Let’s Look at My Crotch Curve (Or, Fitting My Badonkadonk Into Ginger Jeans)

Now that my work is all casual, all the time, I pretty much wear jeans daily. My go-to brand has been Levi’s for the last few years. But, they’ve changed the fabric makeup and cut and I can’t get the jeans that I love anymore. Plus, the ones I bought last year are already destroyed in the inner thigh and feel gross (they can keep their recycled water bottles out of my jeans thankyouverymuch).  RTW jeans are now a sad crapshoot of tears, self loathing and contempt.

Which means, it may be time for me to make my own. I have no intimidation about the construction of jeans (I made a not great fitting pair before. The comments in that post are a treasure trove). But, the fitting of them. Ugh.Yet, I’ve been intrigued by the Close Case Patterns Ginger Jeans I’ve seen in the wild. Especially LoveLola’sSewmanju and By Gum Golly.

My measurements correspond to a 16 in the pattern and that’s what I traced out. There is no vanity pattern sizing for me! Which reminds me of a friend I was helping sew and she insisted the pattern size was wrong. M’kay. That dress did NOT fit when we were done. One ‘good’ thing about gaining weight (and approaching middle age), my waist isn’t so disproportionately smaller to my hip measurements anymore. But, what I am is still built like a brickhouse. So, I decided to compare the crotch curve of my best fitting jeans with those of the Gingers so I wouldn’t blindly start altering.

Levis line is in green, Gingers in orange and the pencil is the seam line for the Gingers. Both lines on right are to the yoke.  (click to enlarge)

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I have a huge ass and a severe swayback. Here’s my standard full seat, swayback, opposite-of-thigh-gap pants adjustment. I do these in every pattern line and have gotten some good fit in pants.

Which leaves me to wonder what adjustment do I make to have these fit my tuchus. I think I make the full inner thigh (which also adds some fabric to the front curve which is needed) and swayback adjustments. I’ll wait until I’ve got a muslin to pin out any darts at the waist needed since I’m not as small in the middle (but got much back).

So, um, I guess we all know what I’m doing this weekend. And, if inclined, feel free to weigh in.

Machine Knitting Lessons #2 (and #3)

I remember how I used to barely skim knitting posts on my favorite blogs. And, here I am writing posts on machine knitting. Due to travels on my end and my instructor, Linda’s, it was almost a month between my first and second machine knitting lesson. My first homework assignment was to complete four panels of this baby blanket. I’m only using coned acrylic yarn at this point. No need to break out the good stuff when I’m learning. I’ve also tried to keep my yarns updated on Ravelry.  Which is easy when you have all of four cones… 20150720-USER2288 photo 20150720-USER2288_zpsq6sjbobe.jpg I managed to finish each panel and am now latching them together to form the blanket. After I latch them, we’ll do some kind of trim along the outside, wash and block. This was going to Linus originally. But, I’ve put so much work into it I think I’ll give to my friend Elise who is due for a baby this fall. 20150720-USER2294 photo 20150720-USER2294_zpsvqftsiev.jpg Lesson #2 was a week ago Saturday and we focused on making swatches. After a month long break, I was so excited for my upcoming lesson that Jordan said I was like a kid waiting for Santa on Christmas. 20150720-USER2292 photo 20150720-USER2292_zpsfsq5aslu.jpg Swatching with the machine means marking the gauge swatch with eyelets to know what tension you have the machine set with. You also use these little thread markers  (below) to tell you where you’re measuring in between. Finally, you use these rulers (different colored for standard vs bulky machines) to get your swatch measurements. 20150720-USER2296 photo 20150720-USER2296_zpskmncgitx.jpg Luckily, my third lesson was a week later as I needed (A LOT of) help learning how to pick up dropped stitches. 20150720-USER2297 photo 20150720-USER2297_zps2h83ds8n.jpg And, I started my second project, a toddler cap with ear flaps. We make everything kid-sized as I can learn the techniques on a smaller scale. Here, I’ve made three sets of ear flaps. I actually will likely make a fourth. So, pretty much everyone who has a toddler I know is getting a hat next month. You guys. I made ear flaps!!!!! To make the flaps, I learned how to short row on the machine and hang a hem. My next lesson is in two weeks and I’ll make the i-cord and the main crown for the hat. It’s all very exciting! 20150720-USER2300 photo 20150720-USER2300_zpshjstckby.jpg Also, I put the ribber attachment onto my machine (the main bed does stockinette). I have no idea how it works really. But, I figured it was time to take it off the floor. And, don’t you love my fancy machine cover? It’s an old Calvin Klein double sheet from the 90s that my mom gave me new in package when I bought my house. She was the queen of not using nice things. By the time I got it, 10 years after purchase, the elastic had already failed. My friend Sheryl asked me if I like machine knitting. Right now, I find it really interesting. It’s a whole new skill set. And, it’s weird to not know what I’m doing or understand the language of knitting (or machine knitting). But, I like what I’m doing so far. But, totally understand I have a long way to go.

In other non sewing / knititng new, Jordan was sworn onto the Federal bar last week. He was sworn onto the Maryland bar two years ago. But, this means he can now argue in Federal court. 20150716-USER2275 photo 20150716-USER2275_zps7wbi0zf3.jpg I just like this photo because the judge’s clerk is throwing so much shade at me for taking photos. Whatevs.

Canada to Catskills

I liked this Canada cookie so much I bit off the stem of the maple leaf before I thought to take a photo of it. No Regrets.

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It’s been over a week since I’ve been back from Montreal and Ottawa. It took me a little longer to post than usual. And, in exchange you get a super long travelouge. Exciting, isn’t it?  Before I made it back home to Baltimore from Canada, I had a detour to a fishing camp in the Catskills.

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My friend and pro photographer picked me up during my Philly layover so I could be her photo assistant at a western New York wedding for the 4th of July. I was more than happy to help as it kind of extended my vacation and let me feel like I knew what I was doing with a camera.

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The wedding was also pretty incredible.  I cried during the vows and toasts and I don’t even know these people!!

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The wedding cake was rainbow layers. Something I’ve seen pop up on Pinterest and Instagram and I was DYING to actually try one. It was just as delicious as it looked. When my friend posts photos from the wedding online, I’ll link back so you can see. It was a gorgeous riverside ceremony with a party that went until 1:30 a.m.

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Our very old school motel had a minty green bathroom and Gideon Bibles in the bedside table. I swear I haven’t seen those in 20 years. These were published in ’73. And, I for sure haven’t ever seen a Book of Mormon in a hotel.

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Once back from ten days of not being at home (or work) I just needed a bit to get myself (and laundry washed) together.


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We took the train to Canada from Baltimore at an unbearably early hour. But, as I’m a champion sleeper in moving vehicles, it didn’t bother me. The train is four times as long as flying but 1,000 times more comfortable and scenic.

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Our first stop was Montreal which I FREAKING LOVE.  As per usual, we took a bike tour through the city.20150628-USER2198 photo 20150628-USER2198_zps5rz5nk5m.jpg

We used the same company that Trena and I used five years ago, Fitz & Folwell. And, let me say this, the owner Shay stay fine (apparently I referred to him as ‘smoking’ the first time).

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I was much more food touristy on this program with visits for both Montreal bagel standards. I was all set to ignore the bagels but glad I complied with Instagram suggestions. They actually are different than NY bagels. And super good hot and fresh from the oven. But, I have to give it to St Viatauer for the win.

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I generally don’t believe in waiting in line for food. But, we did for Schwartz’s smoked meat and again, phenomenal. We also took a walking tour of the Jewish Quarter organized by the Montreal Jewish Museum. Totally fascinating.

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And, I as promised, I had the poutine I’d dreamed of. It may be a heart attack on a plate, but it was heavenly. Is poutine like pizza? Even when it’s bad it’s good?

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We wrapped up Montreal with two little sewing meet up. The first, below, was right after my bike tour which explains my cycle dress and thin film of sweat.  Veronik, Alexandra, Heather and Vicki all came out. Some asides that show how weirdly connected you can be.

  1. Veronik is a knitwear designer. I don’t really knit (yet) so her name didn’t immediately ring a bell. Until I went on my Ravelry yesterday and saw that one of my two actual projects was hers!! It’s a hand knit sweater vest from Interweave back in 2007. I had a serious knitting friend back then and bought all the supplies to make it and never did.
  2. Alexandra and I met at PR Weekend Montreal five years ago. Since then, she’s had babies! How is it that people grow people when you’re still trying to remember to get dressed in the morning?
  3. Heather, everyone knows. I have the Ginger jeans pattern all printed, traced and ready to muslin. But, more importantly, she knew way more about US politics that I about Canadian. Thankful, because political chatter kept Jordan entertained longer than I would have expected.
  4. Vicki and Heather both saw Prince the week after he performed in Baltimore. We relived our middle and high school years talking about that show.

After a few hours of wine and chatter, Heather offered to make dinner for all of us. So, pressure cooker + friends and it was an instant dinner party! And instant dinner party in which Jordan listened to four hours of sewing and I had a ball.20150628-USER2233 photo 20150628-USER2233_zpsapkrehrj.jpg

My second meet up was with Jill. She met Jordan and I at a bakery in her neighborhood and we at ALL THE BREAD. No more Costco croissants. I swear they bake bread with a sprinkle of  crack in Montreal.

From Montreal we went on to Ottawa. We took VIA Rail from Montreal (selfie stick represent). Is the train ever not elegant?

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While we were rained out for Canada Day we still managed tours of the gorgeous art deco Canadian Supreme Court (obviously not my idea), walking the grounds of Parliament Hill, exploring Chinatown and taking a Thai cooking class at the Ottawa Chinese Cooking School.

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PLUS!!!! We had a lovely pizza dinner with the Sewing Lawyer Kay and her husband.  We ditched Jordan at a bar and went to her house and checked out her Passap and knitting machine collection (no photos. I have no photos of this. How do I have NO PHOTOS??) I felt so good leaving her because despite both owning multiple knitting machines, we both have regular online searches going for new ones. These things seem to breed like rabbits itellyouwhat.

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And, now, I am back in town. Jordan started his firm job last week. Hello 12 hour work days and billable hours. What a change from two years of clerking! We had company over the weekend (which meant I spent all week cleaning) and more company this week when Jordan gets sworn into the Federal Bar. Exciting times. I do have new tunic top to show you (previewed on Instagram) and an update on Machine Knitting Lesson 2 from Saturday.


Montreal Bound. Let’s Have Drinks.

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We’re getting ready to leave for Montreal via Amtrak. And, by getting ready I mean trying to sew a new tee shirt to take with me, doing laundry, waxing my eyebrows and generally going crazy. Jordan on the other hand had decided he’s staying up all night and not stressed. I thought a train through the US into Canada would be so romantic and continental. Except, our train out of Baltimore departs at 4 am. So, I’m just feeling tired and very American.

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I was last in Montreal in 2010 with my mom, Aunt Judy and Trena for PR Weekend. It was like a family vacation. My mom was always game for a trip. Also, looking through my photos from last time, I think I actually sewed most of my fabric from the trip!!! And by most I mean some. Don’t judge.

So, if you’re in Montreal and interested in getting cocktails Monday the 29th, leave a message here or send me an email. I’ve poked and prodded Vicki (Another Sewing Scientist) and Heather (Closet Case Files) to take me out. I think the plan is have a little somethin’ somethin’ at Huis Clos on St. Denis. I’m not sure of the time, but likely after work hours.

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Finally, Here’s a list of all the things I will eat next week.

  1. Poutine. Daily.
  2. Maple syrup on all the things
  3. Fresh strawberries from the market with glasses of champagne
  4. Croissant with coffee every day
  5. Baugettes perched delicately in my bicycle basket

Beginning Machine Knitting Classes in Philadelphia Area

I received the email below from Linda at Stitcher’s Dream in Pennsylvania (about 15 miles outside of Philly) over the weekend. For anyone interested in learning more about Machine Knitting and in the area, I thought I would share (NAYY). I plan to go up there this fall. Who doesn’t like to craft and socialize at the same time?

My second in home lesson is 4th of July weekend. And, I will hopefully have my first project to show: a baby blanket!

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I’m starting a small group email for those of you who have expressed interest in beginning-or-a-little-more-advanced machine knitting classes.

Most of you know that Stitchers’ Dream has a monthly Machine Knitters Club the second Saturday of each month at 10:30, followed by a class at 1:00.  Because there are helping hands of more experienced knitters, most of those classes can accommodate beginners who have at least a rudimentary knowledge of their machines.  This Saturday’s Poncho Class is perfect for beginners!  July’s project will be a summer shell, also good for beginners.
Since some of the beginners will have to drive a few hours to get here to classes, we can try to set up full or half-day lessons. We will need at least 4 people to set up a class.  The summer is a hard time to coordinate classes, but starting in the fall, we will offer more beginning classes.  The monthly Club and Class will continue through the summer.
Please respond to this email confirming:
  1. that you would like to be kept on this list.
  2. whether you are available weekdays or weekends.
  3. whether you are available Saturday afternoons,  or Sundays, morning or afternoon.
  4. what machine you own that you would like to use for the class .
  5. Is your machine in working order with a new sponge  bar, or do you need help getting it into working order?
  6. whether you would like to buy a mid-gauge LK150.
Please send me your phone number and where you live so that we can coordinate rides.
(215) 885-3780
Linda Corsover, for Stitchers’ Dream

Hot Patterns Blouse Back Tee: Woven / Knit Combo

20150615-DSC_0064 photo 20150615-DSC_0064_zps9yfrxjh8.jpgYo, I had like the best hair day today. I wasn’t even going to blog these shirts again. But, my hair looked so good I wanted to memorialize this day. I gave myself a little hair trim and have been doing some new things to it and it totally paid me back today #TeamNatural.

Now, to the sewing: I’ve managed to step away from my knitting machine for a few days. Mostly because I don’t have enough clothes for our trip to Canada in two weeks! And, my casual summer work wardrobe is lacking. So, I figured I could whip up some fast tops to take. And, this Hot Patterns Blouse Back Tee might be a near record for me. I’ve made it up four times now. And, I can’t promise this will be the last. For the two  (navy blue and teal) I’m posting today, I took some of your suggestions:

  1. Used a woven sheer for the back
  2. Went down a size for the front
  3. Made my FBA with darts
  4. Decided to keep the original length of the back hem from the pattern.

20150615-DSC_0100 photo 20150615-DSC_0100_zpsblswhr6t.jpg I really like these versions too. I mean, I like this top because it goes together fast, is visually interesting and because it hides a multitude of sins. 20150615-DSC_0105 photo 20150615-DSC_0105_zps8xi1ydzn.jpg Both the sheers are from Kashi at Metro Textile (purchased with MMS photos and texting I might add) were supposed to be beach coverups. And, this navy was supposed to be a University of Michigan shirt for Jordan. So much for that…

Construction Notes: To stabilize the gathers at the back yoke, I used clear elastic. I was concerned that the woven vs knit friction might make stitches pop out if stressed. The clear elastic nicely reinforces my stitching and allows the woven to ‘give’ more. 20150615-DSC_0059 photo 20150615-DSC_0059_zpstmdcv2lr.jpg The rolled hem on the teal went beautifully. Not a single problem. The rolled hem on the blue and white was a nightmare. The hem wouldn’t catch, but I was trimming away at the seam allowance with each pass. I had to shorten the knit side seams on the navy version by four inches to get it to match the woven hem when all was said and done. 20150615-DSC_0098 photo 20150615-DSC_0098_zpstcvag3gr.jpg On the teal, I didn’t have enough fabric to to bind the neckline. So, I just turned it over and coverstitched. I wish I had done it a bit narrower as I have non existent shoulders to begin with. 20150615-DSC_0034 photo 20150615-DSC_0034_zpsyvsi6s1q.jpg For the navy, I did have enough fabric and I finished the sleeve band and the neckline with a bit of trim and coverstitching. Both the fronts are also hemmed on my coverstitch. Looks like I could have pulled that neckband snugger too.

FBA or No?

After my last post on this top, a few suggested I do an FBA with darts. I thought, why not? I’m not a big ‘cheater FBA’ person. I like to do things ‘right’ even if it’s the slower old fashioned way. So, I made a 1 inch darted FBA in the teal version first and felt I could see it rising at center front (below). For the navy version I made a 1.5 inch FBA and think that’s the ticket for me. I added more length than width though. But, I was playing around with the navy version in the mirror and I think I need a larger dart to address some of the drag lines. 20150615-DSC_0083 photo 20150615-DSC_0083_zpstvgiiauv.jpg Anywho, People LOVED these tops on me. I have two knit versions and no one said anything about them. But, out and about the last few days I had people stopping to tell me how cute they were.

Both of these tops were posted on Instagram. But, I know not everyone is one it. And, I can’t babble on like this for a photo site now can I? 20150615-DSC_0089 photo 20150615-DSC_0089_zpsm7zm1ckr.jpg

I Totally Dig Machine Knitting

I can’t even tell you how excited I was to start my knitting machine lessons yesterday. I’d been looking forward to it for a month. I’ve set up the machine on a metal stand in the dining room (I’m just out of space anywhere else)  And, I’m happy to report that I really liked it!

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My instructor came to my house and my first lesson was about three hours.  I decided I wanted to learn on my Brother KH-830 (a standard punchcard machine) versus my bulky knitting machine (Kh-230). Most of the class was spent with me casting on and knitting (and learning to unravel. And lord have mercy did I ever spend time unraveling) so I’d be able to complete my homework assignment before my next lesson. She also checked out my machine to make sure it was in good working order.

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It’s very interesting learning a new skill like this. At this point, I take my ability to sew for granted. So learning something from the ground up is a new experience for me. My first project is a baby afghan with handworked mini decorative ‘cables’. The afghan is five panels. We made one panel together and the other four she left me to complete on my own.

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I’m happy to report I was able to knit two more squares on Sunday with just one phone call in the morning to my teacher for help. I mean, I won’t lie. These are the two that turned out. Let’s just say I have several wonky coasters laying about. I’m glad I’m taking lessons. I know there are many videos online. But, it’s terrific to have a local resource I can ask for help and who has experience teaching. I didn’t find myself sitting in front of the machine struggling from the start.

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What is just great about machine knitting is how consistent the gauge is and how much faster it is! I mean, I knit 275 rows for each panel in about ten minutes. Well, it took ten minutes once I got the machine going. heh.

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My next lesson is tentatively scheduled for a month from now (she’s traveling, I’m traveling) so I’m moving at a nice leisurely pace.

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Party In the Back: Hot Patterns 1170 Fast & Fabulous Blouse-Back T

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48 hours before we left town for a long weekend in Charlotte, NC I decided I needed a new shirt. Well, I’ve been needing summer tops and I decided to sew ALL THE SHIRTS before I left town. I picked the HP Blouse-Back T because it promised to be both Fast and Fabulous and available for a PDF download. Plus, I saw Lori’s version for her daughter and was all over it.

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Pattern: I usually hate PDF paper taping. I’m all about the copy shop pattern copy. But, this was not bad! I taped while talking to Trena on the phone on Tuesday night. Cut and sewed on Wednesday night. And made a second version in red and white (not photographed) on Thursday night. I timed it the second night and it was less than 90 minutes from cut to hem.

Fabric: Hoarded lightweight stripes from PR Weekend in Montreal five years ago (can’t wait to go back to Montreal in a month ) and solid navy cotton from FabricMart. It was destined to be something else, but when I saw them together I was like, ‘duh’.

Since Lori let me know her daughter was 5 ft 9, I knew I’d want to shorten the back a bit (I’m barely 5 ft 6). Now, seeing photos, I might add the length back for skinny jeans.

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Please note in the blue and white stripe version I did the shortening all wrong. I shortened the back at the waist line rather than at the hem. Which means it was too short at the sides so I had to improvise a bit and blend the hem lines on the front and back. And the center front has a curved rather than straight hem because of my changes.

Other Deets:

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I measure into a 14 but sew a 12 in HP knits going by my underbust measurement (34 inches). I contemplated using stripes at the front and totally copying the fashion drawing. But, I was worried about the stripes not being level if I didn’t make a good FBA. I don’t normally need an FBA in HP. But, this time I chose to do a dartless FBA (using the method in ‘The Perfect Fit’ from the Singer Sewing Reference Library) because of fears of it riding up in the front with stripes. I added one inch in length and 1/2 inch in width.

I went with a dartless FBA because the shirt has an easy vibe to it. If I sized down one more, I might make a FBA with darts. But, I’m honestly really pleased with how this came out.

I also narrowed the width of the neckband by two inches.

And chickened out and put the stripes in the back anyway. Partly because the solid navy is heavier than the stripe fabric and the flowiest fabric should be in the back so that it hangs correctly.

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I really really love this little top. Let me know if you think my FBA worked. Or if you think I need more anything before attempting some stripes at the front :-) I plan to make a few more this summer for sure.

I’m Needlepointing. Yes. Seriously.

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If you can believe it, I’ve started a needlepoint project. You can’t believe it either can you? It all started while helping someone find a needlepoint shop and a finisher for a very cute needlepoint belt. After visiting the store several times, I thought needlepoint might be just the ticket for something to do while watching TV or traveling. And, with trips to Charlotte, NC for Memorial Day and Montreal for the Fourth of July, I have plenty of upcoming time on the road.

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After scouring the internet for something ‘fun’ and not too Stepford Wives, I settled on the Kristine Dickerson project, multicolored Union Jacks. I chose this one because, duh, they are Union Jacks. And, because the colors are bright, the needlepoint holes are big and the design lines are clear (i.e. no shading for this beginner).

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As you may surmise, this will likely take me a few years to finish. But, it’s the perfect thing for me to work on in bits and pieces.

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I’m doing all the crosses of St. George first (the biggest cross). Then, I’ll do the colored background / corners of the cross of St. Andrew. The colored St. Patrick X will be next to last and I’ll finish all the whites in the X for the Cross of St. Andrew. I honestly came up with this course of action by picking biggest swaths of color to smallest. I figure by the time I get to the end, I’ll have mastered the stitches and it will make ‘finishing’ even faster because I’ve saved the smallest bits.

I am also obviously someone who separates their Skittles and M&Ms into colors.

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And, if you’re wondering what I’m going to do with it. Wall hanging for sure. I am not a needlepoint pillow person. But, it will look terrific in my house as wall art. I’ve also committed to ONE needepoint project at a time and NO Christmas ornaments (They are not my style. I will not get sucked in.).

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So, hip hip hooray for expensive new hobbies.  And, um, check this space in two to three years for a finished product.

Needles for Miles

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Well, I actually got two via Craigslist. One is a Brother KH-230 and KR-230 ribber and the other is a Brother KH-830 and KR-830 ribber. The 230 is a bulky with no patterning – very basic. The 830 is a standard with punchcard patterning. There are also two four-color yarn changers and a Knitleader (a system where you can draw your pattern onto graph paper — essentially). They came with some of the manuals and two coursework books on the machine and ribber. I also found a zillion books and manuals online and got a neat book on hand techniques for the machine from Jordan for my birthday last month.

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Deteriorated spongebar

I spent a big chunk of the weekend cleaning the 830. It was sitting at least ten years in storage and is almost 40 years old to begin with. I replaced the sponge bar with weather stripping and cleaned all the needles. Some of the mechanisms were stuck. But, nothing a all-purpose machine oil and Tri Flow couldn’t fix.

Both machines are older and more basic than later versions that came out. But, they are perfect to learn on.

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Replacement sponger using weather stripping from the hardware store


With 200 needles I got really tired really fast of putting them all back in the machine after their denatured spirits soaking. So, I got Jordan to help.

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With a clean machine, I’m ready to get started with lessons. Well, first my instructor is going to look over the machines and see if there are any other problems or repairs I need to make.

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