Friday, June 27, 2008

The waiting is the hardest part....

Yeah, I can't get that song out of my head, either. Misery loves company! ;-)

I can now reveal Stealth Project 3 -- the Chicken Stitch Markers:

My friend Sarah, who got me into knitting by getting me hooked on the Yarn Harlot, raises chickens. She and her family started out with 17 hens, in assorted varieties, some of which lay blue-green eggs. I'm sure they have more than that now, and they have at least one rooster so they can make more.

Anyway, I was in a bead store last month and saw that chicken bead. I knew Sarah must have it. I was going to make some kind of beaded lanyard thing to clip to her purse/bag/whatever, since my friend Angie had made one for me, only with cat charms on it. Then a few weeks later, I posted about making the millefiori stitch markers. Sarah said she didn't have any stitch markers, so I told her I'd send her some of my extras. CLEARLY the chicken bead had to become a stitch marker, and it needed friends, so those are what I came up. I like these a lot more than I like the ones I made for myself, but since I don't raise chickens, I couldn't keep them. :) I had also picked up the silver "S" bead, but the holes didn't go the right direction, so I made a wine charm instead.

The waiting came this week. I sent the stitch markers, along with some blue and red chicken fabric - no pictures, on Monday. The postal service said the average transit time for a first class package is 1-3 days. I figured OH to MA would take 2 days, tops. Nope. Three days. Three long days wondering if they'd gotten lost/mangled/stolen. Or worse, if she'd gotten them, thought they were hideous and didn't know what to say. :) And since I didn't want to spoil the surprise by asking her about them, I had to wait in silence. In the end, they showed up on Thursday. She sent a note thanking me for them, and I think she really liked them. Yay! Her son thought the wine charm was a stitch marker made from an earring, so she might have to use it that way while he's around. But he has an earlier bedtime than Mom and Dad, so.... :)

Week One of my spending diet is going well. I even went *into* JoAnn Fabrics the other night and didn't buy anything. I did spend some money at a Pampered Chef party last night, but I had already RSVP'd before I started the diet, and felt bad backing out. I went in with a set limit in mind, and with tax & shipping, my total was my limit + $0.58. Not too shabby.

I still have that stack of filing to do, but I shredded another bag of stuff before trash day. Emma is using the stack of stuff left to be shredded to bury her food dish after meals. I guess she's hiding it from the Evil Kittens. Cats are funny people.

Anyway, Happy Friday! I'm going to do some knitting. Stealth Project 2 isn't going to finish itself, after all.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

One more item done

I finished the baby blanket last night.

I changed it a little from the first layout I posted - I added another row of the flannel scraps, but it's essentially the same. It's double-sided minkee with flannel sewn around the edges on the top, then bound with satin blanket binding. It's not my favorite project, since it doesn't lay completely flat, but it's Done, and Done is Good. I didn't label it because I'm not positive that John will see the father of the baby I have in mind, so it might be "re-gifted" to someone else.

I should have done something with Stealth Project 1 tonight, since it really shouldn't take long to finish, but I didn't. I have a couple of other versions of that project in mind, so I'll probably wait and finish them all up at once. I spent some quality time on the couch with the cats instead. It was nice to have an EmmaCat on my lap for a while.

And an update from my previous post -- I was wrong, the gas bill is due before the next paycheck. OUCH! I was good and walked right past Michael's this evening without going in. I'm making a list of things I'm tempted to buy. At the end of my month, I'll decide if I really want any of it and go from there. Nancy Zieman isn't helping me, though. She sent me a "15% off your next order" coupon in the mail yesterday. It's good through the end of July, though. :)

As for cleanup, I got the filing more or less done. I still have a stack of sorted stuff that needs to make it into the filing cabinet. I shredded 3 bags worth of papers, but that's not all of it. The shredder started complaining, so I gave it a rest. :( The old magazines and catalogs made it to the dumpster at the high school before it rained. I started looking at stuff on the bookshelves to add to the boxes of books to get rid of. I'll probably continue going through books and try to make just one trip to the used bookstore.

But now, it's bedtime....

Friday, June 20, 2008

What Paycheck?

My accomplishments over the last week are pretty scant. I went to Embroidery Club at my local sewing store and managed to not buy any new embroidery designs. That's a pretty big accomplishment, believe me.

I got a bit accomplished on Stealth Project 2, but I can't show it yet. I also started and completed another Stealth project, but that will have to wait till later, too. I know, such a tease.

I did finish a bunch of stitch markers for knitting:

Yeah, I know, it's another crappy picture, but I don't have a close-up lens for my camera. I made a total of 21 stitch markers, and that's 12 of them. The other 9 are destined for a friend of mine. I more or less followed the instructions here. I used a few of the toggle rings in the instructions (mine actually fit up to a US size 10.5 needle), plus some solid rings I found that will fit up to a US size 15. They turned out okay, but the little seed beads at the bottom of some of them cracked when I was winding the head pins. They were from a really cheap multi-pack of colored seed beads I picked up at Joann's or Michael's, so I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. If I decide I need more than these, I can dive into the not-insignificant bead stash and make some more. I have a few of the toggles and rings left over still.

I've been reading Crazy Aunt Purl's blog (there's a funny picture there of what happens to a candle in 108-degree heat, btw). She's decided to take the rest of the year off from spending. She's still buying the necessities - food, gas, etc - she's just not buying anything she doesn't really need. Sounds like a really good idea to me. Today was payday and I paid all my bills (except the natural gas bill, which mercifully isn't due till my next paycheck) and... I'm broke. Okay, I'm not completely destitute, since I do have some savings, but my paycheck is gone. These gasoline prices are killing me. I drive a fairly fuel efficient car and I averaged 30 mpg on the last tank. But my daily commute is about 45 minutes each way, and it's adding up fast. I find myself consciously planning my week so I don't have to make too many trips to the same place. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it's something I didn't think much about before the prices went up.

My other problem is a shopping habit, which leads to a few credit card bills. I admit to spending money on lots of crafty-quilty stuff, especially if it's on sale. That's why not buying embroidery designs last weekend was an accomplishment. I also went to a quilt shop on Wednesday night with a friend of mine, and didn't spend a dime there. Since I learned to knit, I've accumulated a decently sized stash of yarn, needles and other gadgets. I want to make everything I see, all at once (see previous posts about "startitis" and "finishitis"). The same thing happened when I started quilting 15 years ago and hasn't really stopped since. My eyes are bigger than my free time.

But I think I have all the fabric, thread, beads, yarn, knitting needles and embroidery designs I need to keep me busy for the foreseeable future, so I'm going to try an experiment. For the next month, I'm going to follow Crazy Aunt Purl's lead and not buy anything I don't need. I realize that I may live to regret this, especially if I see a really deep discount on something that looks like it would be a lot of fun to do, watch or read. I have lots of projects in the works, and a big stash of HSYs (Haven't Started Yet projects) , I'll work on those instead of buying something new. I have access to the library and Netflix if there's a book I want to read or a movie I want to see. Not to mention whole shelves of books at home that I haven't read yet.

Just to make things clear, this moratorium does not apply to dining/entertainment. John and I don't go out much. We order pizza or Chinese on Friday nights, but generally stay home. I go out to lunch with the girls from work on Fridays, and a few times a month (or so) I have dinner with various friends of mine. Those things keep me sane, and they will stay. It's the stash-accumulation binges that I'm avoiding. If I survive the first month, I'll go for two.

And while I'm feeling virtuous, I plan to spend some time this weekend cleaning house. Not just dusting, etc, though heaven knows that needs to be done. I mean finishing the stack of filing that's been sitting here for months, and actually shredding the stack of stuff next to the shredder. I mean taking the old magazines and catalogs in the basement to the recycle bins at the school. I mean hauling the 3 boxes of books I sorted out months ago to my car so I can get them out of the house, along with any other books I can part with. I mean going through the shelves and cabinets downstairs to find stuff I can take to Goodwill or try to sell on ebay. That's the kind of cleaning house I'm talking about.

I'll save weeding the sewing/craft stash for another weekend - when I'm feeling the urge to buy more stuff. :-)

I'll let you know how it goes....

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I had to laugh out loud....

This is part of a conversation one of my co-workers had with his wife on the phone this afternoon:

"I don't mind going to the P-O-O-L. The only problem with going to the P-O-O-L is that it interferes with dinnertime."

[pause while his wife presumably suggests they get something to eat there]

"But I don't want to eat at the P-O-O-L, because the F-O-O-D S-U-C-K-S."

Their kids are 2.5 and 6 or 7, I think. When he got off the phone, I pointed out the that the oldest can surely spell. His response was "Yeah, but he can't spell fast." Too funny! :-)

In other news, it has been suggested to me (Hi, KB!) that my affliction is not "Startitis", it's "Finishitis". I have no problem starting things, it's finishing that's the problem. Good one.

And to prove the point, an update on a few projects. Stealth Project 1 is still unfinished. Haven't touched it. I've made some progress on Stealth Project 2, but I'm starting to think that I might not make the deadline on that one. I DID finish the NASCAR quilt on Sunday. It's in the mail and everything! I felted the swatch I made for my clogs. This is a pretty good representation of the colors:

I ran it through one wash/rinse cycle and it's roughly 4.5" square, which is the right gauge for the project. Woohoo! Now to find time to start the actual project...

New stuff: a couple that we used to work with had a baby over the weekend, so I started making a baby blanket for them. I'm calling it a blanket, because the way I'm making it doesn't really qualify as a quilt. I'm being good and using up flannel scraps from previous projects. I'm going to attempt to sew the strips in a square on a piece of double-sided minkee-type fabric, then add satin blanket binding around the outside. It will look something like this when I'm done:

Looking at the picture, I think the dark blue is a mistake. I added it in to make the strips longer, but that was when I had a different plan for the project. The back will just be plain minkee with the binding around it. What do you think? While I was laying this out, I realized that I have a lot of strips, so even if I take all the dark blue out, I'll probably still have enough strips to make at least 2 of these. That will come in handy for the next baby boy that comes along. I have lots of the minkee stuff, too.

I've been catching up on the Yarn Harlot archives and she was giving away prizes to people who donated to Doctors without Borders and those who participated in the Knitting Olympics. Some of these prizes were pretty beaded stitch markers. While I was at JoAnn Fabrics this afternoon picking up the satin binding, I saw some millefiori glass beads on clearance (well, you didn't really expect me to just go in, get the binding and leave, did you?). I also bought some 10 mm jump rings in silver and gold. When I got home, I dug out my "toy box" as John calls it, and started grabbing beads that go with the ones I just picked up. I came up with a few different options:

I can only hope that picture looks better on your monitor than it does mine. The first one is on a gold head pin. There's a yellow seed bead on the bottom, the millefiori bead, and a rectangular red bead on top. The top bead is a deep red. The second is the same beads on a nickel (silver finish) head pin. Number three has the same seed bead as the first, but with bright red silver-lined round-ish glass bead on the top. The last one has a yellow/gold silver-lined bead on the bottom with the rectangular square bead on top. If you have any opinions, I'd be glad to hear them. I'm going to sleep on it and take a look again tomorrow or Friday.

Meanwhile, I suppose I should get the beads cleaned up (before one of the cats eats them) and go to bed.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

That Block

Remember "that block" from my last post?


That brings me to 64 blocks, 21 triangles, 1 corner kite and 1975 pieces. After I finished my block at the meeting tonight, I quit. I had a nice chat with the Dear Jane ladies, though. We talked about hobbies, quilt shops, yarn shops, books, guild politics. It was a good time. But it usually is, no matter how much we do or don't get done.

I went back to look at NASCAR, and I don't have enough of the border fabric to do the binding. So I'm going to take an hour or so this evening to make the sleeve and dig out some binding from the stash. I could have it ready for hand work by bedtime. Then I'd have that and some knitting to take to the cookout (at a knitter/quilter's house) on Saturday. That would be a Good Thing.

Off I go....

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

ADD, Anyone?

The Yarn Harlot calls it "Startitis". You might call it having a very short attention span. A behaviorist, psychologist, or John would probably call it ADD. Whatever you call it, I have a hard time staying focused on one project at a time.

For example, I started Stealth Project 1 (SP1) over a month ago, with an intended deadline. Work and a certain Pool Quilt got in the way of that, so Plan B was used to meet the deadline. SP1 is still unfinished. I started Stealth Project 2 (SP2) a few weeks ago. That also has a deadline - unfinished. But I still have time on that one. Meanwhile, I've started and finished two other projects -- Miss Mousie and the cast sock. Oh, and the pillowcases for the pool quilt.

I more or less stayed on track with the Pool Quilt because I kept hearing "Is my quilt done yet?" every time I went into the sewing room. Ah, motivation. :)

But I digress. This is what I should have been working on tonight:

This is the NASCAR wall-hanging my cousin commissioned from me. It's all of about 25" square. It's already basted. It needs a split sleeve on the back, very minimal quilting and a binding of some sort. I'm trying to decide between using the leftover border fabric or pulling a solid black or very dark blue out of the stash for the binding. I think I have enough of the border and I have no idea what I'd to with the leftover bits anyway - waste not, want not and all that. OTOH, a nice solid might frame it nicely. Thoughts? If you have an opinion, leave a comment or email me. I'll sleep on it, consider the comments, look at the scrap supply, and decide in a day or so. Karen, it might be Monday before I send it.

All in all, not much needs to be done on this. I could have nearly finished it tonight. It would have been another item on the Completed list. But did I work on it tonight? Nope.

Tonight I played with this:

That's the Fiber Trends Felt Clog pattern and the 2 yarns I plan to use to make them, along with the unfelted swatch I knit tonight. It's nearly impossible to tell in the picture, despite my Ott-Lite, but the yarn is Lion Wool Prints in Majestic Mountain (mostly brown, purple and blue with a bit of green thrown in), and Lion Wool solid purple (sorry, Ann), even though it looks for all the world like dark blue on my monitor. The multicolor will be the main color, the purple will be the sole and cuff. I plan to felt the swatch Real Soon Now, just so I know what to expect. I might even weave in the tails first.

My friend Sarah and I are making these "together". Meaning that she's knitting her pair in Massachusetts, and I'm knitting mine in Ohio. We're just going to start them at the same time. I'm sure she'll finish *way* ahead of me, since she's made at least 3 pairs of these already and has been knitting longer than I have. Also, I'm guessing she's less susceptible to Startitis than I am. She would have to be. :)

In my defense, I did spend some quality time this evening on the phone with my brother, who has shingles, and my mom, who is very worried about him.

In case you're wondering, NASCAR doesn't have good odds for getting done tomorrow, either, since it's my Dear Jane meeting night. Hey, maybe I'll finish that block tomorrow. You know, the one that only needs those 2 tiny little melon/leaf appliques put on it. The one that I put the *other* two tiny little melon/leaf appliques on about two months ago. Yeah that one.

No ADD here......

Sunday, June 1, 2008

A Fairly Productive Weekend

I accomplished a few things this weekend. Friday night I finished this, which I started Thursday night:

No it's not a beanie for someone with a really strangely shaped head nor a thumb-less mitten. It's a cast sock. As in a sock that goes over the end of a cast to keep the toes warm. My friend Angie (who has the *worst* medical luck of anyone I've ever known) is going to be in a cast for a few weeks. She works in a very chilly computer room, so despite the fact that summer might actually have arrived here on the North Coast, I made her a sock. It worked pretty well till I got to the 3-needle bind-off. I'm not real sure what I did wrong, but I played musical needles for about 10 minutes before I got the stitches on in such a way that I actually could bind off. If I'd been using DPNs it would have been easier. Once I got it figured out, it was OK. Good thing it's dark yarn -- hides a multitude of sins. :) Angie, don't look too closely!!

Yesterday I ran errands and got caught up on all the magazines I got in the mail this week - Quilter's Home, Quiltmaker, and Creative Machine Embroidery. I must say that while there were a few good things in there, I was much more inspired by the the Creative Knitting magazine I got last week. Maybe because knitting is newer to me and I don't have that "been there, done that" feeling.

After the reading, I finished Miss Mousie. Well, sort of. It turns out, you need to pay attention when knitting something that actually has instructions. Go figure. I managed to biff something about midway through and had to frog (rip out) several rows. Then the yarn split when I tried to put it back on the needles. I got it back on and trudged ahead, even though not all the stitches made it back on the needles right. Then when I got to the decreases for the head, I read the first two and stupidly assumed that they were all the same. They weren't. So instead of ripping it out again, I just added a few rows of something that sort of resembled the proper decreases. At that point, I decided to cut my losses and sew it up, stuff it and give it directly to the cats. I didn't bother trying to make the adorable little ears or take pictures of it for the blog. I did braid a tail for it though. I'm not sure if the cats appreciated it or not. It was on the living room floor when I went to bed last night, but I haven't seen it today. I think I'll try to make another one at some point. If/when I do, hopefully it will go better and then be blogworthy.

One more note on Miss Mousie: if you recall, I wasn't using the recommended yarn, which was a double strand of 1-weight yarn. I was using a single strand of 3-weight on the same size needles. I don't know if that contributed to my problems or not. And I don't know how the "math" works with yarn. Do 3 strands of 1-weight equal 1 strand of 3-weight?

Today I did the laundry, which leads me to a question - is it wrong to do laundry on Sunday and if so, why?? My cousin informed me that her mother will haunt me for making Sunday laundry day. I guess it goes back to the idea that Sundays are supposed to be a day of rest. But I work full time, and usually spend Saturday doing things like grocery shopping, and running errands (like yesterday). Sunday is the day I stay home and can get things done around the house. I hope Aunt Mary Alice will forgive me!

While the laundry was running, I went outside to enjoy the nice weather. I pulled a few weeds, cut the dead stuff out of the rhododendron out front, and the roses out back. Yes, I know I should have cut back the roses last fall, but I truly am horticulturally challenged. The only reason the roses survive at all is because I ignore them for the most part. Fortunately, not many of the neighbors were outside or they'd have been blinded. I was wearing shorts and if my skin was any lighter, I'd be transparent! Truly awful.....

After the pruning, I came in and finished the pillowcases that go with the pool quilt. I had one put together already, so I assembled the other one and embroidered both of them. Here they are:

I didn't have enough of the pool fabric to make two with that as the primary fabric, so mine is the reverse of John's. And there was no way the embroidery was going to show up on the print, so adjusted. I think this worked out well, though.

After dinner I worked on a wall hanging commissioned by my cousin for her minister, who is moving. I got the top and back assembled and it's basted. I'll take pictures later in the week when it's done. Karen if you're reading this, it's about 25" square.

Now it's time to collect all the cats from the kitty hammock, close up the sewing room and head towards bed. I can't believe tomorrow is Monday already. Why do the weekends go so fast???