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a different kind of string theory

Category Archives: Sewing

Knitroglycerine, the Etsy shop, is almost up and running! I’m trying to build up a little selection ( or else I’d have a “shop” with two whole items in it). I’m a little nervous about it. How do I publicize it? Is my stuff good enough to sell? Are people going to say, “This is craptastic!” and send it back? Horror of all horrors– will it end up on Regretsy (which I adore, by the way)?

So far, it looks like I’ll be selling out of season neckers and scarves, and Kindle covers– which are sewn, not knit, and so kind of oxymoronic.

Tangent alert!

I read this article and it hurt my brain. Do we really perceive colors differently, or does our terminology change over time? I’m inclined to believe the latter. Later in the article, he references pink as a new and fashionable color– but pink (as we recognize it) has existed as a color for so long. Maybe we just called it something else. Am I missing something here? The last paragraph seems to say something similar, so I’m a little confused.

In other news, I am having a very small dinner party, and I’ll be making meatballs, and I have to figure out a way to make L. share the meatballs. This will be difficult. As it is, he always has to have one more meatball than I have– so how is this going to work with two guests? It’s like a math problem with meat. To make matters worse, I was toying with the idea of inviting two more guests– and he dismissed the idea because of the Meatball Sharing Issue. This is really problematic. Not too long ago, I read something where a hostess was puzzling over dinner seating (Lord So-and-So cannot sit next to Lady Whatsit, but Lady Whatsit must sit next to Lord Poofypants, etc.) but I think this is worse.

And now, because it is only 101 degrees instead of 106, I am going to bake cookies. Chocolate chip, if you have to know.

Iso and I are listening to Ty Segall, which she calls Kitten Music– which used to only apply to Thee Oh Sees, but now is apparently a broader term. Like pink and yellow! See how I brought that full circle? Yep.


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Well, I’ve gone and done it. It really must be Spring (regardless of yesterday’s pseudoforecast of snow!) because I’ve devised a new project for myself.

I was enabled by Really Cute Fabric on this site. The fabric was on sale! What was I supposed to do, really, but buy it? I also got some zippers, because they have cute colors beyond the standard black, navy, white and beige. My town needs a boutique fabric store, because while I do enjoy being able to go into the supermarket of fabric stores (aka Jo-Ann’s Fabrics), it would be superawesome to be able to go into a brick and mortar store to buy Really Cute Fabric and Neat-O things.

Part of my new project involves the use of wool thread, or crewel yarn, and Jo-Ann’s only has cotton crewel (at least online– I should go back and check their embroidery section now that I know what the stuff is called). I’m going to have to use lace or fingering yarn, maybe, instead. Knitpicks has a boatload of colors to pick from, but if I want to get the actual product that I want, I’m going to have to order that, too. What a load. And finding wool felt that is not eco-felt? That has to be special ordered, too! And if you click on the felt link, you’ll see that their site is closed until March something or other. That’s good, actually, because I can use up some of my ecofelt while I’m waiting for them to reopen, and then for stuff to arrive.

Busy bee, that's me!

Also, look what I’m going to order to use as Made By Tags!

I’m excited, and a little nervous, because I am 85% sure that my skill level is not equal to the task I’ve set for myself. But what the hell, right? If I’m only going to have one class this semester, maybe I can set up a little cottage industry for myself. The shotgun approach, that’s what this is. I’m going back to school to get a (different) credential, jumping ship and subbing so that I won’t have to do two kinds of homework, am writing a pulpy paranormal mystery (or as pulpy as I am capable of churning out, anyway), and now this. One of these will stick. Something has to.

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It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I may have OD’d on knitting for a month or so. Right before Christmas, I did a Holiday Craft Fair at the school where my mother-in-law works. I cranked out a ton (read: A boatload, or more colloquially, a buttload) of neckers and scarflettes, or whatever the heck you want to call them. It was such a great experience, even though I ended knitting more in one month than I’d ever knit in my entire life!

It was a very low pressure craft fair. In fact, the only thing I bothered stressing out over was that I’d completely forgotten to bring change, or a cash box, or any kind of bag or box to put my products in. Oops. I did manage to make cute little tags. Right after the craft fair, though, I bought this book, which will prepare me for Etsy and any other craft fair situation. If you click on the link, you’ll see that it looks Very Cute and Not Very Useful, but that is where you would be wrong. It is both Very Cute and Very Useful.

The craft fair was also a good experience because I got to meet the crafty wife of a friend, and I don’t know either of them as well as I would like. We sat next to each other for a few hours (and I really wanted to just shove all of her cute tote bags and pouches into my own purse and call it a day), and what better way to see if someone is on the same wavelength or not? Well, long car trips are really the best way to see if you can get along with somebody, but that wouldn’t be very practical in a crafty situation. Anyway, we did get along, and her husband even showed up with Don Pepe tacos (key to my affections!) at lunchtime, and now I’m going to go to a crafting party with her in March. So, yay! This angle of the craft fair was full of win.

It was also interesting, too, to see what other people do. Some of it I really liked, and some of it was atrocious. And a lot of it was not exactly atrocious, but it just wasn’t anything I’d ever be remotely like;y to buy. It was useful to see what sold and what got passed over, and what I should do the same and what I should do differently.

Let’s not forget that I actually made money on this venture! I sold almost everything, and I’m actually kind of glad I didn’t sell my orange and white ruffled necker. It’s an odd duck, and I totally designed it myself, and I’m glad no one wanted to wear something that looks like a creamsicle. I was so excited about making money that I reinvested it all in more yarn– and that’s when Christmas hit and I didn’t knit for a few weeks. I’m back on the wagon now, though. With a vengeance. I’m taking up sewing and felting now, as well as knitting.

A few days ago, when I should have been grading papers I finally sewed up those curtains and relearned my way around the sewing machine. In middle school and high school I was a sewing maniac. I really liked the flapper era, the Roaring Twenties, and may have been delusionary at times, thinking I was Tuppence Beresford. That’s a different blogpost. But I sewed a lot sans patterns, and once my mom and I moved and she got divorced, I don’t know what happened to my sewing machine. It was a tumultuous time, and the sewing machine was the last thing on my mind. But a few years ago, during my I-go-to-Target-every-day phase, Singer sewing machines were on sale, and I snapped one up. That phase may have been a pesky and dangerous one, but the purchase was sound. This Sunday, I finally used it. Nearly twenty years is a long absence, so I’m definitely going to have to relearn a whole slew of techniques and skills, but I jumped into the water. I accidentally disassembled the whole bobbin apparatus trying to put a new bobbin in, and since I couldn’t find the instruction manual I had to figure it all out like a puzzle. I might have a bright career ahead of me in sewing machine repair. Also, I’m glad my daughter was taking a walk with my husband when this happened, because I cursed like a salty dog the whole entire time.

One last thing: Needle Felting. I had less than $50 in my bank account, but I did get this anyway, because I’ve been pining away for one and I wanted to be able to make my neckers stand out from the crowd.

Three very sharp needles with which to poke things.

They are very sharp, and I’m surprised I’ve only poked myself once with them. Maybe I should keep a tally. If you want to felt a larger area they make larger pokey things, and you can remove one or two from this particular model to fit the nature of your project.

You place your wooly project on something that looks like an old-fashioned lintbrush, and then keeping your fingers out of the way, poke-poke-poke-poke until the fibers are as stuck together as you want them to be. Poke more and it’s denser and very stuck together, poke less and it’s looser. You can get all kinds of creative with this. Poke color upon color, fiber upon fiber (as long as it’s wool, or a wool combo).


Of course, you would set the bristly mat on a table, and not actually hold it up in the air. Duh. Notice that this is an action shot.

The first thing I attempted to embellish was a little pouch I’d made and felted– but it didn’t really felt all the way. I think that’s called fulling, maybe? Anyway, it’s floppier than I would like, though kind of cute. I simply placed some of my favorite mustard colored yarn where I wanted to have a stripe, and poke-poke-poked.

All my yarn is mustard-colored.

It took a minute or two. I still don’t know what to do with this pouch, but now it has a stripe! I think, with some alterations, I could fashion a kindle cover.

Then this morning, on my home from class, I was bothered by the fact that the slit I tuck the end of my scarflette through gets stretched out and loose. Would it eventually unravel altogether? And then I remembered my handy felting needle. When I got home, I felted the slit so that it was sturdier (!). Problem solved!

Sturdy slit. Get your mind out of the gutter.

And then I used the felting needle on a little necker that I’d made with two strands of yarn, and one of the strands refused to weave in and be properly finished. Poke-poke-poke, and that sucker was finished for good. No more sticking out, stubborn yarn ends that refuse to give in to that good night.

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I’m not sure if I have taken the easy route, or not. After looking at a ton of cardigan patterns, I decided I didn’t want to invest Big Buck$ in awesome yarn that I’d probably knit into something atrocious. After all, it’s my first article of clothing that isn’t a scarf or a necker. That’s a huge commitment!

So, I am returning to the tried and true– Stitch N’ Bitch.

Best Knitting Book EVER

There is a cardigan pattern in here that was too difficult for me when I first started knitting. It looked SO hard back then! But now that I’ve got a few patterns under my belt, and I know how to increase and decrease with ease, and can even do some laces, I took another look at the Go Everywhere cardigan. It requires no double-pointeds (which are still my nemesis. I’ll get you yet, you pointy little so and so’s!). You just knit pieces, then sew it all up!

As I’ve been poking around into all kinds of sweater patterns, I can see that the vogue is for sweaters that you knit in one piece. I’m not sure why that’s such a big deal, because as far as I can see, it’s not actually all that convenient. It requires a lot more counting and usually ( those dratted things again!) DPNs, and you can’t really tell what you’re knitting until you’re almost done. That’s what it seems like, anyway.

But with this pattern, you knit the back, then bind off. Knit two fronts, bind off. Knit the sleeves, bind off. Sew together, then crochet a trim around the whole shebang. I can do that!

I’ve even, true to form, changed the pattern up a bit and knit a two inch garter stitch around the bottom so that it doesn’t flip up. I’m using some cream fisherman’s wool I got from Jo-Ann, so if it doesn’t work out, it’s no big deal about the yarn, and I’ve had a learning experience.

Knitting something new is a bit like having a new boyfriend. It’s a bit exciting, but you’re never quite sure how it’s going to end up. Will it work out? Will it be a good fit, after all of this time and worry that’s been dumped into it? You just won’t know until it’s all too late. Tell me that isn’t like the first week or so of dating.

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I admit it, I’ve been a little baby crazy lately. There are a few reasons. My sister-in-law has a ridiculously cute baby. I mean, other babies pale in comparison to her. Maybe I’m in love, and maybe I have kennel vision– but I doubt it! She’s just the kind of baby that makes you want to have a baby of your own, that’s all!

Also, some friends are about to have a baby. I love them, and I love their three (almost four!) year old son– so I’m really excited for Thing 2. Really excited doesn’t even cut it, really, as verbiage goes.

So why am I freaking out now that I’ve agreed to babysit my baby niece on Friday? I’ve totally forgotten what to do with a baby when you have to go to the bathroom. I haven’t changed a diaper in over three years! And she’s bottle fed, while my Babyhead was on the boob– so what happens if I mix the formula wrong, and she gets a fungus or the wrong concentration or something? I realize I’m being a little silly– but only a LITTLE silly. I’m only saying I realize I’m being silly because it sounds like something I should say. I’m not totally convinced this is silliness.

I’ll set her in the crib if I have to pee. I’m sure changing a diaper is like riding a bicycle, but stinkier. And I’ll have Emily show me how to mix the formula. Gosh, but breastfeeding was just the easiest. No cleanup, no prepwork. Can you imagine me cleaning a bazillion bottles with a bottlebrush? I can barely keep up with regular dishes, you know?

But, about knitting. I’m making my pregnant friend a baby blanket.

We went to Jo-Ann’s yesterday for shower supplies, and I had her pick out some yarn. I don’t *think* she knew she was picking out yarn for herself– but maybe she did. I am pretty bad at lying when I’m supposed  to lie. I’m great when it is a pointless lie– why is that?

Anyway, we chose some Jo-Ann brand yarn, and I normally shy away from those ginormous skeins (Big balls! Haha! Yes, I am 12.) because they are all acrylic, and they feel kind of… cheap? But they are absolutely perfect for baby blankets, because they are 1.) ginormous and you don’t need more than two, and 2.) they make washable blankets. Baby blankets get food, spitup, pee and poop on them, not to mention anything else that may be on a floor that you might spread the blanket out upon.

Between us, we chose a ball of celery green that fades to white and then back again to celery, and then a solid ball of a brighter celery.

I’m not using a pattern– even when I use a pattern, I don’t use a pattern!– but I’m adapting that blanket pattern I mentioned in my last post. Instead of smallish diamonds, the pieces are bigger, plus I’m starting as a triangle but ending it as a rectangle, so that the edges of the blanket will be straight.

I’ll post a picture when I get further along. So far, I’m almost done with one piece. I’m thinking five large diamond thingees, and then four small squares, then two triangles for the sides. This probably makes no sense to you. I’ll post pictures.

Oh! I also got thread so I can sew my curtains, and felt for baby booties for the shower. So fun! I’m going to use either this pattern, because they look super easy :
How cute are those? Or I might use these, because they look a bit more masculine with the laces:

This is such a hard decision!

Spring is my favorite season– well, that and Fall– but it does pose a serious knitting threat. What do you knit when it gets warmer, you know? Do you knit larger projects that won’t be finished until it gets cooler again? Or do you knit things that aren’t warm– like toys or washcloths or something?

This Spring, I think I’ll force myself to try new things. Things that aren’t blankets or scarves!

So, on my agenda are these things:

1. Curtains. I have the fabric, but my sewing machine is in the garage. I haven’t sewn seriously since I was in middle school, but I was pretty decent at it then. I made doll clothes and tote bags, and an apron. The doll clothes were the most fun. Iso’s not into dolls, not in the least. But still, if I could manage tiny clothing, then surely I can manage to sew some straight lines and make some curtains.

2. Tote bags. While looking for curtain fabric, I got so many ideas for other projects. I’m more comfortable with hand sewing, but I think I can realy crank out a ton of cute market bags or tote bags. I want to experiment with shapes, fabrics, and handles. And maybe I can even work in some…

3. Embellishments. I’ve done a few embroidered felt pins– prototype pins– and I know what I need to do differently to be more efficient about production. I like the look of embroidered felt a lot. Also, I’m interested in learning how to knit flowers as embellishments. I’ve got this book on hold at Amazon, and maybe now is the time to spring for it?

4. Amigurumi. But it looks so freakin’ hard. I did see a pattern for a supersimple (looking) gnome, so maybe I’ll experiment with that first.

Well, looks like my Spring and Summer are booked up, doesn’t it?

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My in-laws are consummate decorators. They think about this stuff For Fun, which is incomprehensible to me, like looking through bridal magazines or something. I’ve never understood that compulsion some girls have.

When we moved into our current house, I suddenly was interested, though, in the basics of decor. Picking out tile was so fun– who knew? And picking out paint was frustrating, but ultimately satisfying. My kitchen is a photo-green-gray, my living room light blue (though I was going for ozone, it turned out more of a powder blue…), my daughter’s room is two shades of pink, and my bedroom is a cross between lemongrass green and citron.

The trim in my bedroom was supposed to get painted white before we moved in, but for some reason it never happened. We were in quite a hurry to get out of our old place and into our new one! So, the trim remained an old almond cream. With lemongrass green– not so hot. It has bugged me for almost a year, but I am not decor-inclined, much to my chagrin, because I enjoy encountering it in other people’s homes, and am always rather jealous.

I’d been planning to repaint it myself once the weather warmed up– but then, while reclining on the bed and watching dusk play with the angled places where the ceiling becomes wall, I wondered if maybe there was a fabric that could tie the lemongrass and almond together. I could hem curtains much more easily than painting a ton of trim– which I’d never done before.

Today, I went with my two sisters-in-law and my mother-in-law to get this:

I need a real camera.

Three little birdies, sittin' in a tree...

The vibrancy of the colors isn’t really caught very well here with my laptop photobooth, but it’s better than nothing, because if I had to describe it, I’d just say there were birds and flowers and a lot of green, which could mean anything at all. It’s a heavyweight cotton– not quite canvas– and is exactly what I was looking for to go with the green add in the almond, and then add some poppy or turquoise accents– and it has all of those things! I’m so happy. I’m about to get to know my sewing machine intimately. I hope it’s like riding a bike.