Sunday, July 31, 2005

The Promise of a Whole Week

I took the week off. On the surface it was because both Sassy and Little Big Man have day camps going next week. Sassy will be riding and LBM will be at band camp. (I have been torturing him for the last week or so that he will come home and say, "This one time...at band camp...".) So, I will be ferrying them around, but I also have my own agenda at home. Herewith, I present my photo essay of what I'll be doing this week.

1. Get rid of books I've already registered with Book Crossing:

I really love leaving this things all over the place. I'll admit, I'm vain enough to leave them in places where I can go back and check to make sure they've been rescued. It's fun thinking that someone gets to read a book I liked and it beats the hell out of pricing them for a garage sale.


2. I've been looking at this nightmare since we re-did our kitchen (about 3 years ago):

They are the stairs that lead from my back door down into my basement. Hub pulled out the old stairs and built these new ones. I should have stained and varnished them 3 years ago. I did not. I'm paying the price now. They need to be sanded to get all the ground in dirt off and then stained and varnished.


3. I have 8 of these mothers staring me in the face:

You can see that this representative door has been stained (Minwax Puritan Pine) as are the other 7. However, now I have to put 2 coats of polyurethane on each and every door. My excuse has been that it's been so hot that I can't get proper ventilation - if I open the windows the heat and humidity seap in and the polyurethane will NEVER dry. Time's up - they will be shiny and sealed this week.

Will I kill enough brain cells to prevent me doing something fun with these?

I cannot resist the allure of the fat quarters. Hub and I took Sassy in to get heeled shoes for her camp (some sort of stacked heel prevents the foot from slipping through the stirrup). Well, there's a JoAnne's right next door and I just slipped in for a minute. I scored a self healing cutting mat for $7.50 (50% off a clearance price of $15.00) and also a rotary cutter - seen in all its rotary goodness above.

Sassy's camp goes from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm. I figure I'll work while she's camping and then have fun after I pick her up. It's a good balance, right?

One last shot. These are the initial fabrics I've picked up for my Kimono quilt. I signed up for the class and the first one is on Sunday. I can't wait!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Quilt Blocks and a Fugly



What do you think? I think Carolyn was right. {Ignore the small swatches of white you see under the blocks, that's the paper still attached.} While I like the above blocks (and maybe the white pillowcase wasn't the best idea I've had today) there's something wrong with them. I'm not sure what - they don't hold me somehow. The blue below somehow pops the red and orange off the background and is soothing at the same time. Thanks Curlypurl!!




The more I look at these blocks, the better I like the pattern. I will say, however, that it's a real bitch trying to pin the fabric to the paper in such a way that the seam allowance is 1/4" AND the chunk of pattern is covered once I've done the sewing. I won't bother to tell you how many pieces I've screwed up. My very first blocks were done by just eyeballing the paper piece to be covered and then hacking out a piece from my fat quarters. My anal-retentive nature didn't work too well with this approach.

So I measured the pieces in this new pattern and figured in the seam allowance. In my zeal to be master of the rotary cutter, I cut up a bunch of pieces that are exactly 3" x 9" and while they stack beautifully and look lovely on my table, they really should have been 3.5" x 9" - but then I would have gotten fewer pieces from my fabric! At the time, I thought, "how hard can it be? I'll just move them around until I get the placement figured out and do it the same way every time" Yeah, it so doesn't work out like that. Anyone have ideas on how to measure and cut these pieces so they fit without wrestling?


And in the category of Back away from the crack pipe I give you...



What the fuck was he thinking???

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

One more day?

Just allow me one more day with this. I promise I'll be good and post no more on the man who won seven.


A couple of weeks ago, Jillian and I went to lunch (and then to a yarn shop, natch). I bought 2 skeins of this. It is the lovely beaded rayon yarn from Blue Heron. I also bought the pattern for the Shoalwater Shawl. I'll admit, I've loved this yarn for a very long time. It is silky and warm and has a sheen that just sings. It didn't hurt that they had a shop model and it was gorgeous!! I got through the first 76 rows without a problem. Now, I can't get past the second repeat of row 37. I've counted, ripped, knit, counted, ripped, knit...I threw it aside in disgust on Friday. I'm going to have to rip again and figure out where those damn extra 4 stitches came from.

So, I've been paper piecing instead. {As an aside, I really think I'm taking up quilting because there's a whole list of things I've never bought for myself and as we all know...it's the stuff that attracts me to crafting.} I took Carolyn's suggestion and bought a couple of yards of indigo fabric to tone down the red and orange of my planned quilt. I don't have a photo yet - it's in the wash. I also signed up for the class the shop is holding for the Kimonos pattern I bought a while back. I ask you, how can learning new things be bad?

Sunday, July 24, 2005

What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been



But, man, has it been fun. Thanks for the last 7 years. May your retirement be all you wish it to be.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Please Mr. Sandman

I love naps, really I do. However, I should never take a nap after normal working hours. I just laid down for a minute and passed out for over an hour. Now I can't sleep. It sucks. I just got back from 3 days in Boston (which also sucked, but that's a different story) and I'm exhausted from being with the same people for 72 hours straight. Yet, here I am, awake in the middle of the night.

At least there's time for show and tell. Here's what I picked up while in Boston. I only had about an hour and a half to myself the whole time I was there. Luckily, we were right next to a T-station and the stop for Mind's Eye Yarns was only 3 stops away from where I got on. I ran out the door after Wednesday's meeting and was back in time to have dinner with people that I don't really like, but must be nice to in order to keep my job. The fiber is a yummy wool/tencel blend that I've bought from Mind's Eye before and loved so much that I needed more. There was a pair of fingerless gloves in the latest issue of Spin-Off that I loved. The other merino/tencel blend I have was spun on my little Hatchtown spindle and since it came in 4 oz tufts, there isn't much of it. I think a pair of these gloves would be gorgeous made from this stuff.


Remember when I said that I was thinking about making a quilt for my bed? What do you think of these fabrics? There's a pattern called the Two-Dollar Star that I love. I got it from a website called Quilter's Cache. I bought a yard of each fabric and I'll mess around with a couple of blocks to see if I like it. I want to paint my bedroom a spicy orange color (sort of like pumpkin, but with more curry added in). Hub says he doesn't think he'll be able to sleep in it - I said, "close your eyes, you won't even see it."

And like yarn, you can't just buy a couple of yards when you go into a fabric store... Who knows what it will be, but I knew I couldn't just leave it there.


Last, but not least. What happens when you give a 10-year-old with some moxie access to a digital camera and a cool paper fan?



J, tell Isobel that she loves it and wouldn't put it down all weekend long. Thanks!

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Someone's Knocking at the Door

Hub and my dad trying to figure out how to get the closet door into the opening. There's a lot of hemming and hawing at my house this weekend. Trying to figure out the best way to do something.


This is my mother trying to figure out the best way to have 2 colors meet in the corner without looking like "someone just slopped the paint on. This is Sassy's room being painted in her signature colors of purple and purple.


Yup, everyone in my house is working...except me. This is Sassy after she pulled weeds in the garden and slapped every single bug that landed on her. We sent her to the showers.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Who's Quilting Who?




So this was my next attempt at paper piecing. It's actually 4 smaller blocks sewn together to make 1 big block. Here's what I learned:

1. I need a self healing mat and circular cutter. No matter how careful I am, I CANNOT cut a straight line. Why make myself crazy? Besides, I'm thinking about making a quilt for my own bed - that's going to take a lot of cutting.

2. The paper piecing tutorials I've read say that you shouldn't tear the paper off each block until they're sewn together. I've discovered it's nearly impossible to line up the points while the small blocks are still on the paper. They're close and maybe you can't see them in the photo well enough, but they don't exactly line up. I'll have to try another couple without the paper to make sure.

3. No matter how much you love the first set of fat quarters you buy, you're going to get sick of looking at them for several mornings in a row. It's time for me to get a fabric stash.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

One more thing, Curlypurl says that you don't have to buy special paper for paper piecing. She says copy paper works just fine and if there's any scraps left in the seams - they wash out! Thanks Carolyn!!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Monday, July 11, 2005

Swatch Talk

Even when I don't exactly feel like knitting, there's still something on the needles. This is a swatch I started looking for a sturdy lace scarf/stole.

I've worked with a man for over 8 years whose wife has MS. We speak almost daily (and sometimes several times a day) about work issues and often family issues creep in. Everytime his wife hits a milestone in her disease, I hear about it. They've been dealing with this for almost 20 years now, so you can imagine where she is in her progression. I feel helpless to do anything to help them. My offers of help/cleaning/food are always gently turned down. Now, I'm not one of those who believes that knitting heals all, but I want his wife (whom I've met on many social occasions) to know that I'm thinking of her. Since I know she is often cold, I hit upon the idea of this scarf/stole to drape over herself when she needs it.

I pulled out my copy of Susanna Lewis' Knitting Lace to see what I could find. Toward the back of the book is a section of faggot patterns that are the coolest. The first section (at the bottom) is a 4 row pattern with a double decrease knit on US 3s. The patterning happens on the odd rows and the even rows are purled. The holes are supposed to be square. Since the decreases are all made the same way (left leaning), you can see that it biases badly to the left.

The second section is also 4 rows with the even rows being purled also knit on US 3s. The decreases are paired (meaning one leans left and one leans right). It doesn't bias as badly as the first swatch, but the fabric was a little firmer than I wanted. I was really looking for more drape. Also, the edge stitches were a little sloppy, so I decided I needed some sort of edging.

The third section is knit on US 4s with a double moss stitch border. I'm fairly happy with this section. I haven't blocked it, so you can't see the lace very well (and the scanner smooshes it anyway), but it seems to be a sturdy-looking fabric with some drape to it. Now I just need to do the math and cast on. It's rather mindless knitting, so I can work on it while I'm watching the Tour de France coverage (you knew I'd work that in here somewhere right?).

The yarn is some I bought in Portugal almost 2 years ago - it's aged long enough in the stash. It's a 60/40 wool/polyester blend, but I'm pretty certain that it will hold a light blocking well.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Walk this Way



You may drool as you see fit. Paper piecing is insanely easy. Apparently it makes a difference what paper you use to draft your lines. I bought Papers for Foundation Piecing which was $8.95 for 100 sheets. I was going to try it with regular printer paper, but every website I read said "DON'T DO IT." I also picked up a set of fat quarters to mess around with. {Who said never buy more than you're going to use on one project? I laugh in your face.}

I downloaded a very easy pattern and printed it on the pages and then went to town. The whole thing took less than 30 minutes. If you're going to do something huge (like a whole quilt top), it makes sense to have a whole bunch of shapes pre-cut and then you can just stitch and stitch and stitch and have a big pile of squares to put together.

Then I started thinking about coloring book shapes or even some simple Celtic patterns. The possibilities...

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Lucky Star

Have I ever mentioned how lucky I am? Truly, I am one lucky girl. Last week, Jillian was finishing a giant project and was ready for a break. "Threadbear?" I suggested. She jumped on the idea like a thirsty woman in the desert staggering toward an oasis and we set out on Friday for a jaunt to Lansing.

Last time we were there, they had a bunch of bags from Dancing Cat. They were lovely, but not quite what I was looking for. Rob suggested going to the website to pick out my favorite fabric and voila. . Is it not lovely? He ordered it for me and I've been waiting (not so patiently), but it was well worth the wait. I can't fill it yet. Weird, I know, but I just want to look at it and touch it.

Also picked up this accessory bag. I wanted them to match in a complementary way. Dancing Cat has the most beautiful fabrics it's hard to choose just one. Great textures, shiney bits...lots of fun to dig through the basket. I found no less than 3 accessory bags that I wanted and had to narrow it down to this one. Good choice, no?

We actually went to the store in order to sit with the spinners in the back. We did do some spinning, ate Chinese food, and met some terrific spinners (whose names have completely fallen out of my head). J shared her Japanese pattern books and we talked lace spinning and alpaca. Look what found its way into my new bag. It was a toss up between this jet black and some cool silvery/dark gray. I wanted both (of course I did - you would too), but opted for just one. How much more spinning fiber does one need? I ended up with bits of alpaca all over my pants, but it spins beautifully on my little Hatchtown spindle. I will definitely go back for more.

I ask again, Threadbear, spinning, new friends, Chinese food, new bag, 2 hour drive with a cool pal, am I lucky or what?

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Let's Start with This



They're still the leaders of the long blue train. Go Lance!!

More eye candy...what could this be? Cashmere from School Products, of course. Courtesy of my friend Jillian who just came back from a jaunt in New York. Does the woman know me or what? All that cashmerey goodness with an orange kicker. It's a boucle and it's lovely and soft. I can't decide whether to knit with it or just pet it forever.


And speaking of pets, a little sympathy here. This is Hub's dog. She's a Brittany Spaniel and quite the little bird dog. Anyway, he took her for a ride in his monster ATV and she got bored. What's a little dog to do? She jumped off...while he was moving. She limped around for a couple of days and when he took her to the vet they discovered a toe so broken that they took it off. Now she just looks pathetic all day. I had to remind her that she's not 20 anymore, but I don't think she believes it.

Friday, July 01, 2005

It's happening

What's that curse about living in interesting times? We've got a Supreme Court Justice retiring. Do I need to tell you how important it is for us to make sure our reproductive rights continue? My daughter is 10 - do I ever want her to have to make this choice? No. Do I want the choice available to her, just in case? Absolutely.

I've thrown money at these 2 organizations:

Planned Parenthood

and

NARAL

Please donate if you're so inclined.