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In My Other Life

3 Dec

Family and work really take a front seat for the next few weeks!

Dan’s working twice as much to implement a new project on Monday.  That means that means he works all day and then comes home and works all night from home!  I’m a single parent during this time. Luckily, the kids’ activities aren’t that jam-packed.  Just kind of jam-packed!

For example, yesterday I worked til 4pm. DJ had a Scholastic Bowl match in a neighboring town.  Gianna had a pitching lesson.  I didn’t go to DJ’s match because it had already started by the time I got off work and had to drive a half hour to get there.  Next week I should be able to go… I think.  They won all three rounds.  The JV team is undefeated.  They are good….  Dan wasn’t sure if he would be able to catch Gianna, so I went to the lesson with her.  Tonight, Gianna has her school band concert.  Wednesday… well, that’s my marathon day – 9am to 9pm.  You get the idea.

At work, we are a week before finals.  That means all my grading has to be done. I gave quite a few last minute projects, extending due dates.  So I’ve got a “to do” list of grading that’s a mile long.  I’m moving at work.  We built a new building and my two labs and my office need to be moved between the end of finals and December 23rd.  I have a week in January that can be used also.  So every day, I come in an hour early to pack up a little bit and clean and even move some non-essential stuff.

I am also a member of a computer group.  We don’t meet that much. We just plan conferences and give away money.  🙂  All the money we make from the conferences is given away as grants to local schools and libraries to update their computer hardware and software.   Here is a list of winners. 

I think that’s really cool and I’m glad to be a part of that organization!

Now you see why my knitting production has increased and my quilting has plateaued.  I’m never home!  You have to be home, at the sewing machine, to quilt. But I can pack my knitting and take it everywhere with me.  A row here and there really adds up quickly.



19 Nov

I’m still alive and kicking – just not posting much!

This weekend I turned 51.  It’s an awfully big number but I don’t feel 51.  I have to get my cholesterol under control and lose some weight but besides that my overall health (according to my latest TWO insurance physicals) is good.  And that’s everything, isn’t it?

What did I get for my birthday?  The kids and Dan and I jointly cleaned the house.  That’s a huge present for me!  Since my mom has been laid up and not housecleaning anymore, the bulk of it falls on me each weekend.  So to get help is wonderful.  Dan also finished this:


This is called the Dodec spinning wheel.  The wheel is a do-decagon (12 sides).  It’s made partly out of maple and partly out of pine.  The actual wheel is pine because it had to be light.  But the base is maple.  It was a learning experience to make and it took the two of us about a month.  He did 90% of the work obviously.  I helped mark pieces to be cut and read the instructions.  🙂  It still needs tweaking.

What do you do with this Dodec?  Well, the reason I wanted it was to ply yarn that I was unraveling from Thrift Store sweaters.  The cashmere in particular is like thread.  So if I can twist the threads together two or three at a time, I can get decent weight yarn to work with.  Right now I just hold the 2-3 threads together.  But plying or twisting them is a “cleaner” look – especially in lace patterns.

These aren’t the best of pictures because they were taken with my iPhone but here’s my first attempt.

Plyed yarn on the spindle.  And "plyed" is spelled correctly evidently.  It's not "plied" when we talk about this particular process.  Weird.

Plyed yarn on the spindle. And “plyed” is spelled correctly evidently. It’s not “plied” when we talk about this particular process. Weird.

After soaking it and hanging to dry it relaxed and then I balled/caked it.

After soaking it and hanging to dry it relaxed and then I balled/caked it.

I actually think I’m over-twisting the yarn.  It really relaxed nicely after I soaked it though. I’ll knit up a swatch with it and see if it’s over-twisted or just about right.  I’m only making small balls/cakes right now til I get the process down pat.

Can I actually spin yarn from fleece with this? YEP!  🙂  I bought some roving (fleece that’s been washed of all debris and combed nicely).  It’s from a breed of sheep called Blue-Faced Leichester (BFL).  It’s supposed to be good fleece to start with because it’s easier to spin than other breeds supposedly.  Roving is the last step of the process before it becomes yarn.  I bought it off eBay.  It’s soft and undyed and should be another whole experience to… well… experience.

I have to get the bugs worked out of the wheel (a few tweaks are needed this weekend) and have to get a rhythm going before I even attempt spinning roving into yarn.

My Custom Fit Sweater #2 (cardigan) is going very well.  I’m on the last half of sleeve.  I have the fronts attached to the back and the button band attached.  One sleeve is finished and blocked.  The sweater should be done entirely this weekend.  It’s MUCH BETTER than the first Custom Fit sweater I made.  I like it a lot.  Cardigans are more “my thing” than pullovers I think.


Some Misc. Musings

7 Nov

1) My 15yo son is competing in a national computer competition online called Cyber Aces.  It’s open to high school students, college students, and adults.  It involves watching videos and completing some labs online then taking tests.  He refuses to let his dad and I help him because that would be cheating (according to him!).  LOL  Where did he get those ethics?  But we do discuss the topics with him after he’s watched the videos.  He’s got a pretty good grasp on the subject which really surprises me.  The topics covered I also cover in my college networking classes.  What Cyber Aces is teaching in 3 weeks, we spend an entire semester covering!  Anyway, DJ takes the tests when his dad and I are at work so that there’s no temptation on our part to assist him.  He now has two of the three tests completed and is ranked 12th of all the Illinois high school students participating in the competition.  Not bad.  Almost all the students above him go to the Illinois Math and Science Academy – which is where he wants to attend.  This stuff is difficult and I think that anything that he picks up on it now is good.  If he’s exposed to it again in further high school or college classes, it will aid tremendously in his understanding.

CaptureHis other stats:  Overall he is 234 out of 785 in the state of Illinois; and 1125 of 3599 in the nation.  Those two stats include college students and adults also.

2)  My sister (who blogs here), just won a golf tournament in Florida!  That’s pretty cool!  She’s smart and athletic!  Can’t beat that combination.

3) I started a new sweater with the yarn I’m dyeing.  It’s a V-neck cardigan.  Or it might be if I continue. Here is the right front so far.


I’m on the fence because I was originally going to travel the pattern up the side of the V, but the pattern is too wide and will get lost in the sleeve.  That will look weird I think.  So I will just have to travel it upwards.  Will that look weird?  Yeah – maybe.  So what what about half a pattern on each side of the neckline.  Yeah – that would look good but do I really want to rip out 104 rows and begin again?  I don’t know.  I can’t envision the end product so I might stop and do some drawing with pencil and paper to see what I want to do.

Finished Custom Fit Sweater

4 Nov


Okay – it’s not really finished.  I don’t have a bottom trim. I had planned on making a 1″ hem but I’m now debating on whether to do that or something different.  Plus my sleeve ends are a bit baggy.  I might put some elastic thread in the cuffs to tighten them up.

My evaluation of Custom Fit is a thumbs up.  An emphatic thumbs up in fact.  The sweater isn’t perfect. But it’s the best sweater I’ve made so far.  I think what I learned from both Amy Herzog’s Craftsy class and the Custom Fit pattern is that I have been making sweaters the wrong size.  I usually size the sweater according to my bust when I should be sizing them according to my upper chest measurement.  Besides that, I didn’t need to make a lot of alterations.  Sweater pattern makers make patterns for the “average woman” and my measurements are pretty close to the average woman evidently.

If I were to design/knit a v-neck again, I’d make it lower. And if I make a sweater with 3/4 length sleeves, I’d shorten them by 1.5″ and make them tapered instead of straight.

Now, what to do with that hem….

Sweater Pieces Are Finished

3 Nov

My four sweater pieces are finished!  The front and back have been blocked.


After this picture was taken, I sewed the shoulder seams together.  I will knit the neck edge today.  I tried it on and it looks like it’s going to fit well.

The sleeves are blocking on the bed now.  They should be dry tomorrow night and ready to seam.  I may be done by Tuesday!  🙂

We’ve been cleaning all weekend.  Gianna and I cleaned out our drawers and closets.  I still have my shoes left to go through in my closet.  Next up is the spare bedroom where these pieces are blocking.  We use that closet to store our off season items and it’s in need of a good cleaning.


30 Oct

Frick! and other cuss words!  My 12yo helped me measure for my custom sweater and she misread the measuring tape for the armhole depth.  TWICE!  6″ should really be 9″.  I did the reasonableness test on all the measurements that she was reading off and, since I never/rarely knit in pieces (always knit in the round), I thought that sounded reasonable.  From armhole to waist was 7″ – so 6″ for the other measurement was reasonable.  NOPE…

I’m glad I caught it now.  How did I catch it?  Since I’ve finished the back and about 1/3 of the way up the front, I started surfing for my next sweater project.  🙂  I think I have an average shape and don’t need a lot of customization, so I started looking at a freebie cardigan and compared my custom sweater measurements to the new cardigan’s measurements.  All were different slightly but the shoulder to armhole depth was DRASTICALLY different.  So I kept researching.  Yep… My measurement is too small.

Okay – so two questions.

1) Is 9″ reasonable?  Well, the only sweater that fits me well AND that I knit in pieces is this one.

0061_mediumSorry for the cockeyed picture – again 12 year old photographer (then 10 year old since I made this sweater 2 years ago).  But this is a great fitting sweater.  However it’s slightly small in the arm hole area too.  I think it’s wearable though, because it’s lace and very stretchy and forgiving.  So I measured that sweater’s armhole depth and it’s 8″.  So 9″ for the worsted weight yarn thickness of the new sweater is probably dead on.  Maybe 8 3/4″ would be a good measurement.  I looked it up online and standard measurement for armhole depth is 8 1/2″.  So I think I’ll go in between at 8 3/4″ .  Or just keep with the 9″.

Question 2) Can’t I just do the math and add 2 3/4″ or 3″ to my existing pattern?  Yes – on the front and back. But I have no idea how to adjust the sleeve cap/upper sleeve.  I’m too much of a newbie at knitting in pieces to know how the cap of a sleeve is actually measured.  So what are my options?  Option 1: I can continue to research and try to fix it myself.  Which is fun and frustrating at the same time.  It will involve a lot of “unkitting”if it’s not right.  Option 2: I can pay an another $10 to generate another pattern with the correct measurements.   Since I am so frugal/cheap, I’d rather not pay the $10 if I can help it.  But what’s my time and frustration worth?  My fear is that this sweater won’t turn out and instead of being out only $10, I’ll now be out $20.  I’ll continue researching as much as I can until I get to the armpits on the front (which will be Friday I think).  Then, if I don’t have a definite solution, I’ll fork out the $10 and chalk it up to experience.


Sweater Back

29 Oct

????????And there we have it – a sweater back.  It’s just pinned to a bed – not blocked yet. I’ll block it with the front.  The front is 14″ of stockinette with no shaping or anything to keep it interesting.  I’ll have to set make believe goals like – 10 rows; take a break.