Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Crafting Legacy

My paternal grandmother, who had once been a "professional crafter" died today at 91.  She'd been hospitalized 2 weeks ago with pneumonia, had a heart attack last week.  For a while, it looked like she might recover from both, but as she desperately wanted to not have to be in a care center but could never have gone back home, we're grateful she was able to go fairly peacefully.

Both my grandmothers were crafters, but this was the "professional."  She and my grandfather used to travel around the west selling Grandma's "tin-can crafts," which I will have to post pictures of as soon as I dig mine out.  It used to be quite popular in the 1960s and 1970s, but I can't even find pictures on the internet (this is as close as I can find).  My parents have a big peacock that she made using different colored tin soda cans for the feathers.  My sister and I each have the miniatures--a little couch from (I think) a Band-aid box, rocking chairs made from larger tin cans, a baby buggy (Band-Aid?), table and chairs (cocoa tins?).  They're quite clever and really unique.  I'm not sure how she even found the time, as there are 21 or 22 of us grandkids, and for much of my life she made us gifts every year.  My doll lamp (sort of like this) got destroyed in a move and my hand-embroidered pillowcases wore out with use, but I still have my Cabbage Patch type doll, several crocheted ornaments, tatted butterfly earrings, all the tin can craft, and a quilt that she made with my great-grandmother.  No wonder I think hand-made gifts are so very, very special.

They are.

Sunday, February 24, 2013


To reach the possibly crazy goal of 365 ornaments by the end of the year, averaging an ornament a day is obviously the goal (see how nicely that works?)  So, to be on track I need to have 59 ornaments by the end of February.  Right about now is when I start wishing I had purchased a bit more embroidery thread for those lace ornaments.............

I have another completed ball ornament,
which I'm not overly pleased with. This is the first one I've made with the two-colors on every row of the center, and the colors get muddled.  Oh well.  I have two trees to decorate, which means I also have two backs of trees to decorate.  Looks like we'll be keeping two categories of ornaments this year:  my favorites and the ugly ones.  THAT should make an interesting decor scheme......

Having a ball turn out badly--or perhaps having made so many already--I've grown a bit bored with the improvised balls, so it was time to look for a new ornament pattern
ideally one that didn't take up as much room.  So,
We have knitted stockings!  A little boring, perhaps, but quick and still pretty cute.  Maybe I could attach some stockings or beads or do a tad bit of color work on one?  Or a knitted-on lace cuff for contrast.......?

There was finally a bit of sewing today, so Andy's shirt is progressing.  
Do you ever notice how much easier it is to stop projects for the day when you reach the part you like the least?  Anyone who has sewn men's shirts can probably guess what part is next........Yep!  It's time for the collar.  And to make it even better, it's a two part collar.  My secret suspicion is that they structure the pattern steps so that you've already invested so much time in the shirt by the time that you get to the collar that you're more likely to plow through it to get a finished shirt.  I mean, if that was the first step, would anyone ever even START a shirt?  I certainly wouldn't.  BUT, this does mean that Andy's Valentine's Day gift could be finished before February is over.  That would be good.....and, perhaps, a bit shocking............

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Not So Much Finishing Friday

I'm recovering from the fall fast enough to know I didn't do anything serious, but it still hurts enough to have stopped any real sewing for a few days.  I felt pretty good Friday morning, so we made a quick dash to a library book sale then stopped for lunch, and that seems to have been the limit for my back for the day.  So, no sewing projects, but......

remember these?  
Tada!!!  One is now empty!!!!!!!!!!!  The bigger pieces have been sorted out and added to the stash,
and the smaller cotton ones,
have been ironed and are now being cut into backs for the quilted ornaments AND 3-inch squares to attempt a patchwork quilt.   I've never done one before, but I keep hanging onto scrap fabric,
and it's time to either use it or throw most of it out (one always needs scraps for serger testing and that sort of thing).  I think this will be a fun experiment, and I am hoping the results will be some colorful baby blankets.  I tend to favor bright colors, so they will be vivid quilts, but they'll be fun.  I'm also thinking a larger one would make a great picnic blanket...........:)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Um, Yeah...........

It would be hard to say whether the hour in the pool turned out to be good or bad, because yesterday morning while doing leg squats propped against my exercise ball against the closed bathroom door, the door swung open on the 10th one and I fell.  Right on my ego. 

Apparently even Theo can recognize a cry of surprise, because Andy only beat him to the hallway by a few seconds.  Tonight I'm feeling good enough to know that I didn't do any serious damage, but yesterday was really, REALLY painful, and I spent the day on full medications and the heating pad.  So, if I was at all sore from the pool, it was pretty much covered up from being sore from a losing battle with a door.  Thank heavens THAT didn't have to go on my medical record.  The turkey incident was bad enough...........

There was some very simple knitting, starting with finishing the green ball,
then stripes when the drugs were at their strongest,
 then getting a bit trickier as they wore off.
I tried working on the new sock a bit as well, but charts and drugs aren't really the best idea.  Of course, by about 2:00 in the afternoon I got the wild idea that I should start a new lace project (because drugs and lace would be such a great combination), but thankfully the sewing room was too far away and there are two Rubbermade containers on top of the lace one, and so all lace yarns were safe from my drug-inspired lunacy.   Turns out, there are a few perks to having a gigantic stash after all..................

Monday, February 18, 2013


The original plan was to maybe finish up the shirt for Andy's Valentine's ensemble today.  However, I was feeling pretty good and excited about spring, so I went to the gym and walked in the pool for an hour!  Okay, it felt better mentally than it did physically, quite frankly, and it has meant spending the rest of the afternoon on the heating pad, but it's the first time I've been able to do it since November, so it's sort of worth it.  Spring is in the air, and this knitter's fancy is turning to thoughts of getting out of the house occasionally...............

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Finishing Friday & Sewing Saturday

I've had three really good "back days" in a row, so yesterday I felt good enough to kick off Finishing Friday with a blanket repair job that I've been meaning to get to:
The original satin edging had ripped across the top and formed a very strange string, so I had ripped it out one day while doing back stretches, and raided my stash to find a new satin binding for it.  Ivory would have looked better, but I didn't have that, and it's for the guest bedroom, which I assume no one checks for exact color matches.  

It's always sort of a risk to start my day with a repair that I haven't done before, because if the repair goes badly, nothing else happens, but I did it on the first try, and was still feeling good enough to lay out the rest of the fabric for Andy's ensemble on the floor
and finish getting it all cut out.  My back didn't last long enough to finish anything, but one of my Ravelry groups is having a virtual "sew-in" today, so this morning I did finally finish up the pants:
I think I have just uncovered another issue in my "buy nothing" program:
This is all the Velcro I have left.  The cargo pants use about 6 inches (3 for each pocket), so I have enough for one more pair or probably one more project.  I don't think it will be a big issue, but certainly one that I need to keep in mind. 

Some of it might be sheer optimism, but there REALLY is a slight dent in the stash:
which I think gives me enough room to at least eliminate one of these:
These containers had been in the garage since the shelving project.  I was REALLY pleased to find a mostly-full bolt of red cotton fabric as it's probably the color I use most and I was actually wondering if I had enough on-hand for the year.  I was also very pleased to find that fabric with the small pink flowers.  It's an inexpensive flannel that I can use for backing without wasting anything good or having it show through anything.  I also found a quilt top AND the backing fabric, which would be my oldest quilt WIP and would be REALLY fun to finish this year.  Especially since it is a gift for one of my bridesmaids, and Andy and I will celebrate our seventh wedding anniversary this year.  Let's just say it's a well-aged quilt by now.....

there's a new Christmas ornament.  My interest in the knitted mitten ornaments has rather faded, but I'm having a fabulous time with the round ones, though with the acrylic yarn the shaping comes across as more square than round, so I think I need to change them a bit.  But they're quite fun to play with and will make fun gifts. 

So, 2 days late and Andy has half a gift.  Really, considering how late some of our homemade gifts have been (ahem........like the bridesmaid's quilt...........), that pretty darn timely for us.  Shirt by next week?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Moving Right Along

I had a pretty good back day yesterday, so last night I felt like sewing.  At first I thought I'd whip up a few produce bags from this mesh fabric I bought a while ago,
but I was using a white chocolate martini to get a break from the drugs (weird, but it works once in a while), and this fabric is NOT one to be tried when consuming anything stronger than water.  It's the sort of thing that DRIVES one to drink.  So, this will be a future project.  Like when I'm having a bad day and don't think it could possibly get any worse.

Andy and I usually make each other Valentine's gifts, and ever since I made myself a set of summer clothes from this fabric:
 Andy has wanted some as well, so I started cutting out these last night:
His will be the shirt with the collar and short sleeves (why do men insist on that collar?), and the long pants.  Obviously, we'll never appear in public in this sort of dreadfully-cutesy matching attire, and mine are at least crop pants and mandarin collar.  Both patterns are now out of print, which is too bad, but I have copies of the shirt in both small and medium, so we're both set for a while.

I didn't get it all pinned, but I did some before getting too sore.  Evenings are hard because I try to push myself during the days thinking, "Oh, I can just call it a day when I'm tired."  Some days that's at 2:00.  But I'm still making slow progress! 

And speaking of slow progress:
I started more socks!  I'm using a yarn that was at risk of moving into "shrine yarn" status as I really love the colorway, and I'm using a pattern that won't really show up in the stripes but will at least create an interesting texture.  For years I only made plain socks with self-striping yarns, which gets a bit dull.  One still sees the color no mater what the pattern, and this is a ribbing pattern, so it will stay up regardless of whether one can really see the stitch pattern.  It beats being bored by a pattern. So far, I love it.  The color is really fun because it's not orderly.  I'll be interested to see if it forms any sort of pattern, but it's not going straight through the colors, which is rather fun.  It's like one of those old weekly cliff-hanger movies--I have to wait and see what's next!

Exciting times in the life of a knitter..................

Monday, February 11, 2013


So I'm thinking that a smart person might have decided to take it a bit easy if one was trying to get off pain pills.  MY approach, however, generated some pretty serious pain by evening, and of course by the time I was in pain AND tensed which generated even MORE pain, I ended up taking full drug doses last night and needing a rest today.  The GOOD news is that resting today gave me time to make two new ornaments today:
and I think I'm smart enough to try half doses next time. 

These are improvised ornaments with worsted weight acrylic yarns, so they're much bigger balls than the color-work ones, but I am very pleased with them.  They're both made with sparkly yarns and look very festive.  The acrylic isn't nearly as easy to work with as the wool fingering, but it's still fun and it didn't require using any charts.  ALWAYS a consideration when back on pain meds...........

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Just Made It

The Christmas socks are done,
and came very, VERY close to sending me back to mostly toe-up socks.  Out of a 100-gram ball with 458 yards of yarn, I finished with this:
I have no idea what I actually would have done had they required any more yarn, since I don't have any more of this AND it's been discontinued, but I do love knitting on the edge.  Not that I'm not making a note in my project book to make the legs slightly shorter for this particular recipient.  Once is fine, but I don't want to press my luck too much.  I try to save THAT sort of behavior for lace.

Lately I've been feeling nauseous almost constantly instead of just afternoons as I had been, so I have decided to try going off the pain pills entirely.  The spine specialist said to take them for 2 weeks after my back stopped hurting, but I don't think I'm going to get better if I can't exercise, and I can't exercise when I'm nauseous, so today is my first pill-free day in over a year.  I'm sore, but it also feels rather good, so
I finished a matching hat that I'd cut out with the dress,  made 2 full sets of Ivory icicles,
AND I have finally finished the third knitted ball ornament.  
3 down, 52 left to go!  Ahem.................

Feeling optimistic, I rounded up and ironed the fabric for the next sewing projects: 
a black and white summer dress for me, and turquoise summer pants and shirt for Andy.  When this is all gone, I'll have used another 9.5 yards of fabric from the stash.  I haven't quite figured out when fabric-usage will officially be a full-blown obsession, but I might just be approaching it.  Aside from being the fastest way to gain space in the sewing room, I didn't make any new clothes last year and I could certainly use a few.  Then, of course, we can throw in with my need to have a maniacal yardage goal to obsess over every year, AND the fact that the back problems made sitting (and sewing) problematic and the back problems have even made me excited to vacuum--well, I think we can all guess how THIS is going to turn out, can't we? 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Another Finishing Friday

We woke up to snow again today,
but the sort that melts off quickly, and as it's the first sunny day in a bit, it actually feels a bit like spring.  So,
I have finished the summer dress for Finishing Friday.  This gives me almost 18 yards of fabric used for the year so far, and I'd like to say that it makes a noticeable difference in my stash, but.........It does however make a noticeable addition to my wardrobe.  I wore the new dress last night, and I've worn the micro-suede pants and collarless shirt already.  The summer dress might be just a tad bit early, but it will be fun to have a new summer dress. 

I haven't forgotten my ornament goal, and made 3 new ivory icicle ornaments today:
Looks like there aren't going to be too many ivory ornaments either:
though I have one spool left, so I think I can get 6 more.  I adore these icicle ornaments.  All 6 are very, very different, and if I could be persuaded to part with any, could make really nice gifts.  That might be a big "IF."

It will be interesting to see what my "secondary" stashes look like by November 1.  I have a pretty big stockpile of needles, thread, zippers, elastics, ribbon--all sorts of accessories.  I like to keep extras on hand so I don't have to run to the store in the middle of a project, but I think it might be like my first year of Cold Sheeping when I learned that I didn't use up yarn nearly as fast as I think I do.  Sewing needles I might really use as fast as I think they do, as I try to be really good about changing them frequently and using the correct one.  I wasn't taught to do that--I think growing up the only time a sewing machine needle got changed was after one broke and I certainly don't remember ever being told there was a difference between any of them, but then again, I didn't know there were multiple types of feet to use either.  Maybe this has something to do with why I didn't enjoy sewing when growing up?  Or maybe it was that I kept making dopey things I would never willingly wear in public..................:)

It's only 2:00, so I could either cut out a new project or go knit or maybe start a new ornament?  I'm a little unsure what to do next, to be honest.  The dress took less time than expected, which never happens, so you can understand my general state of confusion.  It would be like boasting about the success of a knitting project without being immediately smacked by the Knitting Gods.  It just doesn't happen...........

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

I Did It!!!!

One of my nieces has taken up knitting--mostly finger knitting as she's pretty young,  but she has a birthday coming up and we thought this:
would be a good gift.  It's a cute little kit, but it only comes with 2 balls of yarn, which, for a relative of mine, will NEVER do.  I am sending all the remnants of novelty yarn I have, but decided to risk Joann Fabrics to get another ball of yarn for her, and
this is ALL the yarn I came home with!!!  I did buy some spring flowers to put in Andy's office, but that doesn't break my rules since that's household money rather than mine.  I even looked at fabric but didn't feel tempted!  Of course, that might have something to do with "looking at" meant "walking really quickly down the aisles and refusing to make eye contact with any fabric looking too tempting," but I judged the entire enterprise a HUGE success!

I did have my one exception for the year:
which sort of only vaguely counts anyway.  Every year the Foreign Policy Association conducts a Great Decisions program, and I was invited to join a group of wonderful ladies to participate this year.  We meet weekly for 8 weeks, and we each buy a book which contains a chapter for each topic, and we receive a DVD which has 30-minute segments on each topic.  This week was on the European Economic Community and the financial crisis they are dealing with.  Fascinating--and something I knew only the tiniest amount about.  Next week is Egypt.  It's more of an education/socializing sort of thing than a real book, so I don't really feel like it's even an exception to the buying ban.  The group I joined has been doing this for 15 years and is just a delightful set of women.  So, it's the best $25 I've spent in a very long time. 

Of course, before I get very smug about not really having an exception, the sewing room has decided to fight back:
This was my tracing wheel.  A slightly stronger set up might have been fixable, but the parts are too flimsy for much in the way of creativity.  Luckily, I have one without a serrated wheel
so I'm not defeated yet.  If this one breaks, it might be time to get creative.  I'd hate to lose my streak to a piece of plastic.  That would be humiliating. 

I finished a super secret project today, which can't have pictures, but this one can:
The second sock is at the heel flap!  I don't care how many times I do it, I just feel uber-clever turning a heel sock.  I didn't think up the process, or the pattern, or any part of this process, but it still feels darn clever to knit a heel--more than any other part of knitting for some reason. Maybe it's some left over feeling of "Yes!  I could clothe my family if necessary" survival instinct?  Or maybe it's just really cool to bend knitting.   Of course, the fact that I'm close to finishing a Christmas gift for 2013 AND about to get to add 458 yards to my tally for the year probably doesn't hurt.................

Monday, February 4, 2013

I'm Almost Scaring Myself

Last night I cut out the fabric for the summer dress AND a matching hat.  I haven't started sewing them yet, but as laying out the pattern and cutting it is my very least favorite part of sewing, I was rather amazed with myself.  I've already used up more fabric so far this year than I did during the entire year last year, and I think if I even sew a little bit most days, I really could use up a fair bit of fabric this year.  It might even be easy to move around in the sewing room by this time next year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I need to go lay down--I think the shock is too much for me right now...............

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Moving on.......

After much wrangling, trying every option I could think of, and ripping out more seams than an entire wardrobe would require, I finally finished the wrap skirt, and have officially used up another 5.875 yards of early fabric stash.  I was so mad at the skirt that I didn't think to get a picture of it (or the pants) before it went into the wash, but I did take a picture of the shirts,
which, even after SAYING that the one with the collar would have short sleeves and the other would get the long sleeves, I managed to mix up.  Obviously, there might be a reason I usually knit at night instead of sew.  The mix up isn't tragic, so I decided to leave them.  As I really like the shirt pattern, there's a possibility I'll make more of them AND get them correct, so these are now known as "variations" rather than "stupid flippin' mistakes." Sometimes even hobbies need spin doctors.

I still need to add the accent buttons to the collar (which ended up on the opposite side than it was supposed to but at least is in the front),
but after every other bungle, I thought I'd give myself a little time to decide on alignment, placement, and to lower the odds of doing something like stabbing myself in the finger. 
I think aligning them as diamonds rather than squares looks best--but I thought I had the collar and sleeves thing right too, so...........

After all THAT fun, I was a bit leery of trying anything so complicated as a fleece jacket with an improvised lining, so I dug through the closet to find:
some mesh fabric that I bought to make some hanging bags for the pantry, which I think wouldn't be too tricky,
the pattern for my favorite summer gardening dress, which would require NO alterations to work,

and my favorite summer dress
which I've made so often that even in the error-prone rustiness of sewing that I'm in now, I would probably be able to pull off without error.  It's amazing how much one can forget in a year.  Especially when there have been a lot of drugs in that year.

Not forgetting my ornament challenge, I have started the third ornament from the knitted balls book:
having decided that I should go straight through it rather than allowing myself to pick and choose, since that would leave the most complicated ones for the end of the year.  Color work will never be my first love in knitting, but I do love how these look, and I really like this color combination.  I am using Knitpicks palette for an inexpensive wool fingering yarn, and I've never found their yarns to be true to color on their website, so the colors I ended up with were a bit of a surprise.  Not bad--just not exactly what I had pictured.  This particular blue is actually better than I had pictured, so this ornament is rather fun to make. 

And when I got tired of graphs and "fussy" knitting, I moved on to the second sock:
which is about 2/3 of the way to heel turning.  The pattern requires a twisted stitch row on every 4th row, but otherwise is just a straight K2, P2 so even after all the mistakes of the weekend, I'm feeling pretty safe here.  Now if it had a collar or sleeves..................