I'm loving this! · Sewing

The Right Tool for the Right Job

I’ve heard it my entire life. It’s the philosophy that led to the purchase of my Chi flat iron, and instigated my quest for a Dyson.  It’s more than marketing, it’s an irrefutable reality.  The right tool for the right job really does make a tremendous difference.

As I’ve stated previously, I’m in the middle of a Sewing “Do Over”.  I’ve been dedicated in my pursuit of basic sewing competency.  And truthfully, it’s been incredibly frustrating.  It’s like I’ve taken the whole concept of “do over” literally.  I’ve had to do the same tasks over and over.

Several years ago when I began my sewing quest, I purchased the best machine I felt I could afford.  I researched a little, and one Sunday night at 9pm, I went to Walmart and purchased a Singer Fashion Mate 7256.  It was packed with features and I paid $199.00 for it.

It seemed fine.  I’ve been so challenged as a seamstress that the equipment seemed like a superfluous concern.  Then one day, it broke.  I took it to the local sewing machine repairman and he fixed it quickly and cheaply.  He was a very nice man and explained the repair he had made on the machine.  As it turned out,  he had worked for Singer for thirty years and had an encyclopedic knowledge of the Singer product history. He explained to me that the machines now have plastic internal components and that both their durability and functionality are not what they once were.  He had repaired my machine by replacing one of these plastic components-one with a track record of breaking with routine use.  Bummer.  My nearly new machine broke because I used it. From that day forward, the blush was off the rose.

Suddenly, I noticed that my machine would not cleanly back stitch.  Every seam would begin and end in a bit of a snarl. And sewing through multiple thicknesses?  Forget it. It would sputter and stall.  I began to wonder, what if I’m not the only problematic variable in this sewing equation?   What if the machine is making sewing harder than it has to be?

Before I knew it, I was casting surreptitious glances at other machines.  I would linger after my daughter’s sewing camp, asking questions of the staff at my local sewing machine dealer. I began to haunt craigslist and ebay, researching machines all the while. I decided that I had made a key error with my initial purchase.  I had gone for maximum “features” rather than maximum “function”.  I began to focus exclusively on the big three (Bernina, Pfaff, Viking Husquvarna) and exclusively on mechanical machines. By the time I was finished, I almost had myself convinced to go “new” and purchase a new mechanical sewing machine outright.  I just couldn’t bring myself to do it, though.  Until this sewing “do over” results in some sewing skills, paying retail is just not an option. So I returned to ebay, and with a little time and a little patience, successfully bid for and won a Pfaff in my cheap-o price range.

Ta-da! The Pfaff Hobby 1042.  The current generation equivalent is an 1142, but here’s the deal, I don’t care.  I purchased this machine, had it serviced, and bought half a dozen additional, special-function presser feet for about the same price I paid for my Singer.

Back stitching?…Fabulous, no problem….Multiple thicknesses of fabric?…Super.

Suddenly, sewing is a little a easier.  My “do over” is a little more do-able.

Seventy stitches?  Nope.  Not even close.

But it has a good assortment, including stretch stitches and a one-step buttonhole.  So let me sum up by re-stating…The Right Tool for the Right Job.  Sweet!

Crochet · I'm loving this!

Nothing Short of Miraculous!

I’ve been crocheting for about four years now, and I’ve been fairly prolific.  I’ve started and finished a lot of projects, and if you do the math, that nets out to lots and lots of ends that I’ve woven to complete those projects

I’ve also been a student of the craft.  I’ve read voraciously, and studied all of the information I could assimilate with a single-minded focus.  So when I say that there’s not really a lot of information out there on how to weave ends, I feel pretty comfortable with that statement.

People may tell you to leave an “ample” end to weave.  They might even give some direction on methodology, but never once have I seen or read anything that recommended a “tool” as superior to others in the end-weaving game.

You can just imagine my surprise, when lo and behold, I found one! And this find is truly…yes, truly….wait for it…Nothing Less Than Miraculous!  And simple..it’s so freaking simple!  And maybe everyone in the world knows it, but I didn’t!

It’s the composition of the needle!  For four years I’ve been using these

That’s right, the good old $1.99 a pack plastic yarn needles.  I’ve gone through packs of them.  I lose them like you lose pens.  They’re functional, sometimes come in cute colors, and that’s about all you can say about them.

Then last week, out of the blue, I bought these

They’re steel! Cold, smooth steel! The now forever sub-standard plastic needles utz their way through the yarn.  (Utz is a non-scientific term for sallying forth in a manner that is not awesome)  These chrome beauties, however, slice through the yarn, rendering the act of end-weaving mere child’s play.

Why didn’t anyone tell me?  They’re phenomenal! And they’ve been here all long! Behold….Awesomeness!

Crochet

Tunisian…Ta Da!

I completed the first panel of Jennifer Hansen’s Tunisian Multi-Garment!

It was fun.  Learning Tunisian has been very gratifying. These pictures  were taken after my first quick run at blocking.  I still have some perfecting to do with the structure.

I have a sneaky suspicion that I would have been happier with a slightly larger size.  I won’t know for certain until I’ve completed the second panel.  The sizes were based on bust circumference and I think I would prefer a little more length on what will inevitably be the “torso”.  Maybe I’m long-waisted….or maybe my tummy is a little more of an issue than my bust….

The color work is fascinating.  Let it be known, however, that it leaves a gazillion ends to be woven.  Hence the probable delay in starting the second panel for the garment.  I need a little time to forget what a pain those ends were.

All in all, however, I’m extremely pleased!  The Craftsy class on Tunisian was a great experience.  I’ve signed on for three additional classes since beginning the Tunisian.  I’m not sure that the instruction I’m seeing is the same quality that Jennifer Hansen provided in the Tunisian class, but I love the platform and  recommend it for anyone who struggles to find classes available in your location or that work with your schedule.

Crochet

Playing the Field..

I’ve been multi-tasking….burning both ends of the candle, if you will.  On the one hand, I am full steam ahead with my Tunisian Crochet class and the Multi Garment.

Simultaneously, I am “go” for my sewing “Do Over”.

It’s like dating two guys when you’re single.  You usually spend one date wishing you were on another.  Then you feel guilty when you’re on a date with a guy you really like, because  the other dude is more responsible and more stable.  Usually things fall apart with both of them at about the same time and you wind up with no date…but I digress…

Apparently the sewing “do over” is Mr. Stability.  The Tunisian multi-garment is the hotter Mr. Smooth. (This is a bizarre analogy, but let’s go with it.)

The stitch patterns are gorgeous.

Even though I’m using cotton instead of silk, the stitching still promises attractive drape. With the Tunisian, despite being in learning mode, everything is easier.

Sewing, not so much.  I’ve finished my first set of pillow covers.  I haven’t worked up the enthusiasm to photograph them yet.  They’re cute….that’s it.  Just cute.  I wanted spectacular…wow! But nope, they’re cute. Like I said, the craft equivalent to Mr. Stability.  I think I’ll wait and post them when I can add a few more for a grouping.

Until then, back to Mr. Smooth…

 

 

 

 

Sewing

A Sewing Do-Over

Sewing and I have a love/hate relationship.  I’ve always been fascinated by it in theory.  But it’s always fallen apart in practice.  As a kid, my mom put in a good faith effort to teach me to sew.  The poor woman finished every item I ever started.  Unfailingly, the projects were miserable experiences.  The detail…The jargon…The need for constant focus…all of it worked to my weaknesses.  Even then, I was a big picture girl-conceptual and broad in my focus.  Attention to detail has always been an “opportunity” for me.

After I began crocheting, however, my craft blog obsession led me to all that sewing can produce.  The adorable, the beautiful, the intricate, the awesome projects on the web beckoned….and I began to covet.  I began to covet the ability to sew.  Per my usual mode of operation, I made the decision to learn and immediately began collecting all the accoutrements needed.  Especially fabric….stacks of it.  That’s what I do-I collect…

Over the last three years, I’ve completed the following:

  • One apron
  • A handful of cup cozies
  • One skirt
  • Approximately 25 pair of pajama pants
  • Curtains
  • Monday’s  pillowcase

I enjoyed the curtains and the monkey pillowcase.  The others? Not so much.  I make so many stupid mistakes!  So I’m regrouping.  I can do this!

I’m starting over….that’s right, a sewing do-over.  First, the basics….pillows! I’m more than tired of the throw pillows in the living room.  I’m going to use some of this freaking fabric if it’s the last thing I do!

I’m thinking some combination of these…They make me happy.

I’m also going to look for a class.  I won’t let my past define me.  That’s right, I call “do over”.

 

Crochet

Three Color Tunisian

So the Craftsy journey continues, and I have to say, I liked the three color Tunisian soooo much better than the single color work.  I chose Catania Cotton (yes, shocking I know).

I love these colors!

The three color is easier because each different color strand highlights and accents the architecture of the stitches.  You don’t have to figure out where your “vertical bar” is because it’s color coded.  Very cool!

So I’m into my next Tunisian project.  Titled the “Multigarment”,  it’s a two-panel wrap that can be worn as a shawl, sweater, or poncho (love the peekaboo shoulders).  Not to be redundant, but also very cool.

Also very ambitious.  I’m branching waaayyyy out on this one.  I’m using Paton’s Grace-another mercerized cotton (practically identical to Catania-the waaayyy was sarcasm). I’m not sure that the photos do my palette justice.  I think it’s going to be pretty….if it ever gets completed.  Did I mention it’s very ambitious?

The blue is my “color pop”.  Hmmm…still thinking about it…love it in theory, though.

I’m off to stitch!

 

Chicken Mission

A Chicken Named Katniss

I had been growing increasingly concerned about Bella.  Something was off about her.  She was erratic and aggressive, and something just seemed off.  Then one day I noticed that she had tremendously large feet…In comparison I mean.

You see, Bella lives with Buffy and they’re about a month apart in age.  But Bella was growing fast.  Faster than any of the other pullets.  And her comb…it was so full and red comparatively.  (I know you guys know where this is going.)  So Saturday I googled pictures of four-month old gold-laced Wyandotte.  Sunday, I texted the breeder pics of my little friend….and Bella  officially became Bill.

Sunday afternoon, we took Bella, I mean Bill back from whence she, I mean he came.  Unfortunately the breeder had sold all of her Wyandotte and Partridge Rocks.  In fact the breeder had nothing in the same age bracket.  So I became the proud owner of a roughly 4 week old Rhode Island Red. You’ve got to roll with the punches, right?

Luckily, we just finished an expansion to our coop.  In fact Buffy and Bella..I mean Bill, had just moved in. Enter, the guinea pig cage.

Our new Rhode Island Red is now Buffy’s new roommate, but she’s still too little to roam within the coop.  She’ll be relegated to the guinea pig cage for a  week or two until everyone’s acclimated.

So of our six little darlings, five of them were named after Harry Potter characters. Bella was in fact Bellatrix LaStrange-the whacked out psychotic witch (which actually kind of worked for him).  So what did we name our new little Red?  Well, here’s a hint.  My girl has moved on from the Harry Potter series over the last few months.  We’ve moved on to The Hunger Games…