Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Pain of Restarting

 First, here are some gratuitous shots of my Pax shawlette. Yum yum yum, go make this pattern. I can't wait to buy Aiobe Ni's shawl collection.


    Modeled by my couch and by me.

 Let me talk about something that I'm sure you've all experienced. You get so far into a project. You feel like you're really starting to get somewhere, like you're about to make it over a hurdle. Only then are you forced to admit that you've made a big mistake, that you've been ignoring it and that it can't go on anymore.
Such is the case of my poor, poor laceweight cardi.
I've been working on this thing on and off since November. Yesterday at work I had gotten to the part where it was long enough to make the underarm stitches and move on to the body.
I tried to space it out to see how it would look, tried safety pins and stitch markers to make a rough show of what the sleeves would be like. It was then that I couldn't pretend it was ok anymore. It was too small. There was barely an inch of the front of the cardigan, the back was too small, and despite my last minute stitch additions the sleeves were not going to be big enough without adding a lot of underarm stitches, which always seems to make cardigans have weird underarm bulkiness. I also took a hard look at the messy increases that I had haphazardly added at the beginning. One side had increases that kinda got closer and closer to the edge, the other had them much further in and one part was just really, really wonky.

"A plan," though I, "I don't need no stinkin' plan! Give me a few stitches and I'll figure this thing out!" This is never a good idea. It never works. I should know this, but somehow it's a lesson I haven't figured out.

So today, I started again. You can see where I was at on the left, and my beginnings this morning.
I haven't had the heart to pull out the old cardi yet.
This time I have a plan. I have a giant mistake of a gauge swatch, notes from other similar designs and a solid plan. 

Look at those wonky increases. Really, what was I thinking?

 This is where it's at now. I worked on it a lot at work today- yay for quiet days! I have a lot left to get it back to where it was, but it's going to be so much better. Even the edge increases are neat and tidy now.
You can see that I've even planned space for shoulders, back and front. 
Now that I look at this, I'm wondering if I've left too much shoulder and not enough back, but honestly, it look so much better. A mistake like that can be called a design feature easily enough.
Sidetrack- I ran upstairs and grabbed a raglan t-shirt. Pulling a t-shirt on over your PJ top nets you a weird look from your fiance. However, after laying this over top of it's raglan increases, it looks like this is actually the right spot for them! I suppose that makes sense- this is sitting lower on the shoulders because the top of the neckband will be in contrasting purple.
Now I feel better.
And check out how neat my new increases are. They'll actually be a feature, as opposed to something I'm ashamed of.
That's what makes me happiest about restarting this, despite how painful it really was. I knew I had to do it, because I never would have been proud of my other cardigan. There were just too many mistakes, too many errors and I want this cardigan to be something I am really proud of showing off.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Budgeting (AKA don't buy so much yarn!)

 (My new scarf, pre-blocking. Fantastic pattern is here: Pax )

I have never been good at budgeting. When my big brothers went and put their money away in their savings accounts, I took mine out 75 cents at a time to buy candy (I must have driven my poor bank tellers a bit nuts- they were right on the way to the Quick-check where I got my penny candies!). I'm terrible for buying impulsively and just getting too much stuff.
I like my stuff, and there is very little I regret buying, but that doesn't change much. I know my spending habits need to change. I've never lived outside my means- close to the limit, sure, but my credit card bill is always fully paid by the end of the month. It's time that I started saving, though, and that means that I've written a budget and I need to stick to it.
I did my first budget in March. I didn't really stick to it, but I'm not surprised- it was just to figure out what I needed in each part of my budget, and what was realistic. In April, I let it slide. Got a bit lazy, needed a few things, decided to just spend "normally" and figure it out at the end of the month to compare. I did spend too much in April, although I still came out a bit ahead (and the Webs order on the way was totally worth it!).

Now in May I'm planning to seriously crack down. I have my budget, and I want to try and be under it by a little bit at the end of the month. It will be a lot of work. Some things will be no issue- I rarely eat out or buy drinks out, so keeping that down will be easy. It's not a habit. I pack my lunch every day.
Some parts of my budget will be hard. Cracking down on craft supplies will be really, really hard. I love new craft supplies, but I really don't need any more. I have enough projects to last a year at least.
May is no new yarn month. I would like to push that further and buy no new yarn in June, too, but I may permit small amounts of yarn. We'll see.
It's going to be really, really hard. I have enough yarn, though. I need to work my way through some of what I have before I buy more. It's getting out of hand, and I know it. It's so hard to resist when amazing yarn comes into the store on clearance and I really, really want it...
This brings me to a new rule I've made for myself. I am waiting at least a day before I buy anything (with reasonable exceptions, like that I need it or that I can't go back for it). Most of what I buy is from the mall I work at anyway, and clearance at work can always be put in my basket for awhile. A cooling off period will help me decide if I really need it or just want it.
So here's to hoping I can stick to my May budget. If I can really stick to it this month- keep entirely to my budget and not buy any yarn- I am splurging for one of the cheap back rubs at the back rub place in my mall.

On another note, I just published April's pattern. I want to try making this in fine weight yarn with just the petals in a band now. This one is more kid-friendly, I want to see if I can make it a bit more elegant for me!
Spring Flowers Headband- free pattern!

Thursday, April 12, 2012


So I was on a yarn buying ban in March. Ok, that's not true. I was on a spending money on yarn ban in March. I actually brought home a lot of yarn in March. Mostly sock yarn. I mean, sock yarn is sensible, right?
But April started and my temporary ban was over.
How foolish of me.

Then I was much more foolish.
I went to Romni.

These are all from Romni. 10 balls of the Cantata. I love the colour, it's going to make the perfect summer top. The bright blue cotton thread is what I really went for- I'm making a little shrug out of it and I knew they had the perfect colour on clearance.

I realized that I hadn't gotten the right weight of cotton with the Cantata, though. Here I was thinking my project was DK, and it was sport! But not to worry, I have DK projects too. I just needed to get some sport weight, too. I couldn't decide on a colour, so I pulled both of these out of our clearance section. Stripes!

And then last week I went in and they told me we had a washable merino and silk blend on for 1.97$ a ball. So I bought a dozen. Enough to make a sweater! A beautiful cabled sweater!
The pattern I started with this failed, so I'm just going to use the cabled panel and make up the rest of the pattern. I think it'll be nicer, anyway.

And then I went away this weekend, and we happened to pop into Goodwill to buy a corkscrew for my Uncle (Protip- in a pinch, a screw and vicegrip will open a wine bottle).
This yarn was so cheap. The crochet cotton was 1$ a ball. The three balls of Bernat Alpaca were 3$ total. And then the black Verdi cotton. It's a cotton/viscose acrylic blend. Each bag was 1$. So that's 2$ of yarn and it's more than enough for a big summery cotton cardigan. I am so excited for that project!
So that's 7$ of yarn. Oh, and no tax on that, I guess because it's Goodwill. Score.

I also got a bunch of flour sack dishtowels and embroidery supplies from work. That's right, I'm learning to embroider! Not that I really actually did anything properly here. I'm sure someone who knows what they're doing with embroidery would cringe at this, but I think he's cute! I'm going to make a set of nerd-themed dishtowels for our new apartment. We don't move for awhile yet, indeed we haven't even started looking. I'm hoping that will mean I can actually get a few of these done before we move.

I also finished this project, my Sailor Blues Shawl. Isn't it cute? I think it's going to be perfect for the summer. Just enough density and weight to protect you from cool evenings and A/C. Also, I love the colour combo. This laceweight is hanging where I can see it from the counter at work, and I am always sitting there looking at colour combos in my mind.
I stared at this one a bit too long, and I had to bring it home!