Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sewing lessons

bucket hat in progress

Note to self:
Remember to check the bobbin for adequate thread *before* starting the topstitching!

Maybe one of these days I'll manage to remember this repeating lesson.

And why is it that I only run out of thread when the topstitching is going really well for a change?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Quilting Rough Draft

I am finally making some progress on my quilting project! 

I'm currently trying to decide which block combinations I like the best.  Probably won't be making a scrap quilt again any time soon - too much agonizing over the different pattern and color combinations!

An experienced quilter friend encouraged me to just go with the first combination that looks good and then move on to the next block without agonizing over it and I'm really trying, but each time I try to decide on a block layout it ends up being more like a visit to the ophthalmologist...except with even more choices.  Number one or number two?  Number three or number four?  Number five or...?

Here's the first trial layout:

 test block #1

Monday, June 20, 2011


(Or:  possibly the most boring blog post ever...)

Since the weather was somewhat less than inspiring Saturday as far as gardening was concerned, I decided I would spend the day sewing.

My original plan was to work on my current quilting project but in order to set up my sewing space I needed to move the mending piled in my sewing chair.  I started to move the rather large pile to the sofa but in the process decided that instead I just needed to just sit down and get this task done and out of the way.  Besides, I was tired of looking at the clutter piled up by my sewing desk every day and feeling guilty for not getting it done.

So I set up my trusty Singer 403 and got to work.

My Singer Slant-O-Matic 403 (check out the groovy '60s styling!)

I started in with the plain darning mending so I could avoid learning how to replace a jeans zipper for just a while longer...

I located a pair of donor jeans that I'd saved for just this purpose (these were too far gone for even me to consider mending), cut some patches, fused them on to the shredded tears in my son's jeans and used the darning stitch to reinforce the area with thread.

inside with patch (pre-trimming)

outside with thread darning

Using the same process (but with plain cotton fabric instead of denim) I mended Mr. CPA's favorite pair of garden work shorts and a pair of khakis he wears for doing chores.

mended shorts and khakis - this is some exciting stuff, right?

At some point with the khakis, I clearly wasn't paying close attention, because I managed not to notice when I turned the pants around on my sewing machine that the pocket flipped down and got under the needle.


I started to undo it with my seam ripper but I had very enthusiastically sewn back and forth over the same spot with a closely spaced darning stitch (a three part zigzag stitch) and that task was clearly going to take more time than it was worth.  So I performed some surgery on the pocket instead.

let's just consider this extra-strength patching, shall we?

Yes, the pocket is crooked.  I suppose I could have taken a bit more time to do it nicely but these are very old work pants so I decided not to really stress over it.

All that was left at this point was the two pairs of jeans needing new zippers.  I'd never replaced a zipper before and I suspect that this was the reason I'd been avoiding this mending task all this time.  I followed the instructions from the Threads Magazine tutorial (with no small amount of trepidation) and, surprisingly, it wasn't all that difficult!  I can't believe I'd put it off for so long.  Interestingly enough, the first zipper was the best one.  I'm not sure what I did differently on the second pair but the zipper just isn't quite as nice looking.

well, that was easy!

I know most people don't mend much any more, but here at casa del chaos, we seem to have a regular need for clothing that is suitable for hard, dirty work and mended old clothes that are no longer suitable for polite society are just the ticket.  It just seems so wasteful to throw out clothes that are perfectly functional with the addition of just a small repair. 

And let's face it, I need to justify the accumulation of all these old sewing machines somehow (besides taking Mr. CPA to the sewing shop to see the price of new ones that is).

Sunday, June 5, 2011


This has been a really busy time for the garden so there hasn't been a lot of crafty activity going on.

I haven't really felt motivated to work on my knitting projects so the Sommelier sweater remains in it's 'to be sewn up' state.

I have been doing a bit of work on my ongoing quilting project, mostly cutting out the remaining squares for piecing. I did take some photos but I was using my little Canon point-n-shoot instead of my larger Nikon and the battery died. Unfortunately, the charger has gone missing so I can't upload them.

Mr. CPA reminded me the other day that I had promised to mend his backpack quite some time ago, so yesterday I set up my newest vintage sewing machine find and got it back in working order.

Singer 301A shortbed

This is quite the sturdy little machine and didn't have any trouble stitching through the zipper tape and backpack material. I used some hand quilting thread and a jeans needle and now Mr. CPA's backpack should be able to be useful for awhile longer.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Time to redecorate

I realized the other day that I'm kind of bored with my current blog template but I haven't been able to decide on a new one. Blogger only seems to offer a few in the dashboard design tool and they were okay but after previewing all of them several times I had to admit that none of them really grabbed me.

I looked at some free and allegedly 'new Blogger compatible' templates (like those here, here or here*, for example) but wasn't sure if I was up to the project of installing and configuring a third-party template right now (oh sure, it could be fast trouble free...or not). Plus? Some of the free template sites I found have hundreds of samples to go through - too many choices for a data/research type person who is also indecisive (because, of course, I'd have to look at *all* of them before choosing to the 'best' one).

Which of course, puts me back to square one. ::sigh::

If anyone has any tips or resources for templates I'd love to hear them.

*for some reason I kind of like this orange template, but wowza, is it bright or what? I think it might be hard to read for more than a paragraph

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Finishing Faeries Have Been Delayed

The knitting portion of my Sommelier sweater is finally complete.

I had to tweak the back neck band a bit to get it to fit better. In spite of my experience with the specified stitch pickup counts for the front bands, I went ahead and picked up the designated number of stitches for the neck band. Readers Reader Internet, I'm not sure why I was surprised that the stated 136 stitches were too many. The band bowed/sagged out out in back so I ripped them out and picked up 12 fewer stitches. It's still not quite right but it is definitely in the 'good enough' range at this point.

This project has certainly dragged on well past my interest level, in large part due to initial irritations with the pattern but subsequently from the suspicion that the sweater is not really flattering for me*. It's challenging to feel excited about finishing a sweater that one likely won't wear.

The pattern only specifies steam blocking but I wet blocked everything since the steam blocking didn't give the result I wanted (i.e., removing the stockinette curling at tops of sleeves and edges of armholes and really opening up the lace pattern).

There's no mention in the pattern of sewing in the sleeves, the pattern simply ends with completing the shoulder seams, neck/front bands and the armhole bindings (not present on the sweater version of this pattern and apparently just a repeated section from the vest portion of the pattern).

I left the blocked pieces out for the faeries to complete in the night, however they seem to have been delayed as the sweater parts have been laying about for two evenings now with no finishing activity at all. Perhaps the blatant disregard for the dictated steam blocking has violated some faerie union working conditions clause?

I suppose at this point I need to assume they aren't coming and move forward on my own. Darn.

*Yes, I know I tried on the sample sweater and thought it looked fine. I now suspect that I may have been under the influence of the excitement of Madrona , yarn and fiber fumes in the marketplace and the exuberant encouragement of enabling knitter friends.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

No Talent Required

Or "What was I thinking?"

I'm off to a beginning watercolor workshop shortly. I'm not sure what possessed me to sign up for this - I think I may have gotten a bit too caught up in the excitement of Artswalk last month.

The brochure states "no drawing experience or talent required" so theoretically I should do just fine, especially since I definitely have no drawing or artistic talent.

I'm going with two friends who both have a art/graphic design background so, you know, no pressure, lol.

But don't worry, I have very managed expectations for myself. A friend of mine asked me what we'd be painting and I told her I didn't know but whatever it was supposed to be I was pretty sure what I'd be painting was colorful blobs.

The workshop is given by Melody Cottongim, a talented local artist whose work I've admired for many years.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

It's that time of year again

Allegedly, it's Springtime here in the Pacific Northwest*, a time when a young man's thoughts turn to flights of fancy and a knitter casts aside recalcitrant sweaters in progress in order to muck around in the mud and rain, planting seeds and carefully tending the dream of fresh organic summer vegetables.

In a rather impressive triumph of hope over experience, I'm planning to keep up both blogs this summer. (What? Yes, I typed that with a straight face, why do you ask?)
However if things seem really quiet here at Yin and Yarn then click over to Suburban Sodbusters and look for me there. Who knows, maybe I can finally persuade Mr. CPA to actually write a blog post over there for a change...

*Mind you, that's strictly according to the calendar. Our contrary weather sure isn't going to let some know-it-all calendar boss it around so it's doing a pretty good impression of Winter right now. Because, you know, it can. So there.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Inspired by the most recent period of Mercury retrograde*, I organized my hoarder's corner spinning area and the gathered up the various 'knitting in progress' projects scattered throughout the house to assess the situation and possibly actually finish up some projects. In the process, Sommelier managed to float to the top of the heap and make a bid for my attention.

The more detailed project narrative will have to wait for another post (i.e., when it's not 10:18 on a work night), but here's where I am so far:

The remaining original front band is on the right and as you can see, there are too many stitches in the band and it's curved up and out beyond the sweater body. The band has fewer stitches than specified in the pattern but it's still too many.

I ripped out the other side and re-worked it with fewer stitches. I re-calculated the number of stitches for the band using the gauge from the first band and the length of the sweater front. The new band has 64 stitches instead of 76 and fits much better.

Just need to rip out the remaining band and reknit, sew in the sleeves (also re-worked from the original pattern) and finish the back neck.

*I'm seriously not into astrology all that much, but Mercury Retrograde always seems to result in a flurry of organizational activity for me. In fact that unexpected and irresistible urge to organize yarn and clean the basement typically has me consulting the Google to see what that darn Mercury is up to.

Monday, February 28, 2011


I went to the Madrona Fiber Arts winter retreat and had a lovely time (as always) visiting with friends and shopping the market.

One of the things I bought at the market were some hat kits from Butternut Woolens.

When I got home from the retreat I got one of these kits out 'just to try it' and couldn't put it down. I had forgotten about the instant gratification aspect of bulky yarn and size 11 needles! Before I knew it, I'd finished all three hats (though the last two still need their angora liners).

Snowshoe Hats

These hats are really flattering too. I don't really have a 'hat head' and most hats are rather universally unflattering on me, but this one looks really good (if I do say so myself). The angora felt lining is amazingly soft and cozy on the ears.

Plus? A portion of the proceeds from each kit is donated to the Glacier Park Fund for research on hare and other small animal populations. Here's an excerpt from the pattern sheet:

Snowshoe hare populations in the greater Glacier National Park ecosystem are under threat due to climate change. Snows are melting earlier than normal. This places white hares, who change coat color with the seasons, on brown earth, making htem easier prey for lynx, owls and other animals. As the hare population plummets, lynx populations in particular seem to be plummeting as well. Glacier National Park scientists and University of Montana researchers are gathering DNA data on the Park's hares in an effort to more fully understand their needs.

I bought a few more kits because these hats are going to make excellent gifts. Gift knitting *and* a donation to wildlife research?
I'm practically saint-like while knitting these!