Friday, June 22, 2007

The good old days

First, the Cat Pictures:

Say again?

Blue Blue Kitty

(Grady really does look blue some days, some days he's purple and others he's gray or brown. I guess he's "hazel.")

I also have to take some Yarn Pictures, because I got an awesome Spring Fling secret pal gift. (Must remember.)

I made some trouble for myself the other night before I had any finishing instructions on the sweater. I seamed up the body first, but even that was not the problem. The problem was that I wove in my ends. And like any good sock knitter, they were in there to stay. No amount of patience or diligence could coax them out again. To compound everything, once the ends were woven in I decided to take the conventional wisdom on finishing and block the darn thing. Let me tell you, they were not going anywhere. But I have since decided that I not only don't mind seaming in a set-in sleeve while the body is sewn together, I quite like it. There wasn't anything particularly hard about it, and it did make it nice to be able to hold it up every so often and see exactly how far I had left to go. But I long for the good old days when I was knitting away instead of trying to solve seaming problems that are too hard for me.

(If you don't know about Studio Knits, click the link in the sidebar. Great, super great finishing tips and will teach you to seam like a champion. Click the book link - How to Become an Expert Knitter.)

So anyway. I keep finding out little bits of wisdom related to knitting sweaters that I need to find a way to journal or keep track of. Possibly they are just platitudes, but there is definitely truth to them. The complicated part of knitting a cardigan is that not only do the front and back have to match in length and shaping, the two fronts have to match exactly as well. It's rare for me to ever knit a pattern as-written, so it was a Herculean task of discipline and fortitude and maybe a little extra crazy to attempt a cabled-front cardigan as my first sweater project. Even the ribbing on the border gave me fits. But at least I could count cable repeats, which turned out to be very very good for note-taking (just circle the shaping row in the chart). More about that later.

The other thing, of course, is getting two sleeves to come out alike. In a cruel, Jerry-Springer-style twist, though, once you breathe a sigh of relief that your sleeves are a matched set, you have to seam them in just alike as well or the sweater is never going to be right. And shoulder seams hover around eye level for most people, so there is a smaller room for error than side sleeves which are hidden in the body. I sewed one sleeve in last night, but I don't honestly know if I can make the other one match it. By the time midnight rolled around and I was working my way down the sleeve itself (without sewing in the ends! just wanted to see! would be fine with ripping that out if I had to!) I couldn't stop myself from marveling in the mirror over what I had just managed to accomplish with a needle and (yarn) thread. Somehow and through no fault of my own, it is perfect. How did that happen?

(I worked in a sewing factory the summer after high school as a hand seamstress, and I never got very good at it. But I flunked the industrial machine test because I couldn't get the bobbin right, so I spent day after sweaty day in a factory with no air conditioning hand sewing fur borders on wool capes. Somewhere out there a lady has my handwork in her closet, and I feel sorry that she paid $800 for my crappy high-school sewing. I hope nobody's fur fell off in public.)

It really looks good. With a little bit of luck I'll have the whole thing seamed by my birthday, which is Monday. I don't know what all the fuss is about. I've been accumulating birthdays for thirty-six years, and there isn't anything special about them except possibly the dessert. This one makes me want to start lying about my age a little, so we are calling it Elephant Day. (It's nice when you have someone to entertain your own delusions.)

I absolutely love the self-tanner I got in a swap with Tanya - it's Arbonne Made in the Shade. I have probably used it too much in the last few days, so if you see an red-headed Oompa Loompa walking down your street, think of me. I am afraid it's too late to escape it. If I hear someone shouting EYES!! EYES, MAMA! I'll know it's one of y'all letting out my self-tanner secret.


Blogger Carol said...

Self tanner is a wonderful thing. I've tried a few and always seem to go back to the Clarins ones. The colour just seems to match me somehow.

11:05 AM  
Anonymous mel said...

I've got a friend recommending the Arbonne to me, now that there are two of you, maybe I'll give it a whirl.

I hear you on the shoulder seams! I made myself the Mommy Snug from IK when I was preggers and was just in awe at how well the seaming came out. I kept showing the shoulders to DH. Sadly I made the thing in KP Merino Style, so it is chock full of pills now. But it is snuggly soft and well seamed. :)

11:30 AM  
Blogger Batty said...

Shoulder seams are such a pain. To me, they're worse than the sides, and that's saying something.

I can't really give any advice on self tanners, but I hope you find something that works for you!

4:10 PM  
Blogger Zonda said...

Can't wait to see the finished product! I am learning a lot from you!

Happy Early Birthday!

12:35 AM  
Blogger Nell said...

Aaaahhhhh! We share our birthday!!!


Love the fur collar story too and I'm sure you look nothing lik ean oompa loompa. Even if you did, it's better than my milk bottle look.

2:15 AM  
Anonymous Tanya Mc said...

I'll be proud to be your blonde Oompa Loompa buddy. Still LOL over EYES MAMA! Hope your neice (and sister) have recovered from the trauma.

8:37 PM  
Anonymous KnittyOtter said...

Hello Jen,

I had the opportunity to meet you and several other lovely knitters on the 14th at Threaded Bliss. Much Fun. :D

I can't wait to see your finished sweater. I hope the seaming falls into place for you.

Love the Doll Story. I scrolled down to read it. VERY FUNNY! :D

10:01 AM  

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