Launch Pad

August 28, 2015

I took my 11 and 13 year old nieces into my local yarn store and showed them around a bit earlier this week. I told the proprietor that Elizabeth, age 11, wanted to learn how to knit socks. She sensibly steered me towards teaching her to knit something flat first, and later a hat or mittens. Since my niece wants leg warmers, we’ll see if she simply wants leg warmers, or if she’s looking for a cabled version of them. Part of me can’t wait to teach her to knit.

I even bought her her own set of knitting needles in a size 8, similar to the first pair I learned to knit on. Now, let me explain my situation…I work overnights, and got out of work at 5AM Sunday morning. I came home and went to sleep from 8-ish until about 2:30PM. I was doing okay here. I was going to take my nieces and my little to the beach Sunday afternoon, but the rain and the temperature laughed at my plans. So we cooked and worked on one of the most challenging puzzles I’ve seen in sometime.

Sunday night, I put them to bed somewhere near a reasonable time and did some reading and puzzle work until about 2AM, planning to get close to 5 hours of sleep before Elizabeth woke me near 7AM. I can function on 5 hours of sleep, if necessary. With my nieces’ schedules, it’s a bit necessary.

However, some rude truck with squeaky air brakes drove by my house, and stopped near enough that I heard it at 5:30AM. Since 2AM is way before my bedtime, I was up and raring to go. I even tried calling Dear James and having him talk me back to sleep. I started to feel tired enough to sleep about 7:30AM, close to 8. Lizzie was up at 7:20AM, almost like clockwork.

003Maeve helping me knit this evening…She knows how to make me jealous of a nap when I need it…

The temp that day remained too chilly to visit a lake or a beach, so we worked on the puzzle, and I found some books for my oldest niece to borrow. I should have waited until she was ready to head home to give those to her, as I rarely heard another peep out of her once she had a book in her hand. Lizzie and I worked on the puzzle a bit more and made lunch, and I kept Lizzie busy with some drawing for a bit.

After we did some window shopping, and visited the local yarn shop and thrift store, we made our traditional trip to Cops and Doughnuts. Then my dear James called me once his thyroid ultrasound was done(more on that later, I’m afraid-hoping its not terrible news), and told me he was making arrangements to go to the next town to pick up his wings order that was incorrectly filled the night before. Since he was traveling to the town my nieces live in, I volunteered him as driver to take them home. It’s never a good idea to drive on 3 1/2 hours sleep. He was a pretty good sport about it.

As I dropped off my nieces, I started to show my youngest niece how to knit flat with two knitting needles. I have no idea where this hair-brained, sleep-deprived idea came from, perhaps my niece who didn’t get that if I’m slurring my words (and Dear James was laughing at me for it,)I should be getting a nap. I hope she got it. I’m not sure I was a good instructor, but I am sure I will hear about it soon, whether she is quite frustrated, or at her older brother’s birthday party. But the flat knitting will be her launch pad into the world of knitting, and I’m happy to bring her in.

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Briannag, reclaiming “her spot” on the couch…

As for me, I’m still knitting on the rose-rib socks and the cat is using me as a launch pad as I knit. My lap apparently makes a good jumping off place to reach his favorite perches, usually the back of the couch. Maeve snuggled in for her evening nap, and the rest of the animals ignored me, mostly. Briannag and I did have an interesting chat that could be a whine session or her method of suggesting I was really in her seat, sitting upon her pillow, which she sleeps on while I type this blog post up. (We won’t even mention her behavior, or lack thereof, when I tried to get a nap Monday night after dropping my nieces off at home).

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Squib, content to rest after using me as a launch pad, likely to catch anything with wings that sneaked in as I let the dogs out tonight…

I also thought about my rose ribs patterns as I knit, since Squibby was busy using me as a launch-pad(no photographic evidence, he’s too quick); I thought about how I wanted to move into cabling, and this pattern may be a launch pad for moving into new techniques in the knitting world. Wish me luck.   009

This weeks sock progress…two more ribs and I can knit the heel…

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Breaking My Own Rules…

August 21, 2015

…because some days you must, right?

I’m knitting the second sock of a pair. I began this sock pattern a little over a year ago, I believe. You guys are so patient with me. Thank you. I decided to look back to this time last year, and I must have gotten this sock confused with another sock I was knitting at a time when I was teaching more school…. I thought this was the sock that I could knit only two rows at a time on…I’ll have to check for that blog.

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Briannag may be snuggling my bag, or protecting it from Scamp…or just claiming it as hers. She hasn’t figured out you need opposable thumbs to knit, however.

I looked back to a year ago, and my post was called Following My Own Rules. I have to laugh at myself for this one…I was beginning the super-secret fantasy quilt about a year ago, and it was so new and I was so enthusiastic, I created a rule. I’ve also created another rule(one that I usually stick to a little better), that I had to finish one project before I knit another.

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Squib getting curious about knitting and planning to cuddle for a few moments

This week, as I read over the previous blog, I realize just how I’ve broken most of my rules, and yet managed to make things work with a certain amount of diligence. I can be disciplined, but days like today, d-words go out the window to play in the rain, except for dammit, when the ssk on the last row doesn’t want to work, and the dogs who try to cuddle me or protect my knitting, I think. I hope.

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Zeus, snuggling until mom takes the photo…In my defense, it’s a little easier to knit without an 80lb. dog sitting across your lap.

Today feels scattered, and when you have key-lime(sort-of) cheesecake for your second breakfast, you kind of learn to expect scattered if you’re me. Okay, you don’t think much of it, but you see the cause and effect after. However, I still made progress. But let’s compare the changes…

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Current Sock Progress…the little rules just might work…

A year ago, I was working on the rose rib knit socks #1 and beginning a super-secret fantasy quilt that I still have not finished. It was a goal to have this quilt done by Christmas…maybe this Christmas….perhaps in time to submit to a contest…one never knows with these things. A year ago, I devised a rule that I would complete one entire repeat of a pattern round before I sewed on the quilt.

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Maeve, snuggling on mom while she knits, she lasted the longest, but she usually does.

In the meantime, Scamp ran off with my skein of pink and orange variegated yarn to knit this pattern with, and so I switched off and knit the black-hearted socks. I have completed a pair of socks at least. Scamp has not fully attacked the sewing, or perhaps the thread is cheap enough (or was) that I just buy another spool, because hand sewing quilts well takes a lot of thread. I also furthered the quilt design some.

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Repeat 6 of 9 on the second sock…

Progress report…with one pair of socks knit in the meantime, I am about the same place on the second sock that I was on the first about this time last year. I just completed repeat 6 of 9, which I mentioned specifically in one of my blogs. However, I’ve relaxed the rules a bit. I’ve allowed myself to sew the hexies that are part of the background quilt, so long as I do knit a pattern repeat on two of my nights off. I still sew at work instead of knit.

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One of the smaller projects in between…

I have also completed smaller projects in between. I have knit my dad a log-cabin style book wrap quilt I was able to present him for father’s day, once I remembered to bring the gift with me. I have also speedily quilted a tote-bag for my aunt that I need to sew the handles on and hand it off so she can use it with the pride only an aunt can muster for a handmade gift. It even looks good, too.

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Really, almost shameful…it’s almost finished. Perhaps I should make another “rule,” just not on a day I’m managing to break so many…

Either way, I’m still excited to see where this journey takes me, and I cannot wait to finish these socks to enjoy on a chilly fall day of hot cocoa or showing my feet to small fries to entertain them at the end of the day. I’m often seeking new converts for knitting or sewing. Don’t even ask me about how much time I spent searching fabric dying processes on the internet tonight….I told you I was a wee bit scattered today;-)

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…while I still managed to make progress;-)

QuiltWeek Inspires Progress

August 14, 2015

It is hard to attend Quilt Week and not be inspired to make something, or something more. There is little explanation needed. When you see all things possible, you wish to move forward with your own possibilities.  It’s been a busy week following a busy week. Thankfully, next week is only half busy, so far.  The fairy house is complete and turned in, as I reported last week. But we’re moving onto what happened this week. I even have a sneak preview of a certain super-secret fantasy quilt…anyone up for giving opinions?

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See what I mean…it’s getting there, but is still not what I want.

My brother texted me Saturday, early for me, and asked me if I wanted to come over for dinner the next day. Sunday was my birthday(I’m 24 again, and I have no idea how long my best friend and I have been 24 again). So, I responded with the typical kid’s question: “What’s for dinner?” Oops, the kid’s offering to cook for me. He tells me burgers and lets me set the time for Six p.m. because it’s my birthday. Dear James would tell me not to be picky about food cooked for me, but I haven’t liked pork in America since I had it fresh-killed, that morning, by a fellow traveller in Nicaragua. I’ll eat sausage and tolerate ham, but pork tastes dried out and flat in comparison. I’d almost rather go hungry. And since it’s my birthday, I figure a little entitlement hasn’t hurt anyone. I’m grateful my baby brother(who’s not 24 again, but likely somewhere in his 30’s), offered me burgers.

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Squib, saving my knitting spot…or aspiring to knit…I’m never quite certain.

So, we went, and had a nice birthday, and I got gifts I had outright suggested or hinted at, though not intentionally on the hinted one.  To be fair, my dad asked what I wanted, and I informed him I could use a new tool box. I live alone, it’s only prudent to have the tools on hand I need for small repairs and a place to put them. My brother bought me a palm sander, after I asked to borrow his for a couple of weeks. I’d likely be done with it in a couple hours, but I wasn’t driving it back the next day, or didn’t have reason too. I also wasn’t certain when I would be getting to that project. It’s been on the back burner for a while.

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I’m never really without help on the knitting front…Zeus wants snuggles.

My James, however, gave me a bottle cutter and money to attend the American Quilter’s Society Quilt Week in Grand Rapids, MI.  After a slight change in plans in which my best friend chose not to attend, I chose to take my oldest niece with me. Here’s the good part, as my youngest niece was going camping with Grandpa that day, my oldest niece was left…but she’s the one for whom I’m working on the super-secret fantasy quilt . There will be little to no discussing my own quilt work, no matter how interested the parties seemed.

Drat!

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Challenge quilt, “Make a quilt based on a holiday that occurs on your birthday,”  This quilt is entitled National Book Day.

But a quilt show means quilt progress. Just as knitting shows or knit in public days mean progress, right. You get inspired watching others work on their projects.  At least I do. And if I make some progress, perhaps I feel a little less behind. Now, my niece is young and youthful, and the salespeople were pretty good. One of them showed us a long-arm quilter with an automatic lock stitch feature. I still feel the need to lock the stitch myself, but she noticed my niece would probably love it. If she ever needs a long arm quilter,  well, I wish her luck with making money first.  However, my dear Jessica was not enthralled by machines or many quilts that were not bright, Warriors themed(a young adult novel I am not yet familiar with), or bejeweled. She wants a Bejeweler (a cross between a hot glue gun and a soldering iron for Swarovski crystals), and she enjoyed the dye your own fabric demo.   And we did have engaging conversations about the quilts. She makes great quilt show company.

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It is possible to get too busy on a quilt…forgive my planning.

So, where does that leave the knitting to come in?  I knit Monday night, simply in part because I was planning to go, and I had time. And if you have time, you make progress, right? In addition, tonight, a day after the show, I set up my quilt as it is, finally ironed out some seams, and started to check on my hexie progress.  Now, I just need to sew somewhere close to 300 hexies…I’m going to reduce that by 7 and round to the nearest number and say I need to sew (excuse me while I pull out the calculator, I only do math in my head at work, and we have most of the cheats); about 43 flowers. That sounds so much more manageable.

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I like the brown background better, What do you think?

Here’s where the decisions come in to play. I have color choices to work out. This quilt is bright and busy and going to a thirteen year old girl who wants to Be-Jewel her life. (Trust me on this). However, there is such a thing as too busy, and I may have stumbled upon it…forgive the evidence I present…my basement isn’t the best setup for photos, but I have to share with someone who’s somewhat into this stuff;-) Please indulge me.

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Thank you for indulging me…here is another possibility.

What does this mean for my knitting? I heard you whispering in the corner over there. Well, I can’t just make progress on the quilt now, can I? I decided to do even one more round this week on these socks. It’s getting closer. If I keep going at this rate, I’ll need to get some buttons on a favorite shirt and begin to welcome Autumn soon. I enjoy Autumn, I just don’t care for the Winter that follows it. Now, I have some more flowers to sew.

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See, I really have made some knitting progress, too…

…like maybe teaching my 11 year old niece to knit socks…, um…sound off, teach her to knit socks, leg warmers or just knit them for her?

020The fairy house in its almost complete status…It’s never fully completed, but it has been turned in.

Allow me to explain: I’m in a connection phase of my life. To help others I care about find something they enjoy, I’ve started finding “projects” we could work together on. My brother just experienced a very foolish year of his life. During this time, he moved in with my dad. When he returned to his wife, my dad felt bereft. This was about the time I found this fairy house project at the Michigan Renaissance Festival. I was intrigued, and being a project seeker and a wee bit of a fixer, I suggested it to him. We set off to work on it. I have a few photos from the project as well.

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Fairy Garden the night before we drove it to Holly to enter it in the Michigan Renaissance Festival competition.

I’ve also heard fewer complaints about my dad feeling bereft, and he had something in which to look forward to each week as well as provide input and suggestions. Okay, armchair psychology aside, it was a good project. It achieved the goal. Yeah, me.

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The Gnome who wouldn’t go…each time I took him with me to include him in the fairy garden, I found him chillin’ in my car.

In the meantime, I finished my black-hearted, two-toned socks I adapted from Ariel’s pattern. I’d better finish that post on http://www.ravelry.com as well. I’m on there as dragontearsoflove if anyone wishes to add me. But let’s fast-forward a bit to the fairy house drop off for entry in the Michigan Renaissance Festival competition. I will plug the voting later. The trip there was mostly uneventful as my brother drove our fairy houses/gardens to the festival office and we only had minor snags finding the office. On the way home, my 11 year old niece who had tagged along saw me knitting the scalloped border of my rose rib socks as featured in Sock knitting: Master Class,  by Ann Budd.

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See, who can tell? In addition, this looks easy enough for an awesome aunt to complete, right? 

She then proceeded to ask me to knit her knee-high socks. I considered it for a moment as I hoped I was getting my stitching right and hoping I didn’t have to rip it out… Who notices three stitches off in the first round anyways?  So, I thought about it, and almost immediately suggested I buy her the yarn and the knitting needles and teach her to knit them. She likes this idea, some. We talked about it, and she thought maybe it was something else to do when she had nothing else to do. She still hasn’t finished sewing the binding on her bookwrap quilt yet, which her mother can help her with.

Now, we enter a couple of conundrums. 1) I admit it, I’m a yarn snob (this will never be an inexpensive hobby). 2) I do not live with this child, so she would have to visit to make progress. 3) Her mother crochets and cannot help her with this. 4) I only knit socks on dpns and am not certain these are the best tools to teach an 11 year old how to knit. The good news is, I’m willing to learn circulars and try two at a time. The bad news is, I’d have to knit them with her to work out any issues. And I’m still an intermediate knitter with a sense of adventure at best.

009Current progress on the socks…I love my dpn’s, but will there be a time I prefer circulars?

The way I see it, I have three options: 1) knit her the knee-high socks she requested(she does have rather skinny legs and feet still and it could be a simple pattern. 2) teach her to knit using dpns, my most familiar tool. 3) learn to knit socks on circulars and teach her to knit using circulars and making two socks at a time (I’ve been told it is quicker and you do get both done at once).

I love the option to get connection time with my niece, but it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve knit for her. In addition, she often welcomes my knit projects.  But, I have some decisions to make; what do you guys think?