Lost the battle but not the war

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102 | Needlework | Crochet | Afghan: Deconstructed

I knew my afghan wasn’t going to be perfect, but when I tossed it onto the floor last night to check on it’s progress, I knew. There was no way this project would ever be anything at all resembling an afghan.

I put the kid to work. She giggled with glee as she zzzzzzzzipppppped away the rows of crochet. After the yarn snagged a few times, though, she lost interest and left the job to me.

After about an hour of demolition, this is what’s left. I gave up on the last part and left it intact. Perhaps it will become a doll shawl?

Back to the drawing board. Perhaps I will do something similar but just do straight rows. Maybe I’ll try something with a bunch of holes in it.

Hip Hip Hooray for Crafty Slumber Parties!

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111 | Needlework | Knitting | Misc. Knitted Item: Completed

I bought the pattern (Landscape Shawl & Scarf by Evelyn A. Clark) for this project about seven years ago in Tucson (well, okay, my Mom bought it for me). I’ve been working on the shawl off and on ever since. When I first moved to Virginia, I knitted on this piece during lunch at work. That first version was being made with a really pretty hand-dyed yarn in dark purples and midnight blues, which I picked up at the same time as the pattern. For months I struggled: post-it notes on the pattern to mark my place, stitch markers made out of loops of yarn (as recommended by the Tucson yarn store person), somehow ripping out more rows than I put in. Then one day Anya was born, and I pulled the shawl off the needles and crammed it into a drawer.

A few years later, I started a knitting club at work. For our first meeting, we went to the local yarn store for knitting lessons / project ideas / yarn. I bought new yarn for the shawl. This time I chose a yarn in light, watery greens and blues. I also bought real stitch markers. What was that Tucson person thinking letting me walk out of that store with that purple yarn for that pattern and NO stitch markers? Maybe she was hoping that when I failed, I would bring the yarn and pattern back to the store and give them to her. The yarn was way too dark for the design, and dude, stitch markers made of loops of yarn will work in a pinch, but the real ones are cheap and oh-so-much better.

So, I started on the new version of the shawl, and the changes I’d made definitely made things better. That and figuring out the rhythm of the pattern, so that I didn’t have to read each and every line for each and every repeat of each and every pattern. The problem was, there I would be merrily stitching along when I’d realize I was off by one (or sometimes two or sometimes I’d have the right number but they’d be in the wrong place). I’d try to do a little unknitting to correct things, but this pattern has YOs, man. YOs. Unknitting around YOs is … well … just not done when you are me. But, I kept trying and trying. Years passed by again, and I began to glare at the shawl and say, “YOU WILL NOT CONQUER ME!” Then one day, I brought the shawl with me on a trip with some friends, including Super Knitter C. I showed her my work and whined a bit, and she said, “Where is your lifeline?”


See, a lifeline is not always a person you can call when you are on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Sometimes it is a piece of brick red cotton yarn that you slip through the stitches of a row. The line sits there and waits patiently until inevitably you realize you have screwed something up. When you unknit, the lifeline holds that one row secure, YOs and all, so you can remove the bad stitches and start again in a good place. I wasn’t taking any chances. I used two lifelines, and I moved one every four rows. And yes, there were a few times I had to unknit to the second line, at which points I thanked myself for being paranoid and insecure.

I finally finished my shawl at my last scrapbook / misc. crafty stuff gathering last weekend. I almost couldn’t take the suspense while I was binding off. I flung with glee my fabulous-non-loops-of-yarn stitch markers! I cheered and danced! I requested praise from all those present! And then I put the shawl in my knitting bag and started work on my next project.

162 | Craft | Holiday Decorations | Misc. Holiday: Completed

Inspired by this quilled heart, I made a heart decoration for Valentine’s Day. This piece took me an entire day at scrapbook / misc. crafty stuff gathering. I feel like I must have done something else, but aside from making a pot of chili and eating an enormous amount of tasty treats, I seem to have only this piece to show. That’s okay. I like it.

That was easy

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I put the finishing touches on another Fair item this afternoon. That brings me up to a total of 20. Out of 193. Hmm… It’s true that 100 of those are items I can’t do right now: garden produce, canned goods, baked goods, cut flowers and other plant stuff. Still, that leaves 73 craft/art items I really should try and finish in … oh …. the next three months. I am awesome! I can do it!

103 | Needlework | Crocheting | Doily: Completed

Doilies have always impressed me what with the teenyness and the tinyness. When I saw them on the Fair list, I almost wept. Surely I wouldn’t be able to make one. This seems to be a common thread in my Fair adventure. Fear of a project…thinking it will be too tough to do…then POOF. It’s done. Admittedly, I chose what seemed the simplest of the free patterns I could find (Spider Web Doily by Coats & Clark) and there are a couple of mistakes, but still. I crocheted a doily!

The blocking was physically painful, and I think I have a blister on my right index finger from pushing all those pins in. I ran out of energy, patience, pain tolerance, and pins (almost) towards the end and probably didn’t pin as much as I should have. I am okay with that.

102 | Needlework | Crocheting | Afghan: In progress

I think I’m about half done with this item, and it seems small, and very triangular. I love it anyhow, like I love my kid even when her nose is a glob of crusty snot and she’s coughing on my breakfast. Well, maybe even more than that. The yarn is really soft.

104 | Needlework | Crocheting | Infant’s Set: Started

I began this item while I was still near my Mom and her crocheting wisdom. I finished two rows on the dress, and pulled one row back out again. It’s probably more technically challenging than the doily. It definitely is way bigger and more tedious.

Hanging in there

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Don’t mistake my lack of posting for lack of interest in or work on my Fair items. I’m still plugging away. I was sick for a week and a half, and the kid was sick for a few days, and that really put a crimp in my…well, in pretty much everything. I still managed to complete three items since I last posted.

105 | Needlework | Crocheting | Table Linens: Completed

The first item is kinda freaky, but I am very happy with it. It is the first crocheted item I’ve made probably ever. If you can’t tell, it’s a place mat. The pattern is based on Scotty’s Place dish mat pattern. I needed an extremely simple pattern to get started with crochet, and this fit the bill. It took me forever to get through the first few rows, and then I got the hang of it. Special thanks to my Mom, who gave me several crochet lessons.

108 | Needlework | Knitting | Infant’s Set: Completed

I spent way too much money on the yarn for this item because I was caught up in the school’s Local Gifts program. I got a sticker every time I bought something from participating local stores. I NEEDED a sticker from the local yarn store, so I spent way too much on Really Expensive Yarn for this item. I didn’t have enough Really Expensive Yarn to do the hat, so I bought some Really Inexpensive Yarn. To tie the pieces together, I did a little embroidery on the sweater and shoes using the Really Inexpensive Yarn. The patterns are from Baby Knits for Beginners by Debbie Bliss. I learned quite a few things with these pieces. The neatest one…weighing yarn! I read a trick on Yarn Harlot. When you are working on a pair of something (baby shoes in this case), and you finish one and don’t know if you’ll have enough yarn for the second, weigh the finished piece and weigh the yarn you have…and presto, you’ll know! One of these shoes weighed about 11 grams, and I had 14 grams of yarn left for the second. Yay! I also practiced several methods for stitching knitted pieces together. Oh! And I made a sweater!! It’s my first sweater ever. It is super simple and super small, but it is a sweater! This still needs to be blocked, but since it’s getting shoved in a box for a few months, I’ll wait for a while to do that.

119 | Needlework | Embroidery | Needlepoint: Completed

Hands down my favorite project I’ve made for the Fair so far, this pin cushion. While most of the projects I’ve made are destined to be gifts, no one is getting this pin cushion but me. I really, really like it. (The picture doesn’t do it justice. All these photos are a bit blurry.) The needlepoint part has been done for a while, but I avoided finishing it because just thinking about making a cord and tassel scared me. Turns out, it’s pretty easy to do both. The pattern is from Medieval Needlepoint: Twenty-Four Easy-To-Make Projects for the Home by Debby Robinson. (I love the library.)

102 | Needlework | Crocheting | Afghan: Started

My next item is underway. It’s a crocheted afghan using a Lion Brand pattern where the afghan is created on a diagonal. I am crocheting a triangle right now, and supposedly it will end up as a rectangle. I have my doubts, but I keep working while I chant my Fair mantra, “I don’t have to win, I just have to enter.” Is there a rule somewhere that says an afghan can’t be a giant diamond?

It only took a year…

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Last summer, I started working on a Christmas stocking for Anya, and I finished it when I was in Georgia this July. (Okay, it still needs the lining, but I finished the knitting.) This stocking was a big first for me. I’ve never done color work before, and I’ve never done the duplicate stitch stuff (where you sorta needle point over the knitting like the green lines in the argyle part). I got down to the snowflake layer last fall, and it drove me absolutely nuts. I put the whole project away for a few months. I don’t have much knitting time these days. I used to knit on my commutes to/from work while Andy drove. It’s also hard to decide which craft I want to work on when I do have time: knitting, card making, scrapbooking, quilling, yo-ing. Anyhow, I am rambling. The point is, it took me a while, but it is done. I am very happy with it, mistakes and all.

I present, Anya’s stocking….

The pattern is from the book, “Mason Dixon Knitting: Outside the Lines.”

Milk Cozy Fun

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Andy’s been bugging me for about two years now to make some more milk cozies. I’d only made two before moving on to something else, and we get four jars of milk each week. Those other two jars were always lonely and feeling neglected and sad. Sometimes, they got so depressed, the jars would jump and smash like Humpty Dumpty. Sploosh.

I ran out of circles to make yo-yos a few nights ago, so I was able to finally finish up Milk Cozy III. It sports a bottom to prevent smashing on concrete, and it has a sexy collar to add a bit of lactosey playfulness.

I received a care package today of more yo circles from Mom, so it may be a while before I do Milk Cozy IV. After that, who knows. Anyone want to buy some milk cozies?

Car Knitting

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Sometimes I think about all the hundreds of hours I spent sitting in the car going to work, shopping, wherever…everywhere here is far away…all those hours when I could have been knitting. (It makes me almost as sad as thinking about the lost hours of my youth spent watching Little House on the Prairie reruns.) Why did it take me so long (maybe two years?) to make the connection? Riding in car = Perfect time to knit. Since I realized this, I rarely go anywhere without my knitting bag.

Not only does car knitting make the time go by more quickly, it keeps my eyes and mind off Andy’s sometimes crazy driving. He doesn’t think it’s crazy, but, well, he’s crazy. I do often worry we’ll have an accident and I’ll be impaled with a needle. I try in particular to keep the pointy parts from aiming towards my eyes, and I make sure if I rest a dpn in my lap it’s parallel to my body. Is this weird? Do other car knitters fear having an eye-kebab?

Things I’ve learned about car knitting:

  • The commute to/from work is exactly one hat long.
  • ALWAYS finish a row before exiting the car (trust me).
  • Let the yarn balls run free in the floorboard; sure they’ll get a bit dirty but it makes the yarn flow a lot easier.
  • Be 100% sure you have everything you could possibly need in your bag before you hit the road. It really sucks to finish a color and not have brought the next color and have to waste all that knitting time with your eyes closed trying not to scream as the car careens around a curve.
  • Don’t do anything too complicated. Of course it depends on you as to what that means, but for me it means anything where I have to use a stitch counter.
  • NEVER leave your metal needles in the sunlight. (I just learned this one yesterday. Ow.)

Here are two recent products of my car knitting.

Anya’s backpack…

…and a pair of felted slippers that were supposed to be for Anya and will be…in a few years when her feet are a couple inches longer.

Andy’s New Hair

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I never really got over Andy cutting his hair off, so I made him grow it back. He found this great tonic online and has been drinking it for the last few days. Here he is chugging his last dose; though, I think you would agree he doesn’t really need it.

Either that, or he’s modeling a hat I made for my hair-challenged grandma.

Farm Kittens

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I haven’t done a whole lot of knitting lately, but I managed to get these little kittens finished pretty much in time for the holidays. They all now have new homes with a couple of lucky little girls. (At least I think they are lucky. They got a new kitty!)

The pattern was pretty simple, but the details were a bit difficult. I think I finally figured out how to do the faces on the last two. I’m still not sure if the heads and tails will stay on. Hopefully the pieces are too big to be choking hazards.