Thursday, December 13, 2007

Shaking OFF some funk

2 years in the making

WHAT?! (I finished a quilt :)
Stained Peace - with a purple edge

I started putting these 20 finished blocks together a couple of weeks ago.
My quilting group,
the Clueless Quilters had a workshop (a really long time ago!) on a Stack & Slash stained glass style quilt, made from fat quarters.

I went into my stash and used fabric already on hand - only supplementing with the Peace Dove fabric and a couple of others. My
Use (mostly) What You Have project is (finally) finished!!

Once I had the top together and had decided I would hand-quilt it, I promised myself I would try quilting a block-a-day. If I kept to my self-imposed deadline it
could be done in 20 days. Or there about. I lost track, but it took less than 2 weeks to quilt it!!

Feeling has started to return to my fingertips. I hand-quilt with
questionable technique - needle stabs repeatedly into thumb and forefinger of both hands so often my fingerprints are ruined. My thimble use needs re-evaluation? Probably.

At this point in today's story my new laptop became a brick.

Thanks to Blogger, this much was auto saved and my determination to begin blogging again didn't suffer an instant death before the PUBLISH button could be poked for the first time in a very long while. Then again it was probably the Blogger auto save that froze things up in the first place?

Fingers crossed. A picture will follow to prove finishing UFO's might be useful therapy for whatever ails me. I finished a baby sweater several weeks ago that had been started last spring.
I think.

Next up: a half pair of finished socks (both cuffs are done) left over from Sock Madness. Although it may be Sock Madness that set me off on my funk in the first place? We'll see if I can be a better blogger. Yeah...


Sunday, September 30, 2007

Featured Article

Fabric Postcard Dream Catcher

My Dream Catcher tutorial is posted online now.

I've been a member of Postmark'd Art since it began, soon after Quilting Arts issue 14 came out and began spreading the word about fabric postcard swapping. I was asked by our group leader to write a tutorial on how I make dream catchers on postcards for September.

Visit the site and look around at all the other neat tutorials as well!

Technically, the last "finished photo" is shown upside down from the way it's intended to be looked at when you pull it out of the mailbox. I blogged about this design here when I admitted my "state of flux" had left me in no mood for knitting. I'm still not knitting and the one sock I did work on this summer ended up getting ripped out even though I was right at the toe bind off stage. It came out way too small because I still can't count and had cast on too few stitches. I didn't even notice until I was half way done. I didn't want to waste my yarn making another one just like it - fitting nobody I know!

I'm working on Letter People again for the 14th Street School Kindergarten class - only 24 kids this year! I already have 7 letters of the alphabet finished (per kid) and plan on taking a break from letters to get back to postcards (or even some sock knitting!) since I'm ahead schedule.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Tearing down mountains to get a better view?

Actually, it's all about corporate profit.

There's a commercial on TV that drives me right up the wall. It claims "People are smart" but there seems precious little evidence these days. I watched a rebroadcast of Bill Moyers show this week on PBS and as usual his topics make you think; then make you angry.

Our government is about to make it easier still - for the sake of corporate greed - to tear off the top of mountains to get to coal faster. (Including but not limited to the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia.)

What can YOU do?

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Finished things

I won't tell.

Harry Potter book 7 was finished mid week, leaving me with an
"I don't know what to do with myself now!" anti-climax. This book is not at a young child's age level. For the kids & adults hooked on Harry from the beginning, we've aged along with the characters in the book. I fear with all 7 now available at the same time, the next generation hooked on Harry will be too young for some of the later books. I hope parents pay attention to their child's age level and not just their reading skill. Librarians should be cautious of where the series is placed on the shelves.

I've also finished my series of free-form needle tatted trees for the Postmark'd Art postcard swap. 4 plus one for me to keep for my own collection. They sort of went from stark bonsai to Whomping Willow. My reading material may have had some effect on the direction my free form tatting took?

Each one is a little different from the next, with a marked difference between first and last. Not sure which is my favorite. Will probably keep the one directly over the book. Background colors might have been better with something else, but I'm stash busting with fabrics I have on hand.
It is what it is!

Vacation time is here (half over now). Tom and I decided a day trip or two and instead of traveling around spending gobs of money on gas and fast food for 2 weeks. Instead we have demolished the living room!

Going about the same track as a favorite children's book: "If you Give a Mouse a Cookie" (he's going to want a glass of milk).
ONE THING LEADS TO ANOTHER! We ripped the nasty squares of ceiling out to replace with wood. (Only 2 rooms left after this and all of the ceilings will have been replaced.) That means the wood molding has to come down. And be stripped of multiple layers of paint and stained to match. And the wall paper I put up 20 plus years ago might as well come off. This time taking it back all 3 layers and painting. (Perhaps another shade of yellow?) And then door trims & window sashings will need to be painted. The floor has issues but we will deal with that later. Seriously. One thing ALWAYS leads to another!

Of course a major issue cropped up when we realized 15 feet of ceiling trim is trapped by 4 feet of ugly fake brick fire wall that was put in place before we bought the place. A wood stove used to dominate the living room but we installed ours in the basement with ductwork bringing the heat up. But the ugly bricks stayed.
Until Friday.

I saved you a fake brick, Steph!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Not NOW!

Shh! I'm reading Harry Potter.

I'm on page 259.

I took time out late this afternoon to walk to the edge of our field and pick enough raspberries for a pie. They're just starting to ripen and it looks like it will be a good year for them.
I may put down my book again long enough to go make the pie, now that good reading light has faded.

I also practiced a butterfly this afternoon from the tatting calendar for July 19th.

The colors I used made one freaking ugly butterfly. I thought purple & red would work better than this! I didn't put much thought into color choice - just grabbed two to practice technique with. Will have to ask the what thread was used for the sample as it is very pretty.

I'm still using up bags of free crochet cotton I was given, belonging to Aunt Nonnie. It's been over a year now since she passed away and I miss her. It pleases me to be able to finally put some of it to use, now that I've discovered needle tatting.

I don't know the correct way of working two colors yet, so I cheated and ran the second color in behind the stitches on back to get started. I'll go ask for group help on tatting using 2 needles later.

After pie baking.
And another chapter with Harry.

Book 7 KNITTING CONTENT ...from page 21:
Harry remembers asking Dumbledore: "What do you see when you look in the mirror?"
"I? I see myself holding a pair of thick, woolen socks."

Friday, July 27, 2007

Tatting Collage project

Bonsai Fabric Postcard

Not sure if this needle tatted bonsai tree qualifies as motif 9.
say it does since it's a finished item.

From inspiration found in Lindsay Rogers'
Tatting Collage book, this is my interpretation of her cover, scaled down to fit the tree themed postcards I've signed up for in a coming swap with 5 members of Postmark'd Art.

The book gives basic instructions for the combination of stitches & patterns found within the book that were used in the collages - not actual direction for each collage.

Monday, July 23, 2007


25 Motif Challenge

Needle Tatted motifs are turning up everywhere!
I've joined a group that's all about tatting motifs. Pledging to make 25 this year.

(I do pledge to give it my best shot :)
I'm starting a little late!

I made 2 more needlebooks just so I could have some place else to stick some tatting onto. As the queen of unfinished things I'm hoping my 25 motif's translate into #25 finished items. Not just a box of motifs!

I suspect Needlebooks and Bookmarks will be added to sock gifted friends & family far into the future.

Not counting anything twice, I have 8 finished.
Technically, I have 15 basket postcards all finished and 6 have been mailed away already.

I'd be working on my next motif but the Patchwork Press (newsletter I edit for Maine's Pine Tree Quilters Guild) is due out to the printers this week. This computer is so slow in between waiting for things to open or download or print I have washed kitchen & living room windows - inside & out; done 3 loads of laundry, vacuumed and made potato salad for supper.

(@#%&*$ thing!) There's been a great deal of swearing, as well. When PWP is done I will happily go back to some guilt free needle tatting practice.

Monday, July 16, 2007

I'm a Calendar Girl!

July 16 Tatting Calendar pattern

My basket has been added to the Tatting Calendar project.


Hopefully it's not riddled with mistakes, as a couple of people are testing it, but as of now it's only been tested by me. Awfully bold of someone who's been holding a tatting needle for all of 3 weeks? And had never even heard of the concept of needle tatting until I wanted a basket for a postcard?

(Still no knitting happening, although I got a project out and touched it a few minutes.)

Next Item! Here is the newest fabric postcard I came up with over the weekend, changing the cutout to hold a purple tatted butterfly within a net window. I've done this basic crazy quilt design before, with several different motifs in the window. Felt cutouts of maple leaves, shamrocks & hearts - until I discovered tatting! Will add beads and maybe even a tatted edge to a seam next time, but I'm out of pink seed beads & I wanted to test the first one (NOW!) with a butterfly, just to see how it would look trapped in the net.

A couple of weeks ago I sent one I did for fall swaps last year to the ArtCard Ideas project:

Share your fabric postcard creations online for the ArtCard Ideas 2007 Idea Deck Contest!
We're looking for fun, elegant, wacky, and wonderful fabric postcards as art for a deck of ideas especially for fabric postcard artists.
Postcards will be collected from all over the world and displayed here for everyone to view. Visitors will vote on their favorite postcards, and photos of the 52 most popular cards will be included in the 2007 ArtCards Idea Deck for sale this fall!
There are goodies for the 10 most popular cards, and every winner earns bragging rights, so get a fabric postcard creation to us by August 1!

My card, A Piece of New England in Fall can be seen here in their gallery. I seem to have moved to the bottom of the page. Hopefully it's an alphabetical thing.
Or last - but not least?!

Voting starts August 15th for 2 weeks - and it would be lovely to be one of the chosen ones.

(What she actually means: Shameless begging will begin on the 15th!)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Curse of the Spider Card

Beware! Here there be spiders...

As a member of Postmark'd Art, Round 6 is about to begin for swapping fabric postcards. One of the themes voted on was INSECTS but since it didn't get enough votes to qualify for the top 10 swap groups, 3 of us did one-on-one swaps on our own.

Karen from Illinois reports she received my insect themed fabric postcard last Saturday and thought it quite wonderful:
"It was so exciting. However, something bit me when I took out the mail. Didn't think much about it. I knocked the offender off when I instinctively shook my hand so I missed what bit me. However, within minutes my hand started to swell and turn a beautiful shade of red. Ice did nothing. Kept getting worse. Ended up in the emergency room. Now you have to laugh because the doctor said that he thought it was a spider bite!!!! Had a rough few days but all is well now and I think it makes a great story. "
Her insect themed card to me was of mosquitoes. The day it arrived there were swarms of them everywhere - the worst of the summer by far. We may have to rethink this theme in future!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Needle Tatting; Week 2 1/2 :)

"Light Bulb moments" add up

I'm finally getting the hang of this needle tatting thing - without stopping to decide which way to go at every turn. The basics are coming more easily. The
Learn Needle Tatting Step-by-Step book arrived yesterday with my 4 new needles. It's a good thing it's price was equal to the cost of the needles alone as I've learned most of what's in the book from free online sources - before it got here.

I've even come up with a tatted basket by changing this tutorial for a medallion pattern into more what I was thinking of as I searched for a fabric postcard basket theme idea in the first place.
The reason my knitting/mom blog morphed into something new a couple of weeks ago!

I may even hold knitting needles today to see if remember how!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Needle Tatting; week 2

Split Ring demystified!

Tried following a tutorial for split rings and was left with broken rings and chains hanging in mid-air. Pretty sure I wasn't doing something right! Posted a question on the Yahoo group I joined and one lady went above & beyond trying to help me out by adding a new tutorial on her blog. I got it!

And made a bookmark of sorts. Kind of looks like a fly swatter! Thought of adding one of the colorful butterflies to it. Butterflies are NOT for swatting though, so maybe not.

But at least it's finished and I worked enough split rings to really "get it!"

My new book arrived. Tatting Collage by Lindsay Rogers would be worth the list price just for the pictures. Even if I never tatted anything from it. But I've already done butterflies & stars from it and that Bonsai tree on the cover will end up on a fabric postcard if when I figure it out. I found it on for less than list, even with shipping & handling. PLUS the lady included a piece of tatting - still stuck to the #8 tatting needle. Unexpected bonus!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Needle Tatting; week 1

New obsessions

Just like Christopher Columbus "discovered" America, I have "discovered" Needle Tatting!

Sure. Other people already know about Needle Tatting, just as America already had a fair number of residents who should have perhaps slapped Chris upside the head and pointed out the fact that they were here first.

But a discovery is what we make of it.
There's a good chance I'm going to be away from my knitting needles a bit longer.


A week ago today I was searching through some old patterns I had printed off from the net.
For someday. For "when I get around to it."
I was looking for basket postcard ideas and although I never found the one I was thinking of, I came across this one. Printed out in July 2001.

This basket has waited very patiently for me to "get around to it"!

(Although it turns out only the flowers are tatted. Basket is actually drawn onto a note card, so I've free handed a sketch of a larger version to appliqué onto fabric.)

I went out and bought a tatting needle that very morning and have doodled a bit waiting for some how-to books to arrive from the library. There are a host of online instructions & support groups. I've joined one specific to needle tatting and expressed my joy at discovering their secret. Needle tatted motifs may find their way onto a few more fabric postcards & ATC's.

It's vacation week so another "discovery" was made due the fact that we were lost. Tom was driving so we'll call it exploring! We found the Dead River above Long Falls Dam.

Map reading directions: Go to Bingham, Maine; cross the river and turn right. Then just drive.
(Check to be sure the gas tank is full before encouraging the fool to do this!)

Friday, June 15, 2007

There. And back again.

A state of flux?
Noun 1. State of flux - a state of uncertainty about what should be done (usually following some important event) preceding the establishment of a new direction of action.
Yes. I think that about says it.

I've taken a break from knitting and apparently blogging as well. My lord! According to the birthday cake we ate in May, I've aged a year in the time that I've been absent.

There were Letter People to finish before the school year ended and I'm happy to say: they are done. Word has it only 21 kids have signed up for kindergarten next year, as of now. 42 like this year and NO WAY will I be touching another piece of plastic canvas again. Ever.

And we graduated the youngest kid from college. Steph's thesis is finished and was awarded highest honors. Eggshells that got walked on while this grueling project was accomplished have all been swept away. I've been practicing pronunciation of summa cum laude again. Because yes. I grew two daughters receiving such honors. And I tell anyone who cares to listen!

And some who are just polite.

She's back working at Scholastic Books in New York - just in time for the Harry Potter book 7 party Scholastic will be throwing. So this is officially a mom blog again and I must write embarrassing childhood stories in order to fulfill all mom blog requirements.

Photos will follow.

Mom & chocolate lab are now both resting our chins on the windowsill and looking for the missing kid. Southeastward. Like if we just look long & hard enough she'll come into clearer view.

Mapquest says it's 452.36 miles to where you are, kid.
My first turn is a sharp left.

(They don't know about our other driveway ;-)

Yes. I needed a break from the letter people.
And knitting.

Perhaps some good advice to myself would be to stay away from competitive sock knitting. Nothing like beating up a perfectly fine desire to knit socks with some competitive non stop knitting madness. I don't yet have the urge to pick up knitting needles again.

Except. I did buy 3 skeins from the clearance shelf yesterday at City Side Yarn. 40% off was what got me into trouble last year about this time if I remember? This is prettier.
And NOT variegated OR striped.

Instead I've been making fabric postcards and participating once again with online postcard groups. I forgot how much I enjoy making them and have been sewing them while the mood strikes. Because it would seem I'm a One obsession at a time crafter. Wonder what's next?

Knitting most likely. I bought yarn!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Sock Madness Interrupted

It's a boy!

Actually, my brother & his wife already already knew that it would be a boy. I'm an Aunt again!

Benjamin Alex weighed in at 8.4 and arrived at lunch time on Friday, May 4th. Mom and I went to the hospital to meet the newest addition of our family later in the afternoon. They're now home and doing well.

Where was my camera? Home. Bad blogger Aunt!

The newest Sock Madness pattern arrived, at about the same time.
There have been some technical difficulties.

I'm not sure I have the will to start again. Certainly, not as written. It has an all over Fair Isle pattern and I have a problem with putting that much work into socks without personal servants to carry me around so my feet won't touch the ground!

I didn't work the stranding that wrapped around the sides correctly. There were long unworked strands that should have been caught up better, causing some puckering from strands too tight.
I was not happy enough with the way it looked to continue.

I may try the pattern without the design on the bottom and then use the bottom pattern for the other sock. The design is intended to wrap around the foot, but instead I might try mismatched feet murals.

Not sure when I'll try any sock pattern again since 240+ Letter People need to be finished before School's summer vacation starts. Yikes.

Edited to note: The last picture is of a cute pattern found here at DutchOrchid Designs. Her blog is here. I did change the heel to Eye of Partridge and it took me 3 attempts before I got the stitches divided symmetrically perfect so the lace pattern was centered in front.
Probably my fault and not the pattern design, though.
It's a little embarrassing to admit I had to do the first heel 3 times!

Trying to distract from my Sock madness failure with a picture of socks finished on Friday while waiting for the pattern. Did it work? :)

Friday, May 04, 2007

Just in time for Mother's Day

Last minute Kid Crafts

With the approaching deadline of a thesis to finish, my daughter was asked by Scholastic Books if she was interested in doing a freelance Mother's Day crafty newsletter for their online site a few weeks ago.

Stephani spent last summer in New York interning for them and is hoping for a Real Job there once she graduates from U Maine next week. First invite to apply officially came yesterday!! MSN even added her newsletter to their Family & Friends links. Check it out.

Hooray for college graduates!
I'll be doing some steady bragging on 2 of them now!!
Sara returned from Colorado last night after attending a conference on Fuel & Chemistry. That's what the free tote bag says!
Lots of important contacts were made, including an invitation to consider research with Cornell. Cool! Proud mom alert...beware!

And Round 6 of Sock Madness gets underway late today.
I'll be obsessive, compulsive knitting again this weekend.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Sock Madness update

Round 5 complete

This pair took me several hours past my Sock-a-Day goal.

Pattern arrived at 3 or 4 p.m. on Friday.

I forget which, and I'm too lazy to go look!

I only did 16 rows Friday night, before fading daylight and several pattern errors forced me to put it down and walk away. I kept thinking "trust the pattern" and that it must be something I was doing wrong, but turns out 4 or 5 rows had tiny errors that made a huge problem if you were not skilled enough to recognize the pattern.
(Or didn't bother to check the accompanying chart that only had 1 tiny error!)
Discussion group at Flickr had them all straightened out by the next day. Should have checked in sooner but I'd already had a long day and was exhausted.

Decided to snap out of it and just knit these in spare time.

Finished them at 7:33 p.m. Sunday. Just minutes after the Final Four posted the last entry that would move on to the next round. There was no sitting up all night knitting on pair at all. Plus I took Mom on all her errands on Saturday - at least 3 hours of nonknitting time doing the normal grocery shopping & prescription filling routine. Since I was out of the actual competition didn't seem right blowing off commitments. (Dad was very thankful, as he got to go golfing.)

I even did dishes for god sake! If I had known I was going to come so close to finishing before the final 4 was set, I would have at least skipped housework. For the good of the cause! ~ :)

Blog for Peace, why don't ya!

May Challenge

I don't care about the chance to win a freaking prize. Add your name to Bloggers For PEACE!

Only actual commitment is thinking peaceful thoughts.

Our government needs to end its damn occupation of a foreign country for the sake of oil & profit. Give the UN at least 90 days notice we're leaving.
There's going to be a bit of a mess to clean up.

And check out this video on the new irack .
Your humorous moment of the day, shared with me by Steph.
(Proud owner of an ibook and faithful Apple convert.)

Mission accomplished, indeed. Sign the damn bill!
com·pro·mise (kmpr-mz)
1.a. A settlement of differences in which each side makes concessions.
b. The result of such a settlement.
2. Something that combines qualities or elements of different things: The incongruous design is a compromise between high tech and early American.
3. A concession to something detrimental or pejorative: a compromise of morality.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

G is for Guardian Angel

And Grandmothers

3rd year of Letter People stitching continues for the two Kindergarten classes I volunteer for.
42 x 26 total this year.
7 X 42 letters remain.
Not doing the math.
Better if I don't know know.

During Round 3 of Sock Madness I mentioned finishing that pair while watching the Maine college hockey team at the Frozen Four. Sadly they lost. But the saddest news of all we learned the following day. Coach Whitehead's mother-in-law was killed in a car accident on her way to the game from Ohio with her husband. They didn't tell the media until after the game.

Coach's little boy is in one of the Kindergarten classes I do the Letter People for.
This week his class receives letter G. Working on them brought tears to my eyes more than once.
G is for Grandmother.
But this week that breaks my heart.

Meanwhile, our own Guardian Angel worked overtime this week.
  • A mid April snowstorm left the roads a mess. Tom was on vacation but we spent most of the first half of it trying to control water coming into the basement. 3 sump pumps going steady at times, still had all they could do keeping up with the flow.
  • The Jeep Wrangler had a date with a mechanic to install new shocks on Monday, but the trip nearly ended in disaster as Tom decided to save gas and not use 4-wheel drive during our freak blizzard. Following him to the garage in order to give him a ride home gave me a front row view as the Wrangler went out of control and swerved from one side of the road and back again; headed straight for a row of giant maples before finally regaining control. If any cars had been in the other lane he would have broad sided them. Twice.
For the record: screaming, "Tom, you're panicking!" in wide-eyed terror. Probably doesn't help. As he got into my Jeep - the one in 4-WHEEL DRIVE! - I suggested I get him home so he could change his drawers. And no more saving $3 of gas while risking thousands of dollars damage. Men.
  • By Wednesday spring arrived with temps in the high 60's. We set off in the Wrangler for Ellsworth for old book shop/Antique browsing. I drove. We pulled in at the gas pumps on the outskirts of Ellsworth and as Tom went inside to pay I decided to move out of the way. The brake pedal went all the way to the floor. With a squishy sensation I was pretty sure was a bad sign. I rolled to a stop and got out to look. Sure enough brake fluid was leaking out onto the ground. A wrecker and $180 later could not diminish the good fate of losing brakes while at a standstill. Minutes before we had been traveling 50 MPH and minutes later we would have started a long downhill route towards the busy downtown area.
Extra precaution has been taken for the remainder of the week.
Our Guardian Angel has been busy enough.
No need to press our luck further.

In knitting news:
  • I started a second pair of Mad Color Weave socks from round 4. Savoring the process a few rows at a time, rather than knitting steady with 3 hours of sleep seems to be working out just fine. I hardly need the pattern, although keeping notes on where I am remains tedious but vital. Someday I hope to be able to tell exactly what row I'm on just by looking!
  • Zipper has been applied to baby sweater. It lays perfectly flat one minute and then little waves appear when moved. I think it's a symptom of plastic zippers more than my technique.
It's what I'm telling myself.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Sock Madness - out on Round 4

Not fast enough

Looks like Sweet Sixteen is as far as I go.
Round 4 of Sock Madness patterns arrived in our mailbox a little after 10:30 am on Saturday. Things were off to a shaky start, with a little confusion for several of us. "Wrapping needle twice" was not intended to increase the number of stitches and for those of us trying to do just that, nothing that followed made much sense.
Luckily the designer hung out with us on the Flickr Discussion board and got us straightened out pretty quickly!

I finished these socks in just under 48 hours, but not fast enough to move on to the next round.
I'm out, darn it!

This pattern had long looped stitches that got dropped and left hanging in mid-air 3 rows down, while you swapped stitches around or knit the 2 next to it and then came back for them. Now they would slant. First one way, then the other.

What actually got the better of me though was the long rows of Right & Left Twists.
My Left Twist technique went very badly! Everything came to screeching halt every time I came to a Left Twist - and there were a lot of them! It would take a minimum of 4 or 5 attempts to get this stitch to cooperate, without popping off the needle unworked. Leaving me right back where I started from. Didn't help much that the more I dreaded each one as I approached it, the tighter I knit; the tighter I held onto the needles, the worse it went. I added a few choice curse words to my technique as each one went by. For good measure. Didn't help.

Original 128+ Sock Madness knitters will be down to the Final 8 and I'm not one of them.
I have Sock Madness Sadness! At least I get the next 2 patterns. This one was pretty awesome so I suspect the last two will be spectacular. I would do this one again - with a few changes perhaps. I would stick with a shorter heel, a more basic heel turn across the bottom & a rounder toe. And only RIGHT TWIST braids down the sides!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

One Million Blogs for Peace

Find and post a photo of the Iraq War

"The demonstration, which has remained peaceful, was being held at the urging of militant Shiite cleric Moktadaal-Sadr." slide show here

Photo: Hadi Mizban/Associated Press - New York Times

Many of the same arguments against leaving Iraq were used at the end of the Vietnam war.
Our occupation of this country should end.
It's what their people want as well.

Shame on every politician who got us into this mess.
The guilt of it should haunt you every day

I hope it does.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Hooded zip-up Baby Sweater

Minus the zipper

I said I wasn't going to knit socks anytime soon, after the last round of Sock Madness.

Gee, I wonder who cast on the latest Six-Month-Sock-Along pattern?
But it's Harry Potter socks, so how could I resist?

During the latest down time of Sock Madness I did try something different, though.
My sister-in-law is about to give birth any day now and up until now I've not felt the urge to knit anything baby. Superstitious? Maybe.

But I had grabbed up a skein of Bernat Softee Baby yarn with a 50% off coupon from ACMoore's to make a pair of baby booties for husband's co-worker shower gift a while ago.
There was a lot of yarn left over. I cast-on without a clue how far the skein would go.
Foolish optimism is a wonderful thing.

The sweater I had in mind was given to me 24 years ago as a baby shower gift. It had a zipper in the back and I remember it as the best invention EVER for getting on or off a sleeping baby. Even if it meant tag-team cooperation between the inexperienced parents we once were. I knew it was still around somewhere, turned over to the girls for their Cabbage Patch Dolls long ago. Wondered where it was...

I took my memory of the sweater to the internet search engine and tried finding a free pattern. What I found was this. It's not very well written for a first adventure in baby sweaters. And the picture of the zipper installation is appalling! I've changed the pattern to include cables and rewritten it in terms I can understand.

Because that's what a Foolish Optimist does, right?

I've knit my first baby sweater!* In about 5 days of casual knitting. No crazy non-stop Madness Knitting. I can't believe how quickly it knit up once I figured out how to increase for the Raglan Sleeves. (Pile of raveled yarn proof of several attempts at figuring out "increase, place marker, increase" instruction. Without freaking holes of ginormous proportions.)

With one sleeve left to go, there was question whether or not there would be enough yarn to finish. I suggested to Tom I might need one of those booties back! In the end there was yarn left, rolled up about the size of a golf ball.

(If anyone wants my changes, let me know. It probably needs a second test knitting though to see if I deciphered my scribbles correctly. I did find the sweater, still on the doll! Looks like 58 stitches cast on instead of 78. It's only slightly smaller although I used size 7 needles on my version. )

* Technically, I knit a toddler sweater for Sara when she was little. The neck opening was so tight there was probably an element of child cruelty involved getting it on & off. She only wore it a couple of times. She would have every right to continue holding the entire experience against me, should she jot down her Mommy Dearest moments at some point later in life.

(Plus I kicked her arse at Scrabble yesterday ~:)

Pocket Constitution in honor of One Million Blogs for Peace. I'm joining.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Sock Madness - Round 3 complete!

Painted Madness

Keep this up and I may not knit socks for a long, long time. Another pair of less than day and a half socks. Ugh. I might be suffering actual Sock Madness symptoms at this point.

(And Maine's hockey team was winning until I finished my socks during the 2nd period and got out of my comfy chair to take photos. 3 adults in our household now accuse me of being the jinx and are demanding a public written apology. I'm sorry we lost? sniff)

Pattern arrived for Round 3 a little after 10:30 am Wednesday. It started out very unusual with a strip of points and then 66 - 72 stitches were picked up and knit along the edge. I still have mild panic attack as I approach just a few gusset stitches to be picked up. After all the socks I've made it's still the place that freaks me a little.

To top things off for this round, it snowed nearly 2 feet and we lost power this morning for almost 3 hours. I had just started the second sock when things went dark. Knit by candlelight. That's how bad my madness has become. Lost cable & internet most of the afternoon and wondered idly how far I might have to drive in order to download proof of finished socks, should it become necessary.

Luckily, it did not!

Yarn used is Bernat Sox - Hot Tamale.
Size 2 needles for cuff; 1's for rest.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Seemed like a good idea at the time.

Look what the Easter bunny coughed up?

There is just way too much pastel in the this (almost) Lala Scarf for its own good. I didn't follow directions. That may go without saying for most things I do. The original pattern is found in Greetings from Knit Cafe and it's very lacy. Lots of YO's and wrap yarn around 3 times.
Too lacy perhaps.

I first saw an almost Lala scarf at Rainy Day Goods, rolled into a pretty pink bouquet. Not sure why I felt compelled to knit it during the off time, before round 3 of Sock Madness begins. I finished the Ripple socks that went on hold when round 2 started and I didn't feel like starting another pair of socks just yet.

So I decided to knit a scarf. Without following directions.
Yarn used is Cherish Minty Moda-Dea along with Cherish Baby Print variegated for the picots. It seemed like it would work. In a not so pink kind of way. I used size 7 needles and just knit until it measured 14 inches in the middle. Directions call for 14 x 33 inch scarf - 95 stitches.

Yeah. Too pastel?

I didn't actually read the part where it suggested there would be 95 stitches until I was at 14".
I had 175. And there was still 4 more rows in which we would double the number of stitches twice. Picot trim if knit as instructed would bring scarf to 380 stitches. I was up to about 700 stitches when I started the picots from hell.

Oh. My. @##@##@. Word.

And it's not that I don't swear (way too much)...for some weird reason it feels wrong to type swear?

Stephani has allowed she would wear it if she were feeling particularly girlie. I suggested she wear it and the first person who shows any sign they aren't repulsed by it - they get to have it.
Except it's more likely a guy takes notice and in all likely hood owning a pastel ruffled scarf is not what they're interested in.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Something to say. Maybe not.

I stayed too long.

It happens often enough online, not to be all that surprising.
You click a link and it takes you some place unexpected. Bad.
A place you don't want to be.
You can back away without too much fuss. Say nothing.
It'll be gone.

Sometimes you click a link and you're not sure where you are.
You stay too long trying to figure it out.
Their point of view.
The meaning.

I stayed too long.

So I'm not sure why I feel troubled, disillusioned even, because of how I got there. Does the person who took the time to post the link really agree with these people? Maybe I didn't stay long enough to understand where they were coming from. I don't think I'll go back to see.
Not sure why I can't shake off the ugly 24 hours later.

These were the notes I scribbled to paper yesterday, after I had backed away.
In case I felt like seeing it in more permanent font.
After I had showered.

Too many political conversations these days begin with:
"They always ________ "
"We never _________ "
(Insert over hyped talking point of choice.)

Will America ever find her "center" again? We need leaders truly dedicated to "Uniter, not divider" philosophy of a long ago election lie.
Broken promises. I never believed were more than a campaign slogan.
But hoped it might be true in the end.

Is there hope liberal Conservatives and conservative Liberals will ever realize there is a middle ground for compromise? Somewhere in between, where they're not so different. That the good things they want for themselves and their neighbors are acceptable compromises.

Compromise needs to come from both sides, so that the scales are still balanced.
Not standing in the middle, so much as level. Equal from both sides.
I feel sad to be American. I don't like this feeling.
Perhaps her People will fix things, when Leaders will not.
Someday soon, please.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

I'm MAD, I tell ya!

Sock Madness - Round 2 complete

In the space of 27 hours I've finished my Mad-tinis.

Sock pattern arrived in my mailbox Thursday around 5 pm. Right in the middle of cooking supper so it was closer to 6 before I actually cast on. I knit until 10 pm but I'm a morning person and couldn't see what I was doing through all the yawning tears, so went to bed.

Rib was different! It reminded me of linen stitch a little. But more like a crochet afghan stitch I learned as a teenager. Couldn't remember what it's called so googled "crochet long hook" and came up with TUNISIAN crochet. I don't remember how to do it but I still have the hook.

Socks feel stiff; pattern called for sport weight and size 2 needles. Would have been way too big up a needle size, so maybe a thinner yarn next time. I may try the pattern again in solid or flecked colors so all those PSSO's swirling around in the really cool spiraling design show up better. My two-fisted method for passing a stitch over 2 others is slow at best. And soon discovered picking up lost stitches in this pattern would be a bitch, so went even more slowly.

It looks like at least 8 people finished ahead of me - a couple WAY ahead! Not sure what the next round will bring but once again I had to go to town for 3 hours of errands. PTQG newsletter absolutely needed to be at post office so it could get to the Printers and there was no food in the house since I didn't get groceries last week during the ice storm. Cutting into some serious morning knitting time. Next pattern will probably need my undivided attention if I'm to survive.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Keeping the fingers nimble

Next round of Sock Madness begins March 22nd

The 2nd pattern for Sock Madness is due to arrive in mailboxes Thursday afternoon.

To keep my fingers nimble before another all out KNIT LIKE A MAD WOMAN weekend, I started a pair of lace socks using a striping/variegated yarn - yarn I detested before finding this pattern. Amazing what the curving lines of a simple lace pattern can do for these colors.

The bottom of the heel shows the sock, if knit in a basic stitch, would very much look like the Madcow pattern we just did. Without needing 2 strands. Not being a fan of stripes, I've started and ripped several patterns trying out this yarn. I think this one will work.

I didn't give this pattern a second look until I saw completed pair done by Stitches of Violet. Their picture is useless if you don't click the link behind.

I started off slipping stitches Purlwise and felt there was something funky happening to the left side of the lace pattern. A quick email to ask Marguerite which way to go and I should have been slipping Knitwise. She didn't think it should be making a difference.
So any funky stitches might just be me?

I listened to a couple of knitting podcasts this morning. I've only just figured out what to download in order to listen to them without MP3 or ipod, so podcasts are still a novelty.
I listened to It's a Purl, Man for the first time with Subway Knitter as his guest a week or two ago.
Enjoy his style muchly. While searching about for new podcasts this morning I came across this MUG BOSS. A coffee cup tool bag. I bought a full size one for actual tools that fits over a 5 gallon bucket.

I whipped one up for my coffee cup this morning.
A quick, enjoyable morning of sewing... for a change.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Sock Madness Weekend

Round 1: MADCOW SOCKS complete!

I think I finished in the top 12.
Finished photos were to be posted on Flickr and I think about 11 pair were posted ahead of me.

Sock Madness patterns arrived in mailboxes around 8:00 Saturday morning. Had mine printed out and cast on by 8:15. Only did about 6 rows of the cuff before heading off to town for 3 hours to take mom to get groceries. Next week is sister-in-law's baby shower and mom declared we must get time next week.

While my Sock Mad mind screamed NO! I have no time today! the reasonable functioning portion of my brain agreed she was right and we needed to get it done. Do you know how many red lights you are likely to sit through when you're in a hurry?

ALL OF THEM. And you will just miss most of them at the yellow and sit for the complete sequence of yellow, red, left arrow, straight...okay you may go green.

I was back home by noon and thanks to Internet connection standing by, went to site to see if "Repeat Pattern 4 Times" was a booby trap. 4 times or 5? Questions were raging in the comments section but moderator declared she read it as 5.

So 5 it was, although I think it would have said 4 more times? Not a problem so long as I didn't get myself disqualified doing too few. I am very determined not to be a whiner after the KNIT OFF tragic scarf episode. NO COMPLAINING ABOUT A SOCK PATTERN FROM ME!!

Turns out designer meant 4 and they promise to check future patterns to avoid confusion. I like patterns with lots of little "sonar checks". Notes written into the pattern along the way telling us number of rows now complete or number of stitches left on needle. You know. Patterns written like they think they might be speaking to an idiot. I'm good with that.

Of course a blinding, almost consuming panic began about 2 in the afternoon when on the third attempt at doing the SHORT ROW HEEL as written I concluded I didn't know what the hell I was doing. I've never done a short row heel. I've barely heard of them!

Came back to the Internet and YES we must do heel as written.

A blinding, almost consuming panic may not be the best state of mind to learn a new technique! My first short row heels are not perfect by any means. If Amazing Lace had me fascinated by "Holes on Purpose" you can imagine how frustrating "Holes by Accident" are.

I have not been won over by short row heels method. Yet. I may only ever attempt them again free will if a future Sock Madness pattern demands it of me. Because. No whining.

Had first sock down beyond the middle of the foot by 9 p.m. Took a nap until after midnight and then finished sock 1. Cast second sock on with my first cup of coffee Sunday. We lost an hour just as I was finishing the first toe.

Technically, it may have taken me and hour to knit the last 16 stitches!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Throwing in the scarf!

International Knit Off started March 3rd

It's March 4th and I quit.
Sadly I must admit: I am NOT an International Knitter.

The 1st assignment is the MagKnits scarf found here. Shown are 3 attempts. It was ripped back at least 5 or 6 times.

I detest this scarf!

I'm not a scarf person, although I have requested the book that promises to give me insight on how to make this.

With many more Letter People to make for 2 Kindergarten classes and a 20 page newsletter deadline fast approaching it's time to face the facts. There are not enough hours in the day to be knitting something I hate.

I just did my dishes rather than knit an icky scarf.
I thought I hated doing dishes more than anything! Good luck group O.