Saturday, November 29, 2008

A couple of days before Thanksgiving, Alex went through the newspaper and cut out every turkey she could find and made a HUGE collage to take to my parents for Thanksgiving dinner. I wish I could capture her enthusiasm in words. The girl was absolutely giddy about her project, which started out on three sheets of construction paper and then doubled in size again. I think she used every bit of glue and tape she could get her hands on.


And because I'm just as nuts as my eleven-year-old, I decided to knit her a turkey hat. I cast on at 5:00 Wednesday night when I dropped her off for karate and really tried to get it done in time for dinner Thanksgiving afternoon. I was one leg short. Alex worked on it in the back seat on the way to Mom and Dad's ("Mom, were you knitting really really tight? Is it going to make a difference that I don't knit that tight? Is this what you mean when you say something is fiddly....") but I still couldn't get that last bit of bone done in time for dinner.

Alex's enthusiasm for the newsprint turkeys? That's how I feel about cowls this week. Even though I still haven't worn the one I knit for myself last year, I'm printing out patterns and adding them to my Ravelry queue and dreaming of casting on.

There's the Life is Uneven Cowl. I didn't have any Thick and Quick left in my stash and didn't really want to go out and buy a skein, but it was three bucks at the Michael's Black Friday Sale and "spice" is an absolutely gorgeous color. I wish it came in Wool-Ease and I could make myself a sweater.

That's just the latest in a growing list of the things. There's the smoke ring pattern I ordered from Elann a couple of years ago and never worked up the nerve to cast on...and I've still got the mohair and beads for Ice Queen...and yarn set aside for a Wavy Lace Wimple, and the Mobius Cowl, if I can ever manage to do that cast on again.

Elann has two new cowls in their free patterns section -- Bird's Nest Smoke Ring and Silken Smoke. And they've got a pattern for Drooping Elm Socks, which are toe up and have a ruffle and I must knit NOW.

And I also stumbled across the new issue of Knotions, which has an amazing pair of lace knee-highs and a an equally wonderful pair of cabled mittens. I think the socks are beyond me, but I've got perfect yarn for those Magic Mirror Mittens...

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday Yarn

For the first time in I don't know how long, I went Black Friday shopping with only one small child in tow! Quinn had a doctor's appointment at 11am, so I had to bring him along. He was a little trooper and happily accepted bribes of chips and a milkshake and his choice of a toy from the Dollar Tree. (That was after the poor little guy, who'd been begging for a firetruck all morning long, finally found a cheap Hot Wheels one and I found out that the line to pay for it was going to take at least an hour.)

I got the two biggest items I was hoping for, and a raincheck for the third. Oh, and a whole bunch of Paton's Stretch Sock and Paton's Kroy stripes for $2.62 a skein. My math was off, so I didn't realize that with the 25% off purchase coupon, the Wool-Ease was only $1.64 or I would've bought more of that.

There's a lot more I'd like to ramble on about, but I've been up since 3am and my body is threatening to shut down with or without my agreement.

Monday, November 24, 2008

I made more bookmarks!

Both are knitted with Brown Sheep Cotton Fine on size 2 needles, and both patterns are from the Monthly Bookmark KAL. The pink one is the Shetland Lace bookmark, and the green one is the Leaf on Leaf bookmark.

I love the way this yarn works up and wish I'd bought more single skeins while we were at the outlet store. But I did get enough for a shawl and three scarves, so I guess I shouldn't sulk because I want to make bookmarks in more pretty colors.

I also finished another quilt top – which is good, but I’m going to go broke buying batting and backing for all of these!


The dinosaur blocks are pages from a cloth book panel I found at Walmart two years ago. I bought it with the intention of making it into a quilt for Heath, bought some fabric to go with it, and set the whole thing aside until I had time to actually put it together.

I knew I wanted to mix pieced blocks with the pages and kept coming up with different ideas, but nothing clicked well enough for me to start cutting. Then I talked my friend through her log cabin quilt and saw how fast that went together. I decided to see if I had enough dino fabrics to make it work. But I was sure I didn’t, so I never looked.

I pulled out the fabric on Saturday afternoon and there were actually three lights and three darks. I pieced all of the blocks in one sitting, then added spacer strips to the pages and put the top together last night.

I’m shocked at the results – doesn’t it almost look like I knew what I was doing when I bought the fabric and put it together?! One of the corners is off by at least a half inch because I made a mistake when I was squaring up the blocks (which are rectangles, because I didn’t get the spacer strips quite right), but it’s a baby quilt. Even if I did have enough fabric to make another block, I’m not sure if I would.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A couple of weeks ago, Bill ordered the fancy new mixer he's been wanting. The plan is to start baking most of our bread, and since the mixer got here, we've been baking more than we've bought. And grinding our own grain to make the whole wheat flour. It's all very fun and intimidating.

I handle the cleanup, not the baking, because the fancy new mixer scares me. I'm either going to break it or lose a hand. But I did finally work up the courage to mix a batch of play-dough for the little guys. It's by far the best batch I've made in my entire mommying career.

All four kids have been playing with it for the past two days. They've tried to spin pizzas. Alex made a long snake and used it to successfully jump rope. Quinn and Leif have made tacos and boats and a series of other sculptures that all look exactly the same.

I'm now the world's biggest fan of home-made play dough.

And after a lot of staring at yarn and needles and making up excuses to avoid starting the lace pattern on my new cardigan, I finally knit something --

It's the November 15 pattern from the Monthly Bookmark Yahoo group. There's supposed to be a tassel, but I want to use the rest of this yarn to make socks for the boys and if I didn't have enough because I'd embellished a bookmark, I'd kick myself.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

There's a stomach bug in the house, so I kept the kids home from church today and pulled out the quilt I didn't get to work on Saturday night. My tentative deadline for the show and tell quilts turned out to be two weeks off, so I only have three more days left to see how much I can get done.

Earlier this week, I spent a late night transforming the rail fence quilt from 225 loose blocks to an assembled quilt top. It took forever, but the results were worth it.


If I pushed myself over the next three days, I thought I could also have get the log cabin quilt done and ready to show off. Five blocks a day was do-able, even if it didn't sound fun.

So this morning I plugged in the sewing machine and the iron and lost myself in the whir of the sewing machine and the zip of the rotary cutter and the growing combinations of narrow scraps. By dinner time, I had finished all of the blocks I needed for the entire quilt. And a couple more, because I've decided to make another one just like it for a Christmas gift.


I wish I could do that every time I quilt, losing track of how many pieces I've put together already and how many more there are to go and how many more hours that's going to take.... It felt so good to just sew. Now and then I'd break to play with the kids, or fix a snack, or refill my diet Coke, and I'd realize I was well past my goal for the day. Then I'd decide to do a few more strips. It was fun. I may do more later, after the kids are in bed.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Earlier this afternoon, I finished piecing the last of the 225 rail fence blocks. Now I've just got to assemble them into an actual quilt top. That sounds more intimidating than making them all in the first place, but after laying most of them out yesterday to see how many more squares I needed and what colors I wanted them to be, I'm in love.

I saw a picture of an old scrappy rail fence quilt in one of my quilting magazines that made my heart go pitty pat, but there wasn't a pattern and I forgot about it until I found a similar quilt in a book Mom had loaned me. She needed the book back, so I wrote down the number and size of the rectangles that I needed. By the time I started cutting, I couldn't remember what the other two quilts had looked like. Not that it would've helped since I'm sure my fabric stash doesn't match what was in a hundred year old scrap bag.

This whole thing has been a leap of faith. The more pieces I cut and stitched, the more doubts kept creeping in. I didn't know if I was wasting perfectly decent fabric.

I'm almost as excited about the scrappy log cabin squares. Which is what I did with the rest of my afternoon.

And I got an email from Elann that the first two Barbara Walker Treasuries are back in stock. So I spent my $50 whatever their freuqent buyer thing is called and they're on their way. I've been checking them out from the library over and over and over -- I definitely need my own copies.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

My house has been taken over by knitting and quilting this week.

Sunday, one friend was calling me about a too-good-to-be-true yarn clearance sale and another was calling me about the quilt she was working on. Between the two of them, the phone rang at least every half hour. Sometimes they both called at the same time. The clearance markdowns turned out to be a false rumor, but I send that friend off with a Knitpicks catalog so she'll be able to get wool almost as inexpensive as the sale yarn would have been, with a much better range of colors. The other friend got her quilt finished. And I'm sure I must've accomplished something.

Yesterday, I got up hours before the kids and managed to play with three of my scrap quilts. And knit. Alex found the pieces for a quilt we'd cut out well over a year ago and, in a flurry of 12 year old activity, she got the top pieced. It needs borders.

So today we went to Joann's to buy her some fabric. I'd planned on staying home, but the diaper supply was critical and Joann's is sorta almost next to Costco. We now have everything except for bread. They moved the bread and the diapers and after looping through the entire store three times I decided that we can do without bread. The new mixer came yesterday and Bill is going to bake some anyway.

I looked for fabric to back the Dot to Dot quilt, but if they had anything perfect, I missed it. The little guys weren't as fascinated by the choice of red or yellow or blue as Alex and I were, so by the time we got that decided, it was time to pay for our goodies and bolt for the door. I did buy myself the IK Holiday issue and the new Vogue Knitting, which saves me the stop I was going to make tomorrow. Unless I manage to find the sewing bag pattern I'm looking for. Then I'll be back to buy the novelty print I fell in love with.

I've challenged myself to see how many new quilt tops I can have finished before Mom gets back from Arizona and we get together to play show and tell. Dot to Dot was the first one. The cat quilt will not be done by then. Don't ask when the cat quilt will be done, or if I've been working on it.

Scrappy Squares

15 of 25 or 42 blocks finished

Try to picture white sashing between the blocks. This is the one that calls for two thousand and some two inch squares. I've only got three hundred or so more to cut and I'm thinking of making the quilt smaller than the 80 1/2 x 92 1/2 the pattern calls for. So I've got fifteen blocks done out of either twenty-five or forty-two or something in between.

Sparkling Gems

16 of 42 blocks finished

After I finished and laid out the first eight blocks, I was ready to ditch the whole project. Now I'm at sixteen blocks (out of forty-two) and back in love.

Rail Fence

40 of 225 blocks finished

Log Cabin

1 of 35 blocks finished

And there's the dinosaur quilt (maybe another 20 blocks)... and the spool quilt (147 blocks)...and the cats...

I've got 26 days to go. Maybe a few more or less.

And Christmas knitting.

This is fun!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Lately, I've felt more like knitting and quilting than I've felt like writing about knitting and quilting. Which isn't a bad thing -- I'm getting things actually done! -- but when I finally do sit down to try and type, I've got too many things going on to cram into one post. The camera situation doesn't help. I've been fighting the thing for months until finally, on the last trip, it thew its worst tantrum to date. I turned around in my seat to see if Leif was sleeping and saw something red flashing in the depths of my tote bag. There weren't any toys or tennis shoes or anything else that should've been lighting up in there, so I reached back to investigate and the stupid camera (which was turned off) was HOT.

I still take pictures, but I put in the batteries, take the pictures fast, and immediately pull them back out. Which is a huge pain.

Eventually we'll get a camera that actually works, but for now pictures are going to come in spurts and only when I've got something that excites me enough to fight with the batteries.

I've been knitting. The lobster is done and he's not as cute as the one in the pattern photos, but I like him better than I thought I would. I'll take some pictures of him later.

I finally got around to starting the shark hat again, this time knitting from the teeth up to the tail because I was sick of redoing the tail and fin and hoping that the rest would somehow work out once I got that far. It's actually working this time!

And I'm plodding away on Alex's tank top. It should fit this time. If the kid doesn't grow too much between now and spring.


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