Monday, October 20, 2014

Something Old, Some Things New......

It might surprise you to learn that I have a rather large number of projects in progress.  Of course, only if you haven't seen my sewing room or followed this blog for more than a day or ever MET me, but still there IS a remote chance you could be surprised.

Sometimes a project gets set aside because I have found something more interesting to work on. Sometimes one gets set aside because I am about to send it through the food processor if I have to be around it for even another second.  And sometimes it's because I have reached a part of the project which intimidates me. Which is where our story begins today.

Back in 2010, I started working on a mitten garland for winter/Christmas.  It's actually been a fun project because craft felt is wildly inexpensive, so it was the perfect time to play around with techniques and ideas.  I learned to gimp, tried using decorative thread in the bobbin, played with decorative stitching, and have pretty much just had a great time with them:
Some worked better than others, but I'm up to 27 finished mittens.  The stopping point, however, was how to string them together.

A few years ago, a friend of mine gave me a knitting spool, which makes a lovely i-cord and I thought it would make the perfect garland.  And it probably would if I were going to live that long.  4 years later, I have 5 inches done.  Yep, fabulous idea for a 25-foot garland.  Then I had the idea of putting two ribbons together and sewing them together using one of my decorative stitches and a wing needle.  I lined up two colors of grosgrain ribbon.....and lost my nerve.

Finally a couple weeks ago, I decided enough was enough, tracked down a wing needle, and decided to either get the darn garland made or destroy some ribbon trying.

If you've never seen a wing needle, the following picture isn't going to help much:
It's a needle with blades on either side to actually cut a hole in the fabric.  ON PURPOSE.  One of the decorative stitches on my machine is specifically designed to work with this needle, and it stitches a little star with a hole in the center.  It's apparently wonderful if you want to tat or crochet an edge onto a fabric project because it gives you a hole to pass the thread through, or if you just like the novelty of punching holes in fabric on purpose.  My idea was that this hole would work for hanging mittens.

After a few false starts (such as trying it on just one ribbon, which destroyed the ribbon AS WELL AS shoving it down into the bobbin area), I finally got things going:
As you'll notice, it makes the ribbon a bit ruffly, which I don't really know how to solve.  We're calling it a "festive" look around here.  And in case you were wondering,
 it takes quite a while to sew 25 feet of ribbon.  I tried ironing one end to see if it would flatten out, but it looked worse, so the "festive" twisting stays and,
I have finally started to assemble the garland!  I have 27 mittens done, but a lot more cut out, so we'll see how far this takes me.  I hope to have it all put together by January when I put up the winter decorations.  So, it could be finished just over 4 years after starting.  That's not bad, right?

Which is what I'm using to make this:
seem a bit less idiotic.  When at the Oregon Jo-Anns, I might have been viciously assaulted by some self-patterning sock yarn................which travels in packs,
as you know.   Yes, there was sock yarn on its way to my house even at that time--in fact, it was being delivered THAT DAY--but it's self-patterning.  I like self-striping yarns as well, but I prefer the ones that don't look like random patterns, and I'm seeing less and less of them, and as I generally prefer nicer yarns than Jo-Ann's carries, I was not on my guard.  I'm probably lucky that I didn't end up with any MORE of them.  And my credit card and I will be spending some time apart for a while..........

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Once Upon A Time........


.....(otherwise known as 2009), there was a crafter who thought up a lovely project while on pain pills--not the pain pills for her back which make her nauseous and cause stomach ulcers, but the heavy-duty pain pills the medical community gives one after surgery because making a patient sick, groggy, stupid, and incredibly sleepy reduces the chances of the patient ripping out stitches.  This crafter started a pieced tablecloth that would require 180 quilt blocks without checking to make sure that she had enough fabric for all 180 quilt blocks.  This cannot be blamed on the pain pills because she would have made that mistake without any drugs, but perhaps the idea of 180 blocks might have given her pause.  However, stupid ideas do not even slow our heroine down at the best of times.  While on medication, they seem positively wonderful.  And that is how our heroine ended up with
a well-aged set of quilt blocks waiting to be something other than a magnet for cat hair. 

Deep within the heroine's land lies an evil empire known as Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores which is now ruled by the Demon King known as "Superstore" where hopeful crafters go to die a slow, heartbreaking death at the eternal bog known as the "cutting counter" where two employees slowly taunt them by calling out numbers of crafters who have long-since perished from starvation while waiting for the previous 400 numbers to be served.  There was a brief glimmer of hope in the land known as Hancock Fabrics, which, while run-down and having less selection and employing only those lacking the ability to cut straight lines, at least provided crafters with a refuge from the Superstore.  However, a terrible virus known as "upselling" struck Hancock Fabric, and crafters were mercilessly driven from the store by clerks pushing one product after another at them in an attempt to make the crafters sorry they ever set foot in the place.  Used car salesman watched in awe at the tenacity of the clerks and carefully took notes for future reference.

This left our crafter in a quandary.  Risk the deadly slowness of the cutting counter at the Jo-Ann Fabric Superstore or face the onslaught of product pushing at Hancock Fabrics?  Fate, however, smiled on our heroine this week.  She had to journey to another land known as Ontario, Oregon, and in this foreign land lived a Jo-Ann Fabrics which was not yet under the rule of the demonic Superstore, and where the lines didn't yet contain the populations of small countries.  And while the staff still suffered from the obligatory technology problems, they were actually helpful and quick, so it is quite possible that the store has been hidden under a magic cloaking spell to protect it from the curse of "cost-cutting decisions" that brought evil Superstore to power.  As in all fairy tales, treasure lurks in magical places if one just looks hard enough, and
our heroine has emerged triumphant with TWO yards of the missing fabric after abandoning all hope of ever seeing it again, and will be tackling the tablecloth once she gets her project table cleared off, which is another story entirely................

The End

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Are You Sitting Down?????

There is a finished cross stitch project!
Okay, it's stamped rather than counted, but still, how often do "finished" and "cross stitch" end up in the same sentence if "therapy" isn't also mentioned?  It still needs to be washed and ironed, but I'm so giddy with excitement that I'm waiting a bit to double-check everything before washing it.

And,
the purple chemo cap is also done!  This is a much better picture of the color, which I just find completely cheerful.  The additional chemo cap yarn will arrive today, so I have a blue cap on the needles now, and while 3 doesn't really make a spacial dent in the chemo cap yarn stash, it does make me feel a bit less like a yarn-hoarder--more like a Fiber Protection Specialist...........

And Project 93,
is finished as well.  For the past year, 6 of us have been having monthly "New Recipe Dinners."  When I proposed it, I had actually suggested 4 times a year, but we've had such great luck and such fun that it morphed into monthly.  In one of the planning emails, "Dinner Gang" was mistyped as "Dinger Gang" and the name was such fun that it stuck.  So, I thought these would be fun host gifts for when the other 2 couples host.

Theo doesn't really enjoy embroidery very much,
and he's right that I have other projects I need to get back to.  I'm still slowly working on leaves for the fall table runner, but as I get each new piece of fabric ready, I have been cutting about half a yard of each one into 2.5-inch strips:
I love the idea of the jelly roll bundles of strips and have come close to buying them a few times, but I've had some real difficulties with fat quarters being cut horribly wonky, and don't trust fabric companies to be better with strips.  Besides, I already have fabric that needs to be used.  I want to try French braid and bargello quilting (for table runners to start), so this way I'll be ready.  Since I'm now ahead on finished projects, maybe later this fall would be a good time to tackle a major WIP like a quilt or a sweater........?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Almost 91!

I was really hoping to be showing you a finished object right now, but

at least I'm very, very close.  This is one of the colors I got with my credits, and I love it.  It's a bit brighter in real life, and I think will be quite cheerful--considering it's a chemo cap.  And it might be making me feel good to finish another one while more of this yarn is now making its way to my door.....

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Two Things.............

IF you had been on a strict yarn diet for almost two years, what would your breaking point be?  I think I've been pretty good--I used my $50 credit to get yarn for a white shawl for me (reward yarn) and the rest I used for yarn for chemo caps.  Then the odd little things I didn't have--the white acrylic, the mens' scarf, the crochet thread, and the one ruffle scarf.  I have to say, I surprised myself.  I have held out against 1/2-off sock yarn, and had even resisted an angora blend worsted at a fabulous price, but this morning I finally broke.  For one day only (of course) the place with the fabulous angora yarn and the sock yarn was giving away 10 balls of chemo cap yarn with purchases over a certain amount--that amount being enough to get the angora yarn and a bit of sock yarn, conveniently enough.  So......................there might be some yarn on its way to my house at this point..........In my defense, it did take $35 of free yarn for my favorite project to push me over the edge and it's STILL one of my smallest purchases ever from this particular company.  So, maybe I have learned something.  And maybe I'll hide my credit card until January.......

And just on an interesting follow up from yesterday, TODAY in Idaho we learned that none of us really understand how the Supreme Court works.  Even though same-sex marriage is a pretty divisive issue, in some ways the last few days have been relatively unifying here.  No one on either side has any idea how anyone's marriage can cause anyone else to work longer hours, have affairs, drink more, or take up hobbies.  And NOW none of us fully understand why Idaho was granted a temporary emergency stay this morning to halt same-sex marriages, which were set to start today at 8:00 AM, when they were ordered to start in other states.  Even though we all studied government in one of our high school years, anything involving attorneys is much more complicated than the rest of us could ever dream.  Think of the most confusing knitting pattern you have ever attempted.  Now, replace every commonly-used word in it with obscure Latinate words with a minimum of 3 syllables, take out the actual measurements and replace them with footnotes to other patterns--the older, the better--and then, for good measure, throw in 20 pages detailing in great but purposely obtuse detailed jargon adescription of what knitting actually IS.  This is what the legal documents look like.  I've read the rulings thus far, and since I minored in political science until my last year of college, I did know several of the precedents being cited and looked up others, and I almost barely understood what was happening, but was finally saved tonight by The Atlantic, which at least sort of clarified the confusion.  Historically, one could usually pretty easily classify the Supreme Court as "liberal" or "conservative," but this particular court has managed to alienate pretty much the entire country at one point or another, so it can't be called either one.  Again, this isn't turning into a political blog, but it just isn't very often that an entire state is scrambling to understand legal technicalities, and it is possible that the Idaho case could be the one the Supreme Court finally has to hear.  I believe we'll find out more tomorrow. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

So Tonight In Idaho.......

...the entire state is trying to figure out how time-consuming hobbies amongst heterosexual couples have been caused by gay people, or at least by gay marriage.  Because that, as it turns out, is one of the arguments our governor tried to use in front of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to persuade them to allow Idaho's same-sex marriage ban to stand.  I don't think one is allowed to call someone an idiot in a legal ruling, but they came pretty close in a (for attorneys) rather humorous ruling striking down Idaho's ban today:

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"[Governor Otter] also states, in conclusory fashion, that allowing same-sex marriage will
lead opposite-sex couples to abuse alcohol and drugs, engage in extramarital
affairs, take on demanding work schedules, and participate in time-consuming
hobbies. We seriously doubt that allowing committed same-sex couples to settle
down in legally recognized marriages will drive opposite-sex couples to sex, drugs,and rock-and-roll."

This is not a political blog, nor do I want to turn this into a place to debate anything political, but I did think my fellow crafters would appreciate the humor--especially since it comes from a man who spent much of HIS free time out at bars drinking and racked up a DUI while Lieutenant Governor, which seems to have been the catalyst for his first wife to ask for an annulment.  And as Idahoans, we are no strangers to providing the nation with political humor.  Remember Larry Craig?  Not only is he from Idaho, he's from my home town.  There would have been a "home of" sign, but the town only has 150 people and doesn't have an actual public men's room anywhere, so we didn't have anywhere to hang it.  So, we're sort of used to the ridiculous, but apparently we can still be shocked.  With hunting, fishing, whitewater rafting and kayaking, ski resorts, wilderness, golf courses, trails, bike paths, wineries, and horses on any lots bigger than half an acre, everyone in the entire state has a time-consuming hobby.  Except, apparently, our governor.  And not a single one of us knew it was because of same-sex marriage, which wasn't legal until today.  But I guess we really, really, REALLY know how to plan ahead here. Guess I need to go turn on the music, grab a glass of wine, and hit the knitting!

When One Door Rots, Another One is Filled With Fabric.......

You might have noticed a sudden upturn in my crafting productivity lately.  Sadly, there isn't an accompanying big new amount of free space in the sewing room--it's probably not even really any less frightening--but I am up to 89 finished projects so far this year.  Why this sudden upturn in creativity?  Because the garden was a dismal, dismal failure this year, so at this time of year when I would normally be canning I have nothing to can.

One of my beds of tomatoes got hit by a fungus, but new extreme heat patterns did the rest.  People can debate global warming all they want, but the lovely thing about science is that it doesn't need one to believe in it--it just is.  And my garden really just isn't this year.  I had such an overabundance of tomatoes last year that there's nothing we really needed this year, but some soups would have been nice.  However, pulling weeds is something my back can't do this year, my allergies have gone completely crazy, and so the garden and I have been taking time apart.  Normally, this week the garden would freeze, though we had such a late, hot summer that it isn't going to be doing that here any time soon, so we might actually get some tomatoes after all, but it does mean that I'm not trotting downstairs every morning to fire up the canner.  So, I have free time this year.  So,

 
It needs to be ironed, but this is the latest chalkboard table runner. The idea is good and I think they will be very handy, but besides the fact that they are really hard to make, the fabric-trimmed ones aren't very practical because these really shouldn't be washed. Now I want to use them for entertaining, which means food is GOING to end up on them and, because this is the way things like this work, it is going to end up ON THE FABRIC PART. What then? So, while this is not nearly as decorative, it's going to be a much better gift, and the fact that it was easier to do is just a nice little perk..............