Friday, September 28, 2007

Kind of Funny

I ran into the other gal on station who knits today (the chunky acrylic lover), and she asked me if I had finished my socks yet. I couldn't bear to have her patronize my slow knitting again, so I exaggerated. Okay, I flat-out lied... said that one was done and I hadn't yet cast on the other.

All to no purpose, though. Her face got all pitying and she said "Slow and steady... keep on going!" like she was encouraging a mentally deficient child. I smiled the kind of smile that said child might smile... full, toothy and overly optimistic, and walked away, leaving her to her pity.

I can't be angry. I think it's kind of funny, actually. Those socks come with me to night school, so the only time they get worked on is about 15 minutes before class, and during the 15 minute break. So I'm working on those socks for about an hour a week, and still am making what I consider good progress. I am finished the gusset decreases, cruising along towards the happy toesies.

Kate and I had this discussion at the last Tuesday SnB. We concluded that I am a process knitter, and I am happy with this. If I only had one ball of wool to knit for the rest of my life, I would knit it 2,000 different ways and happily rip it all out to try the 2,001st way. I am not in this to win races as to how fast I can crank out a pair of socks... I am still pretty amazed about the fact that I can knit anything at all, let alone clever socks on tiny needles with fine yarn. I don't think Chunky Acrylic Girl would understand this, even had I taken the time to explain.

On to quilting. The ever-helpful Adriana at Quilter's Choice where I first bought this fabric has confirmed (with the manufacturer, no less) that the green paisley focus fabric is not available any longer. I think I will attempt to find fabric that is a close match instead to the sashing... this dark caramel crackle.

It will look lovely both with the green paisley and also against the burgundy bed skirt. I'll get enough fabric to make pillow shams, as well. (DH suggested that I get still more fabric and make a new skirt out of the same. I kinda like the multi-coloured theme that green, caramel and burgundy offer, but DH usually has pretty good colour/fashion sense. Any thoughts, or do you need pics to get an idea of what the girl is rambling on about?)

Speaking of colours. Gillian left a comment on my last entry, informing me that my blog is hard to read on Bloglines. Having never used that program, much less read my own blog on it, I had no idea there was a problem. I checked it out on Google Reader and found it okay (though admittedly, not optimum)... I would also appreciate your comments on readability issues, if any. I love my black/orange scheme but certainly don't want to leave anyone behind 'cause I'm hard to read.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Happy Autumn!

Not as much time spent in the sewing room as I had wanted this weekend, but I felt a little guilty letting these gorgeous days of Indian summer pass me by without frolicking in the sunshine. Okay, I suppose I didn't exactly frolic... but the weather was enjoyed nonetheless.

I did accomplish something, though... I spent about an hour on my hands and knees in the living room, pin-basting "Oh Tannenbaum" together with its backing and batting. That wasn't a fun process, but I think it's largely square and wrinkle-free. I'll take another look later before I lay it under the machine to begin quilting.

DH and I tried out the duvet cover on the bed. Distressingly, there's a significant gap between where the duvet cover ends and the bed skirt begins. This really shouldn't be a surprise as the duvet cover is the same size as the duvet. To my mind, a duvet that hangs well over the edge just draws insulation from the rest of it... you end up with 5 pounds of feathers in the edge and not much anywhere else.

So I've decided to sew a ruffle about 1.5' around the sides and bottom of the duvet cover, to hide the potential messiness of sheets and blankets. The fabric of the border, the green paisley, would be perfect for this... however, it was purchased at least 2 years ago and I imagine finding some more will prove problematic (particularly since I don't even know what it was called.) I'll try to pursue this angle but expect no luck... I will settle for another colour, I suspect. There's lots of options to pick up in the quilt... brown, cream or even that same olive green would be lovely. (Burgundy would work, too, but the skirt is burgundy, and it would have to be almost an exact match to work.)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Herding Cats

You've noticed how quiet I've been lately. I knew this would happen. I began my math course last night, and of course philosophy is still ongoing, so there's a pile of time out of my life right there. Not to mention now that DH and the girls are back in the house, I am obligated to stomp around the house with a cleaning cloth in hand, wiping unidentifiable substances off of walls, doors, fridges and floors, muttering and cursing under my breath while doing so. Part of me mourns the beauty of the self-cleaning house I had for those solitary six months...

And then there's the meals to prepare, trying to corral the girls into helping in some capacity with clean-up afterwards, even though the exercise seems as futile and pointless as herding cats. I think more energy is expended in hounding everyone to do their chores, but I live in perpetual hope of having something I say stick in their heads.... so I keep trying. I am nothing if not stubborn.

So my life has been tipped into a blender set to "frappe". Part of me really gets off on the crazy pace, and another part of me wants to take the first part of me out to the back pasture and put a bullet through it. Conflicted, am I. (I was going to blame this sentence structure on Kate at first, but then I realized it's more Yoda than Gollum. Carry on.)

Crafty update... I have about 15 inches on the Fluffy Alpaca Scarf... I am switching colours as the mood strikes me and throwing in random stripy goodness... it is still amusing despite the relative monotony of the brioche stitch. I think a large part of the appeal is the heavenly texture of the KnitPicks Andean Treasure alpaca that it's being knit from... nothing that excruciatingly soft can get annoying. (I say that now, but ask me again when I have 3 feet of that sucker knit up. My tune may be different.)

Alpaca Brioche Scarf

I am done with the machine sewing on the duvet cover... the binding is attached as is one side of the snap tape closure. I have about 8 hours of hand-stitching left to do to sew the binding to the back, and the reverse side of the snap tape. Good thing Survivor starts tonight and Grey's Anatomy next week! That be prime stitching time, friends. (They had last year's season finale for Grey's on tonight, and I was crying just as hard as I did the first time around. Somehow, knowing what's all going to happen makes it worse, not better.)

In closing, here's a close-up of the free-motion quilting I did on the duvet cover. It gives you a bit of an idea of the texture that the quilting added to the lovely paisley pattern.

Duvet Cover Quilting

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Small Sunday Sadnesses

I have the duvet cover laid out in the middle of the living room floor in order to pin the finished back on. There's still binding to be cut, but the project is coming along nicely. Next weekend it will be finished? Close, at least.

I've spent a minute every day for the last few days going over to Ravelry to peek in on the Waiting List Checker, trying to guess when I'll get in. As the numbers got smaller I'd check more than once a day.

Now that I received the invite, I feel a little let down. I have no waiting list to top anymore...


The house is infused with the faint liquorice scent of French Tarragon... last night's frost warning has me harvesting and dehydrating my herb garden in a panic. I feel ripped off... it seems like the growing season and summer in general was five minutes long. I haven't even really properly enjoyed any of the summer, and now it's almost passed. I feel so sad hearing the first of the geese fly overhead.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Self-Confessed Fiber Snob

I knit at work... well, just at lunch, to be more precise. I want to knit all the other hours in the day, but that one hour is mine to do what I will with. I eat early so I have free hands for the needles, and I sit in a common area of the shop, and endure the stupid comments of the (usually) men that see me.
Now, I love me a bit of conflict. I love the juxtaposition of my colourful yarn, my tiny needles, and my "girlie" past-time against my CADPAT uniform and black combat boots. I knit, I enjoy it, and I tacitly dare people to say something stupid. Go ahead. I'm waiting for you.
Generally, they know when to keep their mouths shut. I have a certain reputation for being a bit intimidating, attitude wise, and they just know not to mess with me. (There was the fellow who asked me if I was knitting socks, when I had 4 feet of the Scarf That Never Ends pooled on the floor at my feet. Okay, bonus points to him for even thinking socks, but... dude, look at what I'm doing before you say something totally retarded.)

However, I recently got smacked down from an unexpected quarter. There's a new female in the section. She's seen me knitting a time or two and has stopped to chat. She, too, is a knitter. She watched me for a couple of moments, working on the Plain Wintery socks with 2.5mm needles, and said...

"You knit slow!"

I'm a big girl. And, as a new knitter, I am perfectly willing to acknowledge that this indeed may be the case. However, I was completely flummoxed by what happened next. She wanted to demonstrate twisted rib, so I surrendered the yarn and needles. After some fumbling, she knotted up the yarn a little... squinted at the mess, and said "The yarn is so fine I can't even feel it!" and handed the needles back to me.

I am wondering now if she would recant her declaration that I knit slowly, considering she couldn't even feel the yarn and needles.

She told me later that she buys her yarn at Sears. I think no further explanation is necessary.

Bulky acrylic yarn knits up real fast.

(Yes, I am a fiber snob. Is it showing?)

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Do you Feel It?

I was in the groove, I was in the zone, and I was feelin' the love, baby... I was feelin' it.

My duvet cover has been quilted within six inches of its life. I found The Pattern that it needed... nay, demanded, to be quilted in... a simple dipsy-doodle around the paisley designs on the fabric. (Yes, dipsy-doodle is a highly technical term.) Once I figured it out, I just ran with it.

I would have finished all the quilting tonight, but my needle shattered into three pieces with six inches left to do. I'll take that as a sign from God that I am supposed to take a step back from the machine, work out the kinks in my shoulders and the twitch in my eye, and finish it off another night.

As to why the needle shattered? Besides being on the old side and used for (obviously) one too many projects, the tension on my sewing machine has been a little off since I took it in for a tune-up. Even on the lowest tension setting, it's hard to pull the top thread... I probably need to take it back to the shop but it wasn't so bad that it would stop me from quilting, you know.

Pictures? Soon. Though they'll be tricky... dark brown quilting on dark green paisley patterned fabric is not, I think, going to show up that well.

There's not much left on this duvet cover. Trim the top, cut the backing to size, sew backing to quilt, make and attach binding, sew on snap strip, and finish the top edge. Does that sound like a lot? After the hours and hours spent quilting this massive project, believe me... this is nothing. With concerted effort and a good wash, this could grace our bed next weekend.

I always listen to audio books while I sew, and somehow, they get sewn in to the project. I have a table runner in the front room that I sewed while listening to Dune... and now I think of Paul Atreides every time I see the runner.

This duvet cover will carry emotional baggage from The Thorn Birds. I will feel the heat of the forbidden love between Meggie and Father Ralph de Bricassart when we snuggle beneath its weight.

I like that.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Knowledge to be Gained

I've made a lot of progress on a number of projects, but nothing that is interesting, photographically.

I stitched for a couple of hours on Wolfie, while Lisa was over, using my sewing machine to learn paper foundation quilting. I finished machine quilting all the blocks on my duvet cover, and even was brave enough for a little free-motion goodness... I actually went over the blocks I quilted by hand. Let's pretend that was a design feature added as a nod to the way things use to be done. Let us never speak of hand quilting again... :)

I am now faced with quilting the border of the duvet cover. I'll free-motion it, too, but have been in a quandary as to what pattern to use. Finally I came to the realization that it is, after all, a sampler quilt... I learned two types of appliqué, paper piecing, using templates... there's a lot of new knowledge represented in the blocks. So, appropriately, there will be knowledge gained throughout the quilting process, too. I'll try a little stippling, maybe some floral patterns, some happy vines and leaves... I'll doodle all over the border and call it art and education and fun. I think my OCD soul can stomach having the quilting different all over, and now that the decision is made, I have gone from dreading the process to looking forward to playing. No matter how the quilting turns out, this has to be a good thing.

I'm mid-heel in the Wintery Blues, and have swatched and cast on a few rows on the two-coloured brioche-stitch alpaca scarf. Wait a minute... maybe that deserves a picture. Here's the swatch... done in cottons just so I can understand the mechanics of the stitch.

cotton brioche swatch

And the actual beginnings of the scarf.

Brioche Scarf

(This reminds me of Charlie Brown's shirt...)

The ribbing isn't coming up clearly but I intend to keep going for a few more rows. I am also not sure about this needle size; the fabric is very dense. I'll play a bit more and then decide. I am loving the stitch, though... it is soft and cushy and perfect for a scarf.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Seven and Eight... Did you think I had forgotten?

I finally got the pretty Project-O-Meter going on the right side-bar, so we can all track my progress, or lack of it, together. As I was setting up the bars, I realized I only had six of them. Huh? I've been blogging about 10 Projects for two months now and had only introduced you to six projects?
Time to fix that forthright. Here's Number Seven.

Sunflower Star
Sunflower Star, from the American Quilt Collection (canvaswork)

I'm about 80% done; there's an intricately patterned double border around what I've got so far and then it will be done.

Here's Project Eight, which requires a little more explanation.

YourPick Quilt

These blocks are from a quilt block swap I did with the wonderful ladies over on RCTQ last year. Each participant sends in turn a square foot of their chosen fabrics to the other participants, who then turn that fabric into whatever they want... using any style and any other fabrics they wish.

I adored participating in this swap, and played the game for a full year. I found it really stretched my horizons as a quilter;
at times I worked with fabrics that I absolutely could not stand... but when I was done, I always had a lovely block that I was proud to send back to the originator. The blocks that came back to my mailbox were always wonderful, too... each as individual as the woman who laboured over it.

This specific collection is for a very patient friend of mine. She chose the focus fabric, and I told her I'd make the quilt for her. She's been waiting a year now... but seems content to wait upon my creative process and busy workload in the sewing room. Thank god for patient friends!

This will be a wonderfully autumnal quilt when completed.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Plain Wintery Socks

Plain Wintery Socks
I just knew there would be some good knitting done yesterday.

This is about three inches of progress... I know some people could have got the whole darn sock done in that period of time but this for me is pretty good. I'll probably take them another inch before I begin the heel.

I'm getting some vicious laddering on these, and I can't seem to make it go away. I've tried making the stitches before and after the cables really tight, but that's had minimal effect. These are my first plain-janes on circs; with the monkeys, laddering wasn't an issue at all. Weird.

Today is for quilting. My husband has gone "out to the bush" with his brothers to beat his chest in a manly fashion, or whatever they do out there. He's taken the girls, too... the house is mine. I think I'll call up a girlfriend and sew away the afternoon. What a terrible way to spend the day! :)

I got the marks back this morning for my first unit in Philosophy. Although I got a diploma in BC, I'm upgrading my Grade 12-level courses. Physics last term, Philosophy over the summer and fall, and Advanced Functions beginning mid-September.

I absolutely agonized over this unit, taking twice as long as expected to hand it in... every question was something I had spent years thinking about, and now all the sudden I needed to come up with a hard answer! Wow, it was tough, and I felt my efforts were very juvenile.

Not so, apparently. I received a glowing evaluation and it was suggested that I perhaps *am* a philosopher.

Mom, you were right. :) Can you call it, or can you call it?