Sunday, February 19, 2012

Tuscany Done!

I have finished the Tuscany shawl!!!  Just finished casting off.  Still need to weave in ends and block, but it looks good!  Pictures to come.

Now, just for kicks and giggles, I figured it took at least 117,024 stitches (approximately) for this project.  Now, if only I could get paid a small amount per stitch - let's see, if it were $0.25 per stitch, that would come up to $29,256.00.  Even at a penny per stitch, it would be valued at $1,170.24.  (Not that I'm counting.)

Either way, I think my new shawl is beyond price.  Because how can you put a price on love?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day 2012!

I got flowers!  From my kid!

These lovely things were waiting for me on my desk when I got home from work:

I like this kid!  He's great - I don't care what I've said about him before - he's a keeper!  He just earned 'Favorite Kid Status'.  Thank you, Alex!  Mommy loves you!

Shawl update: 16 more rows to go - on the very last repeat. 

Monday, February 13, 2012


I'm almost done with my Tuscany shawl - only 20 more rows.  No border, no fringe, just 20 more rows and then I am done.  Done done.  No mas.  Finito. 

So why do those 20 rows feel more like 20 feet?   That's because each row increases by 2 stitches, so the easy-peasy 'hey-I-can-get-this-knocked-out-quick' becomes 'OMG-will-this-will-never-end' by the 21st repeat.

Now in all fairness, I really like the pattern.  I've just hit the hump.  I didn't think I'd hit the hump on this project because I was enjoying it so much.  Using Tess' Yarns Cascade Silk Sport (100% silk) in a new leaf green, and it feels like a dream when I'm working on it.  (Tess' Yarns will be at Stitches West again this year.  If you are there you need to see this stuff - totally yummy yarns.) 

Then I ran out of wound yarn.  Luckily I have 2 skeins, but winding this stuff up was a bear.  It may have been my fault for getting it tangled, but man, what a hassle getting it in a ball - all 665 yards of the stuff.  It's silk and slippery and tangled, which means the tangles come out but you have to work at it.

The secret, I found, is to wind the ball with just enough tension to keep the yarn on the winder without popping off (been there) but loose enough to keep from over-stretching or even breaking the yarn (done that).  Not sure what the exact number of pound of pressure per inch is but I'm sure some scientific type could tell me.   Key term here is 'just enough'.

I had hoped that the one skein would be enough for the project, but I didn't quite have it.  So, back to the winder I went.  My winding process went something like this:

  1. Pull out the swift and set up on the desk (nowhere else to put it.  The winder I keep set up on  my desk.)
  2. Find the other skein of yarn.  It was somewhere...
  3. Notice the skein was slightly messed.  Told myself no worries - it should be just fine!  
  4. Not. 
  5. Ended up having to de-tangle for about 300 yards before I could start the winder.
  6. Started swearing.
  7. Finally got the skein untangled enough to start on the winder, but can't pull too fast because the swift was putting too much tension on the yarn.
  8. Got the ball half way wound and it popped off the winder.
  9. Increased the volume of my swearing. 
  10. Managed to get the half-wound ball back on the cupcake holder and finished winding.
  11. Decided the tension was too uneven, so thought re-winding the ball would help.
  12. I pulled from the outside of the ball.
  13. Ball went bouncing merrily on the floor.
  14. Cat thought it was a shiny new toy for her.
  15. (Yes, the cat is still alive.)
  16. Rescued ball from the cat and thought I'd be smart and put it in a large zip-lock bag to hold it in place.
  17. The ball seemed to have a mind of its own, escaped from baggie went back to dancing on the floor.
  18. Cat was having a great time.
  19. I seriously thought about shaving the cat and/or take up heavy drinking.  Stuck with getting more creative with my swearing.
  20. Rescued the ball from the cat again and successfully finished winding the ball.
Found a nice video on how to do a Russian Join (YouTube is a Knitter's Friend) and continued forth. 

Just 20 more rows to go.   

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Zippers Aren't That Bad

One of my goals for this upcoming year is to get my finishing work done on my WIP's  - the lack of follow-thru on the finishing is why most of my WIP's are not done.  Since this is a goal for the new year, I decided to get started early and have finished my son's new hoodie!

This garment had a zipper to install, which I found to be rather intimidating so I put it off.  I hadn't used my sewing machine in years and wasn't even sure where it was or knew if I remembered how to use it.  Well, the son who's sweater was involved found the sewing machine and brought it down stairs and placed it on the kitchen table for me.  Considerate of him, no?  He's only been after me to get the sweater done for him for about the past month or so. 

I looked up some zipper installations on the Internet, but didn't get a whole lot of useful stuff there.  One video had you hand sew it in, one swore you should crochet the edge of the zipper and use that to install it, but I found the best way for me was:

  1. Lay the sweater out flat on the kitchen table.  Fold the sleeves in if needed for space.
  2. I had crocheted the edge of the sweater to get a cleaner line - my edged were rough and I didn't want to fold the edge over since the yarn was so bulky as it was.  Your choice as to fold or not.
  3. I put the edges together and pinned the zipper (unopened) so that both edges met and the zipper did not show.  Your choice here on how much zipper to show. 
  4. Then I unzipped the pined-in zipper carefully.  It resembles a porcupine at this point, so be careful it doesn't bite you! 
  5. Sewed the zipper in.  I moved the needle as far right as I could to get a closer seam and put the zipper edge as close to the foot as possible.   Go slowly as a loop of the knitting can easily get caught in the foot of the machine.
  6. Holy cow!  It worked!  I was just really happy I remembered how to work the machine let alone successfully install a zipper!

So, on this project - all in one day - it was knit, crocheted (an edging), machine sewed (the zipper), and hand sewed (tacking).  The zipper install wasn't as bad as I'd feared - I only had to rip it out once when I realized that I had stretched the material when I sewed the zipper in.  My zipper undulated like a piece of bacon curling up in the pan.  Bacon is good, but not on your sweater.  

Use pins to hold everything in place instead of eyeballing it.  Sweaters stretch.  Zippers don't.  I had to rip out both sides of the zipper on the first try and that brought out creative swearing from me that so shocks the family.

The sweater is DONE!   It's a really dull dark gray done up in stockinette, but that's what my son wanted - typical boring guy sweater, and my son couldn't be happier.  I'd do a project with a zipper again anytime.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


I got an email yesterday that told me I have a new follower on Twitter. 

A follower?  I have a follower??  I had completely forgotten I set that up.  On top of that, I'm not narcissistic enough to think that anyone - me included - would really like to get continuous updates on my day.

Examples of imaginary tweets for a day in the life of Jen:

  • Got up this morning and made oatmeal for breakfast. It was good.
  • Almost stepped in cat barf - it looked amazing like the oatmeal I just ate.  Love those cats!
  • Lather, rinse, repeat...
  • Got to work early. Sometimes wonder AM ALWAYS GRATEFUL that my carpooler doesn't kill us each time he drives. Anger management, all I'm saying.
  • And a driver's safety course.
  • Why do I ride in with a crazy driver?  More knitting time, of course.
  •  Somebody had the WORST sour breath stinking up the coffee shop.  Remember, if you can't brush your teeth, breath mints are your friend.  And everyone around you as well.
  • Oh, heavenly coffee!!!   Coffee goooooooooooood....
  • Had to spend 10 minuets digging out my badge while balancing an oversized purse, a box of items for the office, and a cup of scalding hot coffee.
  • Got first stain of the day on my shirt.  Goodie.  Let's start the day out right.
  • Noticed co-worker A * humming tunelessly.  He plays drums in a band on the side, so don't really expect him to be able to carry a tune as long as he does it in beat.
  • Co-worker B has music on hold playing loudly on his speaker phone.  Music to coma by...
  • Just realized that co-worker A is trying to hum along with the music on holdHELP!
  • Plugged in ipod and cranked it up. 
  • Later realized that co-worker B put the music on hold on his speaker phone and LEFT THE OFFICE.  Dude...he thinks this is funny.
  • Unplugged c/w B's phone.
  • Tuneless humming from c/w A stopped.  Nirvana!
  • Went back to c/w B's cube and put in the top drawer of his desk upside-down, with all the stuff in it.
  • Re-plugged phone back in & turned the speakerphone back to MoH.
  • Listened to the sweet sounds of swearing coming from c/w B's cube when he opened his drawer.
  • LUNCHTIME!  Grilled cheese sandwich!  Yum!
  • Got back to desk and smelled something bad.  Did I get cheese on me somewhere?
  • Noticed a dirty gym sock (not mine) under my desk.  Seriously gross... 
  • Waited until c/w B left his desk and tied used gym sock under the seat of his chair.  Then left and washed my hands.
  • C/W B seems to have the sniffles.  Good luck finding your sock, buddy.
  • Time to go home and experience white knuckle driving at it's best. 
  • Keep trying to stomp on the imaginary brake but it's not working!
  • Home and safe at last! 
This is why I don't Tweet.  Had this been a real day - and some parts were - I'd have been too busy actually living my life to Tweet about it.  I also don't drop a Facebook post for each & every little thing either.   It's enough to work, spend time with family and all the things to do with that, and maybe have a bit of time left to knit.  I will be deleting my Twitter account.

Just as soon as I can remember how to get there.

* Names of co-workers have not been used to protect the innocent.  Or me.  They're both friends of mine as well as co-workers, anyway.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Thankfulness

The turkey is done and the pies have been eaten, the dishes have piled up and the groans of being over-full have been made.  Football games are over and plans for Black Friday are being made.

To me, Thanksgiving is about spending time with my family.  Too often nowadays, we all have separate paths and many other things pulling our attention and demanding our time.  Thanksgiving to me is a precious time to be with my family.

May your Thanksgiving be something for you to be thankful for!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


I've been packing up to go on retreat tomorrow (heading out after work).  No work, no hubby, no kids, no animals - just the lake, trees and lots and lots of knitting.  Can't wait!

Got two bags packed for this trip, one large and one small.  Is it wrong to use the small bag for my clothes and the large one for my knitting stuff?  A knitter's gotta do what a knitter's gotta do...