Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Final July FO

I decided last night that mittens are definitely a weekend project. They are just complicated enough that I can't cope with them, especially after a typically chaotic summer Monday at the library. So the mitten is on hold until after vacation, and I finished up the crocheted scarf I have been talking about instead.

I started this scarf for the Red Scarf Project but then decided it wouldn't be long enough for their requirements. Now that it is done, it probably is longer than 60". (I didn't measure it.) But at this point I am going to donate it to Warm Up Winchester. I used Knit Picks Swish, a superwash wool, a K hook, and my own pattern. It is 25 stitches across, and I alternated between 5 hdc through the back loop only and then 5 hdc through the front loop only across. That gave the scarf a nice texture, while the K hook gave it nice drap. It is one of the nicest crocheted scarves I have made, IMHO!

Well, since it is the last day of the month, I'm off to post at Crafting for a Cause and Warm Up Winchester. I'll be back tomorrow with my plans for vacation projects.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Warm Hands, Summer Edition

First, though, I have to share my good news. I hadn't been back to Weight Watchers for 2 weeks, what with travelling to New Hampshire and then not feeling all that great the week after. But I made it last Friday morning, and I received some good news. I had lost 3.6 lbs over the past 2 weeks, bringing my total weight loss to 29.8 lbs. I'm calling it 30 lbs no matter what the digital scale says, and I have to say that it feels wonderful! At this point, I have lost about half the weight I need to, so I am very pleased.

Yes, this weekend turned into a "Warm Hands" weekend - I worked on mittens both days. Actually, considering how hot and humid it was in CT this weekend, it felt good to work on a small project like mittens. First up, I finished the second mitten of this pair:
Although it looks like the mitten on the left is bigger, they are the same size. The bigger mitten was finished first, some time ago, and I think all my poking and prodding at it stretched it out a bit. I made this pair out of Lion Brand Wool Ease.

Then I finished the first mitten of this pair and started the second:
This was my problem pair - the pair that made me wonder "what was I thinking". Well, I looked a the pattern again and figured out that I was using just one pattern. So the mitten worked up quickly enough yesterday. The only problem is that it is quite a bit smaller than I was expecting. It will fit a small child's hand, but obviously I still have gauge issues since it was supposed to fit an older child. I will have to continue to ponder that problem. I'm using Plymouth Encore, and I just love the color changes in this colorway.

I will try to finish the second mitten tonight, and then that just leaves the crocheted scarf for Tuesday night. If I can accomplish that, I will have met all of my July goals. Wish me luck!

(Also, for those of you who might be wondering about Summer of Squares and when I am getting back to making afghan squares, the answer is very soon. I need to make a square or two for my crochet guild by our August meeting, so I need to get busy on that as soon as I finish these projects.)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

What Was I Thinking?

I had some time yesterday morning, so I took a look at the hat and mittens I want to finish up this week. I had already decided that the hat was long enough, and all I needed to do was the decreasing at the top. So I went ahead and finished it up, and here it is:
It came out ok, but for some reason I screwed around with the pattern. I made the brim shorter than called for, and then I ended up making the body of the hat shorter as well. It will fit a child, but still - what was I thinking? I really should just stick to the pattern or find another one if I don't like the one I'm using! I actually don't like the way this pattern handles the decreasing at the top, so I should stop using it, if I can remember.

Then I looked at the mittens. One problem with putting projects down is getting back into them when you pick them up again. So I counted stitches and measured what I had done to try to figure out what size I was making. The first pair should be straightforward. One mitten is already done, and it was easy to figure out what size I was making.

The other pair, however, caused me to ask yet again - what was I thinking? I started the first mitten on one long circular needle, which is fine, since I have a pattern that is written for 3 dps that I can translate to one long circ. The problem is that I seem to be using the number of stitches from a pattern that is written for 2 straight needles. So I am going to have to figure out how to put these 2 patterns together to make this mitten and then remember what I did to make the second one. I think I will tackle that problem over the weekend when I have time to think!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Some Actual FO's Today!

I know it's taken me a few days to find time to post, but hopefully it will have been worth the wait since I actually have some FOs to show you all! Apparently the conference really inspired me to come home and finish some projects that have been languishing. (That and the fact that I really needed a brief break from afghan squares!) Last week I mentioned that I was motivated to work on the 3 preemie blankets that I had started at the end of May. Well, I kept going, and here they are, all finished. The first one is the granny square, made with Caron Simply Soft:

The second one is the ripple, made with TLC:

And the third one is made with the bushy stitch, from Dee's pattern, in Caron Simply Soft:

I finished the third one Sunday morning, and it felt so good to finish some things that I went digging for more WIPs/UFOs to finish. I found 2 hats that I could finish quickly. I had completely forgotten about the larger one!
The smaller one is a large preemie hat made from Red Heart Soft and will be donated with the blankets. The larger one should fit a small child, and I am going to send that to Warm Up Winchester. It took one whole skein of Plymouth Yarn's Jelli Beenz, but it is so soft and warm that it was worth it.

I have decided to keep going on these WIPs/UFOs for the rest of July. So that means that I have a hat, 2 pairs of mittens, and a crocheted scarf to finish by next Tuesday. If I can accomplish that, then I think I will mostly craft for myself in August but continue to try to finish projects that are already started. Since vacation is looming (I only have 1 more weekend before we leave), that will help me decide what projects to bring with me. But don't worry, I'm sure there will be a few afghan squares in the mix over the next month as well!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Now That I'm Home and Settled...

...I've been trying to decide what to work on for the rest of the month. For some reason this week, I've had a powerful desire to finish up the 3 preemie blankets I had started at the end of May. So that's what I have been doing with my evenings. I'm having fun with them, especially since one is a ripple and one is a granny square! I'll post pictures when I get them finished.

For the rest of the month, I have a few ideas floating around in my head. I need to get back to making some afghan squares. I want to make some more granny squares for Share a Square. It has also been a month since I got the pattern for Krochet Krystal's Daisy Square, so I want to try that pattern out, also. Both of these projects require me to dig in the stash for yarn, and hopefully I can find the time this weekend to pull the yarn together. Time keeps marching on, and it will be December before we know it. Consequently, I would also like to get back to making hats and scarves for the Salvation Army. I would like to finish more of the projects I have started, so that I have something to send to Warm Up Winchester.

And that's just the charity projects! The conference gave me all kinds of ideas for projects for me, too! There were so many Doris Chan patterns being worn at the conference, it just made my head spin. So I want to get back to my moebius shawl and get that finished. I want to start the Chrysanthemum Tea Shawl and make another Blue Curacao shawl. And I really want to start a pair of toe-up socks to practice what I learned in Janet's class.

So, just like that, I have goals to take me through the end of the year and well into next year. Stay tuned to see what I actually accomplish!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

One More Post About the Conference...

...and then I promise I will talk about other topics again! I did manage to upload my photos yesterday morning, and I have a couple that are decent. The first is Dee taking a picture of some of our guild members at the dinner Saturday night. From the left, we have Jen, Karen, Grace, and Dee.

And here is one of Margaret modelling a freeform jacket on the runway. Speaking of Margaret, she has posted some great photos from the conference on her blog, if you want to see more.

I also took the time yesterday morning to take some pictures of my acquisitions from the fiber market. I didn't buy much, but I did treat myself to a few things.

I bought Crocheted Socks! by Janet Rehfeldt, who taught the sock class I took on Friday, and 2 skeins of sock yarn. The one on the bottom is Tofutsies. The one on the top is called Spunky Eclectic and is just about the softest sock yarn I have ever touched.

I bought myself a new wooden G hook from Grafton Fibers. I love using it already.

And finally, there was a stall selling Orenburg shawls imported from Russia. As some of you know, I have been lusting after these shawls for some years now, because the Russian woman I work with wears one every winter. I never thought I would have an opportunity to purchase one here in the States, but since I haven't managed to make one for myself either, I threw caution to the wind and bought one. My Russian friend has certified it authentic already!

It was a tad expensive, but I just had to have it. The picture doesn't do it justice. It is so lightweight that it is almost hard to get it around my shoulders. And now I can use my Russian yarn to make one of the Orenburg-inspired patterns I have acquired along the way.

Monday, July 16, 2007

I'm Back!

I got home from the conference about 5:30 last night. I'm still tired and very glad to be home, but wow did we have a great time! My head is still spinning from everything I learned in my classes. All 3 classes were well organized and informative, and I know I will be incorporating what I learned from all 3 in my knitting and crocheting.

Of course, I carried my camera around all weekend and only took a few pictures at the fashion show. Go figure! I haven't even downloaded those photos yet. So if you want to see pictures, Dee has some great ones up on her blog. It turns out that I am not any sort of night owl, which is why I wasn't in Dee's room drinking strawberry wine in her latest post - I was in bed already!

Beyond the classes, one of the best parts of the conference for me was seeing everyone wearing their knitted and crocheted finery. Sweaters, ponchos, shawls, everywhere you looked there was someone wearing another fabulous item! Given how cold the A/C was in the hotel, sweaters, ponchos and shawls were actually very practical items, and if I go again next year, I am definitely going to work up some new shawls to bring with me!

The other thing that struck me was how focused so many knitters and crocheters are. Everywhere you went, in restaurants at meals, in the lounge that was open 24/7, at the keynote address, there was movement all around as knitters and crocheters worked on their projects. I like to think that I accomplish quite a bit with my knitting and crocheting, but the conference taught me that I am something of a lightweight. I haven't begun to tap into the unused minutes of my day for creating!

Unfortunately, it is time for me to get ready for work, but I'll be back tomorrow with pictures of the goodies I purchased at the fiber market. What a headspinning experience that was! It's a wonder that I was able to focus on any purchases, but I did manage and I will show you my loot tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

My Bags Are Packed...

...well, ok, not quite. I'm still doing laundry, so I can't pack until I finish. But I am getting close to being ready to go! I got 10 squares finished up last night - 8 for WUA and 2 for VT Tech. I posted the pictures to both Crafting for a Cause and Summer of Squares, and I'm tired of waiting for Blogger to upload photos, so I'm not going to post the pics here, too. I'm also running out of computer time this morning.

Just one or two more things. I have joined another charity group online. It's called Warm Up Winchester (as in Winchester, VA), and they are collecting anything warm - hats, mittens, scarves, blankets, you name it. So when I get back, I will try to make some hats and mittens along with afghan squares.

And if you can't wait until next week to see how the conference is going, check out Dee's blog. She has brought her laptop with her to the conference and will be blogging from there. I wouldn't be surprised if I show up in at least some of her photos.

Have a great weekend, and I will be back next week with all sorts of fibery goodness, I'm sure!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Getting Ready for the Conference!

Excitement is really building around here, as I get ready to leave for the Knit and Crochet Show on Thursday! I attended my crochet guild meeting yesterday, and I found out that 7 of us are attending the show this year. It was so much fun to say to everyone "see you Thursday" as we left the meeting.

I spent 4th of July pulling yarn out of my stash for each class I am taking and doing my homework. I still have a few swatches to finish, but I will be ready by Thursday. Then it occurred to me that I need a project to take with me as well. I had to do some thinking about that, because the project needs to be small and portable, but impressive none the less.

Luckily, last week I put in an Amazon order for 2 books and Adobe Photoshop Elements (which I promise to learn how to use when I get back). One of the books was Jan Eaton's Encyclopedia of Crochet Techniques, which I bought sight unseen (something I almost never do). I fell in love with the book immediately and couldn't stop looking at it. I particularly liked some of her lace stitch patterns. The patterns made me think of the 2 skeins of Koigu PPPM that I had in my stash, probably because the swatches in the book were done in pink. And with that, I had found my travelling project:
This will become a scarf, one of nature's most portable projects. I am using an E hook, so it is growing fairly fast even though it is fingering weight yarn. And I love the way the colors are coming together.

I was able to go shopping before the meeting yesterday, and I found all the clothes I was hoping to buy. So now all that is left to do is pack clothes and food, and I will be on my way! Before I go, however, I will be back with a squares update for you all. I have been quite the busy girl this past week, even if I didn't get a chance to post.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Young Abe Lincoln

Since 1967, the library where I work has been the proud owners of an Anna Hyatt Huntington statue of young Abe Lincoln, sitting on a horse and reading a book. As you can imagine, the years have not been kind to Abe, out in all kinds of weather. Over the past 5 years or so, we have done a major renovation of our library, and so it was just time to do something for old Abe as well.

Our Friends of the Library group, which funds all sorts of things that simply aren't in the library's budget, recently paid for a major renovation of the statue. Abe went from this:

to this:
over the course of the spring. The statue was reinstalled a couple of weeks ago, and last Saturday was the rededication ceremony. It was a beautiful day, and we got a nice turn out for the ceremony.

Why am I telling you about Abe this morning? Partly because my dh works hard for the Friends group, running the book sale every year, and he was involved in recommending the conservator, and I am really proud of him for putting this project together for the library and the town. And partly because I am hoping to distract you all from the lack of knitting and crocheting content again this week! Never fear, though! I am still making afghan squares and will be back with pictures later in the week. And besides, does it get more American than Abraham Lincoln? This just seemed like an appropriate post as we get ready to celebrate Amerca's birthday tomorrow.

So here's wishing everyone a safe and happy 4th of July!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Working on July Goals Already!

We have just had an absolutely gorgeous weekend here in CT - highs in the mid-70's, with blue sky and a breeze. Not exactly July weather, but wonderful nonetheless. Besides the weather, the weekend also contained a really nice balance of relaxing with getting things done. So I feel rested but not at all ready to go back to work today (mostly because Mondays are the worst day of the week in summer - and I get 2 of them this week because we are closed on Wednesday for the holiday, which means I am facing another "Monday" on Thursday).

I spent some time on Saturday putting my notebook together for the conference next week and designing business cards for the blog. I haven't printed them out yet, but I like what I have come up with. Now I just have to pull yarn together from the stash and work up a few swatches.

Then, yesterday, I worked up 2 more squares for VT Tech. The one on the top I made up as I went along. It is ok, but I tried using some cluster stitches in the first few rounds and the middle turned out a little tight. For the bottom square, I used the "Larger than Life" bag square from the current issue of IK Crochet, which had been adapted from Jan Eaton's 200 Crocheted Squares. I just added a few extra rounds to make it 12". And then last night, I started another WUA square. I have to say that competition over at Crafting for a Cause is pretty fierce! One woman posted 43 WUA squares that she had made in about 2 weeks. I can't possibly compete with output like that, but I am having fun letting the contest motivate me to keep making squares.