Wednesday, April 30, 2008

April Roundup/May Goals

So here it is, the end of April already, and I have to say that not really having goals this month was kind of fun. I accomplished quite a bit, and I feel really good about it. I finished a mobius shawl, 23 WUA squares and 2 water bottle holders. I actually used 1,169 yards of Simply Soft making the afghan squares. If you add in the other projects as well, I used up a total 1,990 yards of yarn in April. And my total yarn usage for the year is 4.5 miles! I am well on my way to finishing a half marathon this year, which has me wondering about trying for a marathon. I would have to about triple my yarn usage each month, which might not be a practical goal, especially with summer coming up. I have to continue to think about that one.

The May challenges over at the Stash Knitdown Ravelry group are using cotton yarn and laceweight yarn. I'm excited about both challenges, and the challenges are helping me focus on some May goals. So here goes:

1. Finish the cotton tank top that I have been working on for the past 2 years.
2. Finish Eva's shawl.
3. Possibly start a cotton cardigan to go with the tank top.

I am also still thinking about the walk on Sunday. I finally realized that I have the perfect bag to use - big enough for a small project yet small enough to hang off my wrist. So now I just need to find the perfect small project. I'm thinking perhaps a cotton scarf, in keeping with my May challenge. I probably won't settle on anything until Saturday, though. I need some time to dig through my stash.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Getting Ready for the MS Walk

I've been thinking about what I want to bring with me next Sunday to the MS Walk. Walking 5 miles, I know that I want to travel light. I have a fanny pack for most of my essentials, but then I realized that I will also want to have some water with me. I don't really want to carry a back pack, and I don't want to carry a bottle of water for 5 miles. So I started to think that I should find a pattern and make a water bottle holder for myself.

Before I even had time to go look for a pattern, a pattern found me! Last week, Deneen designed and graciously shared her Over the Shoulder Water Bottle Holder with us. The pattern is just what I needed.
I started on Sunday and made the first holder according to the pattern (the one on the left). Then, since I usually buy my bottled water at CVS, and it comes in 3 sizes, I decided to go ahead and alter the pattern slightly and make 2 more to fit all 3 sizes of bottle. I finished the medium size last night (the one on the right) and started the largest size, which I will hopefully finish tonight. I ended up using a large skein of Bernat Handicrafter Cotton. I liked the colors (and I like the way the yarn is striping), and I knew I would have enough yarn for all three holders.

Next up, Dee has graciously offered to help sponsor me on this walk, and she would like to know if I am going to crochet while I walk. I am seriously tempted to attempt this, so now I just need to work out the details of carrying a project with me as well (while still traveling light). Stay tuned!

Friday, April 25, 2008

MS Walk

If you have read this blog for any length of time, you already know that one of my co-workers was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis about 6 months ago. She is in her mid-30s, with a son in middle school (junior high in some parts of the country), and she now has to live with this disease for the rest of her life. It has been frustrating, watching her struggle to bring her flare up under control with medicine and not really being able to do anything to help her.

That's why a group of us from the library are going to do the MS Walk next Sunday morning (May 4th). If we can help raise money for MS research, then maybe our coworker won't have to live with the disease for ever. But I'm also walking for the other 5 people I know who also have MS. I actually know more people living with MS than living with or surviving cancer. With 200 people being diagnosed each week with MS (in America), I have a feeling that I'm not alone. So I am going to put the link to my donation page in my sidebar for the next week. I wish that I had been more together and held a contest to raise money, and if I do the walk again next year I will try to get my act together earlier. But for this year, if you would like to help out this cause, I would be thrilled. Any amount would be gratefully accepted.

And now, it is a beautiful spring day, I'm off from work, and I intend to go out and enjoy the day. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Don't Crochet Cocky

At least, I think that is what the Eva shawl is trying to tell me every time I pick it up and work on it. It's a simple pattern, but every time I think I know what I am doing with it, I get to an eyelet row and find out that I screwed something up somewhere in the previous 2 rows. So I get to frog and try again. It's growing incredibly slowly, and I now have to frog the 2 rows I crocheted yesterday. Urg! I'm getting more and more tempted to focus on the moebius and finish it up before I tackle Eva again. I'll have to see how the upcoming weekend goes.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

My New Crocheted Lace Fixation Continues!

Reading through the posts on the Ravelry Lace Crochet group yesterday morning, I discovered a book that I hadn't heard of before - Crochet Lace by Mary Konior. Apparently, this book is out of print and hard to get second hand (as well as very expensive). So I did what any self-respecting librarian would do. I looked to see what libraries in the area owned it. As it turned out, I had a meeting to go to yesterday morning for work at a library in a nearby town, and they just happened to own the book! So I was able to check it out while I was there, and I am now happily perusing it.

There is a lot of great information in the book about 19th century crocheted shawls, as well as 32 stitch patterns and 18 shawl patterns. The patterns are all charted as well as written out, which is useful because the crochet stitches themselves look so different when worked with laceweight yarn and an F or G hook. This makes me want to experiment with my favorite stitch patterns to see what they will look like in laceweight yarn.

There's only one problem that I can see with this newfound fixation of mine. What on earth am I going to do with all of the shawls I now want to make? I may have to experiment with scarves, too, and with fingering weight yarn as well. This might actually be a good way to use up the sock yarn stash, since I don't seem to be knitting socks with it!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Another Summer of Lace?

Two summers ago, just after I had started blogging, it seemed like everyone online was knitting lace. Almost daily, I would sneak into my office at work to take a 5 minute break from the chaos and feast my eyes on gorgeous lace shawls. There were KALs and "the Amazing Lace". It was fantastic! And then, last summer, there was almost no lace to be found. There were a lot of socks and spinning, and of course there was all the excitement about Ravelry. But not much lace. I left Beth (a superb lace knitter) a comment to this effect, and she kindly wrote back and assured me that lace was bound to make a comeback soon.

From what I have been seeing lately online, I am going to hazard a prediction that lace is indeed going to make a comeback this summer. The twist, though, is that this summer is going to be all about crocheted lace. It's started already with the buzz about Eva's shawl (which I was able to work on some yesterday -yeah!). There's a new Ravelry group called simply "Lace Crochet", moderated by Amy O'Neill Houck. And now there is this simply stunning shawl, (brought to my attention through the Ravelry group).

Amy Singer from Knitty recently issued a call to "liberate your laceweight" (and fingering weight yarn). Who knew that crocheters would take her up on the challenge?!

Monday, April 21, 2008

I Didn't Intend to Disappear for a Week...

...but somehow that's what happened last week! Every day, I intended to post, and every day I ran out of time. I only have about an hour on the computer every morning (unless I'm not going to work until noon), and I finally had to admit that I just don't have time to read email, 123 blog subscriptions, and 25 Ravelry groups and still post to this blog. So this morning, I pruned the blog subscriptions back down to 64, and hopefully that will help. If not, I will have to rethink all those Ravelry groups as well.

Things are much better at work, I'm happy to say. My new employee is working out very well. We are still short 1 employee, but we are working on filling that position. And thankfully, the emotional level in the building has returned to normal. For the first time in several weeks, I wasn't completely exhausted on Friday night.

As far as crafting goes, I have been working diligently on making Simply Soft afghan squares for Homespun Helpers. I made 20, and wove ends in yesterday.
These, along with the 13 I had made previously, will be mailed out this morning. And then I think I am going to spend the rest of April working on 2 shawls for me!

Monday, April 14, 2008

I Can Finally Come Clean...

...about the sort of secret moebius shawl that I have mentioned from time to time on this blog. That's because I finished it this weekend and gave it away yesterday at my crochet guild meeting. Just to remind everyone, at the end of last year, I had a contest that involved guessing how many charity items I could complete after I had reached my goal of 100. Well, Dee won. Her prize was that I would make an item to be donated to the charity of her choice. She asked if I would make a moebius shawl for one of our guild members who had lost her daughter the day after Christmas last year, which I was happy to do. She asked that I have it finished by April, so I chose our guild meeting as the best day to surprise Ruth.

I was a little nervous as I was finishing the shawl. Would it be the right size? Would I screw up the blocking? And most importantly, would Ruth like it? I think these pictures answer the questions better than I can.
That's me on the left, Ruth in the middle, and Nancy on the right. And here's Ruth in her shawl.
I am very pleased with how this shawl turned out, but I am also glad to move on to some other projects.

Other than that, the weekend was very relaxing, and I feel somewhat ready to go back to work this afternoon. I would like to think that this week will go better at work, but then I remember that it's spring break in my little town this week. So we're in for another busy week, but hopefully one with a little less drama on the part of the staff than the previous two!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Crochet in the Library

Last night at work, 2 members of my crochet guild came in to set up an exhibit in the library's display case. The theme of this year's exhibit is "Tools of the Trade", and I was quite impressed with how many tools crocheters use to create with. Of course, since I was at work, I didn't have my camera with me, so I don't have any pictures. Dee took a few pictures, though, and I have a feeling she will probably blog about the exhibit fairly soon.

Before she left, Dee checked out the library's collection of crochet books and was very happy with what she found. (My library has quite a collection of knitting and crocheting books. Gee, I wonder who's responsible for that?! lol) She suggested that I explain how library cards work here in CT, just in case my readers aren't aware of it, so here goes. Years ago, Connecticut did away with any sort of county government, which is why we have a statewide system. If you have a library card from your town of residence, you are able to use it in any public library in the state. The library may have to take a few moments to enter you into their computer system, but then you are good to use the library and take items out. We also have the ability to return books to any library in the state, and they will be transported back to the owning library within a few days.

Of course, given the price of gas these days, as in other states, CT libraries can also request books from other libraries for you. It may take a bit longer than going and getting it yourself, but it does save you some money. So if your hometown library doesn't have a great selection of books, don't despair. Also, don't be shy about asking your library for a book you are interested in. Libraries like to know what their patrons want, and especially with newer books, they will be happy to buy the book and hold it for you.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Rippling Again!

Since I now have a need for lots of Simply Soft to make squares with, I finally went through the leftover yarn from my ripple afghan. The leftovers have been sitting in a bag since December because my dh wants a ripple afghan too, but with only 7 colors in it. So, on Saturday, I got him to sit down and choose which 7 colors he wants in his afghan. I think he made excellent choices!
If I get this started soon, I might just have it done by next winter, even if I don't work on it over the summer.

Once he had made his choice, I went up to the stash and found 2 more skeins of each color. I wanted to make sure I have enough yarn to finish this afghan once I start it. Then it occured to me that this will be the 4th afghan I have made out of my stash of Simply Soft. In the past year, I have made a ripple 'ghan, a log cabin 'ghan, and all the squares for my watermelon afghan (although I had to buy a little more yarn to finish those). And believe it or not, I still have enough skeins of Simply Soft to make 2 or 3 sweaters, and even that won't finish off the stash! Obviously, I really love this yarn.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Finishing Weekend

I'm back and rested after a relaxing weekend. As it turned out, Saturday was a finishing day, which felt really good. I have had some mending to do for the dh for, oh, months now, and finally on Saturday I sat down and did it. After spending an hour with needle and thread, sewing on 2 buttons and mending 2 sweaters, I was very happy to get back to working with yarn. I guess I will never develop a love of sewing!

I also sat down and finished 2 charity projects from March - a pair of mittens that just needed seams sewn up, and a hat that needed the top decreases done. I was motivated to finish both projects because both are made with Caron Simply Soft and I wanted the rest of both skeins for another project I've gotten myself into. Last week, I mentioned that my April goals involved sewing all the afghan squares sitting around here into blankets. Well, that was before the current contest started up over at Homespun Helpers. We have organized ourselves into teams, each working on a different charity project. I couldn't resist signing up for the Caron Simply Soft squares team. So instead of sewing up blankets, I will now be making even more squares this month. At least it allows me to procrastinate on all those blankets for a while longer!

Friday, April 04, 2008


Well, I didn't mean to disappear from the blog this week, but this turned into one rough week at the library. I'll just say that we are having staffing issues - resignations and difficulties filling open positions - and because I'm now a department head, I'm right in the middle of the stress. So I have been coming home pretty thrashed every evening, and not much crafting has been going on.

I do have one thing to show you from the week, though. I did manage to start Eva's shawl.
So far, I love crocheting with laceweight yarn (Misti Alpaca Lace, to be precise). However, I would not recommend this for beginners. Laceweight yarn and a G hook make the stitches look a bit different, and it really helps to be able to read your crochet stitches well. If I get the time and energy to work on this, I think it will crochet up very quickly.

Since next week looks to be at least as interesting at work as this week has been, I'm going to take the weekend off to recover. Hopefully I will have a bit more energy for posting next week. As always, have a great weekend!