Monday, March 31, 2008

I refuse to shovel on March 31st!!!!

Yeah. Spring is gone. It's been snowing ALL DAY LONG! You know it's bad when even the kids are sick of snow. L. looked out the window this morning and said "no, no, NO!!!" He wants to go fishing and ride his bike. Me too. I want some tulips, I want some daylilies, but most of all, I just want to see something green outside. I saw the first robin of the season on my deck yesterday, most likely scoping out the nest that is on the rafters underneath, but today the poor thing is probably hiding somewhere thinking "what's going on here?"

I'm still procrastinating on the 1st Communion Dress (I'm gonna start Wednesday when B. goes back to school and I have the house to myself), but that makes for some exciting new quick projects! Look what I did...

It's the Felted Striped Tote from One Skein by Leigh Radford. This puppy was absolutely enormous pre-felting. It could have been a just-below-the-knee length dress for me. Now it is felted to about 12" high and 14" wide. A bit smaller than I'd hoped, but still nice. The side pleats are especially cool.

Here's the finished photo of my Baby's Got a Brand New Big Bag. The colors are hard to see on the bottom (brown and purple) but the whole thing looks nice in real life. I love this one, but I do think it needs a shoulder strap to really be functional for me. I can't see myself carrying this bad boy around by the little handles. I might try to make some inside pockets for this. Or I might not. We'll see how I feel after using it.
Now this, I'm excited about! It's the Boteh Scarf (scroll down) from the Spring 2007 Interweave Crochet. I nabbed this magazine a week ago at my local yarn shop and finally gave it a try today with some Shine Sport in Hydrangea and a G hook. It's turning out really nice. Very drapey and soft.
This is my attempt at willing spring into fruition. This scarf is destined for wearing with my jean jacket should the snow ever melt and temps reach jean jacket warmth. It seems like it's never going to happen. Of course I know it will, but when you've had 5 solid months of snow cover, things start to look bleak.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Spring is

It's 43 degrees and the kids went out to play on the actual sidewalk with their scooters! That means the snow has finally melted from the sidewalk! It's not totally gone yet and I think I heard snow mentioned in the weekend forecast, but it really can't last long, right?

I finished the knitting for Baby's Got a Brand New Big Bag this morning while watching Angel (from 5-7 a.m.), and I just got done with the felting. It's a little tricky getting the thing formed into the correct shape because I can't find a box the right size, but I think it will be good. I still can see some of the stitches, but it's still felted enough to keep all those little ends from coming loose. After I give it a fuzz-cut, it will be great. It's quite big and the handles got a bit out of shape, but I'm planning to put a shoulder strap on and that should help. I'm just glad I was able to use up every last scrap of my chewed up skein of hand dye; right down to the mini sample skein. I no longer feel like I lost a skein when Sam let loose on it.

I started the felted bag in One Skein this evening as well. I have many little bits of other hand dyes that I couldn't throw away and some more mini test skeins. Both would be perfect for the stripe pattern in that bag. I'd hoped to get a start on that at the orthodontist office this morning, but it was packed and my boys were less than patient. That's ok though. I can always count on my evening knitting time.

I'm looking forward to a nice little weekend. I made lasagna for all those in my house who aren't allergic to dairy and I expect to sit in my spot all evening knitting happily. As an early Mother's Day gift, my husband bought my mom and I tickets to Jane Eyre at the Guthrie Theater and we're going tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. I gotta give the guy credit - he really pays attention. He could hardly miss on this one though. I read it again last fall (it's my favorite book EVER), rented the movie and watched it nonstop while I had it, then watched it on PBS. My mom has never read it and doesn't know the story so it will be great fun for her, I hope.

So it should be a productive and fun weekend. I will have a dry new bag by Sunday and hopefully another one well on it's way. Perhaps I'll get back into the Oblique groove and try to at least finish the sleeves. Everything beyond that is gravy. And I'll psych myself up for the 1st Communion sewing. By trying not to think about it.

Oh, and I picked up the spring Interweave Crochet and Vogue Knitting. Yippee!

Okay, now it's time to occupy my spot. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Yarn Eradication is a Goooooooood Thing!

Evil grins abound today as I make stash yarn disappear! It's great! The best part? I finally get to use the Sam-eaten skein of my beloved hand dye!

This was the stuff I dyed with Wilton Icing Colors. Loved it! Then one day Sam got bored inside his crate and picked through the bars until he caught hold of one of the skeins. By the time I found it, it had been slightly peed on and chewed into itty bitty bits. I couldn't bear to throw it away so I washed it, untangled it, wound it back up, and wondered what the heck I could ever do with it.

Turns out Baby's Got a Brand New Big Bag is the perfect pattern! My hand dye looks great paired with leftover purple and brown and a felted bag is ideal for using up little yard-or-so-long bits of yarn without worrying about hiding ends. It's moving along super fast - I just started it last night - and I'm so excited about having a new bag. The bag has only a slit-type handle at the top so I might add a purchased shoulder strap when all is said and done. We'll see.

Wanna see the Fun in the Sun Hat?

I used two almost-complete skeins of TLC Cotton Plus (love that stuff!) that I had leftover from the crocheted bunnies. Yeah, I could have used the skeins to make 3 more washcloths EACH, but I was in a crochet mood and I'd just found a couple back issues of Interweave Crochet - Spring and Fall 2007 to be exact. Whee! Love them! I fell in love with the hat and had to give it a try. It is a little small for me but I'm sure I could will it into size if I wore it enough. Perhaps A. would wear it? One never can tell.

Burp cloths are moving along swimmingly. Here's the 4 I've finished so far.

The green one on top is my favorite. Each one is better than the last and I just love making these. The 5th one is even better than any of these, but I'll wait to post a photo until it's done. My friend's due date is T-minus 19 days so I'm gonna keep plugging away on these.

Next, the Mason-Dixon Washcloth frenzy. One ball of red TLC Cotton Plus made 3 washcloths and they're just so soft and nice! I had just enough yellow left over from the hat to make another. I also have enough Cotton Ease for at least one more. I have a lot of Peaches/Sugar n' Creme, but I'm hesitant to use it for these cloths because I don't want them to shrink and get goofy looking - at least not right away. These are going to be for teachers who don't get the blankets. Don't make me think of the blankets yet!

Lastly, Annette Petavy's Pillow from CrochetMe. I'm using worsted weight acrylic from the stash and an I hook, but following the pattern exactly. I stopped after 15 strips for the one on the right and still have a few more strips to go on the left one. I'll crochet backs, stuff, and toss on our sofa. My family room is looking dark and bland lately and I'm hoping these will help to brighten things up a bit.

This is a lot of stuff. What's gotten into me, you ask? I'm doing my usual thing of "I have something I have to do but I really don't want to do it so instead I'm going to enter a stage of profound yarn catharsis and produce so much that I delude myself into thinking I'm actually using my time productively."

The thing I have to do is make my niece's 1st Communion dress. I'm ready to start and I know I can do it, but it's a big and quite important project so I'm waiting for the planets to align just right before I start and that is NOT this week. It's spring break, A. has been at WI Dells with the neighbors so it's just the boys and I. Now really people, can you see the logic in laying out mounds of white (WHITE) satin, lining, tulle, and organza with two boys running rampant and just waiting for the opportunity to strike? Me neither. I'll start after they go back to school next week.

So in the meantime, I'm trying to make yarn go away. There's nothing more satisfying than throwing away bits of yarn too small to make anything with and watching the pile lessen. Plus, when I'm all done, I can buy new yarn guilt-free!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Is it spring yet?

This is what I did on Thursday and Friday. You like? I've had the yarn for several months now but finally got off my arse and made A. her Fiber Trends felted clogs. They are GIGANTIC! I have unshakable faith in Bev Galeskas's instructions however and I'm certain they will felt down perfectly.

I'd forgotten just how quickly these slippers come together. I knitted them both on Thursday and felted them this morning. I haven't been able to get her to stop sliding across the wood floors long enough to take a photo, but I'll get one some day. She's been invited to the Wisconsin Dells with our neighbors for spring break and really wanted to take these with so I tried drying them in my dryer, on the rack, on extra low heat. Worked like a charm. She spent some time trimming off all the fuzzies and they are perfect. Finally, a "knitted thing" she actually likes!

Ok, now into the meat of the post - I'm staring out my window, this lovely March 21 - first day of spring, I might add - and looking at a beautiful winter wonderland.
Except is MARCH 21, THE FIRST DAY OF SPRING!!! Haven't we had enough yet?

I know there's a lot of people out there who think that Minnesota is cold year round, but that's just not true. We get brutal cold winters, but our springs and summers are lovely and warm. This has been the longest winter we've had in a really long time and it's starting to wear on all of us.

Our first snow was sometime back in late October and it never left us. We've had lots of snow and more than our fair share of insane cold. The house has been shut up tight for nearly 6 months. We were just starting to see grass again and now bam, we're hit with more snow. It can't last long, right?

This weather has to be the major contributing factor to the rampant influenza B scare that's running through our town. It actually killed a little 5 year old girl who's preschool classroom is right across the hallway from B's class. L. had it first. 103 fever, couldn't go to his 1st grade concert, puking, you name it. He got better after only 2.5 days though. Mr. T. got it next. I've never seen him that sick and I've known him now for 15 years.

I took care of him and came down with it next. I was sitting in the elementary school listening to the kindergarten registration program when the throat tickle and cough started. By that night, I was down for the count as well. Fever, chills, worst aches of my life, cough, and limp lungs that can't seem to get quite enough air. I *think* I'm starting to rejoin the living again after over a week.

As far as the rest of my yarn world, I've begun to feel the pressure of a friend's baby's impending arrival and the looming of the last day of school - hence, teacher gifts. I tied up some loose ends with some of my other projects (Kanga Sweatshirt and Climbing Cables) by crocheting until I ran out of yarn and those are set aside for now. I'd like to get back on the Oblique horse and get that one done. I went like gangbusters on that for so long and then just stopped. I bought the perfect buttons; now I just need to finish it.

I'm cruising along on the Baby Genius Burp Cloths. I've finished 3 and would like to just keep going and see how many I can do. My friend's baby is due April 15, and then I have 2 cousins who are also expecting in June! Never hurts to have things like those burp cloths on hand for gifts and I have quite enough cotton to last me a while. I have a baby blanket in a box somewhere that only needs a few more inches as well as several baby quilts that only need minimal finishing. I should be good.

The big box of Fluffy Lap Blanket yarn is calling my name too. I plan to shovel those out with wreckless abandon. I won't need as many last year because L. has some of the same teachers as last year - thank goodness! I'm making more Mason-Dixon Washcloths for them. Those are so quick and cute and take so little yarn. I have 4 stashed waiting for blocking and I'll add to that in the days to come, I'm sure.

Oh! AND I've committed to sewing my niece's 1st Communion dress. Yikes! The big day is May 4. I have plenty of time, but I must budget my time accordingly and concentrate. I'll keep you posted!

I must be going through blog-withdrawal or something - better stop for now, but hopefully since I'm starting to feel better, I'll get back into the swing of posting daily. I like that.
Have a wonderful Easter weekend, everybody

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

It's finished!

Yippee! I finished my Dusty Miller Cardigan! I don't care what anyone has to say about Red Heart Super Saver - it made a great crocheted sweater! I wanted a workhorse, and I got it. It's comfy, warm, and has beautiful stitch definition. Here she is!

I love crocheted sweaters. It's so fitting that March is National Crochet Month - I didn't even know that when the bug hit me in late February. Much to the dismay of Oblique, the crochet bug is not satisfied yet. I finished Dusty Miller, I'm nearly through the back of the Lady's Kanga Sweatshirt...

...and the estranged back of the Hooded Pullover from Weekend Retreat is quickly being transformed into Climbing Cables from More Crocheted Aran Sweaters.

You might notice that Climbing Cables is the same color as the Fisherman Sweater. Well, I really love that Fisherman Sweater pattern and I know I need that sweater, but I realized that I just haven't been crocheting my cable crossings loosely enough. I'm just not sure I can block the acrylic yarn out enough to make it work. When the Hooded Pullover has been obliterated, I'll continue with the yarn from the Fisherman Sweater. I trekked down to JoAnn yesterday for some more sale priced TLC Essentials and ended up with 5 skeins of Medium Thyme. I'm pretty sure it's destiny is the Fisherman Sweater. I'll make sure to crochet more loosely next time...and enlarge the pattern. The print is teeny and doesn't cut it for my weak 34-year-old cruddy eyes.

I also started the Pillow by Annette Petavy from CrochetMe. I'm using stash yarn exclusively for this. I thought at first that I would make this into a throw, but I like the colors and the patterns so much that I think I might just use this pattern to make several pillows for our couch. Everything in my family room is starting to look dark and character-less so this could be just the punch it needs. I also buckled down and finished Baby Genius Burp Cloth #2 from Mason-Dixon Knitting. I love how the solid color softens the effect of the variegated yarn.

On the home front, while the little buddy was extremely disappointed to miss his concert (he's still talking about it today), his fever finally broke sometime between Saturday and Sunday and he's better now. He had a rough day at school yesterday and cried a couple times about the concert, poor thing. I hope today goes better for him. His teachers decided to re-implement a feedback sheet for him. They hadn't been doing it this year but felt that it could give him the motivation he needs right now to get back on track.

For every stage of his day, he gets either a smiley face or sad face for the following categories: I said "ok", I used nice words, I was quiet, and I walked. The sheet from yesterday is kind of funny. The first stage of his day is reading and he got all sad faces for that, but everything else for the rest of the day has a smiley face. Mr. L. really likes to get smiley faces so I hope this continues to work. His teacher even commented that the afternoon went really well for him. Yay!

Time to get back to work. Miss A. is getting braces in a couple weeks (yippee, hoo ha, hooray) and has an appointment today for impressions and x-rays. It's a 40 minute appointment so I'll bring my crocheting. I'd love to bring Oblique, but I'm very near the sleeve cap and I don't want to have to mess with measuring while in the orthodontist office. Perhaps I'll start another burp cloth. That's mindless enough. Cast on at home, get through the first color change, then go go go!

Friday, March 7, 2008

I'm back!

I didn't really go anywhere, but things have been unbelievably crazy. It all started with Presidents' Day...

Mr. T had an interview in Salt Lake City for a job in Fort Collins, CO. The interview went really well so I went to work researching special education in the Fort Collins school district. And I scheduled a market analysis on the house. And I started looking at houses. And I started freaking out. Mr. T got offered the job, but after some very serious consideration, we decided he should turn it down. The job looked great, but every thing else was stacked against us, from health insurance to selling our own house. Oh well. What are you gonna do?

Then there's been work. There's a meeting coming up which means I spend several days going nuts getting the agenda ready to send out to the world. It's crazy, trust me on this. Today is D-day for the agenda - it needs to be sent by the close of business today.

Today is also L.'s first grade concert - an event that has been eagerly looked forward to by all - so I expected today to be a mess, considering the whole agenda thing. However, L. woke at 3 a.m. today crying and flushed with very hot cheeks - but he was sound asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow again. He had been talking nonsense so I figured he'd had a bad dream, was kind of sleep walking, and would be fine when he woke up for the day.

Wrong-o! Poor kid had a temp of 103. Needless to say, the poor kid doesn't get to take part in the concert that he's been practicing so hard for. He told me he had to go to school so that I could come and hear him sing. I told him he was sick; his body was hot and we needed to make it cool again. He suggested he wear shorts - now I know we're hardy folk here in MN, but I have to draw the line at -10 F. The concert is not happening for Mr. L.

Little Mr. B. even had to miss preschool. L. was complete dead limp noodle weight when I tried to hoist him up to get him out to the van, then he thought he was going to throw up. He collapsed on the couch again and I had to break it to B. that he couldn't go to school today. Great. Two little boys upset about not going to school.

On a brighter note, I'm on a major crochet kick lately. I've nearly finished the Dusty Miller Cardigan from Jane Snedden Peever's Crocheted Aran Sweaters. I just found out that the book is no longer in print. That's so sad! I've now made 3 sweaters from this book and another sweater from the second book, More Crocheted Aran Sweaters. I just found out that both of these are out of print. Look for them at your library and if you like them, I'm sure there's a way to hunt down used copies or copies on eBay.

This cardigan has gone along great. I'm using Red Heart Super Saver in Linen - ok, all of you fiber snobs can be quiet! I love Red Heart and thought it perfect for this because I want a workhorse cardigan. Plus, it's tax time so a girl has to make do if she's gonna satisfy her need for fiber arts. I still have to crochet the front bands, but I ran out of yarn and did not want to buy a whole 'nother skein. I was trying to figure out how to tastefully use something else from my stash for those bands when I found some more Linen deep in my stash. Yay!

I finally found a destiny for my TLC Essentials in Persimmon! It had previously been intended for the hooded pullover in Patons Weekend Retreat - which I still love - but I started that back when I really had no idea about what size sweater was appropriate for me. I started knitting the large size and though it went along great, it's just enormous. I'll probably knit it someday, but not with this yarn anymore. Yes, back to the new destiny: the Fisherman Sweater! It was originally in Crochet Today!, but now it's a free download on the Coats and Clark website. It's very cool and going along super fast.

And, I started one more crochet project: the Lady's Kanga Sweatshirt from the Bernat Urban Camouflage booklet. I've wanted this for a while, but never really had a good idea of what I wanted. Well, a new destiny has been granted to the Patons Decor in First Spring. Yeah, I know I started another Mr. Greenjeans (of which the body is near completion) with it, but my recent burst of crochet love has brought this pattern back to the front of my mind. If there was mindless crochet, this is it. The yarn feels silky and flexible and the colors are great. I also really love crocheting with variegated yarns because they look so totally different than when they are knitted. The texture of the stitches really makes the colors look great.

One other quick note. I realized that I like the Unisex Knock-Around Cashmere (um, Shetland Chunky) Pullover with the reverse stockinette side out. The pattern is written to be reversible, but I thought that the way I did my seams made it look not so hot. Happily, I was wrong. Having the reverse stockinette stitch side out means that you get to see the cool slipped stitch edging of the panels and mock shoulder seams and - this is the best part - the center panel hangs completely flat rather than pooching out (really, who needs that happening around their middle?). It's great. I'm wearing it right now.

Well, I supposed I've sloughed off from work long enough now. Have a great weekend everyone!