Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A Little House Cleaning

We are moving - office, home, the whole works. Okay, it’ll be in 2008, but I can’t help as I look about the house to get itchy to finish up some WIPS so when I move it’ll be just finished objects. Then I can let the new house inspire new crafty projects. In light of that, I have updated my On the Needles listings to include everything - and I mean EVERYTHING - that is currently awaiting my attention in all craftalicious categories. That may not stop me from visiting a yarn store or two in the meantime (in fact, I’ve got one scheduled for later today) but when I do it will either be whimsical stops while traveling, or purpose visits to the local shops.

Today I will be stopping at The Studio in Kansas City to pick up that last ball of Berrocco Ultra Silk I need for my mother’s Christmas shrug, and Sarah’s Fabrics in Lawrence to fill in some of my tonal gaps on the Herringbone Quilt.

Oh, in case you’re looking for the Christmas shrug on my On the Needles, it isn’t there. My portion was done May, 2006, and it is in my sister’s hands now.

Back to the quilt. I dragged myself to Bennett’s Sewing Center in North Topeka yesterday. It is where I purchased my Janome about 20 years or so ago, but I never liked the place. Really, I never liked the owner. It was a chemistry thing. I remembered that feeling but not the cause of it when I stopped at their South Topeka location a few months ago. The owner was working that store, and he gave me heck about something that was stupid and personal when I was being ever-so-nice and offering him money for things he had for sale... But I had huge gaps in my tones so I made myself go to the North Topeka location hoping that maybe he wouldn’t be there. And he wasn’t. Whew! They actually have one of the best selections of quilt fabrics in Topeka - maybe even the best. The flannels they have are to die for! Lots of great buttons...beads... sigh. But I was there for blues and greens and that’s what I got. Came away with about ten fabrics, so I’m probably over 2/3 of the way on my purchases.

Pics to come tomorrow.

Yesterday I found out that none of the vestments and linens from the church need to be replaced. They had been stored in the vestry, and the fire had moved to the back of the church, largely sparing that room and its contents. I would have gladly made lace for replacements, but I am also glad that that is one less thing for me to worry about in 2007.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Thunderstorms 60 Miles East, Blizzard Warning 60 Miles West, Tornado Watch 30 Miles South

It is has been one crazy, crazy week in weather. Last Sunday our low hit 0ยบ Fahrenheit. Three days later our high was in the 60s. Now the temp has dropped again somewhat but our state is plagued with both tornado warnings and blizzard warnings on the same day and only a few counties apart.

The Man’s Turtleneck from the Fall 2006 issue of Knit Simple is coming along swimmingly. This morning I reached the front neck which is now snugly fitted on a stitch holder, and hope to either finish the front or get darn close to it by the end of the evening. It’ll be a good project to work on during the conclusion of The State Within on BBC America (IMO better than 24 by a long shot).

Curious whether it would be best to make the final cable cross on the neck front, or hold off and let it go straight to the neck (it was a borderline case) I referred to the photo. I can’t tell you how many times I have looked at this image, but this morning it was like the screech of a needle across the grooves of an LP. The middle cable cross is clearly wrong in the photo. Glaringly wrong. Was the knitter high, wrong. I have come to the conclusion that it may have been correct on the knitted item but someone in art production went a little crazy with the Photoshop cloning tool and screwed it up. Still, now that I have seen it, I can’t take my eyes off of it.

Heidi called. She is one ball short of finishing the shrug for our mother’s Xmas 2006 present. Fortunately The Studio in Kansas City still carries this yarn in both the color and dye lot I need, so they are holding back a ball for me. But can I possibly go to The Studio and only get one ball of yarn??? I’m not sure I’m that strong.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Feline Mutual Adoration Society

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Off to the Post Office, and the Completed Snatchel

The fourteen hats for the Boston Children’s Hospital are done, washed, dried, labeled, and on their way to Mimi for distribution. It was fun and a nice change from the earthy wools that I normally knit. A clerk at Jo-Ann’s had expressed interest in helping, but when I asked her about her progress she held up her band-aid covered thumb and said that she’d given herself a cardboard cut on the tip of her thumb so deep that her description made my female parts twitch. But her eyes got bright and she said, couldn’t someone organized something similar for a local hospital??? Uh... um... I don’t know how I’ll break it to her that I don’t care to participate in that. I’m not against local charities, but I don’t want to be a year-round charity knitter. I have other things I want to do, places to go (my reservations arrived this morning for a trip to Virginia in April), books to write, articles to write, and podcasts to record, etc. etc. that I am not willing to take that on.

I easily accomplished the Turkish Cast-on for the Snatchel and ended up returning my dpns to the store because I fell in love with knitting with two circs. I finished the main bag Sunday evening, finished the fallopian tubes/handle on Tuesday morning, and attached the bead and fun fur last night. Done! If the day progresses as envisioned, I’ll swing it past my other sister’s workplace this afternoon for a sneak peek.

Next on the needles is what is left on the needles. I’ve probably missed my window for Mike to wear the Man’s Turtleneck this winter because, though it was 0 F Monday morning, it is expected to reach the mid-60s today. In fact, I have flung open one window and the cats are LOVIN’ it! In spite of this darned beautiful weather, I will still try to get his sweater finished and seamed by the second week of March.

Last night we took Eclair and Caper off to visit their Grandma and Grandpa. Eclair was pretty spooky at first, but seemed to recall the place fairly quickly even though her last visit was two years ago. Caper had only visited once before when he was a tiny kitten, and he’s a bit of a chicken shit anyway, so it took him a lot longer to relax. But the grandparents enjoyed the visit, which included a quick meal (I introduced them to pierogies), I only got locked in the basement once and outside once (accidentally of course), and the cats slept plenty the rest of the evening.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Ta-Da! Fourteen Hats Complete!

It was a long haul, and there were times I wasn’t certain I would make it, but I finally finished my hats for the Boston Children’s Hospital. Woo-Hoo! And, I don’t have enough fiber left to do another hat so this is it, folks.

I’ll wash these babies tonight so hopefully they’ll be dry before I mail them on Tuesday.

Next on the needles is the Snatchel, of course. I decided to use an organ-red Red Heart Soft Yarn for the main body. The yarn manufacture calls the color “wine”. Whatever. My gauge worked out perfectly on a size 6 needle, but I don’t have a set of 8" US6 dpns as called for in the pattern, and don’t want to drive to Lawrence to drop a bunch of change at Yarn Barn (don’t get me wrong - LOVE LOVE LOVE dropping change at Yarn Barn) for tools for a gag gift that I may never need again. So I’ve decided to try to work it in magic loop on a 32" circular needle. I’ve never done it before, so I’m not sure it’ll work, but it is worth a shot. I also need 2 sets of US 6 or 7 dpns to do the Turkish cast on. Again, I’ve never tried that method, so fingers are crossed. I may have a set of 7s in my mother-in-laws old knitting kit. I’ll poke around to see what else I could use as get-bys. If not, it’ll mean a trip to Jo-Ann’s this evening. They have perfectly suitable US 6s and 7s that are 7" long, just not the 8" length I would have needed to knit the body.

While I’m there, I’ll peruse their quilting section. They are having a 99¢ President’s Day sale on fat quarters. I calculated that a fat quarter would be more than enough fabric for even the mid-range tones of my next quilt, so I hope to add a few more members to my tone family this weekend.

On the quilting front, I have re-thought my plan for the next quilt. The size will be the same (super-humongous) and I’ll still have the 28 tones of blue and green flowing from dark to light in opposite corners. However, my original vision was to have all darks, both blues and greens, in the same corner, and all lights in the opposite corner. As I’ve been adding to the fabric, I’ve realized that it will be too noticeable if there is a slight jump in total ranges in one family as opposed to the other, and it would only look good if it matched exactly. So instead, I will have the greens shifting from dark in the lower left hand corner to light in the upper right, while blues will be lightest at the lower left hand corner changing to dark in the upper right. Mike concurs with my decision citing a reason I had not considered: The original scheme would have looked great as a wall hanging but not-so-much on a bed.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Short Cut or Pure Genius, and Why I Love Valentine’s Day

As of Thursday morning, February 15, I have knitted a whopping 12 hats for the Boston Children’s Hospital. The goal was 10 (check) but I really hoped to exhaust my yarn supply meaning knitting a total of 15 or so hats.

Problem is, I have become exhausted before my yarn supply. I have run out of all the bulky yarns that work up on US 10 1/2 in 24 hours, and now I’m down to leftovers of my worsted weight skeins that require size 8 needles and more like 48-72 hours. Since I need to mail these toward the end of next week to ensure Mimi receives them by her deadline, that would be accomplishing a minimum of 8 days of solid knitting in 7. Hmmm. Pretty sure that’s impossible. Besides, last night I bought the yarn for the main body of the snatchel for my sister’s birthday present (remember - she’s a cervical cancer survivor) and I can’t stop giggling about it. It is all I can do not to pull out the dpns and figure out the Turkish cast on it calls for.

So I have decided to double strand the hats. I’ll use knit both colorways of Yarn Bee Jewelsong on a 10 1/2, and both colorways of TLC Wiggles on a 10 1/2. There may actually be enough yarn in the Wiggles to do yet another hat, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. In the meantime, I can look forward to having all hats completed, washed, and in the mail on Tuesday. [insert short version of victory dance here] Then I can start on the snatchel.

Why I love Valentine’s Day:
My husband and I have been married for over two decades. Quite early in the marriage we came to the conclusion that Valentine’s Day was stupid. I believe that it began as a ploy on the part of the floral, card, and jewelry industry to guilt couples (men especially) into spending loads of money because if they don’t, it will appear that they don’t love and appreciate their spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend, etc. Like the Yarn Harlot, I don’t believe gifts matter as much as how we treat each other every day. Gifts are empty. (My husband believes he is the luckiest man in the world to have hooked up with a woman of my mind set. He may very well be right.) But that doesn’t stop me from loving Valentine’s Day.

So why do I love it? For its entertainment value.

Next year, February 14, 2008, around say 5:30 or later, take a leisurely stroll around a grocery store. What you’ll find are men - lots of men - grabbing bouquets, cards, candies, anything they can lay their lands on, because they hadn’t been paying attention to the calendar but as the workday rolled on they saw bouquet after bouquet being delivered to their female coworkers while they had purchased zippo up to this point and they desperately grab what they can so they don’t come home empty handed. In fact, I would say that Valentine’s Day is tops the list of the three times that men are most likely to visit the grocery store en mass, followed by the afternoon of the Super Bowl (chips, beer, and soda in 2 liter bottles) and the days just before Christmas when it appears the women are busy and tired of their men being underfoot so they thrust a grocery list in their hands and tell them to pick up exotic items like 8 oz of cream cheese etc. while they finish shopping and wrapping the gifts.

This year I went one direction in the store while Michael went another. I caught up with him in the magazine aisle where he was chatting with a young man clutching a few roses. “Do you know where the cards are, like Valentine’s Day cards?” the man pleaded. We pointed to the next aisle and suggested he might have more luck there. “Thanks. She came home with chocolates, so I told her I’d be right back.” Smooth. Pretty sure she didn’t figure out that he had forgotten. Not with a line like that. We joined him in the check out. He had added a heart-shaped box of chocolates and a card to the pile. “It was the only one they had left,” he said. “I’m sure she’ll love it,” I replied.

But my all time favorite Valentine’s Day memory was about five years ago. It was around 8 p.m. when I noticed a different young man loitering in the dairy aisle. Unlike most people who spot what they need, open the cooler, and go, he was taking his time, gazing through the glass. First I noticed he was holding a box of fresh strawberries. Then I realized he was studying the display of aerosol whipped toppings. He chose one and pulled it out, then continued to look. Spotting a different kind, he replaced the can in his hand with a can of fat free whipped cream.

Ooooo. Poor guy. Fat free. He had clearly given it a lot of thought, choosing fat free probably because his girlfriend was on a diet or worried about calories. But the whipped cream and strawberry combination was likely supposed to be for a romantic interlude and intimate moment. What he had done instead was inadvertently suggest that he thought she was fat. Like a highway pileup, it was hard to look away.

Here are my two most recent hats: The green is made from Belleza Collection Petalo, the multi-color is Yarn Bee’s Jewelsong.

In a Blog Funk

Due to current circumstances in my career, I find myself obsessively checking email and a certain someone’s livejournal account, 18-20 hours a day. Why? I’m waiting on news, of course, but news never comes as quickly as one hopes.

But downloading email takes like no time, and neither does refreshing that certain someone’s darn livejournal account, and, let’s face it, I need satisfaction. I need the “ah” of learning something new or getting a giggle - or SOMETHING - out of this box called a computer. So I start to hunt. First I check headlines in the local paper. Nothing new, nothing new, nothing new. Then I go to CNN and BBC. The stories on CNN have been the same day in and day out for months, and even BBC seems to be in a rut.

Next I check my favorite knitting blogs. I have about twenty bookmarked, so it takes a while to go through the rotation. Surely I can get some satisfaction from reading about someone else’s victories and tragedies wielding two needles and some string, right? Apparently not. Seems that almost everyone else in the world has more important things going on than knitting and/or blogging.

Pregnancy, in particular, seems to get in the way of blogging. The first sign is posting a joyous announcement of the upcoming event, but the new mother’s traditional knitting content continues for another month or so. Then the half-finished sweaters and socks are relegated to the UFO corner while baby blankets become the favored WIP. Postings become more sporadic as the big day approaches, often disappearing altogether for the last one to two months of pregnancy. Perhaps she posts an announcement of the birth a week afterward, and maybe photographs other knitted or crocheted items that have been gifted to her and the baby, but then it is crickets again. I don’t know how long that stage lasts because none of my bookmarked blogs that are suffering from this stage have yet to come out of it.

The second category of blogs that lately disappoint me are ones that tease me with knitting content (mentioning potential yarn acquisitions or scarf WIPs) but are really blogs about divorce, loneliness, workplace frustrations, and cats. Please don’t misunderstand. It’s not that I think it’s inappropriate to vent these worries and frustrations on their blogs. However, after six months or so go by and the only knitting content has been one scarf and the reasons they are not buying any yarn, then it should no longer be called a knitting blog. Give it a new name, please. Take the vintage photos of sweater-clad ladies off your banner, please. But before I go, could you direct me to a regularly updated blog that contains knitting content?

Monday, February 12, 2007

6 p.m. Cast On, 9 a.m. Cast Off

Ta-Da! Hat #10 done for Mimi’s Boston Children’s Hospital fun fur hat drive. This is made out of a single skein of Bernat Boa. This fiber is so slick it gives the finished hat a slightly oily feel, but I think it will be more comfortable for the child than the scratchy Moda-Dea Zing fiber that I used on several of the previous hats.

In cat news, I can tell you that being the carer for any aging animal suffering from dementia is draining. Collins is only 16 (in our household that is still a young-ish cat) but she has taken to screaming for long periods with no apparent solution to her request. SOMETHING!! SOMETHING!! SOMMMMMETHINGGGGG!!!!!! She started screaming in my ear at 4:30 a.m. After dealing with hours of this without success I managed to wrestle her to the ground to throw an antihistamine down her throat. She complained, asked for water, and then went to bed. Ah, peace.

Soon to appear on the needles: the Snatchel intended as a birthday present for my middle sister who is a cervical cancer survivor. I have scheduled a consult with my oldest sister about whether this is too over the top or exactly right for a present for her. If she wants to get involved, maybe she can make the optional fetus coin purse in punchwork.

But...I really should be working on the Man’s Turtleneck. I’m using two strands of Lambs Pride Worsted that I bought for a bargain price during the annual Sidewalk Sale in Lawrence last year.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

And Another One Down

I have finished the 9th hat for the Boston Children’s Hospital chemo ward. I am planning to send Mimi a minimum of 10, but I have enough yarn to do maybe half a dozen more, so I’ll be busy up to my shipping deadline. Mimi needs then in hand by February 28, I believe.

I was cruising Knitorious’ blog today, and found myself squinting at the yarn she used for Coup d’Etat. It appears to me to be a Donagal Tweed (the same fiber I used for the River Forest Gansey), but it isn’t identified. I’ve been guilty of the same, so I’ll try to do a little better from now on. This is made from TLC Wiggles, and I used the Shortie Hat pattern. I think the cat perched on her sweater may be a blue dilute tortoiseshell, but I’m less certain about that.

I gifted my mother with the stitch markers today. She is in love with them. Of course, I had to explain that no, they were not key rings, and even though I was sliding them on a knitting needle at the time I was quizzing her, I had to explain that they were stitch markers. She uses stitch markers all the time but “I’ve never seen any that beautiful,” were her words. I spoke with her this evening and she told me she was hunting for her safety pins because she wants to hang them from her kitchen curtains when she isn’t using them.

On the sister/shrug front, I heard from my mother that she is going to work on the shrug an hour every day and plans to have it completed by the last day of February. My mother reports that she will be wearing it for Palm Sunday service. No pressure.
The Sensei Makes a Bit of Dingly Dangly

Friday I managed to finish the back of Michael’s Man’s Turtleneck. I held off on binding off the shoulders because I want to try a technique Pixie spoke about on a recent episode of Ready, Set, Knit. It’s not a three-needle bind-off, because all the stitches are placed on a single needle with each stitch alternating between the front and back. Then I believe it is bound off by purling two together...I may be misremembering that part. Dang. Should have saved that episode until I’d tried it. But Pixie said it makes a nice flat seam.

Saturday my sister and I met up at a coffee shop so I could teach her how to do the decorative crochet edge for our mother’s shawl. She kept calling me her sensei, and making fun of me for pulling out my colored Sharpies to draw her a diagram, and herself for requiring it even though she knows how to crochet and I don’t. At any rate, I think lessons went well, and I hope that we can get ’er done by the end of February because our mother made of point of letting me know that she’s already purchased the blouse and pants to wear with it. No pressure.

Saturday I also managed to start and finish six stitch markers to give my mother for Valentine’s Day. I used salvaged bits of the stained glass from our church that was destroyed in a fire November ’06, wrapping the glass with copper foil used by stained glass artists, and soldering on a jump ring so I could dangle it off the marker. It’s certainly a clumsy attempt because 1) this was the first time in my life I have ever wielded a soldering gun and 2) I haven’t worked with jewelry wire for a lot of years and it simply wasn’t cooperating. I think she’ll appreciate it nonetheless, and I think it is appropriate because the only knitting she does is for the prayer shawl ministry at the church. I found the crystal hearts in my beading stash, so I added it for an extra bit of sparkle.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Another One Bites the Dust, and My First Knitting Student

Finished another fun fur hat for the Boston Children’s Hospital this morning. This one is out of a double strand of a brown/sparkle and a black fun fur-type yarn. It has the color of a Hershey’s Kiss, so I think it’s very appropriate for February.

Then I spent about two hours at the laundromat washing and drying my comforter (too large for my personal machine) and took along the Man’s Turtleneck to work on during the wait. Time passed quickly, especially listening to old Material Mama podcasts and the latest episode of Unwound. Here’s a hint for anyone wanting to listen to podcasts in noisy situations like the laundromat: look into noise cancelling headphones. I bought my set from SkyMall when I flew home from South Korea in the spring of ’06. I don’t quite understand the mechanics of how they work, but I believe they emit the opposite wave form to the ambient sound, essentially cancelling out the rumble of the aircraft, or in my case today, the rumble of the washers and dryers. I can hear the podcast so much more clearly than without, and don’t have to crank up the volume to do it.

A customer stopped in to pick up her laundry while I was knitting, and once she saw what I was doing she was full of questions. She was wearing an adorable scarf she had knitted from yarn purchased at the Yarn Barn in Lawrence (Yarn Barn of Lime & Violet fame), but she explained she only knew how to make one stitch (knit) and would like to learn how to make a hat. She asked if she could pay me to teach her. Well, no, but I told her if she wanted to buy me a cup of coffee I would show her how to start. She isn’t able to learn from written instructions but picks things up quickly if someone shows her. Two drawbacks: she knits in English-style and I knit Continental, so I’ll want to review for myself how to purl English-style so I don’t throw her for a loop; and she has tendinitis in her hands so she can’t knit for an extended period of time. I think I know exactly what to do. I told her to buy soft yarn, for starters, and try using a circular needle instead of straight because it might cause less stress to her hands if the weight of her knitting is carried in her lap rather than to the side. We exchanged phone numbers, and I expect we’ll get together in the next two weeks.

The back of the turtleneck is progressing well, and I may finish it today.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Inspired to Throw Sharp Knives, and Inspiring Others to Poke their Eyes out with a Pin

Wednesday was a lost day. I knew Tuesday that I would get little in the way of personal or professional projects completed, but I thought something, surely, would get done. Boy was I wrong.

At the beginning of the day the schedule looked like this:
8 a.m. meet with accountant
1 p.m. consult with prayer shawl group at family church about care and repair of the shawls that had been stored at the church at the time of the fire
4:30 p.m. meet with sister after she gets off work to drive to Lawrence to get our scissors sharpened “while we shop”

The schedule took a turn at around 8:30 during the accountant meeting when she began to ask hard questions. First, I had rerun the P&L and Balance sheet several times, and it turns out that the last time I had run the Balance I had not changed the default date to the last fiscal year so I had to rerun that report. Easy. Then there was a question about a specific expense, so I had to dig out the receipt to tell her what it was. Then came the biggie. She asked that I look over my depreciation schedule and give her the item numbers for those things that we disposed of or sold in the previous year. Okay. That meant I had to spend the morning at the office when I hadn’t planned to be there until afternoon, but that was okay. I told her I’d have the reports to her around noon.

Then, while I sorted receipts back at the office, I called my mother to verify the prayer shawl time, and she informed me that my sister had been sent home from work because the university doctor has diagnosed her as having influenza, but she had said she would go ahead and go to Lawrence with me. Huh? I hadn’t heard from my sister so I assumed she had gone home to sleep and would go with me that afternoon. Within five minutes my phone rang.

“Hi. Did you talk to Mom?”


“So, I can either drop the scissors off to you or we can go this morning.”

Hmmm. Okay. Yes, I could have taken the scissors and done the trip to Lawrence when it was convenient later in the afternoon, but my sister has heard about Hancocks in Lawrence but has never gone, and I wanted her to see the inside of the store. This was really the best opportunity she would have (despite her influenza) to do that, since she didn’t know where the store was, and the only time she goes to Lawrence is the annual sidewalk sale in the summer, and she always goes with my non-crafting sister who would consider this stop to be a snore. Okay. Change of plans. “Sure.”

Quick stop at my house to collect everything I needed for the trip, plus items I needed for the prayer shawl consult in case we ran short on time, then I went to our mother’s house to pick up my sister and off we went. The sharpening service was there (I had the foresight to call to confirm before we hit the highway) and we handed over our collection. Even at ten in the morning, he was already so backed up that he would not have the scissors ready until 2 p.m. Aaaack. My sick sister could not hang around Lawrence for four hours, and I was supposed to be back in Topeka at 1. “That’s okay. I’ll come back to town to get pick them up.”

She enjoyed shopping, and could not believe the variety of things they had on hand. She purchased some fabrics to make curtains for her granddaughter, Elvis print tree skirt fabric to make our aunt for Christmas, and even a scrub for her daughter who works in health care. I checked my watch and did quick calculations while she wandered, then made a call to the accountant. “They day has spun out of control. I’ll get you the reports in the morning.” Whew. I still found myself hovering over my sister, so I went to the quilt section to check out options for the upcoming herringbone quilt, and quickly became overwhelmed by the selection. This initial purchase was going to set the tone for the entire quilt. Some fabrics are bright (sparkle fabrics, I think, is what Alex Anderson calls them) and some are more muted and antique looking. I called Mike and told him that I would need to make a second trip to Lawrence that afternoon, and he told me he wanted to come along, so I postponed the purchases until then to get his advice.

Once we checked out, I took Heidi to Super Target for Nyquil and olive loaf bread. We climbed back in the car, and I checked the time. I would have just enough time to drop her off, return a movie and grab a bite to eat before the meeting. The phone rang. It was our other sister, Susan, who began the call chewing Heidi out for being in Lawrence when she had influenza (I took the fall for that one claiming I had kidnapped her) then I handed the phone back to Heidi when Susan started in on a description of the follow-up exam from her cervical cancer diagnosis and treatment the previous year. Hearing Heidi’s side of the conversation “she cranked you open and left the room?” I nearly missed the exit, but we made it back to our mother’s house by 12:20, and I raced out the door to return a movie and be one of those sad little people that eats in the deli section of the grocery store. I got to the church office just in time.

The shawls were not in bad shape. I was expecting something much worse, but I suggested a few ways to clean them up and strongly urged that they be washed in a traditional machine to ensure they did not fall apart. Father Don was coming in as we were leaving so I hung behind to talk to him about the altar cloths. (I still haven’t told my mother about this offer.) We all thought they were going to be back from cleaning/restoration mid-December so we would know what needed to be replaced, but it turns out that he won’t receive them until next Tuesday. But he still has my card, and will call me next week when he knows something.

I raced back out the door and to the office to grab accounting paperwork, prepare a deposit, then threw Mike kicking and screaming into the car, and after one quick business meeting on the way out of town, we were back in Lawrence to pick up the scissors and shop for fabric. I overheard someone bring in more scissors to be sharpened. This time the wait was only going to be 30 minutes. Aaack. Really...wanted...to...throw...something...SHARP. But fabric and scissors in hand, gassed up, and after one other stop to gawk at a former co-worker’s remodelled home, we were back on the highway to Topeka by 4, to my sister’s house in a nearby town by 4:30, and to my mother’s house to drop off her pair of pinkers by 5.


That evening I continued my crochet lessons so I could teach Heidi how to make the decorative edge to the Berocco shawl we had intended for her Christmas/B-Day 2006. Heidi learns best by seeing something demonstrated, and has a lot of trouble figuring out written instructions. She is determined to do the edging herself, but she just needs to be shown the stitch. At 6:30 I called her to let her know I knew how to make the stitch the pattern called for so she just needed to come up with a day and time and place for us to sit down together. As glad as she is, I’m sure, to hear that there is a solution in sight, the fact that she had been sweating over this for 9 months, and I worked it out in 5 minutes, well... it really pissed her off, and she said she wanted to poke her eyes out with a pin. I’m sure that’s just the influenza talking... I’m pretty sure.

So that’ll be the weekend. I hope I’ll be recovered from this day by that point.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Yet another Hat

This morning I cast off another hat for the Boston’s Children’s Hospital. That makes a whopping seven, SEVEN hats.

I have officially reached fun fur saturation point.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Next Project

I still have plenty on the needles, and have determined to begin my daily lessons in crochet this week, yet yesterday I found myself plotting out my next quilt project. I am not into traditional quilt blocks. There is absolutely nothing wrong with them, and I admire a beautifully made traditional quilt as much as the next person. But it doesn’t appeal to me to make. I have been playing around with the idea of taking a photo and abstracting it into blocks of color, but realistically I don’t have the skills to do that yet, either in quilt making or quilt design. So I opted instead to create a herringbone pattern in a wide tonal range out of two color families. The vertical blocks will be one color family, the horizontal the next. What makes this especially tricky is that it will be in a gradating tonal range from dark in the lower left corner to light in the upper right. Mike laid it out in Freehand, and I worked out the tonal pattern in pencil. From that I determined that I will need 28 tonal ranges in two different color families. That’s 56 fabrics I will need to purchase NOT COUNTING the border, binding, and backing fabric. Whew!

Clearly, I’ll need to choose the two color families wisely because I will need a large number of fabrics in a wide range of tones. I have opted not to use black/gray/white because I think it would be impossible to find all 28 in neutral. A hint of blue or green in a single pane of gray fabric, for example, will really stand out.

So then what colors to use?

My gut instinct was to use a blue for one direction and a green for the other, but before I firmed that decision with a fabric purchase I went to the January/February 2007 issue of Communication Arts magazine and their annual “Color Predictions” article. There are some lovely new colors that are sure to be see in fashion and home accents for the next year or two, like Strawberry Ice, Golden Apricot, and Hollyhock, but I am leery of choosing a color family based on one unique color. Strawberry ice is pretty, and I am certain to find a handful of fabrics in a range around it, but 28?

Fortunately, experts predict that green will “still be a pivotal color” for the next few years, and blue is a strong color according to both Pantone’s Spring 2007 Fashion Color Report and the Color Marketing Group.

To calculate the amount of fabric I need to purchase, I used a nifty online quilt calculator. According to it, I would need a maximum of 3/8 yard of each fabric in the mid-range, and 1/8 yard of the fabrics in the extreme light and extreme dark ends of the scale.

This is definitely not a one-quilt-store-quilt. I predict it will take five + stores and many months before I have acquired the materials I need to begin. Impeccable record-keeping will be a must starting on Day 0.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Finished Object: The River Forest Gansey

It is done, it is soooo done! The modified sleeves were the perfect length, and the neckline, while a bit generous, is identical to the photo in the book.

Ahhhhhh. Give me a moment while I revel in the victory...

Okay. The moment is over.

Within 12 hours of completion of the sweater (weaving in the bazillion ends and all) I also finished another hat for the Boston Children’s Hospital.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Whoa, is that a SLEEVE?

Last night I bound off the top of the sleeves for the gansey. I have sooo lost track how many sleeves this makes. I frogged several in process, but I know I bound off one and then frogged it less than 12 hours later because it was too short for the intended’s arms.

By this morning I had finished another hat for the Boston Children’s Hospital, and started seaming the gansey. I’ve got to tell you, I was still uncertain. I had Mike try it on last night and held the gansey up to his arm. There was still an inch or two gap between top of sleeve and shoulder, but I decided that, based on the photo in the book, that the shoulder would pull down to meet it.

Tonight we found out that it did. The sleeves are the perfect length.

Of course, now the neckline looks way to large. I’ll start picking up those stitches, but doubt I’ll get much progress made.

On the upside, Hancock called and the trim for the upholstery came in. We drove to Lawrence to pick up the whopping 3 yards. I cast on for another hat, and by the time we pulled back in the drive the hat was 1/3 complete.

T-Bone was a huge help while I was seaming. She inspected everything (including my lunch) then supervised from the newly upholstered couch. She is quite proud of herself because she had taught me how to play fetch earlier this morning.