Tuesday, February 14, 2012

New Machine!

Whoo!  And a BIG BREATH IN please!  And let it out slowly (but not too slowly because I have TONS MORE WORK!!)   I have been working like a crazy woman!  My biggest client went to a trade show the last week in January and I have been sewing madly since just before that. I LOVE the work but it doesn't leave me any time to do personal work or share my thoughts with you!  All this said, I have a new addition in my life that I just HAD to share!

SO 2 nights before my last deadline at 1:30am I snapped a needle in my machine.  Now I have been SO LUCKY with my machine...  I bought it in 1993 - top of the line sewing/embroidery machine - and have not had it serviced EVER!  When I learned how to sew, I was in the Navy and we serviced out own machines for the most part so I have  basic knowledge on how to keep it clean and running.  However, since it is digital, there are a lot of places I can't get into and clean.  So when I snapped my needle and it stuck, I wasn't so much concerned that I couldn't get it out.  I was concerned that if I damage a part that I wouldn't be able to replace the part.  It is a New Home - a company that doesn't exist anymore.  Even if they CAN get a part, I am down for a week waiting.  SO 1:30am and I am having heart palpitations trying to get my machine back up and running.

Now, this is not the first incidence of heart palpitations in this type of situation.  The machine is slowly warning me of its impending doom.  The bobbin winder hasn't worked in a long time - I am almost positive this is a dust and gunk issue but it is so far in I can't do anything about it.  I can barely be read the LCD touchscreen  - fortunately I use the same stitches over and over so I just don't wash the fingerprints off the screen so I know where to press.

With my work schedule, not only have I not been able to part with my machine for a week+ but I haven't had the time to machine shop for a back up machine.  The other night prompted me to find my dealer and get my butt in gear.  Janome has taken over New Home and not only are they my authorized repair dealers but the Janome machines use the same accessories (feet, bobbins, etc) - a MAJOR plus in my book with how many I have and use regularly.

After a bit, the saleswoman had kaboshed my putting a lot of money into my old machine (a lot of parts can only be reworked as they don't make them any more and for them money of the reworked ones, I could buy half a new equivalent one) she had sold me on a Janome that would be a great back up machine.  It does everything I need for work and not much else and was half of what I thought I would need to spend.  The reviews on this machine were through the roof - everyone LOVES this machine - beginners and weathered sewers alike.

SO bought the machine - it is still in the box - and will write a review and show pictures in a few days.  That said - I am back to working.  I dropped off an big order yesterday after pulling an all-nighter and brought home a double order.  The orders are backed up so I need to get them done ASAP - if I keep this up, I will be able to get a new computer too!  (yes, it has been on my list longer than a back up sewing machine - half the keys and the mouse don't work at all!!)


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Frogging because I can't read directions

Last night I ripped out 4 hours of knitting on the Striped Guernsey because when I started the front I forgot to change back to the CO needles size and didn't catch it until I needed to switch to the larger size I will had on the needles from the back piece.  UGH!!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Zero Waste Fashion Stop Video

Well, I have been completely inundated with production work over the past few weeks and I have little boys' tie parts all over my sewing room.  I must admit that I love the repetitive process of production work because I don't have to think about it - muscle memory kicks in and I am left to think while still being productive.

Sometimes while I am doing this I will put a movie or watch informative videos in the background.  I have been very interested lately in zero waste patterning.  I, personally, throw very little away.  When I make things, any pieces an inch or larger get used or go into a scrap bin to be used later and it is amazing how little fabric I actually buy.  I also have bins of scrap fabric from clothing that was ripped or worn out and could not otherwise be donated.  I have 2 bins just for jeans and denim.

Today, I pulled up this video*: 

*Folks, please don't repeat any of the fashions you have just seen on an adult.
Now, I have to admit, I was more impressed with this person's stop video ability that their fashion designing abilities but nonetheless, it got me thinking.  I know that about half of my 1st draft designs don't come out - okay, they are probably fine, I am just a perfectionist.  These duds always end up in a pile of "Now what do I do with THIS" stuff and I never get back to it.  Many times, despite all of my recycling efforts, yes, I will throw them out.  Now being a big girl, I end up with garments much like this video - much bigger than most of my friends (or in the video's case, the dress form).   I am resolving to do more deconstruction when I have these offhand designs - I am sure my friends would be happy to have a custom made garment and I will be much happier to not waste the fabric.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A little personal knitting

Between my Etsy store and my sewing jobs, it is uncommon that I have time to do any personal knitting.  This holiday, I found myself with quite a bit of down time, though, so I thought that I would utilize it to get some knitting done for myself.  I have an overabundance of projects that I have accumulated over the past few years (thank God that I have such a basic taste or the patterns would go out of style before I made them!!) so I pulled one out and thought I would share a few of the steps at a time as it will probably be a year from now that I am done with it!

From: Indigo Knits book
My yarn: Denim Freedom by Twilleys of Stamford (which I assume is discontinued given price and my inability to find it online to link to) Shade 104 and 102 - Navy and Sky blue respectively
Needles:  US 6 (and as calls for in book)

The pattern calls for Elle True Blue indigo cotton and provides a gauge and specifies "before washing".
The yarn I am using has some "yearn characteristics" listed that were reasons WHY I was excited about getting this yarn, however, these "characteristics" are also concerns.  This top has stripes.  They yarn warns that there WILL be dye loss.  Not MAY be - WILL be.  It is made to "Fade like jeans" so I was concerned that there may be some color bleed, especially since the Navy color is SO dark.  It also notes that there is a considerable shrink in length - so much so that it gives before and after washing gauge measurements.  For all of these reasons, I did a swatch.

Swatch BEFORE washing
Now, I KNOW that everyone and everything says to ALWAYS swatch.  Yeah, well, I don't always swatch.  I USUALLY DON'T swatch.  A. I hate wasting the yarn.  B. My swatches never seem to be anywhere close to what I get on the actual garment.  C. I never know what to do with the swatch once I am done with it.  However, I was very concerned that the colors would bleed so I did it.  While I was also concerned about shrinkage, it was not enough that I would have swatched only or that.

Once it was machine washed and dried (this is how I will care for it so I wanted to make sure I did it at this point as well), I found that my gauge was smaller than the pattern but I liked the way the gauge looked.  I made the decision to make the next size larger (the right size knitted exactly would have fit a bit more snug anyway).  It is rare that anything ever comes out too big for me (if the pattern even comes in my size) but in the off chance it does, I can always sew it to alter it like commercially made knitted items are.  Also, since this top is for me, I am not going to sweat the small stuff.

Swatch after washing and hand after knitting for an hour
I have already knitted quite a bit of the back and I have a few notes on this yarn.  
It is BEAUTIFUL  - particularly once washed.  
It WILL bleach in the sun.  The skeins were discounted and had a defined line where the label was wrapped despite the store having UV coating on the windows.  It you have this in your stash, keep it in a closed container.  Personally I LIKE the color fluctuations so it isn't an issue for me but since I am unsure how much fading I will get with successive washes, proceed with caution. 
You WILL have dye on your hands for the duration of knitting with it.  I wash my hands obsessively and barely get it off before staring again the next day.  All of my clothes are dark so I don't know if there was any transfer onto my clothing so BEWARE.

I will have more on this project as it progresses but I will be picking up production work tomorrow morning so, as I said before, it will be slow going.  I also have a shawl that I ran out of yarn on that once I get to the store (I hope they still carry the yarn!) I will get to finishing.  Since I was about 95% complete, that should be sometime next week.  I hope your holiday was as productive as mine!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Busy and Productive Day

I came across this great idea on the Internet.  I don't remember where I saw it and wish that I could link back to her post.  (I swear there should be a 'Lost and Found' for bookmarks because I could SWEAR I bookmarked it for this reason!!)  Anyway, ever since I saw the post I have been wanting to make these.

 Beading (short of putting beads on a string) is really a bit out of my element but since I can't find them on Etsy (I do remember the woman had the one she made on Etsy for about 5 seconds before it sold) I figured I would make them.  For me, it is more fun that way but I am always for supporting the Handmade community.  The pictures, as usual, are lacking and don't do how pretty they are justice - particularly the ones in the dark.  I DO hope that I will find the woman's info so that I can contact her to see if she minds me selling her idea in my Etsy Store.  These I made for gifts.

After finishing those, I finished up a long overdue project (of which I have far too many!).  These while very cute, a lovely yarn, my favorite sized yarn to work with, an unconfusing cable, and a small project, failed at keeping my interest and I have several times picked it up and put it back down for more interesting things.  I am unsure what the struggle was but even in the final hour, it took all I had to not put them back in my UF Project bag for another day.  These were the February Bonus Pattern from the Knitting 2011 Calendar - how spectacularly sad that a 3 hour should take 10 months!!

Owl Booties by I. Halvorsen
Unknown hand-painted lace-weight yarn (leftovers) (I have used this for SO MANY projects and have lost the wrapper :(  )
Crystal Palace US 1.5 bamboo needles

I used to keep track of every project I did in a binder with the pattern and all the info but when I started doing this as a business and doing a lot of repetitive work, I sort of lost that practice along the way.  It makes me sad because I really value the ability to go back and have the notes from when I made an item before.  I also enjoy looking back at my first binder (from 2006-2008) and seeing how much my knitting has improved.  Perhaps I should add that to my goals for next year.

OH!  And, I almost forgot!!!!!  In case you didn't know, I have another blog here that, believe it or not, is even MORE neglected than this one is!  While writing Neurotic Needles, I try very hard to keep the topic to knitting, sewing and craft related stuff (and the occasional cat story!).  I found over the past year that I HAD things to say, but they didn't always fall into that scheme of subjects.  That said, I will be maintaining my Waste Not blog with not just my "Reduce, ReUse, Recycle" spiel but I am added "Rejoice" to the 3 R's.  It will still cover all the eco-babble but it will also contain anything else that I want to share but don't feel is subject appropriate for this site.  SO, go check me out!!

Friday, December 9, 2011

FULL Store!

Well, I have been busy all day taking pictures and posting items in my Etsy store. As well as DPN Holders, I also posted baby hats and headbands. I think I have finally mastered the DPN Holder pics but my other pics are still VERY lacking. And, why don't they make baby dolls accurately shaped?? MY baby doll has this very large and odd shaped head so nothing quite fits properly. I wish my daughter were just a bit older - I'd ask for a grandbaby model for Christmas but I guess I better wait a few years.

I have some small purses on my list to make next week. I already have them partially cut out but I don't anticipate getting much
done this weekend. I am volunteering at a tree planting even tomorrow so I will be up and out at 8am (why don't events that want volunteers do things in the afternoon??!) and dinner with a friend on Sunday. Maybe a few Christmas movies in there (I hope!) I hope your plans are fun and festive. And, don't forget to check out my store. I would LOVE your feed back and suggestions.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Busy, busy!

I have been in a crating FRENZY after a day of shopping for materials yesterday. What started out as a trip to get a few items for a few new projects (more on that in a later post) and last minute gifts, turned into a "let's get enough to last me until the end of the year" trip. JoAnn's was PACKED (seriously, are there THAT MANY people that don't work in San Diego??!) and there was NO WAY I was going back there again until after Christmas. I am resolve in this statement despite the fact that I got to the register and only then realized that my coupons weren't valid yet. UGH!! I bought it all at whatever cost it was without the coupon - I stood in line at the cutting counter TWICE - there was no way I was leaving without my stuff and comi
ng back in a few days!!

As bad as JoAnn's was, I drove right past Michael's!! On a good day, Michael's is a trip is a challenge for me so I passed. Since I was in the neighborhood, I stopped at my favorite bead store for a little inspiration. I got a "bit" more than I planned but, as I said, I have been working all day and unfortunately missed the good photo taking sun so I am taking a small break to write this and then starting back up again! Someday I will have a studio that isn't cave-like and actually gets natural light.

Anyway, I FINALLY finished some LARGE sized DPN holders for my Etsy store. These have been long overdue but have not been a priority since I sell more small size than anything else. They will be posted in my store sometime tomorrow but unlike my other DPN holders, they are not adjustable and will be $2 more. These have larger and more bead, unfortunately making them a bit more expensive.

Also since there are more beads, I am unable to shorten the length. They will fit 5 US 11 needles comfortably (the picture shows US 10's since I don't have 11's).
Well, 27 needle holders made, blog almost posted and 3 loads of laundry done, I think it is time to get to making dinner and getting some more work done wile watching a movie later tonight!