Friday, March 31, 2006

You Can't Fix Stooopid

Which is what I am. Being strapped for cash often leads me to make quick, spur of the moment bad choices when offered a one day gig doing ???. A good friend called this evening wondering if I'd be up for having her foster daughters beginning at 8am. I said yes. STOOOPID me. I am just really sleeping good around then. It's raining which means 8 kids in the house ALL DAY LONG. (R's having a friend over). One of the kids coming tomorrow is not to be alone behind closed doors. Upstairs is off limits to daycare kids anyhow, always has been. I'm too old to chase a toddler and a preschooler, fight with 2 kindergarten girls, listen to 3 preteens argue and have the sole true teen refuse to speak to me because I am STOOOPID. (If you haven't seen Ron White's "You can't fix stupid" special on comedy central, my whole STOOOPID thing is lost on you.)

But seriously, I love kids. I sort of miss the daycare days, running 2 shifts, feeding the herds, the quiet time in the afternoon, the precision with which our house once ran. Back in the day, I used to crank out massive amounts of crafty things during quiet time. Entire summer wardrobes for Miss E in a week. Matching, embellished outfits finished with great care. I could clean the entire upstairs of our old house (5+ bedrooms), do the laundry, write emails, check homework, prep snacks, start dinner and still have time to watch an hour's worth of tv. Now, I sit and work all day on a project that is stuck in the snow WITH the chains on.

Case and point: Hubster's Manly Sweater. I no longer love it. Did I ever truly love it or was it just the idea of giving him a sweater I knit? The very thought of finishing it makes my head spin and my elbows hurt terribly. So I am leaning towards the frog pond for it as well. That would leave just R's sweater (which I am sure she will not wear either), a baby afghan and a Clapotis to finish up. Clapotis is going to Miss E since she asked for a "wrap like Mama's". My wrap isn't a Clapotis...she just wants a wrap. I cannot believe I put making one off for so long. Easy-peasy! I'm using acrylic from the stash in "easter-y" colors of white, green, yellow and lavender which just happens to look smashing with one of her favorite outfits.

I suppose I had better head to bed if I am to survive tomorrow. LOL

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Another pair finished!
Vital Stats:
Knitpicks Simple Stripes Vineyard
US2 Addi Turbos
Crazy Toes and Heels
For me. (and yes, my legs are truly ghostly white)

They were an easier knit than the first pair of QK socks but I still have a difficult time following the book. Too many directions crammed into a page or two. Make that too many options on the same page at times. But her method truly is one of the best I've worked on. I love the way these socks fit. Just snug enough just not so snug that I have "sock rings" at the end of the day.

And for Jane, who's incredible pictures always inspire me to try my luck, I give you "Crocus among the leaves". I snapped this today while doing my weekly yard prowl for new growth. I am still waiting for the crocus I planted in the fall to bloom. They are up and looking good but no blooms yet. These came with the house. They have multiplied (which I thought crocus do not do) from a mere 4 flowers to about 50 or more in one section of the yard.
Miss E loves that the crocus are in bloom...means spring is here and summer cannot be far behind. They are already counting down until summer, more importantly until the yet-to-be-decided date for Gram's house! It's worse than Christmas, folks, I swear!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Yarny goodness upon my feet

I'm in love with a yarn and its name is Koigu. Another round of thanks to Christine for the yarn crack addiction. Mad wild props going out to my home-girl, Jan for the copy of Queen Kahuna's Crazy Toes and Heels book which I used with Christine's yarn crack to make possibly the best fitting socks in all of Duckdom. Let me introduce them to you now!

Vital stats (you know you want 'em)
Toe-up QK method
US 2 Addi turbos
Koigu KPPPM P 801
7 spi

I had all intentions of putting these away until fall but one final try-on for the picture and well, I just cannot take them off. The only thing I will change about using QK's method is longer cuffs with ribbing starting about an inch above the heel, not as soon as the heel/gusset thing is finished like I did with these. Yes, I had yarn enough to make the cuffs longer but honestly, I was sick of the 2x2 ribbing and wanting to finish them because I needed something to make me feel good. (I ate the supposedly tucked away chocolate Christine sent.) I could sit and work with the Koigu all day long. I was just tired of 2x2 rib.

Just like I am sick of the 5x1 rib on the Manly Sweater for Hubster. I frogged his cardigan because something about it wasn't right. Nothing I could put my finger on, it was just off. Not exactly his style probably puts it best. Anyhow, 3 weeks ago, J, E and I went adventuring and ended up at a huge craft store in Pakersburg called Crafts2000. They had bins and bins of knit and crochet kits reduced to $5. Some were too ugly even to be called sin, but some were rather nice and 100% wool. No name, but hey, it is better than nothing. I dug through the bins to find 5 kits of the same colors, hoping there would be enough to please Hubster and yield a sweater. So far, it's looking like I will have yarn to spare. That is IF the yardage is really close to what I've used so far and all that. The band says approx. 99 yds. I chose the Manly Sweater from SnB because I like how it looks. Let that be a lesson: never make it solely because you like how it looks. I am so far past mastering ribbing, no matter what the stitch count is, I should have passed on this pattern and stuck with the cardigan in the new yarn. At least it required some thinking. Oy. Almost to the armhole shaping for the back. If I can resist the call of sock yarn, I can finish it today and cast on for the front. Hear the laughter?

Saturday, March 18, 2006

What can this be?

Lookie what the mailman brought me today!A box. How exciting! Please ignore Miss E's play-doh bucket and the snowman popcorn tin. If it is not fiber related, I ignore it. Housework is a dirty, dirty word here sometimes!

Inside the box:
Fannie May chocolates (stashed away for another day), a CHICAGO postcard and some brightly colored packages. Hmm...I wonder, what could it be?

Christine was my Yarn Aboard pal and WOW! Did she ever surprise me! Left to right: Scheepjeswol Cotton 8 in lavender, Koigu (now on the needles, happily) AND Lorna's Laces in Desert Flower. Hubster had forgotten about the YB and thought the box was the new battery for our cordless phone.(Mighty big battery, eh?) Then he saw the Drill box and was really confused...he thought my father sent me a new drill. Imagine his disappointment when it was "only" yarn. He has fondled the LL several times as has Miss E. Hate to break the news to them, but I think I will be using it to make myself more socks. LOL. Thanks again to Christine for pampering me so well and to Amanda for putting the Yarn Aboard idea into action. I'll be packing up the drill box and shipping it off in the next few days...victim beware. (Just teasing.)

The yarnny goodness helped take the sting out of yet another stack of medical bills which arrived today. Hubster's gallbladder continues to cause mild problems. LOL. Another $600. I have no idea what I was expecting this to cost us and evidently, my vague idea was WAAAAYYYYY off. I have a feeling more will arrive in a week or two, just about the time the utility bills come. Won't that be fun? At least I have some yarn crack to keep me high for a while. Hi, my name is Jill and I am addicted to yarn. Sock yarn to be specific. I have enablers and no, I will not nark on them to get a reduced sentence. No, I do not think we need a 12 step program. Yes, I could be in denial. No, an intervention will not help. Hell, I probably won't even notice the extra people in the house because I am high on yarn crack. Yarn, today's drug. The Meth of the 00s. The addiction that lasts a lifetime with benefits.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Messy Mitten

My first attempt at Photoshop and it sucks. But it gets the idea across, I think. I started these mittens on some Susan Bates dpns from the fab-not-so-tabulous set I picked up at JA's months ago. Not so fantastic because you have to guess as to what size needle you handy-dandy little chart or key to tell you pinkish is a 00 or whatever. The ribbing is wonderful, nice, snug and flexible like ribbing should be on a mitten. The body of the mitten until the needle change mark is horribly snug, no elasticity at all. BUT the stitch definition is awesome. I love the way it looks but of course, my photography skills aren't up to par lately either. After I switched to the US2 dpns, things got better stretch-wise but the quality looks like I was drunk and sniffing glue at the time. When I finished up the two-tone socks last night, I immediately started working those Addi 2s into the mix. Much easier to wrestle only two needles with the two yarns, the stitches look better already but I am no longer loving this project. Too many inconsistentancies with too many things. Do I dare continue and hope that some charity will completely overlook the fact this this mitten is just awful? Or do I go with my gut, frog it and move ahead? Frogging it will increase my WIP Wipe-Out count to "2", I think. Ideas? Suggestions? Booze? (Oh, where is Lorette when you need her? She would be the perfect person to help me find the correct drink for this endeavor I think. Grin)

Wiped-Out WIP#1 !!!

WIP#1, wiped-out! The second sock was finished last night, on my feet this morning. YIPPEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Risa's WIP Wipe-Out

I love it when I can join in on blogland's fun and not blow the budget. Thanks to Risa, I now have even more motivation to get those pesky WIPS moved over to FOS. Go see her for the neat-o button and easy to follow rules. (Although I'm sorta certain you can save the button to your own server from here, I'm also not always the brightest crayon in the box when it comes to blogland and I do not want to piss Risa off...kinda like to stay on her good side. lol)
Tackling a new skill on my own, again, seems to be just what I need. Feeling rather smug, I have been laboring moving along with this project. Far from perfect, I am still delighted with the progress and more importantly with the fact that I am STILL working on it despite the fact that I should have frogged it back to the ribbing. Foolish me could not understand why I'd want to work with the same size needles I use for socks. I thought a tighter fabric was in order. About halfway up the thumb gore, I switched to the US2s and BINGO! things are better. As you can see, I'm using a pattern from Charlene Schurch's Mostly Mittens book. And not one of the "easier" patterns near the front of the chapters either, I might add.

Sorry for the poor photo quality there-> Guess that is what I get for trying to use the dark/night/poor light feature of J's digi cam and not knowing what I was doing. Believe me, it's the better of the two detail shots I took. Even though Ms Schurch advises beginners choose a pattern near the front of the book, none of this seems overly difficult once the gauge issue is resolved. Silly me, I prefer to just forge ahead instead of swatching in the round. I do not mind swatching flat but in the round? Forgetta 'bout it! Other than having the gauge issue after the ribbing, this is a moral boosting project! Yarn making itself the guniea pigs: leftover Sock Garden from Jan and the unloved sock yarn Liz sent me.

And this is one of the current sewing projects. I am still searching for an affordable source of 6" diameter round handles to complete this bag. It will be jumping in the yarn aboard box for my swapee (is that a word?)when the time comes. Rumor has it that she likes flamingos. It was not in my orginal plan to make a bag but then I found this fabric and just knew it would make the perfect bag for her. I think it will be the ideal size for KIP, especially with the round handles. Slide it on the arm and away you go. In fact, I am toying with possibly making several with some modifications as gifts, prizes and/or to sell. Send me your suggestions, what you'd love in a knitting bag, what you hate about the one you use, do you like them stiff, quilted or what? What would you be willing to pay for a handcrafted orginal? Should actual fabric choices be available or just a list of colors with the "please, allow me to choose a fabric for you" notation? Whimsical or not? Email me: sewjillquiltsATverizonDOTnet. I have several ideas bouncing around for drafting my own pattern and what I think I'd like but since this could become a source of income for me, I want input from others. Some research and development, ya know?

Thanks for the comments about being down, dejected and discouraged. Several of you have it right: those of us who are thrifty and/or self-taught have every right to "snub" the rest of the world. Your kind words did help inspire the muse to return. I have dusted off Athena, as you can see for yourself. The needles are plenty busy...5 WIPS. I could just plotz over that number alone. One wip is in need of a longer circ, the rest are in rotation competition with the mittens since that book will have to be returned shortly. Athena has been singing her little heart out over having work to do again. She is "helping" me make myself two bags as well as the Flamingo Wonder. I have gotten away from using a bag or purse for the most part but found my Liz Claiborne bag is just not what I want for KIP so why not make one for myself? One bag will be similar to the Flamingo Wonder in "Jill colors" and the other, well, I am calling it my first piece of usable art. Truly different from both my usual tastes and methods. Depending on the weather, it may be finished up this week...if I'm not too busy felling trees, clearing brush and trying to work up the garden spot a bit. Which reminds me, I'd better bring my work boots in off the porch to dry out some before tomorrow morning. YIKES!

Friday, March 03, 2006

Discouraged, dejected and down

It has to be the winter blahs. After all, that is what I told Risa a few days ago. Maybe it's that SAD stuff...not enough sunlight. Given that I am taking Lexapro and have been for months, I wouldn't think it's SAD or any other form of depression. Lord knows I have suffered with both PPD and regular, full-blown depression off and on for the past decade. I'd think I would recognize it. Blaming Old Man Winter, yup, that's what I'll do. Why? Because I am listless, bored and have start-itis in the worst way. The sewing area of the bedroom still looks like Joann Fabrics barfed all over the place, no organization at all, everything is just tossed in heaps. The knitting corner of the living room is somewhat neat but still discouraging to me at the moment.

Some time ago, we used AOL as our ISP and that gave me access to a whole community of boards geared towards crafters. Quilters, knitters, you name it, AOL had a board for it. Only problem was, many were filled with snobs. Yarn snobs, pattern snobs, snobs who looked down on the self-taught such as myself. I have never been able to shake the feeling that because I am self-taught for the most part and because I use what I can afford instead of blowing the budget and starving my family, I am somehow a less than worthy knitter, quilter and all around person. It frustrates me that often I cannot afford to rush out and purchase the yarn I am yearning to try or the latest quilting gadget (still lusting for an Alto's Quilt Cut system along with a longarm). Should I let that stand in my way of being creative? Of course not! Does it just the same? Hell yes! With the close of the Knitting Olympics, I have seen some to-dye for colorwork garments, several which were first projects. Do they fill me with envy? Yes but in the very best way...that little spark which lights the bonfire. Someday, hopefully this year, I will get to order the knitpicks Palette sampler and work on some colorwork.

Other inspiring events occuring here at Chez Duck: my father is working on an extension table for Athena the Bernina machine extraordinaire. This excites me to a new level. Finally, I will have enough room to really quilt as I want without suffering from arm strain! My father is a very talented woodworker, carpenter and construction guru. He is also a great guy, wonderful grandfather and terrific dad. When this table is done, bragging will commence.

I realize this post is filled with much babbling about nothing and one mis-used word. I intended to mis-use that word. I am not that stupid.