Friday, August 31, 2018

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {8/31/18}

Let's Make Baby Quilts Linky Party Rules: 
Link directly to your post or specific Flickr photo. Your post can be about a baby quilt that's finished, or in progress, or you can be writing about what you have planned,  as long as it's about baby quilts. You're welcome to link to baby quilt posts that aren't brand new, but please don't submit the same post or picture more than once. I'd love it if you linked back to my site, either with a text link or the Let's Make Baby Quilts! button.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Whoo's There?

I can't tell you how much I love these little Prairie Schooler Halloween patterns! They're so fun and symmetrical and sometimes knitting with three colors is just what I want to do. 

I thought I could stitch this one without gridding my fabric if I counted and recounted and was really careful. I couldn't and once I realized that one skeleton was a stitch higher than his buddy, I started stitching faster so that I could find out if it was going to work out okay. There's a slight jog in the border to make it meet up, but we all know that I wasn't going to pick out an entire skeleton and I wasn't going to start over from scratch.

I've got another of these patterns in my stash, the one that I thought I was going to stitch when I picked up this one instead. And there's a third that I was eyeing at Starlight Stitchery last month and now really wish I'd picked up.

The last time we were at Shepherd's Bush I absolutely know I bought two Halloween patterns. This was one, but the other isn't with it and I haven't the slightest memory of which pattern it was. (Cute as these are, they all do look very similar!)

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Bamboo and Ewe Socks

This is one of those rare occasions that I didn't lose the ball band before I was done knitting and I actually know exactly what yarn I used. It's Sensations Bamboo & Ewe Pattern, one of those skeins I picked up when the boys were toddlers and I thought I was going to knit socks for them.

Now it's a finished pair for....some adult in my life. Maybe one of the boys if they ever start to be more responsible with their footwear. It all depends on who wears them first.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

{I've Been Reading} Tail of the Dragon

Tail of the Dragon by Connie di Marco

Professional astrologer Julia Bonati takes a temporary job at her old law office and finds herself investigating death threats and murder. Between her current investigation and some new information about the death of her fiance, there's a lot going on in this book. I've definitely warmed up to Julia herself, but I doubt I'll ever get into astrology.

Disclosure -- I was provided with an advance review copy by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Figuring Out Where I Left Off

Picking up Stonehearth Hutch again wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. I had the tree along the left edge stitched, so I'm using that as a landmark and making decent progress.

What wasn't working for me was the situation with my floss. That's three different sizes of bags and loose skeins of floss and general chaos. It must have been working for me back in 2004 or I wouldn't have three quarters of the project done, but this week it's been making me crazy.  

I thought I was going to wind it all onto pretty bobbins, but I couldn't find the empty bobbin box I'd set aside for a new project. Instead I took snack bags and index cards and now all of the flosses are in order by number and marked with their symbol from the chart. Except for the ones that weren't here....those could explain why I've been wasting so much time looking for the colors I need. Maybe I borrowed them for another project or didn't have them in the first place. I'll pull them out of that master set I spent so much time getting together this spring.

There really isn't much of this project  left to stitch, not if I compare it to the entire chart. Hopefully the other full coverage piece I unearthed is better organized...although I doubt it will be.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

{Thrift Shop Temptations} I Wish I Could Find More Like This

As long as we've got the time, we duck into at least one of our local thrift stores every week. It's a quick trip to see if there's anything wonderful lurking on the shelves...or at least anything interesting enough to talk about and maybe take a quick picture of. 

Now and then I find a needlework kit that makes me squeal with joy.  This one has everything I love...and the bird is making a nest in the crossbeams of the wishing well! 

I found a set of stools for the kitchen counter at my daughter's new place and sent her some pictures. That meant another detour to dump them on her porch, but it also took me past the thrift shop with the amazing vintage needlepoint.

Someone is going to love that pink mirrored dresser. The color is great already, but the paint is rough so maybe it'll get a makeover. I was tempted by the rustic clock, but not enough to check the price. I've still never seen one of the painted Mrs. Butterworth bottles that Katie posts about over on Non Consumer Advocate, not even after years of thrifting in Portland, but we found some overpriced plain ones.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Campside Shawl

As soon as I stumbled across the pattern for Campside, I could picture which stash yarn would be the absolutely perfect color. I bought this subtly variegated orange yarn years ago and at the time it was a huge splurge so I was afraid to actually cast on with it. 

Pattern: Campside (free download)
Yarn: Bon Prix Ornaghifilati 

The yarn itself was a huge disappointment. Expensive acrylic from the yarn shop should not be harder on my hands than a particularly bad skein of Red Heart Super Saver, especially not when it claims to be blended with wool and alpaca.

The pattern, on the other hand, is fantastic. The eyelets get denser as you knit your way towards the border and there's a really neat ribbed edging along the bottom. Aside from the name, that edging is what drew me to the shawl in the first place. I made mine wider than the inch and a half that the pattern calls for because I like the look of it so much.

Can I start making all of my shawls with ribbed edging now?

Friday, August 24, 2018

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {8/24/18}

Let's Make Baby Quilts Linky Party Rules: 
Link directly to your post or specific Flickr photo. Your post can be about a baby quilt that's finished, or in progress, or you can be writing about what you have planned,  as long as it's about baby quilts. You're welcome to link to baby quilt posts that aren't brand new, but please don't submit the same post or picture more than once. I'd love it if you linked back to my site, either with a text link or the Let's Make Baby Quilts! button.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

These Socks Aren't Scary

I'm knitting up sock yarn from the depths of my stash and the only slightly stressful thing about it is waiting to see whether I can get all of the heels and toes from one partial skein of the brown yarn. If I can, there's another project I'll use the rest for. If I can't, I'll just use the second partial skein and the other project won't have brown heels and toes. It's quite possibly the least nerve-wracking thing in my life right now.

Signups for the Super Sock Scarefest (why can I never get that name right?) are open over on Ravelry and if you enjoy sock knitting and horror movies, this is the knit along for you.  It's a competition, but unlike Sock Madness it's super low key. You get points for being among the first five or ten to finish each pattern, or finishing at all before the year's knitting is over. And you don't have to knit every pair (or any of them) Last year was my third year participating and I finished two pairs. I meant to knit a third, but couldn't get through Suspiria or the socks inspired by them.

Personally, I only knit the socks based on movies I've enjoyed (or want to watch.) Or the ones that have neat patterns. Did I mention that this isn't an aggressive competition?

Wanna see all of my scary socks to date? I think the first of them was Le Manoir du Diable, which I found on Ravelry and what led me to the Scarefest in the first place.

Le Manoir du DiableThe FlyJack or Not, Charlie McGeeFaces in the Wallpaper, Convoluted Clues,  The Wicker Socks

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

{Thrift Shop Temptations} Is she Cinderella?

I'm not a fan of needlepoint framed behind glass. The glare on this piece was so bad that I thought it was a flat reproduction of a needlepoint piece until I took a much closer look. 

The flamenco dancer was huge, and this piece was even bigger. Apologies for the bad picture, but glass outside on a bright summer day is probably the worst circumstances for trying to photograph needlework....

He was sixty-five dollars. After seeing that, I didn't even look for the price on the dancer. I'm not in the market for vintage needlepoint....

Then I saw this one. She's under glass, but it seems to be the anti-glare kind. And she was eight dollars.

I managed to resist until I stepped inside the store and saw that all wall art was fifty percent off. Four dollars for a gorgeous piece of vintage needlepoint? If I'd left her behind she would've haunted me for years.

I thought the colors were too bright, but now that she's inside the piece is steadily growing on me. I love the fireplace, and her shoes, and the hatchet. (Please tell me that she isn't planning on cooking any of  those birds for dinner!) 

This post is linked to Share Your Cup

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

As Deep as the Stash Diving Gets?

I've been looking at last year's finishes and my current projects and thinking that was was missing was a big full coverage piece. There are at least a dozen that I'd like to start, but that means gridding fabric and pulling floss and a lot of time spent on busy work before I put in the first stitch. 

Then I remembered that there were two full coverage pieces sitting in my UFOs. I actually mentioned Stonehearth Hutch in my very first blog post...and don't think I've picked it up since. If I did, I didn't mention it by name. 

Looking at it now, it's probably my least favorite of the Thomas Kinkade cross stitch patterns that I own. I'd forgotten about it completely until I pulled out that box of UFOs a few months ago. But I'm three quarters of the way done. It makes sense to put in a few hours to finish the thing, right?

I think something might have gone wrong with the door and that's why there's unstitched space there. But those memories from thirteen or fourteen years ago aren't terribly clear. I guess I'll figure it out once I start stitching on that part, right?

Monday, August 20, 2018

Gramma's Hug

Some knitting projects are just a dream from beginning to end. My Gramma's Hug shawl almost fell into that category. I spent a happy evening casting on and getting through the first few rows...then I hit that little patch of simple lace and everything went straight to hell. 

On my second try, I used stitch markers every seven stitches and managed to keep myself on track. There's no reason I shouldn't have been able to do that lace without so much extra help, but sometimes things happen. It was like my Cathedral Window Shawl. I cast that one on while my middle son was in  the NICU and I was sleep deprived and heavily medicated and the first half came out just fine. It was after he was a bit older and I didn't have any excuses that I couldn't manage to knit the same lace pattern for the second half.

Pattern: Gramma's Hug (a free Ravelry download)
Yarn: Hobby Lobby I Love This Chunky, Sand Dunes, 3 skeins 

Even with the false start, it only took me five evenings from start to finish. My own shawl is narrower than the pattern specifications because I substituted acrylic which just doesn't stretch and block the same way wool does. I substitute acrylic all the time, unless it's a lace pattern that will need blocking to look right, and I've never realized that it changes the potential size so dramatically.  Now I'm wondering if this particular designer blocks more aggressively than others, or if I've just never paid attention.

I used almost three skeins of I Love This Chunky from the Hobby Lobby clearance incident and it's thick and squishy and doesn't split or snag or do anything else that makes me unhappy. I wish  I'd bought a ton more of it while it was $1.24 a skein but I'd never worked with it before and didn't know how much I really would love it.

In addition to loving the yarn and the color and just about everything else, I love the shaping. Instead of increasing every other row like just about every other triangular shawl I've ever knit, this one has increases every row which makes a much longer, sharper angle.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

My Project Tracker and Big Plastic Bags

I've been keeping a monthly project tracker since February and it's made a huge difference. I've stopped losing track of what I was working on just before whatever happened to distract me happened...and that means I'm much less likely to start and abandon a new project. I can also look back and tell when I started and finished things. 

Right now, A Little Girl's Fancy has a blank column because I'm letting it sit while I stitch on things I'm more excited about. The constant reminder that it's there is going to make it harder to forget (although I reserve the option to just not stitch on it until the urge strikes again.) Nothing I started before the tracker is listed, but I'll give those projects a column when/if I pick them up again.

Next goal -- better project bags. I need some for the shawls that are big enough to hold the project and pattern AND all of the skeins of yarn I'll be using. Stopping mid-row to hunt for yarn is a pain.

For now I'm just happy that everything in the planner is also in a bag and they're all in the same place.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Fizz Boom Bath!

Have you been to that store that sells all of  those absolutely gorgeous (and really expensive) bath bombs and fallen in love with all of the possibilities? I'm the mom of a beauty blogger, so I've been more than once -- and then bought my own bath bombs at the Dollar Tree.

The boys and I tried making our own once and came out with bath bomb brittle, which smelled good and made their skin soft but didn't fizz and foam. It's possible that if you want to make something that actually works, following the easiest looking recipe from Pinterest may not be the best way to do it...and that you might need some specialized ingredients.

Which is where Fizz Boom Bath! comes in. 

I haven't had a chance to try any of the book's recipes yet, but I'm reeling from all of the gorgeous photos and possibilities. There are geodes and gender reveals and secret messages and one bath bomb for sore muscles...and then there are the masks and shower steamers and scrubs. Working your way through this book would be a lot of fun.

And did I mention that the book -- and da Bomb Bath Fizzers, the company that inspired it -- was written by two teenage sisters? The bath bombs they sell look even more amazing than the ones in the book. I'm going to have to try to make more soon....or to just break down and order some!

Disclosure -- The publisher provided me with an advance review copy. All opinions are my own. 

Friday, August 17, 2018

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {8/17/18}

Let's Make Baby Quilts Linky Party Rules: 
Link directly to your post or specific Flickr photo. Your post can be about a baby quilt that's finished, or in progress, or you can be writing about what you have planned,  as long as it's about baby quilts. You're welcome to link to baby quilt posts that aren't brand new, but please don't submit the same post or picture more than once. I'd love it if you linked back to my site, either with a text link or the Let's Make Baby Quilts! button.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

My Skeletons are Uneven

I'm starting new Halloween projects, mostly because all of my stitchy friends are counting down to October 31st and posting tempting pictures of all of the Halloween designs and fabric and I don't want to be left out. It's the good kind of peer pressure. 

I was so anxious to get started on Whoo's There? that I convinced myself I could stitch this one without gridding my fabric. I counted and recounted every row of stitches and don't have any idea where it went wrong...which means I can't pick out the offending stitches and fix it.

Not that I would pick out an entire skeleton. One side of the piece is a stitch off from the other. You wouldn't be able to tell at all except the borders weren't going to line up properly. Look just to the right of the floss bobbins and you can see what I did to fix it. Not symmetrical, but it'll work. It was either that or start over from scratch or abandon the project altogether.

I'll grid the next one.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Petersen Rock Garden

Back in June, we took the boys to the Petersen Rock Garden in Redmond. I'd been there as a kid and again as an adult, but it'd been a very long time and the youngest two had never seen the place at all. They've closed and reopened a number of times over the years and I'm afraid that what was once a really neat attraction may not be with us much longer.   

You already know that I love dollhouses and tiny houses of all kinds, so this place is right up my alley. One man, Rasmus Petersen, built it himself with petrified wood, agates, obsidian, and other rocks he collected in the area around his ranch. He started in 1935 and was still adding to the displays until his death in 1952.

I love old tourist traps and this one is practically in our own backyard. One of the travel sites I visited to confirm that they were still open said that admission is by donation, but that wasn't the case. There's a drop box for admission fees and the signs make it very clear that they expect you to pay. We saw a handful of employees working on the landscaping and I kind of got the impression that we weren't welcome. Signs warn you to stay on the path...but it's not too  clear what is and isn't path.

Despite the disrepair and unwelcoming atmosphere, I still kind of love the place. My husband told me not to recommend it to you guys, but if you like old roadside attractions and keep your expectations kind of low, it's a one of a kind place that's a lot of fun to wander through.

If you're interested in finding out more about the history and current state of the garden, there's a lot of information on Friends of Petersen Rock Gardens over on facebook.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

I Don't Know What I'm Knitting...

When I print patterns, I try to only print the pages with information I'm going to need. I know what the thing is supposed to look like and I don't need a full page picture of it. I'm also usually on the last bits of ink in the printer.

Sometimes I'll need to go back to the original download for a missing bit of information, like a needle size or to figure out what an unfamiliar abbreviation stands for.  It usually works out just fine. Except this time the name of the pattern wasn't on any of the printed pages and I couldn't find the project anywhere in my Ravelry queue or by searching for free patterns for triangular shawls that use 600 yards of sport weight yarn. The yarn company's name was on the bottom of each page, but I couldn't find it on their website, which has hundreds of patterns.

Not knowing the name of the pattern was driving me crazy. I could post progress pictures here and explain that I didn't know the name, but I always want to give credit where credit is due, and to make it easy for you to find the pattern source if you want to knit what I'm knitting.

I sat down with my Ravelry queue (which is 1700+ projects because that's my particular brand of crazy) because it had to be in there somewhere, even if I couldn't find it with the search function. Turns out I'm knitting Halfway Home by Amy Gunderson, a free pattern available at Universal Yarn's website.

I feel so much better now that I know what the name of the project I'm enjoying so much is. Do things like that drive you crazy too?

Monday, August 13, 2018

{I've Been Reading} The Favorite Sister

I've spent a couple of weeks struggling through The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll. A thriller with a reality series that ends in  the death of one of its cast members, it sounded like something I'd really enjoy....but the first half of the book was like listening to someone complain about friends you've never met. The author didn't let us see much about the actual show, just five women talking about what had happened in the past.

Dumb as it may sound, I think one of my biggest complaints about the book is that there was so little white space on the pages, just dense blocks of text. I switched from reading it on my Kindle to checking out a hardback copy from the public library, which actually helped me get through to the point, a little over halfway through, where the plot starts to gain momentum.

Even when dramatic bad things do start to happen, the reader is kept at a distance from them, hearing about it from other characters. If the first half of the book had been more like the second, I would've enjoyed it a lot more.

Disclosure -- The publisher provided me with an ARC.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

{Rummage Sale Temptations} Church Fundraisers and Wonderful Poodles

On the way to the bowling alley on Friday, we stopped at two rummage sales. One was a fund raiser for a church preschool and you were supposed to donate what you thought the stuff was worth. It's the first time I've seen a sale like that and I've got to admit that I had a hard time with it.  

What's stained old embroidery worth? I think it'll clean up, but at the moment it smells funky and is having a time out on my porch. How about old poker chips in banged up wooden holders?  An old cross stitch kit that has a price tag on it from someone else's garage sale where it obviously didn't sell?

There was a young couple in line ahead of me who were interested in a wooden table and chairs. How much is that worth? (Remember that St. Vinnie's was asking six hundred for the twin of my awful set.) I didn't see what they paid, but the lady in charge suggested ten or twenty dollars. I came up with what I thought my box of dirty linens and random stuff was worth and doubled it, because I assume that the church preschool I know absolutely nothing about must be a good cause.

Stuff at the other sale was three dollars a bag. That's easy, until you only find a couple of little things that you want. I got a couple of old paperbacks from the 1940s and a stack of cloth napkins that are unfortunately pink, but should be useful.

And the cross stitched poodles! I saw them out of the corner of my eye as I was debating whether to put my meager bag of stuff back.

Aren't they the most adorable thing ever? They were in a frame with glass and the glare made it impossible to see the details of the stitching. I think they look older than 1981, which is what was written on the back of the frame, but the edge of the stamped cross stitch says 1977 so that date must be pretty close.

There was another rummage sale a couple of weeks ago because the local pool is raising money to replace their hot tub.  The ladies there were urging people to stuff their bags as full as possible. No wonder I'm confused about these fund raising sales!

What I'm actually looking for are old boxes or trivets to use for finishing cross stitch projects, but I haven't found those yet. If you want to see everything that came home with me, it's in the video below.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Green Grass

Everything is crispy and crunchy outside right now, so stitching away on this green grass makes me happy. The lawn around our house, which never gets watered or fertilized and successfully fends for itself, is always brown and dry in the summer and always comes back. But last night's news stories about dying trees have me a little more spooked than I was even a week ago. I hate losing trees. 

Her sock and shoe and everything to the left of her ankle are new since last week. If I get the grass and flowers done (along with her hair and her left leg) all that will be left is the dress.

I'm making progress! I've also got really obvious hoop marks this morning, but those should iron out.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {8/10/18}

Let's Make Baby Quilts Linky Party Rules: 
Link directly to your post or specific Flickr photo. Your post can be about a baby quilt that's finished, or in progress, or you can be writing about what you have planned,  as long as it's about baby quilts. You're welcome to link to baby quilt posts that aren't brand new, but please don't submit the same post or picture more than once. I'd love it if you linked back to my site, either with a text link or the Let's Make Baby Quilts! button.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Aran Basket

Here's another project I made from Knitted Baskets by Nola Heibreder and Linda Pietz.

Pattern: Aran Basket, in the book Knitted Baskets
Yarn: Unlabeled Acrylic, probably Red Heart Super Saver Fleck

I used most of a skein of what I think is probably Red Heart Super Saver Fleck, double stranded, and reduced  the cast on from 96 to 84 because I wasn't sure I'd have enough yarn. If I was going to knit this one again, I'd make the ribbed cuff shorter.  It refuses to stay nicely folded, maybe because I used acrylic instead of the wool that the pattern calls for.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

{Thrift Shop Temptations) Fire, Police, Funeral Home...

Something about old phones always makes me smile. If I ever find an affordable candlestick phone, that baby is coming home with me. 

These two were just a little easier to resist, mostly thanks to their prices. They're things I love but do not need.

I thought it was a shame that the phone in the top picture had a sticker on it, until I saw whose numbers are listed. Can you imagine seeing that on your phone every single day? This thread about funeral home advertising stickers makes it look like they were pretty common at one point....and the place is still in business so they must be good at what they do.

Is there something vintage that you always find hard to resist?

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Midwest Barn

This was one of those accidental projects. I picked up an old magazine at a sale someplace, saw
a pattern I liked that only called for five colors of floss, and a few weeks later I started stitching. 

Midwest Barn - Cross Stitch & Country Crafts Sept/Oct 1992
Pattern: Midwest Barn Cross Stitch & Country Crafts Sept/Oct 1992

The plan was to maybe put it on a project bag or something, but I definitely think it deserves better finishing than that. We all know I never frame anything, but for now I've got an excuse. There are two more barns in the series and I definitely want to stitch those too. 

Western Barn is definitely my favorite of the three, but I didn't want to put the project on hold long enough to figure out whether I've got that magazine in my stash already. Odds are that I do...or I can find a copy.

Monday, August 06, 2018

Contagious Enthusiasm

For the past few years, I've been completely avoiding the new Halloween fabric. I didn't even walk through the section, because I knew the temptation would be strong and if I wasn't using the Halloween prints I already had I shouldn't buy more.

But my friends have been posting gorgeous pictures of their purchases and the Halloween stuff in my stash is NOTHING like this....

I've got plans for it all, and plans for other stuff. What I'm not sure of yet is how much time I'll have this week, but there aren't any solid deadlines for any of this anyway.

-- finish Campside and cast on a new shawl
-- decide on a full coverage cross stitch project
-- pull out the "too good to cut" fabric that's hiding in my stash

Sunday, August 05, 2018

(Don't) Buy the Best Materials You Can Afford

I've been hearing that advice again. It always ticks me off, but this week it's really getting to me because of this yarn. 

I bought it at the local knitting shop. It was $19.50 a skein. Maybe it was on sale, but that shop never had sales so I'm kind of doubting it. I bought two skeins and at the time it was a huge splurge.

Then I waited twelve or thirteen years to cast on because I'm afraid of wasting the good stuff. I've got two good things to say about this yarn. I love the colors and the way they look in my project. And there wasn't a single knot in either skein.

The pretty color and lack of knots are nice, but the yarn, an acrylic/wool/alpaca blend, is tearing my hands up. I've worked with softer Red Heart Supersaver and that's a huge problem in my mind. What did I gain by buying "good" yarn from the specialty shop?

Another thing that absolutely baffles me -- This yarn isn't listed on Ravelry, or anywhere else that I can find. There's no yardage listed on the ball band. What legitimate yarn company doesn't list the yardage?

Moral of this story...there's wonderful yarn and awful yarn and where you buy it and what you pay doesn't determine which was which.  (That super cheap acrylic I got on sale at Hobby Lobby and just used to knit Gramma's Hug?  Some of the softest prettiest stuff I've ever knit with.)

Saturday, August 04, 2018

Another Afternoon of Stitching

I love stitching, especially with all of my friends at Acorns and Threads. It's one of the best possible ways to spend an afternoon -- especially when I don't have to make the entire drive on my own! 

With a lot of counting and counting again and marking  my working copy to keep track of my progress, I got the little girl's right leg finished. I started that part of the pattern last weekend up at The Starlight Stitchery and I did her arm at a previous Acorns and Threads meetup. This project is going to be absolutely filled with happy memories.


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