Friday, October 24, 2008

Project Updates

The beginning of the first sleeve for the long-dormant Kauni cardigan. I hope to have this pattern available in the next Knitcircus, release date around Feb 1, 2009

The other current project is the wine-colored merino blob you see here. I gave it the working title of "Bourgeois Swing Coat". It's a long story, but one without much substance. Not sure I could do it justice here if I tried. But this will be a nice swingy cardigan jacket that a fashion-forward foodie could wear on a fall trip to the farmers market. Most of my favorite clothes are decidedly proletarian in their lineage. But this one might help me take it up a notch or two.

And wrapping up some old business... Mr. SABLE proudly models the (already dirty) soles of his slippers. He loves these. Those bits of crud embedded in the leather are probably sawdust from his basement workshop area. He cut out the leather (which is very thick!) and punched the holes, then I sewed on the soles using six strands of sewing thread.

The Little Emperor would like a pair too. At first I thought I'd need to go buy the children's size version of the pattern. But then I realized that his feet are already as big as a woman with small feet, so I'll just make the women's small.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Fixing an old coat

Last night I replaced another zipper. This was in an old winter coat of Owen's that I want to get operational for the Little Emperor for this winter. After studying the construction, I decided that I couldn't do the quick cheat of cutting off the teeth on this one. I set to work picking out the stitches holding in the old zipper. Get this: each half of the zipper was held in by no fewer than 4 rows of stitching! Yes! Now, why go to such lengths to over-engineer the sewing on the coat and yet, not spend 50 cents extra per zipper for a more durable finished product? It defies logic.

Then Owen & I had to have a discussion on the merits of fixing an old coat vs. replacing. Ok, I spent a couple hours in all picking out all that sewing, basting in the replacement, and stitching in by machine. A cheap big-box winter coat would cost about $50. Probably the zipper would break in February. A Lands End coat that would last the little guy until he outgrows it would run over $100. But both coats would probably be made by sweatshop workers in a third world country. And any new coat would have had some environmental impact. Even if I researched the most environmentally responsible coat on the market and paid whatever it cost, no new coat would have as little impact as repairing the functional coat we already own. So, a $4 zipper and a couple hours of my time is worth it to me.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Ready to Felt

These are ready to chuck in the washing machine. The shoe behind them is a men's size 9, just to give you a sense of scale. They look huge, but when I put them on Mr. SABLE's foot, not so huge that I lose faith in the felting process.

And here they are after felting, with the same shoe for scale:

Yarn: Knit One Crochet Too Parfait. It felted up in no time flat. Wow. Total used: between 300 and 400 grams

Needles: US size 13 Susan Bates, plastic. I bought them because they were cheap. If I do more of these, I'll try to replace the conventional cords with silicone tubing. Getting the stitches back onto the needles from the cord took real muscle.

Next phase will involve cutting the leather and punching holes to make a sole. Stay tuned.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Updates and Acquisitions

I finished the first of Mr. SABLE's Felted Clogs. I had some slight variations in the numbers as written on the pattern, but I know with felting it'll all come out in the wash. But, this thing is HUGE! It took most of two 100 gram balls of worsted weight yarn!

Yesterday Jaala & I went to Milwaukee to drop Knitcircus at some yarn shops and of course, do a little shopping. (Sorry, Kathy, I didn't bring your yarn (you know, what you gave away at the swap at camp and now have a plan for). I realize now that we were probably pretty darn close to your house, but I didn't plan ahead. Plus, you would have been at work.) It was a great day for a drive. We hit four yarn shops and had lunch at a nice cafe near Fiberwood Studio, so it was a successful trip. Plus, we each came home with loot.

I've never bought Trekking before. Not sure this will become socks. I'm kind of leaning toward a hat, but we'll see.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Little This, Little That

Here's a brief review of activities Chez SABLE.

On Monday we got our car back from the repair shop. It appears that they have really, finally, definitively fixed that problem. Of course, if we had known two months ago just how deeply we would be in to resolve it, we might have chosen to donate it to a charity and cut our losses. Even after all the credits we got from them for work that didn't fix the problem, we still spent $3000 keeping that car running. Just for giggles, I looked at some other 1997 Windstars on Craigslist. Now, most have twice as many miles on them as ours, but they also were asking less than $2K for those cars. Hmm. So, all my readers with stalling cars, check the blue book on the car before you go to the garage! I have a sense of guarded optimism about this car now. I kind of hope it might go another 60,000 miles without too much ongoing expense.

In other news, Mr. SABLE has been settling into his self-employed lifestyle. He prefers that term to unemployed. He has a few prospects that might lead to a job offer, but not much to do about them in the short run.

Over the weekend, Mr. SABLE and I made hot dilly beans. My SIL makes these every year and we've been given an occasional jar or two here and there, but not nearly enough to keep me happy. I love these things! It finally dawned on me that there was no reason we couldn't just make our own. The supermarket had pitiful unappealing beans for several trips while I was getting excited about this plan. Then they had no beans! Finally, I went in on Saturday and they had restocked with fresh, plump, wonderful looking beans, so I bought a big bag. We made 8 pints, though a few were on the scant side. Haven't tasted them yet, because we're supposed to let them sit at least 2 weeks. Another 10 days! Can I wait that long?

Today I replaced a zipper in a lightweight jacket of the Little Emperor's. I bought this in the spring at a big-box store and when the zipper broke, debated about whether or not I should bother fixing it. He does really love it and it's not that old. The replacement zipper was under $4, so not an expensive repair. I decided on the quick'n'dirty method outlined in the Tightwad Gazette books. Rather than actually ripping out the stitches that held in the old zipper and fitting the new one in between the lining and the shell, I just cut the teeth off the old one, then sewed the replacement to the back of the opening. It's not elegant, but it does the trick. The jacket is no longer reversible, but he only wore it nylon-side-out anyway. My guess is that he will outgrow it by spring.

Now that I've done this one, I'm eyeballing the collection of winter parkas with broken zippers that Owen left in his wake.

Also today, I cast on and started a pair of slipper clogs for Mr. SABLE. He gets very cold feet sitting around in the winter. He doesn't like to wear shoes inside because his feet are already REALLY big: size 13.5. I have some very thick leather I plan to use to make soles for these. Stay tuned.

And finally, here are some milkweed pods.

Friday, October 03, 2008

The Knitting

This is the second attempt at a new idea I'm playing with. I bought this lovely yarn at Miss Vicky's Yarn Cafe in Baraboo when all the Alt Knitting Campers decided to drop in on her. It's Di VĂ© Autunno, 100% Merino. A very soft single that I bet will pill like a demon, but will feel so nice along the way. I'm trying a few variations on the basic top-down raglan cardigan, but it means doing all the thinking up front. When you make a sweater from the bottom, you can usually just cast on and go. But this time I've got some fiddly short row shaping and a sloped raglan, with a somewhat wider-than-usual top of the sleeve section, and maybe a variation on the slope of the front raglan line. This is attempt #2, and I know I need at least one more. The good thing is that I learn something new on each attempt.

I think one of the main differences between knitting designers and knitters in general is that the designers are the ones who get an idea and keep trying until they get it right. The idea doesn't have to be complex or amazing. There's nothing wrong with being a knitter who doesn't design (there better not be: we depend on them to buy our patterns!). Some folks would rather not take something out and redo it five times, adjusting numbers and needle sizes a bit each time. And that's perfectly fine. Some of us, though, just can't help ourselves.

And this is a teaser photo. The project will be Knitcircus #5, released Feb 1 or so. You just have to wait.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Automotive Woes

I feel like I have Munchausen's By Proxy, Automotive Variant. One of our cars is back at the shop for more of the same symptoms. Poor Larry (our service guy). I think he never wants to hear from me again.

The history
A while back, my husband noticed that the car he usually drives was not behaving well. It wanted to stall when coming to a stop or when starting from a stop. We went to our local Ford place and they diagnosed some bad sensors and some tune-up kind of stuff. When we got it back, it seemed to run a little peppier than it had, but was still stalling when we tried to put it in gear. Price of the first repair: around $840.

Back to the Ford dealership. Larry phoned with the news that it's probably transmission related, probably the torque converter. They needed to pull the transmission to really know for sure, and then, either way, it would be ready to work on. Larry had spoken with the service manager and they credited the $800+ dollars from our earlier repair to that new repair. Now Larry was my hero because I never had to ask for this consideration. He also got us a sweet little "no-cost rental" (I do love a bureaucratic oxymoron) for the week we were without our car. Our cost (after credit) of repair #2: around $1000.

But, the car still stalled. The symptom had changed a bit. Now it stalled only when fully warmed up and coming to a stop. Still, this was not good. Then, Monday morning, I drove the Little Emperor to school in that car. After I dropped him and was starting home, the brakes went to the floor. Yes, the car stopped. But I thought for a scary moment or two it might not. Got back the 4 blocks home, driving oh so very carefully, and called my buddy Larry again. Now, I think he really really really did not want to hear from me again. I arrange a tow for the car to the dealership. Larry tells me that the brake line has corroded. No real surprise. This is a 1997 Ford Windstar and we live in slush and salt city 5 months of the year. $340 to fix that before they can safely do the test drive to find out the issue with the stalling. Well, I still think we've come this far, so may as well keep trying to keep this vehicle on the road another couple years.

Larry got back to me yesterday and told me it's a valve in the valve body, part of the transmission, which is sticking when it's warmed up. And he told me that if they had realized that when they had the transmission all apart last time, they would have done that at the same time. So, in view of that, they'll do the labor for free on this one. Well, that was the good news. The bad news is the part (valve body) costs $895. And they have to order it. And we'll be without the car for a while.

Larry asked me if we needed another "no cost rental" car this time. I told him No, now that my husband's out of work, we really can get by with one. Just to really pile on my serving of Woe Cake. (If you don't know what Woe Cake is, you haven't been lurking on the Ravelry Rubberneckers.)

So yeah, Mr. SABLE's first day of unemployment, yesterday, went much better than his last few days of employment did. But he's muttering about going to art school and moving to northern Maine to pursue a career making art glass. I guess I can herd sheep and we'll eat stone soup I'll cook on a woodstove. Now I'm being a bit snide. After all, when you've given half your soul to a soul-sucking corporation for 12 years and been tossed out like yesterday's newspaper in the recycling, it's normal to fantasize about a very different lifestyle. Oh, and yesterday? He got his first e-mail from someone trying to make sense of the mess that sacking a whole department leaves behind, asking for help with a big project. Mr. SABLE told him that he can't help, doesn't have any of those files, and the poor successor should check with the Pointy Haired Boss if he has any more questions. I expect this won't be the last desperate email he'll get from folks over there.