Wednesday, November 09, 2022

Counting Down (reprise)

 I know, I know, it's been a while since I've blogged. Life took over and, when life is on the tougher side, I tend to not want to write publicly. The fear that I will say something that will upset someone is ever present so, when my brain is in a somewhat negative space, I try to avoid sharing.

I also prefer to write in the morning when, warmed up by the shower, my thoughts are flowing most freely.

Usually I do not have the luxury of writing in the early hours so the words go unwritten.

Today, however, is the exception and, I hope, soon to be the rule. You see, I am counting down.

In a little under three months I hope to be retired. A lady of leisure, a lady who lunches or, at least, a lady who doesn't commute and follow someone else's rules and requirements all day, 5 days a week, 48 weeks a year.

I could give you a number but by the time you read this, the number will have changed, shorten, shrunk and maybe disappeared all together. And all that follows is fresh content.

Fingers crossed!

Photo of Brown Llama

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Counting Down

Knitted square in a log cabin style on a desk with a cup of tea. There is a sheep on the tea cup.

I have a friend who is always counting down. She has count down calendars for everything including, I think, her retirement which is still a few years away.

As a general rule I don’t count down. It isn’t usually productive for me and often serves to reinforce just how much longer I have to go making me that much more depressed. So, I am not counting down to retirement. At least not actively. As of this writing it is a little over 10 months away. That’s as close to a count down as I am getting right now. A lot can happen in 10 months, including a shortening or even lengthening of this timeline. So, not counting down.

I am, however, counting toward other goals. 

After each rowing session I estimate how many more sessions I will need to get to 600,000, 750,000 and 1,000,000 meters. As of today the counts stand at 2, 23 and 59.  All of these counts will shrink as I get closer and … might even shrink more than one session at a time depending on how many meters I row each class. (Counts estimated based on a minimum of 7,000 meters per class.)

I am also kind of, sort of, counting down (up) to my 500th class at Bar Method Noho. For all the years I have been doing Bar Method, this is the closest I have come to 500 classes at a single studio. My count as of today is 431. A rough, in my head, calculation has me taking my 500th class sometime this summer.

These are positive goals. They are measuring my pleasure. My strength. My aspirations. They are goals that can be reached sooner rather than later and can be sped up if I so desire.

Here’s to counting the positive and (trying to) ignoring the negative.

Now to accomplish some sewing goals!

Sunday, March 06, 2022

Making Mistakes

 Making mistakes

As a general rule I am not afraid of making mistakes. Whether it is a cooking mistake, a sewing mistake or a knitting mistake, I take it with aplomb and the attitude that it wasn't a mistake, it was a learning experience. (Except for cooking, I don't view those mistakes as teachable moments but rather excuses for why someone else should cook for me.)

Take for example my latest scarf project. I joined the "As You Wish" mystery knit along because it was from a designer I like and paired with yarns from a dyer I adore. I cast on Tuesday night and over the course of the next few days made a fair amount of progress. I also made a fair number of mistakes. 

The first mistake was not watching the video for the first special stitch. I got cocky and figured I was doing it correctly from the written instructions. Feel free to laugh.

I persisted, however, figuring that no one really looks too closely at the stitches.

Finally, a couple of inches later and an entire color change, I gave in and watched the video. Oops!

Did I rip out my work and redo it? Nope. I soldiered on using the galloping horse theory of crafting.

Then I started the next section and immediately messed up the stitch count. 

Did I stop and rip it out then? Nope! I just fiddled with increases and decreases figuring I’d get the correct number eventually.

This morning I spent a delightful couple of hours on this new section. I did watch the video for the newest stitch (wasn't going to make that mistake again) and kept going. Lost in the book I was listening to, trying not to cry, I knit and knit, changing colors and slipping stitches like a pro.

And then I actually looked at the front of the piece.


Did I rip then? Sort of. I started pulling back a few rows, determined to not start over. But the yarn was sticking to itself and eventually I came to the realization that if I was ripping back this much, I might as well start over. 

And this is why my new scarf looks like this (not a spoiler).

Picture of two balls of yarn, one pink and one ivory and a small pile of tangled looking yarn from the ivory ball.

Time for lunch.

I'll start over later.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Sewing for My Siblings

 Sewing for My Siblings

As you might have figured out by now, I am a little obsessed with sewing. 

When I sit down with a pattern it becomes a puzzle which I have to figure out. Knitting fills the same need but more slowly. The speed at which I can finish a project is just so much faster with sewing.

And this is where I ran into a problem. My dresser is full. But I still want to sew!

So (sew?) I turned the problem over to my family and offered to sew for the cost of the fabric. I sent a few links for fabric out to my siblings and my oldest nephew and told them to go for it.

(I sent a similar message to my kids but it just said to choose what they wanted without cost. Yes, I still feel the need to (mostly) clothe my adult children.)

The first one to take me up on the offer was my brother Mike. (Yes, I married a Mike and have a brother Mike. Yes, it makes things a little confusing at times but such is life.)

Mike and his wonderful wife Maria immediately had a challenge for me. They want a golf cart seat cover. They sent a wonderfully detailed schematic, told me that terry cloth would be great, and then chose some fabric for golf clothes – a shirt for Mike and a matching skirt for Maria.

My youngest sibling, Amanda, piped in with a desire for some workout gear and ultimately chose a pair of shorts in a stretch woven.

My daughter asked for a couple of boat necked, long sleeve, tops to go under her new her-made sweaters. When asked, my son said “sure” to getting a couple of new tee shirts in the same fabric.

And so it starts. I spent Saturday and Sunday making up the Be Dreamy dress for Batya and it is hanging out, waiting for her to come over so I can hem it. (This was already in the planning stages and the fabric had been sitting around for a few weeks.)

Long black dress with flutter sleeves hanging in a door frame

Last night I did the math and made a plan for the golf cart seat cover, figured out the right size shirt for my brother and bought the pattern. Now I have a polo / henley / tee shirt pattern in my stash which my spouse is eyeing.

Today is a lovely federal holiday and I plan on sewing all day long. My plan coming into the weekend was to get all of the “have to do” stuff out of the way so that today could be a “me” day.

That included not leaving the house. I may revise that because the weather is wonderful so I might get out for a walk.

But maybe not.

**Definitely not as evidenced by this completed golf cart seat cover. Fabric is Camel Bamboo Terry from **

Friday, February 04, 2022



Fast fashion is not my thing. 

My wardrobe is fairly limited and contained. No, I am not a fashion minimalist but I am a deliberate shopper. As a general rule I only go clothes shopping when I need something specific. Then I go in, find what I need and get out -- as quickly as possible. I do not bargain hunt, but rather, keep fewer items in my closet. I tend to buy classic styles that I can wear year in and year out. Where I veer from this path is in my hand made clothing. Here I will be a bit more daring as I try out patterns, often, to just learn a new skill or method of construction.

When things wear out I try to repair them but some things are not worth the time. Socks for example, I never catch my socks in the wearing out stage but only seem to realize there is a problem when a big hole has appeared. By then, the effort involved in repairing it is almost as much as the effort that goes into knitting a new pair of socks. I tried darning socks for a few months but after repairing one pair of socks only to immediately burst through them in another area, I went back to the Yarn Harlot's method of darning socks. I hold the sock over the trashcan and say "Darn!" as I drop it in.

Sweaters, however, are another story.

My son wears handknit wool sweaters 12 months of the year. Don't judge. He's an adult and knows what he needs to wear to be comfortable.

All of this wearing leads to the inevitable wear and tear. Mainly the elbows. These I mend.

The most recent victim of elbow wear is his Dust Puppy sweater. Originally knit for my husband, Dust Puppy has been around for probably about 20 years in it's current incarnation. (It was originally knit several sizes larger but Mike then lost a lot of weight and I reknit it.)

All that is to say that it's kind of surprising that the elbows are just wearing out. One sort of gave way a year or two ago and the other one I noticed just before Thanksgiving.

Usually I do my best to just duplicate stitch over the worn areas and bring them up to strength that way. I keep some left over yarn from all of my hand knits just in case I have to do a repair. Unfortunately, Dust Puppy was knit so long ago that I no longer have the yarn I made it with.

So I got creative. Follow along on my darning tutorial to see how!


Step one, identify the worn area.

Step two, out line the area to be darned. Usually I use the same color yarn but, as I said, this time I got creative. I used a blackish sock weight yarn left over from a sock weight sweater. I also usually darn in a square but circles are good too!

Step 3, run "warp" lines vertically from one edge of the outline to the other. This provides a matrix for what comes later.

Fill in any gaps that seem to be too wide. (This is a personal decision.)

Step 4, duplicate stitch over as many of the encircled stitches as you can. I either work vertically or horizontally or ... both. Yup, I play fast and loose here and just go into the next stitch that feels right at the time. Use the warp threads to help you figure out where missing stitches should go.

Step 5, once you get to an area with actual missing stitches, start weaving. Using your needle, go over and under the warp threads, filling in the area until you have a nice dense patch over the sweater wound. (O.k., it looks like I didn't get those photos so please use your imagination.)

Then I got creative. Using a sparkly black sock yarn I crossed over the area, back and forth on the diameter. I started dividing it like a pizza and then kept splitting the pieces until there was no evidence of the original grey yarn.

The end result ... a mini Dust Puppy (rear view).

Thank you for joining me in my first, rather scattered, tutorial. Tune in next week for more fun!

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Leggings: A Learning Journey

Eight Ten pair of leggings (workout style). (Pattern links at bottom of post)

That's how many I have made since my love affair with me-made workout gear began.

Sports Bra and leggings set in a blue-black fabric

With each pair I have gained valuable skills and confidence.

Sports bra and tights with a pink, blue, black abstract fabric.pattern

Some have provided valuable lessons.

Sports bra and leggings in black with hot pink accents

Yet others have shown me the risks of choosing colors on line while still knowing that I do not have the greatest color sense in the world.

Sports bra and leggings in a watery blue with pink pockets

And another two pair taught me that workout tights can also be skirts! (There are attached bike shorts under the skirt.)

Blue top and blue sports skirt with shorts underneath

And yet others have proven that it is difficult to know what a fabric will feel like when bought on line. (The pair below are not my faves when it comes to working out.)

Hunter green tights with abstract print on pockets and waistband

It was this pair (below) that convinced me that it was time to start learning how patterns are actually drafted.

Purple Corset top with black leggings printed with kracken tentacles

They look good and feel great (fantastic workout fabric)  but I have some issues with them. First off, they are a little to long and hence a bit baggy at the ankle. This was my fault as I went for the "tall" version of the pattern without reading carefully and looking for what height the regulars are drafted for. Turns out I am kind of in between the two. Figures.

Second, when working out, they gather in ways that I think might be a result of a fit that is not perfect, and while I am happy wearing "not perfect," I still want to get closer.
Several weeks ago I reunited with a a workout buddy who has problems getting workout gear that fits correctly. I took this as a challenge. Asking if she would be my test subject, I got some basic measurements and, using the pattern I'd purchased for the Kracken tights, gave it a couple of tries.

On the first attempt I over thought it and
used some basic knowledge gleaned from the Made to Measure leggings class to try to adjust the purchased pattern. The end result was too small. Then, comparing the basic measurements to the actual pattern I decided to make it up in the smallest size. Too big.

Finally, I decided to try actually drafting the pattern using the Made to Measure leggings class. Since I am still waiting for my friends measurements I decided to give them a go with my own.

Not too bad.

The fabric is not something I would choose for leggings -- it is a bit too thin and has a bit too much stretch (100% horizontal and 50% vertical) and, using the yoga waistband, they were way to big at my waist -- matching my actual measurements instead of being more compressive, something that does not work in this fabric even with a compressive lining. I took a dart in each side of the waistband and will give them the workout test this morning.

My next steps will include making them again in a more suitable fabric (the first attempt was meant to be just that, an attempt using left over fabric from another project (yes, I over ordered and got a pair of "mommy and me" dresses (for me and my adult daughter!) out of the fabric before making the leggings).

I also want to compare my drafted pattern to my purchased patterns and see how they compare. The ultimate goal is to use my personalized pattern to alter purchased patterns and learn how to make the correct alterations. 

Once again, a learning process.

Pattern Links:

First, Second and Third Attempts -- Inspire Tights

Pockets!  -- Spark Tights

Sports Skirt -- Rally Skirt

Kracken Tights -- Simpaticos

Kracken Fabric - Sew Dynamic Fabric

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Slowing Down

 Slowing Down

I have a hard time holding back when I get an idea I really want to try.

For example, last week’s post. Go back, read it, comment and then return. I’ll wait …

I want to do it. I want to try to start my own semi custom, small batch, sewing business.


Friday I was *this* close to stopping at the Spandex House (yes, it is a real place) and getting fabric for a sample first make.

Fortunately I got distracted and went home instead.

I need to slow down. I know that I do. My retirement plans are still up in the air and things at work are changing rapidly due to our new Mayor and Chancellor.

Also, I need to build my skills. I’ve only been at this clothing sewing thing for about a year and I know I still have a lot to learn. Yesterday, for example, I finally managed several good hems with a twin needle. (You know, the double line of stitching on the hem of your tee shirt – that. It’s not as easy as it looks.) I used some cool Kracken fabric from Sew Dynamic to make tee shirts for Mike and Natan and tried the twin needle out on them. Not perfect but not bad either.

Lessons learned from these shirts: 1. I need a little more than a yard of fabric to make short sleeve tees for each of my guys. I thought I had enough for Natan’s sleeves and discovered, after I had cut them and was ready to attach, that one was missing the top part. I improvised a fix and moved on. Mike’s shirt has contrasting sleeves and neck band. 2. I need more practice on twin stitching the neck band down. 3. I need to check each piece for issues before I sit down to sew it up - turns out one of Natan’s sleeve was missing its top. I sewed another piece of fabric on and made it work. Now I have ideas for color blocking sleeves!

In addition to needing time to build skills, I have several projects that I have fabric for and need to make up. These include, but are not limit to, a long black dress for Batya to wear for performances (Riverside Orchestra), multiple camisoles for me from the left over fabric from the quartet of tee shirts I made for Natan a few weeks ago and … pillow cases.

For the master bedroom we own two sets of bed clothes. That translates to two fitted sheets, two duvet covers and a passel of mismatched pillow cases. When one sheet wears out I replace it with the least expensive, same fabric content, option I can find on Amazon. That means that my bed is a mixture of different colors. No, I do not care if everything matches.

What I do care about is the fiber content. Many years ago I bought a set of linen sheets on sale. I never looked back.

So, when one of Mike’s pillow cases wore out last week, I decided it was time to make my own. We went to Gray Line Linen and purchased enough fabric to make a few pillow cases. In a color which neither clashes nor matches the rest of the bedding.

So, to summarize, I have plenty to keep me busy. And yet I am anxious to get started with the next part of my journey through life.

I am going to do my best this week to focus on what I have now instead of what I think I want next. Next is still far away and I need to live in the here and now.

Let’s see what happens.

Post Script: Here are three of the five pillow cases! Now to cast on a sweater …