The Great Clear Out – Part 2

We are past “peak clutter” now – and now there are lot’s of piles of things. Some stuff is going to a church rummage sale – there’s more furniture going, this is the housewares edition (no, not the church I serve):
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Some to good will:

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Some to friends with interests that link to the stuff:

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Piles of things that might be worth a little money with little effort:

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And it turns out that my vaccuum, when there’s not a broken belt, can take up cat hair just fine! Amazing Pam saved me about $350 just by figuring that out and then we got it repaired in an afternoon. I don’t need the most amazing vacuum, the one I have works. Yes, those carpets need to be shampooed, I’m gonna see if I can get the apartment complex to spring for a cleaning since I’ve been here so long.

Today and Saturday most of the stuff will be at it’s next home, the dump, or the shredder e-waste people. Which will leave some stuff, and ready for the cleaners!

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The Great Clear Out – Part 1

I am not a hoarder. I do not like to step over crap to get to what I want to deal with, I actually like order along with some random piles (because I am that kind of creative person).

Over the past few years, though, when my brother died suddenly and I cleaned out his apartment and inherited his stuff, and then the next year my mom got ill, and I had to close down her house (in which she and my father had lived 60 years), then with job and caring for her to the end of this life, and ending a job less gracefully than I would have wished, well, things had gotten out of hand, and frankly, beyond my overcoming. I had a guest room/office that was a mess, and where, although there were paths to every point in the room, there were boxes and a closet that was, shall we say, not so functional? I’ve been calling it The Room of Doom. Oh, and a storage unit with the best furniture from my Mom’s house, boxes from that old job, and boxes from the job I had when my mom was so sick? Yeah, it was a lot.

So much that I enlisted the help of a former parishioner who is lovely and amazing, and a professional organizer. She looks gentle, but it’s a boot camp kind of experience in the best possible way.

We did one day together and got the Room of Doom looking like this:

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and the closet, a total mess, is now a functional space!

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Yeah, I haven’t seen that much floor in years. It’s kinda awesome. Now the main living space was a wreck because that sorting central, and there is all this family memorabilia that is just killliiing me. Pro-tip: do not be the last member of your immediate family to be living, if you can help it. This all would have been fixed for me if I had taken worse care of myself. Except for the dead part. But I digress.

I am now in the “finding homes for stuff” phase of the sort. Fortunately with the furniture, it is all decent stuff, so if younger cousins decide to pass on things (which I wouldn’t blame them for because they didn’t pick it out), I might actually get a bit of money for a couple of pieces, while others are going to make a home with me, and dreck like the director’s chair on my balcony can go to the dump. The classic rock music is going to a family friend, I need to see who the LOTR fans are in my network, and things like that.

By the end of the week, I won’t have gone through ALL my stuff, but enough that things will be functional, and if I need a storage unit, it will be pretty small. And it will be a very good thing.

Part 2 will be more beautiful space!

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CustomFit Cardigan Completed!

The sample for Bluebird was knit, blocked last night. This morning I was ready to sew on buttons:

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And after my aquatics class, I tackled those and then admired my work:

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And I was very pleased with the whole sweater. And then it was off to Bluebird where we put it on the mannequin, and there was much rejoicing!

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I’m working now with Bluebird on a launch of Customfit, so check out this email, and join us soon!

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Close to Home, the Baby Birds Edition

I have a small balcony to my apartment, and every fall and end of summer, it becomes the scene of great activity – red finches love to hang out in the eaves. This practice has been steady over the years, and now that a tree is growing alongside my balcony, I suspect it is an even friendlier place.

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Yesterday I thought the babies had been born, there was A LOT of activity. and I was RIGHT!

Here they are – so cute!

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For now, they are safe, but I’ll need to watch things closely so that I don’t let the cats out when they are trying out their wings.

Because this is the season of baby birds, Wildcare, a San Rafael-based nonprofit, has put out a call to knitters (and crocheters) for knitted nests. I’ve now done a couple of unfelted ones, and about to do some felted ones with miscellaneous leftovers. Local charity knitting – fantastic!

Want to knit for Wildcare? Go here to download a comprehensive guide (note: wherever the patterns say “row” it means “round.” And there’s a great Baby Bird Nest Knit-a-long group on Ravelry – come join us!
Baby's Nests for Wildcare

Because, how cute are baby birds?

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Why blocking your swatch is crucial. Really.

I’m done knitting the major pieces of the second Customfit sweater – the one that is the store sample. And I got reinforcement yet again that blocking your swatch is very, very important.

First of all, let’s define blocking – I used to think blocking just meant misting the swatch and letting it dry. No longer. Now, I use the swatch as the opportunity to road-test the yarn’s care. So, for a linen yarn (which gets better in the washing machine and the dryer) I am going all out with the washer/dryer on it. For a hand-wash yarn, I soak for 20 minutes, blot in a towel and spread it out flat to dry.

For this “washable wool” yarn, I did this (which is how I would care for it in the real world): I soaked in tepid water (more than 20 min), then blotted in a towel. Once that was done, I popped it into my teensy stack washer, and put it on the last 5 minutes of the gentle spin cycle with the towel (this gets more of the water out), then I popped the pieces into the dryer on medium heat until the pieces were damp dry, then spread them out.

When I knit the sleeves, I had a moment of “crap, my gauge is off” because of course the gauge had changed when I had “blocked” the swatch. I kept my faith, and knit all the rows in the Customfit pattern  that put the wrist to armhole measurement two inches longer (!) than needed. Was this going to be a Gorilla Arms kind of sweater? Oh that was hard, the only reason I kept to the pattern  was to match the knitting of the sample to the pattern.

Then I blocked them as above. And voila! The length is perfect, right to the inch.

Onto finishing – and a sweater that will not have Gorilla Arms after all.

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CustomFit – 2 Sweaters and a Party!

I’m knitting two more sweaters with the CustomFit web software – one for me, and one for Bluebird Yarn & Fibercraft.

It is a lot of fun – but having not knit a sweater in a bit, I forgot that there’s some serious knitting involved. Duh!

Little Flowers Cardigan

There’s a fun stitch pattern in a new stitch dictionary by Melissa Leapman called Allover Floral, and I used it to spice up my otherwise pretty traditional 3/4 sleeve cardigan in a bright spring/summer color – Peapod in Knitpicks gloss DK.

Here are the sleeves,

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and the back,
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and the whole thing:
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and a bit of detail!
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In this case, because I was only adding a bit of pattern, and it was going to be close in gauge, I didn’t do any math to change the stitch counts, and I think it worked out fine!

Of course, the proof is in the pudding, so I’ll get some picks with it on me very soon! It’s got a lovely drape,  and the silk content gives it a shine so that it is a little dressier than some of my other sweaters.

Sample – oh the fun of knitting in new yarn and getting paid for it.

The store sample is out of a new to me yarn called Yarn Island Blackwater. The swatch shows all that is going on with the yarn, in a really good way, and I’ll be knitting a very basic crew-neck cardigan to show off the yarn.

Here’s the lovely yarn,

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and my swatch!

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I am cranking out this sweater – I finished the body, and hope that the sleeves will be done by tomorrow – so that I can have it to the store very, very soon!

which reminds me, if you are local, you’ll want to mark down Wednesday, May 21st – which will be a Customfit launch party at Bluebird Yarn and Fibercraft. We’ll be showing off a couple of sweaters, talking about the process, and a couple of surprises will be had as well! 5:30 pm, be there!

 

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