Monday, January 31, 2011

And Just How Much CAN One Woman Knit While Sick?

As it turns out, quite a bit.  Going back to Finishing Friday,originally I was only going to knit,
but a very stern sidekick persuaded me to do a bit of work on the bedspread. 
which made one of us extremely happy.
Not that I'm not thrilled to be making progress on it,
but I would be a lot happier if I hadn't messed up the final seam on the top piece& had to rip it out and start pinning again.  It's taking a bit longer than it should because I'm reinforcing and serging all the existing seams as well, as it wasn't done initially and the remaining seams ripping out would really be just a matter of time otherwise.  Remind me to make all future bedspreads.  This thing is SO not worth what we paid for it--even though I actually bought it on sale.  

Needing a break from repairs, I dug out the birthday socks that need to be finished in February, and figure out how to make the heel turn around the coin cable.  One side turned out fine, 
but the other one was a bit of a disaster. 
Now one great way to ensure Second Sock Syndrome is to invent a really fussy part of the heel turning process.  The SECOND way to ensure SSS is to discover that you have not so much made a sock as a ski cover
The recipient doesn't have small feet by any means, but I try not to give gifts that require the wearer to acquire prosthetic devices to get a proper fit.  Maybe it's just me, but Finishing Friday quickly became Frogging Friday, and I started a simpler sock with self-striping yarn.  Luckily (sort of) it was about this time that I started feeling sick, so between Nyquil bouts I had lost of time to work on the new sock, and 
 I'm already on the second sock!!!!!  (And we're going to attribute the sideways photo to cold medicine,  I swear it looked right side up when I clicked on it).  I admit, my hands are seriously tired right now, but if I am even going to come close to knitting up 25,000 yards of yarn this year, I need to average just over 2100 yards of yarn every month, and a 231 yard skein on sock yarn that is getting close to being used up is a huge temptation.  Not to mention that it's a bit hard to read anything without pictures when taking cold medicine......

 Today I also finished up the latest chemo cap
so I finish the first month of the year with  
Thirteen finished projects
1973 yards of yarn used up
10 balls of yarn used up
4.125 yards of fabric used

 Not bad!  I think even Theo is pleased...........
 

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Good News And Bad News

The GOOD news is:

I have an entire day of knitting ahead of me.

The BAD news is:

I have an entire day of knitting ahead of me because I'm sick today.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

And The Lesson Learned Today Is....



Make a note of how the bedspread goes back together BEFORE taking it apart.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

And The Project For Knit Night Was.......


The Loden Mist sweater that I started in October but had to abandon for smaller, faster projects.  It really made a good project because even though it's lace, I don't need a chart or pattern to do it.

And, I enjoyed the knitting night at the library so much that my friend & I are going back next week.  One of the staff members at the library was there to answer questions and to teach anyone interested to knit, and the library keeps supplies  ready for anyone who wanders by & might want to give it a shot (which no one did, but there was a drumming group in the room next door, and that's sort of hard to compete with on a cool-group-to-join scale, though I have to say that I think knitting-in-public has GOT to be easier & a little more socially acceptable than drumming in public, especially on airplanes and while waiting in line....).

So, I am now officially a groupy knitter.  Not to be confused with a groovy knitter, which I have never actually been....................

Monday, January 24, 2011

Eke! I'm Going To Knit Night And I Haven't A THING To Knit!

Okay, not really.  Well, obviously.  But a friend and I are going to check out a knitting club at our local library, and I have no idea what knitting to take.  The idea is to talk to people while knitting, right?  So I probably shouldn't do anything really fussy, but then again, I hate to take my super-simple "knit while reading" projects as it seems like a good time to get something a bit more sophisticated moved along.  So, beading?  No, too fussy.  Lace involving charts?  Again, too fussy.  Socks that involve cables but that I'm making up?  Is this a good Knit Night sort of project?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

She Lives!!!!

So for Finishing Friday I was really hoping to dazzle everyone with a display of finished projects--and to be fair, the green scarf did get finished late Friday night, so there is a finished project number 10, which puts me slightly ahead of my goal.  Only very slightly, but I have a feeling this year will be a "grasping at anything" sort of year.

Finishing Friday is the day of the week when my optimism is at it's highest.  Could I just work on the pink jeans jacket?  Oh no--that would have been far too rational for a woman facing an entire day of crafting freedom.  Instead.........In my very last fabric shopping trip of the year, I came across these:
in the clearance racks.  The lavender is 12 yards of nice satin that I scooped up for $1 a yard and will be converted to a Halloween costume.  After one disastrous attempt to make a costume with cheap "costume satin," I have learned that cheap fabrics are never worth working with, so I hunt for good fabrics in clearance bins, which is the only way to be able to afford to make costumes.

The green is 8 yards of suedecloth (aka moleskin, microsuede, whatever) in a deep hunter green, and while I have learned to NEVER sew this stuff into anything involving zippers or narrow hems, I love wearing the stuff.  However, as Valentine's Day is coming & we always make each other gifts, I thought it might make nice robes.  This:
is the pattern I'm using for Andy, and this
is the one that I'm making for me.  (Hey, it is 8 yards, after all).  I always find it easier to cut out all pieces together if I'm using the same material for two patterns, so Friday the cats & I laid out material & fabric all over the bedroom floor.  The robes both feature really big pattern pieces, so I decided to cut out a third project
I think the little red beret and pants will be cute in microsuede, and it seems silly to use up whole pieces of material for doll clothes when they can easily be made from scraps.  So, there was a lot of pinning & cutting, though I only got half the pieces done before my bad arm was really sore and needed a rest.  And that would explain why I started the day sewing and ended up with a finished knitted scarf.  See, it really does make sense. And it finally gave me a chance to photograph the pattern without Theo
He might indeed be the faster of the two, but I am the more patient.

Finishing the scarf gave me 1132 yards of yarn for the month so far, and in order to get to 25,000 yards this year, I need to average 2083 yards a month, so I'm a bit behind.  I pulled out the current beaded ostrich plume scarf
and while it is much closer to being finished, beading is a very stupid idea if one is trying to knit quickly.  Still, I love this scarf.  I can't ever seem to get a picture that shows the beads, but they are clear with shades of blue & purple in the center, so they really match this yarn quite well.  Can one become addicted to beads?

And, for unknown reasons, showers never have places to hang washcloths or brushes or anything, so last night I started this:
and it is now hanging from the knob in our shower.  I am guessing it maybe took 40 yards of yarn, and I like it so much that I am about to cast on another one.  It's just garter stitch with a yarn over at the beginning of each row, with the decrease shaping being achieved by following the yarn over with 2 k2togs.  In the next one, I might spread the two decreases out just a bit, but I don't get very fussy about washcloths that aren't going to be gifts.  It only counts as half a project, so I need to do a second one before I'm at 11 projects for the year.  I can't make things too easy on myself, after all...................

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sometimes I Amaze Myself......

It's possible that starting the Project of the Month bags next month probably wouldn't have killed me.  However, since I didn't realize that until it was too late:
there has been some serious knitting going on around here.  I think it might take the entire second ball of yarn, but that still means that I'm more than 50% done.  And what did I decide to do with myself today?

A WHOLE NEW PROJECT!!!!!

This one really isn't my fault, though.  Two years ago, we redecorated the guest bedroom when I found this bedspread:
We've even painted the walls a nice gold color to coordinate with the bedspread...and cat hair.  It wasn't the most expensive bedding ensemble, but it wasn't cheap either, so you can imagine my joy when several of these
popped up.  One of the fabrics was really a drapery fabric, and it was ripping out at every seam.  I tried for a long time to come up with ways to patch it without it either looking bad or continuing to rip out, but  it just couldn't be done.  So in November I found this
at Joanns.  It was thankfully on sale, and it not only matches, but has some visual interest via the pintuck diamond design, which also reinforce it just a bit.  Having the new material, I was just lacking the courage to rip the comforter apart--and here would be a good time to mention that I've never made a comforter nor repaired anything even remotely similar--but today I was a little miffed after some friends cancelled a SECOND dinner date with us because they wanted to watch football, so ripping something apart seemed like a darn good idea today.

I am encouraged by details such as this:
which are the cheesy way that the manufacturer "quilted" the batting in place.  These little 2-inch "tacks" weren't even on the seam lines.  They were just randomly anywhere.  Well, I think I can do visible little tacks as well as anybody, so my confidence grew, which is good, as it only took half of The Sound of Music for me to go from this:
to this:
I actually only have to replace two pieces, and it came apart easier than I anticipated because in spite of the high raveling factor of the fabrics, none of it had been serged.  Tomorrow I'll cut out two 12"-wide pieces and begin the process of trying to put this thing back together.  I'm guessing it might take a few more movie musicals to get me through the "reassemble" phase.  These things always seem to work that way.

In other project news, I had cut out a pink "jeans" jacket during one of Jeeves's long sojourns in the repair shop, and since it was already cut AND marked, I decided to start putting it together.  The pattern has ever single seam sewn 3 times--one regular seam, then edge stitching and top stitching on the front.  I've done 4 pieces:
and have decided that I need to change colors for top stitching.  On the good side, the thread I have matches really, really, REALLY well.  I'm thinking white thread, then embroider some white flowers on one shoulder and at one waist.  I considered black, but also in the stash I have some black and pink suiting that could make a really fun jacket, so this one can be white and pink.  Rather than keep changing threads, I think it will be easiest to set up two sewing machines and switch back and forth...which will now involve getting the cutting table cleared off...which will be easier if I cut out the fabric for the bedspread first....which is why I'm off to work on that scarf some more.......

Monday, January 17, 2011

This Is So Good, I Had To Share

A couple days ago, RobinH left some directions for button placement on a women's blouse that I thought were so helpful that I just had to share.  Some of you might have already figured this out on your own, but for those of us that would have struggled along for years with bad button placement, here 'tis:



As for button placement- a trick I learned from my mom so long ago I don't really remember when I learned it: Try the blouse on. Mark the location of the largest part of the bust. You *must* have button here or the shirt will gap. Then mark the spot where the top button will go. Then (depending on the distance between them and the size of your buttons) mark spaces for the buttons that will go equidistant between them. Then, using the same spacing, put buttons down the rest of the front until you run out of shirt.

These are the places to put the button holes. Once the buttonholes are in, line up the two shirt fronts, pin them, and use them to mark the button locations.

(As you've probably guessed, I never put the buttons where the pattern designer says- how would they know where my bust is?)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Ta-Da!!!!!!

After two days of crafting torture, one long-standing sewing WIP is finished:
and I hate to have to admit it, but I love how it turned out.  It still needs to be washed, and there is no way I would ever be dumb enough to use microsuede on a shirt like this again, but it turns out that I will NOT be roasting marshmallows over a bonfire featuring this pattern.  However, I shall not confirm nor deny the possibility that Theo wasn't the only one lying flat on the floor when this sucker was finally finished.....
It occurred to me yesterday that I really missed picking a project bag every month, so I reached into the bin & was admittedly trying to "cheat" just a bit by grabbing the handles of what I thought was a sewing project, to pull out:
which serves me right for cheating, albeit cheating badly.  So....I now have a scarf to finish in 15 days.  This would be a good time for the one-row scarf,
so being me, I decided to do something different.  It's a bit hard to see in the picture, but this is a simple knit/purl celtic knot pattern which I'm hoping will become good travel knitting, which I'm low on.  Last month I discovered that it is far easier to get lots of knitting done if one always has knitting nearby.  (I know--next I'll be discovering that one can combine knit & purl stitches to make ribbing).  So, there is a knitting project in basically any room I might go into, as well as in my car.  When one has 111 projects and 25,000 yards of yarn to finish this year, one must take extraordinary steps.   Or find elaborate justification for foolishly continuing to cast on new projects--one of the two......

Nine down, 102 to go!!!

Friday, January 14, 2011

I Think It Only Fair To Warn You....

If mistakes are learning experiences, I am on track to become the smartest person on the whole dang planet.

So, today was finishing Friday, and one of the things I hoped to bribe encourage myself to do with the 100-project challenge was to tackle the bin of sewing WIPs (for purposes of this story, we're currently ignoring the bin of knitting WIPs), so today I dug out this:
with the accompanying shirt I started at least 5 years ago.  I had the material cut out, a couple seams sewn, but as it was my first attempt at sewing microsuede (and that there were ever subsequent attempts is testimony to my stubbornness/optimism/foolishness or the fact that I bought a bunch before realizing that it was second only to those bizarre fake-fur things on the "worst possible fabrics to sew with" scale), it was soon banished to the Bin of Bad Projects and I probably spent a night or two curled up in bed in a fetal position to recover.

While I had learned to sew through sewing 4-H at around the age of 10 or 11, I loathed it and gave it up completely for about 20 years, when I decided that the pain of a breakup of a 5-year relationship would surely be eclipsed by the pain of taking up sewing again.  Being a sewing novice, I had not yet learned to fear patterns sporting the word "easy."  Like this one.  Now I don't care how experienced you are at sewing.  If you want to describe a pattern as "easy," generally it is not going to involve collars & facings and darts and FIVE pages of instructions.  The mere thought of what they might call a "difficult," or even "intermediate," pattern makes the blood run cold.  Obviously nothing less than boning, linings, and hand smocking at the very least.

So,I started the day with a pattern written by sadists and a material designed by their evil little brothers.  Let's call that mistake number one.

Mistake number two, which there are unfortunately no pictures of, was sewing the exact same seam with the exact same mistake TWICE.  And you know something, a mistake isn't any less wrong when you do it twice, funnily enough.

Mistake number three was attempting to do decorative stitching across the pocket without doing a test run first.  In my defense, I have gotten decorative stitching to work on microsuede once before, and the fact that I did my test run today on cotton instead of finding a swatch of microsuede can be chalked up to not having scraps of this material still laying around after 6 years.  Well, and a bit of foolishness--let's be honest.  Fortunately, the seams that attach the pocket almost completely cover up the hole I ripped in the material trying to rip out the snarl that was my decorative stitching attempt.


Mistake number four was misreading the pattern directions regarding the bottom button band & the hem, thinking, "Hm, that's a really unusual way to do things,"  and doing it anyway before realizing that it would be unusual because it wasn't even CLOSE to what the pattern intended.

Mistake number five: 
I WAS making the shirt with the normal shirt collar.  I am NOW making the shirt with a mandarin collar, since I not only sewed the seam that was supposed to attach this collar, I pinked the seam allowance, which would make it really difficult to rip out, then line up correctly with the collar.  Whatever.  Which brings us to this:
The hand stitching!!!!!  I thought I'd go ahead and get it all done before checking to see if I still have the button placement pattern piece after all this time, or if I'll be playing another round of "where were the buttons supposed to go?"

So, with all THIS fun today, that cross stitch is looking better and better.  This:
is what it is eventually supposed to look like.  A bit cutesy for my taste, but it was going to match a wallpaper book border when I originally started it.  What it will match when it's finally finished is anyone's guess. The padded cell this blouse is going to send me to?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Little Reality Check

Well, as anyone who has had a near-cross stitch experience can tell you, it was quite a harrowing ordeal.  My future blogging life flashed before my eyes with such titles as "Maybe going to finish TWO projects this year" and "I gained another inch today."  I would have to start handing out "I.O.U." cards instead of gifts....er, that is, more often than I do now.  If THAT isn't enough to set a knitter quivering down to the very bottom of her WIP pile, I don't know what is.

Taking a page from the vaccination idea, tonight I dug out this
and worked on it for 20 minutes.  I think this is an "after" picture, though it hardly matters.  I'm not doing the best job in the world on this as I've gone all sorts of directions & the threads are crossing every which way, but I'm 40 now, and by the time I finish this sucker no one I know will have the eye sight to notice its flaws.

Just in case this was not a thorough enough inoculation against an even-slower-than-knitting hobby, I have a reminder to do at least one thread's worth of work on this thing per month, which sounds like a really slow pace but is actually light years faster than what has been happening now.  I started this thing to go in the office of my old house, and since I sold the just under 5 years ago, I'm guessing I started this thing in 2004 or early 2005.  I figure at the new rate I'll have it done in time to hang on the walls of the retirement center Andy and I move to in 40 years. 

And craft gods willing, I won't ever buy a SECOND one to start......

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

It's Official. I Must Be Insane

Since I was out running errands today, I ran by Joanns to pick up black buttons (exactly 4 buttons), one square of orange felt (for the next round of snowmen, not the current ones), and black embroidery thread.  I was really good.  I didn't even LOOK at fabric or yarn, but obviously the stress of a severe stash diet might have weakened my brain.  While trying to figure out if the 5-, 8- or 12-sized balls of black thread meant "embroidery" thread, and whether or not it was more economical as balls or the little floss skeins (no idea), when I was viciously assaulted by a display of half-priced cross stitch kits.  It took 20 minutes to extricate myself from the wily little pouches without having to bring one home with me, but I positively FLED the store before they could rally for a second attempt.

Obviously, my brain has snapped.  For one thing, I have a cross stitch kit here at home that I started at least 5 years ago, and which I do occasionally drag out to work on....only to put it away in frustration several hours later when I discover that aside from the little-known hobby of watching paint dry, cross stitch is the slowest hobby known to craft-dom.  For another thing, I have 111 projects to finish this year, and to try to make one of them a cross stitch would be certifiably insane, even for me--which, as we all know, is saying something!

Monday, January 10, 2011

We've Solved The Nose Problem

He doesn't get one:
Truth be told, I almost never give snowmen noses anyway.  Of course, this decision was helped along by the fact that I didn't have any feltable orange yarn either (can you tell orange is my absolute LEAST favorite color in the world?)  I may eventually add a pompom to his hat, or the pattern calls for earmuffs made from a 2-inch pompom and a pipe cleaner (at least I have the pipe cleaner), but I thought he was pretty adorable as-is, so he's now on the shelf in our stairway. 

In the future, I'll be doing something different for snowmen scarves.  The scarf Frosty has is actually two bands--one going around his neck, and one draped over, then gathered to look like it was tied.  It would have been far, far, FAR easier to just have one band and actually tie the thing than to fuss around with making this one look tied, so his buddy with the red buttons will get a real scarf.  Maybe even a knitted one?

And we finally have a picture of the latest finished chemo cap,
which has a regular ribbed edge instead of the garter stitch one.  The garter stitch one with the flap is really cute, but I can make the cap just a bit longer this way, which might make it a bit more useful.

One dishcloth is also done,
which I am counting as 1/2 a project.  The second half is progressing,
thanks to Judi's suggestion of the Chinese Waves pattern.  This is a bit slower, but it's making a really thick cloth, which should be good for scrubbing.  Basically, the gist of the pattern is to cast on an odd number of rows, knit the odd rows, and alternate even rows between K2, [slip 1, knit 1] to end, K1; and K1, [slip 1, knit 1] to end. 

And lest you think I had enough to work on with all the existing projects and long-languishing WIPS, I have started the scarf for my niece,
which even with just 35 stitches is going to be really wide for a 5 year old, so it might find its way into the hands of an older niece, but I like how it's looking so I didn't want to restart it--having already done so TWICE.  We'll see how quickly I can get this moving, as I need SOMETHING for a gift in March. 

How many hours of sleep EXACTLY does the human body need.....?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Almost To Six!

Yesterday I finished the neutral chemo cap and a secret surprise project, and today I came really, really close to finishing one of these:
which are snowmen-to-be, just in case it isn't obvious.  They are from this pattern:
and Theo was so excited to be sewing again that he didn't even let me get the pattern pieces cut out before "helping."
I might have actually finished at least one of them today had the unthinkable happened:  I didn't have all the materials the pattern called for.  Now those of you who have seen my sewing room realize how amazing this is.  I have stashes of beads, felt, zippers, buttons, elastic, braid, thread--all the things that I need to complete projects in one sitting.  They aren't HUGE stashes (unlike, you know, the yarn one), but they do usually meet the needs of any project I attempt.  Until now, of course. 

It started with black buttons.  I have a large stash of craft buttons, "real" buttons, and just cleaned up on some clearance buttons.  Know what I don't have?  Black buttons.  ANY black buttons.  This:
 is as close as I could come, which would be great if I were making a frog or puppet or some sort of drug-addled snow monster, but who wants a decoration staring at them like THAT all day?  So, my snowmen have navy blue eyes.  I'm sure coal comes in colors by now, right?

Then, instead of a button mouth, I was going to hand embroider a quick little mouth.  Except that I don't have any black embroidery thread.  None.  So, I practiced satin stitching with tapering until I thought I had it close enough--and snowmen probably have crooked smiles anyway, right? 

Notice anything else missing yet?  The pattern calls for orange felt for the carrot nose--which I would have sworn that I had, but don't, nor do I have any orange fabric without prints--which again, I was sure I had.  I'm thinking they can either live without noses or if I just get one square of orange craft felt that it doesn't really qualify as "fabric" exactly.  Of course, I'm not allowed to make any rash decisions right now, as I'm still in complete shock that there wasn't just ONE thing I didn't have--which would have been surprising enough--but THREE things I didn't have. 

What's next?  Yarn I don't have??????????

Unthinkable.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Three Down!

Day 6 and the third project is done:

leaving me with 108 left to go.  I admit, it is seriously daunting to have to work my way down to 100, rather than just starting there.  I'm hoping to at least get below the 100-left-to-go mark by the end of the month.  That would help, I think.

I finished the scarf in the morning, then actually caught myself reading without a knitting project later this afternoon, so I immediately cast on another chemo cap:
As my old Lutheran great grandmother probably would have said, "Idle hands aren't going to read 25,000 yards for the year."  Okay, I never met the woman, so I'm not sure she would have said anything of the kind, and even if she had, it would have been in Norwegian so I wouldn't have understood it anyway, but as a strict teetotaler and a woman who never allowed card games of any kind, I'm guessing there would have been SOME remark about idle hands somewhere in her arsenal.  At any rate, I've used up 424 yards of yarn in 6 days, and if by some miracle I can keep this pace up, I will have used up 25,793 yards of yarn by the end of the year. 

Garden?  What garden?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I Have A Plan!!!!

So, I have approximately 149,000 yards of yarn in my stash.  At the rate I have averaged, that's about 10 years of yarn.  BUT IF I COULD MANAGE TO KNIT 25,000 YARDS A YEAR, IT'S LESS THAN A 6 YEAR STASH!

Okay, so I actually haven't ever managed 25,000 yards in one year, but until last year, I hadn't managed 100 projects in one year either.  Incredibly silly crafting goals do tend to motivate me, so there IS a chance.......

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I Am Resisting 70% Off Cashmere!!!!

Actually, 72% off:  http://www.elann.com/Commerce.web/product.aspx?catID=&id=126406

I get brownie points or something for this, right????????????????

At Least There Is Progress

Thanks largely to Theo's help, I'm getting up a bit earlier than usual and getting in a little crafting time before my day gets going.  Not that this was actually my plan, but it is working, so who am I to argue?  Besides, Theo does not have a snooze button.  So, the February birthday socks are moving along at a decent pace:
and I'm liking the results, though I think if I were to do them over, I might start a reverse stockinette stitch triangle to build into the first row of the pattern, creating a diamond effect.  I'm not sure I like the abruptness of the switch to the pattern, but I really liked how this looked on the leg of a pair of socks I made for Andy
and I wanted to play with having it start on the foot & having that little coin cable run all the way up the side.  We'll see how it turns out.

And if you're wondering why the scarf is now really long
that would be because I can't do cables at Theo's new wake-up time, nor after about 9:00 PM thanks to Theo's new wake-up regime. So there has been lots of mindless knitting....and discussions of who exactly picked Theo out at the pound anyway....

I have also started the doll scarf:
which is going to be all in moss stitch because to have enough stitches to do much of a pattern I would need smaller needles, which are not the friend of a woman working on a deadline...unlike, of course, chocolate, caffeine, and a complete lack of sense............