London, Here We Come!

We leave our house tomorrow morning at o’dark-hundred (4am EST). We’ll arrive in London Heathrow airport at 9:30pm GMT.

A snippet of the conversation I had with my friend yesterday:
V: I plan to take a change of clothes in my carry-on bag just in case the airport loses my luggage. You may want to consider it.
Me: I don’t have room for clothes. My carry-on is stuffed full of knitting needles, yarn, embroidery, books and food. I have my priorities. I’d rather have my knitting needles than clean underwear.
V: That should be a bumper sticker.

Camera is packed in the carry-on as well. I’ll bombard you with pictures upon my return, but don’t expect to see the typical tourist sites. We’ll be staying away from most of them. My goals consist of catching a football (soccer) game, visiting a good tea shop, finding the best pubs in town, chatting with the locals and shopping for yarn/fiber/fabric. One of the yarn shops I located just happens to be in the same neighborhood where we’re staying.

Though we return the day before Easter, don’t expect to hear from me until after the 13th.

Have a wonderful week and a Happy Easter!

Sewing up a Storm

Despite being sick all last week (hence the reason I was so quiet), I kept myself from going stir-crazy by sewing.

They look like normal star blocks and indeed, they are. The design is rather simple, just squares and right-angled triangles sewn together. The reason I am excited about them and willing to show them off to you is because they were stitched together on my new sewing machine. It works now!

I ordered a manual for the machine and was embarrassed to learn that not only did I have it thread incorrectly but I had two dials set wrong. I’m surprised it worked at all. It still needs a new light bulb, which in en route, but nothing more serious is wrong.

Since I now have two working sewing machines, I needed another fabric cover.

Yes, I made it from a pillow case again. I would love to tell you that this pillow case was a hold out from my childhood, but that would be a blatant lie. The truth is that I have a healthy collection of Tigger items from t-shirts to mugs to stuffed toys. His boisterous personality makes me smile.

One of my favorite bloggers, The Dip Lady Knits, has given me a Blog Award. Thank you!

Rules – List 7 things I love, and award 7 Blogs I love.

7 people/things I love…

1. Dan
2. Walking and gardening with Jake
3. Family and Friends
4. Knitting, Sewing, and Quilting (I refuse to pick just one)
5. Fresh baked bread
6. Making, writing and receiving cards
7. Riding downhill on my bike

7 blogs I love…
As always, I feel the need to say that I read a LOT of blogs. These 7 were just randomly picked. If I read your blog and comment on it, add yourself to the list.

1. All Fingers and Thumbs
2. Home Sweet Home
3. Knitting Alone
4. Knitting Dragonflies
5. The Yarn Closet
6. Today We Are…
7. Alpaca Granny

Fabric Storage

After drooling over the pictures in Flickr’s Sewing Rooms group, I announced to Dan that I wanted, nay needed, a hutch to store my fabric. The old system of storing my fabric in stackable, see-through drawers was no longer working. If I let myself be honest, the system had never worked at all. To find anything required several minutes of digging through each of the drawers.

Dan promptly informed me that we *had* a hutch, inherited from his great grandfather. I counter argued that the hutch was currently holding my Mamaw’s (great grandmother) china set, wedding pictures and antique dolls. Master of the quick retort, Dan stated that we had two built-in hutches and a server, all of which were underutilized. A compromise was made: I agreed to relocate the china to the server and Dan agreed to the purchase of a new bookcase.

I just love how it came out. At a glance, I can find the fabric that I need.

As soon as I have time to shift the items on the bottom shelf over to the new bookcase, I’ll have room to grow.

Of course, all this organization has shined a light on just how many UFO projects I really have. The two left-hand piles on the 2nd shelf are all current projects. Ashamed, I put myself on an immediate sewing diet. I am not allowed to start any new projects or buy new fabric until I finish the current UFOs. It’s going to be a long Spring.

Quilters may notice the lack of small bits of fabric in the hutch picture. A quick shuffle in my sewing cabinet cleared out one drawer.

It works for my needs, because I am first a sewer then a quilter. Should ever the two be reversed, I’ll have to come up with a different strategy.

Stitch n Pitch with Yarn

I received my invitation.

The Philadelphia Phillies will be hosting this year’s Stitch n Pitch on Wednesday, April 29th at 7:05 pm.

I love my Phillies and I love knitting, so it’s a no-brainer for me. I’ll be there with bells on.

Also recieved from my wonderful mailman was lovely packages of yarn. He’s so good to me.

Yarn for Twin #2’s Baby Surprise Jacket
Yarn Love’s Marianne Dashwood in sport weight

I purchased the same yarn as for Twin #1 except in a different colorway. This is called Warm Tulips, a mix of reds, oranges and yellows. It’s so warm and bright; I can’t wait to cast on. I am trying to be very strict with myself and not cast on until the day we leave for London. It’s supposed to be my plane project; You know, the project that will keep me from losing my mind while stuck on a plane for 7 hours. If I start now, I might finish it en route and that would be very bad. My patience level for sitting still with nothing to do is about 5 minutes.

The green yarn was a surprise from a lovely woman I have been corresponding with over the past few months. We met in Ravelry’s Love of Letters. She hand spun the yarn and then dyed it with Kool-aide. I hope to pair it with the yellow merino wool sitting behind it. I can see a spring short-sleeved sweater (or fall, depending on how long it takes me to knit it).

Free. Works.

On Thursday afternoon, I was driving back from Midas with Jake (since he makes the walk down to Midas much more pleasant than going alone) when I saw a young couple place a cabinet on the sidewalk in front of their house. Hopeful that the cabinet was what I thought it was, I rushed Jake into the house. I don’t think I even wasted the few seconds it would have taken to lock the door.

I was right.

It was a sewing machine.

I folded it up nice and neat in its cabinet, stuffed the foot pedal in my jacket pocket and lugged it back home.

It is a Sears Kenmore model 158.14100, probably built in the 70’s. It is all metal, which I surmised during my walk back home with it. It was heavy!

It took me over an hour to take it all apart and clean the grime, dust, dirt and massive amounts of lint out of it. It has the occasional nick and scratch on it. Plus, it’s missing all of the spare parts (extra feet, extra bobbins, etc). Otherwise, it appears to be in great shape. I threaded the machine this morning and gave it a test drive. Either I have one of the dials set incorrectly, which is very likely since I’m not sure what they all mean, or the stitch length mechanism needs to be tuned by a professional. I’ve ordered the manual just in case it’s a user-error. Hopefully, it will arrive soon. My goal is to make this ole girl my full-time quilting machine. Right now if I want to do any quilting, I have to rethread my 10-year-old Sears Kenmore machine, (funny coincidence, isn’t it?), shuffle my work area around, and put my current sewing projects on hold.

When I wasn’t fiddling with my new toy this weekend, I made a few more cards from a kid-sized puzzle.

Card Binge

With St. Patrick’s Day and Easter fast approaching and no appropriate cards in my stash, I went on a card-making frenzy this past weekend.

26 cards!
I had the materials to make twice as many, but I started to feel like I was on an assembly line. Unlike Lucy’s episode, there was no chocolate on hand. Perhaps I would have stayed the course if there had been. Next time, I’ll plan better.

The heart cards were made from cake-sized paper plates.

The St. Patrick Day cards were made from a Mardi-gras-style necklace, a lei-style necklace, old cards, and a shamrock cookie cutter. I had so much fun making these.

These 4 Easter cards were made from paper napkins, ribbon, cardstock (the basket) and twine (the basket handle). I found the paper napkins much easier to work with than cotton fabric.

The animal and flower Easter cards (or Spring cards) were made from the same paper napkins used above, cookie cutters, card stock and ribbon.

Some people sell the cards they make. I don’t think I could ever make enough of a surplus to do that. I enjoy sending cards via snail mail too much. The entire stack of St. Patrick’s Day cards was posted in this morning’s mail after forcing Dan to sign them while he was eating his breakfast.

One BSJ down; One to Go

The specs:
Pattern: Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Baby Surprise Jacket
Yarn: Yarn Love’s Marianne Dashwood in color Maiden
Jacket ate approximately 295 yards, not including the yardage used to check gauge
Tools: Size 2 needles
Adjustments made to the pattern: Added 6 ridges (12 rows) in length to the back, a collar and cuffs.

According to my math, that leaves me with 35 yards to knit an accessory, but only after I rip out my swatch. So, my dreams of knitting a bonnet, hood, or shorts are squashed. Oddly, I feel very comforted by that fact. Deep down I didn’t want to knit anything else. I just don’t think I like knitting clothes for babies. The practical side of me was ranting on and on about how the baby was just going to grow like a weed, kicking the too-small-jacket out of the way. If I’m lucky, it might get worn twice before that happens.

Of course, I ignored oh-practical-one and ordered another skein of superwash merino to make a similar, but not matching, BSJ for twin #2. I just loved knitting this jacket! EZ’s reputation for ingenious and common-sense directions is well-earned.

Snow Day and T-Shirt Fitting

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon reconstructing my Phillies t-shirt that I blogged about on Friday. I forgot to take a before picture of the Phillies t-shirt on Maria, my dressform. Allow me to describe the problem. It’s due to the fact that Maria, who is set to my exact measurements, is pear-shaped. The t-shirt fit wonderfully in her bust and waist area and less-than-flattering in her hip area. More bluntly, it wouldn’t stay down over her hips area no matter how much I tugged. Several of the Phillies boys couldn’t be seen. Top among them were Stairs, a hero in Philly thanks to him coming up with a homerun against the Dodgers when we needed it most, and J.C. Romero, whom I affectionately call Romeo. Something had to be done so that Maria & I could wear the t-shirt, proudly displaying all the Philly champs.

First, I cut off the bottom 4 inches of the shirt. It was too long anyway.
Then, I opened up the sides of the shirt with a 1-inch slit.

Next, I staystitched around the slit and then folded the edges inwards.

Noticing that some raw edges were still visible, I covered all ends with a white bias strip (so as not to draw attention to the hip area).

Lastly, I hemmed the bottom of the shirt.

I’m not entirely pleased with the outcome. Though this does mean I can wear the shirt the way it was intended, I don’t find the design appealing. Next time, I may try inserting a pleat instead.

After dreaming of baseball games and warmer weather, I woke up to find snow on the ground and more falling from the sky.

I couldn’t think of a better way to start an imposed Snow Day than with pancakes and bacon. mmmm.