Thursday, January 29, 2015

TUSAL January 2015

as i was perusing the blogosphere yesterday, i happened upon a reference to something called TUSAL.  now, of course i had to find out what it was and see if it was something fun.  and it is. and now i've joined, so i get to play along :)

basically, it's a way for stitchers to track their progress through their ORT jars throughout the year.  and it seems like a silly, goofy way to connect to the stitching community through a fun game.  

i'm not explaining it well, but if you are interested in what exactly a TUSAL is, check out this post for more information!  

anyway, here is my contribution to the January TUSAL.  i'm a few days after the new moon, but still in january, so it counts, right?  

i've been doing some decent stitching the last few nights, since i've not really been able to sleep thanks to the steroids.  i'm doing better at concentrating, but have made some mistakes along the way.  nothing i've had to frog back, thank goodness, but stupid things like finishing off a color leaving one stitch undone.  frustrating.  

anyway, i'm hoping for a page finish this weekend, which will also be a row finish on my new super secret project.  it's coming along well, and much faster than the last one, mostly because there are no cobblestones.  can't wait to be able to unveil it, but since it's a gift for someone who may actually read this, i'm keeping it close to the vest for now. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

humbled.

yesterday, i was looking at my dashboard and i noticed something strange.

i suddenly had a day where i had 115 hits on my blog.  since my normal readership is about 5 people, this was new to say the least.

i saw that the traffic was coming from this site, and was curious as to why.

turns out that nicole over at knitting for charity really liked my pattern for the cables and ripples afghan, and posted the link as a "bucket list" item in her entry.

i have never felt so humbled by anything.  i am mostly self-taught, and an amateur by every sense of the word.  i "design" by trying something and seeing if it matches the picture i have in my head.  there is a lot of luck and trial and error involved.  so to have someone see what i have done and want to create it, and then recommend it to others... just wow.

thank you to everyone who has visited the page, either here on my blog or over on ravelry.

really, it's truly humbling.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

stupid sickness

dear small band of readers, what can i say?  i'm sick.  and i hate it.

it all started back in december.  early december.  i remember because mom had an appointment at the pulmonologist and i came back with a cough.  i thought it was funny at the time.  i also thought it was just a little cough and it would go away. little did i know that i was hunkering down for the longest-running sickness award and that even at the end of january i still wouldn't feel like myself...

after christmas, i got really sick for a couple of days and was down for the count.  it was bad, but after it was over i was feeling mostly alright again.  not really up to fighting weight, but i was itching so hard to do things and go places that i kind of ignored the sick and went to the festival of lights:


j was there too, but he doesn't like his picture being out in the world, so i'll refrain.  it was a perfect night... not super cold, but cold enough to feel like the holidays and the crowd was lovely and we just had a very nice night together.  we also had tacos for dinner at bakersfield, and they were delicious.

then it was time for friendmas/new year's eve, and we had a grand old time hanging out and eating all the food and playing killer bunnies, which is a really fun game:


and then, bam!  down i went again.  good thing i didn't have to go back to work until the next week, right?

but ever since then i've been hacking and coughing and just generally feeling run down and awful.  my coworkers ordered me to the doctor... i think more for their own sanity than out of concern for my health...i was making quite a racket and none of them wanted to take something nasty home to their families.

so to the doctor i went.  i won't go into details, but i was put on steroids and an inhaler and i'm still taking otc cough stuff... and still sick.  i feel like a zombie on fast forward... my brain is going a million miles an hour but i can't concentrate on any one thing long enough to do it...

i try to read and i read the same page over and over:

book count is at 4 for the year so far, by the way.  since my last post i started and finished The Song of the Quarkbeast by Jasper Fforde (a book by an author i love but haven't read yet).  He may be the only author out there right now whose books i actively look forward to being published.  i know i'm responsible for at least one person becoming addicted to his stuff, and i won't stop until i convert everyone i know.  he's great.

anyway... see how i lose concentration?
i try and stitch and get really glazy when i look at the chart and try and figure out what color goes where.  i even tried putting just the tiny section i'm working on into the hoop so i wouldn't get distracted by the other parts of the row:


then i tried picking up my knitting, and that didn't work... i'm making another one of mom's hoods in a better color this time, and with the opening on the actual right shoulder instead of the left shoulder that pretends to be the right in the pattern.  anyway, i can't even concentrate on that because my eyes get all fuzzy and i end up trying to put the needle in the wrong part of the stitch.  it's easier than the cross stitch, but still:


even my class yesterday knew something was up... after the third time in a row that i just spouted out the completely wrong word i just let them ask questions and then go home... my one student wanted to know what kind of drugs i was on and why i wasn't sharing.   i like my class this semester so far.  they are vocal and engaged and they seem to be getting along as a class.  hopefully they'll stay that way, because a good class makes the difference between a good semester and a "i really hope i survive to may" semester.

so yeah.  i'm sick.  and i'm hoping it'll go away soon.  for now though, it's more tea and cough syrup for this gal.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

and just like that, it's january

so december went by in a terrible blur, and here i am, sitting in my office at the beginning of the term, wondering what happened to my holiday...

it's not that i have nothing to show for it of course.  i had a lovely break, complete with family, friends, tv show binge-watching, reading, and crafting.  the weather was mostly good, and aside from getting the terrible virus that's been circulating in the greater cincinnati area, times were great!

i feel like i had a bunch of posts in my head for when the  holiday was over, but now i can only think to give you highlights of the end of the year.

i made myself a sweater.  this is a big accomplishment for me, because it's the first adult-sized sweater i've ever attempted, and it turned out looking remarkably like a sweater.  this made me very happy. i know everyone says i do such good work, but until now i did mostly little things -gloves, hats, blankets, baby clothes - things that don't have  high stakes in the "fitting" department.  this has been my way of being "good" but never really being "tested."  so in my head my first sweater was a high stakes endeavor in my mind. and it went pretty well indeed.  i was able to finish it on christmas eve and wear it on christmas day.  it's not perfect by any means.  i did one too many increases for the arm holes, so they are a little more baggy than i wanted them to be, and don't sit right under my armpits.  and i forgot to add the elastic thread to the neckline as i had planned, so it stretched, like all the comments on the pattern said it would, and like i believed it would, but i just couldn't do anything about it.  maybe i'll thread the elastic through the finished piece.  and i thought i had measured it out so it would hang low enough to wear with leggings and boots, but of course i didn't calculate in the amount of space my big butt takes up and therefore changes how long the thing hangs, so it's just a long jeans wear sweater now.  but, all in all, it is a functional sweater, and i wore it on christmas day :)

here it is pre-sleeves (pardon the mess in the bedroom)

and finished (in a very dark photo)

and this is my norman rockwell moment on christmas day - wearing the sweater i made, sitting in a rocking chair, dog at my feet, cup of tea next to me, knitting.  that's just how i roll.


christmas also meant that i finally got to give some gifts to people!  back in september, i made my mama a pretty little hood to wear under her coat.  now mom was very specific in what she wanted, but i don't think she realized i was listening or would remember that she wanted something with a hood, but not a scarf because she doesn't like anything at her neck, and thin enough to go under her coat without being bulky, and that won't mess up her hair.  i also always have to buy 100% synthetic yarns for mom because she's allergic to so many types of fibers (well, the oils in the fibers, but still).  and so, secretly, i made her a hood.  and secretly stashed it away to giver her at christmas.  and then promptly forgot to take any photos of her wearing it.  but here it is on the blocking pads:

it's hard to tell because a) it's dark and b) the blocks are too many colors but it's really pretty and soft.  and she loved it.  every time i've seen her since then she's been wearing it.  i'm guessing that if it dies or gets lost she'll want another one of the same.  and that's really all i can hope for in a gift.  

another present i was able to give was for my bff.  she doesn't knit, see, she only crochets, and i like to give crafters gifts that are made using a craft that they don't do themselves.  anyway, she had this blue scarf.  she wore it absolutely everywhere, and it was her favorite.  then she lost it.  so i decided that she needed something new that was blue to stand in for (not replace) the blue scarf.  so i went to my lys and spent about an hour with the shopkeeper trying to find the skein that best seemed to match the original, and i found a simple yet interesting pattern, and a few happy porch-knitting days later, i had her gift.  then i had to keep it secret until christmas (so. hard.) and then promptly forget to take any photos of her wearing it.  (see a theme here?)  anyway... here it is:

again, dark room with colored blocks make it hard to see, but the colors are quite lovely.  here's a photo of me knitting it on the back porch:
see?  pretty colors.  and she loved it too.  in fact, she knows my distaste for seed stitch (it makes me crazy!) and upon opening the gift one of her first exclamations was "is this seed stitch?  you hate seed stitch!".  this is why she is my bff.  and why she is worth working in what seemed like miles and miles of seed stitch.

hmmm... those are the gifts i was keeping secret this year.  and the cross stitch, which my sister and sister in law loved.  they actually left it at mom's while they went to their other family for brunch so that people could see it.  i took that as a good sign.  maybe they really do like it.

since christmas, i've been in a kind of funk with the knitting.  i just couldn't get started on a project that i was very interested in.  i made a head wrap for my cousin, since she asked for one on christmas eve, and it was very quick.  i made up the pattern as i went - just some eyelets here and there but mostly just straight stockinette.






 i think i need a better system for taking photos than using my phone, no?  







and that's all i've done since christmas.  i did start a new cross stitch pattern, which i've been kind of into, and is much faster going than the last one (thank you, no cobblestones), but i don't want to share it here because it's secret secret.  we'll see how that works out.

i also started a book challenge for 2015, that the cincinnati public library posted.  basically it's a list of 50 types of books to read over the course of the year.  since one "type" is a trilogy, that means 52 books in 52 weeks.  whew.  i'm already 3 books in, which since it's the 13th of january, i feel pretty good about.  but, the eternal problem is that reading and crafting are mutually exclusive (and i don't count audiobooks as reading, since i only listen to fluffy books while i'm crafting that don't require any attention really).  so far i've read How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran (book by an author i've never read before), Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (book i started but never finished), and Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett (a play).  i also finished Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, but i didn't start that as part of the challenge, and therefore didn't count it toward the challenge.  it's also one of my favorite books ever, and i had gotten a new copy for christmas, so it felt like cheating to count it toward the challenge. i did, however count it toward my Goodreads challenge of reading 40 books this year.  so there.

but yeah.  other than that it's back to school, back to life.  nothing spectacular beyond that.
happy new year.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

busy as a bee

no really.  i've been a busy little bee lately.   since my last post, i've finished more than one project, and i'm on task to finish another one tonight.  i think it's a combination of a few life components.

1- i finished the cross stitch
2- i chose projects as a follow up that were relatively simple and quick
3-it got cold out and all i want to do when it's cold is sit inside and craft
4-i've had some stress lately and i stress-craft

let's start with that last one.  i have been stressed out for a while because my sweet sweet bear was recently diagnosed with diabetes.  he'd been drinking an insane amount of water and going outside every 2 hours to pee and leaving lakes on the floor while i was at work.  so i took him in, and his blood sugar was over 500.  that's a lot.  so we started him on insulin, and it's been stressful, not because of the shot (he's super chill about the shot - i actually think he likes it cause he gets a treat after) but because i can't tell if it's working, and he's still drinking and peeing a lot, which means i'm not sleeping a lot.  when your dog goes out every two hours, it doesn't stop overnight.  so it's kind of like having a newborn, but without all the happy hormones that make you not hate the small helpless creature that wakes you up every two hours.  i love my dog, but i'm tired, and stressed, and now with the insulin schedule i don't even get to sleep in on my days off... so stress.


hes awfully cute though.  he slept all morning on j's slippers the other day.  love this bear.

plus, on top of that stress, mom had a scare with one of her numbers at her latest checkup, so we are in the middle of finding out what that might be.  she's gonna be fine, says me, but the doctors want more tests to be sure... i don't know why they don't just take my word for it, but i guess science and stuff... whatever.  super stress.  and what does stress lead to for me?  
starting and finishing an afghan in the span of 10 days.



well, it's not quite finished, but by the end of tonight it should be.  just two sides of the last round of border to go.


borders, by the way, can suck it.  but they are pretty.  also, i had forgotten how much faster i can crochet than knit.  i flew through the body of the blanket, and really the border is taking much longer than i thought it would. it's really pretty though, and it'll be a great wedding present for some friends who got married last month...

on to happier things though, it's been cold here (not happy in itself) and it now gets dark early (also not happy) which means that all i want to do is sit on my couch and craft when i get home from work.  we've also had our first snow day of the year already, which is crazy, but all of this combined to allow me to make darling baby gifts in record time. 




 the blanket is for my cousin, who is having their second baby in the spring.  all my cousins' kids have gotten baby blankets... one for each baby, so that they each get their own to hold on to as a keepsake if they want to. the pattern is super simple, but i think the cabling around the edges is so pretty!







 the cutest sweater is for a friend who is also having her second.  i love making tiny things!
eyelets and picot and ribbon, oh my!



and the best part is that both projects used the same yarn, so i actually was able to make multiple projects without fifteen trips to the craft store, and using up mostly all of the yarn in the process!!











i've also nearly finished all christmas stuff that i'm going to make.  i have a last minute stump cover that i'm making for my uncle in christmas colors, but other than that, i think the rest of my christmas list is all about purchases and not about production.  small pat on the back for me!  these mittens were the last little gift for a friend at work that i wanted to get done, and they worked up super duper quickly:

it's also been pointed out to me that i use a ton of blue in my work.  well yeah.  cause blue is one of the best colors.  so there. 

but the number one reason i've been so productive lately?  i finished the cross stitch!! it came out so beautifully, i nearly wept when i saw it:

i gave it a quick wash and a pressing and then j and i spent about an hour with the guy at michaels trying to find the perfect framing set up.  ps, if you need framing done, go to michaels.  they are super nice and helpful (at least the one in newport is) and the work comes back in about two weeks.  it's really well done, and i'm very very happy with the finished result:

the photos don't really do it justice, but it is gorgeous. 

i just can't wait to see it on the wall at my sister's house.  
i really hope they like it as much as i do.  i did remember that i was going to sign the back of it before giving it to them, but i forgot to do that.  now they just have to remember that i made it for them, and tell their kids when they pass it down.  but then again, maybe the'll just hide it in the attic or something and then it won't matter at all.  anyway, i love it, and finishing this one allows me to start my next one, which is a super top secret that i really hope i can keep.  i probably can't, but we'll see... 

and because i've been doing all this crafting, i've been getting a little loopy sometimes.  here is a photo i took the other day, because i was so very amused by the way the yarn was pulling out from the skein, and the skein was still keeping its shape:

have a great rest of the week everyone!!

PS: the patterns are (starting from the top)
Summer Sky by Jean Leinhauser & Rita Weiss
Little Sprout Baby Blanket by Rosie's Yarn Cellar
Dirghagama baby cardigan by Henriette Roued-Cunliffe 
Cafe au Lait Mitts by Paula McKeever
and the cross stitch is 

Monday, November 10, 2014

reds fan

i have a friend who is a cincinnati reds fanatic.  she's seriously all about them redlegs.  so, for christmas i wanted to make her something that really reflected her love of the team.  but when i looked, there was NOTHING out there (just kidding, there was one thing - but it was way to big to fit on a hat).  so, i went over to tricksy knitter and tried to replicate the cincinnati "c" on my own.

disclaimer:  the pattern below is neither produced nor endorsed by the cincinnati reds, and is not licensed by the team.  any attempt to sell items with this logo will likely constitute copyright infringement, and i have no desire to be part of that.  don't do it.  seriously.  the pattern is intended as an homage with the hopes of making a friend happy.  so please, don't send me to court, because i'll come find you and make you pay my fees for me.

with that being said, here's the finished product:


turned out pretty spiffy, if i may say so.  the hat pattern is heather kinne's lined beanie, which is quickly becoming my favorite hat to give as gifts.  it has that lining inside that makes it super duper warm, and has a nice finished look about it that i love.

the chart that i came up with on my own, without any intent to sell it is below.  (see what i did there?)  anyway, i hope it makes her happy, and anyone who wants to make a reds hat or scarf or anything and not sell it for any kind of money or other form of payment whatsoever, can go ahead and use it:


the black line was to help me see where the pattern needed to stop to fit on the hat.  pay no attention to it.  anyway, go and knit in good faith, friends.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

my oh my, how time does fly

so it's now the end of october.  halloween is tomorrow and then it's november.  so, what have i been up to besides work?  well i've been a busy little bee in the crafting department... less to show for it than i want to have, but i've made better progress than i anticipated.  so win!

first, let's take a look back at that mid-september to-do list, shall we?

goal 1:  figure out who is getting handmade gifts.  ugh.  this is hard. i have to be practical about how many gifts i commit myself to finishing, and how big those gifts are, and how much time i will have and all that.  haven't even started on this goal yet. 
i haven't made the greatest progress on this one.  so far i've written a list of about 8 people, and crossed off the ones whose gifts are already done (5) but i have no idea what to do for the other ones.  this means that i can't calculate how long it will take to complete them because i seriously don't know what they are.

goal 2: finish my sister's wedding present in time to give it to her for christmas.  for those of you playing along with previous posts, you know that this is a giant cross-stitch monster that has taken me well over a year to this point.  but, the end is in sight.  if i finish one page per month starting this month, i'll have the whole thing complete by the end of november.  this should give me time to clean it, press it, and get it to the framer in time to get it back by christmas.  in my head, this plan works.  finishing page one should happen in the next couple weeks, so i'll let you know how that goes.
this one is going super well!  i finished the september page on the 23rd,

the october page on the 18th,


and i'm two columns away from finishing the november page, which is the last page, and therefore the end of the project!  i think i will be ahead of schedule on the stitching portion.  the washing and ironing and framing portion may be a different story... does anyone know if michael's will frame needlework?

goal 3: prioritize other projects (for babies and such) by when i will logically need to have them completed.  try and make a list that reflects that logical prioritization.  stop thinking that everything needs to happen today.  if a baby isn't due until march, i've probably got some time after christmas during which i can make the gift.  if i know i'm making a gift that is designed for when the baby is a little older, i can also take my time, even if the baby is born tomorrow.
this one threw the first two off a bit.  i had seriously miscalculated the due date for one of the babies on the list, and was unpleasantly surprised when i found out the shower is going to be on november 16.  this resulted in a week of furious knitting that produced an amazingly adorable dress:
which will fit the baby around her first christmas... how clever am i?  i love the way the top worked out... kinda looks like snowfall.  not to bad for a completely improvised color change, huh?
however, knitting this piece of super cuteness took me away from the aforementioned christmas gifts so now i'm ahead in one place and behind in others.

goal 4: remember that no one is expecting handmade gifts.  if i don't get them all done, it's ok.  they can wait until next year.  i'll just have to find something non-handmade to give them this year.
this is an ongoing struggle.  but i shall have to keep reminding myself daily.

hey the best part has been the incredible fall weather we've been having lately.  i've been able to sit outside on my backporch, listen to my audiobooks and work on my projects...

this is truly the life.  can't wait to get home and do some more!!