Saturday, January 30, 2010


WARNING: Rockin' Sock Club quasi-spoiler ahead.

I think I have a problem. Clearly I don't need anymore sock yarn, based on the fact that I made up 11 sock kits the week before last and I still have a big plastic tote in the basement full of sock yarn and an overflow bag on top of it. So I guess I should explain this:

Shibui sock yarn

And this:

Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock, 3 pairs worth

I bought the Shibui for a mystery sock class that I was supposed to take at the LYS today. They didn't get enough people signed up to bring the teacher up from Columbus, so the class was rescheduled to Feb 21.

The STR is a little harder to explain. Two of those were ordered not long after I decided I didn't need any more sock yarn. In my defense, one of those two is the Doctors Without Borders colorway, so a whole $3 went to a good cause. And since I was ordering, I figured it couldn't hurt to get some Christmas-y yarn (Jingle Bell Rock). The last one is the January Rockin' Sock club yarn, which since it was already ordered before I made up the other kits, doesn't really count. Right?

After I took the picture of my sock kits, I changed one of them and added another, so I think that brings my total to an "even" baker's dozen (aka 13) sock kits in-house, with 5 more to come later this year. I'm still working, very slowly, on the Mermaid sock:

I'm almost done with the gusset increases. Then on to the heel, foot and toe. Then I get to start all over again.

Further hampering my future sock-knitting progress it the fact that the LYS is doing a February Lady sweater class. I haven't gone stash-diving yet, but I'm *sure* I have yarn for it. If I do, I'll probably go ahead and sign up. My friend said the people in her knitting group didn't like this pattern, but I never found out (or don't remember) why. The shop owner and another customer were each wearing one, so they must not have hated it. And it's knitting. Worst case, I frog the whole thing and make something else.

While I had the swift and winder out for the sock yarn, I wound this yarn that I got before Christmas:

It's made of banana fiber (from the tree, I guess). I'm not sure I'm looking forward to knitting this yarn. It had a very odd texture and did NOT wind easily. That explains why the darker one is in two pieces. The lighter one is in 3 pieces for a different reason, I think....

Last week I had the sewing room open, but I was in the living room, minding my own business. All of a sudden, one of the cats came tearing through, with a plastic bag caught around it's neck. The cat was moving so fast, I honestly don't know which one it was, and it managed to free him/herself without my help. The bag in question was the one the banana yarn was in. My guess is, the culprit has his/her head in the bag, chewing on the yarn when he/she was startled by one of the other cats, and ended up stuck in the bag.

While I was at the LYS picking out my yarn for the ill-fated class, I picked this up and it had to come home with me.

The Fibre Company's Road to China

OMG!! This is the softest yarn I've ever touched! It's 65% baby alpaca, 15% silk, 10% cashmere and 10% camel. The shop owner bought out the whole supply of discontinued colors that the sales rep. had. This is light amethyst. It's destined to be a pair of wrist warmers. Either Fetching, or these. Maybe a pair of each, since I have 2 hanks. :)

In other news, I had help in the kitchen this morning:

"I like eggs, Mama. Can I have some?"

Thursday, January 21, 2010

More finished stuff

News flash - I actually used my sewing machine the other night! I finished these two April Bags, which I had cut out several months ago:

Outside view

Inside view

As is frequently the case, I'm not sure what I'm going to do with these. I often make things for the pleasure of creating them (see the baby blanket posts from September 2008 for proof). I bought the fabric at the NEORQC Getaway a couple of years ago for machine quilting practice and only used part of it. Since I don't drink coffee, it's kinda silly for me to use these as project bags. I do have an idea of what to do with them, but we'll see how that turns out.

I finished the Homespun shawl.

That's Lion Brand's Splendid Triangle Shawl in black Homespun yarn. It was a pretty easy knit. I apparently have issues keeping the right number of stitches, though. I kept ending up with the wrong number on one side or the other. The yarn is bumpy enough that you can't see individual stitches very well, so finding and fixing the problem wasn't very easy. I fudged instead. I can't tell where I did it, so I'm calling it fine.

Speaking of shawls, if you recall, I start a Gaia shawl before this one. This is as far as I got:

It was designed for Noro sock yarn, and you change stitch patterns when the color changes. Clearly, I'm not using Noro sock yarn here, so the pattern changes were going to be more or less random. I have a ball of Noro and no intentions of putting that stuff on my feet (makes my skin crawl thinking about it). I'm going to frog this and use the Noro for a Gaia instead. Eventually. This yarn, which is from the KnitWitch will become and Argus Shawlette instead. Eventually.

[BTW, through the end of January, Wendy of is donating 50% of her profits from Ravelry pattern sales to Doctors Without Borders. Just in case you need any patterns for anything.]

Meanwhile, I'm going get back to work on some socks. There was an entry on the Yarn Harlot's Never Not Knitting 2010 calendar a couple of weeks ago about making your own sock of the month club. The idea is that you dig through your stash, match yarn and patterns, put each project in a baggie and put all the baggies in another bag. At the beginning of the month, you pull one out and make it. Here are my 11 kits:

Why only 11, you might ask? Because I'm still working on my Mermaid socks and it's already past the middle of the month. No current picture of that, but I can tell you that I just did the first round for the gusset on sock one. I might have also joined the Rockin' Sock Club this year. And I signed up for a mystery sock class at the LYS.

Now, I'm not crazy enough to think I'll actually knit 19 pairs of socks this year. I *do* have other projects to work on and complete. But I figure I'll have at least 2 years of sock knitting ready to go. And I haven't even made a dent in the sock yarn stash. Must knit faster!!!

Crazy-eyed cat picture:

"The heat is on...."

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

More finished stealth projects

I gave away the last of the stealth projects last Tuesday night. They were my friend Beth's Christmas presents. First, this bracelet and earring set:

I had to replace the toggle, since this one came undone twice in the hour or so that she had it on. I was afraid of that. I originally used a toggle just like it on the peppermint bracelet and it kept coming apart on me. It fell off at work and broke some of the beads so I had to re-do it. Not a big deal, but I didn't get a picture of the new version.

The second stealth project was this:

A 7-foot+ scarf. Here's a close-up:

The pattern is a modified version of My So Called Scarf. I only cast on 26 stitches, and the first and last stitch of each row is a knit. Then I followed the stitch pattern. I think it gave the edge a nicer finish. Here's how it looked the first time I started it, just following the pattern as given:

The color is more accurate in this picture, I think

See how the left edge is kinda bumpy? That bugged me, so I changed it. The yarn is Manos del Uruguay in the sage colorway. Yes, sage. You'd think it would be green, right? I guess the flowers of the sage plant are purple.

I was worried about it being so long, but Beth is 5'9" and she loved it. She said she was hoping one of the stealth projects was for her. Happy to oblige. :)

Another "sleepy kitties in the chair" picture:

"We do this a lot."

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Knitters Without Borders

Just a quickie - if you're a knitter and have donated to Doctors Without Borders recently, please let the Yarn Harlot know how much you gave at kwbATyarnharlotDOTca. She's keeping track of donations and last I heard she'd added about $46,000 (yes, forty six THOUSAND dollars) to her previous running total since about noon yesterday. And she's still counting.

I've been looking at pictures on and I just can't get my head around the devastation in Haiti.

If you haven't donated, I'll join everyone else and encourage you to do so. It doesn't have to be a large amount, every little bit helps. If you prefer to donate to another charity, that's great, too. The Yarn Harlot's only counting the Doctors Without Borders donations, but there are lots of others.

Just be careful of the scammers. It disgusts me that there are people out there looking to make a buck off people who want to help others. They should be airlifted directly to Haiti and dropped off. Parachutes optional.

The Red Cross and your cellular providers are making it easy. If you text the word "Haiti" to the number 90999, they'll add $10 to your cell phone bill, send it to the Red Cross and (probably) not charge you for the text message. They've raised over $5 million that way so far.

"I'd donate if I could."

[I'll be back to my regularly scheduled nonsense next time.]

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Penny Haren

I didn't go to work today. Instead, I went to a workshop with Penny Haren.

The long view of most of the class.

Demonstrating her technique.

As I was listening to her talk, something sounded familiar in her slight accent. I asked her where she was from, and found out she knows my aunt Glenna in Newark, OH! Penny taught Dear Jane classes at her quilt shop and Aunt Glenna was one of her students. The first time I saw Dear Jane blocks was when Aunt Glenna showed me hers. Of course, I thought those little blocks were crazy-fiddly and swore I'd never make one myself. Funny how things change.

Penny brought her Dear Jane quilt top and I got a couple of pictures.

She did a great job on it, but said she plans to take it apart because she doesn't like the sashing. Yikes!!

Today's class wasn't Dear Jane, it was Penny's Pieced Applique technique. A lot of what we learned can be applied to Dear Jane, though. These are the blocks I made today:

A lot of pieces are just glued on and still need to be stitched down. She uses monofilament thread and a narrow zig-zag to do her applique. I usually don't like machine applique and had planned to do all of my Dear Jane appliques by hand. That was before I found out about the arthritis in my right hand. It makes hand sewing painful, so I'm thinking about switching to the machine version.

The Dear Jane motto is "Finished is better than perfect" and my hand applique is far from perfect. I've been a little worried that some of the blocks won't survive a washing, and machine stitching them will maybe make them more secure *and* get them done in my lifetime. I figure I can practice on the blocks from class and decide. If I use the monofilament, it won't matter as much if I can't stay on the lines and I should get better over time.

If you're a quilter, Penny's book is definitely worth a look. Even if I do the stitching by hand, I'll definitely be using some of her techniques on my Dear Jane blocks. I might even spring for some of her fussy cut rulers. I resisted buying one for the class because I have a whole pegboard full of rulers (I think I have every size/shape OmniGrid makes, or very close to it) and didn't really want to buy another one. However, they did come in handy in the class, so I'll definitely keep them in mind.

Here's something you don't see every day:

Yep, all four of the "kittens" in the chair at once.

Now I'm going to go play in my sewing room....

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Kitty Cat Laws of Physics

You might be familiar with the Cartoon Laws of Physics, which are quite different from the laws of physics that the rest of us follow.

I suggest that there are Kitty Cat Laws of Physics. The main points are that A) a cat body at rest will gain mass the longer it is at rest and B) it will molecularly bond to the surface it is resting on. Here's why I believe this. This cat weighs no more than 10 pounds:

Normally she's pretty jumpy and moves at smallest noise or movement. However, once she settles herself on the bed at night, she becomes nearly immovable. You practically have to pick her up and throw her off the bed. And somehow, she finds the perfect location for preventing the human(s) from getting comfortable. Also? She steals the covers.

Fortunately for her, she's also very cute.

I think I mentioned that I spent the first day of the new year in my sewing room attempting to organize my beads, and getting distracted in the process. It continues....

Blue beads on navy wire with silver spacer beads and coordinating (but not matching) earrings

Blue and turquoise beads with gold beads and bead caps and matching earrings

More stitch markers (!)

I mostly made all that stuff because I didn't want to store the beads anymore. As is it, I still have more beads than fit in my rather large bead box, so I now have a large bead box with many organizers in it, a smaller box with more organizers in it and another separate organizer. I don't need any more beads.

Or beaded ornament kits:

I made four each of these which are 6-8" long or so. They're bigger than I imagined when I ordered them (even though the dimensions were listed). I kept two each of the straight ones, and one each of the ones with the stars. I kept all of the blue ones, because I like them even though they're big.

Sad thing? I still have a whole tray of various beaded ornament kits in a different craft box. I can't seem to stop...

In other news, I can now blog one of my stealth knitting projects - fingerless mitts!

They are the Keep Me Warm Mitts in Queensland Merino Spray yarn in the lime colorway. The recipient loved them. She works in a data center and is always cold. Which is why I thought they'd be a perfect project for her. I also made her this 2-strand bracelet:

I was less excited about this part of the gift. I made it mostly because I liked the silver and crystal beads and knew she'd love the color. This was my 3rd or 4th attempt to get the two strands the same length. It was a lot harder than it seemed like it should be. I told her she was welcome to take it apart and re-do it, or scrap the whole thing altogether and use the beads for something else. She was very nice and said it looked fine.

For a change of pace, a (crappy cell phone) dog picture:

My friend, Buddy

That's Buddy, my friend Beth's Doberman. I went to her house to bake cookies before Christmas. She let Buddy out, then I let him in and gave him a treat. After that, I was his best friend. He's a really good, gentle dog.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Public Service Announcement

The weather is cold and nasty. If you have long stretches of time with not much to do and aren't opposed to some violence and frequent utterances of "Dammit!," Best Buy has all seasons of crack - I mean 24, on sale for $13.99 each. I haven't been able to find used ones that cheap. I already ordered my copies of the seasons we don't have yet, so I figure it's safe to share . ;-) Hurry, they're only on sale Sunday and Monday

Now I just have to wait till May for Season 8 to come out on DVD. I'm not sure I can watch it week-to-week and stay sane.....

Funny related note: I'm reading Patient Zero, by Jonathan Maberry (I like it so far, though I did dream about zombies one night after reading it). The main character has just been told they want him to lead the team to find/stop the zombies. This follows:

"....Why were they asking me? I'm just a cop. Where are the guys who actually do this for a living? How come none of them were here? Where's James Bond and Jack Bauer?...."

I laughed out loud. Jack Bauer would be perfect for fighting zombies. But we decided that adding zombies to 24 would be jumping the shark and we're not ready for that yet.

Kathryn doesn't like posts without pictures, and I haven't made any progress on anything crafty since Friday. So you get this:

"This is our chair!!"

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Distraction 2010

Happy New Year!

And none too soon, if you ask me. 2009 was not a good year - full of vet bills, hospital visits and stressful events for friends and family. I'm definitely ready for a fresh start. How about you?

I met very few of my 2009 project goals, though I did accomplish a lot of other things. I've upped my goal on my Dear Jane quilt to 2/3 done. I thought about leaving it at half-way, but where's the challenge in that? I hope to make it to two UFO weekends the year so that should help. If I don't take anything else to work on, I should be able to make good progress. Don't quote me on that, though. :)

We spent New Year's Eve at home, as usual. We actually fell asleep on the couch and managed to wake up just in time to see the ball drop. We had a toast and went to bed.

Party animals:

Notice Max's extra long tail wrapped behind his shoulder

A few minutes later, they were joined by Runt:

Yesterday I spent all day in my sewing room, but not sewing. My goal was to organize my beads and craft supplies, get some of the newly-acquired yarn put away and generally dig out my sewing table so I can use it for it's intended purpose. Once again, I was distracted by shiny objects.

I found some more beads that I thought would make good stitch markers, so....

I'm not in love with the larger ones, but I couldn't really remember why I bought those red beads and I wanted to get them out of the bead stash. The small gold hearts were in a mixture of beads, like the purple ones from a week or two ago. I put them on smaller rings for use with smaller needles. One of these days I might take my friend's advice and open an Etsy shop. We'll see.

Then I found some old beads and a couple of snowflake charms that I really didn't want to store anymore. The beads have an AB coating on them and are pretty, even though they're plastic. I figured they'd work fine for Christmas ornaments that won't get much action.

The red and green beads on the smaller, center one were leftover from some old ornament kits. Yes, I am a pack rat, which is a good thing, since I needed more beads for that one. Let me tell you, those snowflake wires are a *LOT* harder to bend than the stuff I'm used to working with. Also, an arm (leg?) broke off one of them broke part way through so I had to start that one over. My hand is sore today.

This spool ornament was a make-and-take project from my December guild meeting. I skipped the make part at the meeting, and just took the supplies.

I finished it yesterday so I can put it in with the Christmas decorations.

After spending all day standing on a hardwood floor and bending over my sewing table, I curled up on the couch to watch an NCIS dvd. Emma decided to join me.

"I crawled under the quilt all by myself. It's warm under here...."