Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Silk Socks--Navy Pennants

Here are the latest socks from my collection of disappointing silk skeins. In the early 1990's I found several discounted skeins of "Grainy Silk," from Rowan yarns. They formed a series of different intensities of indigo dye, and I thought surely they'd make a lovely, subtly-shaded Fair Isles sweater vest. I swatched and swatched, but the yarn has no elasticity at all, and stranded knitting looked and felt quite dreadful.

Cables and twist-stitch patterns were equally unsuccessful. The only viable choice for patterning seems to be knit-purl patterns. I fell back on this "Pennants" pattern, which behaves as a ribbing, making the socks a little more flexible.

The afternoon sun makes the socks look black, but these skeins were actually the darkest of the indigo series.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Label 'em Up, and Move 'em Out

It's come to my attention that my storage space is finite, the most crowded corners being occupied by fabric and fiber. With this in mind, I gathered up my odd skeins of hand spun wool yarns, priced them as if for a yard sale, and took them to a local shopkeeper. Of course, yarn needs a pretty label to make it look "real," so I spent an afternoon experimenting with the sidebar photograph I call "The View from Droop Mountain."

I printed this on pastel card stock, and wrote fiber content and care directions on the back. I think it looks OK.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

More Serger Practice, and a Grouse

I've become a bit more adventurous in my serger sewing. The last batch of tee-shirts were all sewn of cotton jersey, using a four-thread overlock stitch with just original "neutral" factory settings. This batch features different sorts of knits, including a thermal knit shirt and a nightgown (simply a knee-length tee-shirt, but with stretch lace instead of ribbing).

Princess, our yellow cat, interrupted this clothesline photo session by flushing a grouse hen from the tall grass. Mighty pretty feathers, but an disappointing hunt for Princess.

I've learned to adjust the differential feed for smooth, even seams on knits of different weights and textures--that thermal underwear fabric was pretty much a disaster on my standard sewing machine. I decided this pink ribbed neckline was fine without any top stitching at all.

There were, however, several serging disappointments. I had little success sewing lingerie elastic, and reverted to the standard machine to apply the leg and waistband elastic and decorative stretch lace on these underbritches. I'll some other elastic application methods soon.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving With Raptor

Thanksgiving postcards are uncommon in my grandma's album, but I am fascinated by the inclusion of non-turkey fowl in this one.

The back is postmarked "St. Paul, Minn., Nov. 27, 6:30 PM, 1912," and addressed to "Miss F. Williamson, Adams County, Iowa." The message reads:"Dear Florence, Received your postal some little time ago and was glad to hear from you. We wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving. Mother and I have been busy stuffing the turkey--Love to all. From Edna."

Happy Thanksgiving! We're enjoying a wild turkey this year, so there'll be no stuffing and few leftovers.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

New Sewing Machine Alert

I had expected that by now I'd be back in the swing of blogging, but you may notice a 17-day gap since my last post. This is due in part to the recent unexpectedly nice weather. However, the main competition for blogging energy has been my new serger sewing machine. Much of my garment construction involves sewing knits, and I've wished since the 1980's that I had an overlocker/serger. I always told myself it was a frivolous luxury that I could do without.

I can't explain what mental switch flipped this fall. It had something to do with shopping for tractor parts, and chainsaw parts, and chainsaws, and tires, and car parts. Instead of saying "Must conserve dwindling funds," my brain said, "Hmmm...Wonder how much a new sewing machine costs?" Instantly, I was cruising Allbrands.com, where I found just the machine I'd been craving, a Juki MO 735 with all the trimmings, for less than I expected. This website looks like a vast, impersonal warehouse outlet, but they are also in-the-flesh sewing machine dealers in Louisiana. When I had trouble with the last sewing machine I bought from them (a "White" brand made by Husqvarna-Viking), I called their number and got to talk to a lovely man named Alex who walked me through fixing the problem.

The serger arrived right away, and I spent the first few days with it just threading it and reading the manual, and threading it again....Threading a serger is a very different affair than threading a sewing machine, and there are 27 different ways to thread this particular model, depending on what you want it to do.

These five men's' tee-shirts are my first project with the new machine. I know how to use the overlock stitch and coverstitch functions now, and I'm really thrilled with how much better the serger stitching works than the conventional sewing machine kluges I'd been using. The seams and hems lay flat and stretch exactly the right amount. Awesome. You can see I'm still learning to use the coverstitch, and my technique is a little wobbly, but I'm having a wonderful time!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Firewood 2010

The woodpile this year looks particularly nice, something for which I can take no credit. (The new chainsaw does look proud of itself.) Last year, the wet summer and early snows cut firewood preparations short, but it looks like we will be better prepared this year.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Election Day, 2010

Mt. Olivet Methodist Church, Droop Mountain, WV

This is the most picturesque and also the most convenient polling place I've ever voted. The whole process took about 15 minutes, including travel time. I actually tried to early vote last week, but I happened to hit the courthouse around noon, and decided not to stand in line there. I hope your voting experience was also pleasant and stress free.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Silk Socks--Still More Stripes

More of the navy blue silk yarn, with more stripes of mohair scraps. This time, I made what Elizabeth Zimmermann called "Afterthought Heels," because I wanted to make sure I remembered how to do them.