Monday, November 6, 2017

Zippered pouches!

As I mentioned, a friend and I took a six-week sewing class. We met a couple hours one evening a week.

One of the reasons I was excited about this class is that we were going to learn about zippers. In the past, I have paid someone to put a zipper in a knit cardigan. Zippers are scary.

Now they're less scary. I have a healthy, hesitant respect toward zippers now rather than a blind terror.

The pattern was a zippered pouch. We did one unlined and then one lined. I worked on making more lined ones the past couple of weeks.

I made every mistake imaginable: sewing the exterior wrong side out, sewing the interior as the exterior (just on half, of course, so I couldn't pretend that was my intention), using quilting tape instead of basting tape (totally not the same thing and doesn't work), trying to sew up the hole in the lining where I turn things inside out and having to do it 3 times to actually catch both sides of the hole, using the wrong bobbin and completely buggering the machine. Really, I was diligent in making errors.

But I fixed them. The pouches turned out great despite (because of?) all the mistakes.

I've replaced the $2 cosmetic bag I've been carrying for years with my knitting notions in it with my very own handmade zippered pouch. It makes me feel like a crafting ninja.

See that purple and pink felt in the bag at the bottom of the picture? Remember this? 
I made that nearly eight years ago and still use it all the time.

I think the point of this post is a reminder to myself: New things are supposed to be hard. Make mistakes, then fix them.

And also, know when to take a break. For me, that time was yesterday when the rage at yet another stretch of quality time with the ripper could literally be felt in my stomach. Take a break. Come back to it later. Breathe in. Breathe out. Repeat.

Now I'm thinking about sewing a cover for my machine...

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Wisdom of TV

I keep a notebook by my normal spot on the couch so I can write down quotes from TV. Here are some from the book:

"All I know is that I don't want to be mad anymore."
"Then maybe don't be."
Robert and Sol in Grace and Frankie

"I just want you to think. Do you know what thinking is? It's just a fancy word for changing your mind."
"I will not change my mind."
"Then you will die stupid."
The Doctor and Bonnie (Zygon, not me) in Doctor Who

"I don't want to talk about it."
"I regret the words I've said already."
Rosa Diez and Raymond Holt in Brooklyn Nine-Nine

"Grow up?! I have a Roth IRA! I eat wheat toast! YOU grow up."
Terry Jeffers in Brooklyn Nine-Nine

"Kimmy, I don't know what to say, so I'm hoping the tone of my voice makes you think that I do, okay, sweetie?"
Titus Andromedon in Kimmy Schmidt

"You're very Grace right now. I mean, there's a lot of Grace going on."
Frankie in Grace and Frankie

"Macrame is just like knitting except everyone hates it."
Archimedes in Puss in Boots

"Do you want to talk about it?"
"No, I don't think I'm emotionally available for that yet."
Mitch in Rosewood

"That's enough. Life is too short for conversations like this."
Elderly writer character from PC Game The Raven

"I like books. They're so much less terrifying than people."
Leonard Finch in Grantchester

"Does sarcasm help?"
"Wouldn't it be a great universe if it did?"
River Song and The Doctor in Doctor Who

"And, Dad, how do you feel?"
"Let me check in." <pause> "Nope, never mind. That was scary."
Bud and Sol in Grace and Frankie

Monday, October 2, 2017

Sewing 101

A friend and I are taking a six-week beginning sewing class at Crimson Tate. The first week we made a pin cushion (think square bean bag filled with crushed walnut shells). Last week we worked on a fancy pillowcase.

My mother-in-law is a delightful person, plus she provided half the genes for my very favorite person. For these reasons and others, she deserves fancy pillowcases for Christmas. I worked on hers this weekend. 

I wonder how many fancy pillowcases I need to make before it feels less stressful than disarming a bomb.

The answer is more than four.

Tomorrow there's a rumor we're going to work on zippers. Like Little Red Riding Hood, I'm excited and scared.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Stripy, Stripy, Stripy

I don't even quite remember how it happened. I think I saw this cowl somewhere (ravelry? pinterest?) and fell in love. Then Knit Picks was having a sale on some of their Chroma. Then I was talking with a friend and we were discussing possible colorways.

Anyhow, this happened.

Bad Blood Cowl (mine ravelled here),
and Knit Picks Chroma Fingering in Dear Diary

I used just over one skein of the Smoothie Sock and not quite two balls of the Chroma. The pattern suggests just knitting until you run out of the 100 gram skein of each, but I knit a bit more than that to get it the length I wanted.

It's an easy pattern. It starts with a provisional cast on of 107 stitches (which I can do only if I watch this video every single time I need to do the cast on), then has 2 rows of the first color and 2 rows of the second color for 10 repeats, then 3 rows of the first color and 3 rows of the second color for 10 repeats, then 4 rows and so on until you have 8 stripe rows.  Then you graft the two ends together to make a cowl.

If you are ready for this step at your lunch hour and realize you don't have another circular needle, you may be tempted to try various other bits from your knitting bag, such as stitch holders and shawl pins. These will not work. You should then remind yourself that it is July, and you do not need to be in a rush to finish a cowl on your lunch hour. Furthermore, remind yourself that you can't kitchner 107 stitches together in a lunch hour anyway.

I like the cowl a lot. It's long enough to loop twice around my neck.

I have the yarn picked out to make another one for a friend. This time, I'm going to avoid the tedium of progressively wider and wider stripes and start with the 8 stripe sequence and decrease down to 2. I know that it's exactly the same amount of knitting, but I'm betting it won't feel like it. Score one for brain trickery!

Thursday, July 27, 2017


Remember how I had that list of projects I wanted to do but had never done, like Grandma's knitting bag? Another project on that list was i-cord coasters.

I'd seen an article in Interweave Knits Summer 2015 magazine about a little doohickey that makes i-cord. I've knit my fair share of i-cord, and it's tedious, if by tedious you understand it makes me want to poke my own eyeballs out with a dpn. With the Embellish Knit doohicky, you feed the yarn through the top, do a bit of futzing at the beginning to get it either behind or in front of metal pegs that look like tiny latchhook hooks, weight the bottom of the yarn, turn the handle, and voila! I-cord. 

It takes 3 i-cords roughly 6' tall to make a coaster. Once the i-cords are made, you braid them together tightly, then sew the braid to itself in a spiral shape.

This means we now have another use for scrap sock yarn. Angels are singing, and they are singing about the joys of using up tiny balls of fingering weight yarn. The harmony is glorious.

I've made 6 of these. They tend to pucker, but soaking them and then blocking them under something really heavy makes a big difference. (That also could be solved with more practice. It has something to do with the way I sewed the braid to itself.) I made 2 for me and 4 to give as gifts. I don't have any desire to whip up more at the moment, but it's a nice trick to have for when the scraps begin to get me down.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Before speaking

"Before speaking, recognize what motivates your words." -Lama Surya Das

When I was in college, I worked on a project with another student and one of my Religious Studies professors on faith development. We did in-depth interviews with people to discuss their faith journey. James Fowler's Stages of Faith informed the project, and, honestly, the book was one that helped me accept my own spiritual journey as valid and beautiful even though it differed from what was expected of me by my family.

That's not what I'm thinking about today though.

I'm thinking about one of the meetings we had during that project. The professor said to me, "What do you think, Bonnie? I like the way your mind works." I don't remember what I said, but I know what I wish I would have said.

I wish I would have said, "That's because I only talk when I have something to say." 

I didn't. I felt pressured into speaking before I was ready, wanting to live up to some unexplained and possibly nonexistent expectation of one of my favorite professors. 

The truth is, as a very introverted person, there's a lot of thinking that happens before most of my speech. Many, many, many times I think of the right thing to say--the thing that feels right in my mind--and the conversation has already moved on to something else.  That's frustrating, but I think I'd rather have that than my life filled with inane chatter.

More than one person has suggested I become a counselor, typically after dumping their problems in a verbal avalanche. I think that sometimes people like to confide in me because I listen to them. It's not that I have some sort of powerful insight that puts all their problems in perspective; it's that I am able to be present in their presence and hear what they're saying without saying much at all back. I'm a sounding board, and that allows them to figure things out themselves.

In high school, when I would struggle with homework (usually math), Mom would sometimes tell me to explain it to her. I thought this was stupid. Obviously I couldn't explain it to her. I needed someone to explain it to me. But, often, it worked. In explaining it to someone else, in talking it out, the things I didn't understand became things I did. She wasn't able to help me with calculus, but she helped me with calculus.

I write this as a reminder to myself. It's okay to be quiet. It's best to listen and only speak when I have something to say. Consider my motivation and whether what I say will help, hurt, or just fill the world with distracting noise. Intention.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Grow What I Love

I make promises to myself at the end of every growing season.

Often it's the same promise I made the year before, such as, "I will not neglect to water the garden in July just because I want to sit on the couch in the air conditioning." I have a somewhat shaky relationship with the rain barrel in July, but I reaffirm my promise each year.

Last year, I promised something new: I promised to plant less vegetables and more flowers. Part of me felt that was really irresponsible. I told that part to shove it. Seeds are cheap. I overwinter dahlias in the garage, so those are free after the first year. A lot of my flowers are perennials.

Plus, buying plants is always better than a crack habit, so there.

Flowers bring me joy. Fresh flowers in the house always make me happy, and fresh flowers in the house that I've grown myself make me doubly so. 

Daisies, zinnia, bachelor button, dahlias

We feed birds, which means we also feed chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits. Some of those little bastards have gotten into the raised beds this year.

Most of my pepper plants have been destroyed. I don't even care all that much.