Wednesday, July 29, 2015

WIP Wednesday: The Light At The End ...

You guys! I am going to finish my cardigan in time! It's a small miracle, sure, but I am thrilled :) I really buckled down this weekend - Saturday night I did the short row shaping on my second sleeve, then Sunday I knitted the entire sleeve AND the button band. This is crazy speedy for me - just shows you what true desire and dedication can accomplish :) So, on Monday morning, my sweater looked like this:
 Sorry for the crappy photo, but you get the idea - lots of tails to weave in, blocking to be done. You know, the usual "after work" of sweater making. I also had quite a few nasty spots in my yarn that had to be deep cleaned out. The yarn just came that way, but I figured it would wash out when I went to block it - nope, I had to pull every trick I could think of and after 2 days of soaking with various cleaners, tide stain remover powder + dawn dish soap paste won the day. The glory of this yarn is that it's machine washable, so after soaking out the stains I just put it in the washer for a white load and let the washer spin out the excess water. This was SO MUCH EASIER than squeezing the sweater in a towel before blocking and it left the sweater much drier than any previous sweaters I've made. So it doesn't take 3 years to dry due to the lovely Florida humidity. Hooray!
I laid the sweater out last night and I actually didn't even have to pin it in place! Man, I love cotton yarn :) I was weary of getting rust spots from the blocking pins like I have in the past, so I just stretched it to the size I needed and let it lay there. This morning, it was drier, but not totally dry so I decided to go rogue and set it up like this:
Since the cotton was already stretched, I figured it couldn't hurt to dry it on my drying rack so it gets good air flow. Hopefully this does the job and I have no problem backing the button bands tonight after work - after that this baby will be FINISHED! Huzzah! Also, I have my dress done as of Saturday night, so I will get pics of this tomorrow, then post them on Friday, the 31st - just under the deadline! Yay!

Since my sweater is done, I decided I'd earned a cutesy palette cleanser last night. Last week, I went thrifting in Melbourne and hit a major yarn score - 36 skeins of brand new (with the bands and in factory bags) yarn ... and they were only 25¢ each! I couldn't throw those babies in my cart fast enough, let me tell you. I even got 6 skeins of Bernat Dippity Dots in the white colorway, which is a yarn I've always wanted to try but always talked myself out of buying at $3.99 a skein when I have such a crazy stash already. But for 25¢ ... I think I can justify that, don't you? I was itching to try this yarn out, so I brainstormed in my pattern stash and decided to make something ridiculously adorable.
I will confess, this is not my favorite yarn to crochet with - those dots make things pretty complicated. Most of the dots end up on the wrong side of the work just due to how crochet stitches are formed, so I just turned each piece inside out :) It sounds strange, but it actually feels the same - the biggest difference is that normally I would be looking at the stitch from the outside of the animal, but this time I'm forming the stitches from the inside of the tummy (hopefully that makes sense). I haven't managed to get all of the dots on one side of the work, but there are definitely more on the side you can see here. I love the effect, so I'm willing to put up with the perschnickity yarn. The yarn is also a weird gauge - it's listed and sold as Worsted weight, but the yarn itself is more like a sport weight, so I'm using a size F hook and I had to pick a very light worsted weight for the contrasting color. Anyway, this is going to be my entry for the Ami-Along (I may make more entries, but this is it so far). I'm not sure if it will get finished tonight, but it certainly will be in the next few days. I can't wait! 
So, that's it around here this week :) I feel like I can breathe a bit, and now I can focus on my other long standing WIPs. Of course this hasn't stopped me from planning another new project, but I'll say more about that soon. For now, head over to Gracey's Goodies to see what others have going on :)

Monday, July 27, 2015

Book Review: Not My Father's Son by Alan Cumming

I've always been a fan of Alan Cumming as an actor, but never really thought much about reading his book until I saw all the awards and attention it was getting. This turned out to be an incredible story, and I'm so glad I decided to pick it up.

Not My Father's Son is a memoir of Alan's life. He lived a tumultuous childhood, constantly at the mercy of his father's mood and temper. Alan's father was abusive to say the least, both physically and mentally. He constantly cheated on his wife, making no effort to hide the affairs. He would also give his sons impossible tasks for chores, and then berate and punish them severely when things were not completed to his satisfaction, pushing things to the extent that Alan feared for his life on occasion. Once Alan was accepted into drama school, his mother divorced his father and none of them had much contact with his father from that point on. Fast forward decades and Alan agrees to go on the television show Who Do You Think You Are? The show chooses celebrities who have genealogical mysteries in their family, and then films them as they learn the truth about their ancestors. Alan's mother's father, Tommy Darling, was killed in Malaysia when his mother was only 13, and no real explanation was ever given as to what happened. The family never talked about the incident much, so Alan's mother grew up constantly wondering about her father - Alan agrees to go on the show to find out what actually happened. When Alan's father learns he is going on an genealogy show, he contacts his brother to let him know a big secret - that Alan is not his father's son. This notion leads to DNA testing between the two brothers at the same time that Alan is whisked off to France and Malaysia to learn about his maternal grandfather, so he really is learning about his family's secrets on both sides at the same time.

I really loved this book, but possibly for a reason others may not understand. Reading Alan's accounts of his childhood and how his father treated him sounded exactly like the stories my dad tells me about how he was treated by his own father. I rarely hear others tell about their abuse in the same way, so that insight was very valuable to me. My grandfather seemed to live his life to make his family miserable, and did a fairly good job at it. Everyone just learned to deal with his outbursts, surviving them and getting them over with as soon as possible so they could move on to more important things in life - this is exactly the family dynamic Alan describes. Everyone just tip toes around, hoping they don't wake the bear, never knowing what the outcome will be if they do. It was so sad to hear these types of stories, but really eye opening to what our brains naturally do in this type of circumstance to make us able to survive. Having all this going on at the same time as learning about long lost family members would have been extremely stressful and difficult to take in, but I'm so glad Alan decided to write it all down. I was greatly affected by his story as it helped me understand this type of family relationship while appealing to my love of genealogy at the same time. I highly recommend this book - I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Craftsy Supplies Sale (Great Deals on Cotton + Steel and More!)

I just wanted to quickly let everyone know about the awesome sale this weekend on Craftsy. I like to periodically check their supplies when they announce a big sale, and this weekend did not disappoint. Ironically I was just lamenting last week on Curvy Sewing Collective about how I can never afford Cotton + Steel fabric since I would need more yardage than many other bloggers I follow, and wouldn't you know that Cotton + Steel is one of the brands of fabric that is 40 - 60% off in this sale! I snatched a few 4 yard cuts for myself, and I seriously can't wait!
To get to the Cotton + Steel fabrics on sale, just click this link and choose Sewing Fabric, then off to the left side you can sort the options by brand, or you can just browse through all the beautiful brands (like Robert Kaufman linen, chambray, and London Calling cotton lawn, Riley Blake, Art Gallery and more). I had to show serious restraint and I was incredibly tempted by the Frock rayon (I have a deep love of rayon right now ...), but I was a good girl. More for you to buy, I suppose, lol.

Anyway, if you are like me and just can't afford the $11.00 per yard prices of these brands regardless of how much you like the designs, you should check out this sale. Yarn and other crafting supplies are also included in the sale (other categories are up to 70% off!), so head over here and take a look around. You will not be disappointed!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

WIP Wednesday: Crunch Time!

Well, progress has been made...
Yes, that is a sleeve :) I'm glad I have noticeable progress to show, but I'm definitely worried about finishing this baby in time to get pictures of it next Thursday so I can meet the OAL deadline. And I still have to make my dress ... which I haven't started ... lol. You can't rush, you know. I'm happy to report that the fit is really nice on this cardi - I'm just hoping that it doesn't stretch out too bad being made of cotton. We shall see.

I also managed to do a little home improvement last night by hanging a bathroom cabinet that I've had for over a year. Again, you can't rush. In my defense it was a much more complicated job than I would have been able to do on my own, so my dad came and hung it for me while I assisted. Now I have a cabinet! And more importantly the built cabinet is no longer getting in the way and being moved around everywhere. Hooray!
On the reading front, I am almost finished with The Astronaut Wives Club. Being from the Space Coast, I am always interested in stories like this. I only just found out that they have made a TV series of this book and I am actually pretty bummed about that. Just the girls that they cast as these women made me a bit upset - all the actresses are a good 10 years younger than the women in this picture and they all are done up like Don Draper's girlfriends. It's sad that they had to deem these ladies in need of being sexed up for TV. Anyway, all the more reason I'm not a big TV watcher. *End Rant*
So that's what I'm up to - frantic knitting! Head over to Gracey's Goodies to see what others are making :)