Saturday, June 21, 2014

First down & 10

The first of my comfortable summer blouses is complete. After the pattern pieces fiasco, I wrote the pattern maker to let them know about the missing pieces, and they graciously offered to replace the pattern. Thank you Simplicity!!! But not wanting to wait for it to arrive by mail to make my blouse, I bought another copy and made the blouse. I love it so much that I'll use the replacement to make the dress!

The blouse from Simplicity 2660 is one of those that you wouldn't look at once, much less twice on the hanger. But as soon as you put it on and see how flattering the fit is, it becomes your new favorite and a keeper!

It's a hawaiian shirt that I made for a party, but I'll be making more of these!

 Next quilt top: Simple Strips, a free pattern from

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

One of THOSE Months

Knit one, frog two, leads to a knitting hiatus

When you knit, frogging is inevitable. The beast took 4 rows forward, and 10 rows back. I can't stand to look at her right now because she is my penultimate reminder that I CAN'T COUNT my knitting past 2, by two's. Really, it is that bad.

Because I can't seem to count beyond 2, all knitting is on hold. My knitting confidence is so shaken that I can't even care right now that Lolly is nekkid.  'Tis bad, which means it's time for a break.

Measure twice, cut once 

My grandmother taught me to sew, and as a child I wrought stitched havoc for her on 2 of her 3 of her sewing machines. Well I was young, probably too young to be trusted to use such machinery, even under her bird-dog eye.  

Happily, after successfully using an inexpensive portable sewing machine of my own over the years, I no longer wrought stitched havoc on anyone. I could and did sew, rather well, if I don't say so myself.  That made my grandmother so happy that I inherited her third sewing machine. 

So having nothing to do but practice my housework avoidance skills, I'm revisiting sewing. Finding comfort and busy hands again in making patchwork baby quilts, something I've never done before, is a boon to my bruised confidence. Pictures to come...

Comfortable summer clothing for myself is also on my sewing to do list, perhaps a hawaiian shirt or two for Husband ( they're his new fancy, and he rarely takes a fancy to anything ) once I learn how to use my buttonhole foot. Don't know if I can still turn nice buttonholes by hand like I used to.


I have insufficient quilt batting to start another baby quilt. So I started trimming up the pattern pieces for a blouse and pants set, only to learn that a whole sheet of pattern pieces that I need for my outfit is missing. This is the first time I've ever had this happen, and I've been buying patterns since 1983.

Anyone who has pulled a new set of bed linens out of their little plastic zippered bag has some idea of what unfolding a pattern is like. You remove the sheets and start unrolling, not knowing if the pillowcases are really in there until you finish unrolling the neat little cake of sheets and shake them.  And no matter how hard you try, you can't refold the sheets small enough to put back in their neat little zippered plastic bag. Fun times, eh?

It's pretty much the same with clothes patterns. Only the pattern pieces are printed on half twin sheet sized pieces of super thin tissue paper, that are folded in on themselves more tightly than a katana and if you shake them out like sheets  to see if all are there you'll tear them to shreds. BUT, just like the sheets, you can't refold the patterns afterwards. So I typically write up a list of the pieces I need and cut as I unpeel the individual sheets of tissue from each other. 

Where this is going is that I can't just refold the pattern and return it. I have to buy another. 

Sigh, no clothes making for a little while.  Not confidence boosting but neither is it enough to shake what little I've gained from the quilts in the past few days. Now I have to go get another pattern... yes, it's been one of THOSE months...

Monday, May 19, 2014

Lolly waits for clothes

I wanted to share her before now, but burning my fingertips while cooking put the kibosh on both typing and knitting.

Lolly now has 2 arms, 2 legs, and a tail. All stuffed and sewed where they belong. There's not much odder looking than an elephant in panties and Mary Janes, but she did come out cute.

Her dress is now in progress, when that's done I can scratch off the first completed knitted WIP from my list.

More WIP elimination updates

And the Beast is up to 105 rows of 228, I think it is.

Having only an inch-ish knitted up, I'm thinking about frogging the Japanese Waves shawl.  I'm considering casting on Grace Akhrem's Crashing Waves shawl as replacement for Japanese Waves in the queue. A beautiful, simple knit and I don't need a pattern until the lace edging. It doesn't get much more simple than that.

Paved with good intentions, or round washcloth mania

I got turned onto the Lacy Picot Swirl washcloth on the KnittingHelp forum, and it's as addictive as the Almost Lost Washcloth. As if I need another to go project...

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Living in a WIP wonderland

This Spring incited a cleaning frenzy in me, the likes of which I last experienced while nesting in preparation for the birth of my now 24 year old child. Yes, crazy cleaning... I can't help but wonder how much storage space, and ease of mind, I could free up if I finished my WIPs. They really need to go live somewhere else so that I can go on to new projects with a clean conscience and, more importantly, have space for new yarns. My best friend can stop snickering right now over the notion that I can have a clean conscience. Right. Now.

I have home-based projects, travel projects, and always an idiot project. Home based projects have the following in common: They are large, or complicated, or charted, or have beaucoup pieces and therefore can't travel well. Conversely, my travel projects are all small, uncomplicated, and either stockinette or an easily memorized & recalled pattern stitch. Idiot projects require very little attention, very little thinking, or very little of both.

WIP Mania Begins

I'm a compulsive list maker so here goes. Can't scratch off completed items without a list... The only one in the correct place order is #1. The order of importance of the rest is TBD:
  1. Daughter's wedding shawl a.k.a The Beast: Cobweb lace yarn and complicated pattern necessitates 2 & 3 on the list. Must complete by 10/14. This is non-negotiable as I want to keep my daughter on good terms with me. Undisputed #1. 
  2. Red afghan: large Beast relief project. 20% done.
  3. Lolly Fant : small Beast relief project.1 ⅞ arm, a tail, and a dress to go.
  4. my socks: oldest travel project I have. It's so old it dates back to when I couldn't knit without a pattern in front of me. Half a sock leg to go.
  5. husbands socks: youngest travel project. ⅞  a sock leg to go. Once I find it.
  6. heirloom baby sweater: My oldest knitting WIP, about 40% done. I'll tell you the story when I start work on it again.
  7. feather & fan scarf : old travel project. 30% done.
  8. blue dishcloth: needs a couple of rows frogged so I can correctly reestablish the pattern stitch. A DUH! mistake that needs fixin'. ⅔ done.
  9. japanese waves shawl: old lace project. barely started when DD announced her impending nuptials.
  10. big ol' sun & moon needlepoint: my dinosaur of WIPs. Older than dirt, and my go to for what I call idiot-work. It's what I do when I can't think & can't count but need something to do with my hands. It's paint by number with yarn. Do I really need to be in a hurry to finish this one? Yes, the canvas is so old (2008) that the design is starting to wear off. And you want a matted, framed FO out of it.
I think that's all, though I may find more when I go in search of husband's other sock. My idol and knitting goddess, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, would likely find my list of WIPs laughably short. But, in my itty bitty house, they and their materiel take up floor & storage space. Speaking of storage, it's time to put away the 4 bags of DK...

Working off a large collection of WIPs, is like working off large debt. You set a schedule, then as WIPs complete, you reallocate the knitting time until they're all done. The Beast will take until October to finish, unless the knitting gods take pity on me (unlikely). She gets at least 2 rows a day until completed, more as I and my fingers can stand it. Lolly is almost done, so she'll be first up as front for Beast relief. I've decided that my socks will be the first of the travel projects slated for completion ASAP (travel not included). And my poor needlepoint will be front from time to time.

Even better than the upcoming batch of FOs is that I get to stop cleaning to work on them. Really, can I please stop cleaning now??

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Spuds is spuds

I'm such a spud today. Not that this is different from any other day. But I am more aware of my spud-dom than usual. Somehow I made progress on Lolly despite my resemblance to Ms. Potato Head. What should have taken 5 minutes took me all afternoon.

Why all of this self-recrimination? My spud self gave Lolly black shoes, and I sewed the little buggers up this afternoon.

Mattress stitching black worsted knit up on size 4 needles gets me nominated for queen knitting spud of the year. And a monumental case of eye strain. I fear the award for being crowned queen will be speedy and incapicitating blindness as soon as the winning vote is cast.

Grouse, whine, kvetch

Other than finding those hard to see bars in the shoe stitches (What WAS I thinking? Black shoes??) the gauge made my fingers ache unbelievably. In worsted, Lolly knit up at 5.25 sts/inch on those size 4s o'mine. For me that's a dense fabric. The given pattern gauge is 6 sts/inch so I don't know why I'm complaining. I got the look I want and a toy sized just right for a little one to love on, or to sit on the shelf and look absolutely adorable.

Do what you have to do, knit how you have to do it, to get the look you want or need. That's all that matters. How you go about knitting is such an "I say po-tay-toe, you say po-tah-toe" enterprise. But in the long run, spuds is spuds, y'all.

And as a friend of mine says, I like taters.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Lolly's Yarn Debacle Continues

The DK arrived today and yep, the DK is about the size of Caron's Simply Soft.
I've decided to keep all 4 bags. Skooshy yarn will always, ALWAYS, have a home with me.

Can't use this for elephant clothes.  Time to go digging through sock yarn so Lolly is not permanently en dĂ©shabillĂ©. 

She remains partially knitted/assembled because lucky me  found the knitting equivalent of Lay's Potato Chips.  Oy!

Betcha can't make just one. 

I know I can't. It's all Julie Tarsha's fault.  I found her Almost Lost Washcloth on Ravelry, and it was all downhill from there. Sweet little short rows make up the most fun you can have with garter stitch in public. Slowpoke me has managed to crank out 3 in as many evenings (maybe 3 hours each cloth). I only have photos of the last two. When your 20-something daughter looks at something knitted and says "Ma, that's neat," and takes it as soon as its offered, you know you have a hit on your hands.

I happen to like the "spotted" cotton yarns for this cloth instead of variegated where the color striping can pool in wonky ways because of the short rows. But that's me. YMMV.

The recipe doesn't give much direction on finishing. If you're a new knitter: I finished knitting  on the CO 4 row of the 14th point, then grafted those 14 live stitches to the 14 cast on stitches.

You're killing me, Smalls...

And I actually worked on the Beast this afternoon without ripping anything out. Shhhhh, don't say it loud. She's on row 103. Yes, she really exists, and no I haven't started smoking again. I've though about it, but I haven't done it.
Talk about a love-hate relationship... start, stop, start over, frog, quit smoking, *knit more, feed the frog again. Repeat from * for a few months, and you get it.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

What was I thinking???

A most excellent question.

Yes, I'm old fashioned. I confess that I believe little girls should look like little girls. Not like tomboys and certainly not dressed like Miley Cyrus. Neon is for orange traffic cones and side of the road safety striping, not clothing. Black is for mourning, not babies. But I digress.

So when I set out to make Lolly, I had a couple of inspired ideas. Namely, Lolly would be dressed like Buffy from Family Affair, wearing a short dress, black Mary Janes, white anklet socks, and white ruffled rumba panties. (Of course Lolly will have more than one dress! She's a southern girl.) These flashes of brilliance required advance planning in the form of a black worsted yarn purchase and scrounging through my stashed yarn oddments for white yarn.

Needless to say, Lolly now has a body with white panties (ruffles to be crocheted on after the tail is attached), and she has black shoes and white socks. Oy! Mattress stitching the heels of these shoes is going to be one sticky wicket, but so far so good. So why am I questioning my judgment?

The other Sticky Yarn Wicket or, 

Why I need to avoid online yarn stores, or 

Which DK do I need?

My point to ponder over chocolate or wine will be whether or not I will return the beaucoup skeins of 4 colors of clearance DK I bought just because the colors work for the clothes for Lolly and her eventual beau. Extra yarn is never a bad thing... but I'm not sure if this is too much of a good thing.

I found this toy  pattern on Ravelry and it was love at first sight. Then I looked at the recommended yarn; No suggested yarn, but the suggested yarn weight is DK. So I order my 3.2 lb. box o' squishilicious yarn goodness in worsted weight yarn. Enough to make critters and clothes for each. Took me awhile to figure out that DK yarn in the UK is virtually the same as worsted yarn in the US, but hey, I can learn... or so I think.

Then, I buy the pattern, and see 4 ply yarn is needed for the clothing. What is this 4 ply of which you speak? Hmm, it looks smaller than DK... so I promptly look it up. And botch my yarn comparisons. Easy enough to do when DK yarn is one size in the UK, and another in the US. Having only one limping brain cell doesn't help much either.

 4 ply = fingering (or close enough for government math)

Continuing my warped logic:
4 ply is next size smaller than DK
I'm using worsted for Lolly so I need the next smaller size down: US DK!

I have no US weighted DK yarn, and OMG I need 4 colors between 2 animals.  Whatever will I do????

Further continuing the insanity, I'm so pleased with figuring that out that I reward myself with a little yarn shopping. 

Hmmm, Little Knits has the perfect super wash wool DK yarns on clearance! I only need small amounts for the clothes and I don't want to get stuck with teensy bits of a yarn weight that I'll never be able to use because I have no matching DK weight yarn in stash. So I get the brilliant idea to order 4 bags - 1 of each needed color - so that I'll be able to make something out of the leftover yarn oddments. Full bags of the DK are even more heavily discounted by percentage than the individual skeins. Yes, someone at Little Knits saw me coming...

Now, just you wait, this will be the worsted equivalent DK when it gets here... And I'll wind up making Lolly's dress out of some sock yarn I have on hand... No more yarn shopping for you!

What WAS I thinking???