Thursday, January 30, 2014

Still Hanging On

I have almost kicked the bronchitis, I think.  Aside from a little bit yesterday, my cough is almost gone.  I still have some chest congestion, so Tuesday I picked up a cold medicine supposedly for chest congestion.  I say "supposedly" because
that third one is an outright lie.  I think it is supposed to be cherry flavor, but whatever cherries ever did to anyone to deserve such an insult is beyond me.  It's so awful that yesterday I was nauseous every time I took it.  Someone in the marketing department for these folks is just a sadist--that's all there is to it. 

Tomorrow will be 5 weeks of this garbage, and I feel like I should have a lot more knitting to show for it.  I've been working on the Alice Starmore sweater--possibly because an oversized sweater in fingering weight yarn and a never-ending cough seem to go together--and I just finished up another ball of yarn,
which makes almost 1300 yards of yarn in this baby already.  This is not a project for sane people.  However, I love this thing.  I'm at the gussets for the armholes, and
they have this wonderful patterning in them.  I love her attention to detail and no matter WHAT this sweater looks like when I'm done with it, I will be wearing it.  I might be wearing it to therapy, but I'll be wearing it. 

When my hands needed a break, I started cutting out terrorized gingerbread men.
I think I gave all of them away over Christmas, and I still have a lot of people who didn't receive them, so I'll be making masses of the things this year.  Or at least 6. 

As you might have guessed, there has been no sewing, which is unfortunate as that 100-yards-of-fabric for the year goal is off to a rocky start.  I'm hoping that 100 yards will make a visible dent in this:
I don't mind having a large stash when I'm using it, but with the back issues, I haven't sewn much for two years.  However......drum roll please..........I was released by my physiatrist on Monday because I've made enough progress to not need him.  YAY!!!!  He's a nice guy and obviously very helpful, and it might be that the bronchitis episode actually helped my back, and he said I have to be very careful right now to not overdo or push too hard or sit too long while I'm regaining my strength, but I haven't been this pain-free in two years.  YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now if my lungs would just join the party.........

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Maybe Better, Take 2

Last weekend I really was over the bronchitis, but I made the mistake of stopping the nights of Nyquil as well.  After 3 weeks of the stuff, I seem to have been a little addicted to sleep aids, so for two nights in a row, I couldn't sleep.  Monday morning the darn but was back and I'm not over it yet.  Dang it.

I am feeling slightly better today, so I thought I'd play a little catch-up.  In little bursts of feeling good this week I've been working on some shaping ideas for bowls.  I wanted to see how far one could curve the sides inward,
which isn't that far unless the bowl is large, and there's a point where it goes from "possible" to "impossible" all at once.  Next I thought I'd try to curve the bowl down instead of up, which only goes to show you how far the month of cold medicine has addled my brain.  You cannot slant a bowl downward because there's a bottom of a sewing machine in the way.  So,
I practiced my slanted-sides technique instead.  I'm hoping my bowl technique will be a bit better when I'm off the drugs, but I think this one can be mashed into shape.

I haven't been blogging--or thinking clearly--but I have been knitting.  I am now more than half finished with the lace edging for the lace capelet,
though as there are 28 sets for this edging and I still have 14 to go and then must still attach it, I'm not ready to consider it close to finished.  Closer though.  I have also done one and a half of my 12 threads on the never-ending cross stitch,
and even more surprisingly,
am making great progress on a second, smaller one that I bought two or three years ago.  At times I have wondered if I'll even like the never-ending cross stitch when it is finished, because it's a wee bit "cutesy" for me and the room I thought it would look nice in belonged in my old house, so at some point buying a smaller Tuscan wine scene cross stitch seemed like a good idea.  And it must be, because I started this sometime in 2013 and it's making great progress.  The nice thing is that sometimes the black background is easier to see and sometimes the white.  And smaller is fabulous.

I've also been working on the heel of the latest socks,
which I was making to learn a new toe and heel technique, but now I've decided that I wanted a reinforced heel so I'm combining techniques.  I swear there was a time when I really could follow directions without changing them.  I don't remember when, exactly, but I know there was one.  Maybe it was back in that distant time when I didn't have a yarn stash and only had one knitting project at a time......

Saturday, January 18, 2014

I Did It!

Perhaps it's because I feel a bit better today, or perhaps it's because I have been spending soooooo much time knitting, but today I found the gumption to try a fabric & rope bowl.

The book Andy gave me for my birthday,
is written by a free-thinker after my own heart (when on cold medication, one can mix metaphors).  She says scraps of fabric work just fine, and it doesn't really matter how you cut them.  The book I bought says quite specifically that one MUST cut strips on the bias and they MUST be a very specific width.  I'm always suspicious of "musts," as they are so often wrong.  In chemistry, I believe "musts." In making baskets, I have my doubts.  So, this week while wallowing in self-pity, I cut fabric strips
I just used pinking sheers and not a single one is perfectly straight, but again, the author said it wouldn't really matter.  I've only seen these baskets made with cotton fabrics, and being me, I wanted to see what it would be like with other fabrics.  I figured as an experiment, I'd be keeping this bowl, which is sort of fun as I won all the clothing that generated these scraps except for
which is still in progress.

Usually, I'm not wild about "scrappy" quilts or anything of the kind, but I thought if I used one color to unify the others I'd like it--or enough to put things in, at any rate.  
Flat wasn't too difficult, but I did panic just a bit when it came time for the shaping.  If I'd have thought of any way to use a trivet or placemat in the sewing room, it would have stayed flat.  But, I didn't come up with anything.
Except, eventually, a bowl.  At some point in the process, I managed to change from wrapping the fabric strips counter-clockwise to clockwise, which the author warns NOT to do because the change will be visible.  Well, the change was NOT visible because I couldn't find it.  I wouldn't do it on purpose, of course, but considering all the other mistakes on this, the thought won't cost me any sleep.

I ended up with three white spots where the rope showed through my wrapping,
which are now covered over by a Sharpie marker.  The fabric on the top of the bowl was so puckered and frayed that I zig-zagged over the rim of the basket to hold it in place,
which I would try to not have to do in the future.  All that being said, however, I am rather pleased with the results.  It's a first attempt, and I learned a LOT.  

* shockingly, fabric that ravels badly will ravel badly when used to make bowls, and aren't easy to work with
*  fabrics with moderate amounts of stretch ARE
*  thinner fabrics like peachskin worked better than the thicker microsuede
*  have a glue stick handy at all times
*  also have a wet rag handy for when the glue stick gets the best of you
*  longer strips are easier to work with
*  when using multiple colors, it looks best if one can do full rounds in a color before changing
*  uneven strips didn't make any difference at all
*  strips can be too thin, but too wide makes too much bulk
*  have a bamboo skewer at hand
*  a finished object is a finished object
*  sewing mistakes are rarely fatal, and often unnoticeable

Now off to raid the scrap basket again...............

Friday, January 17, 2014

I Never Thought I'd Say This........

.......but I am tired of knitting. 

There.  Hell hath perhaps frozen over, but it's 8:00 PM here, I'm in my pjs, I could be knitting, and I don't want to.  I have GOT to get over this bug before my brain snaps permanently.

I had a better day today, though the bronchitis has teased me before.  Last week was mostly better, and I was feeling good enough one day to clean the master bath--albeit in small spurts that took the entire day.  I had to keep resting, but it went well........or until I got the brilliant idea to bleach the shower floor.  There are many things one can probably do to help with congestion, but nowhere on that list will one find "inhale cleaning fumes."  I'm an idiot, of course, but the shower floor is really, really clean.

Today marks 3 weeks of this gunk, and I have had so many people tell me it lasts 3 weeks that I was really hoping to wake up today completely better.  I did wake up feeling a bit better, which I know could just be psychological but when these things work in my favor, I try not to question.  The dry, hacking cough is back tonight, but it apparently decided to take a break and perhaps go for a little outing much of the day.  I hope it was scoping the neighborhood looking for a new family.  If I'm sick of knitting, you can imagine how tired I am of coughing.  Fingers crossed for tomorrow!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Bah!

I am still sick and starting to feel a little sorry for myself and a LOT frustrated.  Normally, this is the time when I might start a little on-line shopping to cheer myself up, which is a little inconvenient when one is on a spending ban.  So far, I've been able to distract myself, and even worked on the side seams of the long-languishing March Madness Sweater:
Maybe I can get it done by March of THIS year???? 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Real World Strikes Again

The Ravellenic Games are coming in February.  Formerly known as Ravelympics, in 2012, knitters worldwide were informed by the United States Olympic Committee informed us that we could not use even part of the word "olympic" because they have sole rights to even just part of the word so they can exploit it for money, and that we "denigrated" the athletes by presuming to model crafting events after Olympic events.  Strike 1 against the entire concept, but the renamed knitting games went on.

THIS year the Russian stance on human rights bled over into the Ravellenic Games in spite of the games having technically nothing whatsoever to do with Russia or the Olympics, things don't seem to be handled as well as they could have been, things apparently got quite heated, finally resulting in the team of moderators (many of whom have led the games for the last 6 years) to resign en masse.  There will be a new group formed, but the whole episode--and I think most specifically the behavior of some members towards other members on both sides--made me consider skipping the games entirely.  And with yesterday's arrest of terrorists in Russia, I wonder if the Olympic athletes are starting to think the same thing....................

Saturday, January 11, 2014

It Worked!

Or, I suppose the statement of surprise should be, "I combined felt and glue without mishap!"
More to the point, really and by FAR the biggest part of the surprise.

I tried a few with craft glue and a few with Elmer's, and the craft glue worked best.  That would seem a rather silly statement to make, except that so often I've found that Elmer's Glue-All works best for the oddest things. 

Today I made,
the first of my 10 ornaments for the year.  I'm guessing there will probably be more than 10, and I haven't figured out exactly how to count them for my finished projects.  Maybe this should be half a project.

Meanwhile, my usual sidekick
 is having nothing to do with me tonight.  After 6 months, we have a bit of a ritual about Theo's supplements.  Only the ritual changes according to kitty whim, so in spite of the fact that I got the can out of the fridge early enough for it to warm up and in spite of not serving him this morning's leftovers and in spite of putting the food in the blue bowl that has been the fancy of the week, he didn't want his dinner.  Or, more accurately, he didn't want to lick the gravy out of the food that Calisto will later eat.  I even had just the right amount of water mixed into his food--not enough to make it watery but enough to make sure it doesn't exactly look like gravy, but he still turned up his nose.  So, I spread it on his front paws.  He unfortunately didn't find it until he'd spread it to other parts of his fur, but as he continually complains about being bored, I have now given him something to do with his evening.  Which is why he's down the hall. Ingrate.

Friday, January 10, 2014

5 - I Think

I'm waiting for the glue to dry, but I think I have successfully made felt fortune cookies today:
It's a pattern from Martha Stewart, which makes me a bit nervous. Martha and her staff might be able to get felt and glue to work for them, but that's no guarantee that it will turn out well for me.  We're having friends over for dinner on Valentine's Day, and I thought these would be fun.  If they work, I'll put a fortune and maybe some chocolates in them.  Fingers crossed.......


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Still Coughing....

....but not as badly.  I guess that's progress.  And speaking of progress...

I have half a table free now!!!!  We celebrate small victories around here....especially when there aren't any large ones.

The bronchitis continues to hang on, so I have good and bad days still.  I have been working on my knitting WIPs, but I also started
a toddler jacket for a young member of the family who didn't get a Christmas gift from us because I didn't get to it.  She's a distant connection, so we're outside the "mandatory" gift range and more in the "Gosh, wasn't that nice of them?" spot, which takes the pressure off.  I thought this would be a cute birthday gift, and in a size 3 I'm giving myself some wiggle room in case it needs to be a Christmas 2014 gift.  It can be hard to intersect children and knitting.

After so much knitting time, my hands get tired, so
I have a new sock as well.  It's a simple pattern that I can do while reading, which is nice.  And, I am finally making something from this book,
which I've had for years and have never used even once.  It's a perfectly nice book, but the author tends to favor size 0 needles and I tend to favor not doing anything even close to that crazy, so we've been at a bit of an impasse.  BUT, she does have 3 simple ribbed socks with different heel and toe variations on size 1 needles, and I'd like to learn them.  And, the yarn was purchased before Andy and I moved into this house, so I've had it for at least 8 years, so it's relatively deep stash--always fun to use.  And I've wanted a pair of socks from this yarn for at least 8 years, so that's an even bigger perk.  It's a Regia yarn, which always makes hard-wearing socks.  It's not the softest stuff, but I currently have one pair of socks that I keep wearing with my boots in the snow because I don't want to wear out my nice socks.  These will be able to handle my hiking boots just fine, which is all I wear in the winter.  I have never understood why women's winter boots are so ill-adapted to winter, but there is no way I'm venturing out on ice with anything but the toughest treads in my closet.  In college, we used to have running bets on which sorority girls would fall on their way to class in the winter as they were the only creatures foolish enough to tackle the snowy hills on campus with high heels.  I believe they had a dress code.....and probably have lots of back problems by now.  I'm sure there was a segment of the male population who appreciated their efforts to always look nice, but I ran with a more down-to-earth crowd that was into a little less maintenance and a lot more sense.  Able to participate in spontaneous snowball fights or snowman building probably didn't hurt either.........

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Three and Four

Well, I may not have enjoyed great health so far this year, but it has been good for the 100-projects goal. 

Last night I finished Mr. Flurry,
except for his eyes, which he'll get when he gets stuffed.  I had intended for his scarf to get some fringe, but
in less than one day the end of the yarn has frizzled completely, so we'll skip it.  He entirely took the last of my Red Heart white, and as I never count the Red Heart yarn in my stash used tally until it's totally gone, I got a great big 364-yard boost to my tally for the year, which was quite exciting.  So exciting, in fact, that
I cast on a new, quick project immediately.  It's a basket-weave scarf using another acrylic yarn that I've had for some time.  I love the colors, but don't remember what the three skeins were intended to do,
if anything.  I almost used them for a toddler jacket, but variegated yarns always pool so badly that I opted for a scarf instead.  Or maybe two, as I have 3 skeins of this stuff. 

I had intended to get back to my WIPs, but after using up so little yarn last year and having mostly WIPs that aren't about to be done soon, I decided to enjoy this little burst of project-finishing.  Goodness knows, I could use a strong start.  Even though I've done it before, finishing 100 things isn't going to be easy.  I had an idea for felt holiday wall hangings that I thought I might play with today, and the great thing about this insane challenge is that while my tendency would be to wait until I was absolutely sure I knew exactly what I wanted to do, needing to finish a whole bunch of things pushes me to try anyway.  So, 
 I laid out one idea to try using embroidery, then managed to delete a whole bunch of my work by accident.  I did get it all redone, but it took some time.  Then I needed some space to work on my table--which is quite frankly frightening after the holidays.  I set to work diligently cleaning and managed to eke out a nice little corner,
when I ran across the parts of a bag I had cut out and set aside.  Feeling like it would be idiotic to find a place to put it, and knowing I would feel even more idiotic once I forgot where I'd stashed it, I decided to go ahead and finish it up before starting something new.
I'm hoping the aliens who have obviously taken over my mind do not return me to my normal self until I have either finished clearing off that table or at least gotten a few more projects finished.  While the getting is good, however,
I have finished project number 4!  This uses some of the oldest fabric in my stash--something unknown and prone to raveling--and was a fun way to play with an idea I'd been toying with for a book bag.  I am quite pleased with it, though the words look plainer than I thought they would.  Next time I think I'd add some sort of character--or maybe just eyebrows or mustaches?  I like the idea though, and I like the bag as-is.  And I swear not just because it's finished project number 4...................:)

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Two!

I am not about to say that there is anything good about being sick,
but at least it isn't a total loss.  Aside from needing buttons, the Baby Surprise Jacket is done, and project number 3
is on its way.  It's going to be a Mr. Flurry snowman like this one,
 and will oddly enough use up my very last bit of white Red Heart acrylic yarn.  With all the yarn I have and the huge stash of acrylic yarn I've always had, there is one I will run out of and it will be the cheap stuff.  Weird.  

I am feeling better, thankfully, and have been able to start taking down Christmas decorations today.  One tree is completely down and boxed, which is probably enough of a start for one day.  I had wanted to do some sewing today, but was in kind of a funk.  We gave several of the rope baskets away for Christmas, and while most people were quite thrilled with them, we also had people joking about them as fezzes.  I don't know, it may just be me, but I think mocking a gift you have been given makes you an ass, and while I know the people in question have very poor social skills anyway, it took the fun out of the baskets for me for a bit.  I shouldn't let it--everyone else was thrilled and I need to focus on those people instead--but it is frustrating, and the mockers are permanently off my craft-worthy list.  Luckily, this year it will be Andy's turn to make gifts anyway, so I'll have time to work on something really cool for 2015 for those still on my list.  :)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

One!

I have my first Finished Project of the year:
which I technically could have finished before the end of the year, but a head-start can't hurt.  Especially when one has been sick for a week. 

We're very lucky, however. We have had "His" and "Hers" get-well kitties.  Callisto kept Andy company in the back room,
 while Theo has hung out with me in our room--here enjoying a pillow-fort Andy built for him:
No, our cats aren't spoiled in the slightest.

I thought I might even be showing you a second finished project today,
but the Baby Surprise Jacket didn't get finished today.  It's moving right along however.  The turquoise yarn wasn't listed in my Ravelry stash, which is a bit disconcerting as I would have sworn that after moving everything out of and back INTO the sewing room I finally had all the yarn accounted for, but I guess I missed one.  I had discovered the error in time for yesterday's tally to be correct with this addition, but I'm really hoping there aren't more I haven't counted.  I can't imagine where they might be lurking. 

And, f i n a l l y, my order from Jo-Ann Fabrics arrived.  After their long delays, dumping of much of my order, and no communication from them, they topped off the whole experience with:
Does this look white to you???????????????????????????????  I know they pay their staff so little that they aren't going to attract Harvard grads or anything, but a PERSON initialed that label, and even someone with no knowledge of fabric whatsoever could have grasped that there was a problem with this "white crepe back satin."  I was going to make white satin Christmas stockings this year, but that will be for another time--and store. 

Being Jo-Anns, it wasn't an isolated problem.  This:
was supposed to be variegated embroidery thread that I thought might look interesting on one of the rope bowls.  To round out the entire fun-filled experience, there was no packing slip enclosed which is required for returns to Joanns.  I waited until I was under the calming effects of cold medicine to call "customer service" and ask them to remedy the problem.  I just can't for the life of me understand their company philosophy, but the whole experience so soured me on purchasing that this next year might be a snap.............

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

And We're Off On Another Year of Adventure!

Happy New Year!

I started feeling better today--not great, but better--so I'm optimistic about everything right now.  Amazing what a little difference like sleeping through the night can make.  For the last week, when the Nyquil's 6 hours wore off, I woke up coughing immediately.  Last night I actually took it early because I was so miserable...and slept straight through until 6:00 this morning with no coughing.  Yay!!!!!!

So on such a high note, I start the new year with:

928.08 balls of yarn
194,301.4 yards of yarn

and an unbelievable amount of fabric, but we just aren't ready to start adding that just yet.  By the end of the year, however, I hope to have

*  Finished 100 projects
*  completed 12 threads on that cross stitch
*  completed 12 threads on the needlework project 
*  used 100 yards of fabric
*  made 10 ornaments
*  Finished 3 sewing WIPS
*  Finished 3 knitting WIPS
*  Buy no crafting supplies

The WIPs need to be something in progress as of the beginning of the year....which unfortunately still leaves me a LOT of options.

Let the games begin!