Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Almost A WIP Frenzy

Anyone remember this?
It's an Alice Starmore (she of the lifetime-commitment sweater patterns) design on size 2 needles started in September of last year AND it is the WIP getting attention today.  While I'm incredibly pleased that I am working on an existing WIP, it's not a WIP that I'm going to be able to finish soon.  Unfortunately, that means I am unlikely to stay committed to finishing WIPs.  But I am pleased to say that I finished the sweater yesterday, so one WIP is finished.  My WIP-finishing record is 14 and I have 21 knitting WIPs and a huge stash of unlimited sewing WIPs.  Could I finish 14 WIPs of any sort in a row?  I'd possibly have to make an exception for ornaments so I don't fall behind, but could I do some serious WIP wrestling for the second half of the year................?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

We're On Vacation!

Though, to be fair, I haven't relaxed quite as much as Theo.
My little sidekick is finally his old self again.  I'm still giving him two kittty meds, but mercifully they are capsules that can be sprinkled on his food.  Of course, being a cat he can still make that extremely difficult, and has pretty much decided that if he has to eat wet food, it must be the most expensive one I can find (Fancy Feast Appetizers but ONLY the fish flavors--can you beat that?), and there are days when I chase him around the house with the container to try to get him to eat enough to get the drugs down, but it's still better than the continual trips to the vet or the antibiotics. 

Andy is away on business for a couple days, so
there are some new ornaments.  My freehand embroidery skills are still rather poor, but as we have TWO Christmas trees, we also have two backs of trees, so felt ornaments seem like a good way to practice.

And--brace yourself--after the ornaments were done (and the bills paid and the garden watered), I dug out:
It isn't my oldest WIP, but it is probably my most ridiculous one.  It's a sweater I started in October, and which has been waiting for me to finish the seams for at least 8 months.  I was going to wait and surprise you all with a picture of a finished WIP, but I thought the shock might be too much.............

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Day 208.........

Being summer, the first thing I did this morning was
I am a pickle fanatic, and for the last two years we've had a dismal cucumber crop, so I've been growing a bit concerned about our pickle supply.  Commercial pickles contain food dyes, so to me it's worth the effort to make our own, but it does get hot.  Thank heavens for air conditioning.

This afternoon, staying out of both the kitchen and the garden, I finished the two in-progress heart ornaments,

and made two new stocking ornaments:
Can you tell that I love this design for a stocking?  Beads, sparkly trim--what's not to love?  Especially as these bring me to 219 ornaments on day 208, so I am 11 ornaments ahead.  Thank heavens--the tomato canning is coming....................

Friday, July 26, 2013

I've Had Better Finishing Fridays..............

My back is still sore enough that I have both ventured to take one of the anti-inflammatory/pain pills that caused the ulcer AND I missed my pool walking this morning.  As I am the youngest one there by about 20 years, I am in for some serious ribbing on Monday.  I had even reached a new milestone:
I wore out my water shoes and had to make another personal-spending exception for new ones.  The floor of the pool I go to is rough enough to strip the hide right off one's feet, so shoes are a must, and this time I decided to try water shoes with a bit of support.  The sales lady at the local swim and run shop said they would fall apart in 6 months, but she says that about everything.  She said the ones exactly like I had would last less than 3 months, and they've certainly lasted for more than a year.  The weird thing is, she didn't have a more expensive model she was trying to sell me--she seems to be just a pessimist.  I think the swimming suits I bought there several years ago were going to spontaneously combust in 30 days as well, and they're still going strong several years later.  I hope she's not on commission. 

I did get two sets of all my physical therapy exercises done, then I went downstairs to clean up the kitchen a bit before hitting the sewing room, and
 was viciously assaulted by a glass that broke when I was washing it.  It's not as deep or long as the bandage would lead you to believe--it just wouldn't stop bleeding.  Andy was on a conference call at the time, so I had to make-do with the bandages I could work with one hand.  We have a reception to attend tonight, so I'm trying to think of a good story for this.  Cutting myself while washing dishes is only slightly less humiliating than hurting myself while scrubbing toilets or vacuuming (or, for that matter, getting my arse kicked by a Thanksgiving turkey), so I'm leaning toward rescuing a small child from the Doberman that now lives across the street or something involving fixing something mechanical like my car or the furnace--though perhaps the dog story would lead to other problems, like someone asking if I'd gotten shots or something.  How can one cut oneself without sounding like a dope or someone in need of further medical attention?

Of course, the worst part is that with this stupid bandage on, I can't knit.  Luckily I finished up another mitten last night,
but it won't be getting any little friends today.  Kind of unfortunate, so I'm a little bit ahead of schedule and 3 or 4 of these today would have increased my lead, and with canning season coming on, I may need it.  What do you think the odds are that I could hand-stitch felt ornaments without accidentally stitching them to this idiotic bandage...............? 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

So Being a Couch Potato is Out........


In the last week, we went to see John Hiatt in concert for Andy's birthday, then went to the Boise Blues Society picnic on Sunday, and I think I can now safely say that my back might be making progress, but really uncomfortable chairs are NOT my friends.  Yesterday I finally had to break down and take the original pain medication they gave me--the stuff I've generally refused to take because it knocks me out.  I have an appointment with a specialist on Monday, so hopefully I'll get this sorted out soon.  It's a physiatrist, which I'd never heard of, but from the description, it sounds exactly like what I need.  I had been resistant to call a specialist because I was afraid they'd want to talk about surgery, which I don't think would help and which I would not discuss until all other options have been explored, but what I do want is someone to look at the original injury, the three subsequent injuries, and either give me new exercises, tell me if I'm approaching it correctly, change my exercises, or tell me I'm on the right track.  And being me, I actually wanted to impress this new doctor with my determination, so I've been picking up the pace in the pool a fair bit--which I think would have been fine without the chair incidents, but still might have caused the newest bout of pain.  I am nothing if not a consistent idiot about these things.

Since the pills yesterday left me with little else to do,
I made some new mitten ornaments,
and started a new colorwork ornament, which was less of a good idea.  If one can't read books on drugs, one should probably not try to read knitting charts.  I am pleased with the color scheme, though.  To make these ornaments, I had ordered several balls of yarn from Knitpicks (before their data theft fiasco, obviously), and like all orders I've ever placed with them, the colors on their website are pretty poor representations of the actual colors.  I thought the grey was going to be more of an icy-blue, but I think it will look nice anyway.  It's probably going to work out well in the long-run to find another brand of yarn to use for these anyway.  In a couple years when I am ready to add some more colors to my colorwork stash, I'd like them to turn out to be the color I am trying to order.  And not expose my credit card info to the criminal world. You know, the little stuff.........

Saturday, July 20, 2013

What We Have At The End of This Week

*  13 half-pint jars of red onion relish

*  10th and final day of giving Theo antibiotics........and cleaning them off the floor and walls

* 6 quarts of freshly-canned pickles

*  4 more seams on the new dress

* 3 1/2 hours of exercise in the pool

*  3 completed edging reps.........out of 28

*  2 vet visits and 2 new medications for Theo

*  1 new lace ornament
 * 1/3 of a new felt ornament
 *  1/4th of the actual new sprinkle-on-the-food medications that Theo has actually been tricked into taking

*  1 cat hiding in the back of the closet

*  2 humans VERY much in need of a white chocolate martini...............

Thursday, July 18, 2013

I Can Finally Show You These

As Andy's birthday was on Tuesday and is now in possession of them, I can show you these:

July birthdays probably aren't the best for hand-knits, but when it stops being 99-108 degrees, we might have grown so accustomed to it that 80 degrees might seem a bit "nippy."

Sunday, July 14, 2013

What The Heck Happened?

Really, if one disappears off the face of Blogland, one would hope it was because one has run off to Tahiti for the week.  But alas, the real recap:

* The horrible neighbors' fireworks marathon frightened Theo enough that he got stressed and couldn't pee again, earning him ANOTHER trip to the vet and another pain shot last Saturday

*  Theo ended up with a BONUS trip to the vet on Monday because even while on the pain medication, he couldn't pee, so we are all now thoroughly NOT enjoying the joys of giving antibiotics for a urinary tract infection.  Luckily, after the broken leg saga, I'm pretty quick with liquid meds

*  The stress has aggravated my back, which has led to a few full days of Valium

*  I spoke with my doctor this week, and we decided that the small doses of Valium I take ( a quarter of a pill once or twice a day and half at night MAXIMUM) are probably pretty safe, so he renewed my prescription, trying for 90 pills per refill so I didn't have to go in every month.

*  Insurance companies, which have far more say about American medical treatment than doctors do, feel pretty free to give doctors the raspberry whenever they choose.  My prescription might BE for 90 tablets, but what insurance decides I get are 30 pills, with 3.67 refills remaining. 

*  Dealing with insurance companies aggravates my stress level enough that there was a day of one and a quarter pill.  (did I mention the original prescription allowed 1-2 pills per dose?) 

*  This was not a day to knit, and luckily even I recognized that

*  However,
there has been enough knitting that I have started the edging for the capelet.  The pattern said to just cast on normally, then sew a seam of the edging once it's all attached, but hate seams, so I'm using a provisional cast on and will try grafting the edges together.  I'm not the world's smoothest at grafting lace, but I think I can manage something better than a big obvious seam.

*  There has been sewing,
which is a little bit too big, but wearable, and today
there has been cutting.  I'm making the red dress in the picture--which I've made before and LOVE.  I think I'd gotten muddled when buying the fabric, as I had the yardage in a 54-inch width that was needed for the 45-inch width, so I went digging for something I would use that would take around a yard of suiting, and this
 pattern's skirt worked just perfectly.  It would have been great to also be able to do the shell, but my math hadn't been QUITE that bad.  I'm not sure exactly how long ago I bought the fabric, but it has lovely drape and will be fantastic as a dress and HOPEFULLY as a skirt.  According to my fabric spreadsheet, I paid $10.33 for the fabric, so I'm feeling quite clever today--probably a perfect time for the Crafting Gods to smite me with a power outage or something.  They're like that.................


Monday, July 8, 2013

We Can't All Be Beautiful...

Yesterday I started out with
which I really, really like--I mean really, beads and sparkles?  Hello!  Inspired, I immediately decided to try something new,
which is so far rather hideous.  One should probably have a clear idea of what one is going to do BEFORE starting, or at least not start with a stitch dictionary right in front of one, but now that it IS ugly, I am going to press on and add some other new stitches to it.  It will either improve when there's more stitching on it, or end up so ugly that even the back of the tree rejects it.  I guess they all can't turn out well.

While working on the Uggo ornament, I set up Jeeves to do another applique ornament,
 which was completed without bloodshed this time, so I think I'm getting better with those scissors. 

I did finally manage to get a decent picture of the green and red ornament,
which I think would definitely have looked better with a different stitching on the red, but I'm not unhappy with it.  Not all ornaments have to be "keepers," either.

The exciting news is:  Today is the 189th day of the year and I have made 207 ornaments!  Only 158 to go!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, July 5, 2013

205!

You know, aside from failing to make even the smallest dent in either the fabric or yarn stash, the Great Ornament Experiment is truly the most fun challenge I've set for myself.  I wouldn't want to do it two years in a row, but it's certainly fun for this year. 

Yesterday was unbearably hot, so aside from treating ourselves to lunch out and watching all the illegal fireworks from our bedroom window, we pretty much skipped 4th of July festivities.  It's certainly my least-favorite holiday--possibly because now it involves wretched neighbors who shoot off fireworks every night for at least a week leading up to it AND a week or more afterwards--or because the blistering heat of July is usually joined on July 5 by smoke because setting off fireworks in a desert state works out just about how one would expect.  Boise alone had 12 fires last night.  So, after an hour of early morning gardening,
I spent most of the day sewing on beads.  Robin had suggested using a blanket stitch on the cookies,
which I think looks very nice.  I tried the method (sewing the top onto a large piece of felt, then cutting it out)  I use for gingerbread men and trees on another,
but got so excited about how well it was working that I completely forgot to stuff it.  Oops.  To be fair, I've had real cookies turn out about like that as well--usually because I forgot to add baking powder or soda, or mixed them up.

I can't decide if I like the more symmetrical frosting or the freehand frosting better, but I've used up all the cookie shapes I cut out and decided to move on to something else for a while.  

A couple years ago I found this at our library's annual booksale,
and decided to look for some new ideas to learn.  My quilting grandmother once tried to get me interested in embroidery by giving me a sunbonnet girl quilt block that she had prepared for me, but if it still exists, it's in exactly the same state as it was when she gave it to me.  I don't know why it didn't appeal to me at the time, but thankfully I was not her only attempt.  One of my cousins, Ryan, turned out to be quite a whiz with a needle and made the most amazing quilt of embroidered antique car blocks one would ever see.  I am glad to know that she saw her skill passed on to someone. 

I thought I'd start with something simple, so
I thought an overcast stitch would look best after the red stitching around the green heart (which is more of a neon-lime color than it looks here), but I think perhaps a contrast (or better stitching) would have looked better. 

While I've been working on the heart ornament,
Jeeves has been making a new applique ornament.  This time I used cotton as the fabric, and it seems to have worked pretty well.  This will definitely have the least-obvious wrong side out of all of the applique ornaments so far.

And, lest you think this knitting blog has given up knitting entirely,
I'm halfway through the third and final pattern repeat for the body of the shawl.  When that is done, I'll start on the edging, which is knit separately and joined with a three-stitch bind-off.  As it's in sport weight yarn ans size 7 and 8 needles, I think this might not be as scary as it sounds, though after the purple swoopies incident, one does tend to approach these things with caution............sometimes.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Best Laid Plans.............

My back felt better this morning but it still needed a bit of rest, it seemed advisable to distract myself with a project that was pretty low-risk for my back.  This probably sounds quite crazy, but it's really hard to remember my back is hurt unless it actually hurts, so left to my own devices, heaven only knows what I would come up with to do today.  So, what could keep me distracted better than
making a big, huge mess in the sewing room?  Especially
if it involves the bead stash?

Everyday I walk past my cool metal ornament tree, and the more I see this ornament,
the more I like it.  When I made it, I was worried that it looked a bit hokey, but I really, really like it.  So,
I decided to make a couple more.  This is the first one of the day, and how I don't like a long tail on it.  So, on number two
I did a much shorter tail, which seems more balanced to me.  This one I really like, so I thought these might make good gifts,
so I made seven more, for a total of nine.  Some are better than others, and there was a fun flying-bead episode when I realized that they have to start and stop with the small red seed beads or a bigger knot than I seem capable of--which also explains why there aren't a nice round 10 heart ornaments.  One tires of everything eventually, even beads.

I am so thrilled everyone thinks the cookie ornaments actually look like cookies, so after finding a lighter felt, I cut out some more,

and even thought I'd try a freehand design for the icing, because quite frankly, when I frost cookies they are always just a pretty big mess.  I didn't start putting them together just yet because I was in the mood to try some new patterns, and this is the best time to get them cut out and stored for assembly:
Besides more cookies and some of the patterns I've already used, I wanted to fool around with two-color hearts.  Sort of like this,
but with cool decorations of some sort.  Did I mention that I rarely think ornaments through completely before starting them?  My theory is that if I cut out enough of them, I'll try all sorts of new things on them and learn some new techniques.  Or I'll end up with a whole bunch of felt hearts.  Right now I'd give it 50-50 odds.

In my mad cutting out frenzy, I cut out two felt trees as well, and as they're easier to do if I decorate one piece, then sew it onto a larger piece of felt before stuffing, I thought it might be best to finish them up before putting away the light blue felt,  but only got one done.  The only trim of any sort that I could really find was plain blue ribbon, so I attached it with a sort of zig-zag stitch
which turned out okay, but I don't like it enough to make two of them, so I'll find something different to do with the other one.  Then, because I obviously haven't a brain in my head, I went downstairs to defrost the kitchen freezer.  And if you're wondering, that did indeed make my back sore and can be scratched off the "taking it easy" list if anyone else had any doubt.  Thank heavens tomorrow is a holiday here in the states--usually even I can manage to relax on holidays.  Usually.........

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

I'm Halfway!!!!!

Midnight is the halfway point of the year, and I'm now slightly more than halfway to my 365 ornaments!  I can't believe I'm saying that--this being ahead of schedule is quite a new sensation...

The second gold and black lace and appliqué ornament is done,
and I am still very much in love with these ornaments!  I think I can safely get at least 4 more of these done before I have to start worrying about running out of black thread.   Yay!

My back is rather sore today after Monday's hour in the pool, so I have been attempting to take it easy today.  I say "attempting" because the first thing I did this morning was to harvest the garlic, but AFTER that I tried to be good.  It helps that it was 105 outside today, so that made it really easy not to do yardwork. 

While Jeeves made two
pinky-rose lace snowflakes for me, I finally finished up the felt gift bags that have been languishing for a while.
That earns me the "beach" category in the Summer Sizzle Stash-dash, as well as decluttering my crafting table a bit.  That worked out perfect, because when I got a bit too sort to sit,
I could make a new mess!


Browsing Pinterest, I ran across a picture of a "sweets" garland someone had made (though with no instructions, so I didn't save it).   But I liked the idea of cookie ornaments--especially with beads for sprinkles--so,
The one on the right was my attempt to machine stitch them together.  It's not bad, exactly.  It's just not great.  So, the one on my left was my first hand-stitching attempt, which I am still bad at.  I thought I should try an overcast stitch,
which you can see on the right.  Again, not great, but totally user-error this time.  I definitely like the look of the ones with more beads/sprinkles, but I'm not sure anyone is going to see these on the tree and think, "Oh look!  Sugar cookie ornaments!"  I didn't set any rules about the ornaments when I started this experiment, but I do think having them turn out identifiable might be one.  I have two more of these to sew together and that will probably be the end of them, but at least they got me past the halfway point AND involved beads, so I get the "sparklers" category for the Summer Sizzle Stash-dash as well.  And there's a 4-day weekend coming!!!!!