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August 4

Homeowner Adventures: July in Review

Plumbing has been the name of the game in July.

Late June, Felix and I started preliminary preparation for the plumber.  Little did we know, we had such a far way to go to fully prepare for having a plumber come to our house.

The Good:  Besides having some duct work put in our house (by my licensed sheet metal worker pro dad), this is the first of the ‘trades’ we’ve had come in the house that we’re paying for.  Very exciting to be moving forward with building infrastructure on our house.  I’m looking forward to having to never (really) worry about major issues in the near future since everything will be all new.

So yes – every single pipe in our house has been replaced.  All of them!  We’ve had a complete system overhaul done by a licensed pro.

The Bad: Since we have a subcontractor coming in, we’re trying to save mega $$ by doing all of the demo work ourselves.

The Ugly: Doing the demo work ourselves.  I had no idea how gross this was going to be.  I should have put it together… you know waste lines in a house that are very old…. but I just didn’t.

Felix and I (with the mega help of my dad), set out digging out our basement wherever the waste lines were and also digging up the old lead water service lines.

Can I just deviate for a sec and say: I never thought I’d be so interested in house codes and all of this stuff… but here I am.  

Seriously, all of this stuff is really cool – to see how a house is put together and functions.  I bet many of you don’t even know how you’re getting decent water pressure in your shower.  I didn’t… there are so many factors to take into account – I just had no idea.  These tradesmen are really knowledgeable, ya know?!  They know so much about stuff that I’ve been clueless about.  I’ve always rented and I guess I just took stuff for granted since I never had to think about it.

Now I got that out of my system…  Here’s what Felix and I have been doing in July.

The Basement:

Digging the sand out & re-stacking it in a pile in the middle of the basement.  (Look I’m not wearing my Rt. 66 shirt – you know that blue one. heh)

basementDigging2_01_7_5_2014

A bit of progress being made to expose the clay tile waste pipe.

basementDigging2_03_7_5_2014

We also had to dig out near the back of the house (laundry room) to redo the old water lines.

basementDemo3_07_7_6_2014

Exposed waste pipe – but we still had more to dig even after this…

basementDigging2_04_7_5_2014

Resulted in this massive pile of sand/soil:

basementDemo3_10_7_6_2014

Next came the demo of the pipe.  :(

My dad, Bob, busted out this whole, hunking cast iron waste pipe:

basementDemo3_01_7_6_2014

He then busted up the clay tile waste pipe that I’m attempting to haul out.

basementDemo3_03_7_6_2014

This is the ugly…. I got really grumpy, really quickly here.  I’m a complete sweat ball & it was smelly & awful work.  I’ll just leave it at that.

I really want to tell you all about how dreadful this was, too.  But I just can’t bring myself to.

Post demo, nice new pit for the new plumbing lines & a bathroom to go in.  This is about 18″ to 24″ below the concrete.  Depth perception is hard here…

basementDemo3_08_7_6_2014

I forgot to mention…. While we were busting up the concrete for a new waste and plumbing lines, we decided to have a bathroom installed in the basement.  We just figured, why not since we’re already here doing it?!  So part of this space above will be a 3/4 sized bathroom.

A week later, Felix then went about cutting out all of our pipes that feed the upstairs bathroom (all overhead).

cuttingPipes1_7_13_2014

Again, I’m not sure why we didn’t think about it… but this was an unpleasant job also.  Very smelly & dirty as we were dealing with the overhead waste lines from the tub and sink, as well as the water lines.  Very glad to be done with this part of the project.

Back to the good:  The plumber was here!

New waste line on the left forefront and down the length of the right along with stubbed in bathroom stuff (farther back on the left).

basementNewPlumbing_5_7_11_2014

This is the back laundry area & utility sink lines:

basementFill1_04_7_12_2014

Bathroom, under the sink:

Bathroom Plumbing

Kitchen:

Kitchen Plumbing

Now that the lines are down, guess who had to add back all of the sand, once more.  Doh!
I feel like I’ve spent 2 whole weekends now shifting about sand/soil in my basement.  Many hands hurt, just from gripping tools.

It doesn’t look like much… but this is the fill we added back into the pit of our basement.  The point here is that you really can’t see the plumbing lines anymore.

basementFill1_02_7_12_2014

What this has all meant for my daily life this past month:

I haven’t been actually living in my house since I have no working toilets or available water.  Luckily, my mom lives about an hour outside the city, so we’ve been staying with them.  I’ve been out of my house from July 3rd to July 22nd, nearly the whole month.

I’m thankful I have them so close; I can always count on them.  But I’m ready to be living back at my house, being on my own routine.

The Yard:

Not a terrible amount of progress here.  I got outside with my mom & started pulling out the remaining section of day lilies from my front yard – the parkway, more precisely.

Pre-removal:

lawnTransformation_07

The section I dug up was that whole mess of day lilies behind my mom and myself.  As much as we pulled out of the front yard, the parkway was worse.  It was much denser an area of day-lilies and I filled at least 7-8 large yard waste bags full of them.  I lost count.

Parkway

We found a whole mess of bricks buried in the ground.  There was once two walkways to the street here that were since buried by decaying leaves & day lily overgrowth – like years and years of it.  While it’s hard work, this task remains a treasure hunt.  I continue to find lots of neat things buried in my yard.

I wish I had a grand plan of what to plant in the front yard.  But it’s already past the official planting season & I’m just looking for quick and easy at this point.  I don’t have a ton of time to dedicate to garden maintenance while the inside of my house remains very much a wip.  So I’ll most likely put some sod down and call it a day.

The reason why I don’t have sod down at this point is I’m waiting to get a hose and water line set in so I can water the sod when it goes in.  Once I have water, I can lay the sod.

My mom and I just decided to plant a perennial garden instead.  I’m excited and I think this will end up looking much cuter and less like an area for dogs to do their business in, ie sod.  Sometimes sod/grass in the city can be a negative thing….

The Kitchen:

Little progress was made this month on the kitchen.  The plumbing work & pre/post prep work for the plumbing took up our month’s free time.

Kitchen Planning:

I officially picked my kitchen floors out!  But you may already know about this via instagram.

Aqua Tile

I found commercially available (awesome quality) vinyl flooring in the (a nearly) perfect shade of aqua and a white with gold flecks that will be going in the kitchen in a diagonal check-board pattern.

It’s the closet match I could find to my aqua dishes.  You’d think there’d be more fun, teal colored floor tiles out there, but they’re really aren’t.  BUT, please alert me if you see some more out there I can check out.  (There’s a great dark purple vinyl floor color that would be awesome set in my laundry room in the basement! – click on this link to see all the colors.  FYI: they send out free samples too & are an eco friendly company.)

The floor isn’t going in any time soon, but I had to pick them out now, so that we could build up the floor to the correct level.  Reminds me… I should get this aqua ordered in case it is discontinued by the time I go to install it.

Again more info than you need… but if at any point in the future I want to take out the aqua vinyl and put in ceramic tile (thicker) we can do so easily without ripping out the subfloor & re-leveling everything.  I’m really trying to think ahead many years in case I or the next owners want to change something around.

I’m planing on keeping my kitchen nice and white: white cabinets & appliances & a lt. grey marble counter top.  But what was nagging in the back of my mind is that it’s going to be too plain without any fun colors.  So I am jumping on the color bandwagon and adding in my pop’s of aqua whenever I can – as courage allows.

One neat detail I saw is painting the insides of your cabinets a color for fun pops.  I’m hoping to do this also in mine – that or adding in some colorful wallpaper to the backs of them.

Colorful cabinet back

This is a bathroom cabinet, but you get the idea.

I want a very clean, looking kitchen, but I also want it vintagey-cute.  So that means color – color – color.  :D  I’m hoping to incorporate teal with some pinkie corals and some mute grass greens.

Something similar to this (minus the peach & slightly darker or lighter green):
pleasedtomeetyou
via Rottencupcakes

Doesn’t that look like a cheery place you’d want to be with those colors?  :D

I’ve also been waffling around about 2 separate ovens and a cooktop.  That idea has gone by the wayside and I’m now debating this little beauty by AGA:

legacy-44-cathedral-door-vintage-white-large

 

It’s a bit more “country” looking than I initially wanted, but I love the knobs and the fact that it has 2 ovens + a separate broiler and a small storage drawer also.  (I really don’t need all of these burners up top… it’s a bit excessive for me. I just need my double oven space.)

It also comes in 1 size smaller which is also an intriguing thought:

36_df_all_white_cathedral_doors_large

This one has the same size oven + broiler + 2nd long oven on the right.  Isn’t that kinda neat?!  And I really like this burner configuration too.

Basically, I need to check out these puppies in person and see if the oven is large enough for me to use for all of my macaron baking & such.  This will be a day trip, sometime in August.

Last but not least….

The buns are back!

Bunnies

The buns have been at my bunsitter’s place since I moved in at the end of March – too much dust & debris for their delicate lungs.  But as demo has been non-existent in our house for a while, it was time to get them back from the sitter.

Bunnies

I’ve had to go without my favorite fuzzy friends, Quincy & Phineas’ company for a whopping 4 months.  You can imagine I’m so happy to have them back once again.  Expect many vine videos and instagram photos of their shenanigans in the new house.

What’s Upcoming:

I’m not quite certain, actually.  My dad’s been spending too much of his time helping on my house, when he has his own house to work on still.  I’m thinking our pace will slow down in August/September.  

What I do know that’s next on our list is electrical work, insulation installation, & pouring concrete in the basement to continue to finish the plumbing job off, among other things.

Perhaps my dad (non-step dad, dad) will have some free time to come up from Georgia to help us on putting up some fresh drywall in the kitchen or something?  He’s been wanting to come up and help Felix and I do work on our house – which is lovely!  I just haven’t known what task to give him…

July 23

Dreaming of Nightgowns & Loungewear

Since I’m off living at my mom’s (since July 3rd), I have no access to my sewing machine.  This means I get to dream of what could be… namely swishing around my finished house in 1940′s styled, silk beach pajamas.  Doesn’t that sound just lovely?!

In my efforts to build up my vintage wardrobe, one area where I am purely lacking is my lounge wear and nightgowns, so this has been at the forefront of my mind as of late.  

It’s kinda silly of me, but I long to walk about my new house in silk charmeuse, head to toe.  I may even have bought two new patterns to supply my dreams.  :)

Note: I did NOT pay $75 for this pattern.  But this is now mine!  *hip hip*

 

I fell instantly in love with this 30′s pajama pattern – primarily for the open back in view A-1.  It reminded me so much of this pajama ensemble from the movie: Cheerful Weather for the Wedding.

I think the movie, in itself, is a bit depressing – although a good story.  But I love Felicity Jones & the fashions are just wonderful.

Another pattern I snagged back in March, just before I moved, is New York Patterns 1028:

This is the first pajama pattern I’ve ever bought.  It’s going to look wonderful and will be super comfy as I hang out around the house in next spring in a voile or silk or even with a wool flannel for the winter.

Not my patterns but equally dreamy:

Vogue 8062:

 McCall’s 1387:

I love smocking details but I’ve yet to try my hand with it.  On the yoke of a bed jacket would be a great first step to trying out this technique.

Hollywood 631:

Hollywood 544:

 Dubarry 1609B:

Butterick 2294:

 

Do you guys feel the same way about pajamas and lounge wear?  I just want have loads at my disposal so I can change out of my work clothes and sew/knit in style in the evenings.

July 15

Homeowner Adventures: June in Review

I can’t seem to keep up with all of my house projects adventures as well as my husband, Felix does on a daily basis.  For me, I think it’s much more manageable to give big recaps instead of many small snippets.  Hence me starting a ‘review’ of the month’s activities for you all.

State of my house as of June 31st, 2014

The Attic:

Late Spring, Felix took the hit decided he was going to start cleaning out all of our insulation from the attic.  The previous owners had been something of hoarders and they threw many empty boxes full of packing peanuts in the attic.  You may recall my mom and I went up there once, but we vowed never again.  Felix graciously offered to go work up there instead, which I continue to be thankful for. atticCleaning_8_4_19_2014

Packing peanuts on top of gross, old insulation.

atticCleaning_3_4_19_2014

We ran out of Tyvek protection suits.  Luckily, I’d saved an old Halloween costume of Felix’s and he went in the attic dressed like this.  Good thing he didn’t venture outside…  The neighbors might have gotten a bit suspicious.

atticCleaning_2_4_19_2014

We have active squirrels in our attic, unfortunately.  They’ve made a mess of things.  All insulation is being removed and once we lock them out, we’ll replace it with nice, warm & fresh insulation.

atticCleaning_6_4_19_2014

This is the only light we have in the attic.  Poor Felix… This is a bad job to have.  He was a trooper throughout it.

atticCleaningPart2_05_4_29_2014

The Kitchen:

You may remember this picture from when we first bought the house; how I loved my cute little 40′s kitchen cabinets.

Blackstone Kitchen

After finding a leak in the wall, 2 ceilings (one on top of the other) improperly put in, icky floors, rotten ceiling joist from water damage and plywood cabinet bases not worth keeping – everything just had to go.  While I did save all of the cabinet doors, I probably will just start from scratch as my dad will be building me a set of new cabinets in this very style.  All is not lost…

My kitchen now.  This is looking into the right corner, in the pre-image above.

kitchenDemoCeilingCont_2_4_23_2014

Everything has been removed down to the joist spaces.

kitchenDemoCeilingCont_1_4_23_2014

During demolition:

sundayVisit_2_5_25_2014

Finally cleaned of all nails and debris:

fridayKitchen_2_5_2_2014

Random things I found in the walls during one of my demo sessions.

atticCleaningPart2_07_4_29_2014

Old tile, pipe, shard of light bulb glass, saws-all blade, and the coolest… old leather bathroom tile.  Yes, you heard me right leather!  Did you know back in the day, people used leather as tile?  Ours has a hunter green and mustard-ish color scheme.

Felix and I are demo pros at this point.  But this kitchen… it took us a whole whopping month to demo it.  There was just so much crap in the walls & ceiling and everwhere.  It was a beast.  But we’re now starting fresh in this room and it feels great.  Instead of demoing more out of the kitchen it will soon be the time of building it back up again!  :D

The Basement:

Our house was built pre-plumbing, in 1885.  This means that all plumbing in the house was installed after the house was built (even on top of old plaster walls as we found in the second floor).  And much of the waste lines are original.  (This is all getting removed) and has been our July project so far.

Prepping for the plumbing work that is now, on-going; we had to remove all of the old waste lines that are buried underneath the concrete floor.  Jack-hammering & shoveling sand has been the name of the game.

Looking thru the kitchen floor to the basement below:

lizCleaningBasement_1_5_28_2014

Trying my hand at jack hammering (aka demo hammer since it’s smaller than a true jackhammer):

basementJackhammer_06_6_28_2014

Removing the busted up concrete in buckets (carted up & dumped outside in our backyard):

basementJackhammer_05_6_28_2014

Then digging out the sand/soil about 18″ down to expose all of the pipes underneath the floor.

basementDigging_15_6_14_2014

Having some fun in the midst of work:

basementJackhammer_03_6_28_2014

My Route 66 shirt has been my trusty work shirt throughout all of this work.  I actually stitched up a cute 40′s work shirt that I’m supposed to be wearing.  But it’s so cute I don’t want to wreck it.  LoL

The Yard:

As the weather has been getting lovely, I’ve been less inclined to be indoors (stripping woodwork) and have ventured outside to do some yard work instead.

Early in the Spring, we had to have various trees removed from our backyard.  Many were in the way of power lines & the one mega tree was getting ill and was going to eventually fall on our neighbor’s condo building.  So that had to go…  :(

backyardTreeRemoval04_4_4_2014

My yard has quickly gone from this:

birdbath_4_12_2014

To this:

oldBirdbathNewYard_5_6_2014

To this:

backyardOvergrown_1_5_20_2014

And this:

backyardWilderness_6_24_2014

You can barely see where that bird bath is anymore.

In the backyard, I’ve been slowly hacking away at the day lilies & ferns.  I don’t really have a ‘plan’ yet for the back or the front.  So far, I’m just going to put sod down to clean it up and then will get fancy with the plants as I’m able to next year or so.

My mom and I did go to town removing the day lilies from our front yard and cleaned it up a bit.

lawnTransformation_01_6_8_2014

At the end of the day we got to this:

lawnTransformation_10_6_8_2014

It’s just refreshing to see dark soil instead of overgrown/crazy day lilies.

We had to haul away lots of dirt from the front yard (dumped it in a pile in the back).  All of the decomposition of plants & leaves over the years had left us with very rich, but mounding soil.  It’s a good problem to have, technically.  Just more work to dig and haul out one’s soil.

 

That’s kinda it, in a nutshell.  Lots of activity & the weekends have been leaving Felix and I pretty pooped out come Monday morning.  I’m hoping to schedule a weekend or two away from the house for mini vacations in the next few months.  We need some recharging time, obviously.

What’s happening now:

Plumbing!  Lots of plumbing.

I’ll do another recap at the end of each month – in part to not bombard you all with my crazy house project, but I also don’t have a computer set up at my house yet.  It was the compromise I had to make so that I have a sewing space instead.  I’m sure you all would agree that was the right decision.  :D

P.S.  All images courtesy of Felix.  Isn’t he so nice to share?!  :)

July 1

The Augur App

I generally don’t post up about non-sewing/knitting/house adventures, but I can’t keep this to myself any longer.

My husband, Felix, just launched is very first iPhone app last week, and I couldn’t be more stoked for him.

It’s called The Augur.

augurItunes

Stealing Borrowing from the about page of Augur, this is what it is in a nutshell:

Part oracle, part drunk advice columnist, the Augur iPhone app uses Twitter to tell the future.

Through real-time Twitter searches and anonymized data, the app distills the ramblings of the world at large into a kind of crude, advice-dispensing, fortune-telling machine.

The Augur app is your way to tap into the collective insight and counsel of millions of Twitter users (and probably only a very small number of those people are actually psychopaths).

What better wisdom is there, than the wisdom of the Internet at large?

It’s a silly app.  It has no practical purpose but to entertain – and it does a great job at that.  To me it’s like having a whole bunch of fortune cookie fortunes at my disposal to read.

Part of the fun is you never know what you’re gonna get next, as you tap your screen.  Some are gold, and some are just plain crazy.  heh

It’s perfect to read as you’re waiting in line, on the train during your commute, or reading material over your morning tea/coffee.  I tried to be his first supporter to purchase the app (for $1), but several people beat me to it which I’m not happy about.  :|

Check it out – spread the word and enjoy for yourselves.  :D

Disclaimer:

In no way have I been paid to support this app – although I probably will get a hug or two for doing so or maybe even ice cream.  (Felix my fav ice cream is chocolate chip cookie dough or cookies & cream).

This is an independent review – but I am biased b/c I love my hubby and think he’s great.  :)

June 26

Getting over Sewing/Knitting Fears

This idea for a blog post has been ruminating in my brain for quite some time – not to mention coming up as a frequent topic when chatting with other bloggers.  It’s time to peel back the layers and have an honest chat about what we’re so afraid of.

Why are there certain things we’re all scared to do?!  How did this happen?  What made us scared in the first place?  And ultimately, how do we get over our fears?

My scaredy-cat list includes:

  • Colorwork
  • Sock Knitting
  • Sewing with Knits
  • Using Power Tools – primarily saws & blades of any sort

I’ve been working on getting over my fear of colorwork by starting with Tasha’s Victory Beret and then working as a group to knit up my Bridge Jumper.

But when I first started knitting (4 years ago at least), I wasn’t afraid of fair isle knitting.  In fact, after knitting for only about 9 months or a year I began a fair isle sweater vest with great success.  I never read any tutorials online or followed any blogs, so I didn’t know color work was hard.  I had a small bit of guidance from a coworker of mine on how to wrap my stitches and deal with floats and off I went knitting up my little vest.

I ended up stopping about half way through since it wasn’t fitting right and I didn’t have the knowledge to fix it at the time.

Fair Isle

Since reading people’s blogs, being on Ravelry, and becoming more aware – I started getting scared and too worked up to try my hand at color work designs again.  I knew I had done it before in the past, but that was before I knew how hard it was to knit it properly – how you’re supposed to do it.  So it grew in my mind to become something for more advanced people than myself, something other people can do.  But not me – not yet.

As a result, I avoided colorwork like the plague.  I went and tackled all manner of knitting techniques instead: lacy designs, cables, vintage fingering weight jumpers, and much more.

All in all – The more I learnt about how challenging a technique can be – the less I wanted to do it & the more scared I became to do it without some serious hand holding.

Tasha – with her extensive knitting help online (and in person chats & also via emails) pushed me to try out her fair isle victory beret.  The result: It was fine!  I finished it in like 10 days.  heh  (My beret got lost in the move, but I’ll take photos when I find it again.)

Then I got scared again!! to do the Bridge Jumper. “It was different” I told myself.  There were 3 colors in a row and not fair isle per say.  The scaredy-cat in me came out once again.  Ugh!  So with Michelle (and kinda Meg) working on the same project, holding my hand, I was able to tackle it.

Bridge Jumper

As I’ve now come full circle, as I’m working on completing that first, fair isle sweater vest.  I’m thinking to myself “What was the big deal in the first place?!”  How did I get so scared of doing something, when I generally feel like I’m up for a challenge.  In truth, I love to learning new things/techniques all the time.  I often try new techniques only after reading them in books – with no hand-holding needed.

Then it hit me.

Somewhere along the line, on some blog (or on many blogs) I read that it was hard – too hard for a beginner or intermediate knitter/sewer.  It was something for *later*.  The more I read, this idea sunk in more and more.

The same goes with my other two fears: Sock knitting & Sewing with knits.

What’s gotten pounded in my head is that:  Sewing with knits is “different” ie more challenging – something for *later*.  Later, when I become good enough, more skilled, when I know more, on and on the list goes.

Technically I’ve also already sewn a test project with knit fabric – like last year.  But yet, I feel like I’m missing something.  “I thought it was supposed to be hard, so I must not be doing it right” Goes off in my head.  So my test project never became an actual finished project.  I feel like I need someone to hold my hand so I can do it “right”, someone more experiences, someone better than me.

Getting Over it All

In talking with Felix, I’ve come to figure out this all stems from the Dunning-Kruger Effect, aka the impostor syndrome.  Basically, it means one fails to recognize their own ability (most likely when they see someone else they think is highly competent, or it has been so for me.)  You basically minimize your own skill set or knowledge and think you’re not capable.  (FYI: This swings both ways too.  Unskilled peeps can inflate themselves to thinking their experts, too.)

Felix and I both seem to suffer from this same thing – but luckily we always seem to encourage the other to push further and tell each other it like it really is.  :)

What I think is the funniest thing is that in 2 of the 3 situations, I’ve already done the technique/project before I knew to be afraid of it.  Yet, that hasn’t stopped me from feeling this way.

As I cast on for knitting my first sock ever I’m hit by a surge of energy.  Just 6 rows 50 rows in from the toe cast on, I’m thinking ‘What was the big deal about socks again?’

If this is supposed to be hard, what was I so afraid of?!  Perhaps the heel gusset/turn will make me think twice (LoL), but right now I’m ready to make myself a whole set for next winter – and how about a fair isle pattern to boot!  :D

Basically the only way I seem to get over these irrational fears, and yes they are 100% irrational, is just by doing them.  

In two of the two new things I’ve tried (colorwork & sock knitting), I’ve come to question why I thought it was so challenging in the first place just as soon as I start the project.  So the best way to get over it is to just do it.  You’ll soon realize its no big deal & continue to forge ahead on sorting out your next fear.

So let me be the first (or gazillionth) person to tell you:

  • These fears are irrational, but I know where you’re coming from.  I understand.
  • You’re totally good enough – right NOW to do it.
  • You can do it!  Just give it a go – what’s the worst thing that can happen?!

Start with a small project, a test garment, or use some scrap fabric/yarn you got laying around.  Try whatever it is that you’re afraid of & on something that doesn’t matter.  I promise you, you’ll be happy you did.  And you’ll be much more motivated to get over the next fear on your list.

So I have to ask, what are your sewing/knitting fears?  Are they the same as mine?

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.

Basement Digging_4

(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.

fridayKitchen_2

Side Kitchen wall – where the stove will go:

atticCleaningPart2_06

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.

julieBeesonPlantSale

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

julieBeesonPlantSale02

julieBeesonPlantSale_07

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.

lawnTransformation_01

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.

lawnTransformation_11

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