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Slow but steady progress here

January 13th, 2012

The lace portion of the new sweater has been finished. Now it’s on to the stockinette stitch section, which truthfully is the largest piece. At least I can do that without referring to the pattern every row.

In the meantime, I’m slowly but steadily ironing my way through the monster size bundle of team fabrics that’s been sitting on the floor in the dining room for the past couple of years. I purchased three medium flat-rate boxes of NFL team fabric scraps from someone else, only to discover that I’d overlooked the fact it was coming from a home with someone who smokes. To say that the fabric reeked would not be an understatement. I washed it a couple of different times, wound up stuffing it all back into large black plastic garbage bags, and just let it sit with the hope that the odor would finally dissipate. Last fall I took a more proactive stance once again…washed it all once more, and draped it outside for a day or two (took a week or more to air all the pieces). There’s still something residual there, but Dave and I can’t quite decide if it’s still cigarette smoke or a result of sitting in the plastic all this time at this point. We’re trying to get things picked up and put away so I’m going through, organizing, ironing and storing all the pieces now. By the time all was said and done, I came away with at least a little bit of fabric for all but two of the NFL teams. I started ironing with the teams that only had a small amount of fabric on hand, and quickly went through the majority of the teams. What’s left are the five or six teams that have a fairly large amount of fabric each.

In other news, our church is planning to host a craft show this spring. We have a date on the calendar, and hopefully as of Sunday we’ll have more than two people willing to help put it together. (Guess who is one of the two current people!) More info (or not, depending on time) as this develops.

Also in other news, one of the two speech paths is likely to start maternity leave as of next week. No official word yet on when/what extra work I may be doing for the district. At least the other one isn’t due for another month. I initially thought the babies were due within a couple of weeks of each other.

New Year

January 6th, 2012

I hadn’t intended to stop posting after August….

Once we were back from Mom’s house last August, school started up again. My caseload is slightly larger this year…number-wise it’s not that much bigger but time-wise those few extra kids are really making a difference in the time I had available for other responsibilities at work.

I trimmed some shows from the fall schedule, but also managed to add a few more. I worked steadily on getting those placemat sets that were quilted in August finished up. I managed to do a few each week, just enough to keep my head above water. I also made the conscious decision not to sweat replacing specific items as they sold out this year. In other words, if I sold out of bowls in a particular fabric, then I was simply out for the fall. Anyone who really wanted one ordered it at that point.

Christmas plans changed and we were up in Colorado for Christmas instead of having everyone here. That was nice because I didn’t have to worry about people tripping over the still-to-be-repaired spots on the floor where the tile came out for the foundation work.

Once back in Texas, the gutter company was back out to fix the one last bit of work, we also had them install leaf screens. We finally reached the construction company to discover that they were still waiting on some information from us before ordering the replacement exterior shutters. Those went on yesterday.

The next round of repairs/home improvements is about to start. That’s going to be the floor in the boys’ bathroom. We’re selecting flooring now and potentially they’re starting work next week. The true extent of the work will be determined once they start ripping up the floor. Insurance estimated that we wouldn’t need to replace the subfloor under the cabinets. The contractor is less certain of that aspect.

In other news, I discovered that the paints I bought (many) years ago for the as-yet-unfinished nativity set are apparently salvagable. Since that particular company is no longer in business, this is great news. I hope to get started on that shortly.

And I’m working on a sweater for me that sat from sometime in August until Christmas break, when Cat and I took a close look at it.

All in all, lots of plans for things to complete this spring. The truth, I suspect, is that perhaps half of them will get done, and that will be the repair work that I’m not actually tackling myself. We have a couple of speech paths going out on maternity leave within the next few weeks and my “personal project” time is probably going to disappear when that happens. On the other hand, if I must be on hand for repair appointments, I just might get some things done around here.

Home again, home again

August 9th, 2011

We just arrived back from a 2 1/2 week trip to Louisiana. That was probably a bit longer than we should have been out, but the boys went to Vacation Bible School the first week and the end of the second week involved not one, but two, family reunions and there just didn’t seem to be a point in making the 6 hour drive home and then back again a couple of days later.

As usual, I packed up a good bit of sewing to bring with me, and given the time frame I was going to be there, I packed considerably more than I typically do. I spent a good bit of time debating exactly how much to bring, and in trying to determine a) what could I reasonably expect to get done in a day, and b) how many days I could realistically expect to work since we were making some side trips as well, and c) how much extra was I going to bring just in case I finished sooner than expected?

I packed so much that I anticipated that I would perhaps barely get it all done but I didn’t really expect to achieve that goal. Then three unexpected factors came into play:
1) Dave wasn’t able to come over for the weekend after all, which meant I suddenly had an additional 3 days to work that I hadn’t factored into my work schedule.
2) Mom set up her sewing machine and started helping out on some of the projects as well. Her machine doesn’t have quite as many bells and whistles as mine, so there were some aspects that she simply couldn’t do, but her help made things move along more quickly.
3) Instead of using my older machine that’s been over at Mom’s, I brought my current machine. I knew it seemed to sew a bit faster than the older one, but had never done anything to really compare the two. I’ve previously considered it a very productive day if I managed to finish quilting four sets of placemats in a day. Initially this trip I was completing six sets of placemats in a day. This rate of production went on for the first few days but I had to cut back because I actually was having repetitive stress issues with my pedal foot. Not only was the leg sore, but my entire ankle started swelling. Cutting down on the number of placemat sets I was stitching each day saw an improvement.

I made so much progress that I actually completed everything sewing-related I’d brought with me in nine days. I did a small bit of knitting after that, but the knitting project I really wanted to work on had been left at home because I was certain I’d never manage to finish everything and get to it.

The final tally:
42 pillowcases finished
88 catnip puffs finished
42 placemat sets are quilted. Quilting is the first step in the placemat construction so there’s still plenty to do there, but this is a great start for the fall season.

Rebuilding Update

July 31st, 2011

The replacement of the exterior has been completed. Work on the new shingles is scheduled to start next week. After that, we can focus on replacing the floor in the boys’ bathroom upstairs.

In the meantime, the boys and I packed up and headed over to Mom’s house. I managed to get an incredible amount of work done, and discovered that it’s apparently possible to have a repetitive stress injury from sewing. My entire ankle puffed up after sewing so much each day. I actually brought what I thought would be too much to accomplish during the trip but managed to finish up earlier. There were several factors in that, including the fact that Dave stayed in Dallas, which gave me an additional 3 workdays that I hadn’t planned on, as well as the fact that my newer sewing machine apparently sews faster than my older one. The older one has been sitting over here and I had just been using it when I came over, but I managed to accomplish 50% more on a daily basis with the newer machine so obviously I have to re-think the issue of which machine to use.

The sweater blocking is done and the fronts, backs, and sleeves have been put together. Next on the list is a consultation with my aunt about the crochet accents.


June 26th, 2011

We’ve been undergoing massive house repairs for the past nearly two months, with more still to come. At the moment, the first round of interior work is done, and the next round (probably next month) will be exterior. The next round of interior work will probably be based mostly upstairs and I don’t expect that to start until the end of summer at best.

In the meantime, the first round of foundation work and subsequent plumbing repairs involved jackhammering holes in both of my main work areas….sewing room and dining room, which is where my cutting table is set up. A hole in the sewing room, one in the hallway directly in front of the sewing room, the front foyer, two in the dining room, and one in the aisle separating the kitchen and family eating area. Initially the foundation company said they were going through the hallway rather than the rooms so we shouldn’t have to worry about moving things out of the way. Of course, the morning they were supposed to start going through the slab they decided they’d be going through the rooms after all, which left Dave to try to get all the china out of the china cabinet with 30 minutes notice, and I shoved everything slightly portable out of the sewing room once I got back home later that morning. Sewing stuff is currently stacked in the living room and garage, while the yarn went upstairs in the boys’ toyroom. We were finally able to get the carpet back down about a week ago, and managed to get the furniture shifted in the sewing room Thursday morning (because we had company sleeping there Thursday night.)

I’m planning to take slight advantage of the fact that I don’t have stuff piled everywhere in the sewing room (yet) to get a couple of projects finished. I need to block a sweater before I can seam it together, and I actually have space on the bed at this point to do it. I hope to get to that one morning this week while the boys are at flag football camp.

First shawl done

June 13th, 2011

I took the first shawl off the triangle loom last week. Of course, I immediately spotted an error as it came off that I never noticed while it was actually on the loom! Ah, well…just proof positive that it was made by hand. I’ve already started a second shawl. This one was going to be a solid color and I almost immediately decided that this shade would be too boring by itself. I was thinking I’d add a cream or white color, but Dave made a different suggestion and I’m going with that. Because of the color choices, this one is probably going to be a Christmas gift rather than something I’d try to sell.

Lots going on here

June 3rd, 2011

Very little on the sewing/knitting front, but we’re finally underway on a number of needed house repairs and other projects.

Since my last post:
1. Went from working 2 1/2 days a week to basically full time from early March through the end of April. Two different speech paths covering three different schools were out on maternity leave and I was filling in with all the testing, ARD meetings, and report writing. The extra work is contract based on the hours worked to the point that my “contract” pay for April (when I was working extra for the entire month) actually topped my regular base pay.

2. Found a foundation company who was willing to tackle the necessary interior piers recommended by the structural engineer’s report that the previous foundation company requested. Once the first company saw the report, they “declined to do the work.” Our new company has done the interior piers and is re-doing the exterior piers now so that hopefully we’ll finally be structurally sound once this is done.

3. Went through a hailstorm that is going to require replacement of the roof. Shingles are ordered, we’re tentatively on the work schedule for mid-June. They’re waiting for the foundation work to be finished before starting the roof.

4. Two of the vehicles were outside during the storm and suffered damage. Those have both been repaired already.

5. Discovered that there was a bee’s nest in the siding of the house as part of the foundation repairs. The bees have mostly been dealt with, but the same company that’s going to be doing the roof is coming back out on Monday to give us an estimate on replacing the siding on the house. That’s been on the to do list as well, but it’s become more of a priority and probably needs to be done prior to/in conjunction with the roof replacement.

6. Holding pattern on replacing the flooring in the boys’ bathroom. We’re going to put down ceramic tile there and we’re waiting until both the foundation and roof repairs are done to start that.

7. All sewing/most knitting has come to a screeching halt. Interior foundation work called for 6 interior piers to be drilled. The company initially said that they were going to go through the floor in the hallway so we woudn’t need to pull things out of the sewing room and dining room. Of course, the day they were supposed to start jackhammering, they made the decision to go through the floors on the other side of the walls instead. This means that 90% of the fabrics in the sewing room were unceremoniously hauled out into the garage with about a half hour’s notice. I shoved the yarn up in the boys’ toy room instead so it wouldn’t be exposed to the dust in the garage. The remaining items, including the bed, dresser, and sewing cabinet have been shoved to one side of the room and the carpet has been pulled up and pushed against the furniture. Ditto with the dining room work area. We opted to have the company NOT fill in the holes with concrete initially. Instead, we’re going to wait on that until the exterior jacking is done in case any adjustments need to be made.

8. Exterior jacking is currently scheduled for Monday/Tuesday. Plumbers are scheduled to come out Wednesday to do another plumbing test at that point. We’ve asked the foundation people to wait on actually filling in the concrete until the plumbing test is complete, with the idea that the plumbers might be able to in through already drilled holes if they do have to some repairs. After all that, we can get someone out to reset the carpet in the sewing room and the dining room and then I can get started on the hats I need to make for Cub Camp…THEN I can get started on sewing for the fall craft show season.

9. About the only thing going on regarding crafts involves the triangle loom I ordered with my birthday money. I’ve started weaving one shawl. This is definitely going to be a learning process. I started out with the lighter of the two recommended yarn weights and decided that I didn’t like how much spacing was showing up. I pulled it all out and started over with two strands of yarn instead. I’m using a variegated yarn and didn’t worry about matching the colors so this one is coming out slightly muted. I have plenty of this particular yarn, so I think if I do another one with the same yarns, I’ll make sure I start both strands at the same point in terms of color. That should give it a different look from the first one. I’m going to be interested to see how much this all pulls in on itself once I take it off the loom as well.

At least the knitting part is finished

April 12th, 2011

Sleeves, back, and both fronts of the sweater are off the needles. Now I need to clean off the bed in the sewing room so I can block everything, seam it up, and do the crochet edging. I’m making progress…slowly but definitely.

A Deliberate Slow Down

March 8th, 2011

I frogged the sweater swatch last night and loosely wound it on the swift. I’m going to let the yarn sit and relax for a couple of days before winding it into a ball and finishing up the sweater sleeves. Right now it’s still fairly crinkly.

Working both ends against the middle

March 7th, 2011

I pulled out the sweater I’ve been working on again this weekend. Just commenting on how close I was to finishing the sleeves seemed to give me the impetus to get back onto it. I rechecked my measurements, and I only needed about 1 more inch to reach the decrease point. Saturday was too busy for anything except taking that measurement and figuring out the adjusted math for the decreases, but then I was all set for Sunday. The only potentially looming issue was the fact that I was watching one of the two remaining skeins slither down to next to nothing and the second skein was getting fairly low as well. Sure enough, about two rows before the decreases started, the first skein ran out. I did have some more on the remaining skein that I was using for the second sleeve, so I just started using the yarn end on the outside of the ball for one sleeve while using the yarn pulled from the middle for the second sleeve.

This of course meant that the last yarn I had on hand started disappearing at a rather alarming rate. Doing the knitterly thing, I started knitting faster as I got closer to the end just to see if I was going to run out of yarn.

The jury is still slightly out on that point. I have one more decrease and the bind off left to do but company arrived yesterday evening before I could finish. There’s about two or three yards left, but I did notice a bad spot in the yarn as well. I scrounged through the project bag and thankfully I located the yarn from my original swatch. Ultimately I should be okay. I just have to frog the swatch and do some research on relaxing the yarn again. While I may not need it to actually reach the sleeve bind off point, I will definitely need it for seaming.

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