Monday, July 26, 2010

A Break in the Weather

So sorry dear readers—but here in the north east corner of US—it's been one heat wave after another.

Hot days, (90°f/35°C) are bad enough—but the worst is: it hasn't (all to often!) cooled down at night.

An over night “low” of 84° (28°) is just way too hot! And 2 or 3 nights in a row of temps like that, (and very little sleep) just leaves me exhausted. I have a multitude of fans, but it doesn't make much difference--(the humidity has been high too) -- I don't sleep so much as I stew.

No Knitting--(2 rounds completed in the whole week!)and very little of anything else!--

Instead, there has been Cabana Drama at the Pool--
Person A objecting to Person B, and Person C taking it upon themselves to complain that person D was offended—by person B—and then me being asked to tell Person G to tell person B to leave and never visit our cabana again--(SO 6th Grade!)

One of the complainers (there were several) –capped her argument with a Perry Mason touch--
SHE'S a LEO--(and some comment on the nature of LEO's) She apparently thinks that astrology is the deciding factor in personality–making the drama into an incredible stupid, childish farce—except of course it wasn't.

There were real people involved, and real hurt feelings, there was cruelty and stupidity in equal measure.

This is the first year I've 'been friendly' at the pool—and I am reminded why I am often seen as stand offish.

Of course, there are people I like, and others I don't like. But I try to live and let live, and not to be part of the snobbish clicks—and while my faults are legion, gossiping is not one. Like many a small society—at the pool—gossip seems all to often to be the main conversational theme.
Gossip magazines are the favorite reading material (few books are seen)--and when gossip about celebrities grows dull, the conversation centers on those on the pool deck-and things get savage.

Saturday, the weather was brutal—and I sat an home and sweat till I had a pool of my own ( late afternoon)—hoping to avoid some of the players.

Today—milder (84°/28°is the expected HIGH)—and a catch up day—here, with housework—maybe even some knitting and some sewing—I got a second hand (well third hand actually) sewing machine—a Viking (Husqvarna) 500—not the very top of the line—but a wonderful feature loaded machine and I have a pile of things to sew!

My old machine was purchased the same year my son was born--(and while I have aged slowly,(and claim to be 51 (with 49 years of knitting experience)) my son (mostly wonderful) is evil and insists on being 35.

35 years is not a bad run for one of the early computerized sewing machines--(and it has some life left)—but it has been breaking down –almost yearly—for the past few years.

It gets fixed.. but it really is getting to the point of not being reliable. I sew enough (still) to want to have a reliable machine--and this feature loaded one will bring hours (and YEARS) of pleasure I am sure.

The heat (and humidity) returns tomorrow--but Wednesday there will be more thunderstorms and maybe no pool. I might just find my self sewing.
(and will take some photo's too!)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Progress? Not

Well 2 rounds have been done—so there is some progress—not so much as you'd actually notice.

The northeast is experiencing its second heat wave (defined as 3 days in row of +90° weather) of the month—and I try to get something accomplished each day (today—Laundry—4 loads! Washed, dried, folded, (but not yet put away))--but the heat makes everything a chore. For the good of my health, I walk (2 short blocks) to the pool, and immerse my self in the cooling waters—until I turn into a prune, and then some.

So today, instead of knitting, some fun.

Item 1—most (all, really I expect) know this tool. A darning egg—please note, I have never, ever used this.

Item 2—photographed with item 1 for scale—have you ever seen one of theses? Do you know what it is? Can you guess?

Its a darning egg for glove fingers... I have only ever (till now) knit 1 pair of full gloves (fingerless glove—a dozen or more, but full gloves.. 1 pair. And if I don't darn socks, you can be damn sure, I don't darn commercially knit gloves!

Item 3 –this one stumped me—at first I thought it was a pillow lace bobbin.. but the shaft is not really the right shape for a bobbin., and there was only 1, and finally, there is not a tradition of lace making in the family.
Besides, the tip is quite pointed (and somewhat sharp).

It's really ivory –and likely from New Bedford and whale ivory (this artifact is from my ex husbands family and most of them lived in Fall River, but some lived in New Bedford (in the 1800's, the whaling capital of the world.) Fall River is just about 15 miles west of New Bedford—and all three were found together in his paternal grandparents house (abandon by the rest of the family. The branch of the family that moved to NYC. )

Well, it's not a bobbin. It's an awl of sorts, to make holes in lawn--(the fabric) that were then embroidered to make eyelet lace--from the time when eyelet lace was not made by machines! And like the other 2 tools, is just one of a collection—never used. (by me)

I have a fourth, antique from my ex husbands family (the oldest branch, on his mothers side, that goes back to the Mayflower. My family is still immigrating—me and siblings were born here, but there are cousins and in laws with green cards, (and some with out)) my kniddy knoddy—which I do use.

I ended up with the tools, because I found them interesting and valuable. The darning eggs might not be 'real' (over 100 years old) antiques—and might date from sometime in the early 1900's—but its hard to tell. They are in pristine condition—I am not the first in the family to NOT darn!--Its pretty uncommon to see darning eggs for gloves--but what do I know--they might have been common as recently as the 1950's!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Been Getting My Butt Kicked

But I keep on trying!

First, last week, when I was ready to start back to work on my mittens, one of the skeins, (ball actually) up and went walkabout. Looked everywhere—and finally, I went out, on Saturday, and bought a new skein. It Looked like a good match (and as it turned out, it was the same dye lot!) and no sooner than I got home, and started to work, the errant skein said, ME? You were looking for me?

Well it's fine—I really like the yarn-its JoAnne's Sensations (house brand) Kashmir—a real scrunch, sprongy wool—it just wonderful stuff. I wish the local JoAnne's carried it in more colors.
Black, white, red (wine), green, and sometime (not recently) a light blue is all I ever find in stock—even on line! (it's on sale now, $4.19 for a 284 yd skein)—not the cheapest yarn out there, but a good value. So having a bit extra, isn't really a problem!

I ended up charting, (on graph paper) a tree design—and the palm is a lattice—nothing really original, just a simple mindless pattern.

Here is the palm—the green markers at the top are BoR markers, the orange ones mark the beginning of the thumb gusset.--which is just 1 increase away from being finished.--note the thumbs have a simple birds eye pattern, not the lattice pattern used in the palm.

When there is more of the Tree—I'll show you front. The mittens are huge—and medium gauge—I plan to full them slightly once they are done, to make the fabric denser (and warmer), to help lock the floats, and to make them just a little smaller.

I mentioned the lattice is a mindless pattern—and it is. Just 2 patterns to learn.
A-- green, black, green, 3 blacks and B-- 1Green, 2 black, 1Green, 2 black
Row 1 B
Row 2 A
Row 3 A (off-set)
Row 4 B
Row 5 A(off-set)
Row 6 A
(by off-set I mean 3 blacks, then green black green VS Green, Black, Green, 3 Blacks)

I don't have a full repeat, so I at the beginning of each row, I look to see where to start the pattern, and which pattern to use.. and then its mindless. I love how 2 simple patterns of color can work to produce a complex looking design.

Friday, July 09, 2010

I am Back.

The heat wave is over—yesterday was a balmy 86°--though the 60% humidity made it feel worse than it sounds. But it was a break from the 90 and 100 (101 was the hottest) degree day that NYC has been having for the past week.

I did nothing—I'd get up each morning, shower and have breakfast, and the collapse with the heat, and take a short sweaty nap. Up again, I'd take another cold shower, and no nothing, followed by, a trip to the pool where I would do some water aerobics, and just lounge in the water trying to stay cool.

Home, another shower, something to eat, and an attempt at sleep.

I don't do well in the hot weather. Never have. (I got heat rash till I was in my mid thirties!)

When I moved to this apartment (I own it) I made a choice not to have air conditioners. Yes, there are 6 to 10 days each year that get to be 90° or hotter—and we do get a heat waves (3 or more consecutive days of 90°+weather.)

I don't feel I do enough to be conservative—my carbon footprint is just a bit too big for my liking and NO AC is my attempt at reducing it. Humans have lived and survived for millions of years with the occasional (and in some places not so occasional!) heat wave. I can, too. I am really happy to have a membership in the pool club—and it, as much as anything has keep me from heat stroke!

For the duration of the heat wave, I didn't cook, (or clean much) I didn't knit or sew, or do anything—not even sit and blog about doing nothing.

But I am back, and back too, are the cuffs on the mittens.

They are large (mens large) size mittens—and will be slightly fulled when done—not enough to to really felt and shrink them, just enough to pull the stitches and floats together.

Next up is another Latvian Braid—and then a change to black and the green and a fir/evergreen tree motif.

I like the starry cuff—a free hand design—but I will find (or make a chart of my own) for the tree.

They are pretty--and not to big to be working on in this cooler, but still hot weather.

Friday, July 02, 2010

No Mitten News

Since I made the wise decision not to restart them at night (and re make the same errors)

But, as per Virgina's request, some photos of my new skirts.
Curiously, when I knit socks, or a sweater or scarf or shawl, I want to hold it, and fondle it, and not wear the hand knit item for a period (sometimes as short as 2 days, sometimes as long as 2 months.)

But when I sew—I wear IMMEDIATELY! So skirt 1 and Skirt 2 where picked up off a pile of to be washed –(not stuffed in a hamper, but a piled (pre sorted color wise)) clothes—so they are more than average wrinkled, but..you can get an idea. Skirt 1 is long(ish) and has an Aline center gore (seamed). The side gores have gathers. Skirt 2, 6 shaped gores, an a contrasting ruffle (and its the shortest skirt)

Skirt 1 and skirt 3 are on the left,-- Skirt 2 and 4 are on the right.

And Skirt 3, and Skirt 4—while they look done-still need a lot of little finishing details—skirt 4 needs a patch pocket for 1 (and a final ironing). But you can get the idea.

No, there isn't a pattern I can refer you to—these are just free hand casual skirts—shaped as much by the limits of the fat quarters I had to work with as anything else.

I've been sewing even longer than I have been knitting—and was successful earlier too.

My mother sewed –there wasn't a project she couldn't handle—and while she wasn't a good teacher, I learned a lot by watching, and in senior year of HS—I took a Home Ec course—and learned many of the details my mother hadn't explained.

I have been sewing free hand--(no pattern, or just one I chalk out on the fabric before I cut) for many years—I do buy and use patterns—especially for dressier clothing-(I love Vogue's Designer lines, and have make my self designer suits and coat, with hand tailoring, and bound buttonholes!) but for a simple gathered skirt—or 6 gore A line—well more often than not, I don't bother with a pattern.
I won't be using one for the tote bags that are also on my to do list..
Most of the tote bags will be made with this fabric—it's sort of a faded denim--(or if you look at differently, sky blue with clouds!)print. (the back of the fabric is almost pure white)

I have about 6 yards of the stuff--(54 inch wide!) but its not a 6 yard length—rather 1 2.5 yard piece, a 2 yard piece, and a few pieces (some long and narrow, (2 yards long, 15 inches wide) some short and squat-- (20 inches long, and 40 to 54 inches wide) Its Recyled--and some of it will also find its way into a skirt (or maybe even a jumper!)

Finally, while I left the mittens aside, I did cast on for a quick cotton summer top—Top down, with a circular (not raglan) yoke, that will have a bit of cap sleeve, and stocking knit (or some simple pattern) body. I am just about to increase again--(can you see the rows of simple lace (YO, K2tog across row)?) --the increases are hidden in the lace (some YO are paired with a K1, not a K2tog) –I am using a formula similar to EZ's.

The yarn is from stash--Araucania Pehuén that I got back in 2006--I have some rayon/cotton Chenille from Araucania, too, in almost the same color way- maybe a shrug of the chenille once the top is knit, that I got about the same time.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

The Powers that BE

Were waiting for me to make something of the mess my computer desk was.

Cleaned off, and reasonable neat, I wouldn't totally embarassed when the cable guy came.
Because no sooner did I have it neat, and accessable and organized, than my cable modem failed.
(It's about 4 years old, and that is longer I think than the expected life!)

Wrong! The modem is fixed. (software or cable provider problem—4 hours later I am back on line.)

The mittens? —Are no more! Done in my a score of late night knitting mistakes.. Frogged back to the Braid, they will be reworked—and done better!--maybe some photo's of the same tomorrow.

I know I've mentioned sewing—but I haven't taken any photos... But so far, 2 new skirts, both made from fat quarters found (Cheap!) at a garage sale—and there are still more piecesof denim fat quarters to work with--but –not enough matching pieces to make any1 thing out of 1 color.

I could cut and piece them, and use different colors, but I think I might experiement with a vest.. with different colors in the yoke and front, back and sides—something that makes good use of the remaining fat quarters. Denim vest are very often pieced, with the front (and back) being made from shaped panels--making the panels different colors (so long as they are some what matched--ie, center front and center back the same, side front, side back the same, and front yoke and back yoke the same) will work out fine.

Skirt 1 (done) has 2 tiers—a 6 gore shaped (A line) top(with an elastic waist): the lower tier has gathers at the side, and an ungathered center panel.--the quarters were cut so the straight of the grain was 18 inches the width, 22—the lower tier used 6 quarters—and it's almost 180 inches around at the hem! Very full and swingy.

Skirt 2 (done) is also a 6 gore top, (also made from 4 fat quarters) in a dark denim, with a 8 inch ruffle at the hem.--the ruffle is a sky blue denim, that almost looks like blue sky and clouds--but that is not evident in the short ruffle. It's relatively short--it covers my knees, but that's it!
Both of these skirts have side seam (almost invisible pockets.)

Skirt 3 is nearing completion—gathered tiers of bandannas(navy)—it's very simple, and very long; 4 bandannas make the upper elastic gathered tier, 6 make the lower gathered tier—and side seam pockets (I LOVE POCKETSespecially in casual clothing—and almost never make a skirt with out pockets.)

Skirt 4 (another one of denim fat quarters) is planned, and partially cut, it will have bandannas, (red) cut to make a handkerchief hem—it will be fitted enough to require a zipper—but will also have an elastic waist –the thing about fat quarters is—no length to cut a waistband--so even a somewhat fitted skirt required an hem (and elastic) at the waist.

Skirt 5 will be a change—forest green, not denim, and after that, (with green thread still in bobbin and on machine) will be the yoga mat bag. The forest green fabric isn't a denim, but it is a twill, and I have a length of fabric, so its going to be a fitted A-line--with waistband--and likely, a decorative (Black? Yellow? some color!) full length zip front.

Skirt 6 will be one made from a pair of cut off jeans(black, not blue denim) —and other set of bandannas (yellow) to finish it.

A whole new wardrobe--(and all of it for under $15!--well maybe a bit more, what with thread and elastic) paired with the camp shirts I got last year—it will be great boost. I am a clothes horse, I admit it—but I hate to spend money!

I have a friend who calls herself an aging hippy—but her definition of hippy is long hair, smoking dope (she no longer does) and going to concerts.

I also think of my self as an aging hippy—but my frame of reference is more Whole Earth—Making, and making do, being creative and living well with out spending a lot of money. Denim skirts, bandannas, and cut off jean made into skirts is classic hippy clothing—I might be aging, but I am still a bit of hippy.