Friday, June 27, 2008

1 shawl competed

In time to ship for my grandmother's birthday. This is the Eros shawl, and it turned out rather well. I think it is perfect for her at this time of year: H-O-T. It is a pretty thing that may cut the chill a bit in air-conditioned spaces, but probably isn't any warmer than that.

I'm still working on the Pi Shawl, but honestly, I just haven't had much time for knitting lately. Now that the girls are out of school, I've discovered the small amount of progress I'd made towards having a schedule is all shot. I'm pretty much just starting from scratch. Again.

My oldest is surprisingly attached to the idea that I will be "homeschooling" them this summer. I don't know where the idea came from, but she really seems to want that to happen. We'll see if that holds up to actual practice. We've talked a bit about all the kinds of things she wants to do, but I think it is too much to realistically take on. I could be wrong, but I just think they need a lot more time to do nothing. You know, it is summer vacation.

So, we're planning trips to the library, and lots of reading at home, some crafts, and we'll see what we can work out for "field trips". I think I will work in a good deal of reading on history, possibly biographies, and mythology. The oldest will be working on an online math program they were using at school. She seems to be struggling with math, which concerns me a great deal. I don't want her to get behind this early in the game (will be in 3rd grade) because math skill build on the previous skills and it is so easy to get behind and never catch up. Of course, I personally feel that what they call 'math' in our schools (in WA, I have no idea what other states are doing) is complete and utter rubbish. It is confusing, assignments are very poorly written and the concepts seem to be too complex for the younger grades (I'm talking developmentally too advanced for the children.)

Sorry, I had one foot on the soapbox and the other was coming up to join it. LOL Still, My only real goal this summer was to get us all through it in one piece, with some growth in math skills and time for reading together. All the rest is icing on the cake for me (and the girls).

What was I talking about? Oh yes, the Pi Shawl. I'm up to the second lace pattern and 288 sts. Each round takes 30 minutes (give or take a few). I was falsely confident because by the end of the first lace pattern I could even watch simple (non-action) TV or sit in the room with the kids and their TV shows (or HGTV or Food Network) and knit without error. Well, lace pattern 2 has 24 st repeats, instead of the 12 st repeats on the first pattern. My brain has not yet adjusted to that change, so I'm back to the near-total isolation knitting that I started out with. Hopefully, I'll improve again, but I think once I get through this lace pattern, and double the number of stitches on the needles, it is back to repeats of the first lace pattern again. Sigh. I think I'll need more stitch markers.

I'm still enjoying the knitting, I just wish it was a more sociable project. I am planning to establish some "mom time" next week, just to make sure I get time everyday to knit, read or spin (or watch a movie or something). I think that is a reasonable thing to go for. It won't happen every day, but if I can make it work a few days out of the week, we'll all be much more at peace around here. LOL

I've also got the sweater for Himself to break up the intensity of the shawl. I'm trying to decide if I will allow myself to CO anything else. I'm trying to turn my brain back towards some spinning, too. My ambition has no limits! hee! I'm sure I'll get it all sorted, just in time for September!

Both girls modeled the shawl, so here's the back of it on my youngest's, erm, back.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Quilt square - done!

Well, it took a little longer than expected, but I finally finished the quilt square. Aaaaand, I'm two weeks ahead of the due date! Yay me!

There are light green flowers on a dark green plant with a very rich, dark brown soil. It would have been nice to have a different color to choose from for the flowers, but I was limited to 4 shades of green, tan and dark brown. I often choose to do a single color for these designs, and they look very nice. Lately I find that I get bored if I don't change up the color, so then I'm left trying to decide which green makes the best flower. LOL

The camera really glared on the white fabric, and I spent a fair bit of time trying to make it easier to see. Sadly, I could fix the white, but then I lost the colors, so here it is. It was a simple and small project. I really enjoyed stitching, but I was anxious to get back to the lace project and the rest of my knitting.

It didn't take any longer to stitch than I thought, I just had a hard time working it into my schedule. I got caught up in cleaning my laundry room. It is down in the lower part of the house (we have a split level), which is the part of the house rarely used, really. The cat box is in there, so the dust levels can get really high. It has a half bath (toilet & small sink) which never get used, along with a couple of bookshelves for my TBR books (To Be Read). Normally, I walk in, grab a book and leave. Or maybe, walk in put in / take out laundry, and leave. You get the picture.

Anyway, it is reorganized and sparkling clean from top to bottom. I could actually go in there and hang out if I wanted! (But maybe not with the cat box.) It was the last room in the house that needed a cleansing and reorganization, and now it is done. sigh Perhaps now I can actually feel less guilty when I sit down and knit, or maybe even spin.

Imagine that!

De-cluttering will probably be a life-long pursuit, but I am making a little headway. Sadly, I've run out of space to put the stuff that is going away. The stuff for a garage sale is all mixed up with the stuff that must go to the dump (due to space for storing it), so I need to wait before doing any more on that front. Darn. heh, heh, heh. Looks like it is back to knitting for me.

A friend on Ravelry got a new wheel, a Babe, and is very excited about spinning. I must say she boldly goes where no, well okay, other spinners have gone, but for a newbie, I'm just impressed with her willingness to try everything she can. She's getting me all excited to pull out the wheel and get going again. It has been too long! I expect to give in soon, but I'm trying not to plan too hard lest I be disappointed in how things really go.

In the meantime, I'm excited to be done with the quilt square and ready to get back to both shawls and maybe even the sweater. I've got a friend coming by today for a little knitting and tea, so that will be lovely. I think it is supposed to be a whopping 61 degrees (F) today. Wow, compared to the rest of the week, this is a heat wave! I'm really sorry for the rest of the folks out there who are having a real heat wave. If we could manage a heat exchange of 10-20 degrees, I'd be for it. Wouldn't it be nice?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

What were we talkin' 'bout?

Oh yeah, goals. Smoals. Right.

Well, on the positive side of things, I'm posting more often. On the less positive side (but I'm not calling it negative), I didn't finish the square. Life is all about surprises.

Instead of stitching like I had planned, I spent way too much time on the computer. When I got off to fix dinner, the youngest DD had a small fever (really low). This makes the youngest DD a bit of a looney. More than usual, I mean. I also had a water fitness class last night. So, the kids get fed and bathed and I notice that it is 10 minutes until 8 and Himself hasn't made it home yet. Hmmm. I give him a call and he's totally forgotten my class and he's still working.


He made it home before the class started, but really too late to make the trip over for the class. If that makes sense. So I remind him that today I have a parish council meeting and he starts making faces. Thinking is painful, or so it seems. Turns out he's in a crunch sort of time, so I canceled on the meeting today. Pfffffffft. Again.

That doesn't explain the lack of stitching though, does it? No. I just got caught up in weird little projects around the house. I'm still trying to get some kind of routine going, with very little success so far. I'm not giving up, I'm just really struggling to stay caught up with the things I have gotten in order around here.

When we cleaned out one bedroom, we turned it from a work studio for Himself, to a Library for the girls (and my sewing machine). We wanted to make it a cozy room for them, so I decided to order them bean bag chairs (I can't find any locally!). The company said they'd email me when they shipped. Well, they arrived today & there was no email!

I'm glad to have the chairs, but I was counting on a heads-up. So today, instead of stitching, I was trying to clean out the room some more. There were odds and ends still floating around in there that needed a new home. That bled over into my room & some dusting. Sigh.

I think I'll have some time to work on the quilt square this evening. But first dinner - a Guinness Pot Roast. Yumm! My reward, along with the leftover Guinness.

Eventually I'll get the whole house in order. Right? Please lie to me if you have to.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Goals, smoals!

Okay, okay. I know, why set goals if you aren't even going to try? Right? Well, I found out that there was another wedding quilt square that needed to be finished by June 22. That has to take precedence over the Pi Shawl right now. I started this on Friday, and worked on it a little over the weekend. I should finish it up today, barring incident, and then be ready to get back to the shawl tomorrow.

I hope.

This block is smaller, and the design is simpler than for some other quilts in the past. I'm not sure why they went smaller this time, but perhaps the bride made a request for one reason or another. The colors are green and brown, but a nice range of both, so it is a nice one to do. I just get so bored with the ones that have colors that are too similar, you know?

My dryer is sounding a bit wonky (squeaky) and I thought I smelled a bit of a burned rubbery smell yesterday. I could be imagining that bit, Himself has let the kids try out the fog machine in the past week, so I might have just been smelling residual stuff from that. But I think that is stretching it a bit. At any rate, we haven't had the dryer for 8 years, so I figure a bit of maintenance might be in order. Just to be safe. So, at least one day will be spent cleaning up my laundry room so the technician can get in and work comfortably. sigh It has been on my list, but I am really not motivated. Well, I wasn't motivated until I scheduled the appointment. Now I think I can get to it. LOL

I saw an allergist last week for my crazy allergies. He got rave reviews from my regular doctor's office staff, but I have to say, I wasn't impressed. Why do they always focus on pets? I mean really. I had much more severe reactions to all manner of other things, but the only thing he wanted to talk about was my cat. In fact, the area around the Dust Mites swelled up to the diameter of a lime by the end of the day. Saturday it still itched, and then it suddenly stopped. Then my eyes started itching and then they swelled up again. Seriously, all within an hour. I have no idea if this is all related, but the swelling of my face/eyes is why I went to a specialist in the first place. Very frustrating. I need to call his office and report the problem, but I don't want to hear anything else about my cat.

Not off to a good start, am I?

He did say that he didn't think I needed shots, which is good. I don't want them, I just want to stop itching all the time. Perhaps he focused on my cat because he knows I can't do anything about being exposed to dust, pollen, cedar, ragweed, etc. (That is my charitable explanation. I hope he appreciates the effort.) My cat is not making me itch.

The swelling is down today, thank goodness, but I looked horrible Saturday evening and Sunday. This 'event' was much better than the previous one, maybe because of the meds. I take a Claritin and Flonase (a nasal spray) in the morning, and a Zrytec and Flonase in the evening. If I wasn't really miserable, I would rebel. But I'm desperate. I think it is helping, but I'd like more time to be sure.

The cat, poor baby, is not doing as well after his vet visit. The last visit I thought we had reached the end. The doctor gave him B12 & fluids & something for vomiting, and he was bouncy and eating and really alert and perky (and not sick). This time the doctor repeated the treatment, but it did not have the same effect. He isn't eating well, and the vomiting seems to be returning already. I think this is going to be a rough week unless he suddenly perks up. I don't want to push him, and this wait and see thing is really draining for me too. I'm not ready to let him go, but this isn't about me. I've been taking pictures of him with the girls, so I hope that will help them when he is gone.

Ah. Sorry, so depressing. I'll go out with a shot of my Pi Shawl. I managed to get the increases to 288 sts done, and the first four rows that are just knit. I've got all the markers in place now, so I'm ready to start the lace pattern again.

I'm hoping that my "lucky streak" will hold out. I need serious quiet time to work on this thing now, and the rows take about 25-30 minutes to complete. I'm counting nearly every block of 12 stitches, so that really slooooooows things down. But I figure it saves time if it keeps me from missing/dropping stitches. If I have to rip it back, it will take a lot longer than doing it right the first time. Right?

My next lace project is going to be on fingering weight! That will be so much easier! Of course, by the time I finish this shawl, I might have gotten used to using lace weight. We'll see, I guess. I had totally spaced that my grandmother had a birthday this month. There's no way this will be done in time. I won't even stress about that deadline! However, since I can't work on this all the time (kids are way too distracting!) I decided that I will do another shawl out of the Eros yarn for her for her birthday. The Eros will also be in a red sort of color. I've had a hard time finding red, for goodness sakes! This one is a rosey red with some darkish green and black. (At least that is what it looks like in my living room.)

An added bonus is that the Pi Shawl will come as a total surprise to her since she won't be expecting two. I've started the Eros shawl, but I'm not very far yet. They are fast, but I really struggle with knitting into the back of a stitch. I think I can knit 3-4 sts in the time it takes me to knit into the back once. Plus, that ladder yarn can be tough to pick up correctly (and not through the middle of the ladder!). Still, it is a mind-numbingly simple thing to work on and I'm enjoying having it around to balance the Pi.

I haven't made much more progress on the sweater, though I do need to get a picture up. I think I'll be shawling until I finish the Eros, then back to the sweater for my easier knit piece.

Ah well, back to work! I really want to get this cross-stitch piece done. Just some flowers to go and it is finished.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Still ignoring the socks

But I have a good excuse. I've been working on cleaning up different areas of the house. I moved about half the house around over the past month, but things are settling down again. This is what I did in my living room. I moved out the partial pile o' stash and the sewing machine & video cabinets and put in the Yarn Corner, or whatever it will be called. All my stash is in one room, all my fiber (much less than I thought), needles and so forth. The books are in a different room, but they are finally all on shelves together with all the patterns I seem to NEED to print out from the computer. I didn't take a picture of that room. The Library has the girl's books & videos & computer, my sewing machine, etc. & the knitting & other craft books. I'm going to put some bean bag chairs in there for the girls to use for reading, and that room will be finished. There's a whole 'nuther room full of my books, but let's not talk about that right now. LOL

I've also already found a new home for the fiber I didn't keep. Wow. That sounds so sad, doesn't it?

The Pi Shawl is progressing and I have not yet chewed off my own arm/leg or anything else. I finally, finally was reminded to use a lifeline. Man! I've used them before, I have no idea why I blocked it out on this project (possibly because I needed it so badly?). That made all the difference, or so it seems. Now that I have at least one going in the project, I haven't needed to rip back. Yet. I'm sure it'll happen again. Still, I've made it just past the increase to 288 sts & I'm about to start the repeat of the first 10 rows on Lace Pattern I. I've been considering this project and I don't think I'll knit the full thing. The reason is that my grandmother is a very petite 5'2", and this shawl is theoretically around 72" when completed. I don't need to wrap her up like a burrito, so I think I may pass on the repeats of the lace pattern following the increase to 576 sts. I will probably do one of them and then do a border of some kind.

I've set myself a crazy goal of a minimum of 5 rows per day, with a hopeful goal of 10 rows per day. 10 a day didn't seem too hard when it was at 144 sts, but since the increase, I'm not sure 10 rows is going to work out on a daily thing. I'm hoping I can manage the 5 & maybe a little over each day. I decided to try this "goal setting" thing the other night when I couldn't get to sleep. It seemed like a good idea at the time, because it would make the project move along at a reasonable pace (i.e., I might actually finish the shawl in a month or two) and then I can move on to more substantial yarn weights. sigh

I will do other shawls, I have to, I have the yarn. I just have a much better idea what I'll be setting myself up for, and I'll be sure to have some easy projects on the needles as well.

I cast on the sweater for Himself. A cabled sweater as my "easy project". Yep. Desperation is an interesting companion. The Bernat Natural Alpaca is a nice, soft yarn. My only complaint is that it sheds like mad. I've taken to knitting with a towel in my lap to catch all the shed fibers. Still, I've got about 4 inches of the back knit up, and I like the pattern. And the yarn, even though it sheds.

I also tried knitting up a baby hat from Itty Bitty Hats, but I made really dumb errors and ended up tossing the hat in the recycle bin. (cotton) It was fun and easy, but I mis-measured bits of it, so it was unwearable. I could have re-knit the sections that were off, but I probably could have re-knit the entire hat in less time than it would take to find the woven ends and rip it back, etc. Oh well, it was a nice distraction anyway. I refuse to be bitter.

I've also been kept too busy with a sick kitty. It seems our remaining kitty cat (my other baby passed away right before Christmas), has kidney disease. Going by the bloodwork, he should be doing better than he is (at his levels, etc.). But every critter is different, and he is not doing as well as he could be. We've done subcutaneous fluids, meds for his ulcer and so forth. He won't keep the meds down, so they're no good, and he's developing sever anxieties regarding trips to the vet for the fluids. I don't think he'd tolerate them much better at home. He went on a food strike last week, and I thought we had reached the end, but he rallied in time for the youngest monkey's birthday (6!) and was almost like his old self for a few days.

Sadly, he seems to be going back down now. As long as we can get him to eat he'll be "okay". But if he goes on another hunger strike, I think it will be Time. I'm not sure I'm up for that. Not that I'll have a real choice in the matter. I'm so sad. He's such a loving little guy, and my youngest will be devastated when he's gone. Part of being a responsible pet owner though, right? sigh

Lace is good for getting my mind off of things like this too. Let's hear it for lace!~