Thursday, October 31, 2013

Down To Just A Few Hours.......

.....and don't think the thought of staying up until midnight hasn't crossed my mind.  But it's been a bad back week, and where willpower gives up, Valium takes over.........

I'm not sure exactly what I did, but the therapist thought that after the last couple weeks plus the don't-sit-like-this episode on Saturday, I might just need to let things calm down a bit.  We had a busy weekend, then Monday I literally spent all day canning
18 pints of tomato soup.  After a late dinner party on Sunday involving a little too much sitting, this was probably a factor.  However, I felt pretty good when I woke up on Tuesday, ran a couple errands, then was at the very back of a huge store when my back suddenly just HURT.  Literally, out of nowhere I could barely move--it was like being mugged by my own backside.  And, of course, because walking is so important to my therapy and general health, I had parked my blasted car in the farthest space in the parking lot.  I think there are times when it's okay to hate yourself just a little. 

Anyway, made it home, crawled up the stairs, and took lots of drugs.  The level of drugs usually way beyond the "safe to knit" stage.  Theo has been in almost constant attendance, possibly because hands that aren't knitting can still pet.  The next morning it was still sore but so much better that whatever I did wasn't too serious, and the therapist today didn't find any cause for concern, but the muscles had tightened up enough that it was one of THOSE sessions--I hurt more coming out that going in.  But tomorrow I should be back on the upswing, and maybe pushing things a tad less....

Today I did get some knitting in, so
ornament 301 is done and in need of some stuffing.  Can you believe I have only 64 ornaments left to make???????????????????????????????????

And a box from Joann's waiting to be opened in the morning!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Closing in on 298!

Jeeves is busy making icicle ornaments while I'm writing this,

so I'm hoping to be at 298 ornaments any moment now and at 300 by the time I head downstairs to tackle the last of the tomato harvest.

And not to get ahead of ourselves, meet ornaments 296 and 297,
 which I just love.  The one on the right has a little too much stuffing so he's got a bit less neck than he should, but maybe he's a football-playing kitty ornament.  One of the "immediate need" things in those Joanns' boxes is some black embroidery floss, so on Friday they'll get hangers.  And sometime during that week, they'll probably get a few friends as I just love these little guys.

I thought I would have another ornament done this weekend,
 but I decided this still needs a little something in the center of that white--perhaps more stitching?  Right after getting this far, I discovered another item for the "never, ever do this again" list: sitting in a chair with my legs up on the edge of the table.  That seems to strain the small of one's back and pelvis, and landed me in bed for 24 hours, missing the Seafood Boil party.  I do wish there were easier ways to find these things out, but at least it hurt enough that there is no way I'll ever forget and do it again.  That, at least, is something to be thankful for.  That, and perhaps that I didn't decide to make this goal to make 365 ornaments every year...........

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Toni v. Reality

Last fall, I thought I was being quite clever by sorting all the yarn I thought I would use this year into one large bin,
which looks like this as of today.  To be fair, I think it might be 5 or 6 balls of yarn lighter than it was at the beginning of the year, but obviously my optimism runneth over just as much as the bin does. 

Of course, my favorite "preparation error" for the year is probably this:
Last year, after getting so tired of using up an entire bag of stuffing per project, I finally decided to buy in bulk, and since it was on sale and I was going to make 365 ornaments,
I bought THREE of them.  Now in my defense, I had no idea they more than doubled in size when the box is opened, but it's almost November and I haven't even used half of the first box.  Perhaps by this time next year..............?

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Only 4 Behind Now!

"Finishing Friday" got scrapped this week for getting ready to have friends over last night--a very worthy cause indeed--but today I've got some crafting time before we go to a Halloween Seafood Boil tonight.  So,
there are new mitten ornaments!  Can we tell how much I love the green and white mitten combo?  With these done, I have 70 ornaments left to go for the year.  Time for the sewing room!

I'm still stuffing the cat ornaments,
and have outlined a few more ornaments to work on,
 so maybe I can get caught up today. 

First thing though,
during the whole 2-year back saga, I have spent an insane amount of time in pajamas, and my very favorite pajamas--homemade, even--developed a hole in the seat.  Do you mend things?  I've been getting better about it--especially when it's something I really like or will be really expensive to replace. I still had some scraps of fabric from making these, but as I didn't even attempt to make the repair match, so it wouldn't matter.  I know flannel wears out easily because of its loose weave, but I think when I am brave enough to attempt a fabric store, I'll get some black flannel for another set of pajama pants for when these are finally beyond repair.  Flannel is a lot like denim--when it's finally really soft and wonderful, it's about ready to rip out.  I've repaired Andy's pjs a few times as well--when you make things, it's a lot harder to just toss them away.  They might get demoted to "never wear in public again," but we've acquired a new status around here:  "limping along until Toni finds time to make a replacement."  I foresee this as a very popular category here at Chateau Sutton-Goar.

And in the most exciting news,
pre-ordering the thread actually worked!!!!!  Joann Fabric mail-order has generally been pretty lousy to work with in the past, so I was afraid two weeks might not be enough time for it to arrive, but I am all set now for crafting vacation!  I might be bouncing out of bed at 5:00 AM on Friday to tear into these.  This is so exciting!!! 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Just One Week Left!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

One week from today will be the last day of the spending ban--for this year at any rate.  Can you tell I'm just a wee bit excited?

Actually, I'm probably more excited about the crafting vacation the following week, but they sort of go hand-in-hand.  I canned two rounds of crushed tomatoes this week, which cleared up a tiny bit of room in the freezer for the rest of the tomatoes as they ripen, and if I make a huge batch of tomato soup to can next week, I think I'll be sort of done with the canning for a bit.  I'd still like to can some roasted red peppers, but it isn't mandatory as I still have some left.  I should at least be able to take a week off from canning to CRAFT!!!!!

I've been wimping around here with a cold the last two days, though Tuesday I still canned tomatoes because I'd gotten most things ready the night before and being around the steam actually helped, but yesterday I rested and,
made it to 292 ornaments.  Since I'll run out of white yarn if all the ornaments are something with a white accent, I wanted to try finding some accents that didn't really need white.  These are fun, but I think the multi-colored yarn might have more of a future as scarves or hats for future Mr. Flurries,
 but maybe not for ornaments.  Next year I'm going to try for 100 finished projects again, so I see a few of these cute little guys in line for next year.  Basically, I'm ready for anything that ISN'T an ornament..........

Monday, October 21, 2013

The New Ornament Is Progressing....

....but I'm not going to discuss how long it took me to get the cats turned inside out:
The tails had me a bit baffled until I finally consulted the directions and realized that they wrap around the cat from the back.  At first I just thought I had done it wrong.  I think they'll be quite cute when done,
and so far they resemble the pictures in the book.  I'm not a huge fan of the "country" look, so I won't be making the goose anytime soon, but maybe the teddy bear or the rabbit.  I also dug up the cookie cutters again since the whole idea is that you trace the shape onto the back of the fabric, stitch that shape, reinforce it a bit with a small zig-zag right outside of the seam, THEN cut them out.  I can do that with most shapes, and I think it will be a great way to use up fabric scraps.  I was surprised that they didn't use Christmas fabrics, but when you see the ornaments, it doesn't really matter.  I am using a Christmas fabric scrap, but I don't think it's even necessary really.  I have some shapes a friend sent me, so I think this is about to be a really fun thing to explore.

And since I had the stuffing out,
the three latest knitted balls are finally getting stuffed.  I never seem to get them exactly round, but I have learned to not stretch them too much as some of the threads show through from the back.  Part of me wishes I had bought more color options than I did for these ornaments, but the saner part of me reminds that part that at the time I felt like I was buying a crazy amount of yarn, and I have used up only one ball of white thus far.  Eventually, I can get more colors and have green and metallic balls as well, and maybe by then I'll have used up enough yarn to have space for them.  At the current rate, it will take me about 4 more years to get all the way through the book,
and I might feel ready to buy yarn again at some point before then.  In the meantime,

78 ornaments to go!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Only 6 Behind Now!

I'm catching up! 
Even if it is with Jeeves's help.  Red is pretty much the only machine embroidery thread I have left in any quantity, so there are three new red icicle ornaments.  Theoretically, I could have done 6 more and gotten caught up, but my back is still pretty fragile after jury duty, and these were the limits of my sewing room time.  It's healing, but obviously I won't be pushing it for a while.  It is making progress, and they still think I'll be able to do most things.........just maybe not race-walking or sitting for long periods, especially not on hard benches.

While Jeeves was working, I dug out the ornament shapes I'd cut out earlier,
which has been sort of counter-productive.  The whole idea of setting a goal to do a crazy number of ornaments was to give myself the freedom to try new things.  For unknown reasons, cutting out a stack of shapes all at once has made me less inclined to use any of them for experimental ideas.  I haven't wanted to waste the shapes on ideas I wasn't sure about.  Well that's silly, so...
yesterday I made a felt heart ornament.  On this one I decorated both sides, and while it isn't my favorite ornament, it is an ornament.  When one is behind, that is all that matters.

Then it was time for the heating pad, so
I made more mitten ornaments.  I haven't really liked any previous ornaments made with the green yarn, but I love this mitten.  And just when I thought I was getting a little sick of them.

It won't be a problem this year, but I have discovered that my planning for the ornament project had a fundamental snag:
I seem to have purchased equal amounts of white and off-white as the colors for which I'm using them as accents.  I don't think I'll run into a problem this year--at least not with the bright white--but I do intend to make a few ornaments next year, and I will certainly run out of these before I use up the other colors.  Oops. 

Oh well, I have a new ornament to try................

Friday, October 18, 2013

Free At Last!!!

My jury term is over!  Admittedly, I wouldn't have really minded were it not for the "no knitting" rule and two and a half hours on a hard bench.  No one can be enthusiastic about civic duty when it requires one of THOSE physical therapy appointments that leaves one with a very tender backside.  Luckily,
I can now make mitten ornaments while on Valium.  280 down, 85 to go!

And.......... 

The year-long spending ban ends two weeks from today!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There have been a couple exceptions, but none involving the big stuff--yarn, fabric, thread, notions.  I don't know if I'm more amazed or proud, but shocked would have to be in there as well.

My crafting vacation begins in 2 weeks and 2 days, and there are a few things I need for my crafting spree.  The problem is, after a full year, I'm just not ready to be released in a fabric store on my own.  I don't think it would be pretty.  BUT I want to embroider some new ornaments, make more terrorized gingerbread men ornaments, and generally get ahead on ornaments again, and I am out of tan felt and embroidery thread.  I thought about placing an order for stuff on November 1, but everything takes about 2 weeks for delivery, so I have decided on a compromise.  Making sure I wasn't feeling stressed or anxious or giddy, I sat down with my list and picked out the immediate needs, and placed an order with Joann's.  They have terrible customer service, but I'm hoping it will arrive during my vacation.  If not, I'll have to wait and see if I feel like I can handle an actual store.  If by some miracle Joann's isn't insanely slow and it arrives early (and pigs start flying past the house), I'll just set it aside until the first.  I debated about it, because it feels a bit like cheating, but it also feels like the safest approach.  I'm just thinking that taking someone who has been fasting to a buffet might be courting disaster.....................:)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

And I Don't Have To Go In!

One more day for jury duty and I'm in the clear for a bit.  I don't know what the time frame is on these things--I was called only once before, and it was about 10 years ago.  Andy has only been called once ever, but there were people on the jury panel who had served two or three times.  Let's hope for another 10 years at least.  My back is a bit better, but I'm still VERY thankful I have physical therapy today.  It's probably going to be one of those painful sessions, but I usually feel better the next day, and if I do have to go in on Friday, I'll be taking a cushion and a note from the therapist.

Blogger is FINALLY fixed, and I have ornament number 278,
leaving me TWELVE ornaments behind.  Not great, but I was 14 behind last week, so I'm at least catching up.  And
I still have a lot of ornament shapes to be sewn together, and..................

A REAL crafting vacation in two weeks!

As you know, my planned "crafting vacation" at the start of October was waylaid by the garden, but THIS time I'll be ready.  Andy has a business trip, and while he wouldn't care if I were taking a vacation or not, I find it easier to do while he's gone.  If he's here, I feel like I should still make a real lunch and still do "my fair share," especially after all the extra he's had to do during the Back Saga.  On my own, I can eat toast over the sink three times a day and not feel at all guilty.  This time I'm guessing on a big pot of some tomato-based soup as
I still have plenty of tomatoes to deal with in the next two weeks, but I think you can see some progress from where we started during my LAST attempt at a crafting vacation:
or we're going to pretend for my sanity's sake, at any rate.  The sweet red peppers are all used up now, and most of the sweet green ones.  I shudder to think how many poblano peppers I still have, but I roasted, peeled, and froze about 3 dozen of the silly things AND used them in several batches of salsa and they are STILL in two big bags in the refrigerator.  I'm thinking eight poblano pepper plants was perhaps a bit over-zealous.  I think by November my friends would like to come over for something besides Mexican food.......Though maybe there's a traditional Thanksgiving Chile Relleno recipe somewhere........

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wednesday

....and I don't have jury duty!  The jury system is a great thing, it's even an interesting process, but it still doesn't mean I want to be there.

I did have to go in yesterday, and I have to say that I was impressed with my fellow jurors.  No one WANTS to be there, but aside from two people who sounded like they were trying to get removed, during the questioning everyone really did take the process very seriously.  I was lucky enough to be at the end of the line for my particular panel--which meant that for me to be impaneled as a juror would have required the dismissal of 41 other jurors, which I think might have resulted in a mistrial--so I got to watch the process without really being involved.  Unfortunately, it meant two hours of sitting on the hard benches in the back, but at least I was saved from two additional hours on that bench by some sort of hiccup in the trial while we were on break, and we were sent home shortly before noon, and I spent the rest of the afternoon on the heating pad.  I have to call in the rest of the week, but it's unlikely I'll have to go back.  Civic duty or not, that hurt my back.

This morning I am using my free day to can green tomato and lime salsa, then will do my therapy and go for a few laps around the block to see if things loosen up.  Then maybe a few ornaments....................?

Monday, October 14, 2013

277!

Blogger is still broken, but after an afternoon of crafting, I now have
two new felt ornaments.  Amazingly, I had put the beads on a sugar cookie ornament but had never sewn it together, so that was a nice find.  They're such cute ornaments.

I also finished yet another mitten ornament,
and even finished color-work ornament number 10:
which is a jumping skier if you can't tell.  I still don't think I'll get all 55 done this year, but just a few weeks ago, I wasn't sure if I'd even get to TEN, so that's exciting. I've even started
number 11!  This will only be the second one I've done in red, which is sort of funny as I did a blue-Christmas theme in the main room last year so won't be decorating with blue this year, even with all the cool new ornaments.  We have a huge entryway in the house, and we now have a big 9-foot tree to go in there in addition to the regular tree I put in the living room, and someday I'd like to decorate the entryway in blue, but one of the things that prompted the Great Ornament Experiment is that I don't have enough ornaments of ANY color to decorate both trees, so ever since we got it, the big tree has been covered in cheap dollar-store red bows to make it look less bare.  Years and years ago, I started collecting Christmas ornaments from places I've been to, which makes decorating really fun and nostalgic, and I have a lot of ornaments I've been given through the years, and I like that all the ornaments mean something to me, so I don't like having purchased ornaments on it.  In a few years, I might have enough blue ornaments collected/made to do that big tree.  In the meantime, the goal is to just be able to cover the tree.  And a few red ornaments in the mix would certainly help.

And, of course,
a few extras for gifts..........

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Getting Down To The Wire

The spending ban is almost over (October 31 at midnight, but who's counting?), and it's actually getting a bit harder.  I am SO close that it almost just seems silly that in two weeks it will be okay but it isn't now.  Yesterday we met a friend to go prowl antique and thrift stores, and I ran across
I don't know if you've examined sewing books at any length, but the more recent ones aren't really very helpful.  I suppose they might be if you're a beginner, or sew very simple things, but I sew clothes.  While I would not dare to call myself an expert or even an intermediate, I have run into issues and questions that are just more advanced than I can find.  The sewing book--which helpfully is even a three ring binder that will stay open--was published in 1961 originally and updated in 1970, so it's for an era when people made more of their clothing.  I had placed 3 books on my wishlist on Amazon to order on November 1 to hopefully find this information, but there it was--right in front of me where I could look at it and make sure it would be helpful, it was a local store, and it was even on sale.  And two Christmas ornament books that had patterns I didn't already have. With only two weeks to go, it seemed really stupid to drive back over later hoping they'd still be there, so I made a compromise with myself.  I bought them, and have put them away until November 1.  Rather cheating a bit, and not an exception I would make for the problem areas (fabric) or even thread because they're always available, but I'm just so thrilled over finding them that I'm not feeling too guilty.

I will, however, be staying out of thrift stores until the end of the month, just in case...............

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Found It!

The fact that I could misplace my camera for several days can be explained by two words:

canning season

This is the time of a year when large boxes of tomatoes in the living room and canning jars in the entryway aren't even remarkable enough to be explained.  It's also the time of year when Finishing Friday gets usurped by 15 pints of salsa and 12 pints of crushed tomatoes.  But at least it's followed by a season of eating well, even if I am a little sick of tomatoes at that point.

First, to prove that there were indeed two new mitten ornaments,
and to remind myself that Bernat's red holiday yarn is a little too bright for my taste, though perhaps it will actually glow on the Christmas tree.

I can now also show you my latest rope basket experiment,
 which was much harder than I thought it would be. 
I had a lot more trouble getting the oblong basket started than I expected, and ended up with a tiny gap in the bottom of the basket.  It was also more difficult to keep the sides all going up at the same angle, which might explain why I haven't yet started a new basket.  When the going gets tough, some of us go back to canning...........

I did have a crafting day on Thursday, but it was by accident.  Wednesday I had been busy most of the day, but decided to go out for a quick walk to loosen up my back muscles.  Thinking I'd get my heart rate going, I started out with a modified version of race-walking.  I call it "modified" because I never could master the whole hip-swinging movement of actual race-walkers.  Well, guess what is really bad for hip and back problems??????????  Yep--race walking.  Sharp, massive pain, which even WITH therapeutic massage and heavy drugs put me in bed for a day and a half.  There are probably more insulting injuries than walking, but probably not many of them. 

So,
I finished colorwork ornaments #8 and #9,
and cast on number 10, bringing me to 272 ornaments for the year--which you'd be seeing on my little updates if Blogger would let me change it.  I think it's keeping up with Yahoo, which took away my calendar, and Facebook which, well, just IS Facebook and finds new ways to be annoying every day.  Which is good, because every time I get frustrated with knitting, the internet is always there to remind me that there are things which are FAR more annoying than just having to splice or weave in a few ends.................. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Still No Camera......

......but to be fair, there's not much to photograph either.  I did make another mitten ornament yesterday, but it looks just like all the others anyway.  It gets me to 269 ornaments, which sounds like a crazy number until realizing I'm now 12 ornaments behind.  Eke!

I could show you the 12 pints of olive and herb tomato sauce I canned yesterday, which might actually BE photo-worthy as the recipe said I would have about SIX pints and there might have been a bit of cursing going on, but I have been canning for too long now to have not been at least a little bit prepared for such a thing.  10 pounds of tomatoes going into 6 jars just seemed unlikely--at least in my world--so I did have extra jars cleaned and prepared.  It might have taken me a few years to learn that one, but I do eventually catch on to these things.........


I do have a plan on the ornament front.  I still have one ornament design set that I haven't tried as I was a bit nervous about trying to make an in-the-hoop ornament, so I have these six new designs to master (hopefully), and I promised myself last year that if I made it all year without yarn or fabric I could buy this ornament design set this year, and that year is up on November 1 (actually, October 31 at midnight, but who's counting?), so if I take an ACTUAL crafting vacation in November, and can restock some of my machine embroidery threads, I still have a strong chance of doing this.  I need 96 more ornaments.  That's it.  Comparatively, that isn't too many.  If it just weren't for that blasted garden.............................

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Some Crafting During the Crafting Vacation and a Misplaced Camera

Finally, there was actually some crafting during my crafting "vacation."  Not a lot, but there are now three more ornaments,
and if I could find my actual camera, you might be able to see my attempt at stippling on the felt heart.  I can't, and haven't yet figured out how to do much with the camera on my phone, so you'll have to take my word for it.  These still leave me quite a bit behind, but at least there are new ornaments.

My big goal for this weekend was to get some LONG overdue birthday presents done.  I'm not as positive what Theo's goal was,
 except to "help" by laying on everything in turns and shedding over everything.  It's a very important step in all my crafting projects.  

With the house overflowing with fresh-picked produce, I spent the morning drying some sweet peppers and roasting, peeling, and freezing 3 dozen poblano peppers, but I still had time to finish these up this afternoon.
Both birthdays were over the summer, so being late obviously isn't a huge issue for me, but I would like to get them delivered before Halloween. 

I did the backs with the same design in order to speed things up a bit,
and they're not really this faded out in person.  My plans for this weekend, of course, involved finishing up dozens of ornaments and finally getting the buttonholes on the floral jacket marked and made, and perhaps polishing off a small pile of sewing WIPs, but reality and I have never spent a great deal of time together--and especially not in the sewing room.  Right now, I'd settle for finding the camera I can actually work.................

Thursday, October 3, 2013

How I Spent My Crafting Vacation.....


An unexpected frost warning tonight combined with high winds meant the garden couldn't be covered, so after physical therapy, I harvested what was left.  Even after our friend picking on Tuesday and me picking yesterday, there were still an amazing number of ripe tomatoes, which are just sprawled all over the counters or in the freezer now. 

I swear I am really, REALLY on vacation now.....................

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Meet WIP Number THREE!

Colorwork ornament number SEVEN is done:
which leads me to think that the plan needs to be altered to "complete all 55 ornaments at some point in my lifetime."  I'm now aiming for 10 this year. 

And this morning,
I finally finished the blue bowl.  I canned a double-batch of carrot salsa AND a batch of chunky basil pasta sauce yesterday, so I am taking an extended weekend as a crafting vacation.  Ideally, I'll end up with either ornaments or finished WIPs (or both), but besides being fun, the bowl was on my sewing machine and the easiest way to get it OFF my sewing machine was to finish it.  It was supposed to be rather oval shaped,
but it seems one must start with a more dramatic oblong than I did, because mine managed to flatten out into a "mostly round" shape.  This is why I'm learning with colored rope rather than covering plain rope with fabric--I can only manage one variable at a time. 

Next up.................ornaments?