orange Hat - What hat? That's not really a holiday gift, more of a winter gift, so no guilt with this one! I'm eyeying this as a potential pattern.

Wow, what a sad list. My new goal? Finish J's sweater for xmas. Yay! Success!

If I don't check in sooner, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!

Update - Hope everyone had a happy holiday! We're back in Connecticut now, but are leaving for Jersey again tomorrow morning, spending a few days there, then off to DC to partay like rocktars with some college buds. If I don't pop back on here, have a safe and happy new year!

PS - FO reports coming soon for Beau and the Weekender Bag.

Saturday, December 16, 2006


Rather than tackling my growing list of holiday crafty responsibilities, I've chosen instead to procrastinate with this here meme found on Stephanies's blog.

Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Hot chocolate. I'm a little disturbed by Egg Nog because every year I watch my cousin guzzle pints of it, which is just sick. Funny, but sick. But last night, the egg nog and bourbon I was drinking was mighty good.
Does Santa wrap presents or just set them under the tree? Yes! Unwrapping is the best part. When we were younger, "Santa" would write our first initial in black marker.
Colored or white lights on the tree/house? I don't have any. It's amazing how appalling people find that. I spend xmas at my parents' house, so I never felt the need for a tree. Maybe next year, and they'll be white.
Do you hang mistletoe? No.
When do you put up your decorations? I don't always put them up, this year I brought all three out last week.
What's your favorite holiday dish? Definitely, cookies.
Favorite holiday memory as a child? Just spending all day hanging out in pajamas, my grandma would come over for a big breakfast, then we'd go to my aunt and uncle's house. I can't think of anything particular, though.
When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I just got skeptical, probably around 7 or 8. We kept up the ruse for my younger sister, though.
Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? We change it up every year.

What kind of decorations are on your tree? Well, I don't have a tree, but if I did it would have mostly ornate glass ornaments and ones with meaning, like "this we got in aruba," "this is from our first xmas together," etc.
Snow! Love it or dread it? I love it for like 5 minutes when I'm inside under a blanket. This will be the first year in 5 (I've either been in California with no snow or in Boston with public transport) that I'll actually have to drive in it. Not looking forward to that.
Can you ice skate? I don't know. I've only been once and that was when I was like 7. I can rollerblade, so I think that would translate into ice skating. Plus, I watch the olympics religiously, especially ice skating. I'm sure that would help me on the ice.

Do you remember your favorite gift? I can't choose a favorite gift. When we were younger, my parents got us a trip to Florida, that was pretty sweet. Actually, J got us a weekend at a B&B in Mendocino that was out of this world. That was probably my best recent gift.
What's the most important thing about the holidays for you? Getting to spend time with my family.
What is your favorite holiday tradition? Just hanging out around the tree and being goofy with my family. We also listen to this Cabbage Patch Kid holiday tape (don't judge!) that's just been carried through since we were kids. Even my parents know all the words. J thinks it's really weird. It's just our own little tradition. Oh, and yes, I'm 27.

What tops your tree? An angel
What is your favorite holiday book? I don't have one.
What is your favorite Christmas song? Oooh, this one is tough. Probably "Happy Xmas" by John Lennon.
Candy Canes! Edible, but I don't think I've ever finished a whole one.

Okay, back to the grind. Look forward to a full post filled with all sorts of xmas crafting and other domestic delights.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

holiday extravaganza

Thank you all for your comments about Birch! That was a comment record for me! You all make a girl feel so good!

I haven't been knitting that much lately* (on which you can blame my lack of posting), but have been planning some holiday projects. Can Christmas really be 2 weeks away? For some reason I feel silly starting any holiday stuff until after Thanksgiving, but at that point it seems Christmas is already here. I'm also a procrastinator. This is not a good mix for holiday craft making goodness.

Anyway, starting today I'm working at full throttle on my holiday projects. So far, I've been shopping. That counts, right?

Here's what's on the agenda.

Yeah, so I'm not *exactly* finished with Weekender Bag #1, but I've never been big on finishing. I *will* finish that soon, though. And the half-finished interior hasn't stopped me from using it. In any case, my sister requested her own for xmas and how can I turn that down? I'm still waiting for the exterior fabric and zipper to arrive, but here are the other ingredients:

Basically a big ol' pile of interfacing, peltex, cording, and the lining fabric. Shopping the second time around was so.much.easier. Let's hope the bag construction follows the trend. The exterior fabric is the only surprise of her gift, so that will have to stay under wraps until official gift giving ensues. At least I'm working on a deadline, so we know it will happen. (actually, she told me I can take until January or February so I've got some time)


My sister-in-law has been requesting leg warmers since, oh about mid-summer, and I just happen to choose her in the secret santa so these made the holiday project list. I didn't want to spend $50 on legwarmers with the prescribed yarn, so I opted for some Cascade Alpaca. Duuude, this yarn is yum-my. Yummy like I'm considering knitting a bed out of it. I'm using smaller needles than the yarn suggests, so they will be thick, warm and soft - all required attributes for legwarmers. (well, and that they stay up). I'm using the pattern from LMKG and think they will work up quickly.

Last winter, a friend requested an orange hat. I made him
this (scoll down a bit). Wrong yarn + Wrong color = ugly, unwearable hat. That's why he needs a new one. I'm letting this one be a surprise. I have yet to cast on, but I can guarantee this version will be much better. Here's why:

The perfect color, weight, and softness only found with malabrigo. I still have to choose a pattern, but I'm thinking a standard bottom rib, stockinette body.

I'm also planning on making all my christmas cards (I predict this to be my downfall), baking, and making those ubiquitous sweater ornaments to top everyone's gifts. Oh, and I want to finish Beau so the hubby can show it off on Christmas (I plan on making him wear from December 20 to 31st). Although none of these are giant projects, I'm intimidated (but confident!) by what's on my plate.

*one of my knitting distractions was tending to this little cone dog.

He had to wear this for almost a week after getting fixed. Poor little man. It was pretty comical watching him bang into walls and try to climb stairs, though. In a cute way. Okay, fine, I'm a terrible person:)

Back soon with progress!