Sunday, April 29, 2007

James Cardigan Done

Pattern: James Cardigan by moi
Yarn: Various DK weight superwashes, mostly Emu
Needles: US sizes 3, 5, and 6
Size: 12 month

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

And Finished...

I'm not going to show you any super close-ups, because there's a lot of sloppy workmanship in it. But it suits my needs.

Kathy, the interfacing was Pelon brand. I don't remember exactly how it was described on the bolt (something like Rigid, double-sided), but this stuff stands up on its own very well. It is possible to sew through it, I think, but I tried to avoid that. I started off thinking about making a much more complex case, with little pockets and compartments. Then I realized I had to start simpler and see how the construction process went. Maybe next time I'll think of a few improvements to include.

It's a Needle Case. Almost.

Last night I sketched and pondered and constructed in my brain and couldn't quite see how it would all come together. Finally, I just started cutting and sewing.

First, I put the elastic on the lining and put the fusible rigid interfacing onto the outer fabric.

I cut 2 strips of each lining and outer fabric and sewed them to the edges of the zipper, hiding the raw edges inside the folds. Then I basted the zipper section onto the main section, with raw edges to the outside.

Then trimmed the fabric sandwich down to about 1/4 inch around.

I pinned the bias tape around to cover the raw edges.

I still need to sew it down. But I'm pretty psyched.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Why I Shouldn't Go to the Fabric Store Unsupervised...

What I went for:

What I bought:

I went in for one navy separating zipper. And I came out with all that other stuff. Plus, 1 yard of super-heavy-duty double-sided-fusible interfacing. Anyone want to make a guess or two what I'm planning to sew?

For the record, the selection of separating zippers at my local Hancock Fabrics was very good. Much better than the selection I found at the local JoAnn's Superstore when I went looking for one for the Morgan Cardigan. Next time I'll remember to try Hancock first.

On the way into the fabric store I saw a bumper sticker:
I know Hell exists, I work in retail.

Having done my time in retail, I had a chuckle.

At the checkout counter, I tell the man ringing up my stuff that I only came in for the zipper. He was pleased and made a comment about all the good stuff I found for my stash. If he only knew about me and my stash, maybe he wouldn't see that as a good thing.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Still Springing...

Today the guys started digging at the roots with the goal of excavating for the next section of the path. This picture shows a 4 foot long section of root they managed to extract. It's about 5 or 6 inches in diameter. First they loosened up the soil around it as well as they could and removed what they could. Then, they went at it with an ax and a saw. I think the ax was a more effective weapon.

Below, is the picture of the Root Canal (so to speak), showing the rest of it in situ.

This is the biggest of the roots in the way of the path, but the hundreds of smaller ones might be more annoying in some ways.

This morning I cut the steeks for the Baby James Cardigan. I've got a couple inches of hood done now, which this picture doesn't show.

I need to find some standards for the depth of a hood for a 12 month size. I don't recall ever seeing that on the CYC Standards page. Or I could go see what measurement Debbie Bliss uses for hoods in her patterns and multiply by 60%...

I'm mulling over making the edgings along the front in dark navy or the bright blue main color. These will be very narrow, really just a pick up and a cast off, and be sewn to the zipper. If I go with navy and get a navy zipper, and put a narrow navy edging around the hood, it might look pretty spiffy. Opinions?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Spring Has Sprung

Today we had the kind of spring day that people all across the northern parts of the country wait all winter to experience. The birds are singing, the early flowers are blooming, the air was warm and the sky bright and clear. I hung out laundry on the line, turned a little dirt for a new flower bed, and sat on the porch and enjoyed the weather. I made the first iced tea of the season.

Here are a couple of flowers from the yard:

We're starting to plan the next big phase of the brick walk. This gets more challenging, because we have a giant silver maple in our front yard and it has put an extensive network of gnarly roots near the surface of our lawn. I need to ask some of my friends who know about this stuff if there's a tool that makes cutting through big roots any easier. Anyhow, in this photo, I've outlined the next phase of the path, which will bring it around to the existing front walk, such as it is.

After the walk is in, we can put a big planting between the walk and the porch.

The existing concrete walk is cracked and buckled and we'll eventually find someone with a mini-hoe to come and pull it up so we can replace that section with bricks, too. Our front steps are cracked and pulling away from the house a bit, too, which is another phase of the plan we'll need to consider. Have I mentioned before that this house was a great deal because of about 30 years of deferred maintenance? Even though we've been here 10 years and have done a lot, there's still a big list of things I would do before I'd call it done. All in good time.

And finally, the progress on the Baby James sweater.

I need to go and machine stitch the steeks next. Then cut. Then pick up stitches for the hood and finish off the front. If I didn't have kids, I could have been done by now. Alas.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Birds in My Yard

Taking good, crisp pictures of birds in the wild requires way more specialized equipment than I have. But these two caught my attention while I was basking in the sun on the porch, enjoying the peace, and doing sudokus.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

My Crazy Week!

I can't believe it's Thursday already. The Little Emperor started coming down with a cold over the weekend and missed three days of school. He's had a bad chesty cough and been pretty low energy, up until yesterday in the late afternoon and evening, when he became feisty enough to be annoying and I decided it's time for him to go back to school. He still has the chesty cough, but no fever, so I don't think he needs to see the doctor.

While he's been home, I filled out our taxes. It's a little bit of a pain in the neck because I had some self-employment income this year, which adds two schedules to the 1040, and because I get a modest payment from a trust fund from my deceased grandfather every year. The payment for each year comes in the first two months of the following year (65 Day Rule) and is followed by a thick envelope of forms that have only a few incomprehensible numbers on them. Most of this trust money comes from tax free bonds, but a bit of it comes from taxable dividends and interest. And some money is exempt from Federal taxes, but not state. The total amount of trust fund money would not support one person above poverty for a year in Madison, but it does offer a nice little cushion in our lives. Still, when I'm staring down the Alternative Minimum Tax form and after working through the computations to be fully compliant, I find that it doesn't affect our federal outcome one bit, I get a little bit of attitude. Which could seg me into a fully-formed rant about taxation in America, but I might have to save that for another day. I usually like to compose those kind of rants carefully a day ahead, or more, and proofread at least once before I hit post. So, I got the tax forms all filled out on Tuesday April 17, feeling mightily relieved and like a good citizen, and while I'm stuffing the envelopes, I double-check the address for the State of Wisconsin and I see that the Wisconsin deadline was April 16. Oh well. Not much can be done when it's already 24 hours late. Just post it and hope for the best.

Meanwhile, Monday afternoon, Mr SABLE came home from work with a little box in hand. He asked Owen to pass it up to me, (I was half-way down the stairs) and it's labeled Apple Care, which can only mean one thing. He's been to CompUSA and bought something. Something BIG. (BTW, in our family, we say Compusa like it's the name of an obscure country in Africa: Kahm-poo-sa, with the emphasis on
the middle sylable.) So, here's the Something BIG:

It took us a couple days to get all my stuff moved and install new copies of the software I use that doesn't come with it, but I'm happy as can be. When I have patterns to format, I can have a page layout open and not constantly juggle formatting palettes, and have Photoshop open, and Illustrator, and still see everything I need to see. What a thrill!

Today, now that the Little Emperor is back at school, I finally get to do a big grocery shop and take a big comforter to the laundromat. It's one we used to have on our bed and when I bought us a new one, LE took it over. He's still in Pull-ups over night, and sometimes he exceeds their capacity. Unfortunately, Sunday night (I think, it all blurs together) he leaked onto the big comforter which does not fit in my home washer. I can tell you, I'm getting mighty tired of changing sheets at odd times of the night. When Owen was 6, we used an alarm method and it worked really well. It's just about time to use it on the LE, too. I miss having an unbroken night of sleep.

Yesterday I managed a few rounds of knitting on the Baby James Cardigan. I think when I get back from grocery and laundromat, I'll figure out the numbers for the neckline shaping, and move that into the hood region. If I don't just take a nap until 3, when I have to go pick up LE at school.

I'm happy to report that our temperatures will reach the upper 60s and low 70s in a few more days! Yay! I'm ready.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Avoiding My Tax Return

Last night I got the first sleeve done on the sweater for the new baby. Today, I got the second one done and now I've attached them both with the main body. That area that looks like a mistake running up the center front is where I'll cut the steek for the zipper. I am leaning toward the hood. Owen had one factory-made sweater we were given that had a hood and he really did keep that hood on. I think it was harder to take off than a hat and also, the yarn not at all itchy. Even if this new baby won't keep a hood on, it'll look cute, as long as it doesn't get caught on stuff and create a hazard. Last night when I was falling asleep I was envisioning all the ways I could shape and contour the hood to fit the head. I think making it fit fairly close to the head will help keep it on, too.

And, yes, here it is April 15th and I haven't started my taxes! I still have tomorrow, because today's a Sunday!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Baby Cardigan Progress

Here's the progress picture of the new baby cardigan. I've included a steek and I plan to install a zipper. Still debating a hood or not. The sweater will probably fit him next fall/winter, when he'll be sitting up, crawling, and then walking, so a hood might get some use. Of course, he might just take it off, too.

Here's the detail:

Feel free to weigh in on the hood debate.

Friday, April 13, 2007

New Neighbor!

Our favorite next-door neighbors have just had a little boy, so of course, I have to make a sweater for him. The challenge is to make the superwash wools I already own work together. I like this kind of challenge.

I have several balls of the Emu superwash, probably enough to make a plain blue sweater. But that would boring. I've got two different yellows of Dale Falk and the navy blue of some other superwash DK to use for Fair Isle or stripe accents. The brighter, darker yellow is a bit too vivid against the medium blue for my taste. It reminds me of school colors. The pale yellow is really too washed out to pair with the medium blue. So, I decided the solution was to use them both, and the navy.

I guess I'm going with the tried and true little fair isle diamonds. They're easy, really jazz up a baby sweater, and tend to make any colors look right together. Within reason.

In other news, we're having Spring. Again. Maybe it'll stick around this time? One can always hope.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Who Ordered This?????

Is it not mid-April??? This is what's going on in Wisconsin and much of the upper Midwest today:

We are expected to get about 7 inches of very heavy wet snow before it all ends. Trees and shrubs are bending and breaking. We've already had a week of below freezing weather, which been hard enough on the plants. I guess this is the snow we didn't get in December.

Not a lot to show you in knitting content.

Here's the Mead Scarf stretched along the back of the porch glider. I think I'm more than half way done. It's hard to judge the amount of yarn still on the cone. Last night I saw a little error about 4 rows back in the pattern. I decided to live with it. If anyone's looking that closely, they shouldn't be.

I've been quite wiped out from our trip and vacation time with my kids and haven't done much knitting. Or much of anything else. Yesterday I napped most of the time the kids were at school. I've had mild vertigo since we got back, which happens to me sometimes in the spring. I think it's related to a seasonal allergy issue. Whatever causes it, it really slows me down.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Too Much Togetherness

We have all had too much family time. I took Owen off on a big drive and we ended up at Brigham County Park near Blue Mounds. This is a view looking north toward the Wisconsin River.

I'm eager for school to start.

Friday, April 06, 2007

How I Spent My Spring Break

On March 30, I drove with my boys to O'Hare to catch our flight to San Diego. Mr SABLE had been away in New Jersey for the whole week leading up to this, and his work was taking him on to California, so our plan was to meet up with him out there for fun in the sun.

One thing we did a lot of on our vacation was waiting in airports...

I was a little ambivalent about hauling my big camera along and decided to at the last minute. Mr. SABLE's camera is not as big, but takes perfectly fine pictures for most blogging and family needs. As it turns out, the only time I used my camera the whole time was on a couple quick shots of the boys waiting at O'Hare.

One thing we did a lot of on our trip:

The hotel pool was in a courtyard, which meant the building cast nice shadows on the pool for large parts of the day. I was able to lurk in the shade and avoid both burns and sunscreen.

On Saturday 3/31 we tried to go to the San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park. We got in our rental car and drove out there. The Little Emperor was exhausted from the long day and late night the day before. We paid the $8 for parking and then realized that the poor little guy wasn't going to be walking anywhere. I reasoned that I'd rather be out the $8 than the $80 or so we'd have to pay to get us all in the gate if LE was too tired to function. All agreed. We looped around a bit and came down along the coast.

Owen finally got to see an ocean.

LE continued to sleep in the car. He woke up enough to refuse to get out of the car.

On Sunday 4/1, we went to Legoland in Carlsbad. This is a very expensive park, but I have to say, really well-run and family-friendly. We arrived shortly after opening at 10 a.m. By 2 p.m., Owen was getting a headache and the Little Emperor just wanted to go back to the hotel and swim. So we did. We only managed to go on a couple rides, but Owen and Scott did a Mindstorms exercise that lasted 45 minutes. The Little Emperor enjoyed the opportunities to build with very large bricks. Mostly, they both seemd to enjoy shopping in the gift shop. (I'm thinking we could have just gone to the Lego Store in Chicago and called it good.)

My vacation knitting was a pair of socks on two circulars I started a while back, just to give it a fair test before I rejected it. I have to say, I've given the method a very fair trial run and I'm a one-at-a-time-on-double-points sock knitter. They don't soar on two circulars; they creep. Slowly. Like snails on downers. I did a few rounds to be virtuous, but mostly I did Sudokus.

I didn't really see any of San Diego proper, but I went grocery shopping at Von's on Mira Mesa Blvd. I enjoyed loafing in the pool with my kids. And I really enjoyed getting home again.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


So, we're back from California. I'll do the long version later: How I Spent My Spring Break. But, right now I'm tired because I came back with the kids last night. The plane got into O'Hare at about 11:10 pm, we got the car out of the remote parking lot at 12:15 a.m., and arrived at our house about 2:30 a.m. Mr. SABLE arrives tonight. He flew from Madison because his work is paying for his travel costs and it didn't matter that the best fares out of Madison were already snapped up by the time we finalized our plans. After a good night's sleep, or maybe two, I'll write more.