Sunday, June 28, 2009

Ready for a fresh start

Okay, the first half of 2009 hasn't been stellar. It's been stressful, expensive and painful. A brief re-cap:

- Someone backed into my car and I had to have it fixed
- Blue had a bunch of tests and was in the hospital for a few days
- My dad was in the hospital for two weeks, half that time in ICU
- I had to put a new roof on the garage
- I dropped a knife on my foot and had to have surgery*

The latest -- my dryer died. A couple of years ago I had to have it fixed and it cost less than $100. Not so lucky this time. The motor is shot and it would cost over $400 to replace it. So I went dryer shopping Saturday. Yippee. The new one should arrive on Wednesday. What a pain!

I'm definitely hoping the second half of the year improves....

In happier news, I've been working on my two sock at a time.

This is the basic sock from Knitting Circles around Socks, by Antje Gillingham. I'm almost ready to start the heels. I'm not sure I love the colorway, but they're knitting up pretty quickly in the heavier yarn.

I also started a new sock.

It doesn't look like much, since it's just 1" of 1x1 ribbing. But it will be a Show-off Stranded Sock and that's Patons Stretch Sock yarn in the Mineral colorway. I think it will look good with the stitch pattern. Better than any of the other cotton blend yarn in my stash, which is either self-patterning or stripey. I'm trying not to knit too tightly on these, since the yarn is stretchy and I'd like to keep the stretch in the sock. We'll see. I'm using my Kollage square DPNs and I'm still trying to decide if I like them. They're heavier than the Harmony Wood ones and they yarn itself is kinda floppy. Also, they're an inch longer than the Harmonys (7" vs. 6"). Kollage makes a 5" version, which I'm considering, but they didn't have them in the store when I bought these. I suppose I could ask if they could special order them for me. Maybe some other time, since I have a dryer to pay for.

I put together a quilt top tonight, but didn't take a picture of it. It's a group project for a guy at work. Since I'll be putting the binding on, I'll post a picture when it's done. I'm seriously wondering what I was thinking when I sketched it out on my white board. I really should have had the girls log cabin the strips, or alternate which way they put the strips on so I didn't end up with long strips of color all across the top and bottom. Not to mention that it would have avoided having to match seams. Oh well. It's a gift and it's not horrible. And since the baby is already here (her name is Amelia, it's that pretty?) we'll just have to live with it. I did make the block backgrounds symmetrical by color, at least.

Requisite cat picture:

"We thought we were helping when we fed ourselves breakfast this morning, Mama. I shared my 'Cheerios' with everyone!"

*I took the tape off it on Saturday -- it is indeed a Harry Potter scar. Woohoo!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Teenage Mutant Ninja Strawberry

Warning, crappy cell phone pictures ahead.

My friend, K, is on vacation today, so I picked up her FarmShare distribution for her. This mutant strawberry was in the mix. Creepy, huh?

They said the strawberries wouldn't keep, so I took the liberty of sharing them with K's dog-sitter. I don't think I'm going to eat this one, though. It scares me.

This was the view out my office window before I left work. I'm always amazed that they can guide these huge barges around all the curves of the river.

And since I have to have a cat picture in every post, here's one I took over the weekend.

Doesn't look like the window sill wedgie would be comfortable, does it?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Saturday accomplishments

A while ago I bought a set of sock blockers, which I mostly intended to use for showing off my socks. I ordered the medium size, but when I got them, they looked a bit big. Next time I ordered stuff, I ordered a small set. there's a noticeable difference in size between the two.

So I tried them out with my newly finished (yay!) toe-up socks. It turns out the medium is the right size after all. See the difference?

I'm pretty happy with the socks. One of these days, I'll be able to wear them as a pair. My left foot is still to swollen/tender to get one of these over it.

I weighed the socks and the leftover yarn from the each 50g ball. The socks weigh a bit over 30g each, so I have about 20g left in each ball. Should be enough to make some short socks, right? I'd consider making one a little bigger around to wear with my boot instead of the white sport socks I've been wearing, but I'm not sure I'd get it done in time. Plus, it's wool, so it might be too hot anyway.

I finished the second sock yesterday, no thanks to this naughty boy, who pulled one of the needles out of the sock last weekend when I left it on the couch.

"Just helping, Mama. Besides, those sticks are tasty!"

Foot update: I got the dressing off and the stitches out on Wednesday. They put those steri-strips over the incision and there's still some ink under there from where he marked where he was going to cut. So I have no idea what shape the incision is, but I can tell you it's not a straight line. I'm hoping for a Harry Potter scar, but we'll see. The tape has to stay on 7-10 days and so far it shows no sign of budging.

I spent a little time in the sewing room today. I made the quadrants for the center block of a baby quilt.

It's a group project for another guy at work, who's baby is due any day now. My friends K and L are putting border strips in those 4 prints around some blocks we cut from a pre-printed panel. Since no two quilters have the same 1/4" seam allowance, I'm waiting to trim these units and assemble the center block till I know what size the rest will be. If I assemble the block now, I'd cut off points when I trim it.

After that, I finished these two project bags that I'd started a while ago.

The fabric is kinda weird. It's a marbled black or really dark navy (hard to tell), with raised, rubbery, metallic blobs in various colors all over it. I thought it would be interesting in the Halloween quilt, but ended up not using it. I had no idea what else to do with it, so I made project bags. They'd be good for socks or some other small project. I have two, so if any of my knitting friends would like a small project bag, the first to let me know gets one.

Back to the foot. I don't have to wear the boot when I sleep anymore, but I'm nervous going to bed without something to protect my foot. So I've been wearing the little post-op shoe they gave me at the ER to bed. Since the dressing came off, my foot has been swelling at night, so I'm trying to keep it elevated when I sleep. Needless to say, it's hard to get comfortable at bedtime. That, combined with my pager going off means I got very little sleep last night.

I decided to take a little nap this afternoon while John was out and I had the house to myself. I fell asleep alone and woke up with company. If there's ever any question as to whether or not Max loves his Mama, or why he's not allowed in the bedroom at night, here's your answer.

Dang, that cat has long legs......

Monday, June 15, 2009

The knife

A lot of people have asked about the knife that maimed me, so I thought I'd show it to you.

Nice, huh? It's really sharp. My friend K asked if I threw away the knife. Heck no -- that's an $80 knife!! I used it tonight, actually. It might have acquired a taste for blood, though. As I was washing it and putting it it the dish rack to dry, I poked myself. It didn't break the skin, thankfully.

Since I can't take the dressing off my foot till Wednesday (can't wait!!!), and I was going back into the Arctic climate of my over-air-conditioned office this week, I made a couple of cast socks to keep my tootsies warm.

The one on the left I knit using this pattern, without the color changes and in the round. The one on the right was a quickie I sewed from the hem of an old polo shirt. I used the knit one today and worked really well. However, I might not get a chance to use the other one. I found out today that I need a return to work authorization from the doctor's office to go back to work. Technically, I wasn't even allowed to work from home on Friday, and I guess they could have sent me home today. They told me not to come back till I get the note. I've left several messages with the doctor's office, but the woman I left the messages for won't call me back. Should be interesting....

I'm in the home stretch on my second toe-up sock.

I put a lifeline in before I started the heel and you can kind of see it in the picture. I'll be taking it out soon, since this heel looks no worse than the last one. It doesn't look much better, but it's no worse. :)

In cat news, 4 out of 5 cats came to see their grandparents when my parents came to visit this weekend. Blue had to be bribed at first with kitty treats, but once he had a couple, he was happy and let them pet him. Runt was the lone holdout - she hid for two hours after they left. Usually they come out within half an hour after strangers leave. I wonder if being at the vet's office for several days helped get Blue accustomed to people other people.

Also, it seems Blue's cortisone shot has worn off. The good news is that since it kept him from getting sick for 5 weeks, we're pretty sure he has IBD. The bad news is that he apparently has IBD. As soon as I get to the vet's office to pick up his medicine, we'll start giving him prednisone pills daily, and play with the dosage over time to see what the minimum amount is that will keep his tummy happy.

He and I have been playing fetch a lot lately. His favorite fetch object is a currently green fuzzy mouse. When I got home from work, it was in his kitty tunnel, where he tends to sleep when he's not feeling his best. I didn't get a picture of the mouse before he moved it, so I'll post this one that I took a few weeks ago.

I really don't think the kitty hammock was weight-rated for 40+ pounds of cat. I also didn't think they'd all fit in there, but where there's a will, there's a way.

Friday, June 12, 2009

You'd think I'd have gotten more done

So I had surgery on Tuesday to fix the tendon I cut on Sunday. Like the new look?

The compression stocking will come off tomorrow. I can't wait. The boot will be with me for several weeks, as far as I know. The doctor said I'd be wearing it for 3-4 weeks if I didn't have the surgery, so I'm sure it'll be at least that long now that I had surgery.

You would think that I've had used the couch time to get a lot of crafty stuff done. Yeah, not so much. I've been taking a lot of naps, in between Vicodin doses and icing my foot.

I did finish this last weekend, before the big cut.

Thankfully you can't really see the abysmal quilting job I did on it. The only crafty thing I did this week is finish the binding on this quilt.

I had help, of course.

And after it was done, they artfully arranged it for me.

Don't worry, they'll be washed before I give them to my guild for community service.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Things I've learned the hard way

I've learned a few things the hard way over the years. Never use a rotary cutter after 11p.m. [I have the scars to prove it]. Always use the little handle thingy on the kitchen slicer [ditto]. Always go to the doctor if you think you have a urinary tract infection, even if it seems like it's going away [being in ICU with a blood infection sucks].

I have a new one -- Never leave a very large, sharp knife on a slippery cutting board on the kitchen counter. I spent several hours at the ER yesterday after said knife was knocked off the counter (by me) and onto my (bare, of course) left foot. The good news - the physician's assistant who stitched me up is a quilter. The bad news, despite having numbing gel applied 3 times, my foot was NOT NUMB. Thank goodness it was only 2 stitches. She offered to let have them put more goo on it, but since she was already half done, I just let her go on without it. She let me keep the tools, which should come in handy with my crafty stuff.

I was concerned about my big toe, which I could no longer lift up, and was now curling under. They referred me to a orthopedic specialist. I saw him today and he said I cut/tore the tendon that flexes my big toe. I could leave it alone but I'd never be able to lift my big toe again. I decided I'd like to be able to move my toe, so I'll be having surgery tomorrow morning to fix the tendon. Yippee.

On the bright side, all this sitting and waiting has done good things for my second toe-up sock....

Friday, June 5, 2009

Random stuff and cuteness!

This morning I got up for work and my (leaky) garage roof looked like this.

Nice, eh?

I went to work and looked out one of the windows and saw this [apologies for the crappy cell phone picture taken out of a dirty office window]:

I have no idea who's office that is, but I keep waiting for the avalanche of papers to come crashing off the desk.

After a fairly busy, but educational day, I came home. My garage roof now looks like this:

Woo hoo! Hopefully it doesn't leak now. :)

Now for the cuteness. Remember all those knitty/quilty goodies we sent to our friends with the new twins a few months ago? Well not too long after the goodies were received, the proud parents posted some pictures of the boys with their stuff. They gave me permission to post some of the pictures here.

Henry and Jack in the blue hats on the clock quilt

"We have to grow into these ones!"

"I-spy quilt - SCORE!!"

Apparently they reach out for each other like that a lot. Isn't that the sweetest thing you've every heard?? I'm sure they've changed a bit since these pictures were taken. Hint, hint, Mom and Dad....

Monday, June 1, 2009

A pardon for a sock

I came "this close" to frogging my toe-up sock over the weekend. It wasn't the second-try heel that bothered me. I was afraid they wouldn't fit. The first pair of socks I knit are a little tight. Okay, they were almost uncomfortably tight, and that was before I accidentally put them in the dryer.

Since I was using the same number of stitches, with the same yarn, on the same needles, this one should have been too tight, too. I was just about to rip it out and start over when I decided to try it on. No small task given I'm using double points, but I managed to get it on without dropping stitches or breaking any needles, and guess what? It fit! I think the main reason for this is that the toe area isn't nearly as pointy as with the other socks. So Sunday while we were watching crack (aka "24:Season 7"), I finished it and cast on the second.

It wasn't completely without problems. About 3/4" into the ribbing, there was a knot in the yarn. And you can't really tell from the picture, but there's a round or two of yarn near the top that had next to no dye on it. Oh well, it's Done. I would have done the toe of the new sock, but it's really hard to concentrate on knitting while watching crack. :)

In other news, my local quilt/knit shop changed locations last week, so I stopped in to check it out. And while I was in the area, I had to stop in the yarn shop near their old location....

That's Fiber Trends Leaf Lace sock pattern and some Crystal Palace Panda Wool, a pre-dyed Happy Choices knit sock flat and some Trekking XXL sock yarn in a subtle blue/purple colorway. The Happy Choices thing is pre-knit-then-dyed sock yarn. You can wear it as a scarf as-is, or undo the crochet cast-on and knit socks out of it. The top and bottom halves are dyed the same, so if you mark the center when you start, you can have identical socks. They apparently sell blank flats so you can dye your own, too. Pretty cool, huh?

Must knit faster!!!!

On Saturday, I quilted the two lap quilts I'd basted on Monday. Did I mention Max helped with the basting?

"No, put the pin over there, Mama!"

As I was quilting the second quilt (the one pictured above) I realized a few things. First, if I'm going to use polyester batting and try to quilt curves without free-motion, I need to use more pins. Second, it would probably have looked better if I'd free-motion quilted the thing, even though I suck at it. And third, I'm not a big fan of Mountain Mist polyester batting. I might have to re-think what I'm going to use in The Ugly. I wanted to use polyester since it's meant to be a picnic quilt. Cotton would be really heavy, especially if it got wet. Time to do some batting research. And I have to measure The Ugly to see what size I really need.

I had intended to give the curvy quilt to community service, but now I'm not so sure. It looks pretty bad to me. I wouldn't want some sick person to get it and feel worse..... I'll probably go ahead and bind it anyway and see how it looks.

The other one I quilted looks a lot better. It had more pins in it, and I quilted it in straight lines. I got the binding sewn on the front, but haven't finished the hand stitching yet.

Doesn't it look like Max and Emma are fighting in this picture?

"I wanted to help Mama by myself!" " Too bad!"

And finally, I tried to get a really cute picture of Max and Runt curled up on the couch, as they like to do. Instead, I got this....

"Whatcha doin', Mama?"