Monday, March 31, 2008

March Goals Revisited/April Goals

So it's the end of March already, and that means it's time to review how I did on my March goals and set some goals for April. I am much happier with how I did this month than I was at the end of February. The goals I accomplished are highlighted in red:

1. Rather than set a number of completed projects, I am going to try to crochet another 2-3 miles of yarn on various charity projects. If the projects aren't finished at the end of the month, so be it. But at least I will continue with my stash busting efforts. - Ok, so I only managed to use up just over 1 mile of yarn, but I'm happy with that given that my FIL and myself ended up sick this month.
2. I do need to finish at least one moebius shawl in March, and if I can finish 2, so much the better. - well, I managed to finish all the repeats the pattern called for yesterday on the shawl that will be given away, but my row count must be off because it isn't long enough yet. I think another 5 pattern repeats should do it, so I am really please with how I did on this goal as well, and the shawl should be finished in the next week or so.
3. Because I just can't crochet all the time, and because I still want to continue to finish up older UFOs, I would also like to finish knitting the 2 socks that are OTN. - well, at least 1 sock got finished. The other got frogged, and I still need to start it again.
4. The red scarf I posted about earlier in the week has to be finished by next Tuesday, when we are having the farewell party for my coworker.
5. I feel like I haven't been blogging as much as usual lately, so in March, I would like to get back to blogging 4-5 times a week. - I think I managed more like 3 times a week, but again, pretty good given all the illnesses.

So scaling back my goals this month worked pretty well for me. And I am actually going to scale the goals back even further for April to just one word - blankets. The April challenge over at the Stash Knitdown is "Spring Cleaning." At first, I thought, well I've been doing that since January - finishing UFOs, that is. Then I realized that there is still more to do. I have enough squares sitting around for probably 7 blankets, so while it is still cool enough to do it here in CT, I am determined to sew up some blankets in April. This might make for a boring blog, but it will really help to clean up my craft room.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Drop Stitch Scarf

One other thing has been keeping me busy this week.
I started a drop stitch scarf on Sunday with the yarn my dh brought me from Vermont. My camera doesn't like the color purple, so the scarf looks much more blue than it really is. It is knitting up very soft, and I'm very happy with it. I'm using size 4 needles (most would use size 6), and I cast on 25 stitches. I knit 6 rows of garter stitch. Then, on the 7th row, I wrap the yarn twice around the needle in between every knitted stitch. On the 8th row, I drop the wraps, making an elongated stitch. Very simple, but I love the way it looks.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Spring is in the air...

...and a young girl's fancy turns to -- shawls? Yeah, go figure, but I just can't get a couple of shawl patterns off my mind. Actually, I think it has less to do with spring in the air than with the fact that winter won't go away. The past 2 days, the afternoon temps have gotten into the lower 50s, with warm sunshine, which was wonderful. However, it is 24 degrees here this morning, and the weathermen are predicting rain and snow showers starting tonight and lasting the next 3 days.

Whatever the reason, I really am comtemplating starting one or two new shawls in the next couple of days. (I actually have 7 shawl patterns in my Ravelry queue!) I have gone so far as to find yarn to make Eva's Shawl. I just love how feminine this shawl looks, and I have been wanting to crochet with lace weight yarn for a while now. I found some red Misti Alpaca in my stash that I think will work perfectly. I also have yarn picked out for Clapotis, and I'm itching to cast on after seeing Skyline Chilly's finished shawl this week. And finally, I am also interested in the Seraphina shawl. That one will take a little more time to find yarn for. I don't want to use Lion Brand Homespun, which is what the pattern calls for, but I do want to make sure that I have enough of whatever yarn I choose.

Of course, I have no business starting this many new projects when I still have UFOs to finish up. But having finished so many projects this year already, I'm finding that I miss the chaos of having too many projects started at once!

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Big Give

I hope everyone had a good weekend and a Happy Easter (if you celebrate the holiday). I was very happy to have a 3-day weekend, although our Easter was fairly low key. We had a good meal and a nice visit with our parents, and we were home by 6 P.M.

While I don't have any FOs to show, as I had hoped, I did spend a lot of time crocheting on my sort of secret moebius shawl. It's about three quarters done, which is good, but I spent so much time crocheting the past 3 days that I had a sore hand again last night, which is bad. Specifically, my left thumb was starting to just ache, whether I moved it or not. So I put down the projects and wrapped my hand in an ice pack for a while. It feels much better this morning.

As I sat there with the ice pack on, I watched Oprah's The Big Give. I don't know if any of you are watching this show, but I have become quite addicted to it. None of the challenges so far have gotten me thinking as much as last night's show has. The contestants were each given $100,000 to give away in 24 hours. They could only spend $500 per person or $10,000 per organization, and they couldn't just give money. They had to buy goods or services with the money to donate to the individuals or groups. I was very impressed with some of the ideas the contestants came up with (going into impoverished areas and buying groceries for people, paying for people's car repairs, giving people a shopping spree at Target).
As it turned out, only one of the 7 contestants managed to give away all the money in the time period, and he had some help from his father, so it wasn't an easy challenge. But I think it's an interesting question - how would you do it? One of my first thoughts was find an animal shelter, and one of the contestants did just that. I think I would also try to find a way to give to the public library system, because that would benefit everyone. So how would you give away $100,000?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Follow Up To Yesterday's Post

Yesterday, as I was writing up the pattern for the Ritratto scarf, I decided to download some computer updates. Then I realized that the computer would need to be rebooted. The computer is a laptop, and the next thing I realized was that the battery was almost dead. Then I discovered that no, I hadn't taken a picture of the scarf when I first finished it. So, rather than potentially lose the post, I ended up publishing it faster than I intended to, which is why I published it without a picture. Anyway, I have edited the post this morning to include a picture of the scarf, and I will add the link to my sidebar so that we can all find the pattern in future.

I have a 3-day weekend coming up, and after being sick for the past 2 weekends, I am really looking forward to feeling well and enjoying the holiday. So let me wish you all a Happy Easter and happy spring today, and I will be back on Monday, hopefully with some more FOs!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Ritratto HDC Scarf

I wore one of my favorite crocheted scarves to work yesterday, and one of my co-workers started to bug me for the pattern. That made me think that I should really write up the pattern and share it with all of you, too. So, in honor of National Crochet Month, here is a new scarf pattern. Please bear in mind that I made this scarf a while ago but just wrote the pattern this morning. So if you find any errors in it, please let me know and I will be glad to fix them. Also, please respect that this is my original pattern. Feel free to make scarves from it, but please do not reproduce the pattern as your own.

Ritratto HDC Scarf

1 skein S. Charles Ritratto
H hook

Gauge: 3.5 stitches=1”

Chain 176 for the foundation chain.

Row 1: Hdc in 3rd chain from hook and into each chain across the row. 175 hdcs. Chain 2 and turn.

Row 2: *Work 1 hdc in the back loop of the next stitch and 1 hdc in the front loop of the next stitch. Repeat from * across row, ending with 1 hdc in the top of the turning chain. Chain 2 and turn.

Repeat Row 2 until piece measures 3”. Do not ch 2 and turn at the end of the last row.

Work 3 sc in the first corner. Work 15 sc across the left hand narrow end of the scarf. Work 3 sc in the second corner. Work one sc in each stitch across the bottom of the scarf. Work 3 sc in the third corner. Work 15 sc across the right had narrow edge of the scarf. Work 3 sc in 4th corner. Work one sc in each stitch across the top of the scarf. Join with a sl st in the first corner sc and fasten off.

Weave in ends and enjoy!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Ravelry Groups

Over the past week or so, I have managed to join a few more groups over at Ravelry. The first one is purely for fun. It's called "Make It Work." It's just what I needed - a group of people who get together and obsess over Project Runway! Unfortunately, I found the group just as Season 4 was finishing. But I've been having fun reading through the older threads, especially the one listing everyone's favorite quotes from all 4 seasons. That brought back some memories! (For those of you not familiar with the show, Project Runway is a show on the Bravo channel that has fashion designers competing against one another. Each week, they get a new challenge, and each week, one of them is eliminated. It is the ultimate guilty pleasure!)

The other 2 groups are more serious. I decided to join "Mittens for Akkol", a group that is knitting socks, hats, mittens and scarves for a Russian orphanage, and a group making items for Afghans for Afghans. Since I work with a woman from Russia, the children in the Russian orphanage really tug at my heart.
Even though I don't have a huge wool stash, I do have more than I think, and I would like to use up what I have. I also don't usually knit for charity, but I am ready to have a few ongoing projects that will take some time to complete but that will be small enough to travel with. So expect me to develop at least a mild case of startitis within the next week or so!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Sick Bed FOs

What a weekend! I am finally feeling better, but I have done nothing but sit, watch TV and work on projects for the past 4 days. So I have some FOs to share.

First up, I decided on Friday that I wanted to make something pretty to donate to Homespun Helpers. So I dug out 2 skeins of Wool Ease and came up with this hat and scarf set.
The photos don't show it, but the white has a shiny nylon thread wrapped around the yarn, giving it a little sparkle. The scarf came out a little big, so the set will fit a teen or adult woman.

I also finished 2 pairs of mittens for the Homespun Helpers mitten contest.
The red pair are made from Red Heart Soft, and the blue pair from Caron Simply Soft.

I also got possessed to finish my Traveler Socks this weekend.
The second sock went so fast! And I have to admit that while a short row heel doesn't look as elegant as a heel flap and gussets, it is so much faster and easier to do. And it is just as comfortable to wear. The pair took a little less than 1 skein of Cascade 220.

And let me say Happy St. Patrick's Day to everyone! Can you believe that this week begins with St. Patrick's Day and ends with Easter? Spring and the NCAA Tournament both start on Thursday, which means that there will be basketball games on Easter. I'm having some trouble getting my mind around all of this happening at the same time.

And before I go, I just have to note that both of my alma maters are going to the big dance this year! My first alma mater, Cal State Fullerton, won their conference tournament this past week and are going to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 30 years. They even got a 14 seed, so they could be this year's Cinderella. Very exciting! And my second alma mater, UConn, is the #4 seed in the West. I didn't think they would be seeded that high, so that's exciting too. (For those of you who don't follow college basketball and have no idea what I am talking about, sorry! Just bear with me and chalk it up to March Madness!)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Home Sick for the Big East Tournament

I finally cried "uncle" today and stayed home from work with this cold. I seem to be getting worse daily, so I also went in and saw the PA at my doctor's office. She diagnosed it as a viral infection. So that means lots of rest and fluids today and probably tomorrow. However, considering that the men's Big East Basketball Tournament is on ESPN all day today, this is one well-timed viral infection! I am already watching the Villanova/Georgetown game, and UConn plays West Virginia at 2:00. My dh is going to be jealous! I just hope I feel well enough soon to pick up a project. At the moment, I seem to be a little unfocused on that front.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Time Out for Some Knitting!

So work is going ok, but I am still fighting this durned cold. I'm getting worried that if I don't get the congestion under control soon, I will end up with a sinus infection. So I am going to add Mucinex to the decongestants I am already taking and hope for the best.

On the crafting front, I decided last night to drag my BIG bag of acrylic yarn downstairs to give myself options and to get myself going on the charity items I want to make this month. (It's going to take a while to work through all this yarn, so I have got to get going!) I thought my dh might wonder what I was doing, but he didn't bat an eye.

I also decided that I really wanted to knit mittens, so I got out my knitting needles and got started. I crochet so much with acrylic yarn that I forget how nice some of it knits up, too. I pulled out a partial skein of Red Heart Soft Yarn last night, and it is making the softest mitten ever. Red and soft, what an unbeatable combination! At first, I wasn't sure I was up for making a bunch of mittens this month, but I am really starting to get into this Homespun Helpers challenge. But I promise, I will get back to crocheting, too!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Busy Week Ahead

I spent yesterday nursing another cold. I had a sore throat and sniffles. This meant that I missed my crochet guild meeting, but I didn't want to infect everyone. And I knew that I needed to rest up, because I have a very busy week ahead of me at work. I have to evaluate my 4 remaining employees, I have a meeting to attend Tuesday morning out of the library, I am helping to install a new computer in my department Tuesday afternoon, and I am orienting 2 new volunteers on Thursday. I also have to revise interview questions and all my training materials to get ready for hiring a new employee in the next couple of weeks. And this is all over and above my normal day to day activities. So I don't have time to be sick this week! Actually, after resting yesterday, I do feel quite a bit better today, so I should manage ok.

As promised, I have been crocheting away. Since the end of February, I have made 13 WUA squares for Homespun Helpers.
All of the squares are made out of Caron Simply Soft, for the Simply Soft/WUA contest being held right now by Caron. So far, I have used up 7 partial skeins of Simply Soft, which is making a nice dent in my stash.

Yesterday, I made a pair of mittens for the mitten contest that Homespun Helpers is having this month. (Yes, they do keep us busy over there!)
These were also made out of Simply Soft, although the variegated colorways aren't so soft. I still have issues with this pattern, though. It doesn't list a gauge, which is a problem. I used the pattern that should fit a 1-3 year old, but these mittens will fit a 5-7 year old quite comfortably. I had used the 5-7 year old pattern previously, and those are big enough to fit an 8-10 year old. I also made one mitten, supposedly sized for an 11 year old, last night, and by adding a few more rows, it will easily fit my hand. So I may have to recalculate all the numbers based on the gauge I am getting. (Or I may just go back to knitting mittens.)

Saturday, March 08, 2008

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Milady the Right Reverend Priscilla the Somnolent of Giggleswick under Table
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

I found this link on Ravelry this morning, and I couldn't resist! I love my aristocratic title. The "Somnolent" is particularly appropriate this morning. Just to bring everyone up to date, my FIL was diagnosed with pneumonia this week. He spent 2 nights in the hospital, got IV antibiotics, and was released to home yesterday afternoon. So we are relieved that it was something very treatable, but we are all exhausted from too much driving and worrying and waiting in the hospital. I have to do some housework this weekend, but I also intend to rest, watch some basketball, and get back to some serious crocheting. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Adding a Link to Last Night's Post

When I posted last night, I completely forgot to link to the tatting teacher's website. Her name is Joan Thomas, and her website has pictures of her work and links to other tatting sites. Definitely worth checking out!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

How My Week is Going

So here's how my week is going. I spent Sunday, Monday and Tuesday finishing the red scarf and getting ready for the retirement party for my co-worker. The scarf turned out just the way I wanted:
The recipient loved it, and the first thing she said was that the length was perfect. The scarf turned out to be 5" X 38".

I also worked on Sunday, which is unusual. But because of my love of the fiber arts, and because we were having a tatting program at the library, the powers that be asked me to work the program. It was so much fun that I felt guilty that I was getting paid! 2 ladies from my crochet guild, including Dee, came to the program. The basic stitch wasn't that hard for me to pick up, so I think I have another craft to pursue. Tatting is going to be the perfect summer craft, because it uses cotton thread and works well with small projects. I can't wait to try a real project!

Then, last night, the week took a turn for the worse. My FIL fell last Saturday, and by last night he was lethargic and just not doing well. My dh went up and took him to the ER, but they sent him home instead of admitting him because all his labwork was normal. Unfortunately, he did not do well overnight, so I went up to offer moral support to the family this morning, and we ended up taking him back to the ER. This time, he was admitted. We don't have a diagnosis yet, but a mild stroke is a possibility. I'm going to spend tomorrow with my inlaws so that my dh can go to work for a while. So I might be away from the blog and the computer for a few days. Rest assured that I will be back, and that I am crocheting while I am hanging out in the hospital.

And finally, I have to add that I am watching a repeat of last week's Project Runway while I am writing this post. I was very happy to note that one of the finalists designed an evening dress, and the entire front of the dress was made of hairpin lace! He used a heavy, chenille-type yarn, so it doesn't look like your typical hairpin lace, but that's what it was. Very exciting to have a crochet sighting on a fashion design program!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Starting March Right!

Well, I feel like I am getting March off to a good start! I have a charity FO to show you all already. In addition to working on my red scarf, which is 20" long now and well on it's way to being finished by Tuesday, I also finished crocheting a scarf yesterday for my first Salvation Army set.
I used 2 skeins of Simply Soft Shadows for the hat and scarf. I started the hat on February 10th, at the crochet guild meeting, so this set worked up fairly quickly and used another 300 yards from my stash.

I also spent some time yesterday organizing patterns and yarn to get ready for all the charity crocheting I intend to do this month. I have been printing out patterns off the Internet like a fiend lately, and yesterday I got them all put into sheet protectors and filed into the appropriate notebooks. Then I started to pull out the yarn I want to use. My intention was to pull out 3 miles of yarn and then work it all up. But I had too many partial balls, and it was just too hard to count the yardage on the skein. So I ended up with this...
...which is far more than 3 miles of yarn, I'm sure. It's probably more like 5-6 miles. So I have no aspirations of using it all up in March. But it will give me options if I want to do some sort of colorwork, without my having to dig through the stash again later in the month. I'll try to post an "after" picture at the end of the month to see how much I actually used up. I will say that there is starting to be some breathing room in my storage bins, so that's a good sign!

Finally, my dh went up to Vermont on Thursday. He was supposed to stay up there until today, but because of the impending snow storm, he ended up coming home last night. And look what he brought me!
2 skeins of SWTC's Pure, a soysilk yarn. It is so soft, and I love the colors! I think it will make a beautiful scarf. He found a new yarn shop called "6 Loose Ladies" and decided to stop in and buy me something. He said the woman in the shop looked a little puzzled when he walked in, until he explained what he wanted, and then she was very helpful. I have to admit to being really impressed with him, and I'm also beginning to sense a road trip in my future - once I get a little farther along on the stashbusting!