Monday, February 28, 2022

February Wrap-Up and March Plans

Another month down, 2022 is a runaway train!! :)

This month I sewed 1 yard. Ah. I'm going to get my mojo back. I can feel it! 

I sewed Burda magazine 10/2021, a top in a deep brown silk. I also finally made some good progress on Simplicity 1325. I did not cut out anything for A Dozen Drafts. But also, it was a busy month. 

While on a trip to Vegas and the Phoenix area, I visited SAS Fabrics. They carry a lot of fabrics that I have purchased and have seen at Fabric Mart. The colors in this print ITY jumped out at me and the piece was 1 5/8 yard, at $3.99/yd. SCORE. I am thinking of making Vogue 1250 if I can get the pieces to fit (my size calls for 1 7/8 yd)

I had another set of goals for February: Finish 2 sewing projects, Finish 2 knitting projects, Read 2 books. 

  • I finished one sewing project (the brown top) and added the bodice lining to my S1325 dress. I hand basted in a zipper and let the side seams out a bit through the middle back and waist:

I started this on January 26th. It stalled and it finally dawned on me that I wasn't fully feeling it. But I wanted to finish it to check the fitting process on my Beatrice (I'll talk more about this fit on me vs what I observed on my dressform when I review the pattern). I put a couple of tops that I'd layer this with on the dressform and got inspired to get back to it. 

CUTE! :)

  • I finished THREE knitting projects! Wooohoo!! My hat and scarf, blogged here 

and I finally finished my grandson's sweater:

  • I read one book: Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson

It was a really great read! An extremely moving story, characters that came to life on the pages, and it was a page turner. This was Ms. Wilkerson's debut novel and I can't wait to read more.
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes, 5 times a week. 
I did not meet this goal, but I did pretty well and lost 4lbs from Feb 1 to Feb 27.

I finished the month with a 1:1 with the biggest grandboy. Each time I see them, I can't believe how much they've changed. It's so wondrous watching kids grow up. 

It was a balmy 37 degrees in Minneapolis on Saturday. We went to an indoor playground, stomped the squishy snow, and went to lunch. <3

What's Next?

For March, I am setting more goals!!! 

  • Swap out some closet items - Though spring hardly ever actually shows here, the body and spirit knows! :) I always struggle with my wardrobe around this time. so I will pull in some brighter/softer colors to get through the rest of this dreaded winter. 

  • Finish S1325 - It needs skirt attached to bodice, zipper, and hem.
  • Sew another garment for A Dozen Drafts - I don't think March will be the month I catch up, but want to definitely get another garment done this month.
  • I’m managing the Upcycle Contest on Pattern Review this month! 
  • Black cardigan - I have a very nice wool double knit, and would like to make a longer cardigan. I feel like that's a wardrobe hole.
  • Finish one WIP - I have 4 WIPs that I really do want to finish and will get to at least one of them this month. 
  • Make 2 machine knitted items - can be for me or for gifts. I just need to get myself in there using my machines more consistently.
  • Read 2 books - Reading more is an important goal for me. The pandemic left me spending way more time sitting in front of the tube than I normally would. 
  • Continue working on exercise, diet, and flexibility. 

Until later!

Saturday, February 12, 2022

It finally happened to me

I am pretty good about following my intuition. When my Spidey senses tingle, I listen! The last time I happened to check for knitting machines on FB Marketplace, I found my ribber for $50.

My current collection consists of a standard gauge (4.5mm) Brother electronic machine with the accompanying ribber. Additionally, the electronics of my machine were upgraded at some point so it can knit punch cards plus it is now pre-loaded with hundreds of patterns of a newer model, the KH950. The Brother machines have a TON(!) of accessories, and I have acquired a bunch of them! I have a color changer for the single bed, a color changer that works for the double bed (connected knitter+ribber), a garter carriage (otherwise you cannot do knit and purl stitches in the same row), garter bars, a knit leader, a transfer carriage to move stitches from the knitter to the ribber, an Intarsia carriage...that's all I can think of for now :-p

The size (mm) is related to how far apart the needles are on the bed. The standard gauge machine can knit lace, fingering, and some sport weight yarns. 

Later, I found a mid-gauge (6.5mm) Brother KX350. It's a plastic bed and there is no ribber option. It is still very versatile though!! It knits the worsted weight yarn that most hand knitters are familiar with. The mid-gauge machine can also knit sport and DK yarns. Here is a great resource comparing hand knitting yarns and gauge to machine knitting: knitting machine info

On Wednesday, I happened to check FB Marketplace and saw a bulky machine for sale, with ribber, for $300. The bulky machine (9mm) knits worsted, bulky weight yarns. 

The ad was 2 weeks old and this was an incredible deal. I couldn't figure out why it wasn't sold but said, what the heck, and messaged the seller. The machines were still available and I told them I could come get them on Saturday. In Sheboygan, WI. SHEBOYGAN! That was a smooth 5 hour 20 minute drive from my house. My husband was on board, because I got so excited at the thought. He said we HAD to go :) I messaged back, "PLEASE do not sell it before Saturday. I WILL BE THERE!"

I woke up at 6:30 a.m. to get ready. I realized that my extra wedding band isn't in my jewelry tray and I know I wore it recently. I was going to look through my luggage for it and said, no, I don't have time. I will look when we get back. Then, I kid you not, I lean over to put on my sneakers and the ring is sitting in the toe area of my knock-off Birks. I said aloud, "today is going to be a good day!"

We get into Wisconsin and my tire pressure light comes on. It's COLD AS HECK here right now so we aren't surprised. We stop at the gas station and he starts trying to add air but it's not working! It's deflating the tires! So now we're WAY too low on pressure. We head across the street and 1) the air is free and 2) we get the tires filled and on our way pretty quickly. 

We get there and this beautifully feisty lady opens the door and invites me in. I see the machines laid out on the daybed and I am SO excited. Y'all know how I get. I am cheesing from ear to ear, I am talking a mile a minute, and I cannot wait to THROW MY MONEY AT HER! 

Her daughter comes in and is asking questions and I tell them that I do have knitting machines, I'm just new to knitting so haven't jumped in too deep yet. Then...they invite me downstairs. Mom is no longer knitting, they are both ready to get the space cleared out, and she says, if there's anything else you want, you can take it. But I was hesitant and her daughter encouraged me saying I'd be helping them both. Then, THEN she says, well the machine upstairs, I'd like to be paid for. But you can have these. EXCUSE ME!? I CAN HAVE THEM?!

I send the daughter to get my husband and the next you thing you know, we are loading up the car, I am chopping it up with mom, we are taking pictures, there are hugs, lots of excitement, and then she drops another bomb. She is 90. She's 90! when I tell you 1) she looked mayyyyybe 70 2) she was going up and down those stairs, moving those knitting machine parts around (they are heavy!) and 3) down on her knees grabbing things from the under the bed. Goodness gracious I hope to be so full of life when I am older. I can't even conceive 90!

There's a grandson there that's helping out too. Apparently, he managed the FB listing. He laughed at my making him promise not to sell them :) they are astonished that we drove from Minneapolis (for THIS?!? Yes!), and I am floating! 

I haven't fully inventoried yet. The large scale items are:

  • Singer SK155 knitting machine bulky
  • Singer SR155 ribber (for above) bulky
  • Studio SK155 knitting machine (same as above, Singer/Studio/Silver Reed are all the same) bulky
  • Studio SR155 ribber (for above) bulky
  • Studio SK360 knitting machine standard
  • Studio SRP50 ribber (for above) standard
  • Lace Carriage for the 360
  • Silver Reed YC6 automatic color changer (I am not sure yet if this fits the SK360)

This is literally thousands of dollars in equipment. The bulky that I went there for is a definite keep. I am also tempted to keep the second one. We'll see! 

The 360 is a standard gauge like my existing Brother machine, but it isn't an electronic machine. One of the main benefits of this machine is the built-in knit radar. I also have a knit leader for my Brother which is an external piece of equipment. Here is an explanation of the device from Knit It Now:

A mechanical device that allows the knitter to follow a drawing indicating where shaping should occur. Charting Devices had many names: Knit Leader, Knit Radar, Knit Contour, depending on the brand: Silver Reed, Singer, Studio machines. 

Some devices were built right into the machine, others were separate and attached directly to the machine or attached with a cable.

Words cannot express how excited and grateful I am! I've seen others hit the mother lode with stash clean-outs and feel like it was finally happening to me! 

One of the most exciting things, is the box of newsletters, flyers, etc that was included. Newsletters from 1969! That's an entire decade before I was even born! I am going to design the cutest card possible on my Cricut and send her a thank you note. Even though she definitely knows how appreciative I am! haha!!

I also knit a hat with the leftover yarn from my scarf project. The notion of knitting a fair-isle hat in 90 minutes from start to finish (ribbing, hat, seaming...) is still mind-boggling.

On the sewing front, I have so many WIPs! I am going to get back to my January project (we went to the wedding and my husband got COVID -he's okay!!! - and work got crazy. I needed a clearing project and cut out this simple but cute top from Burda 10/2021. There's a little ways to go, but I think it was just what was needed.

side seams aren't sewn here!

As always...more later!

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Machine Knitting: A Beautiful Basic

I am so proud of this scarf!! It is not terribly's a scarf, right? It's just a rectangle.

But, I sat myself down and decided to make this scarf on Saturday afternoon. And while MK can be extremely involved and time consuming, some things can be accomplished pretty quickly. Speed is definitely not the primary factor (I would still hand knit if I could!), I will say that I sat down to my knitting machine around 3:15 p.m. and was pulling this off the machine before 5. 

I knit some swatches and decided on an approximate finished size of 8" x 60".  I then cast on 80 stitches (the standard gauge machine has needles that are 4.5mm apart (or a little under 3/16") which gives you an idea of the yarn it can knit (for hand knitters it's ~lace through fingering, and some sport weight). I calculated approximately 10 rows per inch and figured I'd need about 600 rows. 

I knit 596 rows, moved the needles from the ribber to the main bed, and then knit one row. But it is easier to cast off when the carriage is on the right, so I knit one more row! LOL! For a total of 598 rows. The final measurement is 7" wide (without stretching the ribbing) and 66" long. 

I have another video to watch on avoiding the wavy 
edge that can sometimes happen with ribbing

One of the critical aspects of machine knitting is properly weighing down the work. I'm still figuring out what's necessary there (the ribber manual does tell you how much weight to use based on number of stitches in work, but it seems like a skill too, knowing how much weight to use). About 160 rows in, my work was nearing the floor. And thank goodness for You Tube, The Answer Lady Knits had a clear and easy video on how to rehang the work. 

Here you can see how the cast-on comb holds the work, and in that hook is a hanging weight

After the comb was repositioned 

Admiring my work while watching videos to be sure I'm getting it right :)
You can see the comb and weights on the floor

I'd knit about 160 rows and I discovered a dropped stitch! ARGH! At some point, the needle started to knit again, so I pinned the live stitch to fix later. I know now that it would have been super easy, once I caught the stitch, to re knit the entire row and put that stitch back into work. Instead, I fixed it after the fact by knitting it up (laddering) and then using a scrap yarn to do a duplicate stitch for security, and then did some really, really thorough weaving in of the ends :)

I steam blocked it and left it overnight and what a happy surprise when I came downstairs this morning! It was laid out just waiting for me to revel in it's squishy-ness!  

The yarn is an acrylic from either Knit and Sew World in St. Peter or from Cindy's Knitting Room in Princeton - both great resources for machine knitters! How do I know it's acrylic? I did a burn test! But, I was not my normal self. Normally, I would get tweezers for the yarn (or fabric), and always work at the kitchen sink because it's stainless steel. When the yarn caught it kind of poofed and I freaked that it might be a natural fiber (and thus would burn all the way to my fingers) and the yarn swung toward me and landed on my belly (over my clothes). WHEW! So now I have a little burn mark on my overalls. OY! LOL! Never skip safety precautions!

Simple project but a major win. Can you believe I did not have a black scarf in the collection (I do live in MN after all!)?! I can't wait to wear it!

photographed on my quilt that lives on my couch!

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

January Wrap-Up and February Plans

This month I sewed 2 1/4 yards from stash - the Simplicity 1325 which is still in WIP status. 

I made really good progress from the time I started the fitting process, then I got hit with a pretty bad migraine attack and lost all of Saturday and Sunday. Womp, womp. 

But, I have always counted fabric totals as "out" from the time I cut the project out, so it will still be recorded under January's totals. I "just" (haha) need to sew the bodice and lining together, insert the zipper, attach it to the skirt, and hem! That's "all"! :-p

I added 5 patterns to the stash from Style Arc, and also added 11 yards of fabric - ow. I bought 9 yards from Fabric Mart (not sure why the last photo is missing, it's a 100% cotton double border print. A french blue background with pale pink and white irregular spots. It's very pretty and I can't wait to make a dress from it this summer!

We flew into Nashville for my stepdaughter's wedding the second to last weekend of the month. Between the two of us, we have 2 girls and 3 boys. Both girls are married now and neither of the boys are! (the youngest stepson is just 16). The wedding was beautiful and my husband was honored by his Papa duties.
I was all prepared to make a dress but then work and life got in the way. So I ordered this, crossed my fingers, and decided I'd wear my navy dress from my husband's birthday if it didn't work out. This size Large is a tiny bit more snug in the hips than I'd normally go for, but it wasn't tight and worked fine. I LOVED the icy gray color on me!

On our way to the airport, I stopped by Craft South (The Fabric House is closed on Sundays) and picked up 2 yards of this Kaufmann Essex Linen/Cotton blend. I am often drawn to this color, and then remember I don't care to wear it. DOH! LOL! And, it's just the color+my complexion that I'm not a fan of. Not by my face, not on my lower's just not my fave. I could potentially wear it as a jacket as the rest of the outfit would pull away. I have already kind of decided to make matching outfits for the grandsons we'll see :-)

My normal everyday look + business + travel left me looking pretty tired on the day of the wedding. After googling some tips, I came across a makeup blogger that is my new fave! She also has hooded eyes and while she has dark circles under the eye that I don't contend with yet, I do have the darkness and discoloration on my eyelids that drives me crazy. The tips have helped tremendously! 

Here are a few looks where the eye makeup just really brightens up my whole face. Yay! I'm a newb and I kept it pretty basic with stuff from Ulta. Got some handmade items in there too ;-)

M6796 top

V1323 top

Burda 5/2020 silk top with M6996 cardigan

For February, I have 4 goals:
  • Finish 2 sewing projects (yes, I reserve the right to include the WIP as one of the two!!)
  • Finish 2 machine knitting projects. There's a WIP I want to finish, and I realized I do not own a black scarf. I'm not sure how that's possible, but it is so! I need to actually swatch, but I wanted to try out a couple of tuck stitch patterns. I want something simple, that will remain tightly woven (it's Minnesota after all!), but tuck stitch patterns curl less on the raw edges, so that's why I'm going that route instead of stockinette.

  • Read 2 books
  • Complete 30 minutes of exercise 5 days per week (yoga and walking counts)

I haven't decided on my February Dozen Drafts project yet. I have another wedding to attend in Denver in maybe I'll make something for that :)

More later!