Tuesday, September 16, 2014

And I'm Off The Sheep!

Yesterday I received an email from my favorite online yarn store saying they were changing their business model and would be selling through Amazon now, and that any outstanding credits not used by November would be lost.  I have had a $50 credit there that I've been watching carefully.  Had I known that I was going to try for 2 years without buying yarn, I would have used it before starting, but I wasn't sure I could make it even a YEAR of stone-cold sheeping.  In all fairness, I could have waited until November 1 and hoped that something I wanted was left, but I didn't want to be buying yarn just to buy yarn (when did THAT happen?), and they are my source for the yarn for chemo caps, and they've been changing their yarn lines and I'm not sure that one will make the cut.  So yesterday morning I used my credit to resupply for chemo caps, and ended my not-buying -yarn streak at:

1 year, 10 months, and 14 days

Oddly, I'm not as upset at missing the 2-year badge as one might think.  I'd really debated about going on after the gold badge because I knew I needed to use the credit soon, so the extra time was just a bonus.  AND I have enough yarn to try again, though I'm going to wait a little before starting.  Since I'm off the sheep, there are a few things I actually need.  Such as,
White and off-white cheap Red Heart acrylic.  Can you believe it?  The last Mr. Flurry used up my last white acrylic yarn, and while I was certainly not going to break a streak for that, I do like to have it on hand.  And, since it's the new fad, I did pick up a skein of the new ruffle yarns,
I'm sure it's the new Fun Fur, but I did have to try that back in the day as well.  And, perhaps the Cold Sheeping has taught me something after all, because I ended up with a stash of Fun Fur when it was big.  It was even on sale and I only bought one skein of this stuff to try.  Could that be a sign of maturity about yarn finally?

And,
a 2730-yard monster ball of crochet cotton in "natural."  All my life I've wanted to knit a tablecloth, so now I'm going to.  I hadn't decided if I wanted it in the tiny stuff or wanted to use up the larger stuff I'd purchased years ago for an earlier attempt, but now I've decided that I'll use the bigger stuff to make a lace Christmas tree garland and use this stuff for the tablecloth. 

So, I didn't go crazy.  There are still things I want to get--some green wool fingering yarn to use on the knitted ball ornaments, a little bit of fingering yarn for lace scarves for gifts, and maybe something nice to play with--like a silk-blend lace or fingering weight for me.  Nothing too major, as I still have a lot of yarn and haven't finished much in the last 2 years.  Then back on that sheep again!  And, going forward, I'll do so without the temptation of that yarn company.  I'm sure their new direction will still be good, but from what I've seen on Amazon, one will now only be able to buy their yarns in bags of 10 or 5 skeins, and odds are fairly high that I won't be tempted by that.  So it's going to be good for my stash in the future.  But I have to say, it feels really, really, REALLY nice to be able to buy yarn if I wanted to.  I'm sorry I didn't know I'd be ending my streak while we were in Victoria.  I would have liked some souvenir yarn.  Oh well.  I got a souvenir ornament pattern,
which I'm obviously enjoying AND using up fabric. 

In other news, I had a great birthday on Saturday.  I even had a real Finishing Friday, so
I designed and embroidered fall towels for the mail bathroom.  I had every season but fall.  Have I mentioned lately how glad I am I bought that thread chest?  While the towels were in progress, I laid out the labels for some Santa Bags I want to make:
I want to add something like "Elf manufacturing, North Pole" or something to that effect, and maybe "Do not open until December 25."  There are some really cute versions on Etsy, but I don't have digitizing capability, so I can't make designs--I can only combine things.  But I think they'll be fun.  I'm going to make them out of red and white felt, I think.  I want them to be sturdy enough to be used and, frankly, use up something in stash.  :)

Saturday morning I opened up my birthday box I packed last year, and found a book
 which I didn't remember buying.  It's used, and until this year I've always considered Ruth Rendell a safe bet as I like her mysteries, but the last book of hers I listened to, The Bridesmaid, was a huge slog to get through and not anything I enjoyed.  So, let's hope for better.  Speaking of better, the yarn in the box was
 To celebrate our 100-projects-finished year in 2010, RobinH sent me 5 skeins of this lovely squishy yarn, which I made into a shrug.  Later, I found an entire bag of this available on Little Knits on sale and snagged it.  Wearing the shrug always made me think it would be a really great sweater, and now it's going to be.  I meant to cast on immediately, but Andy was arranging a party for that night and my parents came down for a late celebration on Sunday, so there wasn't really any knitting time.  I did, however,
 pack up the birthday box for next  year.  Just think, if I didn't have such a crazy stash, I might remember what was in it when I pulled it out next year.................:)

Friday, September 12, 2014

I Have Walked 18 Miles This Week!!!!!!!!

Which explains why there is no crafting update..............

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Toni in Wonderland

So the new allergy drugs make me sleepy.  I feel like Alice in Wonderland with the cake and mushrooms and whatever else she took to make her grow and shrink.  Mercifully, none of them have made me grow as I really don't need that.  But today I am trying the scary-hyper drugs during the day and the sleepy steroid nose spray at night.  It will reduce the effectiveness of the steroid, but it also took the steroid a while to make me sleepy, so I'm hoping to get a break from that as well.

Crafting goes a bit slower when one is sleepy, but there are a couple new lace ornaments,
 the kimono shawl is now more than half way done,
YAY!  The icky yarn has been delivered to our local branch library, I have cut out fabric strips for new kimono ornaments,
tried to do some laundry,
and decided to try out the fabric garland pattern.  I swear that the fact that it sounded like a quick project that would add 4 yards to my tally had nothing to do with it..............Or if it did, I have been justly punished for such an idea.

 I started off well.  I have a wavy wheel for my rotary cutter, and while I cannot use it in conjunction with my rulers, it was actually far easier to draw faint lines with yellow chalk and cut along the line anyway.  It makes a nice effect,
 and hopefully stops raveling. 

In the directions, before the designer got the ruffler, she gathered them by hand, so putting two strips together,
 I started gathering by hand.  Did I mention I am not great at hand sewing?
Yep--that's blood.  I stabbed myself in the thumb.  But being as accident-prone as I am, this would not be the first bloodshed during decorating as there was a spectacular incident with my last real Christmas tree that involved 5 stitches.  After I quit bleeding, I continued to speed along until my thread broke.  I had the thread doubled over, but I was using the Coats & Clark thread that won't work in my machine, and apparently hand sewing is too much for it as well.  I tied it off, rethreaded and tried again, making it only a little way before the thread broke a second time.  I know it isn't the best thread on the market, but seriously????? 

Putting that garland away for its own safety, last night after a day of cleaning and putting up fall decorations, I decided to try a different methodInitially I was going to just zigzag over a piece of cotton crochet thread, but I didn't want the weight of the thread added to the garland, so instead I dug out my multi-cord foot.
Sorry it's such a bad picture, but the foot has 7 holes in it, and by threading some of the dratted Coats and Clark thread through two of them and improvising a way for everything to spin freely without being all over the floor,
 I stitched two of the pieces together by zigzagging over the top of the thread.  I had a VERY proud moment at the end when I remembered to tie a knot in the C&C threads so they wouldn't come unthreaded when I was finished. 
 Just two threads isn't such a big deal, but I have used it with all 7, and most of the day was spent threading the darn thing. 

 That worked pretty well for gathering, though I had a bit of a hard time with the next step.  She had satin stitched across the top to secure the ruffle.  I tried a bit more of a zigzag, which of course did not work.  In the end, I just stitched 3 straight lines and called it good.  Mine is not nearly as pretty as hers, but then again, I'm not trying to sell them either.  Finally,
I have a finished garland!  After the fluffing (which is when one understands why there are TWO fabric strips), I am pleased with how it came out.  I still need to add ties of some sort, but I needed a bit of a break.  I'm already thinking of doing a set of these in two shades of green for spring--which of course, I don't already have and which would not use anything in the fabric stash.  I think I see a chance for a bribe here...................

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Party Planning in the Days of Autocorrect..........

(tonight, via text messaging)

Andy:  Greg said Frank is in town, and will bring him along to your body party, if you would like.


Toni:  I didn't know it was a body party.  Toning or burying?

Andy:  Which goes best with pizza?

Toni:  Probably burying, since I think pizza is Sicilian...............

And We're Down From The Ceiling!

Seriously, has anyone ever taken 12-hour Sudafed without knowing that it was a stimulant?  It's one of the drugs you have to buy from the pharmacist because people use it to make meth--which is surprising as the last thing I would have thought anyone would want to do was to INTENSIFY the feeling of just plain old Sudafed.  So, being a foolish person who tends to believe that over the counter drugs are relatively harmless, I took Sudafed for 48-hours before I finally went to the doctor for something less scary for allergies.  It's not quite as silly as it sounds--the first night I couldn't sleep, I assumed it was just because I had taken Nyquil for 3 nights in a row before that, and that usually would make it hard for me to sleep the next night.  But the following night when I was exhausted but ready to repaint the bedroom at 3:00 AM, I did figure things out, and have stashed away the rest of the scary Sudafed until maybe a future Christmas where I am stupid enough to still be trying to finish gifts at 2:00 AM on Christmas eve...........

Once I stopped shaking, I pulled out the very last spring table runner to finish,
and I have to say, the walking foot and I are almost friends.  Almost.  I wasn't actually sorry to put it away, but I feel like I know how to use it at least.  Since I had prepped some practice material, I also practiced my stippling,
which was better free-hand than when I was trying to follow lines.  Maybe the "free-motion guide foot" would be better for trying to follow lines.  I need a bit of practice.

Andy is putting together a small party for my birthday next weekend, and we're doing Make Your Own Pizza.  I have wanted to make a chalk board table runner, so I thought this would be the perfect reason to finally get it done.

Nancy's Notions had a "special" where if you ordered two yards of chalkboard fabric, you received the project book
 for "free."  Since their chalkboard fabric is twice what it is at Joann's, it's not actually THAT much of a deal, but I thought the fabric would be tricky to use and wanted some directions.

The BEST thing about the project is that at least I didn't try it while on speed.

I don't know if I was still a bit fuzzy or what the problem was, but I didn't find the directions in the little booklet all that clear, so I found the program on Youtube:
That helped, but they showed the runner being made in small scale.  What they did NOT cover, then, was how in the heck to work with a 47-inch stiff, heavy, and remarkably awkward piece of chalkboard fabric.  And, to make matters even more fun,
 they didn't explain how to get the big honking CREASES out of the fabric which are there because they folded the chalkboard fabric for shipping, and the suggested warm-iron-on-the-back-using-a-press-cloth method is no match for the creases from shipping.  After ironing it TWICE, you can see how much of the crease was still left. 

Interestingly, the fabric has to be "cured" before it can be used,
 which involves rubbing it with a piece of chalk and while I used regular chalk sticks and NOT sidewalk chalk (which doesn't work apparently), the chalk left scratches in the chalkboard fabric even when rubbing the chalk on its side as instructed, and they're apparently permanent.  And the chalk doesn't completely come off, even after several wipes with a damp cloth. 

You've heard of pet shaming?  Meet project shaming:
But we have a chalkboard table runner.  And it is an only child. 

There is NOTHING like a frustrating project to prompt me to throw things away (or just throw them), so this morning I dug out my Red Heart acrylic stash and dumped all the colors I won't use again:
For years, I knit Christmas stockings for people when they got married, and while I dislike Red Heart acrylic for almost anything else, it really is good for Christmas stockings and Christmas ornaments.  The rough, scratchy nature that I dislike so much is perfect for crafts, so I've always hung onto it, and I did use it to make afghans many, many years ago, so I had some leftover yarn from that.  Well, I am probably never going to make an afghan again--I just donated all of mine to a charity shop.  And, while I might still make Christmas stockings, I have never made the bear-patterned stocking and am seriously unlikely to do so at this point, so I don't need any brown.  I can't even remember why I have the peach yarn, so the 12 skeins in the cardboard box are finding a new home.  And later this afternoon I might take some of the survivors and sit outside in a lawn chair and knit some more mitten ornaments....

In the meantime, I have started cutting out the new Christmas stockings,
 and would be much farther along if someone weren't napping on my lining fabric:
 He's such a big help.

Being too big of a softie to move him, I decided just to keep cutting.  I have strips ready for a set of 4 kimono ornaments, and
decided to play around with some fabric garland ideas.  Eventually, I want to make some of these, and I swear it isn't just because I want a ruffler--though, of course, I do.  But I'll be making the first ones by hand just to make sure I like them.  However, thinking about it, I thought one could also use the same technique to make large rosettes/flowers for the tree (or maybe centerpieces?).  I couldn't remember how tight I could get ruffles by changing my differential feed on the serger, so I tried out two 3-inch strips to see what happened.  Initially what happened was finding out that I have sewn so little in the last couple years that I couldn't remember how to change anything on the serger, so the serger workbook and I spent some quality time together, and while I did get it to work, to try out the rosettes I'll need to pull them by hand as the above ruffles are as tight as the serger goes.  However, I thought these were rather fun, and am now thinking about lowering the differential feed a bit for a slightly more relaxed ruffle, and making a garland that way.  What do you think?  I used my wavy blade for the outside edges to reduce the raveling, though I could always finish the edges with a rolled edge.  Or I could kick Theo off my ironing board and try the other garland first...........

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Hm.....

So it turns out that when a medication says "non-drowsy formula," it can mean either that the normal version makes one sleepy and this one doesn't, or it can mean "we're-not-allowed-to-call-it-a-stimulant-but-you're-not-going-to-sleep-for-the-next-two-days.........."

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Almost...

So I didn't quite end August on target for 100 projects in a year, but I finished this pillow
 
last night, so I'm close.  I can still make it.  I'm not as sure about the 100 yards of fabric from the stash, however, since I haven't even reached 35 yards yet, but there are some sewing WIPs laying around.........

The pillow is a birthday gift for our friend who plays the ukulele--or one of our friends who plays the ukulele, as they're quite the popular little instrument lately.  The fabric is one of the very oldest in my stash--I can't remember for the life of me what I bought it for originally, but it makes a great pillow.  Project number 66 DONE!

And, I have made one gift for "Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye" for the fall stashdash.  As you might have noticed, I posted an edited fall challenge based on the one I led last year on Ravelry.  It's not on Ravelry this year, but I really enjoyed it last year and thought my WIPs could use a little boost.  If you're in the same boat, feel free to play along.  The fun thing is, we did this challenge last year, and I packed away project boxes for myself for my birthday and for Christmas of this year.  Well, my birthday is a week from Saturday, so I'll finally get to open my project box and start something new, then repack it for next year.  I think this could be a fun tradition.  It may not be new yarn, but yarn-I-haven't-seen-in-a-year-and-might-not-even-remember could be almost as exciting.  

Speaking of which, it has now been 1 year, 10 months, and 1 day since I last purchased yarn.  Why is my stash not smaller????????????????????????????