Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Still Not Sewing

I was going to sew today, but we needed coffee. Funny how that happens, huh?

Why is it that a trip to the grocery store leaves me feeling wrung out like a wet sponge, unable to think about doing anything else? I think my brain becomes paralyzed by all the choosing and decision-making.

So, we're going to dh's company formal this Saturday night. I tried on the velvet skirt from 3 years ago, and it fits and looks pretty good. I also pulled out a cranberry silk satin blouse (sleeveless) that I bought last year (still has tags on it) and tried it on. It looks great but needs to be taken in through the sideseams under the arms so my bra doesn't show. Since these pieces work, I don't HAVE to make anything new unless I want to.

The bad thing about this party is that they take pictures and then make a CD overhead presentation that shows all of the people last year dancing and carrying on during the party. So, if you are trying to get away with wearing last year's dress, you are BUSTED. Last year, I made a different dress, so I feel okay going back to the skirt again. . .

I've been working on some online Christmas shopping, so I've come upon a couple of fun links for making some simple gifts. First is a cute Soft Sculpture Tree Pattern. I might try to persuade dd to make some of these with me.

Next, check out this Zippered Bag Tutorial. I made a bunch of these a couple of years ago. I used laminated fabric left over from diaper-cover making days. I think I looked at a RTW one and copied it, rather than following any instructions. I'm still using them, and every once in a while when travelling, I pull the bag out and think *Wow, I made that!*

I am supposed to go to dd's sewing class and let them use my embroidery machine tomorrow, but I have a teacher's conference that might conflict, so I've got to figure that out. I also need to address and mail 20 birthday party invites. Haven't even bought the Christmas cards yet. I'm so tired thinking about it all. (Whine over. . .)

Monday, November 27, 2006

Thanksgiving Rehash

The cabin in the mountains was lovely. Here's a shot that dd took while standing in the river on a rock. We couldn't have asked for better weather -- cool at night and warm sun in the day time.

My parents and brother came for Thanksgiving dinner. It was warm enough to eat outside on the deck, which was very nice. This cabin wasn't on the river, but on the side of the mountain, with a little screened fishing porch down by the river. Being on the deck was like being up in the tree tops.

We drove on a narrow, stomach turning, winding, mountain road over to Helen, GA. I would call Helen *Gatlinburg, Jr.* if I had to give it a name. We took the kids on a little horse and carriage ride and ate lunch at a German themed place. Bratwurst anyone?

The next town over has a folk pottery museum, which is dh's thing:

It was nice, but most of the info was stuff I had already read in the Foxfire books. Dh has so much of the pottery (and makes so much of it) that I don't get very excited looking at it any more.

I worked on some santa hats from Handknit Holidays.

The pattern as written has you start the decreases on the body right away, which makes a much too shallow hat. I decided to knit even for an inch and a half or two inches before starting the decreases, which makes it long enough to cover the ears and for the top to fold over a little bit. I think my gauge was a little small, so I'm sizing up and making them deeper. That's all I've had time for, but these are quick and fun to make.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

More Kiri Shawl

As promised, a few more pics taken outside:

Right now I'm feeling the lightness and freedom called *moving on to the next project*. . . I spent the afternoon looking through knitting books and magazines and decided to make some silly Christmas-y stuff. So far, I'm thinking of making santa hats from Handknit Holidays for the kids, and then some of the tiny stockings and sweaters from last Minute Knitted Gifts.

I looked through my yarn stash and, with a couple of exceptions, all I have is yarn leftover from other projects. I have yarn for one cotton sweater, a bunch of weird boucle that dh picked up for me somewhere, some Noro Silk Garden for a Lady Eleanor, and some Koigu for a Clapotis, but everything else is dribs and drabs (except for sock yarn, of course, which has its own rules). I need to use up some of these things, so I'm thinking the little stockings and sweaters will help. I am going to the yarn shop today to return an extra ball left over from Kiri, so I'll get some white yarn to trim the santa hats and some red sock yarn to go with all the green leftovers for stockings.

See how it goes? In order to use up leftovers, you have to buy MORE yarn, heh.

I'm going to the mountains and away from the computer for the rest of the week. The turkey got done somehow, what with my oven wanting to turn itself off every 20 minutes or so, I had to stand in the kitchen all day yesterday, monitoring things. Today I'm stocking up on cat food and litter for the petsitter, so we can get outta town. I'll be working on my little holiday projects while I'm away.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Kiri Shawl Finished

Here she is blocking, yay!

Pattern: Kiri Shawl. I did 15 repeats of chart 2, on size 8 needles.
Finished size: 70" wide, 36" long, blocked.
Yarn: Douceur et Soie from Knit One Crochet Too (70% baby mohair, 30% silk, color Deep Garnet). I used almost 3 balls.
Not sure how many hours it took me to complete, I had to frog now and then, but mostly was able to fix mistakes by undoing down to them with a crochet hook. I worked on it for about 3 weeks as my only knitting project, except for a dishrag or two.

I was thinking that since the pattern is supposed to represent birch leaves, I should have used green yarn, but then I remembered these maple leaves which are close to the color I used:

I really like the finished project and it was an easy project for a beginning lace knitter (easier and better written instructions than Charlotte's Web, for example). I'm going to try and take a few photos outside after I get the ends woven in today, so that will be tomorrow's post.

Today I'm cooking my Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) turkey and getting ready to leave for the holiday. I've been playing with my embroidery machine just a bit, a few small RTW items for the kids and me with my Rudolph embroidery card -- fun!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Sewing Slump

On Wednesday, I went into the sewing room and traced the pattern for this top.

The problem is that I already have a long cranberry velvet skirt (woven w/lycra) that I made 3 years ago. This pattern is for a stretchy knit, so I don't want to use the woven velvet for the top -- don't think I could get it on. . . Plus, I've worn that velvet skirt to this party at least twice.

If I make this top, then I think I should make a short skirt from silk crepe, to combine textures. I think maybe it should be a gored skirt with godets to give it some swing, worn with the sleeveless velour top. I have 3 or 4 pieces of fabric in this color, which means quite a few combinations. Paralyzing choices.

The shawl is going to be done on time, so I want to have a sleeveless top. I can't decide, does a lace shawl look stupid over a top with sleeves? Or is it just my knitting vanity that says *nobody will be able to see the lace pattern over a solid -- it needs bare skin under it.*

Obviously, the indecision is paralyzing me. I might be able to make something this weekend, but we are going out of town for Thanksgiving, so I won't be able to sew. And the party's the next weekend.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

More Lace

Since it's Lacevember and my project is going slowly and uninterestingly, I'm going to post some photos of my first lace shawl, the Meadow Flowers shawl from Knitter's Stash.

I used Knitpicks Alpaca Cloud, color is Tidepool. I doubled the yarn, and I'm not sure about needle size, 8 probably?. . . This was a little hard to knit for a beginner because it's garter stitch and it's easy to forget whether you're on a pattern row or a return row. Other than that, it was quite simple.

I made quite a few mistakes on it anyway, because I was watching Donnie Darko, a confusing movie, while I worked on it. It's funny how you remember what you were doing or where you were while knitting an item.

Here she is blocking:

I really love this yarn, and I might someday make another lace shawl JUST to use this yarn again.

The Kiri shawl is moving right along, I should finish the second ball of yarn today or tomorrow. I plan to knit one repeat and the edging with the third ball. She looks like a wad of crap on the needles right now, so I'll wait to post a pic until the blocking stage. . .

Monday, November 13, 2006

I Like You

Now that I know my sister has received her copy of The Book, I can give you guys a quick review.

Anyone who grew up like I did, studying the Time/Life Picture cookbook that my mom got as a wedding gift in 1963, will LOVE this book. The photographs are hilarious. Amy must have a quite a collection of vintage goodies and she puts them together with the food photos with great hilarity.

So, my ILs were here for the weekend. I made the Lil' Smoky Cheese Ball. It came out great (although huge, I should have halfed it). I used some gouda that dh brought back from Amsterdam a couple of months ago. It wasn't as smoky as typical American gouda, but still pretty darn good. The recipes focus on Greek cuisine, along with classic American 1950s food.

Her entertaining instructions are so funny (when planning your guest list, you should check whether each person is a pot smoker or not. Be sure to precrack the seals on your booze bottles, so no one has to be the first.)

And to make this on topic, she has a crafts page with pictures of sticks and pats of butter made from felt and whipstitched by hand. Just what I need to make -- some felt butter!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

My Ideal Knitting Spot

Here's the answer to the next Lacevember contest.

What are your ideal lace making conditions?

I like my comfy leather couch. I have my Charlotte's web shawl in case I get cold. You can see only the pole in the photo, but I have an Ott lite over my shoulder, and windows behind me.

My remote and knitting project are next to me.

It's a very dark room, with all wood paneling, so it's hard to get a good photo. I love it because it's removed from the rest of the house. I have a cozy fireplace in there too.

Here's a closeup of the goodies on the table.

Needles, tissues, hand creme, knitting pattern a day calender. I typically have a diet coke too. The timer is there because I sometimes put something in the oven and forget about it while I'm knitting.

I have a giant big screen TV on the other side of the room too. I like to watch movies and PBS mostly.

I love my little hideaway, it really is ideal for me.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Friday Report

*I love grass!*

I worked on the Kiri Shawl this week, and finally, it clicked. When I made myself focus on looking at the knitted fabric, rather than the chart, I suddenly realized that the new leaf veins start at the tip of the leaf below, so that's the best way to keep track of where you are -- no markers needed, yay!!

It's one of those simple things where people tell you *pay attention to your knitting, learn to read your knitting* and you're saying *yeah, yeah.* But it's true.

I've done about seven repeats out of the 12 planned and I've almost knitted one ball (of three). So I'm about a third of the way done.

I'm not posting any photos because I have too many stitches on the needles to stretch out and it looks like a mess.

My ILs are coming this weekend, so I've been cleaning and getting ready for them rather than sewing. Dd's sewing class was cancelled because the teacher was sick, so I have nothing to report there.

I realized that the cats have been getting much more publicity than my other animals. Poor dog.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

How I'm Spending My Day

I've got to rip out the last repeat on the shawl. Thank god for lifelines. I spent 1.5 or 2 hours on this Monday and now I'm back where I started. I think if I can just get some uninterrupted time, I'll get in the groove and it will be easier.

It's gonna be pretty, even if it ends up a scarf instead of a shawl:

Yesterday was a waste because apparently someone thinks that the kids can't go to school on election day. Craziness. So all I did was finish another dishcloth/washcloth. (Yeah, I voted too.)

I don't know how much longer it can last, maybe another week, but this is what I'm seeing right now:

I enjoy driving around and looking at the trees. The people at Curves called me asking where I've been. I just can't waste any time working out indoors when it's like this outside. . .

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Lacevember Questions

Here are the answers to my Lacevember questions.

The knitting questions, or the usual suspects

How long have you been knitting?
Four years.

How did you learn to knit?
My mom got me started, then I'm self taught (books and internet) from there.

Favorite thing about knitting?
Relaxation, something to do when I can't be in my sewing room, portability.

How long have you been knitting lace?
Not long. I've made two lace shawls and a couple of items with small lace bits on them.

Favorite thing about knitting lace.
The finished product -- beautiful. . .

The yarn questions, or flash your stash

Favorite lace yarn?
My favorite so far was Knitpicks Alapaca Cloud. I have some Lorna's Laces Helen's lace in my stash for the next big project.

variegated or solids for shawls?

Favorite lace color?
I have been on a blue/green kick for a long time. I love the look of white lace, but don't think I would be able to use the finished item -- too dressy.

Technique, or show us your skillz

Circs or straights?

Favorite lace knitting trick?

Lifelines? If so with what?
Oh yeah, baby. I use whatever cotton yarn that's laying around -- it's easy to pull out.

Fancy blocking wires, or just sewing pins stuck in your carpet?
Pins, but I have a bit cutting table in my sewing room, so I lay the item out on a big piece of burley knit terry that use for pressing when I sew.

Pattern, or can you follow directions
Pattern, I'm a little scared of not doing as I'm told.

shawls or lacey items?
Shawls, but I can see that I'm going to have to stop soon, since I don't wear them much.

triangle, rectangle, or circular shawls?
Triangle, but I want to make EZ's Pi shawl (round) one of these days.

Charts or printed instructions?

Favorite lace you've knit?
Charlotte's Web Shawl

Favorite lace you want to knit?
EZ's Pi Shawl

Just Fun, yup that's right, just for fun

Favorite jelly belly flavor?

Tell me everything you know about Eric the Red.....
The first Viking to invade Greenland and establish a colony there. I just reread *Greenlanders* by Jane Smiley, which is about how the colony failed. I love that book. (NERD.)

Coke, classic or with lime?
Diet coke with lime

Holiday carols, sing along, or wish they would be banned from all public airwaves?
I can turn that s#$t off if I want to, so who cares?

What is the definition of irony?
See BATHTUB question below.

How many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie roll pop?
The world may never know

Why is my cat always puking in front of my son's bedroom door?
To give him something to step in

What is your superhero power?
X-ray vision

If the laundry is 9 foot by 11 foot (just dreaming, that's a big laundry room), and the walls are 8 feet tall, and you are going to tile the entire room in tiles that are 3 inches by 5 inches, what color should those tiles be?
Aqua blue and sage green

What's for dinner tonight?

What is clogging my children's bathtub drain?
Oh lord you don't want to know. Why is it that a kid who's in the bathtub can't make it to the bathroom in time? That -- is the definition of irony.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Monday Report

I made a couple of the Ballband Dishcloths from Mason Dixon Knitting. These are really fun. I have a few more balls of yarn in these bright colors, but the cotton makes my hands a little tired, so I'll be doing them a little at a time.

I worked two repeats on the Kiri Shawl. I like it well enough, except for the fact that I can't use stitch markers to mark the repeats, because the pattern shifts on every row. I was trying to use markers and it made me nuts. So, I can see I will be making more mistakes and having to concentrate more because I can't mark repeats. Oh well. . . The party is on December 3, so I don't have a lot of time on this.

I spent some time looking at the November Burda WOF, which has some Plus patterns for stretch velvet. I bought some velour and matching rayon knit with gold sparkles (they're subtle, not too crazy) last week. I think I might use these for the outfit. If I don't finish the shawl, then maybe I can make a jacket.

I read March by Geraldine Brooks this weekend, my November book club selection. It was a fictionalized account of Bronson Alcott (father of Louisa May Alcott)'s experience in the Civil War. I enjoyed it, but I think I like LMA's short story, *Transcendental Wild Oats* better. The Wild Oats story is about how her father took her family to a commune called Fruitlands. It ends up with the men all praying and arguing about doctrine, while the women are trying to find a way to eat and stay warm and doing all the chores, etc. It's very funny, how she tells it, always with cheer and good humor.

Here's a caveman I found in the woods yesterday:

Friday, November 03, 2006

Fall Fun

Yesterday was dd's second sewing lesson. They made fleece blankets that fold up into a pillow. When I got there to pick her up at 5:30, she was sitting there, waiting for help, thinking that she had broken the machine, cuz it was clicking.

Of course, she had made the biggest beginner's fleece mistake (which I STILL make): Forgetting to put down the presser foot. And then continuing to sew and getting a mess of crap from the bobbin all over the back side. Ick. . . So I picked it out for her and helped her resew that section. Y'all know how bad it sux to pick thread out of fleece in a dim room (my 40 yo eyes, ugh). . .

Anyway, she was all *I can't do this, wah wah*. . . So I helped her lay it out and finish sewing the pocket part in. It would be much better if I WASN'T there, because then she wants me to do it for her, and I want to help her, and you know how it is, she doesn't learn how to do it herself. So, I'm now convinced that the class is a definitely a good idea.

Gorgeous weather this week, the leaves are at their peak, and you just want to capture the beauty:

It makes me want to knit something in those colors, very intensely. . .

So, today I'm staying in, putting away Halloween decorations, catching up the laundry, knitting at least two hours on my Lacevember project. I decided I must have a simple easy knitting project that I can work on while too braindead for lace. So, yesterday when I went to JoAnn's to buy dd's fleece for her blanket, I also bought a bunch of Sugar and Cream yarn in bright neon colors to make some dishrags from Mason Dixon Knitting. So.Much.Fun.

Have a good weekend y'all. I hope to stumble into the sewing room at some point.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


This is how I spent Halloween, mostly cooking. I used a favorite cookbook, *Cupcakes from the Cake Mix Dr.*, by Ann Byrn, I think. Sorry, I can't link it for you right now, I'm scared blogger will zap me if I leave this page. . .

We partied until late, and the kids were falling apart, the usual. It's kind of fun getting to hang out with neighbors who we never see otherwise. At least you know whose door you're knocking on when you're selling Girl Scout cookies.

Today kicks off Lacevember (click on the button in my sidebar). I'm returning to the Kiri shawl again. I ripped it out today and restarted it for the third time. Maybe this will be the charm. I'm trying NOT to be intimidated this time.
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