Monday, May 31, 2010

Mission Impossible?

The fabric stash is massive and frankly, out of control. The only solution:  complete and utter taming. 

The mission, should I choose to except it:

Use up 20 or more yards of fabric by the end of May.

Should I or any of my Impossible Knitting Force be caught or killed,
the secretary will disavow any knowledge of my actions.

Good luck, Toni.

This blog will probably self-destruct in 5 seconds, because, quite frankly, the Knitting Gods are getting a little sick of the utter cheekiness of this blog lately......

Friday, May 28, 2010

I'M AHEAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The monkey socks are done!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I'm still not wild about the pattern, but I don't care!  I needed to be at 41.666667 projects by the end of May, and the socks are project 42!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Granted, I'm only 0.3333333 projects ahead, but this is ME we're talking about--I would be excited even if I were only 0.00000000000001 projects ahead.

Of course, I REALLY wanted to cast on something new, but persuaded myself to work on a dress I cut out last week but hadn't started
but haven't gotten very far.  There was *ahem* a bit of browsing patterns on Ravelry, though nothing new actually on the needles.  However, it's only 5:40 PM and the knitting night is young...........

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I Swear I Don't Know What Happened....

Yesterday this
arrived in the mail, complete with a bill thanking me for my recent subscription. 

OK.

I swear I had put somewhere on the blog that I was NOT going to subscribe to any knitting magazines this year--though I have to admit, I can't actually find the post.  STILL, that was my intent.  AND it's what I thought I was doing.  But I have a new magazine subscription here in my hands.  So today's big question is:

Am I sleep-shopping now and is there perhaps a large bag of merino on
it's way to me now????????
(And will it be wrong of me to be just a wee bit hopeful every time the mailman comes.....?)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

5 Days To Go....

5 days left in the month and I'm working with size 2 needles and fingering weight yarn.    WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE???????????????????????????

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I'm Turning the Heel!

I have just started working on the heel of the second monkey sock, and if I can finish the rest of the sock within 6 days, I will not only have my May project of the month done--I will be ahead for the year!!!!!!!!

Now if I can just finish the sock before the Knitting Gods hear such bragging and blow up my sock or something.....

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Thank You Alfred Hitchcock!

Last night--and I can't imagine why this seemed like a good idea even after a martini--I decided to watch an Alfred Hitchcock movie to "unwind" before bed.  Two hours later I was wide awake, shaking like our washer on "fast spin," and squealing "Eke!" at every noise in the house.  So, while there wasn't much sleep, there WAS a fair bit of frightened, neurotic knitting (which works best for lace because you later block the daylights out of it anyway), so....

I have finally finished that monstrous 600-yard skein of laceweight and am about 5 rows into the second.  Thank heaven & all the little knitting gods, this shawl will not take all 600 yards of this skein.  I don't think I have the strength.  I don't think Theo does either.
The ham.

And today's exciting news.....Andy finished the dowel & finials (little end things) for the tapestry, so we hung it in the guest room.
I think it's the picture that is crooked and not the wall hanging, but I'll double check that one after I've had more than a few hours of sleep.  I want to get some decorative cord to ultimately hang it, but I wanted to see it up as soon as possible, and I didn't think I could trust myself at Joann's right now.  I am never more dangerous in a fabric store than when I have recently finished a project, and having recently finished four, I could end up with the entire southeast corner of the store.  I am hoping to find a black cord--maybe with red in it?  I would have originally guessed gold, but that would look terrible against the wall.  And maybe a little silk ivy for a softening effect........?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Finishing Friday

DRUM ROLL PLEASE................

Project 41, which puts me on target for the year, is done:

Did I mention project number 40?
More napkins!  Becoming a bit like the coasters, isn't it?

Technically, I think I might look like some sort of Pepto-Bismal mascot in the new ensemble, but it really is one of my best colors.  AND it used up 4 1/4 yards of material that has been in the stash for well over a year, so perhaps I just won't wear it around anyone suffering from a hangover or nausea.......

There HAS been knitting, I swear!  The second monkey sock is progressing
and it is my fondest wish that this
is at least a teensy bit smaller than it was at the start of the week.  I have been knitting from it for the last two hours and I swear that it looks exactly the same, but I keep hoping......

Meanwhile, Theo is finding all his new fame a bit exhausting
And Calisto, out of jealousy and a desperate need for attention,
has started posing for skanky kitty calendar photos.  We're trying to boost her self-image before she gets into anything worse.......

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Hm....

Tonight Andy was out in the driveway and a neighbor driving past stopped to say how much everyone loves our cat.

As if someone weren't hard enough to live with because of his blog popularity......

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

You May Have Noticed......

.....this "knitting blog" of mine has contained a great deal of sewing recently.  Partly, this is due to the fact that I--in some insane moment of optimism/daringness/inebriation--decided to finish 100 projects within 365 days, and it's much easier to crank out a finished project every 3.65 days when one can throw sewing into the mix.  Don't get me wrong--I love knitting with all the passion that I always have, but unless you usually do even slower hobbies such as cross stitch or painting the Sistine Chapel, knitting is not likely to be one's fastest hobby.

A second reason for my new sewing dedication is that sewing can provide one with clothing.  Not to sneer at sweaters, by any means--I must personally own around 50 by now if not more--but I do firmly believe that knitted pants are wrong for anyone over the age of potty training.  It may be just prejudice on my part, but I do feel quite strongly on this point.

The third reason:  a friend of mine recently decided to take the plunge and upgrade her sewing machine.  For weeks we discussed options, and I raved quite a bit about all the features of my Husqvarna machine and we discussed all the types of things it could do and all the things one can embroider.....and I realized that four years later I still didn't know how to do a whole bunch of the things my machine can do.  I realized I even had presser feet I have never used--a few that I don't even know what one would use them for in all honesty.  But I was enthusiastic about the features (and feet) I could work.  My friend did find a machine--a lovely Husqvarna Topaz--and promptly named it "Betty."

I bought my sewing machine 4 years ago, and I admit, it never even occurred to me to name it.  Probably because I was so intimidated by the thing that the only thing I could have conceivably called it would have been "sir."  After my first attempt at an embroidery project resulted in a tablecloth that actually had to be cut away from the machine, I was even less inclined to call it anything fit for human ears.  But we've had 4 years together now, and I have stopped having to destroy projects to remove them from the embroidery hoops, so I think we're finally ready to be on a first name basis.  Let me introduce you to Jeeves:

If you are not acquainted with the Jeeves stories by P.G. Wodehouse, or the wonderful series with Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry, I do recommend them.  (But then again, I have just named my sewing machine).  In the stories, Jeeves is the wise one who knows all, and is generally there to keep Bertie Wooster out of trouble--even if it means taking a very firm line with Bertie.  That's about the relationship I have with the sewing machine.  It is computerized, so while it is normally willing to do my bidding, there have been times when it has to take a firm line and just say "no."  Usually when I'm doing something that will result in a broken needle or two.

The serger and I, however, so not have such a close relationship.  I can use it, and as long as I pay attention and do what it says, we work together nicely.  I have decided to call it "Mr. Tibbs."  That sort of sums up our relationship......

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

39

Late Sunday night I made these
which you might be thinking are a desperate attempt to add to the project tally.  Nope--they are a desperate attempt to add to the FABRIC tally.  I have currently used up just over 28 1/2 yards of fabric this year, which puts me on target to use up just under 75 yards of fabric in 2010.  If I can make it to 100 yards for this year, I'd feel much better about the little clearance fabric incident I had last month.  And be able to see the floor again.....

So today's big question is......just how many napkins can we have before some sort of intervention is necessary?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Project 38!

It's finally spring here, and I felt the need for a new summer dress.  And, since the sewing room had many, many, MANY options, I was able to make this today
without much bother.  I couldn't exactly estimate how much fabric I own, but let's just say that I've been in some small-town fabric stores with less selection......I'd be thrilled to use up 100 yards of fabric by the end of the year, but then again, I'd like to be taller.  :)

I bought the material several months ago., and was a bit appalled to find
two tears in the material--in the same location but not symmetrical, oddly enough.  If I had caught it in time, I could have put it on the front skirt of the dress & done some embroidery over the top of it, but as it is, both tears are on the back of the skirt, so this will be a wear-around-the-house dress, but since I spend most of my summer in crop pants & sun dresses anyway, it's fine.  AND....
one Monkey Sock is done!!!!!  I think I made the foot a bit big, so they'll be going into the gift bin to wait for someone with larger feet than me.  I'll be surreptitiously checking out everyone's feet before Christmas....

So...I'm just finished Project 38 for the year, and need to be between 41 and 42 by the end of the month.  Maybe time for some napkins or hats???

Friday, May 14, 2010

Finishing Friday - Theo vs. Toni

In spite of someone's  best efforts
and best efforts at ignoring me,
I have finished the wall hanging today!
Andy is making a dowel & finials for it, so it isn't up yet, but it IS project number 37!!!!

With my little sidekick's "help,"
 I made a little progress on the Christmas quilt today
but gave it up when it started to strain my elbow.  Instead, I'm working on the Monkey socks and this
which is going to be a surprise.  :)  So, if you were wondering why there has been less knitting than usual on the blog--it's because I've been in stealth knitting mode.  Aren't you impressed and/or amazed?  I'm not usually very good at keeping ANYTHING quiet, but this is over half finished and is just NOW surfacing on the blog--which has to be some sort of record for me.  This probably won't appear on the blog again for a while, but I just HAD to show it to you right now--I'm getting close to finishing a 600-yard skein of laceweight on this baby.  Whoo hoo!!!!!!!!!!  Not that it really helps with the stash space issues, but one of these days I'm going to tally up the laceweight again, and I'm REALLY hoping to finally be under 40,000 yards of the stuff--without having to add incorrectly........:)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

WE HAVE GIMPING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If I knew how to attach sound to my blog, you would be hearing the theme for Rocky right now.  I have gimped!
In case you didn't guess from the days without blogging, the idea of gimping on the wall hanging was frightening me.  I mean, decorative stitching is a commitment that one can't really back away from--ripping it out usually leaves a mark, if it doesn't ruin the material altogether.  Yesterday, just to make sure, I marked a corner of scrap tan material with one of my "disappearing" markers.  I put it in quotes because I've learned the hard way that it may not disappear from really fussy material.  Luckily, it worked on this one, so I drew a little freehand curving,
got in touch with my spine, and jumped in.  It isn't perfectly symmetrical or anything, but I'm okay with that.   It was a successful learning opportunity, and my drawing skills have always pretty much stunk, so I don't expect much of them.

If this were any other year, I would have gotten so freaked out about the gimping that the project would have been "put away for later," (a.k.a. "doomed to obscurity in the WIP bin because I don't like projects that have scared me silly"), but I need 100 projects this year which outweighs my normal tendency to be totally spineless when it comes to sewing.  Aha!!!

And there has been knitting!
I should have just changed the lace pattern as the silly K1, K1 tbl into a YO drives me crazy every 11 rows, but this is such a popular pattern that I really wanted to give it the benefit of the doubt.  That is, until the heel flap.

Normally, I do toe-up socks.  LOVE toe-up socks.  I can make them as long as I want because I KNOW it is going to work.  AND no kitchenering (grafting) which is also a huge selling point.  However, heel flaps are generally reinforced, which is a good idea and one of the few reasons I'll break down and do top-down socks.  And the Monkey socks do not have a reinforced heel.  Or, I should say, the pattern doesn't have a reinforced heel.  MY Monkey socks do:
Just a [slip 1, K1] all the way across to make the heel a bit thicker and sturdier.  

I have promised myself to try two more sock patterns just to double-check, but I think it's becoming quite obvious:

I do NOT play nicely with other people's sock patterns.

Think there's a support group?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

I'm Going To Be Voted Off The Island

Okay--I think I'm the only person in the entire knitting world who is ever going to say this, but.......

I don't care much for the Monkey Sock pattern

I know, I know--it's one of THE most popular sock patterns on the planet, and I don't hate it enough to frog the socks, but I have a real problem with this
which does NOT photograph well, but the two increases are lopsided.  The problem is from the increase--there's a double yarn over, then one YO is knit into, then one is knit into the back, which does create the two desired stitches for the next row but IS NOT symmetrical--I have that one yarn over at the bottom and then the sloppy little stitch on the left side.  It annoys me.  I know, I know--it's just me, but still.....I think it's awkward and it simply irritates me every time I get to that point in the pattern.  Obviously, I have symmetry issues.....

In other news, the overwhelming vote is for SOMETHING on the wall hanging--which I agree with.  One option is a decorative stitch--which I'm practicing.  Another is some sort of braid or cord, which would give it a little texture.  Yet a third option is gimping--which I'd heard of and wanted to try, but had never done.  So, yesterday I set about to learn to gimp.

For the uninitiated--like myself about 28 hours ago--"gimping" means to satin stitch over some sort of cord, creating a raised design on the fabric.  It has been one of those "must learn that someday" things ever since I heard about it in a sewing class, but I'd never tried it. I even have a gimping foot for my machine, so I dug it out and figured out how to set it up:
or sort of, at least.  It took me a while to figure out that there was a place to clip it in to the actual foot, but it still sort of worked, so it wasn't tragic. 
since I had a snowflake button to cover up the big boo-boo.  Turns out, my sewing machine will taper into and out of a satin stitch, which is nice.  HOWEVER, when the cording slipped out of the satin stitching (before I realized where the thread needed to be on the foot which would have prevented the whole problem), I tried to reverse to catch my mistake.  Hitting reverse while satin stitching means "taper off because we've reached the end" to my machine, which REALLY does not solve the problem of getting the cord back under the satin stitching--hence that snowflake button.  Still, live and learn, right?  There were other, more successful mittens
and I'm even sort of getting the hang of the tapering thing.  I'm not sure I'm ready to attempt it on the wall hanging just yet, so I decided to try a technique I recently saw on a sewing show.

Now, to date, nothing I have seen done on "Sewing With Nancy" OR "America Sews"--which are the only two sewing shows I know of (aside from quilting and I'm just not even going there)--has actually worked out for me as well as it did for the people on television, but I remain optimistic.  I mean, the odds are in my favor, aren't they?  I don't think sewing programs really have the cash to employ special-effects departments, so I assume that these things really DO work for somebody, even if they don't work for me.  THIS adventure was to put decorative thread into the bobbin and stitch on the back side of the material, creating a cool-looking effect with the decorative bobbin thread.  Luckily, I have learned SOMETHING through my adventures, and decided to experiment on scrap material first.  My first attempt was ribbon:
which didn't go nearly as well as it did on television.  Maybe they edited out the big freakin' snarls part.  Next I tried crochet thread, which went well enough to make it on to a mitten
but I don't know that I would ever find any other use for it.  It's definitely not going on the wall hanging--or any other mittens, for that matter.   I don't know--maybe I'd get better with practice, but wouldn't it be easier just to stretch out the satin stitch on the gimping?  Or maybe I should have tried yarn, which has a bit more "give" to it?  Or maybe I should just quit watching these sewing television shows altogether and spend the time knitting instead.......?

Friday, May 7, 2010

And This Finishing Friday's Lame Excuse Is.....

My parents were down for a visit today.  Which isn't the lame part--that would be the morning I spent playing on the internet.  BUT I did get a mitten done
bringing me to a grand total of 11.  And I got this far on the wall hanging
and now it is voting time.  Do you think it needs something added--like maybe a black stitch outline on the edge of the tan, something like this
only, you know, more symmetrical and not done with ribbon?  Or just something in the corners?  Or should I leave well enough alone before I muck it up and have to start all over again?
 
Thoughts?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Did I Forget To Mention.....

As many of you know, I lead the "Cold Sheeping" thread in my stashdown group on Ravelry--I think by default of being "she with the least amount of willpower."  ANYWAY, it was MY bright idea to issue monthly challenges this year, and the challenge for May is to finish 5 knitted projects by the end of the month.  Oh my. 

Meet May project number 1:
Mr. Flurry sans eyes.  I do intend to give him eyes, but getting to the black yarn requires moving a few things, and after a little strawberry-inspired insanity on Tuesday
I have honestly been trying to rest my arm--you know, like a normal person would.  BUT I'm counting Mr. Flurry as done.  (And the strawberry-vanilla jam, while not as good as the strawberry-balsamic vinegar one, is still fabulous & the English muffin bread goes with it nicely)

The Monkey Socks and I have worked out our differences:
I must say--it works rather well to explain to a misbehaving project what it could really mean to be banished to the WIP bin.  We've had no problems AT ALL ever since.....

And last but not least.....

See!  It really is finished! 

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Have You Ever Forgotten How To Work String?

Tonight I decided to finally cast on the Monkey Socks for the May Project of the Month.  Since I am NOT using the stretchy yarn and they are not toe-up socks, I decided not to use my traditional cable cast on as it doesn't have very much stretch and tends to make sock bands that cut off circulation.  I decided to use the long-tail cast on.

Which, it turns out, I had forgotten.

Now, I don't particularly like the long-tail cast on.  EITHER I run out of "tail" with just 5 or 6 stitches left to cast on OR I end up with a humongous tail which generally turns out to be the exact amount of yarn I'll ultimately be short to finish the project.  But, I have been knitting for over 30 years and have used the long-tail cast on quite often--often enough that it's embarrassing to find a stick & string in my hand and be unsure what to do with either one.  I actually had to look it up!!!!!!

I have had a lot of ups & downs with projects, but I think it's fair to say that this is the first time I've received a total arse-kicking from a project before even starting it!!!!!  

Monkey socks:  1, Toni:  0

Monday, May 3, 2010

34 and 35

My crafting has received a very big boost recently:  1) the weather is cold & rainy and yard work is pretty miserable, and 2) I'm supposed to be resting my arm and not doing yard work in the first place.  So....meet FINISHED project number 33:
34:

and 35:
which I promise has advanced to actual "finished bag" stage but somehow managed to miss the picture stage.  Theo thinks I'm cheating here
but I swear it's really & truly done.  In fact, project 36 is about half finished:
which is going to be a wall hanging for the guest room.  The shiny red will be a frame of sorts, and it actually matches the guest room bedding really well
Last week Joann Fabrics had a 50% clearance fabric sale, so I shamelessly stocked up on home decorating fabrics, as I had recently thought of some ideas for wall hangings & bags and other stuff.  So, that pledge to buy no fabric for the rest of the year?  Yup, totally blown away.  Still, I have now used up a whopping HALF A YARD of material, so I'll be able to fit all the new fabric in the closet in no time at all..........like maybe 2012.

You guys had my back!!!!  Thank you to RobinH and tinebeest for catching me before I combined a stretchy sock pattern with stretchy yarn--I could probably have put both feet & one knee into a single sock!  So, I either needed a new sock pattern or new sock yarn, which led to a delve into the "fingering bin," which turned up some fun yarn for monkey socks
4 skeins of the stretchy yarn that I hadn't accounted for on Ravelry
(this in addition to the 6 skeins already admitted to), and a HUGE amount of cheaper stuff that had never been added to my Raverly stash, which left even Theo dazed
Oh my.  There may indeed be a fourth year of Cold Sheeping on my horizon......