Saturday, August 31, 2013

Sewing Saturday

Thursday and Friday were taken up with canning and exercise and all that sort of thing, but since I'm really, really, REALLY tired today, it's a sewing day!

First I set up Jeeves to start on two denim bags for gifts,
 and got this far
before I remembered that I should change to a heavier needle for denim. I don't think I've embroidered on denim before, but it is a very heavy fabric for a regular embroidery needle.  Luckily,
the last needle in this package was a heavy embroidery one, which never happens.  I'm a bit delighted to have used up another package of machine needles, because
I have a stash of those as well, but that's almost mandatory.  Between the ones for different fabrics, different threads, and having 4 machines, I go through them regularly.  I don't always remember to change needles for each new project, but I try, and every time I have a problem, the first thing I do is to check the needle.  These are expensive machines, and I'd rather pay for needles than machines.  But it does make me feel good to be USING what I have. 

While Jeeves was working, I started on a new idea:
I had originally thought about making a thread and ribbon scarf on water soluble stabilizer, but I saw a thread bowl and thought that might be a fun idea.  The pattern I saw I actually didn't care much for--it was a bunch of odds and ends sewn together between two circles of water-soluble stabilizer, then shaped over a bowl as it was drying.  I thought the example looked like a big snarly mess, but I liked the idea of a thread bowl, and since I have a huge box of Coats and Clark thread that really doesn't work in my machines for normal sewing, I have thread to play with. 

I traced a circle onto two pieces of stabilizer, and originally was just decorative stitching over the top of it, but I discovered that 1. this is a time for the walking foot, and 2. even with the tension lowered, some of the cheaper threads are NEVER going to work for me. 

Once I settled on the walking foot, I decided this would be a great time to do one of my physical therapy exercises, 
which is to sit on this ball and rock back and forth, side to side, and in circles for at least 15 minutes a day.  Normally, trying this while sewing is a great way to land on one's backside, but because I was just doing circles and swirls, I could set my machine to go without using the pedal:
and it's really a rather relaxing thing to do.  I'm going to use many layers of colors (borrowing the free-standing lace principles), so it's going to take some time,
but my therapist will be thrilled that I have finally found some way to get in my full 15-60 minutes on that ball.  I do everything else, but I've been so busy that the "sitting" part has been a struggle.   It's a great exercise for anyone to do, though it's best to start slow.  It works the core muscles MUCH more than it seems to do at the time, and trying it all-day on the first day is a terrific way to get sore muscles. 

Aside from that particular exercise, I haven't finished anything yet today, but
the front of one of the bags is done.  That Jeeves is such a show-off...................

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I'm Not Nauseous!

As you know, for the last few weeks I've been seeing a soft-tissue physical therapist (if that's the right way to describe it), and it is helping enormously.  I still have a long way to go, but I think this is finally going to get rid of the back issues for good (provided I continue to always exercise and that sort of thing).  So, it's all good.  However, if you have ever had a deep tissue massage, or a massage on knotted muscles, you'll know that it starts out hurting like crazy.  By the second session, I'd have spilled any state secrets if I'd had any.  By the time she's finished, I usually feel pretty good, though sometimes a bit shaky and always nauseous.  I don't know what exactly it is, but I've started just planning on not doing anything the rest of the day afterwards.  So, this morning I went for my appointment, she was thrilled with my progress, she made it painful to sit again, gave me a new stretch.........and I feel good.  Not perfect--she said I'll continue to have muscle soreness as I retrain all my muscles, but I'm not laying on the heating pad or nauseous!  This is exciting!  It's like getting a free day that I didn't know I would have...because, you know, I didn't.  So I thought I'd take my extra time and do an update on the blog.  Wild, I know!

First, a picture of Sunday's project:

Sunday was a pain day--probably because Saturday was a very productive day.  I'm having a little bit of trouble with this concept, but I've essentially gone from really strong muscles to muscles that need to do something entirely different.  Luckily, these bell ornaments only involve garter and stockinette stitches, and can be done while highly doped.  I'm sewing them together while waiting for Blogger to upload pictures, so I may be to could all of them as finished by the end of the day.  :)

The bigger news is an sort of unplanned exception to the spending ban.  Meet next year's project:
This spring, Hancock Fabrics sent out a flier about a pattern fitting class being offered for $10, which I thought sounded interesting.  It turned out it was nothing but a sales pitch by a company called Tru-Fit Patterns (which I'm not linking to as they have received an "F" rating from the Better Business Bureau), which was selling the Lutterloh pattern system.  While I was chapped at being charged money to sit through a sales pitch, I was intrigued by the idea.  Basically,
the patterns are based on two measurements:  largest part of your bust and largest part of your hips.  Based on the small schematics, you create a pattern using the bust measurement above the waist and the hip measurement below the waist. 
I liked the idea, but wasn't going to break my rules for a really spendy system I wasn't sure I would use, and I didn't want to do anything on impulse.  I've spent most of my career in sales, and it's an almost iron-clad law that if someone doesn't buy whatever it is while you're there, they never will.  There are exceptions, but sales is about emotion--not reason--so I wanted to think about it and make sure it wasn't a scam.

It turns out, the Lutterloh system has been around since 1935, and has pretty widespread usage.  Even better, there are lots of used kits out there.  So, I started surfing Ebay, thinking that would be a great way to try it out. 

Do you ever find yourself believing superstitious or other things that are really silly?  This sounds really stupid, but I figured I'd have to bid on several to eventually get one at a price I was willing to pay, and while not consciously thinking so, I started placing a few bids so I'd have the outbids out of the way when the spending ban ended.  I know, that sounds stupid and it is, but imagine my surprise when
I won an auction for a low-ball bid.  I actually had bids on two systems at the time, so thank heavens I was outbid on one of them.  This one is from 1993, so there are a couple VERY shoulder-pad-intensive designs, but most of it is pretty usable.  I found a box to flatten into a design board, but I'll have to wait until the spending ban is over to use it, as I need a design curve and don't own one, so I won't actually get to play with it until the spending ban ends, so it's maybe not quite a "full" cheat.  I think it will be a fun project for next year, though. 

Now, back to those ornaments for THIS year............

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Kitty Life Is Much More Stressful Than I Thought

My little sidekick seems to have gotten back to his usual self,
including one of his favorite games, which we refer to as "trip the human."  He's still on a de-stress medication and the glucosamine blend for bladder health, but the longer he can go without a relapse, the more likely it is that it won't reoccur.  So I keep a close eye on him, but it's harder than one thinks to de-stress a cat.

Monday I had warned him that this
 
was a bad place for a nap.  But you know pets--you can talk until you're blue in the face and they just won't listen.  So Tuesday, he fell off.  He did actually land on his feet, which I thought was just an old wives' tale, but I wasn't sure if it was stressful for him or not.  If I fell 3-feet out of bed while asleep, I don't think MY stress level would be great, so we had an extra petting session.  All seemed fine and then..

Wednesday, he got locked in the garage.  

Not realizing how much we would regret it, when we first moved into the house we installed cat doors in the kitchen and garage doors so the cats could come and go freely.  Two years of nocturnal bedroom gift adventures was put to an end with Theo's broken leg, and the cats are locked in at night.  Calisto, our little Houdini kitty, can unlock the cat doors, so we have a big sliding panel with screws for the outside door that finally stumped her, but they can get into the garage at night.

The problem is, the lock on the cat door wears loose, and can sometimes just end up on locked, in-only, or out-only.  Tuesday morning, Andy was amazed (and, frankly, delighted) to not get Theo's regular 5:00 AM wake-up call.   Sensing trouble, I went looking, only to find a very irate Theo trapped in the garage by "out only."  Not sure if "angry" and "stressed" are related in kitty world, I groveled a lot, gave Theo his medication, and crossed my fingers.  A bad week, but so far, so good.

Thursday night, we had thunderstorms.  

No matter how often we get them, thunderstorms terrify the cats.  For Calisto, it's either under the bed or buried in my closet--to possibly not come out for a day or two.  For Theo, for reasons best known to himself, it's the pantry.  As soon as the lightning started, I went rushing downstairs to make sure the pantry doors were partially open just like he likes them, and sure enough--he was already there.  Just to make sure he was perfectly comfortable, I moved some green beans out of his way.  

He still seems to be doing okay, but I'm checking the litter boxes regularly just to make sure.  I had no idea how much stress was involved in a kitty's life in a week!  No wonder he's on drugs..........I think I could use some just trying to keep HIS stress level down!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Where Has The Week Gone?

This might be surprising, but I have actually been following my doctor's instructions to not do anything that hurts my back.  However, my back made no such promises.  Driving down to the physiatrist's office on Monday, it started to hurt, and by Monday night had wound up my muscles enough again to set me back about a week when I went in for therapy on Tuesday.  While the soft tissue work is quite painful, it really seems to be helping, but after pretty much two years of pain, I've made quite a knot in my muscles, and it's going to take a while to unwind it.  Especially if it's going to hurt for random things.  I am keeping the Valium close, just in case.  It can ache a bit from being tired (which it does), but as soon as the muscles start to clench up from the pain, I'm in trouble.  So, there's been lots of heating pad time, as well as,
 lots of canning because it's August.  Canning gives one some "waiting while....." time, but not any long stretches, so
 I have been making bell ornaments.  Five are finished and waiting for the actual bell to be attached,
and two more are waiting to be sewn together.  The white one is a new idea--right above the brim of the bell I made a series of yarn-overs, and will thread ribbon through them.  I think it could be cute.  The striped ones are my favorites so far, but it had been so long since I made one of them that I had forgotten how I actually did it, and first had the color changes happening on the wrong side, then did something else and had to start over twice, but now I've got it.  I'm not sure I like them as well as I like the mittens, but they do make a nice change........

Monday, August 19, 2013

Moving On....

I would be showing you the new scarf with a little spot of steam blocking, except
My little sidekick has commandeered (and furred) the ironing board.  I thought I might get it back earlier today, as he almost rolled off, but he caught himself in time.  He seems to be doing better with the stress issues, but falling off the ironing board probably wouldn't have helped.  So,
it isn't blocked.  I almost tried for one final pattern repeat, but I'm glad I didn't.  There isn't enough yarn there for a whole pattern, which makes me rather pleased with my guessing.

I am back to working on the sweater now,
which will be the most time-intensive WIP I have, I think.  I thought if I finished THIS one first, everything else would be fast comparatively, but monogamous knitting has never been my strongest point.  Maybe if I get some progress done on this, I can swoop in and finish off something else when I get tired of this, and then when I come back to this, it will be less-daunting each time.  A wiser knitter would have made sure there were a few WIPs on big needles before committing to a WIP-marathon, but this is character building.  Or something..................

Sunday, August 18, 2013

YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There is a finished Ostrich Plume Scarf with beads!
I have now knit up more than 5000 yards of yarn from my stash!
I have finished TWO whole WIPs and only have 13 more to go............

Dang, that started out better than it ended.................

Friday, August 16, 2013

"Finishing" Friday

I probably need a different term for Fridays that don't really involve anything being finished, although I did finally make a lace ornament
to feel like I've done something today.  The never-ending scarf
with the magic ball of yarn
continue to defy progress, so we are ignoring each other today.  Instead, I've been designing some Halloween trick or treat bags
that are mostly overdue for birthday gifts and which could be redeemed if I get them done before Halloween.  I also did a bit of work on some new ornaments,
which are ready for beads.  Unfortunately, I'm a little tired of beads right now.  So, I am losing my lead in ornaments, being beaten up by one of the smaller WIPs in my bag, and I've done as much sitting at the computer as I can take right now, so I am about to do the unthinkable:  I am going to go do laundry willingly.  I know--it's a sad, sad day here at Chateau Sutton-Goar..............

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Aaarrrggghhh.........

Okay--I really, really, REALLY hoped I would be showing you finished WIP number two tonight, but I have reached the magic point in the beaded scarf:  no matter how much I knit, it doesn't get any longer or the skein get any smaller.  So, while I have achieved a rather interesting achievement in physics, I have nothing to show you.................

Do you think one can win a Nobel Prize in yarn????????????

Friday, August 9, 2013

Still WIP-ing.

.....but to add just a bit of variety, and to potentially finish something in the near future, I have been working on the beaded Ostrich Plume scarf:
One good thing about having a lot of WIPs is one does have a lot of variety on a WIP marathon. 

My new physical therapist seems to be really helping, but she's doing some soft tissue work on me, and it's a bit tender to sit, so
I have been finishing sugar cookie ornaments.  Now that my craft table has been raised, it's the perfect height for someone with a tender derriere.  Now there's a description one doesn't see in furniture catalogs very often........

Still,
 it has allowed me to get a few more ornaments ahead today.  I may be cookied-out for a while, but this last one makes ornament 236 and today is the 221st day of the year, so IF I were foolish enough to say such things within the hearing of the Crafting Gods, I would be bragging about being 15 ornaments ahead.  However, long experience has shown me that they are vindictive bastards with great hearing, so I'm saying nothing of the kind.  It's safest this way................

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

And Yet ANOTHER Mitten

 .............and my mitten enthusiasm might be waning just a bit.  However,
I'm in love with sugar cookies again!  Really, a few more of these and I will have made more sugar cookie ornaments than actual sugar cookies, at least as an adult.  We used to make them every December when I was growing up, but I haven't made sweets very often as an adult, and things that involve both frosting AND a rolling pin are pretty low on my list.  Now if they involved beads.................

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Let Me Show You Something

This:


is a picture of the sewing room in December of 2007--right before I started my first year of Cold Sheeping.  It doesn't accurately show the yarn stash by any means, and I know there were at least a couple fabric tubs not shown here, but let's compare that to the sewing room today:

The yarn bins:
 the Christmas fabric bin,
 the closet,
 more yarn bins (and a huge mess),
 and the fabric shelf:
Even though I know the first picture doesn't show everything, I think it's pretty clear that my fabric stash has exploded while I've been Cold Sheeping yarn.  It could be worse, I suppose.  It could be both yarn AND fabric, but still......

Since I have less than 90 days left before being able to buy things, I have been working on my list.  After this little wake-up call, I will definitely be signing on for a second year of buying nothing, but there are some things I genuinely need.  If possible, I am going to find some black peachskin to make a wardrobe from the same pattern as the paisley set so I'll have some interchangeable options, a bolt of black cotton fabric, and some heavier cotton to make another gardening dress.  But nothing else.  This is the challenge.  I will enter a fabric store with a list and leave only with the items on that list. 

 Or, at least, this is the plan................

Monday, August 5, 2013

And Even MORE Mittens

Even after so many of these, I still find them just adorable.  And relatively fast--also very important.  231 ornaments down, 134 to go..............

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Thinking Ahead For Next Year

I realize it's early--and even saying this will probably prompt the Knitting Gods to do something really hideous--but I think I'll be making my goal of 365 ornaments for the year.  I know--it's truly daring to say so this early, but I am just a bit ahead, and I'm more than half-way there and if worst comes to worst, I think I could still get there with the mitten ornaments or the machine embroidered ones.  I also cut out some more felt sugar cookie ornaments today, and I could always make more beaded hearts.  So, I think I'll get there. 

So............that leads me to think what sort of crazy goal I will be setting for myself for next year.  I enjoy crazy goals--they sort of takes the focus off of my crazy stash, and they push me in new directions.  Interestingly, I'm considering shooting for 100 finished projects again.  I know I've already done it, so I could bump it up and do 118 projects, which I haven't done.  Oddly, in both 2010 and 2011 I finished with 117 finished projects, so I know I can do that.  But could I do 118?  And, if I do another year of not buying anything, would 118 finished projects 1. be possible, and 2. visibly free up space in the sewing room.  With, of course, the continuation of the WIP marathon.

Ah, August--when a knitter's thoughts turn to pure insanity.......

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Staying Strong!

While I have taken time to make a few ornaments to keep on track,
but have remained quite dedicated to the Alice Starmore sweater:
It might have made more sense to start with a faster WIP, but this is a fun pattern, and it's interesting.  I now have 3 and a half pattern repeats done, and at 4 and a half the next step happens, so even though it will take a while, I think it will stay interesting. 

Speaking of taking a while,
it seams that the stress of Andy's absence brought on a relapse for my sidekick, so Theo and I made a quick trip to the vet yesterday for another pain shot.  He's sleepy, but isn't hurting and is able to urinate in small amounts, so we're making progress again.   They think he's just more susceptible to stress because it's still so soon after the extreme stress of boarding, but I had no idea how stressed this little guy's life actually is.  Honestly, I was surprised that creatures that sleep 18 out of every 24 hours actually GET this stressed.  Of course, considering how many tummy-rubs he's gotten today, I am surprised he experiences ANY stress......

Friday, August 2, 2013

Meet The WIPs..........

Okay--I was looking through my knitting pile, and have decided I'm really going to do this.  With only 21 WIPs now, it isn't the worst I've ever been, but there is some really good stuff in that pile, and unlike previous times, most of them are not there because of any problems,  The oldest is one is in there
because since we moved into this house, I've never been able to locate the extra yarn and the sweater at the same time.  It's a quite adorable toddler sweater, and the yarn is lovely to work with, and I think this time I have it narrowed down where it all got to and--even better--think I can locate it.

Two more:
are actually the backs to the exact same toddler sweater, but in different sizes.  I think I still have the rest of the yarn for the cream one, but the green one is doubtful.  It's Lion Brand Wool-Ease, which is usually not too bad for dye lot issues for their major colors like these, but that still means the green one doesn't have much of a chance right now.  I'm not breaking my cold sheeping streak for it just yet. 

The next oldest,

ran into some problems with the pattern.  I encountered a problem with the neck--I forget what, exactly, but I think it's fixable.  This is sort of a strange yarn--it looks like a whole bunch of threads just coaxed into all going roughly the same direction.  But, it was a very cute pattern and I think I could get it done fairly quickly.

Those are the only ones still left from the first WIP-marathon in 2008.  My next oldest WIP,
is the Kauni cardigan and was started in 2009.  It's a fun knit and I still love it, but the yarn is wool and it always gets put aside in hot weather.  BUT if I am going to finish 15 WIPs in a row, I'll be knitting in the winter, too, and could even finish this in time to wear it this winter.  The body is at the neck divide, so it's more than half finished.  I didn't work on it this winter because of the pain medication--it's not a difficult sweater, but still best to do with a clear head.  I still LOVE this sweater, and now that I pretty much have to stay off pain meds, the more interesting knitting can happen again. 

The next WIP,
 
is Elizabeth Zimmermann's February Baby Sweater.   I think it's farther along than this, but this is the last picture I have of it.  I started it in 2010 and have no idea why I stopped working on it, but it should be a pretty fast knit.

Unlike the problem child:

This is a pi shawl from 2010, and I had gotten to the edging and am even more than halfway done with the edging, when it ran into two problems:  one, there is a hole at the very beginning of the edging from being drug around in a knitting bag too long, and number two, I made it too small.  Both problems are fixable by frogging the edging and either doing a bigger edging or doing some more rounds on the shawl, but I put that aside while trying to finish my 100 and then 111 projects.  I still love this shawl, and without insane project goals, I can finally settle down and finish this--maybe even to wear by next summer.

The next-oldest WIP,
 
is a delighful mohair jacket that has been languishing mostly because no one in their right mind would knit mohair lace while on pain meds.  It's a fun pattern, though, and I've added beads to the edging, so there's even an additional reason to play with it.

The next-oldest WIP is a secret (which explains why it is taking so long), but the next-oldest is
 
a bow tie started in 2011.   The pattern wasn't working out, so I've modified the pattern, and I think just got frustrated with the whole thing and couldn't decide if I would continue with the project or not.  Potential for the frog-pond.  

Next-oldest,
is the mohair jacket that was the first sweater started for my attempt at 12 sweaters in 2012.  It was banished during the sleeves because the yarn was having to be sliced every two or three rows, and I was getting so angry with it that my gauge was getting too tight.  but the back is done, the sleeves are in progress, and I think I might finally be able to stand to finish the thing.

Next oldest,
is the SECOND sweater attempted for my 12-in-2012 sweater project.  It's down to the seams and the collar.  For unknown reasons, I had actually picked up stitches for the collar, but I had done it without marking for buttonholes AND on the wrong size of needles, so I ripped that back and it has been languishing ever since.  As I remember, I think the pattern didn't call for buttons, but I'm modifying it, which was definitely not something to attempt on pain medication.

Next-oldest,

a shawl from a very beautiful but a very must-pay-attention pattern that lost out to more mindless knitting.  I think it will be a fun project--and since it's in sport weight yarn with large needles--ultimately a rather fast one for lace.

Next,

a complicated aran vest in fingering weight on size one needles started in July of last year and intended as a 2012 Christmas gift for a friend of mine.  Some days I really crack myself up.  Let's try for a 2014 Christmas gift...........

Next up,
a mohair shawl that has actually gotten a fair bit of attention until the heat derailed it.  I love the look of mohair, but it is really the worst thing to knit in the summer.

Thankfully,

the next-oldest and current favorite is in Grignasco's Bambi yarn, which is a merino wool that feels like cotton.  I adore this sweater, and without the pain meds, it's a fun knit. 

Next,
a beaded lace scarf for me.  Fun but slow knitting.

Next,
the delightful March Madness sweater started this year and already more than half done.  I love everything about this, but being wool it was not fun to work on during the blistering heat this summer.  Today is only supposed to be 83, which is our first day under 90 in probably 2 months, and there are only a few more days of 100+ temperatures predicted, so maybe our most brutal heat is behind us for the year. 

Next,
a pair of socks for Andy, already at the first heel.  

Next,
 
the acrylic shawl just started in June and already at the lace edging. 

and the final WIP,
the latest colorwork ornament, which I'm going to count as a WIP because colorwork isn't my favorite knitting and I may need encouragement to finish this one. 

I'm going to push myself to finish or frog 15 WIPs in a row, which would get me down to six WIPs--possibly my lowest count in 10 years.  Ornaments won't count as breaking the streak as they have to happen, and to get there will take me well into 2014, but I could end up with some really great stuff by the end...........

Wish me luck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!