Back to knitting — again

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Nov 122015

I am making another attempt at going back to knitting, this time under the aegis of the gals at the local knitting store, which I discovered next to where I have physical therapy.

I went in today and spent a ghastly amount on a skein and a pair of size 6 needles. But for the price they also wound the yarn (which took forever because they said it had been zigzagged back and forth or had undergone some sort of mistreatment at the warehouse). In addition I got lessons on the cable cast on, and the woman who worked there actually did most of the casting on for me.

I took out my project (a hat to be)new knitting beginnings tonight and didn’t get far before I had a suspect looking loop. I am going back to the yarn store tomorrow to find out what I’ve done wrong. It’s OK; I could use the company anyway.

Back to knitting, phase II

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Apr 122015

I can’t believe I was ever good at this, if only for a short time. Have had trouble casting on recently, as well as accidentally increasing my stitches. And I don’t have the right needles for what I’m doing (at least I don’t see any around), so am using a cable with screw on tips, which is a little scary.

Back to knitting…. sort of

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Mar 132015


balling yarn

I’ve been going through some really tough times, and have not knitted in years. In fact, I am creeped out by all the yarn I collected. And I barely know how to knit anymore.

However, my new therapist just suggested knitting as a form of meditation (or a substitute for same; don’t quote me).So behold, the first ball of yarn I’ve made in years. Malabrigo silky merino.

Frankly  I’m surprised I remembered how to put the swift together, but I got it on the first try. So I’m knitting, you guessed it, a scarf, which is abominable. But my therapist may have something here, because at least I am no longer bouncing off the wall. It would be a little less boring if I knew what I was doing and using the right size needles, but I can’t afford to be picky right now. Just knit. Knit. Knit.

k-thunk, k-thunk, k-thunk went the sewing machine

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Jan 242015

Well, as promised, the missing screw did come overnight, and I put my sewing machine back together, and then tried a practice stitch.

kthunk, kthunk. I know, change the needle, but the thing is, there was no needle in there. Not even a bobbin case.

Next thing I remember, I must have put it back together anyway. The machine was making lots of noise, but not sewing with the bobbin thread. I’m not sure what happened, but after some efforts, I got it to sew a straight stitch, but the zigzags were off. Then it was ok with zigzags too, but still makes more noise than I remembered it making. So…. do I take it in for service? I hate people touching my stuff, in addition to the money.

And I’m such a lazy lousy seamstress that I wouldn’t know whether “bad sewing” was my fault or something wrong with the machine.

The missing screw, the broken bobbin case

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Jan 232015

Well, I was having a grueling week anyway, so why not this:

bobbin case and shuttle raceI started to make yet another Jalie 2805 t-shirt, and wouldn’t you know the neckband got caught in the needle plate — as knits are wont to do, duh– as I tried to sew it together. I did everything right, didn’t panic (as I am wont to do). Took out my handy stitch remover thingie (Mom used to call it the Dritzer, after the brand). Anyway, I worked with that a bit. I’m not sure of the exact sequence of events …. maybe the fabric got caught twice, but at any rate, at some point in removing or replacing the needle plate, one of the screws that holds it on fell into the machine. Drat. Again, no panic, just turned the machine upside down and shook a little. At some point I was smart enough to remove the compartment that holds all the bobbins and stuff so that things wouldn’t fall out of it. I managed to get the screw to fall out, but what also fell was the bobbin holder thingie  (heretofore and probably correctly referred to as the “bobbin case.”) Anyway, I tried to fit it back in, but it didn’t seem to go in right. See, I thought it was supposed to turn when I turned the hand wheel, and it didn’t. Anyway, I called my mom, and my uncle (who’s a technical guy with a wife who sews). I picked what I thought was a tiny broken piece of the bobbin case up off the floor, which confirmed my suspicion that I’d broken the bobbin holder. Except what I picked up turned out to be a speck of lint. I later picked up something that looked more like the piece of the bobbin case I was sure was broken. I ended up ordering  a new bobbin case, which came the next say (not soon enough). I have yet to find out whether or not the old bobbin case still works, because….

At some point during the stuck-fabric ordeal, the pressor foot holder  decided to spontaneously fall off (It does that sometimes.). So putting it back on was part of putting everything back together once I’d received the new, possibly unnecessary bobbin case. Except the screw for that was missing. I did not fume, I did not panic, and I don’t think I called anyone for help except possibly my husband (silly) and then the company, who said they’d overnight a replacement at no charge. To be continued….

Perfectionism? Curtains to you!

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Dec 072014

shoji screen panelsAnyone who accuses me of being a perfectionist has only to enter my living room to see evidence to the contrary.

Last year I bought this set of panel screens (aka shoji screen). There is a cheap wood frame from which hung some apparently all cotton fabric (muslin, but thicker than what I consider muslin, IIRC). The purpose of the screen was to keep the low winter sun that washes into our ample windows out of my eyes, without interrupting our view with more permanent window coverings (or giving us more blinds to dust or curtains to wash).

Being the type of person who loves cleanliness, however, I washed the panels, and, unsurprisingly, they shrank. This was rather inconvenient, as they could no longer stretch to fit from the top to the bottom dowels that attached them to the frame. We shrugged and let them dangle. Looked stupid, but mostly got the job done, IIRC.

Since the winter sun is coming in at that annoying angle again, I just converted one of my hastily-made curtains from a rental many years past into 3 hastily-made shoji panel screens. Really hasty, really haphazard stitching. In fact, I measured, such as it was, for a narrow hem allowance, but at the last minute decided I didn’t want to screw with the narrow hemmer foot for something no one  but us chickens will likely see up close. So I think the stitch I chose was the blanket stitch (later switched to zigzag stitch because I thought it might take less thread), just so it won’t ravel, but then I didn’t bother paying attention to where I was in relation to the edge. The first stitches were over edge; I nudged the fabric  so that more of the stitch would go into it, so the lovely stitch drifts.

I never intended a fantastic job, but boy am I shiftless… Of course maybe part of the problem was that I assumed that the curtain I was planning to recycle was probably not straight anyway.

Anyway, long story longer, I did a shoddy job. I even forgot to resew at least one of the rod pockets which I had unpicked a bit of in order to “finish” the edges.

Add to that drifting stitches, waves (presumably from ripping rather than cutting fabric), a bit too much length in at least one of three of them, and loose threads. Oh well. We will hide them if company comes. We’re not expecting any anytime soon.

I was aiming for slightly better than what we had, and that’s about where we landed. Maybe one day when the perfect fabric pops up and I’m feeling more industrious, I’ll try to replace them. It’s the measuring that gets me…

PS: OK, we washed the new panels the next day and I took the opportunity to fix a couple things… so they’re not perfect, but they’re better.

This is how hard I’m trying

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Nov 252014

In my effort to perfect the neckband, I have made recently about 6 iterations of the Jalie 2805 t-shirt, albeit some not finished. The neckbands failed on all of them.


I am so committed, however, that not only did I use a fabric I hated and had been planning to throw out, I then took the excess and cut out just enough to have a neckline so I could practice the neckband. It’s like a yucky little polyester ITY dickey. And I plopped it in the trash right after taking this photo.

I wish I could say it got better every time, but it doesn’t. But I keep trying. As Kenneth D. King said, “you should expect to destroy several acres of fabric before you get good.”

Me wanty

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Nov 222014

Not necessarily rational, as I’ve recently made — at least to some degree — 6 iterations of the T-shirt I’d want this for (Jalie 2805) and had trouble with the neckband every time. What’s worse is that they haven’t gotten progressively better. And I still have a few fabrics to go through if I want to keep trying this pattern.

But what if I do perfect the neck band, and this gorgeous thing is sold out when I’m ready for it? Plus, at the same time I could order the solid color rayon-lycra blend I want in sky for the neckband for one of the partly-finished pieces. Then again, I could just sew through what I have, and be done with it. It’s not as though I need any gorgeous designer-looking pieces, even if I could hope to achieve them one day. Grrr…. I think I actually did a decent job on one a few years ago. Wish I could recall what I did differently.

Well, I’ll give it a few days…. See how the next neckband comes out, and whether this stuff is still available…

French scrapbook montageEOS

Boneheaded sewing moves… write me if you do this type of thing too :)

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Nov 122014

Head in HandsSo I was working on my third iteration of Jalie 2805 of the past week — yes I was bored and I have tons of fabric and none of them are very good.

Anyway, I did something boneheaded. Twice in a row. (Now that I think about it, I did something similarly boneheaded with one of the others… also twice in a row.)

Rather than say it’s just because my brain is broken, I’ll cling to the notion that this was an honest mistake: after all, as sewists, we are used to looking at the insides/”wrong” sides of the fabric, so our seams don’t show. “Pin and sew right sides together,” right?

Well, I had completed all my seams and turned my top right-side out to try it on, then topstitched a sleeve. Unfortunately, I had neglected to turn it back inside-out first, so turned up the wrong side of the fabric to the right side and blithely top-stitched. Ugh. Felt pretty foolish. Luckily — in this instance, at least —  I have short arms, and had only cut off a moderate amount from the sleeves before the initial topstitching. Anyway, I cut off the sewn bit and shortened the other sleeve to match (roughly, since this is still considered a “wearable muslin.”) Why not pick it out instead? I had topstitched with a triple-stitch and had no hopes of unpicking it without ruining the fabric and what’s left of my sanity). So at worst, this shirt will have what they call “bracelet sleeves.”

But wait, there’s more! Right after I did the sleeves properly, I somehow made the same mistake on the hem as I’d made on the first sleeve. I got halfway through it before realizing my mistake, and again, had no hopes of unpicking my firmly entrenched stitches. So I cut off the bottom front, which is the part I’d stitched, and wondered if I could get away with keeping the back a little longer. Well, I briefly entertained the idea of getting out my set of French curves and attempting to “do it right,” but these rayon lycra knits are so finicky. Either that, or I’m doing something wrong, but I did not see any scenario in which anything close to perfection could happen. I hadn’t been working that way from the beginning, and I wouldn’t have really known what to do.  And besides, the messy look is in, right? At least it was last year, judging by some of the slouchy looks I recall of J Crew’s so-called “perfect fit tee.” So I did my quick-best, and we’ll see.

I am still not sure the neckband wouldn’t benefit from topstitching, but don’t want to press my luck — it’s barely OK as it is. So I’ll wash it and wear it once first, and see what happens. If the inside edges keep popping out and showing their ugly parts, maybe I’ll try topstitching it. I could certainly use the practice. But I could probably use some guidance too. Just too lost to even formulate my questions yet, if you know what I mean.

T-Shirt Neck Band — easier done before side seams and sleeves?!

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Nov 102014

Anonymous_light_bulbOne of my many sewing-related bugaboos is sewing the neckband on a t-shirt. I’ve actually done it twice pretty well, but that was years ago. Recent trials were unseemly. Not that I tried very hard, but it seems that all the effort in the world still might yield tucks where I don’t want them. And even removing basting stitches seems to be an effort with the stretch knits I’ve been using.

Anyway, I did a Google search, and started watching a  random video tutorial on attaching neckbands to T-shirts. I didn’t watch the whole thing, and I won’t follow all the instructions because I am still inclined to use the neckband pattern piece provided with the pattern. However, she made it look so easy to lay out the neckline that it gave me an idea: I think I have been putting on the neckband after sewing the sleeves and side seams, and it dawned on me while watching this that it could be much easier to attach the neckband right after the shoulder seams, and before the rest of the seams.  Should make it much  easier to find the “quarter marks” and pin everything, I would think. So I will try that next.

Epilogue: Well, maybe it was easier that way, but the neckband is still going terribly. I followed Jalie’s instructions of only using two pins and hoped for the best, and it did not go well. At least the basting was not too hard to unpick, but something went wrong somewhere… I’m so annoyed I’m not sure what I did in what order, but in any case, I unpicked the basting stitches. Then maybe I made some more mistakes… and put the mess aside to think about tomorrow. I zig-zagged the edges at some point, and think I even did a smaller, final (oops) stitch after that, thinking I could magically fix the little glitches left after the zigzagging. Ha. Yeah, right.

This time I have not even cut out the sleeves yet, because it was getting fussy trying to to eke out what I needed out of my small pieces of fabric, and I figured I’d toss the project if the neckline failed. Again, not my favorite piece of fabric, of course. But at least I have killed some time and some stash…&#x2701