Friday, March 29, 2013

Finishing Friday

For those of you who enjoy doing math, it might have occurred to you that for me to stay on track to finish 365 ornaments this year, I should be at 90 ornaments by the end of March.  Ahem.........

Which explains why this morning was spent working with felt:
A second ballet slipper ornament set, though this time I forgot to add the stuffing
or, more accurately, I was feeling too certain of my memory and didn't check the pattern.  Some things overlap in the knitting and sewing worlds.....

I spent a few minutes looking through my Christmas books to see if I had a template for a Christmas tree ornament, but not finding one I decided I could probably make one without too much difficulty, so,
I have designed an ornament!  The idea behind this year was to force myself to try all the ideas I have running around in my head but which I haven't ever had the nerve to try because they might not work.  I was counting on the desperation factor pushing me over that hurdle, and it seems to be working nicely..........

And, while I was figuring out my little tree,
Jeeves pumped out another lace ornament for me, which brings me to 63 ornaments.  Not great, but it was a great start to the day.  Unfortunately, it was almost 70 degrees outside today, and this is where the sewing room lost me to the backyard.  You know you've been through a long rehabilitation with a back injury when pulling weeds is exciting, but it has been a very, very VERY long year.  Tomorrow morning, though, I'm heading back into that sewing room.  I don't think I'll come close to 90, but closer would be good..........After all, "closer" counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and dieting, so why not crafting?

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A New Ornament

We're finally (mostly) getting spring, so I've been catching up on gardening and some long overdue cleaning, but I did have a little time today to try a new ornament pattern I've been wanting to try:

They're felt ballet slippers, and the bow there is supposed to be in gold cord--which I don't have.  I do have SOME gold cord, but it ravels and can only be used when the ends won't show.  Small matching pink ribbon would work as well, but I don't have that either.  Pink felt with white ribbon could work as well, but I think I have those either.  I took ballet for 10 years and taught for 2 or 3, and I tended to wear black or white slippers, but black wouldn't look very festive.  Ideally, I would now make the matching Mouse King ornament to go with the Nutcracker theme, but I don't have gray felt either.  This is going to be a long year.

Theo didn't feel inclined to help today
I think he's saving his energy for Finishing Friday.......

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Be Vewy, Vewy Quiet...........

Be vewy, vewy quiet.....I'm hunting WIPs.

I have, right at this moment, 21 knitting WIPs.  I got to count the new socks as a WIP for the Spring Flower Basket Dash, so I earned an azalea:
Standard Azalea - Rhododendron fastigiatum 
That motivated me to continue on with the lilac baby sweater, AND to dig out a scarf
 
that has been languishing since January for no good reason.  These could be finished WIPs 2 and 3, and I'm hoping that finishing 3 WIPs in a row might just allow me to catch that very illusive fever known as finishitis.  It's the most rare condition known to knitting world, but I know it exists--I was lucky enough to catch it once, and finished 14 WIPS in a row.  If I can manage to catch even a light case, it would be marvelous, and I'm starting to feel that little finishitis twinge...........

If I'm vewy, vewy careful, maybe I can catch a wabbit finishitis..........

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Look At This!

I finished my Waterfall Rib socks, and without even trying, they are as close to identical as I have ever gotten with variegated yarn:
I had actually given up on the whole idea as it never seemed to work, so of course the Knitting Gods decided I shouldn't get off that easily, so now I will be haunted by how very close these came.   Of course, my first impulse would be to grab another ball of yarn and see if I can repeat my success, but luckily that involves moving many bins of yarn and I have distracted myself by this:
 The Spring Flower Dash has entries for 3 WIPs, and the socks count as 1, this baby sweater is close enough to be within striking distance for the second AND would count for "Lily" as well because the yarn color is "lilac," AND it's a gift so it would fill "Carnation" as well.  The fact that I have crept back up to 21 existing knitting WIPs may also be a factor in my new-found finishing determination..  Well, that and the fact that I'd like some of my knitting needles back............

Friday, March 22, 2013

Finishing Friday

Last night I cut out the interfacing pieces for the jacket, so I could start on it bright and early this morning,
but not earlier than Theo.  Apparently he's rediscovered the joys of sewing, or at least the joys of interrupting sewing.  This is why it's best to craft multi-task.  Even when they're both with me,
 the cats just can't be everywhere.  Even when it seems like they can.....

I was able to distract them long enough to get three more icicle ornaments made:
and a gold snowflake:
I decided I didn't need to be a purist about appropriate color choices.  I get a LOT more open-minded when I'm really far behind.

The socks got a bit of action today while I was embroidering,
and Theo had the other machine occupied, and the jacket did finally end up with some progress before my back got tired,
and since we had snow when we woke up this morning, I could actually get this finished in time to wear it this year.  Unless Theo has other plans, of course.........

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Stash Flash

It's supposed to be "Flash Your Stash" time on Ravelry, so
meet the lace yarn.  You're right--it's probably not at all smaller than it was a few years ago.  Remember that self-pity purchase over my back in 2011?  Let's just say I seem to believe that lace yarn has magical healing powers.  Ahem..

This:
is the yarn I'm either currently supposed to be using, think I will use soon, or just want easy access to.  Or we could also call it, "two containers of yarn I was just too lazy to sort."  That works as well.

This is about the time that my back decided it wanted no part of lifting pounds and pounds of yarn around, so we're just going to see pictures of the three tubs under the stereo:
and the bags of yarn that love to drop on anyone crazy enough to get close enough to the closet:
and the less-threatening lower shelf:
and these are the worsted weight (non-feltable) tubs and the fingering weight tubs:
which is all I could stand for one day.............. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Very, Very, VERY Close Call

As you know, I am trying to buy nothing from my personal account for one year (which, incidentally, will be up at 12:01 AM on November 1, just in case you were wondering).  Today I almost blew it.

I've mentioned the Great Decisions group I'm in, and every-other week we meet in a library very close to a fabric store.  For the sake of my credit card, I've been trying to avoid even being NEAR anything too tempting..bookstores, fabric stores, anything even remotely resembling a yarn store.  Really, home and the gym are sort of my world right now.  But, today I was really close to a fabric store, had a little extra time, and was trying to rationalize buying more white machine embroidery thread.  And believe me, as someone who has been both a professional fund-raiser and spent a long time in sales, I can be very persuasive at times.  It was so close, but luckily I decided to get myself some coffee before the meeting, and apparently I've been getting out far less than I thought I had, because the coffee shop I picked has been closed for a while.  I didn't know they could ever go out of business, but by the time I found another coffee shop, my extra time was up and I had to get to my meeting.  Saved by coffee!!!!!!!!!!! 

And this week, I'll be leaving my credit card at home, just in case........

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Spring Flower Basket Dash

It's spring, and time for another basket-dash on Ravelry..or in the blog world.  Really, it's just a way to make spring cleaning about yarn, but isn't everything really about yarn anyway, or is that just me? 

Anyway,

Between March 16 and May 31, find the cheeriest bag or basket you own and fill it with:

Azalea – finish 1 WIP
Poinsettia – complete one holiday decoration or gift EARLY
Carnation – make one gift
Daffodil – finish a second WIP
Tulip – start and finish 1 project
Jasmine - make a project you’ve wanted to make for at least one year
Columbine – donate one item (yarn or otherwise) to charity
Aster – finish a third WIP
Crocus – try a new technique
Rose – write someone a real letter or notecard
Lavender – do something nice for yourself that DOESN’T involve buying yarn
Lilacs – take a 30 minute walk somewhere you can smell flowers
Poppy – contact someone you haven’t seen or talked to in at least 6 months
Daisy – finish or frog one item
Hyacinth - try something new
Lily - make something involving a flower--the name of the yarn, the name of the pattern, an actual flower, or reminds you of a flower
Primrose - Flash Your Stash!!!!! Take pictures of your entire stash to share with our group for the annual April unveiling!
Cosmos – spend one hour organizing your stash or cleaning your craft room
Zinnia – make something in bright colors
Marigold – Decrease your stash by 1,000 yards
Petunia – plant something. It can be a real plant in a garden or a houseplant, or teach someone you know how to knit

As always, feel free to include your other craft hobbies as well. Insane stashes rarely travel alone……………:)

Friday, March 15, 2013

A Visit To The Land of Actual Finishing......

In the past few years, I've made quite a few lace scarves.  I kept a few, gave a few as gifts, but had started wondering what on earth I'd done with them:
Turns out, they've been long-time residents of the Bin of Needs-Blocking Knitting.  Yes, you do see 6 scarves, 2 baby sweaters, and part of a baby hat.  That was the first project this morning.  I'd like to say that the bin is now empty, but then again, I'd like to be taller and I'd like potato chips to be good for me.  Let's just say that the bin is slightly less full now.

What prompted such responsible (and, frankly, uncharacteristic) behavior this morning?
 
"Flash Your Stash" is coming on Ravelry.  This is when you take ALL your yarn out of the bins, photograph it, then share the pictures on Ravelry.  Personally, I think it's the knitting equivalent of a horror marathon.  Technically, a less-full bin of finished projects really has no impact on the size of the stash, but it will be something LESS in the sewing room, and when I face the great lace weight bin, I'll know there's less in there.  Technically, it's the smallest bin, but it contains BY FAR the most yardage and honestly only fits in the smallest bin because there are two bigger bins sitting on top of it to smash it.down.  One only opens that lid with caution--believe me.  

Speaking of things to be approached with caution:
the problem ornament is done.  Okay--I am willing to concede that every single mistake was because I failed to read the directions, but this ornament will be in the gift bin all the same. 

To redeem myself, I decided to play around with some beads:
which turned out rather fun.  Because it's fingering yarn, I strung all the beads on the yarn before starting rather than adding them as I went along as I do with lace.  In the future, I think fewer beads would be fine.  I'd purchased red and green beads on clearance when shopping for a gift for someone else, and I am rather proud to have used them, as there might be a lot more beads in my stash that I bought "just because" than beads I bought for specific projects, and there might have been a little doubt in my mind as to whether or not I'd ever use them.  So, I've used some!  I am NOT a bead hoarder.  Just a bead stasher......

The March Madness sweater needs a little thinking right now, as the charts in the magazine don't match up exactly with the charts one has to download from Vogue's website, so it hasn't been conducive to the relax-in-the-evening knitting for a few days, so
the new socks have gotten some attention.  I'm at the toe decrease on sock number one, so hopefully I'll finish this up tonight.  Socks for me always look like they have such little feet now that I make a lot of men's socks, but I swear this will be correct.  I don't like to make socks that are exactly the same length as my foot no matter WHAT the pattern books say.  I need them to be snug, and by the end of the day I prefer the heels closer to my actual heel than my knee cap.  Call me crazy.

 And, lest you think it has been abandoned,
the floral jacket is moving along, the top stitching of the pockets was just as hideous as I remember, and we're just moving on.  Luckily I already know that no one notices once the jacket is made.  Or they're nice enough not to mention my uneven top-stitching, which also works. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Great Knit Picks Fiasco

As most of the knitting world knows by now, if you have purchased anything from Knit Picks in the past few years, your credit card might have been swiped and been receiving fraudulent charges in the past couple months (this in spite of the fact that their web checkout SPECIFICALLY says they don't store your credit card information).  They weren't actually hacked--it sounds like the server was sort of unsecured.  Now, if you are aware of this, you didn't hear it from Knit Picks themselves.  Nope. You would have found out from someone else, most likely Ravelry.  That is because vigilant knitters finally found a security breach announcement on the California Attorney General's office, here:  https://www.privacyrights.org/node/55899

The California notice says that the breach was made public on February 11.  It was cross-posted to a group I'm in on Ravelry on February 15.  Knit Picks customers were notified by email or mail...........NEVER.  In spite of the fact that 46 states specifically require a breach that gets a customer name AND one other identifying piece of info, such as a credit card or bank account number, be notified ASAP, no one was emailed and according to a poll recently conducted on the Knit Picks Lover's group on Ravlery, as of this morning 160 people purchased during the supposed time frame (which seems to be a gross underestimation) but have not received a letter from Knit Picks.

Finally, after lots of angry emails and a pretty big pummeling on their FaceBook page (which Knit Picks initially chose to deal with by locking their page to other posters), Knit Picks FINALLY released a statement on February 17.  Not on the main page of their website, and CERTAINLY not in an email to their customers.  Nope, it was buried in their blog on their website and on their Facebook page.  Not ONCE has it appeared on their main web page, or in one of the EXTREMELY frequent emails customers get.  If you don't happen to follow their blog or FB page, you were screwed.

Now, from my reading, this lack of notification NOT ONLY probably breaks consumer protection laws in almost every state in the union, it's incredibly poor customer service.  When LinkedIn got hacked and passwords were exposed, everyone on it immediately received an email warning, even though I'm not sure that was required as it's a free site and I can't imagine what sensitive information could have been gained.  But, kudos for looking out for their members.  Ravelry was even hacked once, and again, all 2 million members heard about it immediately, and while I'm not sure what anyone could possibly gain from looking at my stash, I changed my password as they recommended.  Better safe than sorry, and I appreciate them looking out for me.  So the silence from Knit Picks, when almost every single knitter I know who has shopped with them in the last 2 years has been experiencing some sort of credit card fraud, some for several thousand dollars, is disappointing, to put it lightly.  Their notice buried on the blog tries to imply that it could be other companies that didn't come forward, but here's the deal:  the laws require notification, so unless a whole bunch of companies have chosen to violate consumer protection laws, that is unlikely.  It would also be statistically unlikely that the only group of people I know getting nailed with widespread credit card fraud this year are knitters if it was another company.  It is also extremely unlikely that if Knit Picks had actually mailed letters to their customers before their statement on February 17, it again seems statistically impossible that the poll conducted among a group of people who are self-proclaimed FANS of Knit Picks would show that there are 160+ people who bought during the time frame Knit Picks said were the customers affected and notified who HAVE NOT received a letter, and ZERO have.  I mean, snail mail might not be the fastest thing on the planet, but three weeks is sufficient time for a letter to take a few detours and still have been delivered.  I'm not sure there's anyone left in the knitting world who believes those letters were ever sent.

I've actually been a big fan of Knit Picks for probably about 10 years.  I was buying from their catalog before they even had their yarn line.  But, there is just no justification for how they have been behaving during this.  Luckily, while it looks like someone did try to do something to my personal card, Bank of America sent me a new card before I even knew what had happened, so I haven't had the problems others have been having.  That still doesn't change that Knit Picks could not possibly have handled this in a worse manner.  Had they emailed customers as soon as they discovered something was wrong--even if it said they weren't sure who was affected and who wasn't, but that customers should take proactive steps and put their cards on fraud alert just in case--I don't think anyone would be upset.  As knitters, we probably would have rallied to their side as one does NOT attack one of our own.  But the stonewalling, lack of communication, disregard for their customers, and denial is unforgivable.  I don't think they've even done what they were LEGALLY required to do, much less what they MORALLY should have done.  It's too bad, as I have liked their yarns, but I just can't do business with them again.  Doing business with a company on-line requires trust of that company, and after their handling of this, I know they no longer have mine.

Today's Question For the Universe

How many times do you have to fail the

"prove you're not a robot" test

before you start to wonder?

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Aha!

Okay--as I'm knitting the mistake-ornament while having my morning coffee (having had to undo one row already because I did one too many increase rows), I was beginning to get a bit nervous about the 365 ornament plan, possibly because it seems that I will be knitting THIS particular ornament the rest of my natural life.  Between kicking myself for not getting a bit more white embroidery sewing thread and trying to think of other colors that could be used for the snowflake and icicle ornaments without it looking too stupid, it finally hit me:

The spending ban will end November 1 - NOT December 31!

I can BE a little behind, because I will have two whole months in which to make icicle ornaments with newly-purchased thread!  Whew--so if I'm still working on this stupid little stocking in JULY, I might still be able to catch up!  

Whew!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Well, Why Stop After Just ONE Mistake?

I'll bet you thought there might be a picture of a newly-knitted ornament today, didn't you?  Nope!  It turns out it wasn't enough to do it wrong and have to start over again.  Nope!  I had to restart it a SECOND time, and frankly, we're not on speaking terms right now.

Instead, I decided to "sew" for Finishing Friday,
which is in quotation marks because MOST of the crafting time was spent laying out and cutting pattern pieces, which is always the most frustrating part of this jacket.  Or used to be.

It's my own fault, really.  Having made this jacket from this same fabric before, I knew that the regular metal foot was very slippery on the fabric as it's usually treated with something.  Luckily, when I bought Emma on Ebay,
 she came with a couple feet I didn't already have, including a Teflon foot:
Under normal circumstances, this is supposed to BE more slippery on things like vinyl, but as anyone who has ever made a garment from home decorating fabric will tell you, this fabric is anything BUT normal, so it actually grips a bit better.  I even did some test strips just to make sure, THEN even remembered to take notes of what needle position I was using for the top stitching and edge stitching for each piece, and let me tell you, I was feeling pretty dang smart...........

which is right about when I discovered that I had forgotten to set the tension correctly so after doing the seams, top stitching, and edge stitching on four separate seams, I get to do every single one of them over.  

Is 5:30 too early to go straight to bed?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

So..........

So, you know how embarrassing it is to be 5 rows into a project only to discover you misread the directions?  Well, imagine doing it on a Christmas ornament you've already made three times. 

When one has been THAT clever, maybe it's time to get some sleep...............

Monday, March 4, 2013

March Madness - Day 4

Okay--I really only joined March Madness the night of the first, but I was hoping to have used up the first ball of yarn by now.  I'm really, really, REALLY close,
but I am obviously working with magic yarn, because I've been almost at the end of the ball of yarn for an entire day.  Not that a never-ending supply of yarn is anything to sneer at, but I sort of already HAVE that.  It's called the stash.  If something were going to magically never be all used up, why couldn't it have been my bank account?  Sigh..........

Aside from being mired in the never-ending-ball-of-yarn, I love this sweater.  The pattern is interesting, but not so complicated that I have to be checking the chart on every row,
and I love the shaping.  The only concern is that while I am getting gauge, gauge is measured over a pattern involving cable and ribbing, so I think I could have gotten "gauge" with about 4 different needle sizes.  I suppose the good side to this is that it could also fit me in about 4 different sizes, but if I have THAT sort of weight fluctuations, a sweater is NOT going to be my greatest problem........ 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

February Totals

I'm glad I had a big yarn-stash-busting year last year, because this year is likely to be dismal.  I did know that when I decided to make 365 ornaments, and because so many ornament patterns are improvised, I have no idea how much yarn they're using so will just count the entire skeins when they're finally used up, but it still makes for some very embarrassing February numbers:

skeins of yarn used:  2
yards of yarn used: 689
yards of fabric used: 15.875
ornaments made: 18

I guess as long as I can see a visible dent in ONE of the stashes each year, that's something, isn't it?

Friday, March 1, 2013

March Madness!

This
is not my fault.  It's Barbara's fault.  Today is March first, there might have been a bit of spring fever in the air, and I think we all know my weakness for playing along.  So, I am now participating in March Madness and will be attempting to knit this entire sweater before April.  Totally not my fault.  The fact that I have been wanting to start a new project for weeks and would jump at any excuse has nothing to do with it..........

Andy's been gone again this week, but I wasn't able to do as much sewing this time, though I did manage to finish his Valentine's shirt,
except for the buttons, which I'll let him pick from the stash.  I also made some progress on my patchwork squares,
though I'm thinking I have a long way to go..........
A long, LONG way to go......

I did get one final ornament finished for February,
putting me slightly behind at 53.  I think the sewing mania needs to ebb just a bit, but not before:
This might look familiar to some.  Like this familiar:
I made this jacket two years ago, and it was one of my absolute favorite things I've ever made.  So what did I do with it?  No idea.  I've even checked in the black-hole-that-swallowed-the-pajamas with no success, and I was so upset about losing it that I decided to make another one.  If the other one ever turns up, I can always give it to a friend.

Now I'm off to cast on the new sweater, which I'm hoping will help this toddler sweater as well:
I started the sleeves yesterday, and they are in boring old stockinette stitch, so if the new sweater gets a bit tiring (or my normal inability to knit monogamously kicks in), I have an almost-finished WIP with simple knitting into which I can channel my knitterly flakiness. 

Let the madness begin!!!!!