Wednesday, December 31, 2008

One is the Grumpiest Number

If you'll recall from my SAFF post, I acquired some fabulous cashmere from the Sanguine Gryphon, Taiping DK in teal. I was drawn to the yarn because I handled one of her knitted samples of Global Wrist Warmers. It really does feel wonderful!

I finished the first wrist-warmer around Thanksgiving. I love working with the yarn. I was worried that it would be pilly or have a really bad halo after being knit because the yarn feels really delicate. But, it's held up like a champ. It's instantly warm when you put it on, so I'm really excited about finishing the pair.
My gauge is a smidge too big despite going down a needle size - I just don't know how to knit tighter. I really tried to knit tightly with this project. I guess if I haven't figured it out in 4+ years I should just resign myself to being a loose knitter!
Unfortunately, I have yet to cast on for its mate. How does my lonely wristwarmer feel about that? Actually it's been quite clear about its feelings.

Somehow, it reminds me of Oscar the Grouch . . . I think it's the disapproving eyebrows.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy Christmas To Me!

My mum is a professional shopper. Well, she doesn't get paid for it, so I guess I can't really use the term "professional." But she practices bargain finding with a finesse which is rarely seen. Her latest find was this beauty which I found waiting under the Christmas tree.

Hi, I weigh 30 lbs. (Yes, I weighted it. I'm a scientist; it's what I do.)

It's a Nelco SZ-217. It did not come with a manual. And, according to the internet, the manual is no longer in existence. At this point I should admit that I am a complete sewing newbie. I can measure, cut, pin, and iron with the best of them. But I've only sat at a machine twice in my life. I've only threaded one machine needle. I've never changed a bobbin - all I know is you put your GIANT HAND into the wee tiny opening of mystery. Then some magic happens and you have a little bobbin holder in your grasp.

I embarked upon this adventure with my typical disregard of logic and just jumped in. If you don't let things intimidate you, you'll accomplish things you never thought possible. Allow me to give an example:

1. I threaded the needle. Hooray!

2. Apparently I buggered it up because it keeps coming unthreaded.

3. Oh, I missed one of those little curvy thread path thingies - problem solved.

4. About 5 stitches into my test project the needle fell out (in my defense, I didn't put this needle in)

5. Ok, needle back in. Note to self - machines with side-mounted bobbins have the flat side of the needle facing right instead of to the back!

6. Made some practice stitches. Feeling like an engineering superhero!

OK, now for the hard stuff. The pre-loaded bobbin is white, but I want to use black thread.

7. I used the machine to wind a bobbin (admittedly it took me a couple of tries to find which random knob was the bobbin tensioner). Hooray for not having to wind thread by hand! I knew my swift and ballwinder weren't going to help me with this project!

8. I open the little door and stick my hand in the hole of mystery. When my hand emerges it does not just contain the little bobbin holder but the Entire Race Assembly! OK, now I panic. I've got 1 bobbin and 3 pieces of metal in my hand and I have NO IDEA what they're supposed to look like when assembled!

9. Get tired of scraping knuckles on edges of tiny trapdoor only to have everything fall out as soon as I put it in (remember - it's a side-mounted assembly). There must be a better way.

10. My sewing machine has a trap door that leads to a secret compartment! Urr, basically I can unhinge one side of the machine and expose the underbelly. This is probably a standard feature, but I was absolutely overjoyed to discover this. Hooray for having 2 hands and a clear line of vision to work on bobbin assemblies!

11. Cleaned out the underbelly - found lots of safety pins! Buried treasure FTW! Note to self - buy more compressed air and a dust mask (cough).

12. . . . .6+ possible assembly combinations later - I have a working conformation!!! Decide I am definitely an engineering superhero. This is reinforced by the fact that my hands are covered in oil and smell of old pennies.

13. Sit down and sew my first ever independent sewing project in about 30 minutes. After 4+ years of knitting my first thought was "That was so fast - it must be cheating!"

Decide I am definitely not a take-your-own-photo superhero. Hooray for mirrors and cropping tools!

*Unfortunately, the pattern I used is no longer online.