Friday, July 30, 2010

Yarndis - Redux

I was at a loss to explain it. Why I have WIPs up the wazoo now that I've cleaned up the living room. Why it couldn't stay uncluttered for a moment. Then just this morning as I was putting each project into it's own bag - Yarndis. The yarn goddess is playing with me. And not only does she have me working on 4 afghans - she has made each one of them hate me.

The first one - the 42 square afghan. I couldn't use the 12 inch squares becau
se the measurements didn't add up but luckily I had more than enough of the other size squares. It just wasn't a good mix of crochet with knit squares but it all worked it self out and now I have just to add the last strip and then do an edging and it will be all done. It's trying to kill me because it was supposed to be easier than it's turning out to be. Don't ask me why I never learn the lesson that my imagination has much more energy than my dimensional self - but I never do. The last strip will be added in a few days when I get back around to the afghan. I know, I can just get it finished and over with but I am at the mercy of Yarndis who also wanted me to work on the crazy afghan.

This one really is trying to kill me. It's trying to suffocate me. It has grown since I started working on it and what started out as a cute little thing has morphed into a monster afghan. The pattern says to to until there are 85 shells across and since it's one increase per row, it should be 85 rows but that's not how it went but I couldn't bring myself to do one more increase so I am hoping it won't go wonky on me. I haven't even started the decreasing yet and the thing takes up the whole chair. I don't think this will be an afghan as much as it will be a bedspread. I went out to Hobby Lobby yesterday to purchase one more skein of each color just in case. The good thing is that I will be decreasing every row so it should so maybe the yarn will hold out. It took 6 skeins to get to this point but this one will definitely require an edge to it - I won't be surprised if it will need to eat another skein or two.

These last two you haven't seen yet but I have talked
about them - the green crochet afghan and the knitted afghan that calls for duplicate stitch but I didn't want to duplicate stitch so I decided to do intarsia instead. Let me just say working with the bobbins are fun and the intarsia stitches are actually very textural. I expected them to lay flat in the piece and they are not. It's like they are being added on top - BONUS!!

The green afghan calls for front post stitching which makes for an interesting texture as well. While I was getting the yarn for the crazy afghan, I picked up three skeins of three different green colors (3 skeins total) just to supplement. I expect all the green I have will be used. These are trying to kill me by the sheer volume of it all.

Today I am working on the green afghan and I am tempting Yarndis by saying I am managing to keep the edges straight. I am grateful for that because it would just drive me bonkers - I am going to have to put an edge around this one, too, just to give it a nice finish so if it was a little off, edging could fix it but it would make me absolutely crazy and no one in the free world wants that.

Melissa noted Wednesday evening that I've picked up the crochet hook and I haven't put it down. Not quite true. Knitting remains my love but my world has opened up that much more and I have to admit I don't think of it as i did before - which is probably just the world correcting itself since I crocheted first.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Come Together Right Now

I am in awe of all those minds that first thought up knitting and crochet and those techniques for the rest of us to learn. The progress being made on the 42 square afghan makes me sit in wonder at the creative process.
The squares start out seemingly random and apart and then the joining starts and it changes into something else. That something else still isn't much to look at
but then that's where creativity and trust have to intermingle and it doesn't seem like the two of them should be coworkers.

The needle arts are funny things. Stockinette stitches curl, and if you put too many crochet stitches around the edge of a knitted
block, it gathers in and waves appear in the unexpected places. But that trust thing appears again and you have to go on.

Some other mind thought up blocking and sewing and edging and when you put them all together it starts to form a picture and the trust begins to pay off because you see things
coming together. Then there's the smallest feeling of fear as you wonder if it really all come together or fall apart around the next bend. Trusting doesn't come easy to a knitter/crocheter but trust is really all we have and so we have to go and believe that we will get what it is we are after.

Some of the squares in this afghan were made years ago. Sometimes I get on a square jag and I make them with the thought of
creating an afghan at some point. What is it called then when those squares are brought from those separate jags and come together to form a beautiful work?

There are still two more strips to be done on the afghan and I am really liking how it's turning out. It has a rustic, old fashioned feel, I believe I said in an earlier post that it reminds me of quilts. I look at the piece and I remember my grandmother, Charity, she had huge quilts on all the beds in her house and they provided a great deal of comfort. I ran into some trouble with a square and it's because I didn't do enough to tack down the intarsia ends. I believe I repaired it and I feel very comfortable with the whole thing. It will take two more sessions for me to be done and I have other projects I am working on - the biased crochet afghan and the crochet afghan made with all green colors.

This creativity and trust is a fun thing!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Of Mice and Men

The second shop we went to in Pittsburgh was Knit One and I picked up some gorgeous yarn. It is a really nice shop. It has the most wonderful knit space right by the window with big, cushy chairs and a sofa and the store is nicely laid out. For those of you who go to Chix With Stix - it is way bigger than CWS and for those Loopettes, it probably the size of Loopy but on one level.

I wanted something hand dyed or hand spun that I couldn't get by walking into my LYS and
the yarn I picked up is hand dyed by Schaefer yarn in Interlaken NY. The yarn is called Sandra and the color (a mix of blues and
purples) is called Billie Holiday after the singer. It is 78% cotton and 22% rayon and I have no idea what I am going to make with it. I have 450 yards of it so that's enough for a hat and scarf. I don't remember what I paid for it but I do remember there's no sales tax on yarn in Pittsburgh!!

If you have any idea what I can do with 450 yards of cotton/rayon yarn, I'd be glad to entertain ideas. I am still on the afghan roll but I don't want to incorporate it - I would really like to use it on its own for a project. Trust me, I'll listen to any ideas - but can only follow one!!

Speaking of afghans - and I was - I know the plan was to finish the 42 square afghan but that didn't come off as p
lanned however, it is 1/3 done and well on the way to being 1/2 done. The third strip is almost done. But even adding the second strip changes the whole demeanor and that was the point: to see how the progress happens. This is going to be a really neat afghan which you couldn't tell from just the first strip alone. I've held up the section of third strip next to these two and it's really going to be fun!

You know what I love about these block afghans? The rustic and quiltiness of them. It's fun and fanciful and almost anything goes. What really helps pull it together is a uniform color around the edge of all the blocks and it doesn't have to be
any major edging, just one row of single crochet will do the trick. In this case, I chose a cranberry color because black or white would have been a little too flat.

The other thing I mentioned working on was a redo of the crochet afghan I had started because I wasn't feeling it. Well, I did start again and I am feeling this one a whole sight better than the first. I like the three colors instead of the hodgepodge I was doing. The gold, brown and white look really stunning and the fact I have only one skein of the gold and brown means nothing. There should be more at the Hobby Lobby and I will need some to finish this out and I am also thinking matching pillows would not be out of the question. They wouldn't be in the same pattern because that would be strobe light overkill but pillows using the same colors either in a block pattern or a solid pattern with one color on the front and another on the back - something like that would work very nicely.

And if yesterday wasn't enough of a success, I had a really good workout last night. My schedule said I was due for a workout and I put it off until after the rather exciting Cubs game, so I didn't work out until after 10pm and it was really great. I breathed hard and sweat and everything. I then watched Prince Caspian worked on the crochet afghan and then went to wash up and then straight to be for a nice sleep. I could do it all again because that was a really great day.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Endless Do Over

If you have time (after you read this post, of course) you should take a peek at A Black Pepper. Not only is the knitting and photography amazing, but look how clean her house is. That woman is a saint!!

i know that time is finite. Everything will run out of time eventually but part of me believes in an almost endless supply of do overs. If I failed..again..I can just start all over. This happens a lot with my schedule. I have a schedule of things I am supposed to do on any given day and when it doesn't happen the way it was supposed to, I just start over, reposition the schedule to make it look neat and pretty and start all over.

It would be easier to be disciplined. This is what I am learning but haven't quite learned yet. I need to get it before that undo over hits. Don't do over just do. Don't go over - just go on.
I'll get it - hopefully before I run out of time.

You know one of the things I love about knitting? I love it when a WIP doesn't look like much of anything but you know in a little while it is going to be really pretty. This is the first strip of the 42 block afghan and it looks a little ragged but I've been down this road and it leads to great beauty. I was going to combine 8 inch squares with 12 inch squares but that's not going to work the way I want so they will have to have their own party and I am lucky I have enough squares to finish off the 42 square afghan without much trouble.

I've abandoned the crochet afghans at this point because I just wasn't feeling them and life is too short to knit/crochet joylessly. I will go
back to it - in fact, once I am finished with this afghan I suspect I will start again on the crochet diagonal one. But I have in mind to use just three or four colors and make it a bit more color controlled than the random one that wasn't making me feel good.
When all other things fail, knitting should feel good. If you're not having a good time knitting (even with the frustrations it can bring) it's time to make an appointment with the closest thing to Dr. Phil that you have in the area and since I don't want that kind of drama in my life, knitting remains my sacred place. (Did you know if you transpose the 'a' and the 'c' in sacred it becomes an opposing word? Freaky, huh?)

I'm off to block some more of the squares for the 42 square afghan. I love the new steamer (did I already tell you?) It's faster and more versatile than the other one. (I loved that one, too!) I am going to try and finish it off today and that will be quite ambitious but I have 3 more hours of work scheduled today and some free time as well and there's no reason I can't use it to make an afghan. I will need it for the shows, after all, and it will be a great challenge for me. (And a great follow up to today's post about the caterpillar WIP becoming a butterfly FO!) I'm learning to be about the follow up!

Friday, July 16, 2010


This is the latest book in the knitting library. I've been a little fascinated with brioche knitting since I saw the episode on Knitty Gritty (which should still be on the air. It was the best of the knitting shows) where brioche was part of an heirloom baby blanket.

I've glanced at the book a few times and took a quick peek at the projects. This is all I can say right now: huh?

I admit that I haven't started reading the book word for word, cover to cover - but who is the knitter among you that has done that? We start by leafing through the book to see what is there and what we think we could see on our needles and then we go back for the crusty details. But there was not that sexiness in the layout of the book. It took me a while to discover there were patterns in there. (The book is on my Book of the Month Club wish list and one book gets sent to me automatically for the low price of $10. It's a great deal - this book is twice at much in the store and on Amazon! I get a new book every month.)

I have to go back and look at it more closely but my initial reaction is that it might be a little difficult to get through.

In other news, I had a little brain hiccup and was feeling a little down yesterday after a meeting. This caused me a momentary lapse in knitting judgment. I went back to work on the crochet afghan and decided I wasn't happy with it - but I kept on going. The thing is huge, I told myself, I had to see it through.


I pulled myself together again this morning and started the afghan over using the size hook the pattern suggested - it suggested a 'g' hook, I was using a 'j' and 'k' - any wonder why the thing was turning out so big?

So, I've started it over and I am counting the way I am supposed to and I feel better. I am still a little bummed about the meeting but there's nothing I can do with the information I have so I have to let it all play out. You know the feeling I came away with? Wanting something of my own. Something that was mine to control. I have no idea where that is coming from or what I feel out of control about but it moved me to eat chocolate. Not a lot so I gathered the emotions from getting out of range but I am still left with the feeling that I want something that is mine.

Go figure cuz I don't know what's caused me to feel as if I don't have anything of my own. Sometimes you just have to let the feelings run to see if they move you towards something or away from something else. I'll let you know what happens.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hey Jesse

I have no quarrel with LeBron James going to Miami even though the disappointment that he did not come to Chicago is almost like the first round when we lost the Olympic bid in the first round - I'm glad we're not getting the Olympics, either. And although I think Jesse Jackson's assessment that the Cavalier's owner has a slave owner mentality, I see how he got there. I just don't think it fits. I can't believe such a big deal was made over where a player wanted to play. On the one hand, sports shouldn't be that big. On the other hand, there are better stories to be found in sports.
In every professional ballpark in the country the number 42 can be found. In every one. Jackie Robinson's number flies in every ballpark because it is retired in Major League baseball. No player will ever be assigned that number. Ever. Once a year every player wears the number 42. It was the idea of Ken Griffey, Jr. who has the id
ea that one player should wear the number of Jackie Robinson Day but soon it was decided that every player should wear it.

Every player in the National League celebrating when Major League baseball became integrated. Every player on that day is one player. How wonderful is that? In Miller Park it is especially sweet because the 42 is hanging right next to 44 - Hank Aaron's number.

I imagine every game at Miller Park there is a kid who is attending their first game and they see the numbers hanging there and asks the grown up with them why they are there and they get an explanation about Jackie Robinson and Hank Aaron. For my generation, when we were kids getting that explanation, we knew it was a big deal. For my nieces' and nephews' children, I see them wondering why it is a big deal at all that a black player is in the major leagues. Then they will learn about the history of their country and the strives we've made. We aren't even half way to where we need to be - but though the explanation of the generations are basically the same - the impact is different. And that has to be counted as progress.

What does this look like to you? Does this look like part of an afghan? It doesn't.
And do you know why? Because it isn't. Last night, I was looking at the progress on the crochet afghan and I went stash shopping and didn't find a lot of white yarn - which I kind of expected, I don't often buy white yarn as a rule - when all of a sudden the urge to work on something else swept over me. Just like that. The afghan mojo was gone. It will come back when I go to the craft store and get more yarn to finish the afghan but at the moment I decided to use some of my 'better' yarn and do a quick little project. So this Misty Alpaca skein is turning into a set of fingerless gloves. They look like stockinette on one side and a 3x1 rib on the other side and if I do the stitching right, they will be reversible. I like this little distraction because I can finish off this set in a day and is a nice little respite from the bigger project.

Sometimes you have to take a breather from the bigger picture to appreciate the smaller, finer things!!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Top Ten List

I went back to purchase a pair of the earrings from the last top ten list and they were gone.
Coincidence? I think not. One of you guys went in and purchased them from off my ears. That's OK. I don't mind. Much. But it's the kind of pain that will be easy enough to get over because it meant something good for one of the artists and that has to be a good thing all around.

But pull that again and see what

Obama Family Home
by Chicagokiki
It's the only time you'll see the house without a bunch of secret service cars out front.

Earrings by Chicagovintage
Someone with a long neck needs to go get these earrings and give this artist her first sale. They are very elegant looking which is great considering they're made of paper.

Gold Coast by Chicagojewels
These are elegant and funky which always works with me. They can be casual and I can also see these with more of my dressy outfits - course dressy for me isn't saying all that much. But these earrings would step it up a notch.

Through the Woods
by C
Art gets you without thinking about it. You see it and you say to yourself 'i like it' or 'i don't like it' or 'i don't know what i think about it.' But it gets you right away. I like it.

Cameos by moriam87
I have no idea what I would do with these. There are 6 in the set and i don't know if they are buttons or what. But I looked at them and thought it would be nice to incorporate them in my knitting somehow.

Miller Park is having their Stitch and Pitch on the same day as the one in Chicago. You don't know how tempted I was to ask folks if they wanted to go the one there instead of the one in Chicago. Miller Park is way cool. I've never been to Cellular Field so I can't say whether it's cool or not. But it's also the American League - with designated hitters because the pitchers are too wussy to bat.

In any case, we are going to the south side of Chicago instead of Wrigley North - but if the Cubs don't join in with Stitch and Pitch next year - I'm thinking we should make a day of it and go up there.

Hematite Necklace by bijibijoux
I like necklaces like this because I wear necklaces mainly when I have on a lower cut blouse or sweater (see how I smooth out the sluttiness factor by saying lower cut instead of low cut?) and this would be a great addition to any number of those tops.

Cubs save the date by nikkivain
Speaking of the Cubs... these are cute. Personally, I don't understand why people send out notices that an invitation is coming but whatever...if you're going to do it, other than asking why, I would hope they have a cool way like this to do it.

Eco Friendly Tote Bag by ecozini
C'mon now, it's a tote bag made from old jeans and a plaid shirt. How could it not make the list?

Mirror by Pull Over the Car
They describe it as shabby chic but I think of it at as more vintage. Not shabby at all.

Penguin birthday card by paperika
This is a darling card. i don't like anyone enough to send it to but that shouldn't stop one of you from buying it...and sending it to me.

I love looking at artists' work. Every single shop I look at shows that every single artist has talent. That's not the same as saying I like everything I see because that wouldn't be the case. But that's the wonderful thing about art and creativity. You and I will look at ten different pieces and we will both like nine of them and it's that tenth one that makes us who we are.

That's priceless. Get out to some of the craft fairs in your area and take a look at what's going on. You won't like everything - but you'll like you have the chance to discover what you do like!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


I am going to leave the house in a few minutes to do some shopping (grocery shopping - don't get excited) and I am hoping my short term memory is intact enough for me to remember to take the camera and take a photo of the trunk yarn stash. Because there was yarn in there before Mr. Honey did the great trunk clean up and he has it very nicely placed in there.

Which kinda ruins the fun of having a hidden yarn stash in the trunk of the car if the hidee straightens it up for you.

I have also taken a photo of the completed block afghan. It came out really nice and will be even better when it gets steamed. Sometimes it's a good idea to pull out a WIP and drop the IP.

The crochet strip afghan continues on and as I stated, it's going to be a big ass afghan and I will have to get some more white yarn - I am certain I don't have enough right now. But the first shopping expedition is going to be stash shopping. I know I pulled some white yarn before but I can't remember what for so maybe it's still up there somewhere just waiting to be fulfill its destiny - as are we all.

I take a glance around the living room and I see the bags of completed projects and the ones that are sitting on the love seat and I think about all the ones I've sold and I think about what a blessing it is to be able to create.

We can all create we just to find that thing we can make and share with the world. I never thought it would be knitting and now crocheting but there it is. And the connections that have come of it have been amazing and there's still more amazing things to be done. You can't ask for a better or more fun blessing than that.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Real Thing

The stash bust continues though honesty must make me confess there are some new skeins in the fold and I can't even think of a way to blame Melissa for this cuz she wasn't even with me. I went downtown yesterday to Loopy Yarns to purchase the tickets for the Stitch and Pitch which will be in August at Cellular One Field (White Sox - South Side for those unschooled in Chicago baseball.)

Well, I never look at what they have on sale for the regular price cuz I ain't gonna buy what they have at the regular price. But downstairs, they have the 25% off wall of yarn and if you really want a thrill, they have some yarn at 50% off and I found some yarn made in Turkey (I love the way they make yarn in Turkey) and it wa
s half off and the regular cost was $7.00. They had all kinds of colors but they had white, gray, black and a variegation of the three so I have 16 skeins to be turned into a geometric afghan and some hats and scarves. 70% acrylic and 30% wool.

On the other hand, as you can see, the crochet afghan I am working on takes a lot of colors. This is going to be one big ass afghan. I have to increase one shell every row until there are 85 shells in one row and then I crochet those 85 stitches for 12 inches before I start decreasing one shell a row. I already know I am going to need more white yarn and I gave away a lot of it. I know I bought some white at Loopy but it won't match up texture wise. This may require some Caron by the Pound but I won't worry about it until I have to open the last white skein. In the meantime, I will go yarn shopping in the stash to see if there's some white skeins hanging around just waiting for me to put them in an afghan.

We've picked up a new follower! Welcome and I hope you comment. In fact, I hope more of you comment.. I'd love to read them and post them for public edification. Give it some thought, will ya?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Finishing Up

All the squares for the stash busting 42 square afghan are done. The truth is I had some squares already made and figured they could go into the 42 square afghan just as easily as any other afghan and since there wasn't a specific afghan for them to go into anyway, they might as well go into this one.

So, most of them will still need to be block to either 8 or 12 inches and then sewn together. What you see over to the left is the almost complete afghan I started a long time ago. I just had the inkling to finish it up - so I have the last strip and the last section on that last strip on the needles and so it's almost completely done. I can't wait to get it finished. It's a nice looking afghan and it will make someone a very nice afghan one day. Six different colors and three different stitch patterns and this was a pretty quick knit. The original pattern called for it to be double stranded but I have some aversion to double stranding though I've done it before. It's a nice and cozy afghan even single stranded.

I'm already thinking about the holiday shows - that's right - shows. I'm thinking of doing the Mother Guerin craft show, the Pleasant Home craft show and one fund raising show of my own. Either way, I have to start the stock up for it and decided this year to do afghans, pillows, hats and scarves.

Last night, I left the knitting at home and headed over to GNO - Girl's Night Out and my friend Gayle's house. Our friend Judy had to move to New York for her job and when she comes back into town, a gang of us gets together. There were eight of us last night and the laughs and the wine flowed. I love the company of women. Don't get me wrong - I think men are one of God's greatest hits - but the company of women is one of God's greatest gifts. We can talk about a whole bunch of stuff and still be relevant and funny. I love getting together with them and last night was the first time Connie joined us and we were right to invite her. The girl is a hoot!!

Get together with some of your girlfriends - if you're a guy make some men dates - and enjoy the freedom of being with a room that understands what it's like. The company of women - with some good Chinese food and lots of wine - is an evening that cannot be beat!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Mystical, Magical Moment

The 42 square stash buster afghan project doesn't feel like a project. I don't quite know why but I find myself thinking I need to pull out the books and look for a new project to start. Of course, that could be because the knitting of the 42 squares is about half done and considering most of the squares are just 8 inches with a couple of 12 inch ones thrown in for quirkiness, they don't take very long to knit up and an even shorter time to crochet them so it could be I am at that time when I'm ready for a project to be done so I can start a new one.

These 42 squares are
going to be need steaming so they can set up at almost 8 inches square so I went to the blocking board and the new steamer. Then they are going to need sewing or crocheting together. I think because they are different colors and styles that sewing them together will be the best thing.

I don't know what it is about steaming..I like it. I probably steam the squares a lot more than I need to because I like the feel of the steam and the smell of it. The good thing is I can steam three squares at a time so it won't take very long to get them all ready for the sewing needle. But finishing, though a necessary part of the knitting process, is not knitting so my fingers will be itching to start something new.

I am in afghan mode and I'm getting ready for the holiday craft sale because..let me be the first to say it..Christmas is only 5 months away. For the sale, I won't be allowed to have my 200 items on the table as I did last year so I have decided on afghans and pillows. I also have to get the shop inventory back up to snuff in time for the gift giving season.

Time tends to run faster when you're older.

The day is full: a lot of working, maybe some gardening (I haven't planted a thing but the clean up of garden plots continues.) Pray that I don't give in to my customary laziness and that I really clean up the living room. All I have to do is give a real concerted effort for an hour but it seems to elude me and I make excuses. I can't do that today. I really need to do some serious housecleaning cuz I want to have a party!! If I make it through that - it will truly be a mystical moment!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Two Places at Once

There are some who make the argument that baseball is like life..I have probably been one of them. But I know now that life is like knitting. They contain some of the same paradoxes.

For instance..

We have a new minister at our church. I have been at this church for about eight months and I have seen some of the things we've done to insure we do not continue. With the new assignment we are either a dying church or a church with a new beginning.

The only thing separating the two is our attitude.

I have finished both afghans I was working on. One was given to the pastor last Sunday and the other one is packaged
up and will be sent when the person who ordered it pays for it in the shop.

So, am I at the end or am I at the beginning? Yes to both.

Our church is a dying church and frankly, I think it should. I knew the reputation before I walked in the doors and I've seen with my own eyes and battled with my own tongue. What we've been doing and what has been done before I ever walked in the door has to end. It has to die in order to bring about the changes we need to incorporate so the new church can begin.

Likewise, i will remain at the end of the last project until I pick up the needles, hooks and yarns to make the new beginning.

The changes are going to be tough on some folks - not because they are going to have a hard time letting go of the last pastor - but because they are going to have a hard time letting go of the attitude they had. They think they've dropped it. That they were only acting that way because of one person and now that she's gone, they can be themselves. Like they were abducted by a righteous alien.

You act like you act because you are who you are.

I am praying for my church and trying to be unemotional at the same time. Emotions have not served us well while we've jettisoned reason and faith.

I've already started my new project. I've added more squares to the stack I showed you earlier. I'm moving away from the end of the old project to the beginning of the new and It's coming along. I'm still looking back a little - a lot of work went into those old projects. There are things to remember about them. And the best of what they offered will go into the new projects and the worse of them will have to be acknowledged then avoided.

Because that's how we learn and that's how life goes.


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