Sunday, April 16, 2006


Is there some standard, a set of guidelines, for determining whether a project should be considered a work-in-progress, or an unfinished object? Is it solely a matter of time? Or perhaps it's relative: for someone who churns out over a dozen projects a year, something that has been hanging around for over a month might be considered a UFO, whereas in the case of someone who works on many projects at once, or takes a long time to finish anything, something that's been in the works for six months might still be a WIP. Or maybe it's a matter of intent: if you intend to finish the thing, then it's still a work-in-progress.

Well, I've been working on this "Sweater with Lace Pattern and Cables" in Rebecca No. 27 since last spring, when I was in Virginia. I bought the magazine and the yarn, a powdery blue Dale of Norway Stork yarn (100% Egyptian cotton), from Capital Yarns. The sales ladies were very helpful in finding a substitute for the GGH Scarlett called for in the pattern.

I remember having a lot of trouble starting this sweater. For the life of me, I couldn't understand the Rebecca instructions and couldn't make the description for the first row fit into the number of stitches that I was told to cast on. The ladies at Capital Yarns sat down with me, a calculator and a notepad and we spent around 15 mintues figuring it out.

But, after that initial obstacle, this hasn't been a difficult pattern at all, just rather tedious. However, the reason this has taken so long is that other gift projects kept coming up, and then I got interested in quilting. When winter came along and other things took precedence it didn't seem a priority because, even if I'd finished it, I wouldn't have been able to wear this spring/autumn sweater right away.

So, this was where I left it way back in September, 2005. I had finished the front and back and had started the two sleeves, working from two separate balls of yarn to make both sleeves at once so they would turn out the same length.

Today, I finally started working on it again. I've always intended to finish this sweater, and it was never far from my mind (unlike some of the projects I just unpacked from storage after my move, that I hadn't laid eyes on in two or three years and had forgotten about!), so I guess it has been - and still is - a work-in-progress. I think my longest running UFO is a baby afghan I've been working on since sophomore year of college. It's been more than 5 years!!! Of course, I mean to finish that, too. It's just more brainless crocheting than my brain can usually handle. Posted by Picasa

Posted by Lana to Bumbling Bees - Girls with Purls at 4/16/2006 08:32:00 PM

Saturday, April 15, 2006


It's been almost a week since I moved into my new place here. I've been busily cleaning away, wiping, scrubbing and mopping at every surface I find, and unpacking. Yesterday, I finally found a dresser that wasn't a) butt ugly, or b) overpriced on Craigslist, so Andrea and I went to pick it up today.

After she'd left for work (yes, the poor girl goes into the office on weekends!) I started unpacking my clothes. I was kneeling with my right knee and left foot on the floor (think marriage-proposal stance), my head turned away, when the dresser keeled over and fell on top of my left knee. Yikes!!!! I didn't even see it coming, so it came down full force! I now have a humongous bruise on my knee and a sprain in my left ankle from the force of the dresser - almost completely filled with clothing - falling down on me. Lesson learnt: Don't fill a dresser and have more than one drawer open when you're in an old Victorian house and all the floors slope inwards.

But now that I'm almost settled in, I'm looking to explore the area. I already know where the nearest library is. Check. There's a bus stop half a block away. Check. What a girl needs next (well, what this girl needs) is an asian supermarket!! Somewhere where I can get my fresh fish, a good selection of leafy, green vegetables and all the makings for Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese and Indian food!

Last time I was up here and went to a Vietnamese restaurant I asked the waitress where they got their fresh produce from, and was told that they go to the China Supermarket on Colvin Street. So, that's where Andrea, Erin and I are headed this evening. We'll scope out the place, stock up on some food, come back here to cook it, and watch a movie courtesy of Netflicks!

Then, the other day, I found this link to a list of ethnic grocers in the area. Complete and utter bliss!!!

Posted by Lana to Bumbling Bees - Food at 4/15/2006 04:33:00 PM

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Move

I've been moving this weekend, and what a task it has been!! Moocow and I took the Washington Deluxe bus from NYC to D.C., picked up our 10' U-haul in Arlington, VA, proceeded to the storage facility in Fairfax, VA (where some, but not all, of my stuff was) and loaded my boxes into the truck. Caught a movie and stayed the night at Moocow's boyfriend's place.

Neither Moocow nor I had ever driven a minivan before, never mind a small truck. But needs must, and we drove it - through the rain - back to NYC. Of course, you can't park trucks out on the street at night in NYC, so we had to borrow my aunt's driveway.

The next day, we got the rest of my stuff from storage in Queens and then, with my dad and brother in the truck and me driving the family car, we headed up to Albany.

Luckily, most of my stuff was packed up from Cornell. I had lots of small, but relatively light, boxes because I had to move a lot of it myself, so unloading the truck wasn't a big deal. I shot a picture of my emergency shower curtain before I took it down to replace it with a real one. Last time I came up, I made it out of a garbage bag, tape and some pennies.

It took the three of us almost all day on Monday to find a captain's bed and a twin mattress to fit my budget. We ended up getting the bed, with a bookshelf headboard, from Walmart. That thing weighed a tonne and was around 7-feet long, and Walmart wouldn't deliver!!! Well, we managed to get it, and ourselves, into our Honda Civic and up the stairs to the apartment. *gasp wheeze*

Now, the challenge is figuring out how to arrange the furniture Andrea and I have, and where to put all my belongings after they come out of the boxes!! I think I'm going to have to hold a garage sale! I thought I didn't have much of a yarn/fabric stash, but that's because it was in divided up amongst two storage facilities and home. Now that it's all in one place.......!

No time to knit and use up some of it, though! I have to find a job, and soon!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

sSimple skirt

When I was living in Boston, I bought a bunch of really nice orange-red material at a yard sale, but haven't done anything with it until now.

Then recently I found this website. It contains step-by-step instructions on how to make a pattern for a simple skirt. It's really detailed.

And this is the result. I modified it a little. Instead of being completely straight, I made it a very slight A-line. I made it flat-fronted instead of putting darts in it, which I think looks a bit daft. This involves a bit of mathematical fudgery. All the space you'd winch in with front darts, you transfer to the sides.

And then I had a bit of trouble with the back. I realized a little late that it is not a good idea for a skirt to have three darts in the back. (Oh LOOK! A delineated butt crack!) So I took the middle one out, and the skirt ended up a bit too big. So I had to unpick part of the waistband and add a little elastic.

And then I added the little button tab. I didn't realize my mom's sewing machine could make buttonholes, so I ended up hand-binding it. Looks like a mess, but whatever.

But hey, not bad for my first measured garment. It even has my first zipper installation and it doesn't look too weird.

Posted by Kea to Bumbling Bees - Sewing at 4/06/2006 05:11:00 PM

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Hippocow (of Plaid)

Several years ago, my brother bought a couple of stuffed moose. (Mooses? Meese? I prefer "meese".) Well I think it's supposed to be a reindeer, but I like to think of it as a moose.

The moose body is a pillow folded in half and held together by velcro. I thought it was quite clever, really. The corners of the pillow even seem to be making little legs.

So I decided to copy it. It seemed simple enough - you make the head and then sew it onto a big rectangle. I looked at the way the pieces were put together, and drew up a version on newspaper.

I cut the pieces out of the newspaper and taped them together to make sure the seam lengths matched and they fit together right. Then I carefully snipped the tape and then used the newspaper pieces as my pattern templates. It worked all right for the most part. Except I made the piece that formed the back of his neck too wide, the result being that he has a couple of darts (er, gathers?) at the back of his head for it to fit onto the body properly. Plus, I would have preferred him to have a shorter, wider snout.

As it is, he looks like a hippocow. I intended him to be a cow*, but he looks more hippo-like. Except hippos don't have horns, do they? Oh well, he's still cute. I had some leftover black yarn from my Blue Backpack of Doom so I gave him a moptop. He also has a tassel tail. I actually had to sew the hairs onto his head two at a time! (There's gotta be a better way to do this.)

There's another picture him opened out flat below. I really have no idea where to get toy stuffing in Hong Kong, so I ended up buying a cheap pillow and cannibalizing it. Problem was, the pillow turned out to be mostly foam with a thin layer of stuffing wrapped around it. The stuffing looks almost like the stuff people use to line fish tank filters! It was that cheap. So hippocow's body is stuffed with four side-by-side strips of foam partly disguised in a stuffing sandwich. He's a bit lumpy. Man, am I a hack or am I a hack?

* This is my second cow. The first I made during Christmas for Boyfriend. His nickname is Ngau Ngau because I can't pronounce his last name (Nguyen). I started calling him Ngau Yuen instead, and the cow thing stuck.

Posted by Kea to Bumbling Bees - Sewing at 4/04/2006 07:51:00 AM

Monday, April 03, 2006

Shower emergency

I was helping my roommate, Andrea, move into our new apartment in Albany this weekend. The move went so well, we decided to stay at the new place, even though there were some odds and ends left at her old place.

It was pretty late - and we were completely exhausted - when we realised that we didn't have a shower curtain for the shower stall. I just can't go to sleep without taking a shower at night, and I'd gotten all hot and sweaty moving huge, heavy pieces of furniture.

So, I "sewed" a temporary shower curtain. Our moving buddy, Erin, just happened to have a huge, black garbage bag in her purse. (Please don't ask me why, I was just greatful!) I slit it down the sides, but kept the bottom intact, so it formed a long rectangle. Using some scrapbooking tape (it's just double-sided tape) that Andrea had in her desk - which we had moved that morning - I taped the curtain by one end to the curtain rod. Then, to prevent the curtain from billowing, I attached some pennies to the bottom with more tape. It took me all of three minutes, but I had a nice, hot shower that night!

Sorry, no pictures! I didn't have my camera with me. But I'll be moving in myself next weekend, so I might take a picture then.

Posted by Lana to Bumbling Bees - Sewing at 4/03/2006 05:05:00 PM

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Dress needs home

My friend is an impulsive shopper. Not a compulsive shopper, mind you, an impulsive one.

And if you've been shopping in Mong Kok's Fa Yuen Street, you'll know that the boutiques are full of all manner of bizarre and ill-advised garments. And one day, she bought this dress. And decided it was a bad idea. And couldn't get an exchange or a refund. (In Hong Kong? Are you kidding?)

You see, it didn't originally look like this. It had one of those bunched up froofy hems. Like the bottoms of harem pants. Or a gigantic puff sleeve. You know, the ones that make you look like a mushroom. And on the front, there was an ugly brown gauze ribbon with a poorly-made swirl of beads and sequins.

I took it home, let out the hem so that it would fall straight, and replaced the brown ribbon with this stripy netting I acquired from one of my friend's previous fashion mistakes. (That was the Strangest Skort Ever Made. Some of that skort has since become a small purse.)

And guess what? After all that work I did, she still didn't want it. So now it's homeless. It does not fit me, and even it it did it's not my style. I have a tomboy reputation to maintain, you know. It looks white in the picture, but it's actually cream. It is a Hong Kong size medium, or a US size small. I think it's got what's called an "empire waist", which is elasticated. On me (height 5'3") it reaches to just below the knee. Those things on the straps are wooden beads. It's cotton, with a nylon lining inside. If you want it, it's yours. I will even mail it to you for free. Just leave me a comment.

Blue backpack (of doom)

This is the backpack I made. I didn't use a pattern, just made it up as I went along.

It's all done in single crochet, using two big discount bin Red Heart Super Saver balls of double worsted (I think), and one large ball of unidentified black fuzzy stuff I bought off the street in Mong Kok. I crocheted it using a 6 mm hook with two strands taken together - either 2 blue strands, or one blue and one black, to create the stripes. I don't think it matters what you use as long as it's pretty strong. Pick a hook that gives you a pretty tight weave. The goal is to make the holes as small as possible. Cotton would have been a good idea, but I had all this leftover stuff. I also put the hook through both the front and back of the stitch, which makes it sturdier.

I first crocheted a rectangular base, about 11X10 inches. Then I went around and around to make the body of the bag, about 13 inches high. I put the seam in the middle of the back so that it can't be seen when the backpack is worn. I also discovered that if you turn the bag around and crochet back the other way with every line, the seam won't creep diagonally. (Does that even make sense?)

Then you do the flap (line the centre up with the seam). I made mine 6 inches wide and 6.5 inches long. It's tapered up towards the end. (Decreased 1 stitch on either side for the last 6 rows). Then make a loop at the top for the toggle button to go through. I haven't really figured out a good way to do this. I braided some yarn and wove it in, but it comes loose sometimes.

I did the straps by attaching (doubled) yarn to the bottom corners of the bag and making a chain 24 inches long, and attaching the other end to the top. Then you crochet into the chain, chaining both ends into the body of the bag as you go along. I made them 4 rows wide.

Then thread in the drawstring, sew on the toggle, and it's done. I also recommend sewing a lining for it, just in case.

I wouldn't put anything really heavy, like books, in it. But it does fine for my wallet and keys and moisturizer and pens and lip balm and business card box and the other junk I carry around every day.

Posted by Kea to Bumbling Bees - Crochet at 4/01/2006 11:38:00 PM