Well, my machine is back from the shop now. Ironically, my interest in sewing is greatly diminished now that I can again. The higher temps are largely to blame, since it is hardly appealing to sit next to a hot iron in 80+ degree weather. The hot weather is making totally miserable, since my car's a/c is kaput. My darling mechanic proposed putting a can of freon in it to see if the a/c would kick in, thinking that it was a coolant level issue. I hoped hard that this was the (affordable) solution, but sadly it was not. He didn't even charge me for the test, instead sending me to an associate of his who just does electrical and air conditioning work. Well, I haven't made it over there, because this will at minimum cost me $250 and possibly up to $1200, which I frankly cannot afford. Why not go the 460 ac route? Well, my car only has two windows that roll down and one of them does not reliably roll up on the first try. Since I do a lot of driving in Chicago, that means that I basically cannot drive with the window down in case I have to roll it up in a hurry.
Further adding to my misery is my recent discovery that the right channel in my car stereo has gone out. Since I am a sound engineer, this is driving me nuts. If it weren't encased in a vehicle, I could easily repair it myself, but this requires the work of someone with experience in popping off door panels. Also, anything other than NPR sounds like crap with only the left channel working and I love my tunes.
Sure, neither of these problems affects the operation of the car. It works and I am damn glad it does, after the inconvenience caused by the thermostat and radiator fan crapping out last month. It gets me from place to place reliably, but I am afraid my car is becoming a hoopdie. Sigh. It's ten years old, so these minor problems are not unexpected. On a ninety degree day, sitting on black leather(ette?) seats, the a/c does not feel minor.
The other reason that my sewing impulse has waned is that I am pretty close to finishing the Acer cardigan that I started to tide me over until my machine was usable. I'm almost to the sleeve cap on the second sleeve. After that, I just have to knit the neck and button bands and sew the sleeves on and it will be done. I won't be able to wear it until the fall, but I am happy to build up my wardrobe out of season. It will be ready for that first crisp autumn day, instead of being cast on then as is my usual weather change behavior. Oh, it's getting cold, I think, time to knit something warm. No, the time to knit something warm is before you need it, but knitting warm sweaters is a beast in hot weather. I'm pondering what to knit next and have decided that it can't be something that is knit from the top down. I don't want a whole sweater lying on my lap like an unneeded blanket. So, something that is knit in pieces and seamed together, even though finishing is one of my least favorite parts of knitting.
I also need to find something that makes good backstage knitting. I'm about to start work on a new production as a mic runner, which I very rarely do. I usually mix from front of house and am damn lucky to have an A2 backstage in case of problems. Actually, I don't think I've had an A2 since college because most producers just don't budget for a sound crew. When I'm not making my moves, I'll need some kind of basically mindless, easily picked up and put down again project to keep me from nodding off. Socks? Another shawl I probably won't wear? Decisions, decisions.


My sewing machine is still in the shop. I am trying to be patient about it, but it's hard when I have all of the pieces for a quilt cut and ready on my dining room table. I've been knitting instead and have made unbelievable progress on the Acer sweater I mentioned in my last post. I've finished the body already and used a three needle bind off to join the shoulders, which I prefer when matching cable and lace patterns to a sewn seam. Now, I am almost to the sleeve cap on the first sleeve. I don't understand why sleeves take so long. I'm knitting it in the round, so it's like knitting a worsted weight knee sock. Not that there's any rush, since I won't be able to wear the sweater until Autumn.

I also have to decide what to give my grandmother for her birthday. It's at the end of June, so if I want to make something, I should have started it yesterday. I was thinking of knitting her a little tee, but I don't know how well received that would be. I knit her a cabled Aran weight sweater in yarn that can go through the washer and dryer for Christmas, yarn that I would not have used were I not concerned about the laundry situation at her rehabilitation center. It even has a big hood that is perfect for a Lindsay Lohan style nap. Well, she looked at it for about a minute, then handed back to me and told me to take it back to her house, that she couldn't have it in rehab. Darlings, my feelings were *hurt* until my cousin later explained that she planned to ditch everything that she has in rehab and doesn't want to have anything nice there in fear of loss or theft. Fair enough. She probably won't be out of rehab until a couple of weeks after her birthday, so I am torn between giving her something that she can immediately enjoy and giving her something nice that I will have to take over to her house for safekeeping. Maybe a Hey, Teach! cardigan would be nice for keeping off an air conditioning chill. She has to keep it arctic in her basement, where she keeps her television and rarely used computer, in order for it to be a tolerable temperature up on the second floor. Split level houses are a real argument for zoned HVAC, but retrofitting one would be a costly pain in the ass. I digress. I might go visit her on Sunday and take my trusty tape measure to get an idea of her current size. My grandmother's nearly year long bout with cancer has turned her into one of those birdlike old ladies, so I have no idea what size sweater to make.


I got my sewing machine back from the repair shop on Tuesday. Today is Thursday and it already needs to go back. Somehow, I shelled out seventy bucks for my machine to work for a single day. Granted, I got a lot done in that day, but sewing machines should be like flash bulbs. Fortunately, the place that "fixed" it offers a sixty day warranty, so I'll be schlepping it back there again to get it actually fixed.
What's wrong with it? Well, something involving the bobbin. It loops. The thread doesn't feed freely when I'm done sewing a seam so that I can cut it at a decent length, but breaks instead. When it breaks, I have to re-thread the bobbin. I've tried the following: new needle, re-threading the top thread, filling a new bobbin so that it's already threaded and fed properly, taking out and re-seating the bobbin enclosure, swearing profusely, and crying. None of these have solved the problem. And yes, I am sure that the needle is in right, the foot is down, the feed dogs aren't full of schmutz. I haven't been sewing through tile. I am extremely frustrated and more than a little pissed, which is why I've decided to wait to cool down a little before carting it back to the repair shop.
In the meantime, I am knitting and watching Quantum Leap on Netflix. You can stream all of Quantum Leap! I lurve that show. The knitting is part of my wardrobe replacement initiative, the Acer Cardigan that I mentioned before--if only in the sidebar. Though there are 200+ stitches per row and it is knitted flat instead of in the speedy round, I agree with other knitters who have called it a quick knit. Sure, the rows are a bit of a slog, but the lace and cable pattern is easily memorized. Easy recalled lace is quick lace. Winston has been sprawled on the lace chart for the last couple of hours, combining his love of lying on printed materials and being nearby. He's been behaving himself, mostly, these days, so I'll let him stay on the charts.


I've been really busy lately, which is good and bad. Good that I've had gigs, bad that my cat decided to protest his perceived neglect by designating my bedroom floor as his personal toilet. Cats are such assholes. Since I was working almost all the hours in the day, he wasn't getting all the attention to which he is accustomed. Now, he wants attention in the worst way, and that's how he gets it. He is lying next to me now as I write this, getting the occasional petting and making the occasional purr.

I had to toss about half a wardrobe in clothing that he pissed on, which has inspired a new knitting initiative. I want to replace the pieces that I threw away with new handknits, so I'll be knitting out of season this summer. It lacks the satisfaction of being able to wear something as soon as it is finished, but there is a limited number of things one can knit and wear in the summer. I've already made the ones that I want (unless someone has 5 skeins of Allhemp 6 they're not going to use).

I started this plan by almost finishing my Metro cardigan. The only thing left to do is sewing down the collar, on which the pattern gives little guidance. After putting so much work into it, I don't want to mess it up with bad finishing. I've already ripped out the rolled hem, which was awkward and unflattering, and re-knit it as a 2 x 2 rib. I wish I had done that in the first plaec.

Today, I started knitting an Acer cardigan in O-Wool Balance, the 50/50 cotton/wool blend that the pattern specifies. I frequently make substitutions, but I had the yarn in my stash for another project, since decided against. After some Ravelry surfing and an inspiring couple of posts by the Yarn Harlot, I decided to use the yarn to make an Acer. The yarn is really lovely, though I am not totally sold on the fiber content. Ideally, it would have the good properties of both components, but it doesn't seem to have a lot of woolly stretch. It's what I would call a soft red (the manufacturer calls it ruby), but will probably look pink in the finished garment.

I haven't made much progress on the knitting front because I've spent most of my free time sewing and quilting. Sewing offers more instant gratification than knitting, though it is definitely less portable. I finally finished hand quilting the super secret nap quilt, after hundreds of hours of stitching away at it. It just needs a binding now and a test wash, then it will be done.

In order to have the most number of works in progress possible, I started a baby quilt for a friend who recently had a son instead of binding the secret quilt. The front of the quilt took a day to cut and piece. The whole thing probably could have been done in a couple days, but for a few complicating factors. First, I did not have a batting or backing for it, having decided to buy such things when I got around to making the front. Second, my car was out of commission, which made obtaining such things difficult. It turned out to be the thermostat and radiator fan, but I was afraid that it would be a much more expensive repair, like the head gasket or a cracked block. My wonderful mechanic got that all sorted out for me, so I went home and succumbed to a head cold and another sewing delay.

While still a little under the weather, I put together my quilt sandwich and started freehand quilting the baby quilt on my trusty Singer. My not so trusty Singer, since the bobbin thread kept looping on the underside, which is a real bitch to pick out at zero stitch length. Just as I really got into quilting my tight stipple pattern (kind of like drawing brains), it decided to quit. I was in a groove, then nothing. I'd thought about taking my machine for a tune-up after Christmas, but true to form, had procrastinated and ridden it hard since then. Well, it wouldn't grab the bobbin thread, deciding to hit the hook instead. I took it to be repaired, where they told me it was a timing issue. It will be in the shop for the next week. My mom is letting me use her Bernina in the mean time. It's a newer machine, so it has a few more bells and whistles that I won't need, and it doesn't have the same feel as my old mechanical friend. The feed dogs are more aggressive than I'm used to, so I will have to stay on my toes while I do a bit of piecing this week. Or I can just knit.

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