Friday, July 27, 2012

Let The Ravellenic Games Begin!

I'll be quiet for the next 2 weeks as I will be busy knitting for the Ravellenics.  What are the Ravellenic Games you ask?  It is a friendly personal challenge competition held over at Ravelry while we enjoy the Olympic Games being held in London this summer, all the information can be found here in the Ravellenic Games 2012 group.

My projects competing in the Games are as follows:
  • Castle pullover knit with Cephalopod Yarns traveller in san francisco bay, I'll be heavily modifying the neckline on this one to be a round neck rather than the boat neck in the pattern.
  • Milanese Loop cowl knit with Knit Picks Capra in carnation, a holiday gift that I am attempting to complete in a week while on vacation.
  • Tropical Lily using stashed Knit Picks comfy in sea foam and planetarium, this one is a n attempt to use up some leftovers creatively and to hopefully work on my intarsia techniuque as I'll be knitting all the garter border stitches in the darker blue.
  • Babette Blanket, yes I already started this one but I plan on getting one of the huge sections of it done for the Games, especially as I haven't touched it in several months
  • Silken Scabbard, I blogged about making this sweater when I first made it, but I don't wear it as it is really hot and the alpaca in the yarn makes me super itchy.  So this project is getting frogged and I will reuse the yarn to make myself a vest that will be work over shirts.
I am so excited to get started and have been prepping my projects for weeks, getting my yarn  all organized, swatching done for each project, and the biggest thing, planning out all the math for my Castle pullover.  The athletes all train for their events so this is me training for mine!  Excuse me now while I make sure my favorite knitting spot is all ready for me to plant my backside while I enjoy the best athletes the world has to offer doing their best and I knit along with them like a mad woman.  Mass cast on at 11:30 am my time (9:30 pm BST), it's time to begin!!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Veggie Garden, year 2

I'll be honest, we didn't eat much from it last year.  The kids didn't like the carrots, the broccoli never materialized, the radishes were spicy, and neighborhood critters got into the rest before I had a chance to harvest it.  This year we are hopeful for better results having started from seedlings instead of seeds except for the pumpkin that a critter got as soon as the first leaves appeared.

This year's crop includes two varieties of tomato, two varieties of bell peppers, a cucumber, a zucchini, and green onions.  The tomatoes are going gangbusters, I think we will definitely plant them along the fence next year and train them up a trellis, yup-look at that pic again, definitely need to do that!  We have been enjoying those tomatoes regularly, every few days more are ripe and ready to eat.  Destructo-Boy loves to eat them fresh off the vine, I have to keep reminding him to hold them for me as I pick them instead of taking a bite out of each one I hand him. 

The cucumber isn't producing that much, but the two I've had were nice and juicy.  Likewise with the zucchini, not much is coming from it this year and the one I have harvesting was so tough I wasn't even able to cook it up.  Maybe I waited too long to harvest it?  Still waiting on peppers, one is growing off the chocolate beauty plant, and just the one.  I wonder if peppers are just hard to grow?

Tomatoes, yum, we will definitely keep doing those next year!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Magical Mystery Sewing Machine Tour!

I got bit by the quilting bug, badly apparently as this just came home with me on Friday.

tldr; Hey!  I shopped around & got a new sewing machine!

It all began because of the quilt I am making for Lil' Miss (isn't it easier to blame our foibles on someone else?) I looked at the meager machines available for sale at my JoAnn's while I was there buying fabric to back her quilt.  They were Singer's and none too fancy, a whole lot more expensive than my current Singer but just didn't seem to have the extra harp space I was interested in.  So I went home, thinking about how maybe it was time to upgrade my machine.  I looked online, I perused various blogs and discussions about which manufacturer was best and tried to compare as best I could.  Which sounds great, but have you ever tried to find the price of a sewing machine online?  It's like they're a national secret or something!  I finally realized I just need to make a trip to my local sewing machine dealer.

Happily my closest dealer is in the same shopping center as my JoAnn's and since I needed to get some batting anyway...  So I went in and told the nice salesguy what I was looking for, a machine good for a novice quilter.  He starts showing me this lovely machine, demonstrating what it does and all the cool bells and whistles on it as I am coming to the realization that this machine is way out of my league.  So I ask how much it is and almost loose my bladder right there on the floor, $2399 plus tax!  This is so beyond the budget I had in mind of $500 that it is just sad.  I explained there was a monetary constraint to this purchase and did they have anything more in my price range.

He showed me a perfectly serviceable used machine (who knew a 20 year old machine would sell for $500!) and their limited selection of lower priced machines, yes, $500 is lower priced in the world of sewing machines.  As he was getting call away to assist another customer he mentioned the machines up by the front window that were their best-sellers, Pfaff Amitions, and that the store did offer financing.  I looked at them but was feeling so overwhelmed that I needed to go home and resume my internet searching for these specific models now that I had narrowed the field somewhat.

Have I mentioned that shopping for a sewing machine has a lot in common with shopping for a car?  Trade-in's, financing, servicing plans, oh my!  Anyway I came home and resumed my search, looking specifically at the Pfaff Ambition line, because with the 0% interest financing I could definitely swing it.  The reviews overall for these machines were glowingly positive and everyone seemed to love the built in walking foot.  Although the used machine was perfectly nice, I will admit I wanted something new, I like me some bells and whistles.

meet Pfrannie Pfaff... I think we are going to be good friends, she and I

I was able to pick the brains of my friends in regards to my sewing machine quest and their advice was to test drive any machine before I purchsed it.  Their preferred brands were Viking and Bernina, but since Bernina is so far beyond my means I didn't even consider it.  As for the Viking I found that the Sapphire line seemed comparable to the Pfaff Ambition line, and after further research I focused in on the Sapphire 835.  I located my local dealer for their machines and planned to go test driving the next day with my 2 selections in mind, the Viking Sapphire 835 vs the Pfaff Ambition 1.5/

I charged up my ipod to entertain the monkeys while I was doing my test drives and got an early start the very next day to compare one right after the other.  The very nice sales lady at the Viking dealer went over the machine with me, not pushy at all and answered all my questions.  What I particularly liked about it was that there was more harp space than the Pfaff, about 1.5", and when you take your foot off the pedal the presser foot automatically lifts, a nice feature for doing straight line quilting.  I did not like that there was not a bobbin sensor for the model I was looking at (every damn time I sew I run out of bobbin thread and don't notice until at least a foot of fabric has gone under the needle, so this was a priority feature for me), and even on sale this machine was $100 more than the Pfaff with less stitches available and no integrated walking foot, a separate one would have to be purchased for another $100.  Additionaly, this dealer did not offer any financing or trade-in rebate.

At our second visit to the Pfaff dealer I homed right in on the machine I was interested in and the sales guy there went through a whole demonstration of all the features of the Ambition 1.5 for me, again he answered every question I asked kindly and with respect.  After sewing on it a bit, I was pretty happy with it and was ready to ask about pricing.  Turns out it was on sale, plus they offered trade in credit, and financing with a minimum $1000 purchase.  I really liked the integrated walking foot, the huge selection of 196 stitches including 4 alphabets, and the specialty buttonhole foot on the Pfaff.  The financing deal was the final trigger though, both machines were great but the ability to stretch those payments out over a year at no interest was what got me to pick the Pfaff, plus the offer of free classes on how to use the machine, a free service at one year, and the ability to trade up in one year while being cresited for the full value of the machine I just purchased (not that I will actually take advantage of this, but nice to know it's possible!).

check out all those stitches!

So yea, I am the proud owner of Pfrannie Pfaff, an Ambition 1.5.  I have barely started to play with her but I already know I will definitely need that free 'Get to know your Pfaff' class!  As typical for me though, this was partly triggered because I know to do free motion quilting you need to lower the feed dogs or cover them...guess what I found while packing up the Singer to take for the trade in?  Yup, that's right I found a cover for my feed dogs right there in the accessories storage area.  Oh well, still not sorry in the least that I upgraded, now I just have to learn how to use this fancy machine!
Related Posts with Thumbnails