Thursday, August 30, 2007

2 FOs for the Week

I had time yesterday morning, so I finished up the hat and scarf I have been working on.
These will go to Warm Up Winchester. Both are made out of 100% wool, and both patterns came out of Stitch and Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker. (I seem to be using that phrase a lot this week - I'm not sure why!)

I think that I am going to take the weekend off from blogging, so this will be it until next Tuesday. I have Weight Watchers tomorrow morning, I need to get the crochet guild's newsletter in the mail in the next 2 days, and I want to get some serious crafting done this weekend. At the moment, I have no plans for the weekend, amazingly enough, although I do have to go into work Monday morning to empty the book drops, so I should be able to accomplish something!

Have a great Labor Day weekend!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Free to Stitch...

I had such a good time last night at Stitch & Bitch! There were only 3 of us there, but I knew both of the other ladies from knitting guild. We talked nonstop for almost 2 hours, and I got all caught up on guild gossip, among other things. Even though none of us were working on anything special, I really feel like my knitting creative juices are flowing again. We talked briefly about maybe working on one of Sally Melville's sweater patterns, which would be terrific. I had already decided that if I continue to attend, that is going to be my time to work on projects for me. A sweater would certainly fit the bill!

Last night, I brought my Lucy bag, and I added a good 8 rows to the body. I'm half tempted to try to finish the body and start the handles before next Tuesday so that I can keep this project moving along. Then, when I got home, I wasn't ready to stop yet, so I finished a hat I had been crocheting and worked more on one of the scarves that I am also crocheting. I'll post pictures when I get a few more things finished up, probably this weekend.

So all in all, I had a really great evening last night!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Doilies Revisited

Thank you all for your kind comments on my reminiscences last week. I was especially grateful to Jim for writing in about the Tall Mouse. The store I remember was in Brea, and I wonder if that store relocated to Yorba Linda? Nevertheless, I am very pleased to hear that it is celebrating 41 years in business. Since I now live in an area that has lost several craft and yarn stores in the last couple of years, it's nice to know that longevity is possible in that business.

All my reminiscences led me back to where I started with crochet. I honestly don't remember learning to knit and crochet. It was just something we did at home. But I do remember spending a lot of time in my teens and twenties crocheting doilies for some reason. I'm not entirely sure why I spent so much time on doilies. I never finished one, and I remember having serious gauge issues at the time. Blocking was also a foreign concept to me back then. However, working on doilies was good experience for me. I got to practice basic stitches, and I learned to read crochet symbols fluently, since all the designs were charted rather than written at the time. As a matter of fact, I still have 2 "Magic Crochet" magazines from the 1980s, which is what I used as my source of doily patterns. I have to say that their patterns still feel fairly fresh to me. Each magazine has a lace collar that I would love to try my hand at.

Anyway, this past weekend, as I was looking around for a cooler project to work on in the heat, I decided to start a doily. The first few rounds felt odd because it has been so long since I worked with thread and steel hooks, but then it came back to me and started to feel more comfortable. Taking my time, I got 7 rows done.
I think my tension has improved over the years. The pattern is called "Glorious Gray Pineapple Doily," and I am using Grandma's Best Crochet Thread from Caron. It feels a bit stiffer than the threads of my youth, but I like the way it is working up.

So today is that most wonderful day of the year, at least for anyone working in a public library. Today is the first day of school here in my little town! We will continue to get slammed with book returns for the next week or two, but today my work life begins to approach something like normalcy after the chaos of the last 2 1/2 months. You better believe we are all doing the happy dance at work! I am also excited this morning because I decided over the weekend that I need to get out of the house more in the evening. Ever since I was promoted almost 2 years ago and began working on Wednesday evenings, I have really given up on all my evening activities. But it is time to change that, so I am planning to attend my local Stitch & Bitch this evening. Now that I have decided to go, I am really looking forward to it. Hopefully we will have a good turnout, and I will be able to see some old friends from knitting guild as well as meet some new people.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Ghana Project

Even though I have wound down on making afghan squares, I got a lovely email last week from Pam, letting me know about a charity project she is spearheading. It's called the Ghana Project, and she is looking for knitted or crocheted 7" squares. She is combining the squares into afghans that are being donated to children who are undergoing surgery to correct spinal deformities in Ghana. I think it is a terrific project, and once I get some hats, mittens and scarves made, I intend to make a few squares to send along, since I will have even more odds and ends of yarn to use! I should also add that Pam has a wide variety of knitted stitch patterns you can use to make your squares. I'm looking forward to trying some of them out.

I'm not sure where the weekend went! I spent several hours yesterday finalizing the guild's newsletter, and it's almost ready to be sent out. I also realized that at least 4 of the projects I'm currently working on are using wool yarn, which is really unusual for me. But with temps in the high 80s and low 90s, with humidity to match, working with wool yarn just wasn't enticing this weekend! I did play around with a cotton project, which I will show you all tomorrow. And the weather is at least drier today, so maybe I can get back to that wool yarn and finish a couple of projects up.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

A Walk Down Memory Lane

For some reason, I was awake for several hours last night in the middle of the night, and I found myself reminiscing about my childhood and all the crafting that used to go on at home. My mom got divorced when I was about 3, and so I was raised by my mother and grandmother. My mom was extremely creative, and for years she always seemed to be trying one new craft after another. (I have to be careful here - my mom is still alive and well, but she doesn't craft at all any more, which is why I will be using the past tense in this post.) Looking back, now that I am an adult and working full time, I really don't know how she did it.

In the 1960s, when I was a child and we were living in NJ, I remember my mom sewing. I'm sure she and my grandmother knitted and crocheted, but I don't remember that as clearly. I do remember all the homemade clothes she made for me at the start of every school year. At the time, I didn't always appreciate all those homemade clothes, but looking back I still fondly remember the mother/daughter outfits she sewed for us. When I was old enough to get my first Barbie doll, my mom made all her outfits too, using a lot of scraps. So at one point in my childhood, we had mother/daughter/Barbie doll matching outfits!

In 1972, we moved to California, and that's when I remember the crafting starting in earnest. This might be because there was an amazing craft store just down the street from us called The Tall Mouse. I met a woman from southern CA up at the Knit and Crochet Show in July, and she told me that not only is The Tall Mouse still in business, they have grown to 3 or 4 stores in various locations. I was very pleased to hear that! Anyway, in the 1970s, I remember my mom doing quilling, decoupage, macrame, needlepoint and embroidery, latch hook rugs, and painting ceramic figures. Then in the 1980s, she moved on to flower arranging, china painting, and quilting. By the 1990s, she had added basket weaving to her repetoire. Along the way, we also used molds to make candies, and she did some cake decorating. And of course, she never stopped sewing, knitting and crocheting until she retired and gave it all up.

I should add that my mom worked full time as a nurse for a group of general practioners, and she was the breadwinner for the household. So she was on her feet all day, and then she would come home at night and just craft up a storm. Then, at the holidays, the crafting would go into high gear. She didn't always make Christmas gifts, but she loved to decorate the house and make new decorations each year. I still remember the year we decorated the Christmas tree in red balls and plaid bows. It looked great, but we discovered that I couldn't tie a bow with a piece of ribbon to save my life! Then there was the year that she wanted all the presents wrapped in the same gold metallic paper with a knitted rosebud in place of a bow. That was a struggle, getting all those rosebuds made! And then there were the Christmas trees that we would make by folding each page of either the TV Guide or the Reader's Digest in a particular way and then spray painting the entire thing. Amazingly enough, none of those survived!

Somehow, I only inherited the knitting and crocheting genes. I did do some needlepoint and counted cross stitch when I was younger. I even still have some of my counted cross stitch pieces that we had framed along the way. But to this day I don't sew, nor have I tried my hand at most of the other crafts Mom was good at. I seem to prefer to concentrate on the knitting and crocheting and do those 2 things to the best of my ability. However, all this reminiscing is making me feel like I should branch out a little and try a few other crafts. I'll have to keep thinking about that.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Time to Myself

Having just posted over at Homespun Helpers and Summer of Squares, and knowing that I am going to be writing my crochet guild's newsletter later today, I think I need to keep this post brief. The rest of this week is actually going to be kind of fun at work. I am off today until 5 P.M., and I am working tomorrow from 12:30-8:00 P.M. Friday is a normal 9-5 day, but then I am working on Saturday from 1-5. Two members of my staff, who have been stressed to the max lately covering for the part timer who has been in Taiwan all summer, need some time off this weekend, so I am filling in for them. I actually love flexing my hours and getting some time off to myself during the week, so I am very happy to cover for them. And this weekend the library's book sale is going to keep my dh very busy, so I will have time to myself over the weekend as well.

So in addition to the guild's newsletter and a minimal amount of housework, I am going to take some time today to shift yarn around. I need to put away the scraps that I have been using to make afghan squares and pull out skeins that I can use for hats and mittens and scarves. That should help me to really get going on the next phase of my charity crafting. And I should have more FOs by next week.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

My Favorite Charities

I was a good girl last night and wove in all the afghan square ends. I just added 9 squares to my sidebar list of "100 Things for Charity". That brings my current total to 88 items so far this year, although so many of them are afghan squares of one sort or another that I feel a bit like I am cheating! But I am going to shift gears now and work on hats, mittens and scarves. I have a feeling that I will end the year having exceeded my goal. (And for those of you who might be visiting from Fiber Freaks, I haven't forgotten about our afghan project. I have just decided to hold off making squares until I receive everyone else's. Then I will know how many squares I need to make to finish up the blanket.)

Since it will probably take me a day or two to change gears here, today I want to talk about a question that Amy posed over at Warm Up Winchester. She had a contest earlier in the month. She asked everyone to answer the question "What is your favorite charity?" Unfortunately, I went on vacation right about then and so missed the deadline for the contest. However, I keep thinking about the question, so I am going to answer it anyway.

Of the 3 charity projects my crochet guild works on every year, I think my favorite is the Salvation Army. I really enjoy the practise I get making hats and scarves. I try out new stitches in the scarves, and I can experiment a little with color combinations. I also really enjoyed going with Dee and Grace to deliver our donation last year. That made what we are doing very real to me. I hope that it works out that I can go with them again this year.

Of all the online projects I have worked with, I think that last year's Soaring Eagles project still ranks as my favorite. I enjoyed making the hats, and I really enjoyed shopping for some other goodies for the kids as well. I also liked that a small group of us worked on the project, and so I was able to visit blogs and get to know people a bit. And, of course seeing the pictures of the kids as they received their items made it all worthwhile.

I guess my bottom line is that I like working on charity projects with smaller groups of people. I know that every donation is needed, but when there are hundreds of people making thousands of items, it is easy for me to feel that it doesn't matter whether I donate or not. (It's not necessarily right for me to feel that way, but it is easy for me to feel that way.) Working with smaller groups keeps some pressure on me to donate and helps to keep me focused on the project at hand. So this year, Warm Up Winchester is my online small group project, and I am very glad to be a part of it!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Crochet Marathon!

Those of you who read this blog know that I crochet a lot on the weekends. In between loads of laundry and household chores, I sit down and pick up whatever project I'm currently working on. However, I can occasionally surprise myself with how much I get done in a day, and yesterday was one of those days.

I decided that I wanted to see how many WUA squares I could get out of 2 skeins of Plymouth Encore. Each skein is 220 yards, in lavender and white. My first thought was to just make as many single color squares as I could get, but after I had made one of each color, I decided that it would be too boring to make all single color squares. So I started to find ways to combine the colors. Wow, did that make the squares grow quickly. I just couldn't stop crocheting!

I thought I might get 10 squares total. The end result? I got 9 squares, with just a smidge of the lavender left over. I think that if I had continued making single color squares, I would have gotten 8 with quite a bit of each color left over, so I am pleased that I decided to mix and match. I'm just really surprised that I finished that many squares yesterday. And no, my arms don't totally feel like spaghetti today! I crocheted quickly, but not at a painful pace.

One thing that helped was attending a "celtic rock" concert last night on the lawn of the town's municipal center. I had heard the group, MacTalla Mor, last April and was really looking forward to hearing them again. The town hosts a series of concerts every summer, and they are very casual affairs. While walking around at the intermission, I counted 4 crocheters (including myself) and 1 knitter in the audience. And let me tell you, crocheting in time to celtic rock music really speeds the process up! I finished 1 square and made 2 more during the concert.

So tonight's project is weaving in all those ends, and then hopefully I can get these squares and the daisy square in the mail by Wednesday. And that makes 2 items finished from Saturday's list.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Daisy Square

Well, I managed to get partially organized yesterday. My stash is still out of control, but at least I now have a list of charity projects that I want to work on. Pretty much everything will be finished up by mid-November, if not before, so that will leave me time at the end of the year for either Christmas gifts or some projects for me. Anyway, here is my list:

1. Daisy Square for Krochet Krystal.
2. WUA squares made in Plymouth Encore for Homespun Helpers*.
3. 12" squares for the Fiber Freaks afghan.
4. Hats & scarves for the Salvation Army.
5. Hats, mittens & scarves for Warm Up Winchester.
6. Hats & scarves for the VA (another Homspun Helpers project).
7. Green child's sweater for yet another Homespun Helpers project.

I want to try to get all the afghan squares made this month, while Summer of Squares is still going on, and then work on lots of hats, mittens & scarves during the fall. To that end, I tackled the first item on the list yesterday:
A daisy square for Krochet Krystal. I was very happy that it came out a perfect 8" on my first try. The pattern is interesting. I hadn't really worked with 2 colors in quite the same way before. And I have to say that it is probably the happiest afghan square I have ever made. I mean, how can you look at that square and not smile?

I also made a WUA square and started a crocheted scarf yesterday. I will have numerous identical WUA squares before I am finished, so I will post a picture when I have them all done. So I feel like I have a pretty good start on this list.

Have a great weekend!

*Crafting for a Cause officially changed their name on Wednesday to Homespun Helpers.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Not Organized Yet...

...but I thought I would pop in because I actually finished something this week! I managed to make a hat and scarf, so I have one more set for my guild's Salvation Army donation.
The green is Simply Soft Tweed, and even though it's not a color I would wear, I think it works great for a child. The white is Simply Soft, too. I thought about using the SS white tweed, but that would have been too much tweed. So I am very pleased with how this set turned out.

Now I am off to spend the rest of my day getting organized!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Dog Days of Summer

Thank goodness the heat has broken this week in CT. It's still in the 80s, but the heatwaves seem to be over for now. No, my title refers more to how it feels around the internets lately. Now that I'm caught up after vacation, my Bloglines subscriptions have been as quiet this week as I've ever seen them.

And I feel like I'm in the doldrums myself. First of all, this has turned into a busy week. Work is still busy, what with all the folks who put off getting their children's summer reading books until the end of summer suddenly coming in desperate. At least the library's children's programs ended yesterday, and school goes back in 2 weeks from yesterday, so there is hope that things will begin to wind down. In addition, I got home late on Monday and so didn't feel like starting anything once we finally settled in front of the TV. We were up at my inlaws last night for dinner, and I am working tonight. Couple that with the fact that I had finished up a lot of my charity projects before vacation and my vacation projects require a little more thought than I can give them when I'm tired, and I just don't think I'm going to accomplish much this week.

The next couple of weekends are going to be busy, too. I'm working this Saturday, and my dh is going to be busy getting ready for the library's booksale next weekend. I'm working part of the following Saturday as well, while he's working at the booksale. And we found out last night that his nephew is going to be visiting my inlaws next weekend, so we need to fit in a family dinner as well. Luckily, the weekend after the booksale is a 3-day weekend. I think we're going to need one by then!

And to top everthing off, every time I walk into my yarn room I feel completely overwhelmed. Dee and I are still giggling over the idea that our yarn is breeding like tribbles, but here at home the mess in the yarn room is really starting to get to me. I mean, how am I ever going to put all this yarn to good use in my lifetime?! I know I have said before that I am going on a yarn diet, only to break it as soon as a sale crosses my path. However, I really am going to try to get serious and make a dent in my stash over the next few months.

So I think I'm going to take a couple of days off from blogging and try to get myself organized. I need to decide on some priorities among the various projects I am trying to get to, I still need to make a couple of afghan squares asap, and I need to get some easy projects going so I can take advantage of my evenings again. I'll try to check in by Saturday and let you know how my reorganization is going!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


So, yes, out of the 6 projects I took with me on vacation, I only finished one of them. I knew that I wouldn't have a lot of shopping opportunities on this vacation, so I decided to knit a gift for the friend at work who fed my cat and looked after my house while I was away. Obviously, the project had to be small enough to finish in a week, so I decided to finally hop on the Fetching bandwagon, and I'm glad I did!
The pattern is extremely well written and easy to follow. I forgot to print out the directions for the cast on mentioned in the pattern, so I used a long tail cast on. I also used a traditional bind off. Otherwise I followed the pattern exactly. I used Plymouth Suri Merino, an alpaca/merino blend. The gloves are very soft and warm, and the cabling gives the cuff a nice texture. However, I now know why anyone would combine cables with knitting on dpns - because it feels so good when you stop! I really felt like I needed a 3rd hand while I was using the cable needle. Otherwise, knitting on dpns feels so natural now that I know my attempts to knit socks have paid off in at least one way.

Bottom line - I will definitely knit this pattern again, possibly even to make a pair for myself in the near future!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Sheep May Safely Graze - on Brier Island!

We are finally back and settled in at home. I can't believe that vacation is over already! We had such a good time, though. We spent 4 days travelling to get 3 days of R&R on Brier Island, but it was worth it. I hung out, worked on projects, played solitaire and cribbage with my dh (and when do I ever get time to that at home) and got thoroughly rested. There was also a little hiking, and a lot of eating of really good food, and even a little shopping along the way.

The Brier Island Lodge has a lot of animals wandering the grounds. So when we finally got checked into our room last Sunday, here was the scene out of our window:
Sheep! The sheep continued to graze on the lawn while we ate dinner. I didn't get a picture, but the lodge also has a bunny rabbit that thinks he's a sheep, and it was a riot watching him get in the way of the sheep's grazing and getting head butted (gently) for his trouble. The lodge also has 2 dogs, a couple of goats, a pig, and a rooster and chickens. Two of the chickens had chicks, and I swear the chicks grew daily. (Again, no pics - I really shouldn't be allowed a camera, I'm so bad about thinking to take pictures!)

I really didn't think I would have a chance to buy yarn on this trip, but before we got back on the ferry last Thursday to head home, we had time to wander around Yarmouth a bit. We found a store that sold local handcrafted items, and it turned out that they sold yarn as well! So I had a great time wandering around and chatting with one of the women who worked in the store. I finally left with 4 more skeins of yarn.
One skein of Fleece Artist for a pair of socks and 3 skeins of a yarn from England that will become another triangular scarf. I know I paid top dollar for the Fleece Artist yarn. I'm sure I could have bought the yarn online for less. But it was so much fun to buy Nova Scotia yarn in Nova Scotia that it was worth it. And it was my only souvenir from the trip.

Tomorrow - my only FO of the trip!

Thursday, August 02, 2007


This will be my last post before I leave on vacation, since I have Weight Watchers tomorrow morning and we leave as soon as we can Saturday morning. I won't pack until Saturday morning, but I have most everything else ready to go. Of course the biggest decisions involved which projects to bring with me.

I have settled on 3 crochet projects and 3 knitting projects. I know, I won't come close to finishing this many projects in a week. But I want some variety, and I'm nervous that one or another of the projects might not work out. All 3 of the crocheted projects are under way and going well. I'm bringing the moebius shawl, the scarf I started in July to take with me to NH, and another lacey scarf that I have been working on far too long. So the 2 themes here are lace and luxury yarns.

I'm more nervous about the knitting projects. I'm bringing a lace and cable scarf that I started last year after vacation, and 2 projects that aren't started yet at all. I will try to bring several sizes of needles for both projects, just in case I have gauge issues. One project will be a pair of socks, and the other will be a gift for my cat sitter. (Although I have to say that as I was doing some Internet surfing last night at work, I found a project that almost made me abandon all of my knitting plans. (Scroll down to the "Sea and Shells Stole". And I know, I shouldn't be online at work, but truly, it keeps me sane, especially in the summer!)) However, I will stick with these plans.

Hopefully, all these projects together will keep me interested and give me plenty to work on, because there isn't a whole lot else to do on Brier Island. I'm not complaining, though. I'm totally up for a very low key vacation that involves me sitting on my rear surrounded by natural beauty and crafting a lot. However, I do have one exciting thing to look forward to on vacation. It turns out that the Yarn Harlot is going to be in Halifax next Tuesday evening, and so my dh and I are now planning to spend the day there so I can attend her presentation that evening. So you can see why it is so important that I have a sock project with me!

So have a great week, and I will post again when I return!