Thursday, May 29, 2008

Why not just buy a sweater?

I'm not sure. You see, I came across this sweater pattern online and now I HAVE TO HAVE IT!!!!!

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It's the short-sleeved Trapeze Jacket at Stitch Diva.
I thought of a few problems: It would take me so long to finish it that it will be winter and I won't be able to wear it till next summer, and then will I still like it? And the yarn they use has 1/3 wool. I can't have wool directly touch my skin or I'll scratch myself to death.

I was silly to think my problems ended there. OK. First problem is finding a yarn substitution. Even if I felt I could take the wool, if I use the yarn they suggest (this Elsie by Tilly Tomas), I would need about $160 worth. All I can say about that is "!!!!!!!!!!!!!" I wouldn't pay that much for a sweater, and I don't want to pay that much for the yarn for a sweater that I have to spend months making and will probably mess up. But, you see, if you don't get a similar yarn substitution, the sweater won't be the right size.

So I went to Village Wools and asked for help. I showed them the pattern and asked for help finding a yarn. I wanted cotton, and I wanted bright red or cranberry. In the end, I chose this Rowan cotton glace. I bought just one ball so that I could test my gauge.

Test my gauge -- this is the fun part of knitting. I actually meant the not-fun part. This is where you knit a test sample of a certain number of stitches and rows in a certain designated pattern to see if your size matches theirs. Everyone knits differently, so if your SQUARE is bigger or smaller, you go up or down in needle size till you match the pattern. I've never really bothered much with this because specific size hasn't mattered a whole lot for me yet.

So I knit my swatch, and I can't say that it went all that quickly. It was 28 stitches across, plus selvage edge and 32 rows long. This was supposed to equal 4x4 inches. Mine equaled 5x3.5 inches. That's not even a square! So one way it's too big, the other too small. Now I have no idea what to do about changing needles!

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I was fearing that this project was beyond my abilities, but holy cow! I can't even get past the swatch. I'm going to Village Wools today for the help session to get advice.

In the meantime, while trying to figure out the yarn for that project, I'm starting on this handbag for the fall. It's called the Brea Bag, and is a free pattern. Click the picture for the pattern.

Brea bag

I'm doing mine in the same yarn they use, the Ultra Alpaca, but in gray. I thought that would be more versatile, and I'm probably going to do some other kind of handle.

I'm off to a great start on that one as well. I was knitting my swatch last night while very tired and yapping on the phone. I got halfway through and realized I was doing the wrong stitch pattern. I started over and then realized my swatch was too small. I then read the instructions again and found I was supposed to be using two strands at the same time, which would make it a bit bigger. So now I have to start over on that.

KNITTING PARTER:
I've wanted someone to knit with for a long time. There are many knitting groups in town, but they always meet in the evenings when I work. I met a person on Duke City Fix and we are meeting tonight to knit. I'm excited at the idea of a knitting friend, and even just a new friend.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A little bundle of energy

No, I'm not talking about those crazy kids at the park. I'm talking about me! Yep, 34-year-old me!

I just wanted to brag because I have been working out a lot, and I'm proud! Today, after the weekend's nasty weather, was nice and sunny and warm. So I hopped on my brand-new bicycle and went for a ride. After last week's discovery of the butt discomfort associated with bikes, I wasn't sure how long I could go. I did have a gel seat cover I didn't have before. I decided to go part of my little-over-3-mile walking route, but in reverse because that wouldn't require me to cross the busy road in order to ride the correct side. Most of the path is residential, but part of it is on Golf Course. If I go in reverse, I just take a right onto Golf Course and another right onto the residential area, and the rest is quiet streets.

When I got near to home, I wanted to keep going, and I did. This, unfortunately, required me to confront the nasty hill that nearly ended my life last week. It's the final part of my ride home. As I approached it, I told myself to "just get to that third tree up there." As I struggled and gasped, I said, "maybe the second tree would be fine." Quickly, I convinced myself that just the first tree would be plenty good. At the same time, I was messing with the gears. But I couldn't remember which way to go if I was on a hill. I then turned something so that the pedals went all crazy and I almost fell off, so I stopped and fixed the settings to somewhere in the middle. At this point I had lost all momentum and would not be able to restart up this mountain. Again, I was walking it.

When I got home from my 30 minute ride, despite gasping for breath and being quite purple from the heat and exertion, I still felt really revved-up and energetic. So I hopped on the treadmill for another 40 minutes. I wanted to go even longer but I had to work and started to realize I may be pushing it on time.

I tracked my path online at this site and found I had gone about 5 miles on my bike and I know I went 3 miles on the treadmill. I'm very proud of my 70 minute, 8-mile workout! What motivates me? Two words: swimsuit, vacation.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Must stay in house the rest of night

It's Friday night, and I'm not going anywhere. No siree, I'm staying right here at home. You see, I got a facial. And apparently my skin is much nastier than I ever notice. Day to day I tend to think, "Well, I'm not wrinkled, like my grandma. And I don't have horrific acne, like a 14-year-old. I wear lots of sunscreen. My skin's OK."

Every now and then I think I could use a little pampering. How about a facial? It's not till I go to get a facial that I realize that my skin needs major work. There's nothing relaxing about it -- as a matter of fact, it feels a bit like the facialist is using a scalpel to clean my skin out. I am not exaggerating that -- it feels like I must be spurting blood all over the room. Meanwhile, with all the thrashing and wriggling I'm doing from the pain, I'm surprised she can even get the job done.

But, folks, here is what I learned: You must clean your pores out. If you are thinking, "that pore is already clogged up, if I clean it it will just do it again," you're not realizing that apparently it will just keep adding more gunk to itself until it's as big as craters on the moon. Therefore, they must undergo the extractions. Quit being a baby.

Also, she used what sounds like a bug zapper to electrocute the zit that cropped up today. It was like lightning on my face. It felt funny, and I had to ask if my face was black and smoking where she did it. She assured me it was not. But you recall my post about the gum-laser incident, right? So I couldn't help but be afraid.

Now, my skin is clean and hydrated and feels smooth as a baby's bum, but it's also red and blotchy. That is why I will be spending my Friday night at home. Anyone up for some Facebook Scrabulous?

I have a little secret box

If you came to my house, you may walk unsuspectingly past this little shelf in the hall, and past the little wooden box on the bottom shelf.

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This little box is full of tiny little surprises.

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Shhhh. Let's look inside.

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It's full of mini-naminals. Or animals, as most people call them. Let's examine them. Let's see, there's a fuzzy pony with wax in it's mane. Don't ask, I can't recall. There are tiny frogs and turtles, little pigs, a bunny,a sharks tooth and I think one of those scary desert creatures from "Star Wars," among other things.

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I don't know why I have these things, but I think I always will.

My little foot stool

You know when you have a big, squishy couch and your feet don't touch the ground? Oh, I hate that. So I did something about it. I made a foot stool.

First I shopped around for one, but a) they were rather expensive and b) they were not my style. So then I decided to have a look around the Hobby Lobby. In the wood section, I found an unfinished wooden stool. I also found a small pillow (I suppose I could have made a small pillow, but this one was just the right size). I bought some stain, picked a fabric scrap from my stash and got to work:

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I stained the bench and then sprayed it with clear stuff. You probably know what it's called, but I can't remember. Varnish maybe?
Then my dad and I used a staple gun to attach the fabric, with the pillow sandwiched in between. My upholstery technique could use refining. And I had a terrible migraine, so once I got to my dad's house to use the staple gun, I didn't care that much how it came out. It's OK, though. It looks acceptable, and it's easy to put a new piece of fabric on any time I want.

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I will say that the problem with this stool is that it tips over easily. So if you're going to try this, I recommend a stool with 4 little legs instead. I found some like that at Michael's and probably should have went with those.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

No, I'm not going to commute this way

It's just for fun. I got a bike! I haven't owned a bike since I was a little kid and too small for an adult bike. A few times in my pre-teen years I rode my dad's bike. Once in my adult life I attempted to ride my mom's bike with my brother to the store. I was a bit wobbly and every pebble on the street made me scream like a ninny. When we got to Central, my brother eyed the convenience store across the street, and then the curbs and median, and rolled his eyes. "You just wait here. You'll never make it," he said, before hopping off the curb and riding OVER the median. This is something I will never be able to do.

I wanted a bike to cruise around the neighborhood in the nice summer evenings. It's unfortunate that I work evenings, so I am limited to just two evenings a week for potential bike riding. I have also discovered that the area I live in has lots of hills. Steep hills like Mt. Everest that you don't notice when driving.

Anyway, Mark drove me to Costco where I picked my bike. It's not but a few miles from home, and we have small cars. So I decided I'd just ride it home. There is a back way where I don't have to ride busy streets. I hadn't been on a bike (besides the above incident) in about 20 years, so I was a little wobbly. Another thing about bikes now is that you wear a helmet, which makes you feel like a HUGE dork. But supposedly it's good for your skull when you are hit by a car and go slamming into the pavement. The whole helmet thing makes me want to say, "In my day, we didn't wear no stinkin' helmets. When we fell off our bikes, we cracked our skulls open and our brains slid out. And we didn't cry like no babies. We liked it!"

On to the Costco story: I DID buy a helmet because I'm always reading about bicyclists getting hit by cars and killed in this city. I started riding through an apartment complex to get to the back street. The wind was in my face and I felt like I was flying. It was the most wonderful feeling. Until I got to the hill. And I swear, the street went straight up into the sky. I felt like with every pedal, I was going BACK a yard. I was dizzy. Gasping. ...

... This might be a good time to add that I have been really sick the last few days, first with a long, severe migraine and then with a mini-bout of food poisoning or something that made me barf the morning of my bike excursion. So I was not really up for any excessive exercise after 5 days of headaches and nausea. ...

I get off the bike and start walking it. Now I'm a dork in a helmet biking in flip-flops and I can't even ride it. After a while, I notice a creepy youth walking a ways behind me. I approach the top of the hill and decide to lose that freak. On I go, till I reach another hill. It's close to my house, but it's steep enough that even when walking, you breathe really hard and wonder when it will end -- and I love walking up hills. I can see my street, but it feels like it just keeps getting farther away. I can't breathe, my chest is burning. My head is pounding, and I think I'm going to barf. I keep telling myself I can do it -- not to be a wimp. But I couldn't. I had to walk it again.

When I got home, I really was going to barf. My body had been too sick to handle that level of exertion. My head hurt so badly and I had to lie down awhile.

This morning, I felt healthy. I wanted to ride my bike, but midday in New Mexico is rather toasty. I also had to admit what kind of wimp I was on the bike, so I thought about which way I could go that wouldn't have any steep hills. I thought about taking my 3.5 mile walking route, but once I got riding, I realized my butt felt bruised from the day before. There was no way I could make it that far, so I just took a 20 minute ride, then finished my workout on the treadmill at home. I always thought my butt had excessive padding. What good is it?

That's my story. I can hardly ride a bike. My legs are too wimpy, and so are my lungs. Hills terrify me. Cars terrify me. I hate the nerdy helmet and my butt hurts so much.

Here is my Schwinn 21 speed (not that I know what to do with speeds ...) It's white and claims to have a padded seat.

bike

Friday, May 16, 2008

Something for me

I bought this dress pattern in February, when, for my birthday, I made my friends hang out at JoAnn Fabrics just because I could do what I wanted.

I didn't select a fabric, so it just sat there. Last week, I was looking at this fabric I already had and realized I had a lot of it for some reason. It was just enough to make this dress. I love it! That's the beauty of sewing -- you can use fabrics you'd never find in the stores. Of course, whenever I make something, people always know right away. I am not sure if that's because the things I make actually look awful and homemade.

personal projects

If you look closely at the tie, it's a similar fabric with a different print. I was supposed to just use a ribbon, but I thought this would be a fun touch.

projects for me

It was made from Butterick pattern B5024. I had trouble with the sizing. I chose the size based on my measurements, but it was HUGE! I ended up taking it in by about 2 inches around, and it could still be more fitted for my taste, though I think it's fine now. I saw the dress on a mannequin at JoAnn's and loved it, but the picture on the pattern looks pretty lame. I never would have bought it if I hadn't seen the finished project at the store. I also think it made it a totally different dress to use a bold fabric.

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Already thinking about October

... and I'm not sure why. I love the summer and I'm glad it's approaching. But I made this yarn that reminds me of October -- or I dyed it, rather. For sale, if you want to get some socks ready for the fall!


hand dyed yarn

Saturday, May 3, 2008

I'm dyeing over here

I recently finished my yarn spinning class. I learned to make finer yarns, but I like textured, chunky, uneven yarns, so I made this one. I also dyed it in blues and browns:

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For class, I spun this one:

hand dyed yarn

Here are some that I dyed, but didn't spin:

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And, I finally finished another apron. It's reversible. Available at Burst of Happiness:

aprons
aprons

Roady sweetness

Still not sure what is up with Roady's weight loss. Lots of tests proved inconclusive. Still waiting on more, but here are some sweet pictures of her:

Roady

Roady