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June 17

The Channel Cardigan

I started the Channel Cardigan at the very tail end of Chicago Winter & beginning of our very chilly Spring.  It felt like Winter was never going to end – I was sick of being cold and this cardigan seemed like the perfect solution.

I wasn’t going to knit this up since it’s not quite my style- but I got pulled in by the Meg-Michelle-Mari-(Liz) Knitting Collective group.

Channel Cardigan

I’m not intending on wearing this sweater out in public actually – I made it as my lazy, cozy house coat during the winter.

Channel Cardigan_Me

I wanted something rustic and car-coat like so Cascade 220 was the perfect solution – economy prices & a durable, warm yarn.  My color is: 8013 in Walnut Heather.

Channel Cardigan

Meg also made her’s up in Cascase 220 with a lovely grey shade.  Originally I wanted an oatmeal color, but couldn’t find one I liked at the shop I visited, so I opted for this slightly darker shade. (Again not my usual color choice.)

Sleeves & Gauge:

The first thing Jared Flood (pattern designer) has you knit up is the sleeves.  It was nice to get them out of the way, but also a pain to knit up first before the body.

I am a loose knitter so my tension is always vastly different than stated in the pattern.  I always make a swatch first.

Using the worsted weight yarn, I knit my swatch first with one needle size down, a US size 6 needle and I didn’t have the correct tension – my swatch was too big.  I then swatched to a US size 5, 2 sizes down from what was stated and got the same exact tension as the US size 6 needle.  This is crazy in itself, and I even brought it to show Michelle, just to prove I wasn’t going insane.

Not wanting to knit a worsted weight yarn with US size 4′s – (which is just crazy! & what Mari had to do on hers!!) I went about re-figuring the pattern to fit me like I always do.

After re-figuring everything out I knit up my first sleeve, exactly based on the xs pattern size – with my mods.  I made my sleeve so that it would exactly match the finished pattern’s sleeve measurements.  It did – and it was HUGE!  It was so wide a sleeve that it fit my husband with EXTRA room.  It was crazy!  I showed the girls & they were like – you have it knit it smaller.

Theirs were fine, mind you.  But theirs also don’t match the finished patterns measurements either.

I wish I had a photo of this for you, but it was all so wrong.  The tension on this sweater, IMO can’t be trusted!  I’m convinced that the model in the photo has sweater clips in it, pulling it in to make it more attractive.  It would also be the reason why there are NO images of the back of the cardigan in the original photo shoot with the model.

I had to go back to the drawing board and fit the sleeve like I wanted it to fit, with some positive ease for lounging but not so large it would be too big even for my hubby.

Channel Cardigan_Me

Knowing all this, I set about re-figuring the body of the sweater also.  I just used my body measurements, added some wearing ease (4″-5″) and recalculated all of the stitch counts throughout the sweater.  In order to keep the same design, I increased/decreased the stitch counts in the moss stitch pattern between all of the chevron details.

Channel Cardigan

In the end, I doubt you even see a difference between mine and the other 3 gals’ sweaters.  It just looks like the same Channel Cardigan – which is good I guess.  I just hated that I had to do so much work to get this thing to fit when the pattern instructions were already a whopping 18 pages long.

Having extra yarn (1+ skeins) and extra time to finish before our deadline, I went and knit myself up some pockets.  Since I’m wearing mine around the house, I thought it was essential to make a pocket (or two) to carry things like my phone or tissues when I move from upstairs to downstairs.

Pocket Detail

I knit them in exactly the same chevron pattern as the body of the sweater so you wouldn’t know they were there.  This worked out wonderfully – since Michelle only noticed I added pockets to mine when I pointed them out to her 45 mins after first starting our photo shoot.  heh

Raglan seams are notoriously tricky to fit on my short, narrow shoulders.  I decided that I was going to knit my sleeve caps up as many times as it took to get the right fit.  Three sleeve-caps later, I got there.  My raglan seams happen at a much sharper angle than the other girls’ sweaters but it was essential for me since I always get a great amount of pooling of fabric at my underarm.

Channel Cardigan_Raglan Seam

I only altered the sleeve caps raglan seam, not the body of the cardigan to achieve the better fit.  The raglan seams of the body hit more or less at the appropriate point, I just needed to remove many more stitches on the front half of the cap (only) to fit my shoulders.

Meg Photobomber

So… Mari and Michelle ‘softly’ hosted this KAL online, but it felt like it was primarily the four of us since we meet in person once a week or once every two weeks to knit together.  Knitting with friends on the same project is so much easier than knitting on your own sometimes – well especially when you’re all making the same thing.  I don’t have any problem relaxing solo after a long work day with a movie and my knits, but its also nice to take such a solitary project in public and knit among friends and tea.

Channel Cardigan

You may have noticed, Mari of Seamster Patterns joined in with us on the Channel Cardigan for the first time, despite her busy schedule with Sewing Indy Month and a new pattern launch.

Mari's Channel

I love how fitted & short Mari’s cardigan turned out.  I’d actually wear hers out in public (unlike mine).  Her version reminds me of a cute boyfriend cardigan or fall jacket for layering.  She actually knit hers shorter due to time constraints, but it turned out wonderful, imo.

I mentioned it earlier, but Mari had to knit her (worsted weight) cardigan with US size 4′s just to get gauge and to fit correctly.  Craziness!

Meg’s cardigan was knit using the same yarn as mine, but turned out very different.

Meg's Channel

She omitted the belt loops and has paired the prettiest metal buttons on her cardigan.

Meg's Channel

Meg is the least experienced knitter in the bunch, but you’d never tell based on her finished garments.  She’s an adventurous knitter, just like her personality would imply.  With each new pattern, she delves into brand new techniques (buttonholes, short rows, multiple colors, etc.).  With a quick, in person guidance from us, she goes and tackles them with no problems having done everything just once.

Michelle‘s cardigan turned out great too and the color on hers is so rich and vibrant.

Michelle's Channel

She has one of those bodies that enables her to make very little alterations to the pattern, besides height – it makes me quite jealous.  Despite that, I know it does take a great amount of skill and all of her knitting garments I’ve seen her make look flawless – very tailored to her.

Michelle's Channel

I always joke that her knits look “like they were perfectly tailored for her body” and they truly are of course since she knits (and sews) them all herself.  :)

What’s the point of taking photos without a little silliness…

Photobombing

I keep photo bombing our shoots – I just can’t help myself it seems.  heh

Meg Riding the Tree??

And here’s us on a roller-coaster ride.  I went for holding-on-for-my-dear-life-face.

RollerCoaster

Nailed it!  LOL

Roller Coaster _2

Thumb’s up to you too Meg.

Thumb's Up

We started knitting while it was cold, yet these shots were taken during 70+ temps this past weekend.  It got a it warm – and then we noticed we’re all wearing various shades of blue.

Cooling Off

And as always, a special shout out to our handsome photographers, Mike and Felix.

Mike and Felix

We couldn’t do this without you & your wonderful direction.  Cheers & Happy Knitting.

June 16

Digging a Pit & The Kitchen

Once again, I am totally pooped after my weekend.  I need a weekend after my weekend to catch up on my sleep and recharge.  I even had coffee this morning just so I could work, while at work.

I fully intend to take a nap after work today and perhaps do a bit of movie watching/knitting if my energy level improves – chocolate may be in order also.  heh

So… why am I so sluggish today?  Well, I dug a giant pit in my basement (along with my dad and Felix).

Basement Digging_1

Same old work clothes as the last post I realize… I only have so many crappy T’s and pants in my wardrobe.

Bob worked at jack hammering out the top layer of concrete in our basement floor.

Basement Digging_2

Then Felix and I loaded up the large, broken up pieces in buckets and dumped it outside in a pile.

Basement Digging_3

Then we set about digging out the sand.

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(Not the most glamorous of photos of me…)

I believe we started somewhere around 1pm and finished up around 7pm.  I admit, it’s not quite a full day’s worth of work.  But three large shovel loads was all I could handle in the bucket to lift it up the basement stairs and hand it off to Felix to dump in the backyard.  Damp sand is HEAVY!

Basement Digging

Surprisingly, I’m not at all sore from the work just fatigued, overall.

Sitting on Basement

(via Instagram).  This gives a much better sense at just how deep we dug.

I guess the thing you’ve all been wondering is “Why?!?!”

Well… the long and short of it is, we’re redoing all of the plumbing lines in the house.  Which is going to be awesome!  :D  It’s a bit scary that I get jazzed up about rebuilding the house’s infrastructure.  It’s going to be so nice to not have to worry about any breakage or repair when we’re all done.  It’ll be like we have a brand new, 1885 Victorian cottage.

First off, this giant, vertical pipe on the right is the waste line.  This is going to be moved much closer to the wall, instead of being right in the walkway.  So we had to dig all the way down so the plumber could do his thing.

I can’t imagine paying a plumber $50 an hour to do all of this digging himself, just so he could get to the lines to start his work.  This took 3 of us 6 hours, so if it took the plumber 18 hours to do the same digging, this one thing alone would cost us $900 – just for labor on this portion.

We’ll be changing the cast iron waste lines to PVC, and we’re changing the lead pipes to pretty copper lines.  Everything is getting an upgrade when possible.  We’re stubbing in a second bathroom in the basement (to be finished later when funds allow).  But it makes sense to add in any potential infrastructure now while we’re here instead of coming back in 5 years to do the same thing all over again.

When I say *us* here, I mean the plumber.  heh  We don’t have that kind of skill, but we’ll be assisting him when he needs us to.

We’re anticipating having to do some more digging in the remaining back section of the basement, near the sink – but this will be done after we hear back from the plumber on where we need to do the remaining digging.

The Kitchen:

Come to think of it… I haven’t shown you our kitchen at all!  I post all the time on instagram of the progress… blogging is a bit harder to keep up with in the midst of everything.

These are a few shots of the kitchen demo we’ve been doing.

Kitchen Demo

Everything is down to the joist spaces – above, below, and all sides of the kitchen.  I’m getting pretty good at walking across them – but we do have a few sheets of plywood down for walking ease by the back door.

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Side Kitchen wall – where the stove will go:

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Plumbing lines are overhead feeding the upstairs bathroom and also on the far right for the half-bath on the first level.

Having everything torn down to the joists means the plumber will be able to lay down the lines – easy peasy.  He’ll have absolutely nothing to work around which should reduce the time he spends – which means we’ll have lower cost.  :)  A definite win-win.

After the plumbing comes new electrical lines run – when needed (by licensed pros obviously).  We’re focusing on the kitchen first then the remainder of the house will be done.

Yay infrastructure.  There’s nothing like starting from scratch on building your dream kitchen.  :)

June 9

A Gardening Weekend

I just have to say right now… I am so pooped out.  I need like 5 naps and early nights just to catch myself up.  Ugh…  Anyhow, I had a very busy weekend as you could have surmised.  It was a productive one – but I feel I need a whole ‘nother weekend just to catch up again.

My mom grows tons of flowers, herbs, vegetables, and succulents in her basement each spring and uses them in her yard.  The last 2 years she’s been selling the extras in an annual township garage sale.  The first year she made so much money, she’s been creating planters and baskets just to sell at the sale now.  She made over $1500 this year & had very reasonable prices!  It’s not too bad for a one-day garage sale.

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I woke up at about 6:30am on Saturday and it was constant work until 5pm that night.

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We got refreshed after a good night’s sleep and enjoyed a celebratory breakfast.  My mom wanted to get away from her house so she came to mine and was helping me do a bit of yard work.

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This is my crazy front yard.  It’s very overgrown with day lilies, some tulips, and a newly-found peony which I was very jazzed about finding as they’re one of my favorite flowers.

I shudder to even tell you that this is NOTHING compared to my backyard craziness!  There is no grass whatsoever in either my front or backyard.

We took to clearing things out little by little.

lawnTransformation_02

Once we got going we couldn’t stop.  I ended up filling 7 – 30 gallon yard bags worth of old mulch and day lilies and weeds.

We were pulled inside the house to eat a bit of lunch at 4pm & then promptly headed back outside with fresh determination to get the whole job done.

lawnTransformation_05

My dad and Felix were done with what they were working on and came to help us even out the ground and redistribute the excess soil to the backyard.

lawnTransformation_07

It was a total life saver as I’m sure we wouldn’t have had enough energy to finish that part ourselves.

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Although the yard is just soil right now, it looks so much cleaner than what it used to be.  The day lilies were starting to take over the sidewalk even.  

Things need to be temporary up here since we’re eventually going to have to rebuild our front porch and replace the ugly pink bricks that are the outer layer of the house.  The pink bricks are fine by themselves but they’re just not meant to be put on a house built in 1885 and along with baby blue trim.

Next Steps:

We’ll either put some grass down or we’ll have some more structured planting beds throughout with a small Japanese maple.  We just need to keep it clean and orderly (and low maintenance) while we continue to work on the interior of the house.  (I’m also hoping my mom brings over some of her spare flowers so we can fill it in more with some pretty color.)

And now… I’m so beat.  Hope you all had a lovely, relaxing weekend yourselves.

May 28

The Bridge Jumper

The Bridge Jumper – or the ‘everything that could go wrong – went wrong’ jumper.

Bridge Jumper

That is a much more apt title for my jumper – although from these pics I (hopefully) doubt you’d even notice.

Here’s the details before I get rolling with this post:

Yarn Used:

  • Red background: Reggia (red – sport weight), discontinued yarn & couldn’t find it online
  • White and black motif’s: Järbo Garn in fingering weight.  Both yarns were the same brand/type, but the black had so much more grip than the white one – I swear what is it with white fingering weight yarns… they all seem to be thinner or slicker than their counterparts.  Most likely part of the culprit of my floats/tension issue.

Bridge Jumper Pattern: via Ravelry

Meg’s Post: A Knitting Fail: The Bridge Jumper

Michelle’s Post: An Ace Up One’s Sleeve

Waaay back in November (2013), Tasha & Rochelle launched Knit for Victory, which happily coincided with her launch of the Victory Tam.   Of course, I used the Victory Beret as a good warm up to tackling fair isle knitting.  I did so & finished the beret in 10 days.  Yes… it does still need to be posted up once I find it – the move really messed up my blogging.

But the reason why I mention all of this is that the Bridge Jumper was intended to be my 2nd Knit for Victory project.

Bridge Jumper

You see, Meg picked this jumper out to knit for her Knit for Victory project.  I think Michelle was planning on knitting it for hers too – and well… I didn’t want to be left out …. and it was in my Ravelry faves after all.

Bridge Jumper

Alas, I decided to knit this little jumper up as a great colorwork project to keep advancing my skills.  It uses three colors on one row, not just 2 colors in a row (like fair isle knitting).

Let me tell you…. knitting with 3 colors on a row is a bit more challenging than 2 colors.  There are many more wraps to be done and tension is paramount.

Mistake #1: Negative Ease

Negative Ease

This is probably the largest mistake I made on this jumper.  As always, I hacked the pattern so that it would fit me – and also incorporated 2″ of negative ease since that’s how I like my jumpers to fit, a bit snug but not restrictive.  Well…. let me tell you, you CANNOT knit colorwork with negative ease!

What happens is that your floats in the back get all tight and you end up seeing them on the front of the jumper.  Not very pretty.  I sure which I knew this before embarking on this mega colorwork jumper.

Michelle was leading Meg and I through this colorwork challenge, since it was our firsts with multiple colors.  Being an intermediate knitter myself, I probably come off as confident and knowing what I’m doing, so Michelle never second guessed my knitting/sizing.  All well… I definitely learned the hard way on this one.

Mistake #2: Floats & Tension

Floats

Don’t you love all of the crazy floats?!  I mean seriously, it’s crazy on the inside.

As I got to the second motif row (bottom up) I tried the jumper on.  It didn’t fit – at all.  My floats were all so tight that I couldn’t get the jumper over my shoulders.  The first motif row was fine, it was the second one that was too tight.  I frogged the it back and had to reknit that section again, but with looser floats.
Well…. I made them much too loose and I had a bagging, saggy mess of floats on the inside and wonky motif stitches on the outside.

What I had to do to fix this was to pull each row of yarn and tighten up each stitch by stitch of all the motifs; at the end of one row I had to tie a knot.  I spent about 2 hours on the white motifs and another 2 hours on the black motifs.

Knots

It was challenging learning the correct tension since there were so many floats and the motifs were quite a bit far away from each other.  I can’t really say I learnt my lesson since this is tricky in itself, but I know what to look for (aka avoid) on my next colorwork pattern.

Mistake #3: Stitch Count

It’s helpful to keep the same amount of stitches on the front of the bodice as you do the back; total rookie mistake on my part.  I had at least 12 stitches more on the front than I did on the back so I had to kinda ‘hope’ it worked out by the time I got to the end.  The back is a bit snug, but it still works.

Bridge Jumper

Mistake #4: Not enough Yarn

So yeah… I ran out of yarn.  I ran out of the red background color and the store I bought it from didn’t have anymore.  Guess who called over 50 stores in the US looking for this one yarn. (I wish I were exaggerating… but I’m not).  No one seemed to have it stocked, and I couldn’t find it on the brand website.  Finally I did find it and even in the same colorway.  Not wanting to have the same issue again I bought extra.  heh

Techniques learnt:

  • Steeks (or steeking) – where you CUT your knitting to make way for armholes  –> Mega shout out to Tasha who helped me through this!!
  • Working Colorwork on the purl side (not just the knit side like you do in the round.) Had to do this on the back bodice at the neckline.
  • Working with 3 colors – wraps and such while attempting to keep the yarn untangled.
  • Picking up stitches for a ribbed neckline  - crazy that after years of knitting, this was my first crew neck jumper where I had to pick up stitches.  Granted – I’ve done this on sleeves and for collars, but I never had done this for a ribbed neckline.

Bridge Jumper

Like I said at the beginning, Meg, Michelle, and I were all knitting this jumper together.  Michelle had decided that she’d get much more wear out of it if she converted it to a modern fitted cardigan.  Meg was doing the same, but she ran into some complications.

Bridge Jumper

As you see… there’s no Meg in these photos with us.

Meg’s yarn was a fingering weight white from cascade, but it was a superwash wool – with NO grip.  Having worked with this yarn, it’s one of the worst ones you could choose for colorwork.  Why?  Well the superwash aspect of it makes it nice and soft – so the stitches do not grip to each other which is really helpful to have on colorwork projects.  Being a friendly friend, I tried to gently warn her, but she was determined.  Alas, she got so frustrated due to this and also due to an ‘off’ tension, she bowed out and never finished her Knit for Victory jumper.

And being the sassy friend I am, I teased her much about how she picked out this jumper and left Michelle and I to trudge through – there was much complaining about this particular knit (so frustrating).  This was after she got over being sad that she wasn’t knitting it with us.

Bridge Jumper

Michelle and I forged ahead.  I was the slow knitter on this project that we never finished in time for Knit for Victory either.  I believe Michelle did, but she’s waited to post about it till now – as she waited for me to finish.  She’s so nice!

Look how wonderful her knitting is, not a float in sight:

Michelle Detail

I think we’ve all been there when a project just doesn’t go as planned.  You toss the project aside and don’t look at it for a year since it just makes you feel bad to look at it.  I had a really hard time forging ahead with all of the silly mistakes I made, but I somehow still made it work.

Poor Meg just didn’t have the right yarn and nothing can fix that so hers has been tossed aside and remains unfrogged still.

And being the silly friend I am I had a genius idea!  I still wanted her to partake in the photoshoot with us so I made Meg a FAKE bridge jumper.

DSC_0391

I stayed up late cutting out bits of felt in hearts, diamonds, spades, and clovers.  I asked Meg to bring a plain black cardigan and she promptly asked why – which I had to ignore.  She thought we were going to shame her, by having her wear a plain black cardigan – how wrong she was!  I sneaked off which Michelle and we went about safety-pinning all of the felt motifs onto her cardigan.

Meg's Bridge Jumper

Honestly, I think it’s actually really cute!  I think she should sew them on permanently and wear it out – so cute.

Bridge Jumper

In conclusion???

I made so many mistakes on this jumper – and yet it’s still kinda wearable (in a wearable muslin kind of way).  Not sure how that happened but I’m so happy to have this jumper in the “completed” category and I learnt oh-so-much from it.  Even after the mistakes, I feel much more confident to tackling another colorwork project.  Sometimes it takes a whopper of a project for one to get their (colorwork) bearings.  :D

Bridge Jumper

P.S.  Bridge Jumper is a free pattern…. if you dare.

Bridge Jumper

May 20

A Nautical Vitamin-D Cardigan

It’s been ages since I’ve posted a finish project yet I’ve been knitting up a storm all winter.

I’m so happy to be able to share something once again.

The last finished knitting project I shared was the Ingenue Sweater that I knit with fellow bloggers, Meg the Grand & Tres Bien Ensemble (aka Michelle).

Meg picked out this cardigan to knit and next thing you know, we’re all knitting it up together once again.

This isn’t a style I would normally pick out to knit for myself.  I happened to be looking through my Ravelry Favorites and realized that a cardigan I have fav-ed a while ago was actually a Vitamin D Cardigan too.

witaminka2_medium2

So needless to say, I decided to (majorly) use this gal’s wonderful color/pattern selection and make one for my very own – with some adjustments.

I used a sport weight merino wool yarn by Millamia.  This was a dense, yet sproingy yarn – it really bounces when you pull it.  It was very easy to knit with and has great stitch definition.

My gauge was very off – but the stitches looked nice with the size needles I was using.  So I ended up hacking the pattern majorly.  What’s funny is that I let Meg & Michelle try on my cardigan and Michelle said that the fit was pretty close to hers – but she only noticed that the shoulder decreases were sharper than hers (more decreases per row – sharper angle of decrease).  I have to do this often since I have very narrow, short shoulders.

My cardigan ended up being a bit wider-looser in the body than I had originally intended, but it looks nice and drapey.  Perfect for the Spring chill we currently have in the air despite it being mid-May.

Pretty much the best part about knitting a project together (besides knitting in person together every week) is the photos at the end.

There are plenty of serious photos…

Hand on Hip – Check.  heh

But then things just happen….  (I’m pointing my finger at you Meg)

Meg ‘falling’ in the pond – pushed by Michelle attempting to be saved by me.

And the flashing…

We were all posing normally showing off the flair of the cardigan.  But then Felix said it looked like we were flashing people so of course, we took one where it looks like I truly am flashing poor Meg.

Michelle made her Vitamin D using a very (very) lovely shade of coral.  Her’s looks so springtime, no?!  I like mine of course, but all day long I was oogling Michelle’s cardigan and wishing I’d picked more spring-time colors than my nautical one.

Meg - oh Meg.  Quite often during knitting, I kept telling Meg how tiny her yarn looked compared to mine.  Turns out she was (accidentally) knitting with a fingering weight yarn instead of a sport weight.  Poor dear, it was taking her quite along time to finish it up – we know why now I guess.  Still… it turned out perfect despite the different gauge and yarn.

Last but not least – the ‘gents who were so kind to take our photos for us: Felix & Mike – posing like it’s High School Graduation once again.

*Guess who just finished 2 blouses & a bathrobe today?!*  I took a day off of work & I sure did get a lot done while having fun.  Expect to see more of me soon.  :D

April 17

Sewing Once Again

Quite a bit has happened over the last two weeks:

  • I found out I have (early) tendinitis from working on my house too much
  • Dr. injected me with cortisone in my joint to fix the tendinitis (mega *ouch*)
    • Resulted in me not being able to use my right hand (dominant hand) for like… days & it’s still sore 1 week later
      • I was NOT a happy camper
  • Found out the oak floors in my house are engineered floors & now we have to tear them all out to put in new ones
    • The house continues to give us surprises
  • Set up my temporary sewing space & started sewing again *woot*

What’s made me oh-so-happy is the fact I set up a temporary sewing space in the upper level of our house.

Felix had set up his temporary office very early after moving in; he’s set up a desk & computer in our petite back bedroom which we’re primarily using for clothing storage.  I’ve been left to shift for myself – which has meant lots of knitting.  There was just too much demo, dust and havoc for me to set anything up.

Little by little, I was getting melancholy at not having a space of my own and doing what I wanted to do in my free time.  Knitting is great, but I missed sewing.

Looking back, I haven’t sewn a stitch since November – which means it’s been about 5 1/2 whopping months!

I’ve been sewing for 3 days now and I feel so much better.  I’m happy to go home again.  :)  I know most of you will understand, but I haven’t been able to do what I love for so long.  And now that I am again, I feel so relieved & happy & energized.

The demo and dust is still in full swing, but it’s happening in the downstairs kitchen.  Jointly, my dad is working on the duct-work way in the basement so that hasn’t affected the 2nd level either.

The temporary sewing space:

Temporrary Workspace

 

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Complete with discolored walls & cracking plaster:

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And overhead is a squirrel that runs around and has claimed my attic as his home:

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Okay.  I have to admit it, this room is creepy and scary.  If you were to take me directly from my pretty sewing space in my last apartment to this new one… I’d probably cry.  But I’m so happy to be sewing again, none of this has actually bothered me like it would to a rational person.  heh

I now have to admit… I’m totally rusty with my sewing!  I never would have thought it!!! 

What I’m working on:

I packed the projects that were WIP in a special box, and those are the projects I have in mind to work on first and foremost.  I had a blouse cut out late last summer but never got around to stitching it together.  I’ve made it once before, so no muslin was needed.  I figured this would be the perfect project for me to work on first as I get my ‘sewing legs’ back.

I’ve been just hunting on my blog to show you guys the first one I did, but somehow it escaped being blogged about.  Huh  Well… now there’ll be two blouses to show you.  :D

The pattern is a Advance 9853, it’s a simple buttoned up blouse with cut-on sleeves and a notched collar.

Advance9853

It’s a great basic that I can wear during the summer and also in the winter, layered with a cardigan.

The one issue I have is that I don’t know where my serger went – it’s in some random box I must not have marked well.  So I’m being creative with my use of french seams and pinking shears.

I’m so rusty I forgot to do my french seam with: 3/8″ seam allowance first and 1/4″ seam allowance second.  I did it backwards and have a meaty french seam at my shoulder.  Ahh well… at least the seam is enclosed.

Goodness knows how rusty I’m going to be when I do my buttonholes…  Which is a whole ‘nother deal.  I need to hunt down my buttonhole attachment & buttons so I can finish this blouse.

Once my dad is done working on the ducts in the basement, he’s going to be moving up to our second level & in the room I’ve set up shop in.  I’m not sure exactly when this will happen… But at some point soon, I’m going to have to pack everything up again and move elsewhere in the house.  Wonder which room I’ll end up in next?  :D

March 31

Itching to Sew

I haven’t sewn one single stitch since last November.  With spring nearing, I’m really itching to sew something new.

But what’s a girl to do when her house is in complete disarray??

To add insult to injury, I’m meeting up with several Chicago gals for a fabric shopping expedition this coming Sunday.  And you just know i’m going to be majorly tempted to purchase some new fabric.  (I do have a group-on for it after all).

Perhaps this is a good excuse to visit some of my fellow local seaming buddies for a sew-along in a shared space.  (Meg or Michelle or Tasha or Mari I’m lookin’ at you.)  :)

Any other thoughts for setting up a sewing station in a house full of debris, on-going demo, and dust?  Because something has to be done to quench my lust for sewing a pretty new spring dress or blouse – asap.

March 26

Bathroom Hardware Advice Needed

Sorry for all of the radio silence on here.  I’m kinda back…

Felix and I have been hard at work on our house which has sucked up all of my free time in conjunction with packing up for the official move.

We moved into our house this past Thursday and I’ve been working to set it up, to be a livable house, while we continue to work on it.  :)

I finished unpacking our stuff this weekend – and when I say unpacked, I mean I’ve unpacked only a small proportion of our stuff.  In order to work on the house while we live there, we’re living with the essentials only.  But you can be sure I have my knitting and sewing boxes somewhere separate so I can get at it when the mood strikes.

Anyhow…

After unpacking (all) of my bathroom items, I realize I need some more essentials: toothbrush holder, toilet paper holder, and a hand towel rack (just for now).

I’ve always been of the mindset that I should save my money and purchase what I want the first time around, instead of buying something *less ideal* only to purchase the item again, but the one I really want.  I figure I save some money this way even though what I generally want is more expensive.

My house was built in 1885 and it does have some old architectural details still remaining, but the vast majority have been removed over time.  Felix and I are hard at work restoring and repairing it…  One of which is the bathroom.

The downstairs bathroom will be a half-bath (toilet & sink combo), while the upstairs is our official bathroom where we shower and get ready each morning.  Eventually we will be updating this bathroom too, but $$ is being focused on the kitchen first.

The long and short of it is… I’m not sure which bathroom hardware to choose for the upstairs vs. downstairs.

Should the upstairs bathroom be more casual, while the downstairs bathroom is the formal one?

I love each of these bathroom sets from Rejuvination:

Pittock:

This is a 1880′s repro; it’s the more formal of my two choices for bathroom hardware.  It seems pretty period with the house and I love all of the options that come along with it.

It’s hard to see the actual hardware here, but here is a detail of the towel holder:

And here is Chandler:

This is my 1940′s dreams come to life.  It’s the more casual of the two choices and is less period to the house, although it will still work fine and this is what I feel like I’ve been dreaming of.

Realistically, I do have a win-win scenario.  I’m planning on purchasing both of these no matter what.  What I have to decide is which goes upstairs and which goes downstairs.

I like that the Pittock has more options with it as far as towel racks go, which would be good for the upstairs.  But… I kinda feel like the more casual set should be going upstairs instead.

Anyone have any thoughts or advice to share on this?  I need some help before I take the plunge with this purchase since these are pretty pricey items.

On that note… anyone know of any other sites with similar reproduction hardware???

March 4

Home Renovations: WIP’s & more Plans

While I’ve been stripping woodwork (with my mom) Felix and my step-dad Bob have been working in the basement since November in order to make our house livable.

The furnace that was in the basement wasn’t installed properly which meant a lot of things have had to happen to correct this issue.

The first thing that Bob and Felix did was to remove all of the old duct work on the first floor.  This means no heat in the house.

It was right around thanksgiving when the furnace was disconnected and it wasn’t able to be reconnected until right after Christmas.  There were a lot of reasons for this… but again it’s too much detail to get into on here.

During this whole time our house had no heat so I wasn’t able to work on the first floor (with the stripping).  The guys worked in the basement with the aid of fuel-burning space heater, luckily.  And in the rest of the house we had electric space heaters strategically placed so that our pipes wouldn’t freeze up in the freezing temps.

After removing all most all of the junk & disconnecting old lines, the guys cleaned & painted the basement:

New gas lines were/are being installed:

Not very fun photos, but here’s more new gas lines:

Vine Video of the gas pipes being cut.

Bob has a pipe threader… because why wouldn’t he?  heh

Concrete has been poured for bases to set the new furnace & hot water heater on:

But rebar had to be cut first in order to support the concrete: 

Rebar framed & laid in place:

Of course my dad has a concrete mixer for all of this: 

And they’ve done lots of other things too…

What’s all quite new to me is the steps involved in order to do any one task. Pouring concrete for example.  It’s not just pouring concrete but you have to 1.) Frame the space you want to pour it in 2.) Make sure your framing is level 3.) Cut rebar to support the concrete area (given it’s large enough) 4.)urchase the concrete (each bag is 80 lbs and we needed several bags) 5.)Mix & Pour concrete – let sit then 6.)Seal concrete after it’s set.  I’m probably missing things but that took several evenings and a weekend to do & it’s just concrete.

I know things take time, but I continue to underestimate the work involved for ALL of this.  When I talk with people, I’m always saying “We knew what we were getting into… but we didn’t quite know what we were getting into.”

We knew this was an old house that needed renovating, but now that we’re working on it – the scope has changed and we’re beginning to fully understand the amount of effort & time that goes into making livable & lovely houses.  It’s a lot.

After everything we have planned – I’m honestly hoping that in a year’s time we can live on the second floor – as opposed to the first floor living room that we will be soon moving into as our bedroom/living room/home office all in one.

‘Small’ list of plans we’ve made:

  • Complete kitchen overhaul – including new appliances & relocating the backdoor & window
  • Re-pipe all water pipes to second floor & kitchen
  • New electrical service to & inside the house
  • Walls removed & walls rebuilt
  • Continue to strip & refinish all wood on 1st floor
  • Strip walls down to the plaster on the 1st floor (which means removing the painted over-wallpaper)
  • Refinish floors
  • Loft the 2nd floor’s front (joint office/sewing room)

It’s a lot.  But we have the end to spur us on and I know it’s going to be amazing once it’s all said and done.  Now to get there….

February 4

Home Renovations: Things Going Awry

Last Sunday I arrived at my house shortly after my parents did and started putting a few groceries away.  That’s when I heard it… a small *drip drip drip* at the corner of my kitchen.

I saw water pooling on the counter top and on the floor, which seemed to be originating out of the top most cabinet door.

I yelled frantically for Bob to come upstairs (from the basement).  He checked the second floor bathroom (above the drips of water) and then checked the basement – with no insight as to why this was happening.

We turned off the water to the house in attempt to stop the leak.

Then Felix and I proceeded to stand in horror as we watched my step dad ripping into my upper cabinets, kitchen ceiling & upper floor joist to locate the source of the leak.

I nearly cried.  My home was being ripped into in order to find the location of the leak.

In this corner alone, there was so much debris from the small demo corner!  It was like 4″ high of rubble on the counter and we filled the garbage can twice with wood pieces & plaster.  I was not prepared for this either – I can’t even fathom how much debris is going to be creating by demo-ing the whole kitchen ceiling.

Here’s a vine video of the demo and a second of some debris.

A few things did come of this – which was good to find out now rather than later:

  • Two ceilings were installed.
    • The original plaster and lathe is in quite bad condition but instead of someone ripping it out like they should have, they just added another ceiling on top of the old one.
  • The upper cabinets aren’t actually cabinets but ply wood pieced together – horribly -to look like pseudo cabinets.  They need to be ripped out, but we will retain the original cabinet doors, as those are actually cabinet doors.
  • The floor joist under the bathroom is completely rotted out & has been sustaining water damage for years.  This now needs to be addressed and rebuilt.
    • With rotted joists, how have I not been falling through the floor?!  Let’s table that for now…
After the preliminary demolition, the leak stopped.  We turned on the water to the house and no more leak.  We ran the sink, flushed the toilet – but no more leaking.
BUT… the water to the bath/shower stopped working.  Entirely!  There is now no water flowing into the bathtub/shower.
Fun.

Solution: 

Since the pipes aren’t really the best, we’ve decided to abandon the old pipes and add new copper pipes instead for the second floor plumbing.  It’s not worth my dad’s time to actually hunt down the leak and fix it since the pipes are just ‘so so’.
I failed to mention… the bathroom in our house was supposedly refinished in 2009.  It now seems like they only added a nice facade to cover up all of the issues – leaking pipes, horrible ceiling, & rotted floor joists.
*OMG* Yes… I freaked out a bit and started asking myself “Did I just buy a horrible, not-worth-it house?!”
After talking more with my dad and also with Felix, I calmed down.  But yeah… this is more work (and a bit more $$$) than we were planning on doing.
I just really hope that nothing else huge has to happen as I don’t think I can handle any more.  :|  Felix and I knew this was always going to be an adventure, but now we’re joking that this is a crazy adventure.
Please… wish me luck.  Any of you have any crazy house stories you’d like to share to calm my frazzled nerves.