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A Sewing Machine Repair Which Will Live in Infamy

this is what happens, stevie!

The “experts” at Steve’s Sewing and Vacuum installed my thread guide backwards on my sewing machine before charging me an arm and leg for a repair and tune-up. I just discovered it when I tried to thread my machine and…couldn’t. I have learned many things through one of the worst customer service episodes I have ever experienced.

#1 Get the quote in writing–through a very sloppy and (now I’m thinking intentionally) confusing explanation of the repair cost, I totally misunderstood the quote (I thought it was about $60 and it turned out to be double!), and for a scant $100 might have just bought a new sewing machine. They also charged me for parts that they “replaced” — which actually constituted reinstalling MY existing parts.

#2 Always thoroughly check your product’s condition before leaving the store. This is so much of a “DUH” that I am embarrassed, but just have to say it.

#3 Go ahead and try to solve your own problems, e.g. fix things yourself, look up techniques, google it, and don’t let anyone make fun of you for trying (yes, they mocked me for removing the bobbin housing myself! — something I had SUCCESSFULLY done before to remove a thread jam) So with a great deal of mental swearing and trying not to cry my tears of rage, I removed and reattached the damn thread guide and outer casing. And it works! EFF YOU, STEVE!!!

#4 Don’t smile and put up with people talking down to you, mocking you or acting like you’re an idiot for needing a basic repair and tune-up. This is where my nice-girl attitude and lack of assertiveness bit me in the butt so hard, I’m gonna need a rabies shot. Take the business ELSEWHERE.

Whew, back to normal…

my usual charming self?


Miss Sadie: 2010

Hey there! First, a recap: 

Miss Sadie’s Scarflette was my first design/pattern-writing project and free pattern offering, and I’ve been thinking about her and decided that with Fall nearly here it’s time to discuss some updates and mods to this pattern. Originally published on my old blog, Girl in Sheep’s Clothing, Miss Sadie has been well-received and it’s been so much fun to see other knitters’ photos on ravelry and the Hobby Portal craft forums in Russia! 

If you take a moment to glance at the pattern, you’ll notice that Miss Sadie is simply a knitted rectangle. The transformation from (basically) a large swatch to scarflette occurs during the seaming of this humble rectangle!  As such, it is a blank canvas for stitch patterns and interesting yarn combos.  The key is to work the rectangle to dimensions of 10 X 19.5 inches. But we are not bound by sizes, are we? Bah! Make it wider, make it longer!  Do what you will! The basic shape will always turn out when you seam. 

My favorite ways to mix up the basic pattern are seed stitch and making giant art yarns by combining 4 or 5 different colors and textures of yarn and then knitting on giant needles (these Sadies also knit up super-fast!).  They are popular at craft fairs and very satisfying to cast on and bind off in the space of a single movie! 

Seedy Sadie


Purple People-Eater Sadie


Simple Sadie


Marine Biologist Sadie


Snowy Sadie


Seventies Sadie


 So, if you’re making Miss Sadie, drop me a line at stitchowl@gmail.com and send photos if you like; I’d love to share more ideas on how you’re making her your own! 

The Magic of Thrift

A recent happy adventure resulted in some new Spring clothes and an amazing knitterly find!

the colors of fields and sky

This appears to be a machine-knit (more’s the pity, but I take what I can get) vintage fair isle round yoked cardigan. It is made of cotton and ramie, how interesting and how green!

sweet patch pockets

I can’t believe how beautiful it is in person. I’ve never really owned anything with such detailed colorwork, and I’m getting bitten by the fair isle bug!

Gorgeous Fair Isle!

Already doing some heavy research on making my own!

Snow Day!

Snowed-in Saturday afternoon in Eastern PA…

"ooh ooh ooh, lookin' out my back door"

= cozy Saturday afternoon at home! [coffee not pictured]

my afternoon plans

Happy Snow Day, everyone!

Fall for You

“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” ~George Eliot

George was a woman after my own heart. But what is it that’s so magical about this time of year? Is it the cider and candy apples suddenly lining the produce section of the grocery store? Is it the crispness of the air, bright as new envelope? Or could it be the fact that one’s knitting gauge becomes suddenly even and easy with the chill in the air, and our palms no longer sweat as they did when we doggedly, dutifully knit and purled our way through Summer’s blights and boils? I think it must be this.

Fall is our annual second chance. As a person destined to be forever in school (learning and teaching and learning some more), I take school-year resolutions a bit more seriously than New Year’s resolutions. There’s something about that change in the weather and the quickening of the senses that makes you get excited about things again — the afternoons when you suddenly notice that it’s getting darker earlier, the snugness of your scarf, or the warmth of a hug when you come in from the cold.

Toward that end, I am very pleased to be announcing my own next new beginning as the Girl in Sheep’s Clothing. I will be opening an etsy shop, due to launch in early November! Sneak peek…

Ruffle Rope in Basic Black

Ruffle Rope in Basic Black

Ruffle Rope in Basic Black

Ruffle Rope in Basic Black

Funky Chunk Cowl in Purple Haze

Funky Chunk Cowl in Purple Haze

Funky Chunk Cowl in Razzledazzle

Funky Chunk Cowl in Razzledazzle

Miss Sadie in Chocolate

Miss Sadie in Chocolate

Neckwrapper in Seaweed

Neckwrapper in Seaweed

Neckwrapper in Piano Bar

Neckwrapper in Piano Bar

Enjoy your early days of autumn, savoring them along with your cider. I know I will.


Last night, I was sitting gloomily on the couch having frogged my most recent knitspiration after about a week of knitting, when my husband asked me when was the last time I finished knitting something for myself. I thought about it and came to the conclusion that I haven’t finished a knitting project since February. Yikes!

After knitting for 11 months, I decided to try breaking free of patterns and jumped into making my own knit designs, and for the most part, I had a lot of fun doing it. I enjoyed some successes, but then I turned to pattern-writing endeavors and things fell apart. As we talked last night, I realized that I don’t really have that much knitting experience, especially with different types of pieces from patterns and that I might need to return to “fun” knitting again and let the design part happen more naturally. He said, “what’s the rush?” And I said, “It’s…well, it’s…I don’t know!” What good sense he has.

So here are some of my recent projects…and there are several others *not pictured* that have been re-wound into lovely little yarn balls, just waiting for their second chance!

The Mean Reds, inspired by Holly Golightly…
Ruffles <3

A slip-stitch pattern that curls better than my hair ever will. The Little Neck-Warmer that Couldn’t (or Wouldn’t)…


Hartley, the man’s vest…


Also, I turned 25 not too long ago! Tom made it so much fun, and I’m looking forward to another great year of living and knitting!


Because of my husband’s and my full-time graduate student status, we are prone to dramatic schedule deviance that leaves us waking up later and later in the day after working long into the night/morning on papers and projects. We are both natural night owls and our evening classes do nothing to encourage character-building attempts at early rising. What I’m getting at is that we do not operate like the rest of the sane world. It is not strange for us to awaken at 3 or 4 pm and go to bed at 6 or 7 am…regularly…until one of us has some bothersome 10 am meeting that throws our life into a tizzy during which we try to readjust to being awake during daylight and asleep during darkness, but now that we are growing a little older, it’s not as easy to rearrange the schedule as it used to be. Last time we successfully switched back it took 4-7 days to normalize…sounds just like jet-lag, but it’s not, it’s grad-lag.

The other “night” was a perfect example. Trying to sleep when your body digs in its heels and flat-out refuses has a number of drawbacks. First, there is usually some [important] reason why you are trying to get a good night’s sleep in the first place and as you watch the minutes and hours cheerfully blink by on the glow-in-the-dark clock, you can get pretty upset pretty quickly. On the night in question, we hit the hay early (say 3 am), and lay there awake…and…awake…a n d a w a k e for about an hour, but things were okay, we were chatting and laughing and trying not to let it get us down. At this point you usually aren’t too concerned because you know that you aren’t really trying.

Another hour goes by and moods aren’t flying so high anymore, the birds are out there twittering amiably, but in my present state of mind, I hear nothing but their mean-spirited laughter. In the early stages of frustration (but not despair) I announce, “If I can’t sleep, I’m going to try to get something done!” The air fairly tingles with the no-nonsenseness of my voice. He agrees and we come out and work for about 3 hours. Phew, good! Got some of the stress off my back, and my eyes are stinging with tiredness and my head is fuzzy and everything I see looks kind of far away, like I’m looking through glasses with too strong a prescription — surely sleep will come now!

So down we go again, only to realize that the beautiful spring day that beckons outside our two windows is so freaking bright! Usually we sleep right through this period and are blissfully unaware of the glorious Pennsylvania morn. But now it’s high-noon and hot all of a sudden! After hurling the quilt to the foot of the bed, we lie there as ill-feeling grows.

Now what? Oh no. What is that smell?! What is that?! The neighbor downstairs is making lunch – a very heady lunch. Tom is still wondering what it could be, but with my keen chef’s instinct, I have already deduced that the man downstairs is dining on vat of pure garlic with a side of cooked onions. It’s streaming straight up through the heat vent from the floor below and the bedroom fan is propelling this noisome odor directly into our faces.

Now I’m out of bed, I can’t find my glasses, and I’m groping the heat vent, fondling cobwebs, and scraping my hands on the ancient metal vent blades. I am looking for one of those levers that might close up the vent. The odor is intolerable, practically making our eyes water. It’s so strong and so FOODY; and not in a good way, like the “oh, Miss Bessie must be baking a batch of her cranberry muffins”-way. Not like that.

There is no lever on the bedroom vent so I shove the fan in the opposite direction toward the wall to deflect the reekage, but Tom isn’t for that – it’s too hot. So he opens all the windows in the apartment. Instantly the room feels better and the aroma from the garlic-onion surprise recedes. We collapse back into bed, exhausted, and have just closed our eyes in true relief when one of the beach towels that hangs over the window as a light-blocker begins flapping madly and falls down. Now it is as bright as the surface of the sun, and we are starting to get a little crazed.

Calmly, Tom closes the windows to a crack, hangs the towel back up and climbs back into bed. Seconds later, he is up again, riffling through my dresser drawers, looking for a scarf to tie around his head as a sleep mask. He finds something and offers me one, too. I am too busy pounding my fist on the mattress like a 5-year-old and shouting, “I’M FURIOUS! I’M FURIOUS!” to reply. I scoff at the idea of tying the scarf around my eyes, but reconsider a few minutes later after staring balefully at the dents in the ceiling. We’ve never been able to figure out how they got there, and as I’m reconsidering the question, I reach for my sleep-mask.

At last, at long last we manage to drift off.

I awaken at 6 pm, even more in the hole than when we started trying to fix our schedule. I wonder why it is so dark. Oh, the sleep mask. I slip it off and look over. Tom looks like a sleeping ninja with his head bound up in a pair of my black opaque tights; one of the stocking feet rests demurely on his chest, which is rising and falling peacefully with his blessed, hard-earned sleep.