Saturday, April 30, 2011

One Last One In Under the Wire

Tonight I finished yet another chemo cap, so I am ending April with a monthly tally of:

Projects finished:  11
Yards of fabric used:  15.75 
Yards of yarn used:  1772
Skeins of yarn used:  11

for year-to-date totals of:  

Projects finished:  43
Yards of fabric used:  36.25
Yards of yarn used:  5839
Skeins of yarn used:  36.25

We're now one-third of the way through 2011, and if I keep up this pace, I would end the year with:

Projects finished:  129
Yards of fabric used:  108.75
Yards of yarn used:  17,517
Skeins of yarn used:  108.75

Everything looks really good except the yards of yarn tally.  Ideally, I'd like to reach 25,000 yards, but I would still be pretty pleased with 20,000.  Of course, some knitters would be pleased with ending up with a bunch of knitted stuff at the end of the year.......Go figure.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

And We Decided To Go With.................

An entirely different project:
I was "cleaning" the sewing room (I use the quotation marks so that you don't expect the sewing room to actually BE clean when I'm done--just less messy) in order to have more room to work with the quilt, and I couldn't decide where to put this lavender fabric, and then it occurred to me that if I used it, I didn't have to find a home for it.  So, I have a new spring pant set.  That works.

I finished it up this morning, then was in a bit of a dither about what to work on in my last few bachelorette hours, and then there was that silly naggy voice that I've been ignoring all week that insisted on doing some laundry and a bit of cleaning, so while I did some of the boring stuff, I set up Jeeves to do a couple towels:
and the first half of a bag set I've been planning to make to put with our picnic supplies:
Obviously, there will be a "clean" bag as well, though I'm not sure how much use it will get.  The idea is that when one takes a picnic to an outdoor concert or play, one generally ends up with a trash bag and a bag of dirty plates and silverware.  Everyone I know--including myself--has mistakenly put something into the trash bag instead of the not-so-much trash bag.  Usually the most expensive knife or utensil one has brought along.  So, I'm thinking that a plastic bag for trash and a quite obviously NOT plastic bag for utensils might solve the problem.  If the theory works, I'll probably make a different bag eventually--something heavier or easier to wash.  A friend suggested this would also make a good laundry bag for travel, which I think is a good idea, though maybe a slightly bigger bag for that?

So the bag counts as half a project, but I still have another hour before I'll need to pick Andy up at the airport.  Maybe one more bag........?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Two Days Left

Andy gets home late tomorrow night, so I have all of today and tomorrow to craft like a maniac.  Part of me--the one that caused all the stash issues and spends most of her time in "time out" for bad behavior--is so delighted with the floral jacket that I'm having to restrain myself from starting one out of a green home decorating fabric in my stash.  Oh sure, I know that working with home decorating fabric was really hard and I may never want to do it again in my lifetime, but Problem-child Toni doesn't seem to know that.  To be fair, it really is a cute jacket, and the green would make a fantastic jacket, but I think I need to pick something else for today.  Andy shouldn't have to come home to a wife who is in desperate need of sedation.

So, I had decided earlier this year to try to make one thing for each season.  I decorate the house for seasons--spring, summer, fall, Christmas, and winter.  I started doing it when we first bought the house because we had lots of space and no actual decorations of any kind, and I've stuck with it just because it's so nice to give the house a face-lift 4 or 5 times a year.

In normal circumstances, the house would currently have the spring decorations up, but I'm mad at spring this year.  It's almost May, and we're still getting rain, hail, snow, freezing temperatures, and just generally really icky weather.  Well, if THAT'S the way spring wants to behave, I'm going straight to summer.  And I'm thinking that in 2 days, I might be able to finally finish this:

Anyone remember this from 2009?????  It is supposed to be a tablecloth (which means no quilting as there will be no batting), but it got derailed when I finally did the math and realized that I would need 180 blocks to fit our table, and I had the material for significantly less than 180 blocks.  So my new plan is either an inset of red or green blocks--maybe in a circle--or a few diagonals of blocks with solid red in place of the strawberry print.  Or maybe all red or green blocks around the outside as a frame?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

And We Have Quilt!

Is it wrong that my own project makes me laugh every time I see it?

Monday, April 25, 2011


Today's lesson learned:  If you're unclear whether you need a 26-inch zipper or a 28-inch zipper, buy them BOTH and then return the one you don't use.  Unless you're trying to strike up a relationship at the returns counter for unknown reasons.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

It's Probably Called "Foolishly Optimistic" For a Reason

Riding on a high from finishing this
 and this

yesterday, I thought today would be a good day to start a new sewing project that I've been planning for at least a day or two.  But to do so, I needed to clear off some space on the sewing table, which meant finishing up some felt gift bags that were still in progress,
or finding a place to stash them to get them out of the way, but where I would still be able to find them.  As we're all familiar with my track record on THAT score, it seemed wiser to finish them.

Some younger friends of mine are having a baby, and they're sort of non-traditional.  Everything on their baby registry is black, so a cute little baby sweater seems a bit inappropriate.  Instead, I think I might be making the first baby "smack-talk" quilt in existence.  The first finished squares:
If you can't quite read them, they say:

No sleep for the big people
My other stroller is a Porsche
I'm with the band
Dude, where's my binkie?

I'm rather proud of these, although I got the "I'm with the band" from the internet.  I'm going to alternate these with black and white 9-patch squares, and since the embroidered squares need some extra reinforcement anyway, I decided to stitch them with batting and the world's ugliest fabric:
which will later be covered up by a real not-so-ugly back.  The blocks are 12-inches when finished, which is a bit big for a quilt that I think I just want to tie in the corners, so this is a modified quilt-as-you-go sort of thing.  And, for those of you wondering why I have such hideously ugly fabric in my stash anyway, I got it for about 50 cents a yard at Joanns one day, and it's proved useful to have a big hunk of scrap flannel around, though it is the only time the clerk at the cutting counter has ever asked "Are you sure?"  I don't blame her.  It's not at all surprising this stuff was in the clearance bin, though it is a bit hard to contemplate that somewhere along the line there was a person who gave this the green light for production in the first place.....

I had actually thought that I would have this all finished by the end of the day, but about 20 minutes ago I admitted that one day to make even a small baby quilt might be the teeniest bit freakin' delustional even for me.  Maybe two days though..................

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Crest of The Waves Scarf

This a very simple scarf pattern involving exactly one pattern row.  This pattern is not copyrighted and you are free to share.

Materials:  Pick the yarn and needles of your choice.  I'd recommend a large needle in relation to the yarn.  For example, for the example scarf I used a DK weight mohair blend with a size 8 needle.  For a worsted weight, I might use a size 9 or 10 needle.  For a fingering weight, maybe a size 6 needle.  The idea is to create a very drapey fabric.  I prefer lighter colored yarns for this scarf, but that's just my personal preference.

Cast on 31

Rows 1 through 4:  Knit

Rows 5, 7, 9, 11 - Knit 4, *(k2 tog) twice, (yo, K1) 3 times, yo, ssk twice, k1; Repeat from *, knit 3

Rows 6, 8, 10, 12 - Knit 3, purl to last 3 stitches, knit 3.

Repeat rows 1 through 12 until desired length.  Finish by knitting 4 rows.  Bind off all stitches.

Friday, April 22, 2011

"Lots of Progress" Friday

I view it as a personal victory that I have even been able to make headway on the April project of the month,

since I've had more than my share of "help"
 They're obviously taking it in turns to "assist" me.  Actually I shouldn't complain.  Andy is out of town on business right now, and they have taken it upon themselves to entertain/protect/instruct/snuggle me--mostly at 3:00 AM.  A little sewing help is a small thing compared to trying to convince two cats that it is NOT in my best interests to have anyone sleeping on my head. 

Even with the obvious case of insomnia, the floral jacket is now 99% complete, and has just been hanging a bit before doing the final top-stitching and the 4 front buttonholes,
and I even have buttons that I think will work nicely: 
They are some extremely pointless buttons I bought some time ago before realizing that the silly things are dry clean only, but since this fabric is dry-clean only as well, I thought they were a perfect match--or as perfect as anything can be that will be $15-$20 to "clean" for the rest of its life. 

I am staying faithful to my "stash-dash" bin, and have now used up one entire ball of the Jaeger Monte Cristo DK crepe, chalking up 116 more yards for the stash tally,
and am just adoring this yarn.  Makes sense, since it was discontinued many years ago.   It's a blend of 50% cotton and 50% acrylic and has a lot of softness to it.  I hope it wears well.  After having this yarn marinate in my stash for 7-8 years (or more?), I intend to wear this a lot.  I feel like I owe it to the yarn.

While I remain faithful to the stash-dash bin,
I never said I was staying faithful to any particular project, now did I.......?  Let's not get crazy, after all............

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Knitting Gods' Personal Knitting Fantasies for Toni

*  Learn to consistently check gauge.  30+ years of knitting still hasn't taught her this?

*  A bit more dedication.  A day all to herself and her crafting and what does she do?  Sewing.

*  A bit more respect.  We exercise no control over which knitters can pass themselves off as "designers."  Even if well-respected knitting magazines occasionally get hoodwinked into publishing completely insane designs, it has nothing to do with us.  We do promise to consider punishing such designers with plagues of moths, but we reserve all discretionary rights no matter what curses you choose to throw at them.

*  Enough with the darn chemo caps already

*  We respectfully disagree with the Cold Sheep movement you have started.  Until one actually has yarn in every single room in the house, you're not even close to maxing out your stash potential.

*  Stop blaming us when you "know" a pattern so well that you don't have to look it up and end up with outrageous two-heeled socks or sweaters with no armholes.  Exactly who was it that didn't want to take the time to look up a pattern......?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My Personal Knitting Fantasies

*  That just once I find a project that actually takes less time than I think it will

*  That after 100+ hours of knitting, I'll look exactly like the 12-year-old model in the knitting magazine does while wearing the sweater

*  That I can block something without kitty assistance

*  That 5 years from now no one will even remember what the word "errata" means because editors have actually started editing patterns before publishing

*  That if someone publishes a bad or confusing pattern, every knitter who has attempted it gets to line up and give the author one of those top-of-the-head knuckle-thumps that all older siblings learned how to do.

*  That knitting would burn as many calories as cross country skiing

*  To see a yarn label that actually says "Crappy yarn that will pill like crazy and has big freaking knots that we tied using a blender in every single skein"

*  That just once, when someone tells me that they "could never" learn to knit, I have the courage to say, "I'm sure you couldn't, because I am a certified 10th level yarn ninja.'

Monday, April 18, 2011

I'm Stashdashing!

Meet the first stashdash finished objects:
That's 691 yards used up from stash on these two, which doesn't count the yarn used for Andy's sweater, which now has two sleeves and is waiting until I exchange the zipper (not scary) and cut the remaining steek (pretty much scary) and figure out how to attach a zipper to knitting (definitely scary).  Which is why the socks got all the attention this weekend.

Speaking of scary projects,
the spring jacket is moving along.  I've gotten used to the fabric sliding around, and I figured out a way to mark the buttonholes without marking on the fabric,
though my bright idea to hold the tear-away stabilizer in place using quilting basting spray didn't work.  I bought the home decorating fabric I'm using on clearance, and I'm only now sort of positive that it was normal home deco fabric and not something meant for outdoor use, as the material has very obviously been treated with something.  I'm hoping that it means that it will repel dirt as well, but these things never seem to work like that.  With my luck it will somehow attract grease, get all weird when it gets wet, and possibly even blow up when hung a bit lopsided in the closet.  Hey, it could happen.............

Saturday, April 16, 2011

And Today's Lesson Is..................

When the iron starts spitting brown water onto your fabric, it might be time to clean it.

Thankfully it happened before I got out the dry-clean-only stuff.......

Thursday, April 14, 2011

It Was Traumatic,

...but we survived the steeking.  To be fair, so far I have only cut the armholes

because I thought it would make more sense to figure out the zipper length before steeking.  Obviously my first guess

 was a bit wrong.  The 26-inch zipper it is. There will be a collar, but not a 3-inch one.  One of the great things about making up a sweater is the ability to alter on the fly as needed.  Of course, one of the great drawbacks is the need to do so. 

In spite of daily fantasies about other yarns, I am holding firm on my Stashdash challenge, and when I was in dire need of purse knitting for a day of running errands on Monday,
I started a new scarf from one of my stashdash basket yarns.  I'd purchased this stuff years ago from specifically to make scarves, and it's only taken me about 6 or 7 years to get around to doing so.  I think in the knitting world that might be sort of speedy.  There are (were) 3 balls of this stuff in my basket, which will give me 3 finished scarves by July 1.  Christmas knitting done early perhaps??????  And if I finish 3 Christmas gifts 6 months early, does that somehow mitigate the fact that Andy's birthday sweater is already 10 months late? 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Virtual Knitting - Day 4

Andy's sweater has a body!
Andy's sweater almost has a sleeve!
Andy's sweater needs to be steeked!

This blog will return to its normally scheduled posts when its owner stops hyperventilating.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Second Quarter Stash-Dash

Knitting through one's entire knitting stash is a bit daunting if one has a large stash, but what if one had a small, manageable stash?  Or, in my case, lots and lots of small, manageable stashes?

To sort of re-motivate myself and my Cold Sheepers, I have challenged them to a second quarter "Stash-Dash."  The idea is to fill a box, basket, or bin with the amount of yarn one feels one could reasonably knit by July 1, and knit it all up by July 1.

Yesterday I put together this:
which, aside from the skeins already in progress (which will be about 1250 yards of yarn when finished), the basket contains 3226 yards of yarn to be used up by July 1.  It's not as much as I need to be on target for 25,000 yards this year, but it's more than I'm currently averaging, so it is still a challenge.  And if I'm successful, all of this
will be out of the knitting stash!

And thanks to some dedicated knitting today, the body of Andy's sweater is done,
 I've started the first sleeve,
and have already started using one of my stash-dash skeins. I think this should be rather fun, and it's nice to really see things moving out of the stash.  I like the idea so much I might try it with fabric later.  Starting with the fleece projects.............

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Virtual Knitting Retreat Begins!

So, I'm only half participating because as my back allows, I'm catching up on all the things I didn't get done over the past week, but when my back does NOT allow, my projects for the knitting retreat are:

Andy's birthday sweater.  The one for 2010.  As he is about to finish my birthday gift for 2010, I thought it only fair.
and I even have the sense to NOT try knitting him anything for this year's birthday.  I'll also hopefully get the baby sweater sewn together:
but the latest chemo cap was finished last night, so it doesn't really count for the retreat.  
Yesterday I also finished my monthly thread on the cross stitch
 so I think I'm closing in on the 10-year plan for the thing.  The shawl has also received some attention this week
and is actually moving slightly faster as I'm working on one of the "arms" so have fewer stitches to contend with.  Of course, I'd be much farther along if it hadn't been for this
A new project.  Which is only sort of made more excusable by the fact that I frogged the Lotus blossom tank I was going to start with the red Monte Cristo crepe.  I decided that since the Monte Cristo yarns are probably the oldest in my stash, I want to make things I love from them, but I liked the idea of finally using one of them up, so I decided to opt for this project.  AND,
as these skeins were rolled on big cardboard tubes, they take up a lot of space, so this sweater could actually free up quite a bit of stash room in the closet--besides being a bright and springy--which makes it even more exciting because it is currently snowing outside.  Dang it!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I'm Even!!!!

I think it will come as no great surprise to anyone who has ever visited this blog in the past that I can think up projects faster than I can complete them.  (Hello...146,160 yards of yarn in the stash as of this morning). Not that I don't complete projects--I do--but my "projects to make" list can get a bit daunting, and I keep inventing ways to keep myself slightly balanced.  Well, balanced for me.  The 3 1/2 years of Cold Sheeping has helped, and I have high hopes for this year's fabric ban.  Last year's 100 project challenge also helped, and hopefully this years 111 project challenge will also help carve down the number.  My biggest ace in the hole, however, might be my personal allowance.

When we got married, knowing that money was the number one source of marital fights, we set up personal accounts for each of us, and we each get a personal allowance every month.  This money we can spend without any input from the other.  We both have hobbies that we enjoy and have the ability to save up for big purchases, so it works pretty well.  For me, however, I invented a separate rule.  I make a lot of gifts, things for our home, our clothes, decorations, that sort of thing.  In order to curb my stockpiling tendencies, I made myself a rule:  If it's something that would come out of our personal account (gifts, decorations, costumes, house stuff), I pay for the material or yarn out of my personal account, then don't get reimbursed for it until I finish the darn thing.  Like the bedspread, or our Christmas stockings.  I have an incentive to not just work on it, but finish it.  This is huge, because if I hadn't wanted my money back that dang bedspread would STILL be sitting there waiting to be finished.

So, last year after I bought TWO sewing machines, my personal account was pretty anemic.  Then when I decided to go on a complete fabric ban, there was a "what will I need for the year" trip to the fabric store, which resulted in a bit more money than I anticipated.  Part of it can be blamed on the ability to pick up home decorating fabric that we had been looking for that was newly marked down to clearance, part on the fact that it is my turn to make the Christmas gifts this year, and part on sheer stupidity.  In fact, there was enough stupidity that I charged it on our joint credit card in order to get the mileage, and have been paying it back to our personal account ever since.  And, with the last brown chemo cap finished, I have finally finished enough projects to have paid back our joint account.  YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

There Has Been Knitting!

 There have also been some pain pills. Last Wednesday while pulling weeds in a flower bed, I managed to throw my back out.  Obviously, my body has taken the turning-40-means-old thing rather seriously. Some days have been better than others--meaning I didn't hurt much but couldn't sit, so I made a lot of progress on the socks
and am just about to turn the heel, which I thought should be left for a day without pain pills, so there has been some chemo cap knitting
and the new baby sweater is all knit up and being sewn together (number 35 in the "all used up" tab)
Theo, of course, has been thrilled with my lifestyle this week:
 Normally, I don't sleep on my back much, but lately that's almost all I've been doing, which means Theo can stretch out on top of me for a cuddle & to suck his toe (or back of his paw, actually).  He's not a lap cat--possibly because neither of us have laps big enough for a cat that we think is part Main Coon--but he does love to lay on top of me. It's not really helpful with knitting, but it is pretty cute. 

I have even picked an April Project of the Month bag, which will be this dress
in one of these two fabrics:
The solid is poplin (with 3% spandex), and the print is some unknown cotton blend that I had in the stash.  The fabrics match so well that I'm a bit tempted to make the dress in something else and make some summer coordinates out of the two turquoise materials, but if I do I think the dress will still be the April project.  I've had it on my "must make" list for some time.  And it's not like I don't have an obscene number of fabric options on hand anyway..............

Sunday, April 3, 2011

March Tally

Okay, so I didn't get either the shawl OR the socks finished, so the month didn't finish that strong in any category:

Projects finished:  8
Yards of yarn used:  1057
Balls of yarn used: 9
Yards of fabric used:  6.75

Doesn't that make you wonder what exactly I was doing with myself last month?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Actually, I Think The Joke Was On Me

For those of you who are interested in the Ravelry "increase your stash" group, it seems to be my Cold Sheeping thread in the Stashdown group on Ravelry.  I've actually had a member of the group respond to a new Cold Sheeper that she thought the total ban on yarn purchasing was much too harsh.  On the Cold Sheeping thread.  So it may be possible after all that I am leading a group that is advocating refrigerating one's pet ewes.


Friday, April 1, 2011

Ways To Celebrate April Fool's Day In the Knitting World, Part III

*  Announce in a sock knitting forum that kitchenering the toes is passe, and that you prefer to dining room yours.

*  Tell everyone that you aren't actually knitting, but doing a lesser-known two-handed method of crochet.

*  Email your favorite lace designer and ask if there are any instructions for adding a few pom poms to her most popular shawl design.

*  Announce to your local stitch and bitch that you don't really have much of a problem with Second Sock Syndrome, but that third sock really gets to you sometimes.

*  When you hear a fellow knitter say, "Oh, I could never do that," agree with her wholeheartedly and suggest that she stick to garter stitch scarves.

*  Start a group on Ravelry solely devoted to INCREASING one's yarn stash.  Adopt such slogans as "Global Warming affects sheep too," "Sharing is Stupid," and "Get it before someone else does."