Sunday, July 17, 2016

It has arrived!

Just as the title indicates, the beast has arrived!

The portable case is AMAZING.  Look at that burled wood pattern!  I have a feeling that the wood sewing machine cases used to be actual wood, instead of just wallpaper on a substrate, but who knows?  I did see this type of case in a YouTube video about the sewing machine, so mine is not a one-off thing!

The wood paper is coming off - I think I may find something from work to use instead.
Now about the sewing machine itself.  It definitely is a child of its time (if I could figure out what time that was).  I've read that "Dressmaker" only made sewing machines in the 50's/60's/70's, so this machine is at least 40 years old.  Also, based on the controls, and the belts and motor being on the OUTSIDE of the machine, I think it may be even older.
The color is definitely of 40-50 years ago. Bleh.
The machine itself is a "Dressmaker Deluxe Zig Zag 133", and it was made in Japan.  I have not been able to find this machine on the Internet.  I learned that back then, a lot of machines were made in Japan, sent over here, and then a manufacturer would stamp their name on it.  I did find this machine also under the "Universal" brand name.  Since the machine didn't come with a book, I scoured the internet and found the book for the "Deluxe Zig-Zag Sewing Machine", with no manufacturer's tag on it.  It looks like the machine I have, so I've been following those directions.

The machine only has straight and zig zag stitch, and two controls are required to set the zig zag: you turn the control to the width you want, then you lock it in place with the other knob!  The machine also has a button on the front to control the feed dogs - the settings are "normal", "silk", and "embroidery".  That's definitely new to me, and something to play with!  Also interesting about the machine is the needle and the base plate.  The needle is on the left side of the foot (not centered in the middle), and it threads from left to right.  Also, the plate has no seam allowance markings on it, so I guess I will have to make my own!!  I wonder if I could perhaps find a plate for it that does have the allowances.  Close to my apartment we do have a sewing machine and vacuum repair shop, so I'm thinking of heading up there one day to ask some questions and perhaps get it cleaned up.  I also want to get some re-wiring done on the machine - the coating is a bit thin in some places.  I'd rather figure out how to do it myself, but we'll see if I actually do that.

I do have some projects I want to get started with on this machine.  First, dinner napkins.  I know, I know, super simple - but I want to figure out stitches and if I can do a straight line and if the tension is correct!  I also would like to make another ditty bag, as well as pillowcases for our existing pillows.  Check out our two fabric options:
We love foxes in this house!

Please note giant zucchini in the background.  Approximately the size of a human baby.

They are exceptionally different from one another, so I've pinned them up and put them in the living room to see how we like them.  I'm leaning towards the non-foxy one. It's blue, not black, but I think it's not too garish for our space.  It'll take me a while to get to it, I don't even have any zippers yet!

In knitting news, I did a couple of rows on my Honey Cowl, so it looks about the same.  I've also been asked to make some coasters for a friend, so I need to get on that since she's leaving in a few weeks.

That's about it for this week, see you next time!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The answer to last time's post is "no"

I'm baaack!  For today!  Who knows how long this will last!  Hopefully more than once every six months.  I do have some exciting news - I finished my Braid Shawl!  yayyyy!  My mom really liked it, but, uh, a wool shawl in Houston - not my best idea.  Hopefully she can use it once a year.  I think if I make her something again, I'll go with silk or cotton.

The shawl itself is a non-complicated knit, but I did get distracted periodically and not decrease at the right time, or I'd forget which row i was on in the pattern, so there are a few errors, probably only noticeable by me.  I think I would make the shawl taller next time, to wrap just a little bit more of the body.  I think I made it too long as well.  Plus, this is the first time I've blocked anything so big, so it was pretty hilarious.  I do love the color, and the Sweet Georgia yarn is great to work with.  The yarn was really even and consistent in quality.  The color variations were subtle and there were no drastic color changes once the shawl was completed.

Since then, I have started working on a Honey Cowl, in this beautiful super-variagated yarn from the Mineville Wool Project.  This yarn is sooo soft, and such a rich color, I had to use it in something that showed it off!  I think I cast on 150 stitches, because I wanted the color pattern to be continuous all the way around.  I am using size 7 Karbonz circulars, and a 20" cord (maybe?).  I am a little concerned about the project tho - won't it just curl at the top and bottom because it's all stockinette there?  Mine is definitely curling right now!

In other news - I've started a new hobby - sewing.  Woo!  I have taken two classes and made something last time I went home.  In the sewing classes, I made a small ditty bag (that I use every day to hold my phone, keys, and Smartcard as I walk to work), and some pajama shorts (also worn everyday).  The shorts are out of a non-stretchy cotton, and had a super high waist, so as they were first completed, I had to do a beautiful wiggle to get into the shorts.  Once I went home, I cut the top of the shorts off, and now they are too small in the back.  I need to learn how human body shapes work, lol.

The final project is a lunchbag I made at home with some fabric found in the house and a reusable grocery bag my BF got from his insurance company.  It was supposed to be the Purl Soho Button Lunch Bag, but since I was using two layers of fabric, and one layer was a plastic, it got too thick for me, and I ended up making it really simple.  I haven't yet added a closure method.  Either velcro or a snap-button I think.  The lunchbag fits my lunch perfectly - a 2-cup glass pyrex bowl, an apple, a boiled egg, and a Babybel cheese.  Pretty much what I eat every single day.

I can't sew right now, as I don't have a sewing machine, and I don't want to buy one of the new plastic ones.  However, talking about your dilemma sometimes brings solutions!  I will be getting a sewing machine today!  My boyfriend's parents are giving me their old Dressmaker.  I've not heard of the company (we have a Kenmore in my family).  Apparently it is a 40lb behemoth, and it has an amazing box with a whorled wood pattern.  Oh yeah, gotta love the 70s!

I'm also loving reading new-to-me sewing blogs: Closet Case Files (a great small business story, plus she always writes about other cool projects on the web on Sundays), lladybird (so many projects, with entertaining descriptions), While She Naps (really liking this for it's small business and blogging information! She also has a podcast that I listen to on my commute), Miss Maddy Sews (also many projects, even though she's young and in medial school! I feel so unaccomplished), and a few others.  I've been reducing my screen time recently, so I'm mostly emptying the sewing book shelves at my local library instead.

Alright, for not writing for months, I think this post is a pretty good one.  Hopefully I will write more often and show prettier pictures of finished objects!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Will I ever get consistent with this?

Sorry friends, for the long absence.  It's been busy at work and extracurricular activities, but slow in the knitting world for me!  I am still working on my not-so-secret shawl.  I'm not yet halfway done, and I have 3 weeks to go.  ooof.  Luckily, I do have the pattern memorized, so I don't have to worry about looking and remembering where I am.  I don't have photos at the moment, so let's talk about other things, shall we?

Project Knitwell - Well, I went to the introductory session and a training, and now I am waiting to start the background process to volunteer at the the Children's Hospital!  The Ronald MacDonald House was also another opportunity.  However, they were only available Wednesday evenings, and supposedly that's a climbing/ yoga day.  We've been failing terribly at this climbing thing tho, so we'll see when that starts up again!

Plants - oh my, I seem to have accrued a rather large collection of orchids!  We had our Production Facility Open House the other week:

The Desert House!  Just because it's an arid environment, doesn't mean it isn't full of amazing variety!
The High Bay area.  This is where our Garden Court trees are located, as well as our Titan Arums.  No arums are stinky right now, but the citruses smell divine!
I spent time in the Carnivorous House and the Desert.  Neither of those rooms have anything to do with orchids, but we do have a "Pot-an-Orchid" station during the Open House.  We had two stations this year, and for some reason, two types of orchids!  And BF and I each get one plant.  So my current role call of orchids is the following:

Iwanagara Apple Blossom "Carmela" (4 plants?)
Wilsonara Aloha Sparks "Halloween" (2 plants)
Oncidium Twinkle "Pink Profusion" (2 plants - from last year)
Phalaenopsis pulcherrima var. champorensis (1 plant - from last year)

I'm not quite decorative with these guys yet.  Still working on it.  But check out the height on the Wilsonara!  I also think these are supposed to be separated to prevent disease...maybe?
One of the Twinkles did bloom last year, in November:
These blooms held on for a while too!  I have another spike slowly making its way out.  It's taking a realllly long time.  Maybe I should fertilize?
But everything else remains a mystery to me.  I did some research today, because I do want to repot last year's plants, and properly plant this years.  I need to purchase fine-to-medium fir bark, sphagnum moss, and perhaps a humidity tray.  It's hard to keep it humid in my apartment in the winter, or even warm!  Also, turns out sphagnum decomposes within a year or two, so I think it's time to repot the Twinkle and Phal.  I also would like to get a Wardian case, but those are stupid expensive, so I'll probably find some other cheaper terrarium.  I also think I know what kind of cactus I have: Gymocalycium denudatum.  I plan to repot this guy too, because poor thing looks terrible.  Luckily I have a friend with both pearlite and vermaculite, so I should be good with this guy once I get the bark and moss.

Just as a shout-out, it's the Orchid Festival at the USBG!  Stop by before April 17 to see an amazing display of orchids!!  Some look so amazing you'd think they were fake!  Also in the west gallery is some amazing artwork of the flora in our National Parks!  Some amazing artwork to be seen!  That is up until October 2, so you've got some time.

Alright, I think that's about it today.  Very little knitting, much more plant activity!  Also, yesterday we went on a 10-mile hike in Susquehanna State Park, with the Capital Hiking Club.  What a great group!  Also, convenient.  Love the convenience.  Take a gander below of the end of our hike.  Have a great week!

The Susquehanna River!

A dangerous path

Monday, February 29, 2016

Woo Lucky Extra Day!

Hi Friends!

I totally didn't blog this month, except for at the beginning.  Yay for the Leap Year!  I can squeeeeeze in that extra post.  Unfortunately, I have very little time until it's time for bed.  I've started this habit I call, "go to bed in a timely fashion and wake up in a timely fashion and try not to stay late at work as you do so."  I'm still struggling on that last bit.  Since I've started getting to work on time and not 30 minutes late, I've managed to be swamped with work and staying later.  This is working entirely as I didn't want it to.  sigh.

Anyway, on to knitting news.  I knit another hat!  This one is for my childhood best friend's new baby.  It's knit with the same Dream in Color Classy I used on my dad's hat, it's such a nice yarn.  And machine washable (supposedly, that's what the label says!).

I even sent it along with one of my tags, tied on with an orange ribbon!  Look at me, doing something purdy!  The pattern is Tin Can Knits Barley Hat.  A nice simple knit, that makes a lovely pattern.  Although there were a few moments when I wasn't paying attention and lost the garter stitch pattern and had to tink back.  Whoops.

In other news of messing up patterns - I had to restart my giant shawl!  wooooooooo!  I realized 90 rows in, I was reading the chart wrong!  I was reading it right to left for ALL rows, instead of only right-side rows.  Yea, I'm totally an architect, totally into details..... um.  So yea, this second go-through is going MUCH smoother, as the pattern actually makes sense on the wrong side rows! who'da thunk it?  People writing patterns actually KNOW what they're doing!  Sigh.

I leave you with a pondering Mr Fox.  Hurrah for March!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Swatches and Tams

Hello friends!

Sending along a quick update on two projects I'm currently working on... one is now super secret, so all you get are the swatches:

These swatches are knit with Sweet Georgia superwash sport, that I had blogged about previously.  It's a lovely yarn to knit with.  Very smooth and the color variegation is so subtle.  When I washed the swatches to pin, I think the color got a little bit darker.  The pattern I am using is also a good pattern.  It is fully charted, which is causing a bit of cross-eye, but it's a repetitive pattern, so a little bit easy to memorize.  I am enjoying knitting it!  We are taking a trip to Jim Thorpe, PA this weekend, so I am excited to get quite a bit of knitting done!

The other project I am working on is a long overdue pattern.  It is a tam-o-shanter for Mr Fox, a stuffed animal my BF gave me years ago.  He's taken on quite the personality, so he's getting his own Scottish hat.

Currently it looks like nothing, or as Elizabeth Zimmerman says, "it'll look like a bag".  I can't wait to be finished so I can block it and it actually looks like something!  I followed the directions from Zimmerman's Knitting Without Tears, except at an obviously much smaller scale.  The yarn I am using is my self-dyed KnitPicks Bare yarn!  I dyed it several years ago, for this very purpose, and I am just now getting to it!  sigh.  See below for a reminder of what inspired the color:

RAWR.  My hands are too short to actually knit! 
I'll make sure to take a photo when it's all complete!

That's all for now, just the quickie!  See ya!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Conversations with knitters and a double knitting adventure!

Top of BF's hat.  I haven't taken any others yet.
Today I volunteered at the US Botanic Garden, and I met a lovely mother and daughter who knit!  I had been talking earlier that morning with Lani (our wonderful visitor's service desk person....I don't know her exact position, she's my friend who works at the front desk!) about knitting my hat, and one for the BF, and one for my dad, and I had mentioned the BF had a really itchy hat and that's why he wanted a new one.  Well, these ladies came in, with cute Baa-ble hats on, so Lani noticed and remarked to them that I also knit, and hats are itchy, and oh, they should come find me in the Garden.  I was giving a tour, which meant I was a moving target, so we didn't actually meet up in the greenhouses.  However, we did meet up at the front desk, and we chatted for a good ten minutes - just about different yarns and patterns, how hats are itchy, and that when we make hats, everyone else seems to want one too!  They had had to knit new hats for other people as well!  It was nice to talk to another knitter - we knew a little bit about yarns, patterns, Ravelry, it was so great to share information!

Lovely bromeliad from the Garden today!
I really do need to go to a knit night or something.  But I'm so shy when approaching groups of people.  I don't do small talk really well, so going up to a group of strangers, who all seem to know each other since they've been doing this for a while, it's so fear-inducing!  I just need to follow Steve's advice, and build up 20 seconds of courage!  It's not like anyone's going to laugh at me, which is mostly what I fear the most.  They'll probably just say hey, ask a few questions, then continue knitting.  And I can join in the conversation when I want to.  It's silly how shy I am when I write it like that!!  When I finally get another project on the needles (I just finished one, see below), I'll stop by one Thursday!

Gotta be brave like this chilling lion - coated in snow from the big storm!
I do have one group I really do want to participate in.  It's called Project Knitwell.  It's based in DC, and it provides knitting instructions for wellness and stress-relief to patients, doctors, and those who have to wait in the waiting room!  It's really intriguing, and it's another way I can make someone's day.  They also have started working with SOME (So Others Might Eat), which has put a notion in my head that maybe we could also organize to work with Miriam's Kitchen, where I also volunteer.  They already have art therapy / Miriam's craft studio, and they have knitting notions, so it would be good for a group to go in and help teach!  I've contacted the group to see when I can do a volunteer training and what sort of samples they need knit up.  They do have a training on February 22, but that's a Monday, and the training is over in Falls Church or something, so I'm checking to see if they have anything more local for me.  I'll report back when I hear a response!

Onto project news - I made a double knit dishcloth!  Check it out!

 It wasn't meant to be a face, but I was just playing with switching colors, and that's how it ended up!  I'm really impressed with it, plus look how cool it is - reverse images!  wooo!  I used this tutorial from Very Pink Knits to learn how to do double knitting.

I then got frustrated with the speed of the knitting and the yarn getting all tangled in my hands, so I decided to learn how to knit continental style, so I could hold the yarn with both hands.  I mostly used this video from Craft Sanity to learn how to knit continental.  End result?  See below for my hands knitting both English and continental!  And no, I'm not slowing down to demonstrate, I really do knit that slow.  This is why I need to do more knitting - practice means I'll get faster!!  My tension is also waaay different in Continental.  Super loose.

Purling in Continental

Knitting in Continental

Apparently now YouTube does moving previews to the next video?  Instead of still images?  That's not distracting at all!

Have a wonderful week - I'll leave you with this:

Friday, January 22, 2016

Get out your old Weezer albums!

Greetings at the start of Winter Storm "My Name Is" Jonas!  It's blustery outside, and the city has decided to shut down.  What does that mean?  Well, it means I got to leave the office at 2pm today!  YAYYYYYY!


I decided to spend my newfound free time providing a quick update on the blog, since I missed this past weekend.  I had a very good reason for missing this weekend - tasty homemade dinner with some friends, and then a rousing game of PANDEMIC.  It's a game where the whole point is to work together to save the world!  HOW AWESOME IS THAT?  We unfortunately didn't succeed, but next time... we got this.

In actual knitting news, the hat has been mailed to my dad, so here's hoping he receives it soon!  I lost the receipt, so I hope it doesn't get lost in the mail!

I went to Fibre Space in Alexandria last week as well, because they said they had Sweet Georgia yarn.  Lo and behold, they did!  And I bought a lot:

Well I mostly just bought a lot per my usual standard.  This is for my mom's shawl, and since I'm not sure what exactly I am making yet, I decided to err on the side of caution.  And it's pretty, so I'll find other uses for whatever is leftover.  And yes, I did wind that one cake with the winder dad made me.  Worked just as well the second time!

I enjoyed walking through Fibre Space.  It's much roomier than Looped Yarn Works (but LYW is in Dupont and an old townhome and has the same amount of variety, so you can't really fault the size).  I looked at the samples they had there, looked at the difference between fingering and lace, and decided to stick with fingering.  I may end up selecting a lace weight pattern, but I wanted to knit something a little bit heavier.  I hope she likes the color... she wanted more of a navy, but I didn't see anything I liked, so I went with a more modern blue-grey.  But the yarn is super smooshy and I love it!

I also have decided I want to learn how to knit Continental, because I am working on a double knit dishcloth, and it is taking FOREVER.  It takes almost 10 minutes to do one row!  And it's only 60 stitches!  So I'm hoping learning Continental will help the speed factor.  Maybe it will also just help the general gracefulness of my left hand.  It's pretty clunky.

Alright, I think today is a short post.  Will write more later, as I am snowed in this weekend.