Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Christmas Is Really Coming

When one has been making Christmas decorations for 11 months, it's kind of a strange realization that Christmas is actually coming soon.  All year it's been a very distant sort of idea, and BAM!  Here it is--the week the trees actually go up!

So,
since there is really nothing I won't put off until the last minute, I have been soaking and drying the rather large stack of free-standing lace ornaments.  The gold stockings and treble clefs are actually left over from LAST year--guess I didn't feel like washing and drying them last year either.

I've been wrapping gifts, as well as
trying to make some.  Theo hasn't been interested in sewing for a while, but 
there wasn't rope to lay on previously.  It seems to be right up there with laying on patterns and fabrics a human is trying to cut out.  Needless to say, there isn't a finished bowl just yet.

And speaking of unfinished projects,
I worked on another WIP yesterday.  I'm closing in on finishing up the 8th pattern repeat.....out of 19.  I need to start the engagement gift, but this had been on hold for a while because I had finished up the first ball of yarn and couldn't find the other two.  Amazingly, the missing lace yarn was in the lace bin along with the green mohair.  Go figure.  So, I thought if I can at least start the new ball AND make a little progress, I won't feel so bad about starting another project.  There is a baby sweater that is really, really, REALLY close to being done.....but I have no idea where it is.  I know it still exists as I ran across it when we redid the sewing room, but I didn't think to put it somewhere that made sense.  After I get the house decorated and finish up the remaining gifts, I plan to do a massive cleaning/organizing project in the sewing room.  With the Year of Ornaments ending and the Year of 100 Finished Project starting, it would be nice to see my cutting table again.  Who knows, I could even start CUTTING things on my cutting table again!  WILD TIMES!!!!!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Onward!

It turns out none of us really like Mondays around here,
but at least it's a holiday week - and in my experience the week that almost all real work in America stops until January.  I don't think it's a coincidence that Cyber Monday--THE biggest online shopping day of the year--occurs on a work day. 

Of course, when you're getting ready for the holidays, healing from a back injury, and not in possession of a "real" job, one day can be pretty much like all the others.  Of course, my back does a nice job of keeping things fresh and new.  I was a bit sore today, so there was extra knitting time, and NO ORNAMENTS.  Instead,
I finished Andy's socks!!!!  That's WIP number 4!  Okay, that still leaves 18 knitting WIPs to go, but at least it's progress!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

I'M THERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Today while working out our Christmas gift list, I decided to do full sets of lace icicle ornaments for two people instead of just one, which strangely enough meant,
more lace icicles.  Most of the white ones I made were from last year and have already been used to decorate trees here, so I need to do the other 3 tomorrow for the second set of six.  These three brought me to 364, then
I finished two more dog ornaments this evening, which makes 366!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  And scratches one full gift off my to-do list.  I even started
my new ornament idea for an engagement gift.  I'll frame this on red felt, which will hopefully be finished up tomorrow so it can go out in the mail.  Then I can get on with
some of the slower projects...........

Of course, I'm still not actually "done" as I want to make 3 more terrorized gingerbread men for my youngest niece and nephews and can't use the existing ones as they all have to be slightly different and either have initials or names on them.  Did I mention the "youngest" part?  Probably the more sensible thing to do would be to give them different ornaments this year and take a running start at the gingerbread next year, but I've gone this long without ever being sensible about crafting--why start now?

Friday, November 22, 2013

I Swear This Isn't Really THAT Sort Of Blog....

 I need five more ornaments!!!!!!!!!!!  You read that right--FIVE.  If I hadn't had an incident with the accidental mating of two ornaments,
for which there are simply NO clean jokes, I would only need four.  Words simply fail me--which is best as any attempt to describe this is going to get me on some VERY unfortunate searches on Google.  I did manage to make a second G-rated Santa,
 as well as these,
for friends who recently lost a dog and my cousin who adopted one this year.  There is a third in the works,
and will be a fourth when I get another piece cut out.  Jeeves is now busy on blue icicles,
which cannot possibly achieve an R- or even a PG-rating, and I have been doing nice, wholesome things like washing the starch out of the pile of lace ornaments:
Believe it or not, this has taken a rather elaborate trial-and-error method, resulting in:
They can't dry on fabric, because the starch sticks.  If left to their own devices, they curl.  The latest batch are sandwiched between two pieces of freezer paper, which in turn are sandwiched between two cookie racks, and the freezer paper itself is keeping it all squashed flat.  This probably wouldn't work so well if there was even the slightest chance I'd be making cookies in the near future, but that's a pretty remote possibility.  From now until at least January 1, there will be a steady flow of holiday cookies INTO the house, and as I don't really like them and Andy will be up to his eyeballs in them, there's no reason for me to go to the effort.  Besides, the cookie cutters are all in the sewing room as well, so it's easiest (and healthiest) to just stick with the felt ones anyway...........

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Snag, But A Good Snag

While I continue to make great strides with ornaments with 3 new mittens for the Holiday music dash,
 and two new french horn ornaments,
you might have noticed a spectacular lack of progress on my WIP-marathon.  I have actually been working on my WIPs, but most are still a very, very long way from completion.  I just turned the heel of Andy's second sock today, so I have high hopes for a finished WIP by the end of the month, but the project has reached a snag:
Our oldest niece just got engaged, and I bought this yarn last year "just in case" I would have need to make an engagement shawl.  In general, I'm not a big fan in marriage under the age of 25-28, but they've been together for 3 years and were friends before that and everyone really likes her fiance, so it's a good snag. Andy will make wooden wine goblets for their actual wedding gift, but I thought a lace shawl would make a great shower gift and be something special.  And mercifully the pattern is on size 7 needles, so the odds are fairly high I can get it done on time.  I haven't cast on just yet as I want to see if I can get the socks finished first--and maybe even a few more ornaments--but I'm not going to break my WIP-record this time around.  Maybe next year when I need 100 finished projects........................?

And I have to share this with you.  As you know, when my buying ban was up I placed an order with Nancy's Notions for a few things I'd had my eye on.  I've put them all away for right now and will dig them out when I get that "I-want-something-new" urge, but one item was on back order and just arrived:
Colored tailor's chalk--but "for professional use" only.  Really?  With all the sharp, pointy objects I am turned loose with in the sewing room and colored chalk is for professionals?  I shall try to be quite serious and professional when using it, I guess....................

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Holiday Music Stashdash 2013

“FILL YOUR HOLIDAYS WITH MUSIC” STASHDASH

Your holiday mission, should you choose to accept it:

Find a cute holiday-ish basket that will inspire you to fill it with yarny-goodness Between November 15 and midnight of January 30, fill it with any combination of the following:

 

A. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas - knit something small (less than 6 inches or thereabout)
B. Frosty the Snowman - knit a snowman of some sort or something with a snowman on it
C. Toyland - make the toy of your choice
D. My Favorite Things - make “warm woolen mittens” in your choice of yarn and size. Mini mittens do count
E. Here Comes Santa Claus - knit a Santa or something with Santa on it
F. A Marshmallow World - spin the fiber of your choice
G. Silver Bells - make a bell or something with a bell motif
H. Jingle Bells - make something (such as an ornament or stocking or whatever) that can have jingle bells attached to it
I. Blue Christmas - make something blue
J. White Christmas - make something white
K. Oh Tannenbaum (O Christmas Tree) - make an ornament to hang on the tree, or alternatively make a tree
L. We Three Kings - finish 3 WIPS or finish 3 items if you don’t have any WIPs
M. Joy to the World - finish your oldest WIP
N. Christmas in Killarney - make something green
O. Nuttin’ for Christmas - make Grumpy, the Lump of Coal
P. What Child is This? - make something for a baby or child
Q. Twas the Night Before Christmas - make a Christmas stocking, stocking ornament, or socks
R. Christmas Shoes - make a pair of slippers, booties, or socks
S. Believe - try a new technique or project that you’ve been wanting to try
T. Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer - make something red
U. Good King Wenceslas - make a crown or hat
V. Deck the Halls - make a decoration
W. It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year - make your favorite pattern
X. Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel - finish eight WIPS or 8 items if you don’t have WIPs
Y. Twelve Days of Christmas - finish twelve WIPS or 12 items if you don’t have WIPs
Z. Ring Out, Wild Bells - finish ALL your WIPS

Bonus Challenge: Knit or crochet 4,000 yards of yarn in any way you would like.
As always, please feel free to adapt categories to incorporate other hobbies as well.

Let the holiday season begin!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Snowy Saturday

Okay--more like snow/sleet/rain Saturday, but we did wake up to actual snow.  Needless to say, those last couple rows of garlic didn't get planted today.  Instead,
there are two new lace ornaments, and
more cross stitch!  For the "Fall Back Into Love" Stashdash, one of the categories was 6 rows on your most frustrating WIP.  I was originally thinking the mohair sweater, but every time I thought the word "frustrating" I thought of the 7+ year cross stitch progress.  There are actually far more than 6 new rows now, but I thought I might as well do the thing right and have done another 3 square inches today.

Incidentally, I found this yesterday:
I don't know if you can see this exactly, but in the first row of yellow/gold stitching there is something wonky with one of the stitches--making it more of a star than a cross.  I know I'm not doing this exactly right as a real purist would have ALL the stitches going the same direction with all the top diagonals going in the same direction, but by the time I finish this baby, none of my friends are going to have good enough eyesight to pick out that much detail.  But to find an actual mistake where just making a simple thread X escaped me--that was a bit unexpected.  I'm going to blame the pain medication.  The alternative is just a bit too humiliating................

Friday, November 15, 2013

An Actual Finishing Friday

It's 3:00 PM here and so far, no one has needed to go to any sort of doctor or vet--we're making progress!  We're not great, of course,
and I don't think I've been forgiven for yesterday's trip to the vet just yet, but after being pulverized by the physical therapist yesterday, I felt good enough this morning to go for a walk around our subdivision today.  Not a long one, but I think I could have.  Because of all the issues in the last few weeks, it's more important than ever that I don't hurt myself because it just winds everything back up and undoes all the progress I've made the last 4 months.  So I'm trying very, very, VERY hard to do nothing to upset my back, so a small walk that I can do is 1000-times better than a longer walk that I can't do. 

Of course, yesterday after physical therapy I wasn't feeling nearly as good, so I've had a bit of a crafting marathon.  Being so close to my ornament goal, I decided to dig out
the cross stitch!  It got one entire thread of brown yesterday.  That may be all it gets this year, but at least it made some progress.  Today it was back to
ornaments!  The cat on the right is a back-of-the-tree ornament as I initially put his tail on backwards.  I did get it removed,
but as I had used the hot glue gun to hold it in place, he has a glue tattoo on his butt.  Maybe I'll hang him low enough for the cats to play with.  Calisto currently has a shaved backside, and might appreciate the camaraderie.....

There's also a new stocking ornament,
which is okay--just nothing special.  Still, at least nothing is going the wrong direction, and it brings me to 343 ornaments for the year so far!  I am actually going to make my goal!!!!!!!!!

So of course, it's time to think about next year.  Remember when I mentioned that I would make an exception to the new buying ban for a new embroidery card for my machine because I couldn't drive to the wonderful Twin Falls Sewing Center to get one?  On a whim, I emailed them to see if they could still get them and if it was possible to mail them.  They not only had them--they had them for HALF of what they have cost me in the past.  I called them Wednesday afternoon to say I would take two (as there will be no advanced warning when the things are discontinued permanently), and yesterday
they arrived in the mail.  In static bags to make them last longer, which they don't come with.  All things considered, it's probably best that I can't drive 4 hours round-trip right now.  If I could get to their shop in person, I'd probably have wiped out all my savings by now.  They made my week, and now I don't actually need an exemption on a new crafting buying ban--which makes it a lot easier for me to stick to, weirdly enough.  I also remembered to check on the magazines I had decided to renew, and had indeed forgotten Sew News, which is fun and not quite so far over my head as Threads often is.  I had almost not renewed because I go back and forth on whether I use magazines or if they are just clutter, but $20 for a magazine that will give me something new arriving regularly throughout the year is a great way to stay "on the wagon" as it were.  So the NEW start date for the buying ban is tomorrow--November 16.  It's a sloppy date which sort of drives me crazy, but it will keep me safe from any Black Friday/Cyber Monday temptations, so I can live with it.  Especially now that there REALLY is nothing I need for another year of crafting.  :)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Before Our Weekly Trip to the Vet..........

I thought I'd do a quick update.

Andy: Cold mostly gone, still some coughing
Calisto: seems to be doing better, no more horrible things happening in the bathtub, has only drawn blood during two doses of antibiotics
Theo:  able to pee in small doses this morning but yowling a great deal.  Most likely an actual urinary tract infection and would mean two cats on antibiotics simultaneously
Toni: totally flattened by a back relapse Monday and Tuesday, feeling good enough today to be flirting with the idea of running away from home.............

We're a sad lot around here, needless to say.  I am going to be even sadder if I have to medicate both cats.  But at least I'm up and around today and have Jeeves making new ornaments,
which is a nice change after the last few days.  I'd like to say I know what I did, but I don't.  The only thing I do know is that doing my stretches Monday night to help "fix" the problem made it much, much worse, and I spent the next 24 hours heavily drugged to "unfix" it.  My faithful little sidekick has been with me almost constantly,
because he takes his role as Get Well Kitty very, very seriously.  Needless to say, there wasn't a great deal of crafting on Tuesday, but I was able to finish the first sock and start on the second,
which could be my next finished WIP.  Yesterday was much better--mostly just a bit sore and sick from all the drugs--so I did manage to finish:
color work ornament number 12!  Admitting I can't do all 55 this year has really taken the pressure off on these.  I'll probably start number 13 today--depending on how physical therapy goes.  I am making progress, but that still doesn't mean that physical therapy appointments don't usually leave me flattened and miserable for the rest of the day.  Depending on what the vet does to Theo, we might be a matched set today. 

There has been some humor here, though.  Yesterday these
arrived.  In spite of all my shopping history, Joanns didn't put me back on their list until just now.  The coupon mailers are for Andy and Calisto, whom they do consider worthy to receive their stupid mailers.  Well, I'll be off their list again soon enough.  I have no idea who designed their marketing strategy, but whoever it is must be getting kickbacks from Michaels or Hancock Fabric or someone.  I'd have thought my shopping history would have rated me as "keep me on the list no matter what," but there does seem to be a lot of money for executives in driving a company into the ground and walking off with the "golden parachutes," so I can only suppose that to be an option here.  No one can be that dumb by accident............

Sunday, November 10, 2013

29 To Go!

As it's the weekend, it's hard to really say whether I'm still on vacation or not--especially considering how much kitty-care has been happening during my "vacation," but there was some ornament progress yesterday,
and I am only 29 ornaments away from my goal!  I'm going to can some tomatoes this morning, but the jars and lids are already cleaned so it should be a pretty quick project, so I'll have some time for crafting this afternoon, so maybe
there will be two more cat ornaments by the end of the day.  That little mass of fabric in the center is an attempt at a candy cane ornament from a cookie cutter, and is being such a pain to turn inside-out that it may never get past this stage. 

I had hoped to finish a bunch of sewing projects this past week, but next time I'll know to check with the cats to see what their schedule is going to be.  Theo seems to resent the attention Calisto is getting, and is refusing to eat his supplement-enriched food, which means he could have another run to the vet soon. Calisto almost got another trip yesterday as they said to watch her and bring her in if she wasn't eating.  In the morning, she did refuse to eat, but she often suspects we are trying to poison her and will refuse food, and now that she has definite PROOF that I'm poisoning her with bubble-gum flavored antibiotics, it's easy to see her point.  But hunger won out and she's decided to take her chances.  I can't say that I really blame her--I would be pretty chapped about someone ramming bubble-bum flavored ANYTHING down my throat, and as a human it makes slightly more sense. 8 days left..........

Saturday, November 9, 2013

And Another Year Begins.......

So I was going to wait until January 1 for the sake of simplicity, but after a second visit to Joann's yesterday, I'm not setting foot in that place again for the next 2 months anyway, so Crafting Buying Ban #2 kicks off today.  This year I will make one exception up front:  I didn't get another embroidery card for Jeeves, and the dealer I use is a 4-hour round trip drive away which I won't be able to do for a while yet, so if I need one next year, I can go get one.  Otherwise, no new crafting anything until November 9, 2014.  

Andy's plane was arriving yesterday, so I decided to run to Joann's for the black fabric and the grocery store for chicken soup before heading to the airport.  I do not say this lightly, but the grocery store was WAY more fun than Joanns.  For those of you who don't have Joann's Fabrics, it's a big chain store that depends on volume, not loyalty.  They closed two smaller stores here a few years ago to implement a "Super Store," which included things like number tickets at the cutting counter.  I think if you plan FOR slowness, you're going to live up to it.  I got to the store, and it was busy but since it was a Friday, I thought it wouldn't be too bad, so I grabbed a number then went to get my fabric.  This was a wise move, as they were more than 25 customers behind.  I found the black cotton,
along with the one color of sewing thread I truly ran out of this year, and
remembered that I had wanted to find some blackboard fabric to make a write-able table-runner for entertaining.  Fabric in hand, I sat down to wait for my turn..........an hour later.

I know big companies are quite loathe to pay any overtime to employees, but having THREE people at a backed-up cutting counter standing idle because one is due to go to lunch, one to go home, and the third one who presumably IS still working calling the manager for permission for them to leave while doing nothing else is guaranteed to irritate all your customers.  Especially when that leaves only one human being actually doing anything.  Lots of customers got angry and just left, which makes Joann's policy pretty stupid I would think, but it's one they've been clinging to ever since the Super Store was built, so I can only assume they are pleased with the results.  I had a book and was willing to hang in there, but when two clerks jumped in to (finally) help the lady in front of me who had more than 35 bolts of fabric to cut, I was a bit chapped.  That customer knew she was going to be there a while--the rest of us shouldn't have been kept waiting any longer because of her, but we were.  At this point I promised myself I wouldn't have to set foot in the darn place for at least a year.  Which was good, because when I got to the checkstand, 10 people were waiting in line for ONE cashier.  I'm sure under-staffing makes sense to an accountant buried in the store's back rooms somewhere, but it really makes no sense to people waiting to check out.  After that horrible experience, I don't even want to drive past the darn place.

Friday, November 8, 2013

I Did It!

I have been to a fabric store WITHOUT going crazy!  Actually, I've been to two. 

The morning started with tracking down Calisto and dropping her off at the vet's on my way to physical therapy.  I was worried she might have worms, and decided that even I have limits on my vacation, so thought she was best in the hands of professionals.  I grew up on a cattle ranch and have wormed horses and done all sorts of bizarre things, but Calisto has never been given medication of any sort outside her normal shots, and before risking life and limb to do it, I wanted to make sure it was necessary.  And I have been rewarded for my sins with 10 days of antibiotics to give her twice a day.  Because what's more fun than medicating one cat--why, medicating TWO cats.

Not surprisingly, my back was was pretty wound up for therapy, so the massage was painful, but I finished up just when the stores were opening at 9:00, and decided to take the plunge anyway.  I had a "25% off your total purchase" coupon for Joanns, and I figured with my list, it would make a huge difference. 
...which it did.  Besides the boring stuff (stabilizer, fusible webbing, velcro, elastic), I found flannel for new pajamas for Andy,
 and myself:
Three pairs seems really excessive until one sees the state of my existing flannel pjs.  Of course, I'm really, really, REALLY hoping to spend less of my life in pajamas this winter and part of me is superstitious enough to think that if I am prepared for it, I'll be less likely to need them.  After two years, one clings to any and all hopes. 

I added two yards of new Christmas fabric,
which probably wasn't exactly necessary, but Christmas table runners are coming up on my list of gifts to make, and I had two gingerbread-themed prints which this will match, and my true red-white-green fabrics were running low.  I also got the black peachskin I've been thinking about for a couple years.  I have the green paisley peachskin wardrobe from several years ago and I love it, but having a similar set in black will expand my wardrobe drastically. 

I ended up visiting two fabric stores,
and FINALLY found a fabric that can work for the green quilt I started 3 (?) years ago.  It's a poly-cotton blend, so I'll have to be careful to keep the quilt out of the sun as the cotton will fade but not this, but I have been hunting something to work for this for years.  I grabbed two yards, which will get the quilt top finished.  I'll need more black cotton to finish it, and I think I might swing into Joanns with another 40% off coupon to grab that while I'm sick of shopping.  It's the last thing on my list that I'll need before embarking on year TWO of a crafting buying ban, and I'd just like to be done with shopping and on to playing with fabric.  How weird is that????

 I grabbed some more felt,
so I'm set for ornaments for another year.  And, 
the fabric on the left is for a fall jacket.  I have some that's heavier, which will work for something else, but not for this pattern,
and while I'm learning to make jackets with home decorating fabric, I want to stick to the same pattern for a bit.  I'll use it on the yellow floral material as well, which will be for the "Me-Made-May" challenge.  If you haven't heard of that, the idea is to wear something you've made every single day for a month.  I've never tried it before, but I think it could be fun to try, and layers seem to be the best idea. 

The cream-colored fabric on the right is for,
This is a bag making kit from Nancy's Notions.  Over the past year, I'd kept a "wish list" and added and subtracted things to it as I lost interest or changed my mind.  When the spending ban ended, the things I ordered the things I felt like I really, truly wanted (within reason).  This bag kit has been on the list actually a little longer than a year.  You make part of it with the embroidery machine, and I wanted a way to play with this without having a lot of different fabrics.  What I'm hoping will work is matching existing colored fabrics with the cream home decorating fabric for different effects.  I won't know for a while as I've put the box away for now.  When I feel like I really need something new, I'll drag out the box.  For now, I'm still having fun with the ornaments and am eying one of the new jackets........as soon as I get the buttonholes done on the white one. 

And last but certainly not least, 
color-work ornament #11 is done, number 12 is started,
and with two new trees this morning,
I have 334 ornaments for the year!   And I still have so many ornaments I want to make.  I thought I might be tired of it by now, but I have decided I need to keep a list of ornament ideas so I don't forget them.  Next year, I think I'm going to host an ornament-making party with my girlfriends--maybe the first weekend in November?  I'll have to think about the logistics, but I think it could be fun.  By then I'll have quite a stack of patterns, and maybe everyone can just bring felt and beads and we can dig in?  In the meantime, 31 left to go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!