Saturday, April 26, 2008


Those of you who are paying attention will notice that I've changed the title of my blog. It's now a quilting and knitting blog. After a rocky start, I've decided that I might just stick with this knitting thing after all. I've officially started collecting yarn, but (so far) I have projects in mind for all of it. I'm sure that will change.... :)

Knit stuff

I've made progress on my incredible shrinking scarf:

I call it that because it started out about 6" wide, but the ribbing shrunk it to about 3". John likes it, and asked if it was his, so I guess it is.

These showed up yesterday:

Aren't they pretty? They're
Options Interchangeable Harmony Wood Circular needles from KnitPicks. They're made of laminated wood in different colors. A lady at a sit & knit the other night was knitting socks on a pair of double-pointed needles (DPNs) made from the same wood. They're really smooth and very pretty. I got the set plus the size 13 tips in the picture. I need the 13s for the felted clogs pattern that Sarah recommended. We'll see how those work out for me. :)

Quilt Stuff

I started John's quilt, finally. I started cutting strips of the main fabric last Sunday, but I didn't have enough of the sashing fabric. I bought more on Thursday and so far I've completed the top:

And the back:

Gotta love a simple design. I think it was a good idea to just give him the fabric and let him decide what he wanted it to look like. I would have come up with something a lot more complex than this. I don't have enough batting to put it together, so as soon as I get more I can baste it and start quilting. If I'm lucky, I'll get it quilted before I leave for my quilting weekend on Friday. I don't mind sewing the binding on there, but I'd rather quilt it here at home where I have nice, big, flat surface to work on.

Thirty minutes till a conference call. I sure am glad I'm only on call every 6 weeks.....

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Going Green

Have I mentioned that my friend Sarah is a troublemaker? :) I mean that in the nicest possible way, of course. First she gets me hooked on the Yarn Harlot and knitting, now she's got me going green(-er). We were having an email conversation with some friends about various projects, and Sarah mentioned she's been making and using cloth napkins at home instead of paper ones. She said you can use them for more than one meal without washing them, "even with messy boys," and they're small enough that you don't really notice any extra laundry. She sent me this link to the tutorial she used to make hers and I spent several hours yesterday making cloth napkins:

This is a Good Thing, for two reasons. First, I'm sure it's better for the environment than using paper napkins all the time. Second, it's helping me use my stash, which is threatening to overflow my closet. The fabrics I pulled are ones that have been aging in my closet for a long time and I really couldn't think of anything I'd actually ever use them for. I made my napkins smaller than the instructions said, based on width of the fabric I had. I wanted to get at least 4 of them out of this piece of fabric. I actually got 6 but 2 of them are smaller than the others. They're still a bit bigger than the paper ones I have in the kitchen, so I guess they're fine. We used them at breakfast this morning - definitely prettier than plain white paper.

Sarah also sent me this link for making your own grocery bags. [If you plan to print the directions, only print the first 10 or 11 pages -- there are 100+ pages of comments!] I've heard that one of the local grocery store chains will take a nickel off your total for each of your own bags you provide, even if they are plastic ones. I haven't tested this out yet, but I'm going grocery shopping this afternoon, so I think I'll try it.

I haven't tried making the bags yet. They will definitely be more time consuming than the napkins, but if I make a bunch of them at once, maybe it won't be too bad. I have lots of cool novelty prints in my stash that I don't have plans for, along with a large box of plain solids that I rarely use these days. I should be able to find lots of nice outer bag/liner combinations. I'll have fun with these when I get around to them. I'm going to "quilt camp" at the beginning of next month, so maybe that will be one of the projects I take with me.

The cats had a good time with Mama in the sewing room yesterday. I had the window open so they could get some fresh air in the kitty hammock. Here's Blue "helping" me with the napkins:

They all like to lay on the cutting table because the (non-green) incandescent bulb in the lamp there gets nice and warm. Blue is a Siamese/tabby mix, as you can tell from the blue eyes and striped points. His hobbies include following Mama everywhere, playing fetch, and going down to the basement to listen to his voice echo. The first two have earned him the nickname puppy-cat. :) His following me around is pretty amazing considering that for the first 3 weeks or so after we brought them inside, he and Runt wouldn't let us touch them at all. They'd hiss, run and/or hide as soon as we got close to them. Neither of them spends a lot of time on our laps now, but they're usually in the same room with us, and Runt likes to sit next to us on the couch.

They had a third sibling who was tan with brown ears and a white muzzle, but it disappeared not long after the first time John saw it. I asked him about it, and he said that if it was still around when we took in Blue and Runt, we'd probably have 6 cats now instead of 5. If any more stray kittens show up, we'll have to build an addition on the house. :)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Catching up, again

It's been pointed out to me (by several people) that I haven't updated my blog in nearly a month. Who knew you guys actually*read* this. :)

So what's been going on? I took a break from sewing and too much typing because I was having carpal tunnel-type symptoms. The doctor and I are trying some things to fix that. Meanwhile, my wrists felt a little better after resting them, so I was able to get this Dear Jane block done:

It's K-8, Springbrook Park. The rows are lettered and the columns are numbered. The name is the one that Dear Jane author, Brenda Papadakis, gave it in the book. I'm now up to 58 blocks, 18 triangles, one corner and 1804 pieces. I have a couple more triangles and at least one more block that are very close to complete, but I've been slacking a bit.

Here's why: after years of telling myself and my knitting friends that I don't need another hobby, I decided to take a knitting class. It's all Sarah's fault. :) She sent me the url for the Yarn Harlot's blog back in January (see the archive for January 19, 2008) and I started reading the rest of her blog. It's *really* funny. At first I was substituting "fabric" for "wool" or "yarn" and "sewing" or "quilting" for "knitting" and everything was fine. Then I started borrowing Yarn Harlot books from the library (see recently read list), and the idea of knitting planted itself in my brain and started growing. Mrs. Craig taught me how to knit when I was in 2nd or 3rd grade, but since that was decades ago, I decided a class was in order.

The sample above is the "finished" product of my learn to knit class. It's kind of hard to tell, but the bottom ~3" is done in garter stitch (knit all rows), followed by maybe 1" of stockinette (knit 1 row, purl one row). Then there's an inch of ribbing (k2, p2), another inch of stockinette, then a couple of rope-y cables and few more rows of stockinette. Who knew cables were that easy to do? I mean, if I can do them, anyone can. Very cool!

I bought some really nice silk and alpaca yarn intending to make a scarf out of it. This is *not* it:

That, my friends, is a skein of good old-fashioned Red Heart acrylic that I decided to use to make a ribbed scarf. The variegated colorway is helping me quite a bit because it's easy to tell if (when) I mess up. I figure once I get the hang of it, I can donate this scarf to somebody and move on to the good stuff. I'm already improving and no longer telling John that I suck at knitting. :)

And being the gadget girl that I am, I'm already stocking up on goodies. I bought a cheap set of acrylic needles, but I think I've already decided that I don't like them much. Maybe more pricey plastic/acrylic needles would be better. I'm wondering if I can wax them or something to reduce the drag. The needle you see above is my circa-1976 aluminum needle, which I don't mind, but this pair is a bit long. I also bought some bamboo needles (too big for this yarn), stitch markers, point protectors, a pair of cable holders and a cool stitch counter. Oh, and yarn. I now have 4 balls of cotton to make washcloths/dishcloths, 2 skeins of Homespun, 2 skeins of Wool-Ease that came in a kit, and several odds and ends that I picked up here and there. I'm thinking I might go get some more of the Homespun, while I can still get the dye lot. I'm sure there's a limit to how many hats and scarves I'm going to want to make, and the label says that I'd need 3 of them just to make a kids sweater (in size 8). I'm definitely bigger than that....

I think knitting is going to more difficult to "stash". With quilting, if you don't have enough of a certain fabric and you know early enough in the process, you can usually improvise by adding another, similar fabric in some of the blocks. This makes it look like you planned it that way. Knitting is a whole different animal. Dye lots apparently *do* matter and if you don't get enough, you're out of luck. Or making a striped sweater. And some of us don't need horizontal stripes. So when buying yarn, it seems like you have to have a pretty good idea what you want to do with it when you buy it.

Finally, the other cats were getting tired of Emma getting all the publicity, so here are Max and Runt in their favorite spot - on the back of the couch:

Max is almost 5 and is Emma's littermate. Runt is 11 months old and has lived up to her name. She's a good 3 pounds lighter than her littermate, Blue.

My mom and dad came up this afternoon and Runt hid behind the chair pretty much the whole time they were here. Naturally, about 10 minutes after they left, she came out to see what was going on. Max and Emma were very social. Emma really liked "Grandpa's" lap and Max wandered from lap to lap, looking for attention. Blue didn't do any lap time, but he was playful and let everyone pet him.

More later this week, I promise!