Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Tired Tuesday--Back to School edition!

So this is the first week of school with my students. I am always totally exhausted during this week. Being a musician--I'm a night owl. I think it goes with being a musician. Every musician I know wakes up after dark and I am no exception! If I could, I would go to bed at 3 a.m. and get up at 10 or 11 a.m. but, alas, it is not meant to be! I'm trying to go to bed earlier. Sunday night, I wasn't so good as I went to bed after midnight (as usual), but last night I was in bed at 11:30 so I am making progress!

I haven't done much knitting. I really need to finish Fifi. I don't know why I've been slacking. My goal is to do at least one pattern repeat a night --that's 8 measley rows! Eight! I think I can handle that! I bought some fabric for a new sewing project. I have a Vogue jacket pattern that I simply love:

I love everything about this design with a couple of exceptions: I think the sleeve needs some type of detail and I don't like the fact that the jacket is not fully lined. I found some striped denim to make this. In fact I am making a suit with this skirt:

I am making view B--the skirt with the godets. I will be making some modifications. For the jacket I will line the entire thing and I think I will do a lace inset at the back of the cuff like that on the back of the jacket only using the narrower lace edging that is at the neckline. For the lace inset in the back of the jacket, I am using two rows of lace--one that is the full 5 inches in width and one that is about half the width. For the skirt, which is a jean style skirt, I will eliminate the belt loops and the pockets as I want a plain yoke so that it doesn't detract from the jacket. I will also line the skirt. Here is what I have gotten so far:

The fabric is really bluer than in the photo. My biggest frustration with sewing is that there are no good local fabric stores. I'm really disappointed with Joann Fabrics. The emphasis there is on crafts. They no longer carry any really high quality fabrics--no 100% wools, linens or silks. I couldn't even get woven sew in interfacing. I have had to face the fact that I have to drive 30 - 45 minutes to G-Street fabrics for anything good. I need rayon lining and Joanns only carries 4 colors--none of which is navy. I won't use polyester linings. I guess my extreme fiber-snobbery applies to anything fiber related--not just yarn!

The high point of my week so far is that I got my first package from my secret pal! Wow! We just started Secret Pall 11 and she's already sent me a goody box! I seem to get the best secret pals! Look at all the goodies:

See how pretty they are?

Romantic Knits by Annie Modessit! I wanted that one and it didn't disapppoint! Also an espresso truffle dark chocolate bar! That one is going to school with me for some much needed mid afternoon caffeine jolts !

Handmade catnip kitty toys! Four of them! One for each kitty! My secret pal knows the way to my heart!
Thanks for your thoughtfulness! The kitties thank you to!

I need to go get ready for bed so I can watch my last TV show then attempt to go to bed a little earlier!

Bushism of the day:
"I will have a foreign-handed foreign policy." --George W. Bush, Redwood, Calif., Sept. 27, 2000

Kitty cam:
The kitties love the new toys that my secret pal sent!

Mikey was the first one to go for the toys. He is not known for sharing either as can be seen in the next photo.

Greg finally got a turn!

Mikey still managed to hang on to 2 of the toys.

Harley finally got a chance to play! Samantha was observing this whole ordeal. She's such a little lady. She chose to separate herself from the boys' impulsive behavior. I'm sorry I didn't have the video camera. A few minutes after these were taken, Harley went nuts and was throwing one of the toys in the air, jumping and turning somersaults! Simple minds, simple pleasures!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

SP Contest!

So my secret pal hostess is having a little contest! I have to answer the folowing questions so here goes:

1. What is the one knitting accessory you could not live without?
WoW! There are so many! I think I would say my little row counters--you know the ones that click! I have a number of them and keep one with every project!

2. If you're heading on vacation, do you take knitting with you? If
so, how much and what type of project?
I always take my knitting bag. I keep 3 projects in my bag so I have options. I keep a longterm one which is a shawl, a little project that I can throw in my purse (socks, gloves etc) and usually a sweater in progress.

3. Where have you travelled to that you'd consider your favorite spot?
I loved Hawaii, but I love just hanging out in Boston!

4. What is your favorite knitting book at the moment? Do you own it?
It's a toss up between Fitted Knits and Loop d' Loop Knitting. I own both.

5. Do you listen to podcasts? Which is your favorite(s)?
I haven't gotten into podcasts yet. I think that is something I will have to check out!

All good things must come to an end!

So this is my last week of summer vacation! I worked 3 days this week which was a good warm up for going back to school full-time next week. Hopefully the hideous traffic jams I experienced this week aren't a preview of what's to come. Monday and Tuesday we had training in Rockville. The first day it took me 55 minutes so I planned accordingly the second day. As luck would have it, something happened on the beltway so it took me over an hour and a half! Go figure! Also Monday, Rt. 29 was closed in the afternoon so what should be a 45 minute commute home turned into 2 and a half hours. It was insane! Hopefully this will be the exception and not the rule!

It was good to get back to my knitting. I finished up the little One Skein Wonder! I rather like this pattern for a quick little diversion. I received this lovely skein of Malabrigo from my SP 10 pal and this seemed to be the perfect use for it!

I love the finished product! The only thing is that it is difficult for me to get off once I have it on! I don't have the flexibility I used to have!

So I'm back to Fifi! I am giving myself 2 weeks to finish it! I need to do the second SKC KAL afterall!

Ebay was good to me this week! I got a couple of cute tops! One was a worn once top from Anthropologie which I love. It is a strapless little number which fits quite well. I am going to add an extra row of elastic to the back since it is just a tiny bit loose.

I also got a brand new Nanette Lepore top--One that I've been wanting for some time now. It's cotton and I can wear it to school. It is covered with pin tucks which should show in the second photo:

Another project which will soon be upon me is this:

Grapes of the Concord variety! I found out that this varietal was actually developed in Concord, MA! For those of you who haven't been there, here's a little lesson in pronunciation. Most of us would say "con-CORD" with the emphasis on the second syllable. In MA they say it like "conquered." Anyway--the grape crop looks good and it's been several years since I've actually done anything with them. I will make grape butter which is a kin to apple butter. It is thick and spicy and downright delicious on an English muffin! The grapes should be ripe in a couple of weeks. Hopefully we won't get a crapload of rain because that will turn them into raisins in short order! Also--if you look closely at the first picture, you will see a little lawn ornament which is the shape of a kitty angel. That is where Peanut is buried. I need to make his stepping stone to put there.

This weekend will be spent on school work--particularly scheduling. I've procrastinated long enough!

Bushism of the day:
"The best way to relieve families from time is to let them keep some of their own money." --George W. Bush, Westminster, Calif., Sept. 13, 2000

Kitty Cam:

Harley seems confused as to the proper use of a treadmill:

If you ask me, he has the right idea!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Ta da !

Another FO--this one of the sewing variety! Here, Sophia models the gown (before it was steamed):

I let her borrow my shoes for the photo!

Of the three formals I've made, this one is my favorite. It fits well and is incredibly comfortable. It is also really easy to move in. The train doesn't get in the way when I walk and the organza underlining makes the dress "swishy," which I like! I bustled the back but did not have to resort to using the bustle because there was no dancing at the banquet we attended. I really think I need to put ties up on the sides as well because the skirt is long on the sides and back and the drape looks better with it bustled in 3 places. I'll worry about that the next time I wear it. I was able to get some photos of me in the dress:

I've learned that those stick on bras they have at Victoria's Secret are really wonderful things. I thought it would be uncomfortable, but I couldn't feel the thing! I highly recommend checking out the selection there if you ever need something to wear under a backless garment!

So it's back to my knitting. I hope to finish the One Skein Wonder either tonight or tomorrow then it is on to Fifi. I will have to just make myself finish it. I know that I will love it.

Bushism of the day:
"The Bob Jones policy on interracial dating, I mean I spoke out on interracial dating. I spoke against that. I spoke out against interracial dating. I support the policy of interracial dating." --George W. Bush, interview with CBS News, February 25, 2000

WoW! Make up your mind, George!

Kitty Cam:
Samantha always rests on the vacant chair next to me at our computer desk. She often finds a way to sneak onto my lap while I'm typing.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Fiber facts!

Dumb title--I know! Anyway--I was working on my gown today and thinking about the similarities between fabric and yarn made of the same fiber. Silk feels either wonderfully soft and slick or crunchy with that sticky feeling. By sticky--I mean that it will stick to itself. Cotton has a harder feel with little or no elasticity as does linen. Wool handles well and is easily molded and shaped --particularly with steam. I've been working with silk. This project taught me one thing--always use one of the fabrics recommended on the pattern. I did not do this. My pattern recommended Crepe back Satin, Shantung or Peau de Soie--all of which are somewhat heavy with either a somewhat crisp hand (particularly the Shantung) or a lot of body. I used Silk Charmeuse which is thin, soft and drapey. Fortunately I underlined the whole thing with organza which is sheer but crisp. I made friends with a fabric glue stick. If you ask me, it's nothing more than a regular school supply glue stick which costs more! I dabbed it in the seam allowances of all the pieces to put the fabric and underlining together. That alone took an entire night! Everything else has gone okay, but I'm anxious over how I'm going to press the darn thing! I purchased a hand steamer a while back so I think it's time to break that baby out of the box. Poor Sophia will have to have her little tushie scorched when that dress gets steamed while she wears it. That's okay. I've heard that she has a little kinky streak. Tomorrow I will hem and bustle the dress so I can wear it tomorrow night. I tried it on tonight before doing the hand sewing and it was a perfect fit! I was really nervous because the dress is bias cut and the pieces were stretching out like nobody's business. I will post some photos this weekend. I may have to settle for photos of Sophia modelling the dress if no one is around to take a picture!

Greg kept me company all day while I was working. We have some expressions in our language which I was thinking about--"cat nap" and "sleeps like a dog." Cats are not sound sleepers. They often sleep with one eye open or at least ready to pounce if they hear the slightest sound. Dogs, on the other hand, zone out! Greg is a cat who sleeps like a dog. He will get between DH and me on our bed at night and roll over on his back. He will still be there in the morning twisted in a different direction but still very much asleep. We've actually pulled on the covers and watched him bounce without waking up. Keep in mind that we still sleep in a double bed which has little extra room! I'm glad at least he learned his lesson about the sewing room. Last night, Harley came in, walked around my cut out pieces and found a place away from the fabric to sleep. Greg, tried twice to get on the silk and was ushered out of the room after the second offense! I guess he finally figured out what to do!

Bushism of the day:
"Mr. Vice President, in all due respect, it is --" I'm not sure 80 percent of the people get the death tax. I know this: 100 percent will get it if I'm the president." --George W. Bush, third presidential debate, St. Louis, Mo., October 18, 2000

Kitty cam:
So I took photos of how Greg spent his entire afternoon on the cot in my sewing room. Of course this all started with his little ritual of "kneading biscuits" before totally zoning out over a period of 3 or 4 hours.

No surprises here!

So I saw the little online quiz below on Grad School Knitter's blog. She is having a contest for her 100th blog post! Be sure to check it out and leave a comment. Let her know where you learned of the contest when you comment. She has some good prizes! Thank you to PHD Knitter who posted about the contest in her blog!

Which Sesame Street Muppet are you?

Your Score: Elmo

You scored 58% Organization, 75% abstract, and 77% extroverted!

This test measured 3 variables.

First, this test measured how organized you are. Some muppets like Cookie Monster make big messes, while others like Bert are quite anal about things being clean.

Second, this test measured if you prefer a concrete or an abstract viewpoint. For the purposes of this test, concrete people are considered to gravitate more to mathematical and logical approaches, whereas abstract people are more the dreamers and artistic type.

Third, this test measured if you are more of an introvert or an extrovert. By definition, an introvert concentrates more on herself and an extrovert focuses more on others. In this test an introvert was somebody that either tends to spend more time alone or thinks more about herself.

You are mostly organized, more abstract, and more extroverted.

Most people either love or hate Elmo. I hope you love Elmo, because that's who you are.

You are both somewhat organized. You have a good idea where you put things and you probably keep your place reasonably clean. You aren't totally obsessed with neatness though. Elmo has the same basic approach. His place is pretty tidy, but he doesn't spend all of his time cleaning it up.

You both are abstract thinkers. You definitely are not afraid to take chances in life. You only live once. You may notice others around you playing it safe, but you are more concerned with not compromising your desires, and getting everything you can out of life. This is a very romantic approach to life, but hopefully you are also grounded enough to get by. Elmo's whole life is based on fantasy and his imagination. In the beginning he was a regular character, but now he spends most of his time in this fantasy world.

You are both extroverts. Elmo likes to talk talk talk. He'll talk with people, goldfish, tables, whatever. Without interaction with others he gets very sad. You definitely enjoy the company of others, and you don't have problems meeting new people... in fact you probably look forward to it. You are willing to take charge when necessary or work as part of a team.

The other possible characters are

Oscar the Grouch

Big Bird

Cookie Monster



Kermit the Frog


The Count

Guy Smiley


Hey, don't be a grouch! If you liked the test, let others know by rating it below. Feel free to vote for your favorite character too.

Link: The Your SESAME STREET Persona Test written by greencowsgomoo on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Bushism of the day:
"If you don't stand for anything, you don't stand for anything! If you don't stand for something, you don't stand for anything!" --George W. Bush, Bellevue Community College, Nov. 2, 2000

Kitty Cam:
From the archives--Once again, Cosmo (AKA Mokey) tries to sleep in a box half his size!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Lest I forget . . .

So my post today consisted of my Secret Pal questionaire. Other news--I cut out my fabric which seemed to take FOREVER! Hopefully I'll make major progress on the gown today! I cannot post without my regular features so here they are!

Bushism of the day:

"I am mindful of the difference between the executive branch and the legislative branch. I assured all four of these leaders that I know the difference, and that difference is they pass the laws and I execute them." --George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Dec. 20, 2000

Kitty cam:
I brought this rug down from the attic to use in front of the back door. Samantha has claimed it as her own and chases the boys away if they come near it!

Secret Pal 11 Questionaire

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?

Silk is my absolute favorite. I also love alpaca, merino and cashmere. I like blends containing these fibers which include microfiber--something like Debbie Bliss Cashmerino. I like soft cotton yarns and bamboo as well. I would like to try some of the newer soy silks and other non wool alternatives made out of natural materials. I absolutely cannot stand acrylic yarns. Basically--natural fibers are my preference.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?

I have a large, oblong Shaker box that I keep my straight needles and Addi circs in. I use wine bottle tubes for my double points and I have the nice little zipper case for my Knit Picks circs.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?

I've been knitting over 30 years--since I was a kid! I would consider myself to be advanced, though I tend to choose less complicated projects so I can finish them more quickly.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?

I have an Amazon wish list. The button is in my blog sidebar.

5. What's your favorite scent?

Wow! That's a tough one! I like lemon, rose and spicy scents as long as they are subtle.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?

I do have a sweet tooth, but I general eat fruit instead of sweets. I do indulge in dark chocolate on a regular basis though. I like the real dark stuff and it's good with espresso, nuts or fruit in it!

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?

I do not spin. I hope to start playing with hand dying my own yarn. I also make jewelry and sew and I will dabble in other creative ventures when curious or necessary!

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)

I have eclective taste in music. I listen to anything except for rap.

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand?

I love earthy tones that are on the brighter side--browns, rusts, oranges, gold, olive greens. I also like turquoise, teal and bright red. I wear some darker purples but avoid lavendar. I cannot stand pink.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?

I am married with two grown kids. I have four kitties whom you can read regularly about on my blog! I also have a water turtle named Elvis.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?

I wear hats and ponchose sometimes. I never wear mittens. I love scarves and wear them daily when the weather gets chilly!

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?

I have really gotten into knitting sweaters lately, but I love knitting hats, scarves, shrugs and fingerless gloves as diversions. I tend to have at least one big project on the needles along with a couple of small ones. I think my absolute favorite thing to knit are the top down seamless sweaters. I actually finish those!

13. What are you knitting right now?

I am currently working on Fifi then the Red Carpet Convertible--both projects being the current KALs for the Sexy Knitters Club. I am also finishing up the One Skein Wonder shrug and some fingerless gloves for my husband.

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?


15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?

It varies. I tend to prefer circular needles but I like really short straight needles--7 or 8 inches long. I tend to prefer slick needles like Addis, but like some plastics or exotic wood like ebony.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?

Yes--I own both!

17. How old is your oldest UFO?

I have one that is going on about 3 or 4 years. I need to make one sleeve and the neck trim and that's it. That is my winter knitting priority when the season changes!

18. What is your favorite holiday?

It's a toss up between Christmas and July 4!

19. Is there anything that you collect?

A better question would be--Is there anything I DON'T collect! I like antique sewing implements, scotty dogs and anything cat related.

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?

I'm pretty good for patterns and needles. Desired books are on my Amazon wish list though I am anxiously awaiting for the relase of Annie Modesitt's new book, Romantic Knits. I am dying for more Handmaident Great Big Sea Silk yarn which I love but can't get around here. I would be interested in some of the lace weight Sea Silk as well!

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?

I've been collecting sock patterns and would like to learn toe up socks. I haven't taken the time to play with that yet. I would like to work more on magic loop or knitting with two circulars.

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?

Not yet! See my last answer!

23. When is your birthday?

April 8. Please don't ask me the year!

24. Are you on Ravelry? If so, what's your ID?

Yes! My ID is kozykitty!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Measure twice, cut once!

That was the saying on a "This Old House" t-shirt that DH used to have. It's really good advice and applicable to a variety of situations where precision is necessary. When I knit, I measure myself and do a gauge swatch. I also measure the garment as I go along. I have found that I have very rarely had to frog stuff due to fit. When I sew, I measure myself and the pattern pieces. I spend more time making adjustments to the pattern pieces then I do cutting out stuff. If I am making a really fitted garment, such as the gown I'm currently working on, then I stitch it up in muslin to check the fit more closely. It would really suck to cut out $300 worth of silk and have to rip out. That would not be good. So I spent Tuesday night making pattern adjustments (except for length) and I cut out the pieces in muslin. I didn't get around to sewing until after dinner last night. I was amazed at how easily the pieces went together. I was done within 2 and a half hours! Granted I didn't finish seams and do a lot of things I will do with the silk or make a lining, but it went together very easily. I was particularly surprised at how flawlessly the godets pieces into the skirt. I seem to remember having trouble getting the points nice, but these were perfect which is a good thing because there are 8 of them.

Those are the godets in the front of the gown.

Even better was the way this gown fit! It fits me perfectly. I think I will add another half inch of ease in the seam below the bust because there will be several layers of fabric which may make it just a tad snug. It is a fabulous dress. I put my heels on to check the length and I will have to shorten the pattern by 5 inches! Here is Sophia modelling the muslin mock-up:

Pardon the puckers. I didn't take much care with that or press it. The muslin was put together merely for fitting purposes. I am very pleased with the results of this one! I have gotten the fitting thing down. I will need to go to Victoria's Secret to get one of those stick on bras though since this baby is completely backless.

I found a little kiosk at Arundel Mills with Swarovsky crystal hair ornaments. I splurged on these:

I tried useing the big fancy comb to anchor a French twist and it worked well. It looks nice with the pick thingy place on top. The little things are to hold any stray pieces of hair that choose not to cooperate. The trick will be putting my hair up and not messing it up when I put the dress over my head! The dress is actually simple so I think hair and shoe glitz will be good.
Here are my shoes:

Now I just hope it won't be 100 degrees out Saturday night!

Okay--enough slacking. I have to cut out my fabric tonight!

Bushism of the day:
"Natural gas is hemispheric. I like to call it hemispheric in nature because it is a product that we can find in our neighborhoods." --George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Dec. 20, 2000

Kitty cam:
Greg is oblivious to the fact we have houseguests. He just wants a tummy rub!

Monday, August 6, 2007

The job at hand . . .

I've been procrastinating long enough. I need to get down to making my gown since it is for this Saturday. When I went to G-Street yesterday, I ended up buying enough organza to completely underline the entire gown. The charmeuse just doesn't have enough body and it's too drapey. My concern is how to attach the underlining to the silk. Typically I would just machine stitch the pieces together but that charmeuse will just slip and slide everywheree. I've been reading up on basting sprays used for quilting, but I'm really afraid to use something like that on fine silk. I found some fabric glue sticks so I think I will just dab that around the edges of the pieces of the organza to hold the pieces together. I've also decided that I will stitch one selvedge and cut edge of the organza and charmeuse yardage together and cut the pieces at the same time. I think it will be easier to manage the charmeuse that way. Last year I made this gown out of charmeuse:

It drove me nuts with all the slipping and sliding--though not nearly as nuts as the beaded fabric for the yoke! It is stunning, but a pain in the ass to sew!

As soon as I finish this blog post, I will cut out my muslin. I've pressed the pattern pieces and made some adjustments then I will spend tomorrow fitting. Wednesday, I will cut out the dress and then I can spend Thursday and Friday sewing. Saturday, if things go as planned, I should only need to bustle the gown and possibly hem it. I'll post photos when it's done!

Bushism of the day:
"Actually, I --" this may sound a little West Texas to you, but I like it. When I'm talking about --" when I'm talking about myself, and when he's talking about myself, all of us are talking about me." --George W. Bush, Hardball, MSNBC, May 31, 2000

Kitty Cam:
Bar knows what to do on a hot day!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

High School Revisited!

So I had my 35 year high school class reunion last night! Yup! I'm friggin old! We have a tradition for these things. Every single reunion my 2 best high school buds and myself have attended together. DH has gone with us since the 10 year reunion. For us, it's all about "the picture." What's that, you ask? Well, Cynthia, Sandy and myself always pose for a snapshot in the exact same pose. It's hysterical to see them all lined up on our refrigerators. The one thing that stands out is how different my hair is in each one of them! From left to right we have me, Sandy then Cynthia. Here they are:

Class of 1972--10 year reunion

Class of 1972--20 year reunion

Class of 1972--25 year reunion

Class of 1972--30 year reunion

And finally--Class of 1972--35 year reunion

Oh my! What has happened to Sandy! She didn't show, so DH graciously took her place! Hopefully we will be back to our established tradition for the next one!

So Friday I ended up heading to G-Street Fabrics with my coupon. The leather piece that I coveted wasn't there so it obviously wasn't meant for me to have. I did end up buying the bright turquoise charmeuse and I'm sending back the blue that I got via mail order. I just have trouble putting so much time and effort into making something that I don't love. I love the turquoise silk whereas I just tolerated the blue. It was worth it to spend the additional money.

Bushism of the day:
"If the terriers and bariffs are torn down, this economy will grow." --George W. Bush, Jan. 2000

Kitty Cam:
Bird opened up the new laser toy pet exerciser. The kitties went nuts!