Saturday, June 7, 2008

To sew

So, it's been a while, I know. I suppose I'm posting about once a month now - not quite enough to be able to rope in the readers. =]

I've been in a transitional period (is all life now transitional periods?) and I'm finally starting what will most likely be my new schedule for a few months, at the least. I haven't been crafting as much. I haven't sewn anything of note since I finished my new blue purse and my evangeline apron. (Or was it Emiline? Either way...) The Big Blue Purse is a tricky purse; some of the details are very 'professional', and I love how I was able to do some of the things (like the external pocket), but, because of the problems with how I sewed in the lining, the bag is not useable on an every day basis yet: the lining currently makes it difficult to fully zip the bag. Also somewhat problematic is that the ends of the straps weren't properly turned under before they were sewn. They've started to fray, which makes the bag look sloppier. The lining issues are my top priority now, but I think once I get that all settled, I might take off the straps and try and rework them. Luckily, because of the metal rings that the straps are attached to, that's not as difficult as it could be.

So, my goals for the big blue purse:
1. remove lining
2. re-add lining, preferably by hand sewing. Sew the following lines: sew lining to zipper end, sew the line between the top and sides of the bag, sew four bullets from the lining to the bottom of the bag, to help keep lining in place.
3. remove straps.
4. Fix straps.
*re-sew the end of the straps - if fabric needs to be cut to make this practical, do that. If interfacing needs to be removed, do that.
* sew an additional line below the metal ring on the fabric connecting the ring to the bag; that loop does not need to be as 'loopy' as it is now, and an additional line of stitching could help hide the interfacing that's peaking out.

Also in the to-sew pile, of course, is the rest of my Weekender bag. I've become a bit disenchanted with that pattern now that I'm at the step where I'm sewing approximately eleventy thousand layers of interfacing together. Once I get past that, I'm sure I'll like the bag again. It *is* a nice finished product, it's just somewhat shittily designed.

I want to sew myself a version of the clutch from In Stitches. Technically, I have a little black clutch already - which I need to remember to use when appropriate, like, say, last night. It'll really save shoulder pain! I'd like something a little more 'funky,' but my color preferences make that difficult. I could do something in a fun black and white damask print; that'd be au courant as well as matching with stuff. I could probably also do a brown and white print, or maybe something from the current Joel Dewberry collection, he has some nice patterns. I'm so picky with patterns, though! Since I'm not naturally a pattern person, I have a tough time justifying adding a patterned accessory to my collection - it needs to be a perfect fit with at least one thing I own, and a pretty good fit with at least a few others. I figure something brown based would be nice, because it could match my new sandals if nothing else. Oh I love my new sandals! They make me feel far more "grown up" than I think I actually am.

I suppose that's all the writing for now. I need to go get ready for my callbacks. Yay directing again!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Ultimate Workout Playlists: collected

So, since my new job (yay!) will mean that I won't have the leisure to arrange my workouts around available spin classes, I figure some new workout mixes are called for. There are a couple of blogs that have featured some, so I figured I'd collect them here.
Women's Health Magazine Strength Training Playlist:
1. Let's Get Loud - Jennifer Lopez
2. Jump - Van Halen
3. You've Got Another Thing Coming - Judas Priest
4. Jump Around - House of Pain
5. Set me Free - Velvet Revolver
6. Kick out the Jams - MC5
7. The Rising - Bruce Springsteen
8. Beautiful Day - U2
9. Let's Go - Trick Daddy
10. Something More - Sugarland
11. Ray of Light - Madonna
12. Get Up Stand Up - Bob Marley

From Fitness, via That's Fit:
1. Good Day - Tally Hall
2. Mercy - Duffy
3. Elevator - Flo Rida
4. 4 Minutes to Save the World - Madonna
5. Touch My Body - Mariah Carey

There are a whole lot of user-recommended ones here, also.

Songs that've been big on my recent playlists:
*Sticks and Stones - The Pierces
I have no idea how I worked out without the Pierces. Most of their songs are bouncy with the right amount of edge.
*I'll Make a Man Out of You - Mulan
Don't laugh. It's inspiring! I usually use this, when I use it, as the first song. It's got a good beat, and it has a nice rise in intensity for the begining of a run.
*See You Again - Milie Cyrus
I'm embarrassed I like this song as much as I do, but it really is catchy. I like to stick this somewhere where I might want to slowdown because the beat keeps me going.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

MD Sheep and Wool: Ain't No Party Like a Ravelry Party

So, by the end of my festival time on Saturday, I was pretty tired and maybe just a little sunburned. As I was pulling out of my car, Casey and MaryHeather (and probably Jess, though I didn't see her) were walking by, and I shouted out the window "you guys are awesome." Hopefully they didn't think that was too weird. I went home, drank a good four glasses of water (something I'd foolishly avoided at the festival except at the end, so I could avoid the restrooms) and immediately started playing around with my drop spindle. Before too long though, it was time for the highlight of my weekend: the Ravelry party!

I was able to get to the hotel just fine, but I (along with the rest of the knitting world) was a little confused as to where exactly I was supposed to go. Happily, I found a group of equally confused Ravelers, and we asked someone at the front desk who helped us find a way around the weddings that were going on. The first thing I notticed once I got to the party were the awesome decals! My favorite was the bob decal:
Bob loves Ravelry
It was totally awesome. I got all 'checked in' (which really meant picking up my drink tickets and raffle ticket) and walked around taking in the sights. So many people with such gorgeous knitted garments! One of my first stops ended up by the Rav Merchandise area: there was (the birthday girl - look up tag later) with a stack of Ravelry tote bags! I'll be honest, when I looked at the RavStore online, the tote bag was maybe the only thing that did *not* capture my attention. I've never been much of a tote bag person in general, and the neon green didn't really do much for me. Of course, once I saw it in person, I could hardly resist it. I kept trying on the sample bag, and petting it, and thanks to the wonderful TeamRav members, I was convinced I had to own the bag. Purchasing it, of course, took up my very very last cash at all, and the end of my budget, but it was money well spent. The tote is incredibly sturdy, it has a large capacity, it has a nicely flattened bottom, and it has a great pocket between the straps on the front. Add to that the fact that the straps magically happen to be my favorite strap height ever, and you can see why I was sold. Plus, I'll admit it, I felt kind of cool walking around in my (albeit heavily modified) beta shirt with this awesome tote.

Walking around the party, I ran into SpaceKitty. SpaceKitty went (technically goes) to my old high school, and though I didn't know her when I was there, she was friends with one of my best friends from high school. (Hi, M!) She had already found a table and made friends, so my Gimlet and I (my standard mixed drink) walked over to the table. I met a bunch of wonderful people, most of whose RavIDs I forgot, but notably I met Julsey and Pamster73. While we were sitting around a lot of people were knitting, so I pulled out my Embossed Leaves and started knitting away. Clearly, I had found my people! People were very nice and complemented my most recent sock-in-progress bag I'd sewn (which you haven't seen yet...they'll be a post about that soon. =] ) and we all admired how really, Risata was a much nicer yarn than you'd necessarily expect from knitpicks. Pamster and I discussed our trials with lace, and I admired socks all around. We took a picture later in the evening, but I'll post it here:
Ravelry party!

Somewhere around here, I saw someone wander by with strawberries and I decided to go search them out. I found some and then I met Ikumi, a fellow MD Raveler. She's in school for medical illustration - maybe the coolest thing ever. We chatted for a bit, but then it was time for the RavGods (as I call them) to give their adorable speeches and hand out the billion door prizes.
Rav gods
Jess and Casey seemed amazed that Ravelery has come as far as it has, and I'll admit, I'm still amazed that they're as great as they are. I use Ravelry proportionally more than any other web products than Google products, but you don't see the GoogleReader designer throwing a party for his users, and drinking and chatting with them.
The Gods
Then, the raffle. Sadly, I did not win anything in the raffle, but SpaceKitty and ChezAristotle, the two people I have some connection with 'in real life' did, so that's good enough for me. The raffle and the festival convinced me though - I need to get some buffalo and yak fiber, and I need it bad! Thank you thank you thank you to the sponsors of the RavParty: it was a great party, and I'm grateful you helped make it possible. I'll list them here so any readers who haven't yet can go check them out:

After the raffle was over, ChezAristotle came over to chat with me. Now, much like I was four years above SpaceKitty in highschool, ChezAristotle was three years above me in college. I knew of her my freshman year (her senior year) because she was someone whose name was known, but I'd never spoken to her. It was thanks to Ravelry that we 'met.' Plus, she has one of the best blog posts about Hegel ever. (Her site's down temporarily, but I'll link you later.) We chatted about philosophy and about some of the trials and tribulations of having graduated from our mutal Alma Mater. Mary said it best - back when we were in school, we both thought it was kind of silly the way alums would talk about the importance of getting to know other alums, but now that we find ourselves graduated, we're seeing what they were talking about.

At the end of the evening, I caught Jess and Casey (Mary Heather I just spoke with in passing - she complemented my beta shirt mods. =] ) and was able to chat briefly with them. Were I less shy and worried about being an imposition, I would've gotten a photo with them, but there's always next year!

I went home happy and excited: I'd made new friends, met some of my internet idols, and had a great time. It was the best party I'd gone to in a long while. As someone who's not usually the most social, it was great to know that I could go somewhere where I knew almost nobody and still make friends. It also rekindled my desires to join a knitting group; knitters are such a cool bunch. The next day it was off to the festival again, this time with my mother. That will get one final post a little later.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

MD Sheep and Wool: Saturday at the festival

This past weekend was the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. I've known about it only for two years now, despite being a Marylander all my life, but because it tends to fall during the same weekend as Reality, this is the first time I've been able to go. Luckily for me, this year also had a very strong Ravelry presence, and we all know how much I LOVE Ravelry!
Cute sheep!

I didn't have any worries about getting there 'too late', since I didn't have a particular game plan. I knew I wanted to get a drop spindle and some fiber, and I wanted to try and get some yarn for one of the sweaters of vests I'm planning, but I didn't know anything about the specifics of any of these. Getting there 'late' (at 11:30am) meant I was parked at the opposite end of the massive parking field, but a spot's a spot!

I stopped by the Ravelry meetup and was informed by the lovely Ravelry helpers that Jess and Casey were running late. I was obviously there for Ravelry, because I was wearing my nifty little 'hello my name is' button that I'd purchased way back when they did their beta shirt sales. Since I knew I was going to go to the party that night, and since I'm not one of the more 'popular' forum posters, there wasn't anyone who I'd been dying to meet other than Jess and Casey, so I decided I'd come back later.

As I was walking around I was stopped by a number of people asking me where I got my Ravelry button or where the meetup was, and I felt special being able to help them out. I like being 'in the know,'

My first purchase was at the first stall I really looked at, the Hunt Country Yarns stall. I saw their knitted up sample of the Jojoland Swirl Shawl, and I decided I had to own the pattern. I bought the pattern ($5.30) with the plan to return later if I wanted to get the yarn that was recommended. The woman I spoke to at the stall was very nice; she told me they were offering the pattern free with purchase of the yarn, so if I ended up coming back to get the yarn, I should tell her and she'd take the pattern purchase price off the yarn price. I also liked her because as I was walking up, she was explaining how awesome Ravelry was to one of the customers. I love anyone who loves Ravelry!

My second stop was the Journey Wheel booth in the main exhibition stall. Purchasing a spindle was my main goal of the day, and thanks to Diane2knit who had started a thread about purchasing ones first spindle at the festival, I knew just where I wanted to go first. The two most recommended spindle types were the Goldings and the Bosworths, and having looked at both of them online, I thought I'd want to start with a Bosworth. My decision was made when ShielaSpins offered a quick spinning lesson for those who stopped by her booth and asked. As for why a Bosworth over a Golding, for now? The Goldings are beautiful, but they feel more modern and fancy to me. Part of the appeal in spinning, especially on a drop spindle, is that it's a connecting with the past and experiencing an additional step in the fiber process. The Bosworths simply looked like how I wanted my first spindle to look.

When I showed up at Journey Wheel's booth, coincidentally, I was there at the same time as Diane2knit who had started the thread that made up my mind! There was another Raveler there at the same time as us, but I didn't catch her name. She mentioned she mostly did the 'park and draft' style of spinning, but I forgot her Ravelry handle. Sheila gave all three of us a quick walkthrough on how she'd recommend we choose our spindles and how to do the actual spinning. I ended up selecting a beautiful Paduak spindle in the Midi range, 25gm /.88 oz. There was another spindle I was thinking about that was a little heavier, which would probably have been good since I'm still a beginner, but my spindle called my name. The wood was singing to me - she glows!

Drop spindle in hand, I went to get some fiber. Sheila so kindly had a handout of some of the fiber places that she recommended, and she'd even starred places she knew were at the festival! The first fiber I got was at Misty Mountain Fiber. I saw one bunch of merino top that was in my favorite color mixture. It was labeled as 100% merino top, 4oz, $8.95. It's a beautiful blue purple green yellow mix that was carded together.
Yarn to be
At the same stall, I bought a bunch of Colonial Wool Top, 4oz for $6.88. This looks more 'natural' colored, but there are beautiful flecks of brown and blue throughout the gray haze. Very beautiful.
Yarn to be

My next purchase, also fiber (as opposed to yarn) was from Spinner's Hill. I picked a wool from their wall and told them I wanted 4oz. They claim the huge bag they gave me was only 4oz, but I suspect I got the better end of the deal. =] The fiber is wool from Corriedale Finn Rambouillet Cross Sheep in a beautiful teal with magenta stripes. It is labeled as hand dyed and carded into Batts on their farm. I didn't get a receipt for that purchase, but it was $2.13 per oz, so I have to assume I paid around $9.
Yarn to be

Next up was the Interweave Knits booth. I decided it was high time for me to subscribe, so subscribe I did. They had a deal where you could get one free issue of the magazine they had lying around, so I got the Spring 08. I'd been regretting not having bought that once it vanished from my local bookstore, so I'm glad I caught it. Also as a 'thank you gift', I got a pair of mini travel scissors, that the nice person at the booth (whose name, I believe, was stefanie) told me was airplane safe. Even better!

Around here, I decided it was time to find my way back to Hunt County Yarns to pick up the Melody yarn for the shawl. I got 5 skeins @ 8.50 each, but I was refunded the cost of the pattern. I later ended up seeing Melody for $6 a ball somewhere else, but it was thanks to Hunt County Yarn's knitted sample of the shawl I knew I had to buy the pattern/yarn in the first place. I was excited to learn, after I'd already decided I'd buy it, that melody was a superwash yarn.
Swirl Shawl 'kit'

Then came my final fiber purchase of Saturday. I went to the Stormy Mountain Fibers stall and got about 3oz of their 'loose' wool in a nice green color (moss, I believe), and a 3.9oz braid of Colonial Wool Top in Northern Lights for $6.44. Northern lights is a beautiful mix of brown, dark blue, and a little bit a of green. Very vibrant, but very fun.
Yarn to be
The green was what I started spinning with the second I got home, so I only have a picture of that on my spindle.
My first yarn

By this time, I was hungry! I got a lamb gyro at a booth, and a 'snack pack' size of the cinnamon almonds. Very tasty!

Finally, my final yarn purchase. I went to the Woolstock Knits booth and sorted through their sale bin. Everything in the bin was %50 off! I've looked at the bin at their store before but never found anything.(They're one of my favorite local yarn stores, and people there have only ever been completely awesome to me, even back before I had any clue what I was doing.) I found a few different bags of Rowan Summer Tweed, a yarn I'd previously drooled over, and ended up getting a bag of a bunch of skeins of light green. Though it's not a perfect fiber match, I'm thinking of trying to knit the gathered neck pullover in this. Of course, to do this, I have to find my blasted copy of the magazine! I don't want to buy an additional PDF pattern when I know I have the magazine lying around! For those, I paid $5.98 per skein. $5.98! Down from $11.25!
Rowan Summer Tweed

My budget more than depleted, and my two goals achieved, I decided it was almost time to call it a day. On my way out, I stopped by the Landleth Seeds plant booth which had organic heirloom and vintage plants, and I got my mom some seedlings. Then it was a root beer (or, a sasparilla sharp shooter, to be exact) and off to find my car.

Next post, you'll get my writeup of the awesome awesome Ravelry party, and my writeup of Sunday at the festival with my mom.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

2-at-a-time review! part 1

As an extra bloggy present, I'll post a review I wrote a while back of the new sock book that's sweeping the nation, 2-at-a-time Socks by Melissa Morgan-Oakes. If you're on ravelry, I'd encourage you to go over to the rav group for the book. Melissa herself is live and in person there quite frequently, and as much as I liked her in the book, the real live her is even more awesome.

I'm going to preface my review by saying that, though I don't like every pattern in this book, I am very glad I bought it, and it has a higher ratio of patterns I like to patterns I don't than any other knitting book I've bought yet. I'll start by reviewing each of the patterns individually, and in a later post I'll review some of the things that make this an awesome book, format wise. I'll preface that later post by saying this has my favorite format of any knitting book I've ever seen. I'll explain why later. =]

On to the pattern reviews!
So, first, for a little knitting history. The first socks I ever knitted were knitted this past summer. Not because I had some deep desire to knit socks – knitting socks seemed quite silly to me – but because I’d gone to the lovely ‘local’ yarn store (local to where I was this summer, at least) asking for a nice small project. “Have you tried socks?” “They seem to hard.” “Nonsense!”
With that exchange, I got started. My first sock took probably over 3 months to complete, and my second was finished up in (I think) less than a month. My second (completed) pair of socks was a pair of no purl monkeys, and those I managed to get through in about two weeks.

The patterns: (in the order they are in the book)
Sample Socks
I decided not to knit the sample socks for one simple reason. There is no toddler in my life, and it is likely it will be many years before there is one. That said, I love the write up of the sample sock, and in working on the other socks (or thinking through the other socks) I keep referring back to this. That strikes me as a Good Thing.

Berry Season
I’m not sure if I’ll ever knit berry season. The socks are made out of a thick yarn, but they’re ankle socks – for me, if I want the warmth the thick yarn would give, I’d prefer a little more leg power. I’m also not a big fan of the roll at the top of the brim. That said, I’ll probably use the stitch pattern in some future Franken-sock of my own. These socks are very pretty, and maybe potential GiftSocks, but not for me.

These socks are also not for me. Or, at least, not for me as written. I’ll admit the colors here are not my personal favorites, and I have a hard time trying to think out the pattern in different color combinations. Also, right now, socks don’t warrant the time and effort of color work to me. I like the contrasting toe and heel, and I might like these socks with just a plain stripe where there is now the color worked section, but as written, I’m unlikely to knit the socks. Of course, many other knitters probably enjoy color work, and these socks are for them.

Be Mine
These are the socks that sold me the book, plain and simple, and they’re the first socks from the book I’ve started. The cable pattern is beautiful. I love the way the hearts are somewhat subtle (because they’re cabled hearts, not color work), but the socks themselves look oh so deliciously girly and fun. I have a pair of dansko mary janes that I believe will show off the pattern quite well. That said, it’s slow moving for me on these socks. As many times as I’ve tried to learn to cable without a cable needle, I haven’t managed, so that keeps me having to have an extra needle in hand. The pattern itself (for my size foot) is a 32 row repeat, and not one that I could memorize. This makes these nice audiobook socks, but pretty bad tv socks. Of course, I still think they’re the prettiest things ever, so don’t let my warning scare you off.

I’m not sure if I’ll ever knit these socks or not. I suspect I might someday, but not necessarily soon. I like the striping sequence, and I think this could be a good ‘guy sock’, but I don’t have any guys to make socks for. Personally, if I knit these I suspect I’ll combine the orange and green stripes into one larger stripe for added symmetry and because I like the look better. I also might prefer to have the heel in that orange/green color, instead of in the white the way it currently is. That, or try and have the first rows before the heel in white, and the heel in the burgundy. (If you have the book, that’ll make sense. If not, buy it already!)

Belle Epoque
If Be Mine sold me the book, Belle Epoque is what convinced me my money was well spent. Like Be Mine, these are girly to the extreme. Dainty lace and a delicate cable, combined with an adorable picot edge, make these too cute for words, but they’re definitely ‘serious’ enough that they could be office footwear. I want to do these in black. I suspect a dark color would best set off the lace surrounding the cable, but they look delicious in the green they are shown in. Though I haven’t started knitting these yet, the chart looks much less intimidating and much more intuitive than Be Mine, so I suspect these would be a faster knit. It’s almost all made up of K, P, K2Tog, and Yo! I can do those with my eyes closed! I can’t wait to cast on for these.

These socks, like the sample socks, I will probably not knit until a toddler comes into my life. They look cute and a little complicated, so I can see how they’d get good gift knitting mileage.

Coquette, like Berry Season, is an ankle sock. It reminds me of socks I wore as a child, and it’s honestly difficult for me to imagine an adult wearing these, though I think that’s partly because of the color they were knitted in. They were knitted in a very busy multicolor that, honestly, makes the socks look a little like The Kind of Socks Knitters Who Give Knitting A Bad Image wear. Yes, that’s horribly judgmental of me, and yes, I know there are plenty of cool knitters (Melissa included) who apparently like this kind of yarn. I wish there’d been a secondary picture of these in a solid color. I suspect I might like them more then, and I’ll keep my eye out on Ravelry for a good pair to prove my dislike wrong.

Socks for Aidan
See above (Frolic) re: no kids in my life and see above (Spice) re: not loving color work in socks. Again though, IF I had kids that warranted knitting, and IF I wanted to knit color work, these are cute. Not for me, but cute. I like how the color work is on the folded over cuff. Sock cuffs were very important to me as a kid, and this makes the cuff itself part of the design.

I can’t tell if I like these socks because I like the pattern, because I’m in love with the yarn, or both. Melissa says this pattern works best on hand painted yarns, and I believe her. It gives the socks a little texture to add some visual interest, but I suspect these would be perfect TV socks, train socks, or socializing socks. I look forward to knitting these sometime.

Sugar Maple
With these socks too, my love is part pattern love and part yarn love – coincidentally, this is the same yarn as before…maybe I should get myself rich so I can buy a skein or three. =] These socks scream fall to me, in a very good way. I like the pattern and it’s versatility. Though this looks great in a hand painted yarn, I suspect it’d look equally brilliant in a solid color. It looks a twinge more thought-involved than Twilight, but I’d say these can still qualify as TV socks….just, maybe not House or Lost socks.

H Sock
I might like these socks, but I can’t tell. I have to say, as much as I love Lorna’s Laces, this colorway (or maybe this yarn) did not show off the pattern to its best. The colors are so busy that I have difficulty making out the pattern even in the close up section, and the on-feet picture isn’t much better. I want to see this pattern with different yarn before I fully judge, but right now, I’m not positive I want to make these.

Damnit MMO, why must you make so many beautiful things with cables?! If the name of this pattern hadn’t sold me, the picture would have. I love the way these look. Of course, that said, I’m a little curious what it would be like to wear them – the cables look on the bulkier side, and I don’t usually want thick and bulky socks with shoes that show off how pretty the socks are. I don’t know if I’ll ever knit these, but I’ll sure as hell drool over them.

Emily’s Socks
What with how these are also kiddy socks, you might think you know exactly what I’m going to say – but! Hah hah! These are *also* the socks on the cover. (Well, mostly…) I actually like these much better in the cover shot than in the kiddie version because I think the yarn is better suited to them. In the kiddie version, the yarn’s got some mohair, and that kind of ruins the stitch definition. In fact, when I look at the close-up photo of the stitch pattern, it looks to me like ribbing, not like anything fancy. The cover however is much nicer. On the cover, I can see that this is a fun texture, but not a super busy pattern. I can definitely picture myself knitting these, both with or without the super cute picot edging.

Sailor’s Delight
These just look awesome to me. I love the color, and though these socks have a bit of mohair too, the yarn doesn’t detract from the stitch pattern at all. Of course, that said, I wish that the closeup picture had been on white sock blockers or some other way to make it easier to see exactly how lacey this looks. I definitely plan on making these. These, too, look like potential good TV socks, and they seem like they’ve got a lot of buck for the bite, or whatever the expression is.

Pitter Patter
Nice simple kids sock I don’t think I’ll knit forever.

The Classic Sock
This is basically the two-at-a-time version of my first socks, and I love them. Mine were in Trekking Pro Natura, not XXL, but same difference. I have a special place in my heart for k3p1 ribbing in socks – it looks much nicer to me than k1p1 or k2p2 – it’s a design choice, not just a way to keep the socks on the feet! I like that MMO included a mens large size for these, though I think if I’m ever going to knit something for a guy with large feet, a hat would probably be faster than the massive pair of socks.

Ragg Hiker
If I wanted to make worsted socks, these’d be the socks I’d want to make. They look perfect for going under boots – nice and thick and cozy. I also love love love the yarn choice here. A good pattern to end the book, though not really a pattern exactly. Either way, very nice.

Long time no see! ::waves::

It's been quite a while, I know. Largely I haven't been updating since I haven't been crafting, but that's not completely true. Since my last post, I finished my monkey socks and my fire fetchings, and I started sewing an apron. Oh, and I finished the first heart on my Be Mine socks. Partly I've been going slowly because I've never really gotten momentum on my Be Mines, but since they were my project spectrum feb/march socks, I didn't feel comfortable starting a new project until they were done. Now, though, now it's april. This means "earth" is officially in swing, and I can start my next pair of socks, which I've admitedly been getting more and more excited about. Even better, I can sew the project bag whose fabric has been sitting stacked next to my computer!

For my earth one-person-KAL with already purchased yarn, I'm going to be knitting the Embossed Leaves socks from the Interweave Favorite Socks book, in Knit Picks Risata in Grass. I think the 'leaves' aspect of Embossed Leaves makes this a good thematic choice, as well as the fact I think I'm just in love with the pattern. I can usually recognize it right away if done in most solid colored yarns, but there are some times when I'll see a pair on flickr or something and think "wow, those socks look awesome! I want to knit those!" Another thing I'm liking about this pattern is that it's all friendly stitches: mostly knits with a few purls, k2togs, ssks and yos thrown in there. As much as I think the Be Mines are maybe the cutest socks in the world, their pattern is too thought intensive for me. These should, hopefully, be a little easier.

If I end up finishing these, or if I end up devoting a lot more time to knitting these months than I previously have, I might work on finishing up my Branching Out, in it's beautiful and thematically appropriate yarn choice. The trouble with the Branching Out is that I don't like the needles it's currently on. It's on some of my grandmother's old aluminum straight needles. They're too long, overly heavy, and they make a sound when knitting that reminds me of nails on a chalkboard. After the major crush I've developed on the Knit Picks long circular sock needles I bought, I've been heavily debating getting a set of their Options, once I've saved up the money. I know there have been some complaints about the cables breaking or the needles coming undone from the cables, but I think I'm willing to risk it. For things like the branching out that I'm currently doing on old-but-annoying straights, I suspect options would be prefereable. As it is, I think I prefer circular to straight simply for the portability factor, and the nice smooth cables of the Options add to that.

As far as my sewing goes, I've been working on a skirt from Sew What Skirts, but it's been frustrating me. I'm looking forward to a nice break with my pattern bag. Though I have a decent amount of fat quarters to choose from (I stocked up when JoAnn's was having a 1 for $1 sale) I ended up chosing two that aren't my favorite pattern or color, but which go very well together. Both are from a fat quarter package I purchased at PurlSoho back in NYC. The outside is an asian inspired brown fabric with orange, pink, yellow, and green flowers and leaves. The lining will be a lime green that matches the green on the outside pretty well. Unfortunately, the only zipper I have that'd work size wise for the project is dark green, and I'm not much in the mood to go out and buy a new one. I'm trying to convince myself it'll look kicky, not tacky.

Oh well, off to work! I'll try and post more pictures once I've started knitting/sewing.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The front of a weekend

Since we last met our hero, she has been crafting up a storm!
We'll start with my weekender-in-progress:
Weekender in Progress
There's a picture of the front and back 'main panels'. As you can see, I attempted to match up the pattern on the pocket and, for my first time, I think I did pretty well!
Here's a closer photo:
Weekender in progress
So far, I'm very pleased with my bag. I think my first attempt at piping went well, as did my first attempt at using heavy duty interfacing for anything but the bottom of the bag. I'm happy to report that so far, I've had no needle breakages or other major sewing disasters. Sewing a consistent distance from the piping is difficult and my seams aren't perfect, but I'm okay with that. In the end, my goal is to make a pretty bag that I'll be able to use, and I think I'm well on my way toward doing that.

One modification I've made already: Instead of sewing the handles onto the bag just by horizontal stitching, I made two little "x"s between two horizontal lines on each handle. I think they are quite stable, so I'm hoping I won't have the handle-falling-off problem some bloggers have reported.

Also in the sewing world, I finally have pictures of the 'project bag' I made for project spectrum 08, fire.
The open bag:
Project Bag for Project Spectrum
A side view:
Empty Project Bag
The filled bag:
Project bag with WIP
I made that losely based on the Drago[knit]fly box bag tutorial, but I'm planning on writing up a tutorial of my own that will explain how you can start with the size of finished bag you want, and work your way backwards to figure out how to cut your fabric.
My bag was made from two fat quarters from JoAnn Fabrics, a 12" red zipper, and some flannel lining. The bag itself has two layers of flannel, and the handle has four, so the handle is more sturdy than the bag, but as you can see, the bag is capable of maintaining its shape while empty.

Tune in again to hear the story of what you see IN the bag, my new favorite sock knitting book, and the story of the fastest sock I've knit yet!