Saturday, March 28, 2009

We're off!

It's getting late here and we need to leave for the airport at 4am. It's thundering and lightening like crazy. I hope it clears up before we leave.

I didn't want to post without a picture so here is a picture of my Cody. He's actually backing up in this picture - he's afraid of the red light on the camera! Yes, he's a wienie!

See you in a week!
ETA: It's now Sunday morning at 3:30 am. I've been awake for an hour due to the horrible thunderstorms we're having. Guess I'll get up and pack an umbrella.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Slow Going & A First!

Not much knitting or quilting has been going on this week. We're ramping up for vacation and that entails doing those things that need to be done. C and J will be taking care of the pups and we'll check in with them daily. Even when we board the pups, we call frequently to check on them.

I have picked up the stitches and am working on the ribbing for Ava's sweater. Can I say that I hate picking up stitches? I never seem to get the correct number or it looks a little wonky. As you can see from the pic below, the ribbing is done in a solid color yarn. The collar will be as well.
A while back, I decided to make a table runner (actually 3 of them) from the scraps from my first quilt. It's actual a pattern specific to using what you cut off from your blocks. It's from Terri Atkinson's book Happy Hour (you know, two for the price of one!). I laid out my backing on the garage floor and used 505 to create my quilt sandwich. I have to say I'm going to have to find somewhere else to do this. I did not like all the bending over and there was a bit of stickiness left on the concrete. I'd love to hear where other quilters do their spray basting.
Then it was on to my first free motion quilting on something other than a 14" block of muslin! I can't tell you how much anxiety I had. There are most definitely some bad spots here where I got a bit angular/pointy instead of the nice flowing curves of stippling. I certainly expected that. It was, however, easier than I thought to get good coverage of the project with the quilting. I have dubbed this project "Only a Mother Would Love" because let's face it, it's not great. So when I'm done, I'll ship it off to Mom who will treasure it! The binding is about 4/5 done on one side.
Lessons Learned:
1. I need to BREATHE!
2. It's ok to stop the needle in needle down position and just think for a minute
3. Look ahead.
4. Relax!
5. Really take seriously those blogs that say have a glass of wine first!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Ouch!

I'm still reeling from yesterday's vet visit for the pups annual well visit. They needed several shots (ones they get every 3 years) and blood work. Plus Cody needed his liver level tested as it's been a couple of years and we need to make sure he's doing ok. They both need their teeth cleaned ($300 to $400). That on top of yesterday's $713 really hurts. That included their heart work medication, FrontLine, and antibiotics for their teeth cleaning. As you can tell, they also need to be groomed. So I skipped the $6 yard Moda fabric sale at my LQS.

Not much crafting going on here. This week I worked on filing taxes for us and the kids. I also had my last class of the quilting class I'm taking. The last class was mostly discussion of layout options, etc and fabric requirements. Saturday I had WW and got my hair cut and colored and did a bit of shopping for our trip. I also stopped by the yarn shop during the Kids Club. It's nice to see young kids excited and inspired to knit. I've picked up my socks that I'm knitting 2 at a time and I've gotten through the heel, heel turn, and picked up stitches on one side on one and am working on the heel on the other one. I'd wanted to get through this part before flying out next week. We'll see.
We leave one week from today for Arizona. I'm excited that I'll be seeing a part of the country I've never seen before. Let's hope I survive two takeoffs and two landings to get there. I hate to fly so this is going to be a real challenge.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Mystery Solved!

The mystery of why my Dresden Plate block didn't work out has been solved. As I shared in my prior post, I felt like my seam allowance was too scant. Not so. I'm almost embarrassed to say what the problem was....I had too many pieces! Monday when I came home from work (almost on time) I sat down at the dining room table and decided to try and figure out what was going on. It's rare that I sew during the week but it was nice to get off work at a decent time and G was cooking dinner. So I took all my picked out pieces and started lining them up and then it dawned on me that I had too many! After that, it came together pretty easily. Go figure!

Lesson Learned: Counting is not over rated!
Here is the Friendship block I ended up working on late Sunday night. I was worried about this one with all the points coming together. Even though the centermost seam is off a bit, I'm still pretty happy with the way this came out. There were a LOT of places that my piecing could have gone really wrong.
Here's an update on my Sweater Sampler. I did my first placket (is that what it's called?). Not a great picture but you get the idea. The button hole and the piece that goes over it.
We also knit a sweater pocket. More like the pouch you have in a pullover hoodie. I enjoyed it and it's much easier than I anticipated. You can't see the short rows - they were much easier than my first experience (which was my own fault because first time around I used a dark yarn in fingering weight) and I think I could tackle these again. I never thought I'd say that!
I'm starting to get a little excited about our trip to Arizona at the end of the month. Can you believe I've never been out west? We're hoping to do a little hiking and will be spending most of the time with G's brother and his family. I'm already thinking about what knitting projects to take with me and fretting over getting my Addi's through security checks. Gotta get my knitting bag cleaned out and organized too! Next vacation (in June) is to my parents cabin in the mountains and we're driving. G doesn't know this yet, but I'm going to take my sewing machine then!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Quilt Police?

I'm not feeling like sitting at the sewing machine this weekend. I'm learning that when I'm not "into it" that it's not a good time to sew. So I just sewed the prep work for one of the blocks for my class this week, cut out a couple of things and walked away. The Quilting Class Police are not going to come and carry me off to the pokey, are they?

Frankly, I feel more like knitting so I'm going to spend a couple of hours this afternoon /evening knitting in front of the tv watching a movie or maybe reading.

Here is where I'm at on Ava's sweater. She lives in Texas with my brother and had her tonsils taken out on Monday. Since she's so little (she's just 2) and was refusing to drink or eat anything they ended up keeping her in the hospital for 2 days. My brother is sick himself - just this side of pneumonia - and my other niece has strep throat. It's a good thing my sister in law is well! I sure wish we lived closer so I could help. Instead, I knit and think of them all.
Here's a picture of my Sweater Workshop Sweater Sampler. I love the nice crisp line at the color changes. Easy to do - unless you don't know what to do! The key is to knit the first row after the color change and then go into your ribbing. I did it here (twice) and the knit row does not interfere in the ribbing at all.
Here is the status of my Dresden Plate block from my prior post. I picked it out while watching Dancing with the Stars this past week. I'm ok with the current status but when I'm feeling it, I'll put it back together. Or at least give it my best effort.
Since I'm not really sewing this weekend, here are a couple of blocks that I worked on last weekend. Grandmothers Flower Garden - which was appliqued. I thought I'd hate applique and never saw myself doing it. This is fusible applique and it wasn't bad at all and I can easily see myself doing it. It's also sparked an interest in learning the other methods.
This is the Road to California. Flying Geese is a technique I've learned in this class. Also enjoyable.
I should have pressed these blocks before taking pictures of them. They were rolled up in the bag I take to class. But I'm not feeling like using the iron. So I'm not. Hope you've had an enjoyable weekend!

Edited to Add: It's after 7pm here and 84 degrees. I think Spring is already over! Time to turn on the air conditioner!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

New Beginnings, Scraps, and a Retirement Plan

I realized after my last post that I forgot to post a picture of my nieces sweater in progress. So here it is: Knitting Pure and Simple Children's Neck Down Bolero. I think she'll love it! I haven't gotten much further with this - work is literally kicking my butt. I can't tell you how much I love the feel of this yarn!
Over the weekend, my LQS had a scrap sale. 2 pounds of scraps for $5. Lots of the pieces were almost fat quarter sized. I picked up some solid black Michael Miller fabric that I've heard everyone rave about. It was a lot of fun - lots of us standing and sorting through tables of scraps, laughing and talking and passing on fabric you knew someone was looking for. Here is a sampling of the 3 pounds I picked up.
As I mentioned, working is ramping up and I've taken on more responsibilities, which I do enjoy. But the time lines are tighter and it's taking more of my time. My free time. I seriously need to check and see if the lottery ticket in my wallet is a winner! I need to be able to take an early retirement, pay my bills, and support my fiber habits! Does anyone else have any ideas on how I can make this work?!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!

This past week, the yarn for my nieces sweaters (this pattern is really called a bolero) came in. If you've never knit with Lorna's Laces, you must. It's a really nice and soft yarn - perfect for the girls! It's washable too. I cast on for Ava's sweater in this pink colorway I chose for her. Alex's will be purple - after all she's 6 a/k/a way too old for pink!
I have to give G credit, when I came home with the yarn he admired how soft it was and said it would be perfect for Ava. In the course of conversation I said "please don't ask me how much this was". And he didn't. Gotta love that! Let's just say it cost a lot more than the Berocco Comfort I made their last sweaters from.

I was behind in my quilting homework so I got up early this morning and got busy. This is the first time I've chain pieced. I enjoyed it.
Also my first time doing flying geese (which need a good pressing).
Yesterday I made my my first dresden plate - which is a mess/disaster/wreck. My seams were just too scant. It'd be perfect with one less piece but then the patterning would be goofed up. I'm either going to rip this one out and resew or start over from square one. But not today.
At first I was a bit upset about this. After all I was behind. But then I just decided to sit down and just sew until I was done. Whenever that was. I started with the block I had to have prepped for this weeks class (the one with the flying geese). And then I went on to a block I was supposed to have completed. Then to a 2nd one that was supposed to be done. By the end of the day I'd been at my machine the entire day with the exception for a family trip to the movies (we saw Taken, it was great). I'm totally up to date except for the dresden plate block and I have all the remaining blocks all cut out. I accomplished way more than I intended. I'll admit that this class was beginning to feel like it wasn't fun. It wasn't that the homework was too much but that it was too much with my current work schedule and my stressing over it was making it much worse. Turns out, it was really my own attitude that was causing the problem!

Lesson Learned: Just have fun with it! And when it's not fun, STOP!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

My Mojo Is Back!

After being sick for a week and a half, this weekend I took some time to work on my knitting and quilting. It was nice to feel inspired to do more than just lay in bed! Everyone at work is walking around with red noses or coughing like crazy. This crazy weather doesn't help!

I worked on my blocks for the quilting class I'm taking. There are now 4 of them! I may redo the Drunkards Path (lower right) as there doesn't seem to be enough contrast between the one fabric and the background fabric. It's the block that gave me the most trouble. I do need to trim all the blocks up. I'm learning a lot and that class is what it's all about!
I also had my first Sweater Workshop class. We're doing the Sweater Sampler over the course of the class which is designed to teach all the skills needed to knit a sweater. The first class is very basic. I did learn, however, a new cast on and a slightly different way of joining 2 skeins of yarn. A way that I think I like better! The sweater sampler that you end up with looks kind of like a wind sock - or at least it does to me! I'll be blogging about this class as I go. Here is where I was at this morning:
Here is a close up of the new (to me) cast on. It's the cable cast on. Doesn't it have a nice edge to it? I think it's quite pretty.
I also over dyed my hand dyed yarn that I called Easter Egg. Click the link, you'll know which one was the original one. I over dyed this in a black dye wash which ended up muting the colors. The colors are more me now. I'm not an Easter Egg kind of girl! It was fun to experiment and I hope I get more time to dye yarn soon. I really, really, really want to get good results and I think I'm a bit scared that I won't. I just need to dive right in!
Oh....and the neck warmer in my last post? Here is what it looked like this morning. Win some; lose some! It just wasn't meant to be. So this weekend will involve some time for cleaning up yarn barf!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

On the Road to Recovery!

I'm finally feeling better....yesterday I felt human for the entire day! Thank you all for your well wishes. There has been very little crafting of any sort this week. Maybe it's just me but I think that blowing my nose 49,000 times while knitting and quilting is kind of gross. So my knitting needles lay idle for almost 2 weeks(until yesterday) and the only quilting that was done was mandatory for class.

Here is the view from my dining room window today. Yesterday was literally beach weather, today it's rainy and yucky. I'm not sure that I care as I have some quilting homework to do for Wednesday's class. It's going to be a quiet, stay at home day for us which is just fine!
I did win a contest that Kitty at Kitty's Bloggy Bits was having a couple of weeks ago. She lives in England and was generous enough to send me some yummy chocolate, some charm squares, and a beautiful felted flower pin! The photos are a bit dark due to the weather.
I just love the plaid fabric on top!
Lots of charm squares! Lovely!
So cute! Thank you so much Kitty!

Yesterday I cast on for Knitting Pure and Simples Childrens Neck Down Bolero with some Lorna's Laces yarn called Tickled Pink. Did several inches, found out I didn't have gauge and ripped it out and started over with bigger needles. If it would have been coming out larger, I would have just left it but it was coming out smaller. I'm making 2 of these this year but in different colors. Hopefully I'll have pictures soon!

This is going to be a very stressful week at work. We are crazy busy and there is a big production push that is going to require many extra hours (not that I wasn't working them already). I really can't complain considering how many people in my industry have uncertain futures. Being really busy during these times is a blessing if you're in the mortgage business. I'm happy that I'm feeling better and will enjoy my daily lunch breaks where I get to destress by having 30 minutes to knit. It's amazing how much finding a quiet corner for a few minutes of knitting really helps! Too bad more people aren't knitters....it certainly would make the world a better place!