Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I Think It's a Triple Feature

Cyoot Kitteh of teh Day: Kan We Start teh Moovie Nao?

I have several have over five hours of DVD going overdue at the library as of midnight, three DVD from Netflix that have been at home for over a week and three movies in my Netflix instant watch queue that are due to stop streaming by midnight tomorrow. One of those stops at midnight tonight which for me is two and a half hours.

The last two weeks have been much like this with library DVD or Netflix streaming deadlines to chase around and around the clock. But that will ease up after Thursday as I've eased up on what I've been ordering from the library and this latest slew of deadlined streamers on Netflix is atypical. Usually there are three to five every couple of weeks but there have been at least twenty on my queue that showed up with the warning in the last two weeks. I had to get picky as there was no way I could get them all in with the limited streaming time I have plus all the TV series seasons I had out of the library at the same time. I had to let many slide.

If that sounds like I've spent most of the last two weeks zoned in front of a screen well don't forget that for over half the time I'm watching something I'm also crocheting. So soon I'll have a lot to show for all those hours. As soon as I get some pictures taken I'll post them.

The three I hope to stream tonight are: August, Autumn in New York, and The Butterfly Tattoo.

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Monday, May 30, 2011

We Remember With Gratitude


Memorial Day 2011

Our grateful hearts remember your courage, your honor, your sacrifice
For all those past and present and their loved ones we thank you for your service.

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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunday Serenity #231



Visit Gratefulness.org and explore the ways of incorporating gratefulness into your daily life and make it the ethic in which you root your life.

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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Think Possible



My sister-friend Jamie introduced this song to me earlier this week. When I listen to it I feel like something is waking up inside me. It has been a long SAD winter for me.

Even for Oregon this has been a long, chilly, grey, wet season. We had a couple of days of sun last week but then it turned cloudy and drizzly and cold again. The races were rained out again today. The dirt track season here starts in mid April but they've been rained out more weeks than not and Ed and his folks have only been to one because even when they are held its too cold for them to sit out there for upwards of six hours. I don't go to the race but maybe once per season--I like their fireworks display the weekend nearest July 4rth--but when the family doesn't go I don't get my home alone day which is as disappointing to me as a rained out race is to them.

What do I miss when races day is canceled whether by the track or by the family? The chance to have most of the hours between 3pm and dawn to:

  • do my room chores and laundry without fear of colliding with someone somewhere between the room and the machines or outside garbage can.
  • take as long as I need for a shower, shampoo, and etc
  • eat what I want when I want
  • play music as loud as I want and sing along (until they get home after 10pm)
  • watch DVD on the big flat screen in the living room
  • play with Bruiser, the family dog, or just hang out with him. (again, until they get home and he goes to bed with them)
  • The chance to hang out in the yard or porch without worrying about sprinklers, weed eaters, lawn mowers, cigarette smoke (until dusk anyway)
  • The chance to spread out a big project in our room, the kitchen, the living room or the porch without fear of being in the way or having to put it all away suddenly
  • The chance to feel for over twelve hours like I'm not in the way

OMG I sound like a surly teenager!

I wasn't planning to do a cheese and whine fest here, just showcase a cool song that has meant something to me this week.

*sigh*

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Friday, May 27, 2011

Just What I Need

Star Wars Pram Mobile


More concepts for crocheted do-dads!

And a new site to spend time on that displays stuff you didn't know existed and once you do you just MUST have.

Hoarders Delight

Must Have Cute is another site in the icanhascheezeburger.com family. I just discovered it this evening after accidentally clicking a link when I fumbled the mouse. Ordinarily I avoid visiting the other sites because I know myself too well--how easily I get addicted to certain kinds of things. My nearly daily visits to the cute kittehs already eats up more time than I should allow.

But isn't this pram mobile cute? And not just because it features Star Wars characters. I can picture endless variations on the theme of a flat strip or a string with a series of dangles of various shapes, colors and themes.

Yep. Just what this hoarder with her collection of crocheted bookmarks approaching 300 and her collection of 2.5 dozen unfinished thread WIP needs.

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Have you Hugged Your Someone Today?



It's a moment of awwwwww! Cuteness overdose.

But it got me thinking. Especially in conjunction with several of the movies and TV episodes I've watched in the last week. By some odd coincidence several of my random choices have had primary or secondary themes dealing with relationship, connections, intimacy, the communication of caring or lack thereof. Not necessarily of the romantic variety. Mostly not in fact. Family, friend, colleagues, neighbors...

These stories impact me strongly as they force me to see the state of such things in my own life. They show me how connections between individuals need cultivating and, except in the case of adult to small child, the responsibility belongs to both parties.

I confess that I am one who seeks out solitude. I shy away from touch let alone hugs, from eye contact let alone the sharing of intimate thoughts, from almost any form of social engagement in fact of both the formal event kind and the informal interpersonal. I have severe social anxiety and can barely tolerate social occasions without being stoned on serotonin.

Most of the time I'm content in my solitude. But every once in a while I find myself craving connection, caring, acknowledgement, the give and take of conversation and find it too often unavailable and realize I have no one to blame but myself for I've so carefully constructed the emotional defenses against connection comparable to that of a porcupine against its predator. Who wants to cultivate closeness with that?

Maybe I need to take lessons from the cats who counterbalance their claws, teeth and hisses with nose nudges, purring and cuddles. They are well known for their preference of solitude and their prickly rebuff of unwanted advances but they also crave a certain amount of connection and closeness and know how to cultivate it if their trust is not betrayed.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Movie Night

funny pictures - i luv dis movie!!!
see more Lolcats and funny pictures, and check out our Socially Awkward Penguin lolz!


I decided to cut myself a little slack after all the work I did cleaning and organizing since Saturday. So I designated tonight as Movie Night. Most of the day too. I'm counting as movies the several TV series seasons I had out of the library this week. House MD 6. Six Feet Under 2. Boston Legal 2. And Lovejoy 2. I finished Lovejoy on Saturday actually. And just finished House and have now started on Six Feet Under. Lovejoy had been due last Thursday and the other three were due this past Tuesday. I lucked out when Boston Legal renewed. But the other two must now be in the drop box before the library opens tomorrow at eleven to avoid a fine.

I'm adjusting to the idea that I'm not going to make it with Six Feet Under. Only if I put the disks in my netbook and used the video ap that allows me to speed up videos by percents would I have any hope of watching twelve more hours in the next 12 and 1/2 hours. Even then I'd have to speed it up until they all sound like Daffy Duck and the chipmunks. Not a very appealing concept. So I guess I'll be hanging on to it over the weekend and eating the fine.

Meanwhile I've also watched several excellent movies this week and some a bit less than excellent but still worthy: Yentil, Sleepless in Seatle, La Strada (now I must explore more Fellini), Cowboy Up, $9.99 (yes, a film title--a stop action animation for adults).

Boy when I see it all listed like that....

And that's not all of it. I streamed some TV episodes online. So many and of such variety I can't list them all. The one that stands out is the final two epiosdes of Ugly Betty which I'd been depriving myself of for two months because I was sad to be finished with the story and a bit afraid they were going to botch up the story with a shoddy ending. I should have know better and trusted the writers who hadn't let me down yet.

Here's where I would usually lessen the shock of the amount of time I spent watching the screen by saying I was plying the crochet hook or the needle the whole time. But I can't say that this time because I've done very little crochet or needlework since last Friday because of the time, effort, and energy I put into the room clean and the related disarray of my craft materials and work space. Mostly it was the exhaustion after hours of lifting and sorting and rearranging etc. I was too tired to care and just want to sit and stare at the screen.

If it hadn't been for the flood of DVDs off my request queue that came in over the last two weeks, I might have chose different ways to relax. I keep getting surprised by these floods and I keep saying how I won't let that happen again and then I do. I try to manage my library request queue so that only one and no more than two TV series season boxes come home in a single week. At least not the same day. But last week Ed misheard me when I told him what all was waiting and listed what I wanted that day, Tuesday, and which could wait. He heard the first list but not the second and he grabbed everything on the hold shelf with my name slip in it. Three TV seasons and an audio book among them.

As of last Thursday there were two more waiting and I'm afraid to check now to see if any more came in since then. But I need to go check on my items out list to verify my memory of what items were due this week and have to go back in the morning as I have to prepare them now before Ed is ready to sleep. Which could be any minute so I guess I better get on with it.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Just Too Much



Too much stuff. Too much to do.


It would help if I wasn't constantly re-doing the same thing over and over.

Blame the stuff for a lot of that!

I had other plans for my time and energy this even as for both Sunday and Monday evening but I just had to take apart my desk area for the third time since Saturday and rearrange it yet again. It took over three hours all four times!

The glitch was having put more weight than it could bear on the tray table that serves as my desk and then it would slowly start to bend over the next twelve hours or so. One of the problems is that I am trying to keep too many items related to too many projects within arms reach from where I sit on the bed because it is such an hassle to move what I have on my lap in order to get up and fetch it. Plus at night it also disturbs Ed's sleep.

I'm forced to sit on the bed for everything because there isn't room for a chair in this room.

Too much stuff!

It's so bad now I've not got enough elbow room to wield keyboard, needles or crochet hook freely. Especially when Ed's sleeping.

In spite of my best efforts to organize I often spend more time getting projects out and putting them away than I do working on them.

My best efforts at organizing sometimes seem to be little else than rearranging stuff that I seldom see between the rearranging efforts.

I have so much stuff blocking my access to my clothes it is often such a huge effort to get ready to go somewhere I just don't.

It was in January of 2008 that I blogged about the great room make over that was supposed to make life so much easier. And it did for a time. I purged a lot of stuff and found many efficient, space saving ways to store the remaining stuff. But I never actually finished the sorting and purging that year and since then I've brought in huge amounts of craft stuffs relating to the crocheted bookmarks and their wardrobes of ribbons and beads and buttons and thread.

It's time for another room makeover. It's time for another purge. But it can't be the craft stuff or books that get purged. Reorganized after room is made for them by purging other stuff maybe but not got rid of.

Starting with the boxes stuffed with stuff that needs sorting and boxes stuffed with boxes and plastic bags and various sizes and shapes of containers I saved for storing the sorted stuff that isn't purged.

Completing a few of the over dozen unfinished craft projects so they and their materials don't have to live in separate boxes and bags would go a long way toward freeing up space.

Finishing them would be easier if the tools and materials were better organized.

What would really help would be having our own place to live so we aren't confined in this 10x12 foot room. But that isn't going to happen anytime soon as Ed's working under 20 hours a week. We've got to be grateful Ed even still has a job as his company has just gone though bankruptcy reorganization and he wasn't sure until this week that his job was going to still be there next month.

As I worked to stabilize my desk this evening I was working myself up to committing to making that this Saturday's project while the family was away at the races. But I just learned the races are likely to be rained out again this week.

I'm just not sure how to go about working on the big sort and purge if I'm constrained by the walls of this room and the hours between 3 and 9pm not counting the two hours for dinner and dishes. Those are the only hours I can count on neither me nor Ed needing the bed for sleep. Why is that? Because there isn't enough room for both of us to sleep well at the same time because of the wall of shelves towering to either side of this standard sized bed and all of the pillows (7) and the two shams stuffed with quilts.

Oh and the cat.

And no we're not purging the cat!

It might help if I purged a hundred pounds off myself. But that's a whole other issue.

Isn't it?

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Rainbow Whatsit All Aboard Carry Case



While I was busy doing laundry, cleaning our room and reorganizing my desk area this weekend I was ruminating on a problem I hoped to solve before I was done. Since the big weekend project was to get my work area clean and organized this problem was directly related. I needed a better solution for holding my rainbow whatsit crochet project. Because there were sixteen colors to be repeated three to four times each that meant sixteen balls of size 10 thread.


I didn't really hope to find a way to have them all in one bag but I hoped to find a better solution than the two medium sized bags I was using. Those two bags were the third attempt to consolidate. I'd begun with using a couple gift bags that held three to four balls each and keeping the rest in the drawer where the live but constantly having to switch them out was a pain. Especially when the next colors I needed were in the drawer behind my desk and it was several hours before my husband would be awake and getting to them without disturbing him was nigh impossible.

That was why I'd stuffed them in the two craft bags which, though the best solution yet, still created issues. It was a snug fit for one. Which kept the balls from turning freely when in use Of course I could always rotate the top three to the bottom and the bottom three to the middle and the middle two or three to the top as I progressed through the color changes. But that was tedious and made me long for the gift bags again which allowed the two to four balls to spin free whether they were top middle or bottom and I could keep the ends of the threads in waiting clipped to the top edge of the bag.

The other major issue was their size. There was no where to keep them close at hand when not in use except on the bed and there were times that wasn't an option.


While reorganizing the area around my desk I found the case that our fleece sheet set came in. It is shaped like a suitcase with a lid that zippers shut with two zippers and is made of clear pliable plastic and has a carry handle made of flat webbing like you see used in bags and belts. For several weeks after Christmas (when we got the sheets) I'd been using it to store the newest threads until I was able to get the thread drawers reorganized to make room for them.

I saw its potential immediately after pulling it out from between my desk legs and the hamper on Saturday afternoon. But I wasn't able to test my theory until late Sunday evening after the second reorganizing of my desk area in two days.

The second time was precipitated by me spilling a tray of sewing misc that rained and fluttered and trickled and dropped all over an area about one by two yards. The items didn't just land on top of things where I could just pick them up and put them back. No. They fell between and behind and under and in everywhere. I had to take the whole desk area apart down to the floor again.

What things? needles, crochet hooks, seam ripper, thread snippets off the baby afghan and thread lengths cut for the fringe that fizzled--those never put in and those removed--ink pen and clicker pencil, fray check and snag repair latch hook, straight pens and needle threaders, paper clips and paper scraps. Oh what a mess. I had to pile printer, netbook, books, sewing misc and office misc onto the bed. Again! While checking carefully in every crack and crevice and open container from the size of a pill bottle to the size of a craft bag. I'm still not sure I found them all though I think I accounted for everything larger than paper clips and thread snips. And I think I found all the needles and straight pens. Let's hope.

Anyway it was late last evening when I was able to try out my idea for the rainbow whatsit project. By then I was expecting Ed to need the bed any second so I was rushed. And yet or maybe because I was under that pressure I found an excellent solution. The most excellent one was after the first attempt to organize the thread in the case ended in a colossal fail. I had got all sixteen in and was excited to find they fit and left plenty of room for the balls to spin. So I got all the thread ends clipped to the handle and zipped the two zippers around from the back to the front leaving a four inch gap above the handle. And then...

I picked it up by the handle...

And all the pretty columns of thread fell in a jumble to the bottom and all the sixteen threads tangled.

Now what!

Then my eyes fell on a beat up cardboard box I'd finally given up for dead during the room cleanup and left setting on top of the waste basket. It's flaps and sides look just about the right size for the brain-flash image that had just come to me. An image of those nice columns of three balls separated by walls.

In a flash I had that box cut along every edge and had the four strips of cardboard I needed. I didn't even have to trim them to size. Later I used one of the smaller flaps on the box to create the wedge to wrap the fabric around so I could push it into the pocket on the lid without curling up the corners and edges.

I was so pleased with myself.

The case is currently serving as a lap desk to hold my netbook as I type which was one of the things that defunct cardboard box had served as and one of the reasons it became too decrepit to continue to serve that way or any way at all.

As for the rainbow whatsit (still not divulging my current plan for it) I've just begun the third iteration of the sixteen stripes or 32 rows. I'll decide after its complete if there will be a forth iteration. Meanwhile I've only been doing two to four rows per day since Thursday otherwise I'd probably have finished the third iteration and more.

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday Serenity #230

Funny Pictures - Cute Kittens
see more Lolcats and funny pictures, and check out our Socially Awkward Penguin lolz!


After yesterday, a day of sunbeam dreams sounds quite appealing.

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Saturday, May 21, 2011

It Was Amazing!

Objects With Faces-Amazed Washer-Dryer is Amazed at Your Pile of Laundry
see more Lolcats and funny pictures, and check out our Socially Awkward Penguin lolz!


Finally the weather cooperated for Ed and his folks to go to the dirt track races. The season usually begins mid April but this year the rain kept the track undrivable several weeks after the first scheduled race. The race have been held a few times but they opted out of going because it was too cold for Ed's folks especially after dark.

Dirt track race day means chore day for me. But it also means my being able to wander freely from room to room without fear of colliding with someone. It means hanging out with Merlin our cat and Bruiser their dog and letting Merlin have free range of the house as well. It means TV shows or DVD on the big flat screen in the living room. It means monopoly of the broadband for streaming or downloading or heavy duty surfing. It means fixing and eating meals and snacks of my choosing at a time of my choosing. It means hanging out on the porch or in the yard with out fear of cigarette smoke or weed eaters. It means playing the boom box in our room as loud as I like.

But chores take priority and with this being the first race day of the year there is a lot of those to catch up on. This week laundry had to take priority. And some clutter control and garbage patrol in our room. I was home alone from 3 until almost midnight and having gathered and sorted out eight I still had a load in each machine and two on the floor. And the bed was stripped to the mattress pad and then piled high with folded laundry and more awaiting folding, all the contents of my desk including the printer, books and DVD, several sewing and craft bags and boxes.

So it was after 1am before Ed could crawl into the freshly made bed and another hour before I could settle on it to do my Saturday post. I confess I then visited icanhascheezburger.com and was waylaid there for a couple hours. Now it is dawn and I'm still not posted for Saturday.

I've still not done any streaming or downloading chores (Windows is chomping at the bit for updates and my news pods languishing). Ed will probably sleep in so I could probably count on nearly two more hours but I'm so sore and exhausted I almost don't care. I can barely lift my arms and little demons stab me in the elbows and shoulders when I try. My back is caught in the fist of a troll. It was sorting the laundry that did in my back and folding the clean clothes that did in my arms. I'm not sure why my neck is so stiff and sore. Maybe from the awkward angles I held my head while trying to watch the TV and fold laundry, gather clutter and garbage, and rearrange my stuff.

Here's hoping they get to go to the races again next week so I can have a home-alone day that is less focused on chores and more on fun.

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Friday, May 20, 2011

A Flourish of Floss



Above is a pic of my hoard of embroidery floss which I had collected into one place as I try to sort out which of the colors called for in this free chart I found online I already have. The chart uses DMC which I have a lot of but DMC accounts for less than half of the colors in my hoard. So I needed to find out if I could discover the DMC equivalent of the other brands and sure enough I found a good selection of conversion charts.

The best one of all is the one I found at Cyberstitches though as it gives conversion to and from several brand names and several of the kit brands as well. I had two kits, one a Dimensions Gold and the other a Candamar.

I spent hours and hours on this project in the last two days and ended up discovering the exact DMC color or an equivalent for 12 of the 90 colors in the chart. And four of those are actually just 'close enoughs'. I'd hoped for 20 to 30.

It's possible I can put together a few more 'close enoughs' from a bargain brand that has no color numbers on it and the old hand-me-down threads from brands that no longer exist or whose codes are no longer what the bands sport. A good 50% of my hoard fits one of those categories.

It feels like a lot of work for such small return. It would be so much easier to go buy the thread. But buying full skeins of all 90 colors would make this small cross stitch or needlepoint, in spite of the free chart, more expensive than a Dimensions Gold kit for a 16 X 20 picture that includes chart, canvas, thread and needles. That dolphin kit seen in the pic cost over $30 13 years ago. For most of the colors in the planned project I need only a yard or two of a couple strands not the 8+ yards of six strands in the typical skein.

So, especially since it looks like I'll still need to buy over 2/3 of the colors, I need to set up a system to insure that the remainder of the thread from this and every other project past and future, can be quickly identified and found for future projects. That means organization of the hoard and useful record keeping that keeps track of the colors, brand codes and conversion codes and locations of all my thread.

Arrrrrgh! I just took another look at the color list for the project in my note ap--the list against which I've been checking all the colors from my hoard today--and discovered that the list was missing it's bottom half. Now I'm going to have to check that bottom half against the lists I made of the codes from my hoard. Well at least I can do that without getting it all out again. This lists are all on the clipboard.

Maybe I'll pick up another half dozen colors for the project? One can hope?

You know what? There have been several other times in the last couple days in which I went to look for something I thought I'd stored in my note ap and not found it. I thought maybe I'd not put it in the place I thought I had or named it what I remembered. But now I'm wondering if maybe I forgot to do a final save before I closed the ap when I did a restart. Now I'm wondering what else I might be missing that I thought was safely stored for later as I'm constantly copy/pasting links, info, thoughts and etc into my WhizFolder ap.

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Rainbow Whatsit @ 4 Days



As promised last night, here is a pic of my latest project. I'm calling it the Rainbow Whatsit for now as when I began it was ll about the rainbow and I had no set plan for the end product. Now I do but I'm keeping it to myself for awhile yet.

This is the most complex crochet item I've yet begun and I'm not following a pattern. I'm making it up as I go. And many of the stitches and techniques are brand new to my repertoire or yet to be learned.

So I will be posting pics and updates here whenever something significant has changed. The next one may not be until I've finished this 'panel' which may have to slow down as the pace of six to eight rows per day was proving too much for my poor wrist and arm.

Meanwhile I've started getting my craft related notes organized as a first step towards accounting for all the unfinished projects and prioritizing them.

One of the related tasks is to organize my floss and identify the colors and quantity I have and the equivalent color codes for DMC since most charts use DMC colors. This includes floss bought for projects begun, finished and not begun, floss from kits and floss given to me. Some of that floss is so old it's marked with prices ranging from 5 to 15 cents.

This is a a task that I've been planning to do for awhile now but it is motivated at this time by my desire to make a kit for a project from a free chart I found online that calls for 90 colors. I can't afford to just go and buy whole skeins of every color. Especially since many of them only call for a yard or two of a couple strands. This is a petit point cross stitch or needlepoint and needs to be done by Xmas.

It is 185 X 129 stitches so it is not a huge project but it is very intricate and the stitches are so tiny I'll have to wear the visor that magnifies to 2.5 and can not count on working for more than an hour or two per day. Once I identify which colors I have I can get started and Ed says we can pick up the rest of the colors at the rate of 5 to 10 every payday (twice a month) over the next three months or so.

The baby afghan is in the dryer as I type. It looked good coming out of the wash after going through on the extra delicate cycle. The plan is to put it in the mail tomorrow. That is the biggest project I've finished in a long time. I haven't crocheted an afghan since the home ec class I took in high school in the 70s.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Rainbow Whatsit


Well I still don't have the baby afghan in the mail nor have I washed it as Ed wants to wait until Friday to mail it and I don't want to bring it back into this room to pick up dust and fuzzies from the blankets and Merlin etc. I want to pack it right into its mailer box as soon as it is dry. So washing it will wait until tomorrow. But other than washing it there is no more to do with it. So I went ahead and started another project.

Yes, though I have twenty some unfinished projects waiting in the wings for the afghan to be finished, I have gone and started another one.

Sigh.

I saw this picture in an ad online on one of the crochet sites I visited and I couldn't get it off my mind. I love rainbows. There was no pattern related to the photo so no clue as to what materials or pattern or product. Is it a blanket? A top? A tea towel? A table runner? A book cover? Who knows.

Is it thread or yarn and what size. Judging by the size of the crochet hook in scale with those thumbs it has to be lace weight yarn or size 10 crochet thread or smaller. I am fairly sure though that it is the fillet stitch.

Whatever the truth of it, I decided it didn't matter as long as I could make a rainbow out of my thread collection. I am missing some of the colors featured in this one so I had to make it up with what I have and to make sure I got the stripes in the right order I first researched the artist's color wheel.

Learning to do fillet was on my agenda and before I could trust myself to follow one of the intricate grid patterns I needed to get my tension etc under control so it made sense to do a largish project to practice. well largish in relation to bookmarks but smallish in relation to a table cloth, afghan or bedspread. I decided something like a place mat/vase mat or a notebook cover or netbook carry pouch.

So I began with a chain about a foot long. Using size 10 cotton crochet thread I make two rows with each color. I'm using sixteen different colors. I already have 24 stripes. Meaning I'm halfway through the second iteration of the pattern.

I have changed my mind about what I'm making though. It's a bit more complicated than a place mat or even a netbook carry pouch. I'm not going to say what in this post though. Instead, starting tomorrow I will post pictures of the progress of the project every few days until it is finished.

I had planned to post the first picture tonight but I didn't get it done before Ed came to bed so instead I took a screenshot of my WhizFolder note ap showing the screenshot I snagged of the picture that inspired it.

I've done 48 rows in three days and I estimate I'm going to have to at least double that and maybe plus half again after that. But I can't keep up the pace of half an iteration per day as my right arm from wrist to elbow is starting to feel like an impacted wisdom tooth.

To encourage a slow down of the pace I'm going to also start organizing a to do list of all the unfinished projects first craft, then writing and reading and research. I'l start sharing that list and targeting projects for finishing and then share my progress.

I like the feeling of accomplishment I got from finishing that afghan so I want to repeat it again and again. I also miss the many things I love to do as much as I love crochet that I gave up in order to finish that afghan. Especially reading. I have not read more than a few paragraphs a day in the last three months save for the day of the read-a-thon April 9 & 10. That must change.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mama Mia!



I have spent several hours with the Mama Mia! DVD in the last 24 hours. I watched it through twice and then in the bonus features I watched (and sang along with) the songs. Some of the several times.

No, I do not have a singing voice I would wish to share with anyone but my cat.

But I was totally caught up in this movie and its music. Two big draws for me were Meryl Streep (I would watch her in ANYTHING!) and the ABBA music around which this musical (a play then a movie) was centered.

The fact that I took time out to watch it twice and hang out with the music for hours is a significant tribute to this movie considering how I currently have over 60 hours of DVD at home between the library and NetFlix. 4 full TV series seasons account for 50 some hours. Then there are two movies that are over two hours, a short animated film and a documentary. Also an audio book. Stuff I was in queue for at the library for weeks and weeks just flooded in this week and last.

Still I'm tempted to hit play on Mama Mia! again.



The basic plot of the story is that a young bride to be finds her mother's diary from the year she was born and discovers three possibilities for the identity of her father. She sends invites to the wedding in her mother's name to all three. The wedding is to be held on an isolated island off the coast of Greece where Sophie has been raised by single mother Donna (Meryl Streep) who runs an inn there. There where she had been romanced by three men one summer 21 years ago.



So 70s!.

The 1970s was the decade I was in highschool (76 grad) engaged (77) and married (78).

ABBA was ubiquitous on the radio at the time. I never bought an album but I always turned up the stereo when the DJ put one on.

And here is ABBA themselves performing what became the title song of the play/movie:




Oh yeah. That was the 70s

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Monday, May 16, 2011

Snipped Stitch



Yet another snafu with the baby afghan. My hopes of getting it in the mail today were dashed when I put a gash in one of the stitches while trimming the tails.

I just spent three hour trying to get a picture of the damaged strand, setting up shots, taking pics, changing batteries, prepping pics, setting up more shots, taking more pics, and finally zooming to nearly 400% and taking a screenshopt.


It's still hard to see if you don't know what you are looking at. I had to slip the crochet hook handle inside and lift the stitch up a bit. It looks out of focus still but isn't as you can tell by looking at the surrounding stitches. The fuzziness is due to actual fuzziness of the thread where the ends of the snipped strand are fraying. It hasn't helped that I have been picking at it trying to judge the danger of the thread snapping in two, the possible efficacy of fray check, the risk of putting through the washer and dryer before applying the fray check and so forth.

It is either one of three or two of six strands in the thread that I snipped with the nail clippers I was using to trim the tails along the bobble edge. I thought the clippers would be safer than scissors. But I couldn't keep track of the back corner of them. So I switched to scissors after that happened.

My heart was climbing into my throat when it first happened. I thought it had gone through the thread.

I've decided to try the fray check and that it needs to go on before the washing. Which means it has to set a full day before it can be washed. So that means Wednesday or Thursday before I can get it in the mail.

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunday Serenity #229





Imagine standing in an ice-cream store able to choose one flavor out of a selection of 100 at least a third of which are flavors you are particularly fond of but have been denied access to for weeks because of an overstock on one flavor that had to be used up before other flavors new and old became available again.

That's how I'm feeling as I finish up the baby afghan and contemplate the near future in which I'll be free to return to old projects and pastimes or start new ones, a pleasure I've denied myself for most of the last four months now but especially the last six or so weeks.

I'm very close to finishing the afghan now. I have the two bobble edges on and that was supposed to be the end of the stitching, leaving only the trimming off of tails. But then I tried to fold it to make it compact to sit in my lap with the edges sporting dozens of tiny stray threads easily accessible and well lit and I was reminded how the final rows had gained six inches on the first few rows without gaining stitches. This was partly a tension problem and partly due to the foundation chain being less elastic than the double and tripple crochet stitches used throughout.

As long as you don't try to fold it it is not noticeable. But blankets get folded. And the look of that extra long edge really bugs me. So I decided to add a row of slip stitches across the final row to mimic the chain stitches at the beginning. I is taking up slack as I hoped. Now I just have to take care not to make this end shorter than the other. If I do, I'll have to take out part or all of the slip stitches and try again, adjusting my tension.

I'm still on track to getting it in the mail tomorrow I think. Depends on how soon I get it ready for washing though and then how long it takes to dry and whether Ed gets home from work in time to run to the post office before it closes. It may not get mailed until Tuesday but I'm not going to berate myself too much if so. I'm fairly proud of the way I've stayed on track with this project to see it through to the end in a rather constricted time frame.

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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Shine





I watched the movie Shine this evening and was enthralled. I wish I had time to watch it again and again before sending it back to the library. But I have too many DVD that have to go back in the next two days and more waiting for my on the hold shelf. I got in queue for a bunch of movies and TV series during April when I encountered mention of them in my reading on script writing during ScriptFrenzy. Many have come and gone since then but many have flooded in in the last two weeks.

Below is the scene from the movie of the teenaged Helfgott performing Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto #3.






In the soundtrack of the movie all of the character David's piano playing is played by Helfgott himself so I've included a vid of him playing.







I wasn't even aware until the end credits that this was based on a true story of a child prodigy piano player whose rise to stardom was interrupted by mental illness.

One thing that gave me shivers was when the adult David spoke of how his doctor had forbid him to play the piano, calling it too dangerous for him. The thought of having story forbidden to me--the reading, watching, writing or telling--gives my goosebumps goosebumps.

It seems to me there is something wrong with the idea of a mental health professional blaming the creative expression of a patient for the illness and cutting them off from the very thing that gives meaning and passion to their life.

What? Do they want a robot? A Zombie? Grey blobs in uniforms? Is that elusive thing they call 'normal' so important to them they have to eliminate everything that doesn't fit their concept of 'normal'. Why couldn't the doctor have had the imagination to see the music as a source of healing and encourage David to explore healthy ways to channel his creative instincts.

To my mind it wasn't the music itself but the pathological need to 'win' to be 'perfect' both probably manifestations of his illness. If David could have learned to decouple music from those obsessions, he might not have had to fear the music itself for nearly twenty years and it might have serves as his salvation instead of standing as his demon.

But what do I know?

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Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday Forays in Fiction: After the Afghan


One morning earlier this week as I slept with my head on the pillow about where you see the blue blanket in the pic my cat, on his way to his window perch, launched himself off my shoulder to the top of that box of books. He had misjudged the position of the Ott lamp's hooded bulb though and the lamp tumbled down, hitting my shoulder and arm on the way. I barely registered that as a split second later the box of books hit my head.


It must have been a glancing blow as I can no longer find the tender spot on my left temple just above where my glasses' ear piece rides. But I am still feeling the pain and stiffness in my neck from the whiplash it gave me.

That pain keeps the memory of that box of books up front in my mind. It represents all the things I've put on hold as I gave all my attention and time into getting that baby afghan ready to mail to my grand-nephew.

Those books are all library books, all novels, all but one large print. When I checked them out over a month ago I was anticipating a fiction binge. The first of the year. The last novel I read was the day of the read-a-thon April 9!

Pitiful.

Under the ledge there, beside the blue blanket atop my pillow, you can see another stack of books bearing the tell-tale call number stickers on their spines. Again all novels. Checked out last week on my first library visit since just before the read-a-thon. I'd been getting books and DVD via ordering from the online catalog and having my husband pick them up but that was one of the rare times I got to go pull surprises off the shelf.

On that day, last Thursday actually, I was already feeling the resentment against the afghan building. So many things have been set aside for it since Xmas. Besides reading there is writing (what's a writer who's not writing?) and research, blog surfing and blogging tasks, computer games, other sewing projects, keeping organized both physically (room), virtually (e-files), and mentally. Even some of the less urgent laundry!

Here's hoping that's all about to change. I'm still on target for putting the baby afghan in the mail Monday.

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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Not the Afghan



Note: This was the post I was intending to put up Thursday evening when I discovered Blogger was down. Blogger remained unavailable for posting until sometime Friday morning. It is actually Friday evening as I write this tho I've changed the date stamp to reflect Thursday night.


I took the pics for this post after dinner last night and had an ambitious commentary to go along with them that I was writing in my head has I set up the shots and prepped the pics in the photo ap. Most of that has fled my mind now. Along with the ambition.

The theme is the crochet that is not the baby afghan that has been monopolizing my time and attention since Xmas.

Clockwise from bottom left corner:
  • the box on its side with a wad of wadded up bookmarks spilling out is all the bookmarks off the hook since October awaiting their tail-tucking and blocking
  • just above it the box containing bookmarks with miscellaneous size and types of thread mostly on the small size (less than 4" w/o ribbons or tassels)
  • at top are the larger ones, mostly size 10 cotton thread, all blocked and tucked and awaiting wardrobes
  • the box below that is full of the ones made from the original pattern taken off the bookmark (seen laying across the top) I found in one of my Dad's books after he died in 2005 and which Mom reverse engineered and taught me to make in 2009, starting this craze now two years going. I had been trying to keep two or three of each color in my thread collection in the box but have not kept up with the new orders of thread since last fall.
  • to the right of that box is the one containing the fully dressed bookmarks all beribboned, bedecked and bedazzling
  • below it is the box containing two of my extra long patterns, the mini-scarves awaiting their fringe and the others awaiting tassels
  • in the middle outside the boxes are the bookmarks, the snowflake and the dishrag all made since Xmas, all representing new patterns and new stitches and new techniques I've been practicing.
Do you pick up on another theme here? I'm not so good at finishing.

Which is why I've had to be such a slave driver on the afghan in order to be sure my nephew receives it while he is still a baby!

Now that I've got so many stitches and techniques in my repertoire I doubt there will ever be a whole box full of a single pattern again. Most of those spread out in the middle there are not off patterns created by others but rather patterns I'm creating myself by applying what I've learned.

Except the snowflake. That was off a pattern found in The Crochet Stitch Bible. It was my first attempt at working in the round. I fell in love with the concept. They're like mini doilies and I'm a sucker for anything mini. I can picture myself filling one of those boxes with snowflakes. Just not all exactly alike. I've been collecting free patterns for them online and am anxious to start making them.



The snowflake motifs can be used as Xmas tree ornaments or other Xmas decor, singly or in strings. They can be turned into a tablecloth or bedspread by sewing dozens of them into a pattern with various connecting stitches. They can decorate the front of a greeting card. Oh and let's not forget bookmarks!

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Bamboo Baby Blanket Bobble Border


So sorry if I'm beginning to be a bore with the bamboo baby blanket boondoggle posts. It's just that most of my attention has been on this and I don't dare change the subject in my mind for fear of distracting myself from this project which I began the week after Xmas for a baby two weeks from delivery to whom I hoped to deliver it before he turned 2 months. That was March 7.

The title of the post with its over the top alliteration reflects my own edgy relationship to these afghan edging posts and the project itself. Trying to say the title aloud has me about to burst into giggles or baby babble. Which reflects how my mind feels like its about to fall off the edge of something.

Hey, do you see those white jacketed guys coming around the corner there? I think they're hiding something behind their backs. Something white and floppy with funny belts and buckles.



So in last night's post I related how I'd practiced three possible fringe substitutes for the one I gave up on on Sunday and discovered I was going to need to crochet on an edge first or the fringe wouldn't lay right. And I had chosen to use the bobble stitch for the edge as I liked how it filled the stretched out stitches where the defunct fringe had been removed. I had finished the edge on that side and liked it so well by itself I fiddled with the idea of not adding a fringe after all. I said I was going to sleep on it.

Well when I woke up and got it out and took a closer look I discovered the edge wasn't laying flat. It was bunched in places and stretched into an arc in others. And many of the spaces were not filled by the bobble stitch. But I still loved the stitch and in the short sections where it did lay flat and the stretched out space was filled, it looked very good.

I eventually diagnosed the problem as a combination of poor tension control on the thread, having chosen to use three instead of four double crochet in each bobble and having in random instances added a chain between the bobbles that didn't belong there, and having chosen to close the bobble tops always from the front which made the bobbles all pop out on one side.

So I began the morning by pulling out the whole side and starting over. I worked much slower, taking care to address each of the issues and trying to catch as mush of each tail form the row work as possible in my stitches as I went so I would have less tucking and trimming later. As you can see in the picture, I haven't yet finished the first side again.

But I am still pleased with it overall and have decided definitively to deep six the fringe.




So, I need to finish the last several inches on this side and trim the Irish Flags aka the ends of the tails refusing to stay caught in the stitches. (Ed calls them Irish Flags and I'm not sure what the provenance of that slang term is. I guess I need to Google it?)

Next step is to tie each pair of row tails in a knot on the other side then crochet on the bobble border and trim the Irish Flags.

Then I will need to wash it. Possibly by hand. Block it and let it dry. And finally, prep it for the mail.

I'm really hoping now that it will be on its way before the post office closes Monday.

__________________
Arrrrrgh. This project is constantly finding new ways to frustrate and waylay me. Now it's enlisted Blogger in those efforts. Auto save has failed and so has posting which is keeping me from closing this tab and moving on. To maybe stream a movie or watch a DVD while I crochet.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Fringe Flusters



Don't worry, I haven't gone and put the fringe back in. I'm just recycling a picture from a week or two ago as I waited too long to set up a shot of last night's work for this post.


The gist of it is that, having removed the fringe seen in that pic Sunday night, last night I began experimenting with three different fringe concepts that didn't involve those half knots the slippery bamboo won't hold. One was a twist similar to what you might see on one of those old Chenille bedspreads like my Grandma and great-aunt had. I did kinda like that one but it wasn't hanging straight. Not its fault but because I was so eager to experiment with the fringe I thought I could not crochet on an edge first and was trying to work in the same spaces where the previous fringe had been removed. That probably would not have worked even if I hadn't stretched those space out with all the putting in and taking out and tacking stitches I'd tried.

Without a foundation stitch border those twisted fringes were poking out every which way. Also it seemed it was going to take three to fill each spot the old fringe pieces had held. I was also trying to preserve the alternating color scheme. Partly because I am still attached to the idea and partly to hide the tails from the row work which are now too short to tuck into the rows having already been hidden in the original fringe and trimmed to match its under one inch length.

So then I tried another concept involving crocheting a two inch chain and then slip stitching its end back into its beginning forming a loop. That was kinda cool too. But again, sticking out all over the place. but at least it was filling the spot.

Still tho, keeping the alternating color scheme was creating a hassle. It meant, eventually, having all six balls of thread attached to the work and controlling five off the hook threads while working the sixth and making sure to tack down all those threads in waiting with each stitch until it was their turn again. I think its doable but I was becoming less and less hooked on the alternating color scheme.

I also tried a fringe concept where you chain the length you want--in this case I needed an inch or so, and then slipstitch back up it. Also a nice fringe. Also sticking out all over because of the sloppy spaces I was working in.

There was a forth fringe concept I had lined up to try in which you crochet back up a chain in such a way as to turn it into a corkscrew. But I was fairly sure I didn't want it for the afghan so I was eager to move on.

My favorite for the afghan was the first one. The twisty loop one. But if any of the others had worked without the foundation row I might have gone with them. But now I was resigned to needing to crochet on an edge first.

When I first put the white on the hook I was planning a simple single crochet and looking at those spaces trying to judge how many stitches I should plan for each one. I wasn't going to try to put the stitch into the end stitches of each row though as that is where the color switch is joined and some are double crochet and some turning chains and both somewhat reluctant to hold their shape. So I was going to crochet into the space between the row end/beginning and the next stitch in, wrapping the thread around the stitch.

That's when it crossed my mind that the most recent new stitch I'd learned this week--the bobble--would work well in this situation. By working three to four stitches into each space and attaching them at the top I would fill the sloppy edge space, firm up the edge to take the fringe and create an interesting texture all at once.

And while I was at it I gave up the alternating color scheme for the fringe as well. I wasn't going to preserve it for the edge anyway. I considered both blue and white as the color and went with white. It took me about an hour to crochet on that edge and about half way through I was liking it so well that I began to wonder why it needed a fringe at all. I decided to sleep on it before deciding.

I showed Ed when he woke up and he had the same thought immediately even before I said anything about it. I am seriously tempted. I could have it in the mail to my grand-nephew by this weekend if I forgo the fringe.

I still have the pesky problem of what to do with those tails. I tied knots in each start/stop pair before working the bobble edge and tried to catch them in the stitches but not all of them caught and those that did are not completely hidden, poking out everywhere. I'm going to have to go through and tuck and trim 150 odd tiny tails and hope that those that are hidden stay hidden after a wash. On the other side they are still two or so inches and will be easier to control as I stitch the bobbles until they are under an inch at which point it would probably be safe to trim them. Here's hoping. I'll be tying the knots in them as well of course.

I may not be putting the fringe on the baby afghan but I'm not sorry I learned how to do them. I now have four more adornments to add to the bookmark's wardrobe.

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Monday, May 09, 2011

Fringe Flush




I finally defringed the baby afghan this evening. Now I'm looking at all that fringe--what I removed and the rest of what was cut for the two long sides of the afghan--and wondering what I'm going to do with it all now. It is not in me to throw it out. The price of a ball of thread is not negligible for me so even if I did not have the instincts of a hoarder I can't imagine wanting to waste all that lovely thread.

I know now a fringe on an afghan is not workable with the bamboo. It is just too slippery to hold the half knot with normal wear, including hand wash let alone gentle machine wash.

I think it is going to work fine for the bookmarks though. But that is a lot of bookmarks. In the white only there is over 300X3 2" threads. There is an equivalent amount in the pastels spread among five colors. The bookmark patterns use 2 strands per fringe piece and from 8 to 14 fringe pieces per end depending on the width. The one shown above takes 11 per end--six white and one each of the five pastels--that's a total of 22 white threads and 4 of ea pastel.

Hmm. Well if I did my math right, it would take 21 bookmarks just like that one to use up all the fringe cut for the afghan.

Ah, but before I can store the ones I just removed in a tidy fashion along with the rest, I'm going to have to dampen them and lay them out on a clean towel to dry. Yet another tedious task.

I am so ready for this afghan project to be behind me. I was so loving it right up to the moment I stitched the last row. I am just not a good finisher. I have over a dozen sewing projects in various stages of unfinshed. And that's only if I count the bookmarks all as one project. Since I have approaching 300 off the hook of which nearly 100 still need their tails tucked and to be blocked, nearly 200 have had that done but are awaiting their wardrobe of ribbon, beads, buttons etc. Only 30 odd are in a completed state suitable for gifting or sale if I choose to go that route.

I did a post nearly two years ago that accounted for all of the unfinished projects I had at the time. I think it is time for a redo on that accounting as a few of those were finished, several more were begun and finished since then and several more begun and not finished.

Erm, I just re-read that post and only one of the sixteen items on it has been finished. Several have changed in significant ways. And just off the top of my head I could add another nine begun since then and that's not counting this afghan or the several dozen untucked, unblocked, undressed bookmarks.

*shakes head sadly*

My issues with finishing is one of the things giving me pause about putting the bookmarks up for sale. The only reason I'm contemplating it at all is the possibility of earning money for more sewing and craft supplies. Like the 80 odd skeins of DMC thread I need to have if I'm to do the project I have my heart set on for my Secret Santa giftee this year.

Well I guess I should give myself some credit for having finished two shawls in seven months and each on time for the targeted gifting occasion. If not for the fringe fluster I was on target to finish the afghan within a month of my grand-nephew's birth. And I did not abandon the project as I so often have done when finding myself lacking the knowledge or skill or equipment to complete it. And at this moment I'm feeling fairly confident that I'll have a suitable fringe on this afghan inside of two weeks.

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Sunday, May 08, 2011

Sunday Serenity #228



I just spent hours exploring on the Revelry site which is a social network for crocheters and knitters. I even joined. You can find me here.


There are a lot of free patterns shared by members which I spent the bulk of my time just now looking at, sometimes downloading and other times getting ideas for adapting them.

It includes forums where you can ask for help. Maybe if I'd already known about it and been a member I could have asked for help on the fringe issue weeks ago and either had a solution or been assured sooner that there wasn't one.

Still haven't begun removing the fringe pieces on the baby afghan yet. Probably will start that by tomorrow.

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Saturday, May 07, 2011

I Give



I'm letting go of the dream of the fringe I had pictured from the beginning for the bamboo baby afghan. It has taken me over a month since the first inklings of a problem to give up finding a workable solution that preserves the dream not to mention the 155 fringe pieces themselves.


The problem, for those who haven't been following this folly with me, is that the bamboo thread is too slippery to hold a snug half knot and thus the fringe pieces keep loosening up and slipping free of the loop as I continue to work with the afghan. I had gotten not much further than what is visible in the pic at top when I began to notice the problem. But I thought I had found a solution in the use of a slip stick to tack them down so I went ahead an put in the remaining fringe pieces on the one end of the afghan. Then I tried my slip stitch idea and ran into problem after problem after frustration after arrrrrrrrrrrgh!!!!

It began to seem as if I spent half my time or more while handling or working on it snugging down those fringes or reattaching them or keeping them out of the way of the hook or getting the hook unsnagged from them or unsnagging the treads of the fringe from the thread of the tacking stitch or replacing a fringe piece that got too frazzled.

But it would have all been worth it IF the tacking stitch idea had worked. I tried tacking them by crocheting with the slip stitch and then with the single crochet and then using a tapestry needle and a couching stitch. Each one had one or more issues beyond the frustrations of working them as listed above. The stitches bunching the edge of the afghan so it wouldn't lay flat; the stitching creating a stiff, scratchy line on the edge, the fringe pieces refusing to hang straight and poking this way and that--these were some of the most egregious issues.

But I have beat my brain into mush and my eyes into jelly experimenting with possible solutions that always end up failing and researching online hoping to find that someone else has encounter the same problem and found a solution.

No joy.

And that's the crux of it too, because of this problem I've lost my joy in the work. I've really been weighted down with this for weeks now and when I began to seriously entertain the idea of removing the 155 fringe pieces and finding an alternative a few hours ago I had my first inkling in weeks of a sense of lightness in both senses of the word.

I think what helped bring me to the place where I was ready to accept the inevitable was that the last experiment on behalf of the fringe involved crocheting a bookmark on which to experiment on with the fray check. An experiment that failed BTW but during the several days it took to make and fringe the bookmark and apply the fray check and wait for it to set, I made several more bookmarks and explored cross stitch and needlepoint projects online and this has reminded me of the pleasure these endeavors are supposed to provide.


So tonight I researched alternative fringe and edging concepts and settled on three options, all fringe varieties. I'm going to sleep on those choices and tomorrow decide on one and remove the failed fringe.

I took one last picture of the afghan with the failed fringe tonight. Sad bedraggled thing.

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Friday, May 06, 2011

Friday Forays in Fiction: Quote


"A short story is a small moment of belief. Hard, uncompromising, often bleak, the story does not make things easy for the reader. It is a tough form for tough times. If the novel sometimes spoon feeds the reader, the short story asks her to feed herself. A story asks the reader to continue it after it has finished or to begin it before it began. There is space for the reader to come in and imagine and create. There is space for the reader to think for ages, to mull the impact of a story over, to try and recover from it!"
Jackie Kay

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Thursday, May 05, 2011

Not So Unexpected Actually

funny pictures - I hate when that happens!
see more Lolcats and funny pictures, and check out our Socially Awkward Penguin lolz!


Cant' keep my eyes open. Been up since 5am and had big day with Dr appointment and then stop at library and then after dishes I sat out on the porch crocheting while monitoring Merlin on his leash for over an hour. This was the first outing he's had since early November poor kitteh.

It was the first time sitting outside in the evening (or any time) since about then for me as well. And my outing to the Dr and library was the first in a month that I was out of the house.

We had the longest wintery spell this year. There still hasn't been any dirt track racing as the track never has a chance to dry out enough. Race season is more than two weeks past due starting. I only care of course because when the others go I get the house and yard to myself for ten to twelve hours.

Well i'm gonna stop babbling and give into the sleepies before I end up asleep anyway in a position akin to the one kitteh has assumed above.

Good nite

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Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Fringe Follies

The baby afghan fringe is still the main issue on my mind. A part of me would like to abandon the project like I have so many others when I hit intractable snags. But I am making myself stick with this. After last night's post I had concluded that I needed to give up on the fringe and was thus applying my problem solving to choosing a border stitch and solutions for securing the tails from the row work which are tucked into the fringe and trimmed to match the one inch long fringe pieces. Forget the fringe, if I can't secure those tails against the rough handling a baby afghan incurs the whole fabric of the afghan is at risk the first time it is washed.


I had a couple of ideas which I won't go into until/unless I go that route. But one of the ideas involved using a fabric glue or fray check on the knots made of every start and finish tail. That then gave me the idea of using it on the fringe half-knots. But I did not want to test the idea on the afghan. A bookmark came to mind but I did not have one made in bamboo whose design called for the short fringe. So I decided to start one of the mini-scarves out of the bamboo.

While I was at it I decided it was a good time to use a sustained single crochet stitch as I have never used it for more than tacking or an intermittent stitch in a complex pattern. I thought that the single crochet would also firm up the bamboo which tends to floppiness which character I love in certain patterns and stitches and not in others so I gravitate to those patterns in which loose and lacy is a plus which is why I've never made a mini-scarf with the bamboo.

I have made the mini-scarves with double and with half-double. Once I began using the half-double I never went back to the double now I am rapidly developing a favoritism for the single crochet. The drawback is that it double the row work to get the same length. With the double crochet each stripe needed two rows and with the half-double four rows. The single needs eight rows to approximate the same stripe width.

One of the concepts I'm anxious to try with the single crochet is to embroider or cross stitch on a block of it. I've seen it done in patterns and images in books and online and would love to combine my first needlework love with this one like that. I'm picturing an afghan or bedspread done in blocks of single crochet in two or more colors with some or all of them having a small design stitched onto them and then stitched together. That would be a huge project. But each of the blocks themselves would be portable as the bookmarks both for the crochet step and the embroidery step.

I'm planning to make this mini-scarf to echo the pattern iteration in the baby afghan. With white stripes sandwiched between the same five pastels in the same order: blue, yellow, lilac, pink, green. With white on each end that is six whites and thus eleven stripes. I estimate approximately ten inches before the one inch fringe is attached on each end.

From the moment I began this though I did not intend to wait until the row work was done to test the fray check idea. Besides even if at first it seems to work, I need to know if it can survive regular handling so I'm going to apply several and possibly the whole row before continuing the row work and then see how they fair. So far it looks promising. I had to clamp it down for five minutes to get it to take and I've been gentle with it since removing the clamp, refraining from tugging, picking or or poking at it. I plan to leave the project alone overnight now to see how the one fray-checked fringe fares after twelve to twenty odd hours. If it continues to look promising I will put in the ten or so remaining fringe pices and apply the fray check before continuing with the row work.

The final test will be to hand wash the bookmark no less than 24 hours after the other end is fringed and frey-check is applied.

All this means that the afghan is on hold until I finish this test. Two to three days I imagine. I would say less than two if i didn't have a doctor appointment tomorrow and have also been awake over 24 hours as I type this so the next 18 hours are devoted to sleep and the doctor visit from prep to return home no sooner than three and I'm sure I'll be exhausted so I'm not going to expect too much extra out of myself.

Meanwhile I will consider options and settle on a border stitch and pattern in case I need it.

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Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Waaaaah!



I am so so so so frustrated with the fringe work on the baby afghan.


I've been beating my brain on the problem for a month. Well I did set it aside for a couple weeks our of frustration and in order to get the silk shawl done for my MIL birthday last Friday. But I've wrestled with it for hours each day since Friday. With nothing to show for it.

I'm past bored now too. And am itching to get on with other projects both begun and anticipated. Like the one I discussed in last night's post as a potential Xmas gift involving several hundred hours of work that needs to be started soon. But before I can start a new major project I HAVE to get the afghan finished.

I'm about this || close to yanking out all 155 fringe pieces on the one side I've attached them and start crocheting a border instead. I'm beginning to accept that it is the nature of the bamboo thread--its slipperiness--that prevents the piece from staying snug in the half knot that works just fine with most yarns. At any rate my attempts to tack the fringe pieces down with a crochet or couching stitches is running into snag after snag. Literally snags in many cases. I thought late Sunday night that I had finally found the right combination of stitches to keep the loop from loosening and allowing the ends to slip out during the typically rough handling a baby afghan will get.

But when I look at the section that is tacked down I find the fringe doesn't lay right, poking out every which way on some and on some a thread or two has been caught in the stitch wrong and bunches or points sideways. The stitches are also bunching up the fabric of the afghan itself. And the texture of the cotton thread is spoiling the softness of the bamboo thread,creating a thin, scratchy, stiff line on the edge. Something I'm sure a baby's tiny soft fingers will notice and pick at push obsessively away from his face.

As I type this I'm beginning to accept I have no choice but to pull out the fringe and resort to a crocheted border. Two things hold be up though. One is my attachment to the idea of the fringe. I love it's look and feel which matched my expectation of it from the beginning of the project. I hate to let go of the dream of it. But that is easier to get past than the second problem: What to do with the tails from the row work that are tucked into each fringe piece. 155 of them and already trimmed to match the one inch fringe. Thus they are no longer long enough to work into the fabric and I fear the very slipperiness of the thread that is causing the difficulty with the fringe will lead to the row work unraveling.

Oh and a third issue: what to do with the hundreds of two inch threads I cut for the fringe--enough to do both sides. I'm obviously never going to try to fringe with the bamboo thread again.

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Monday, May 02, 2011

Escape into Enchantment


The baby afghan fringe is still giving me fits. So much so I am even beginning to avoid thinking about crochet as it is becoming tainted with this frustration. Then while wielding the needle in an attempt to use couching stitches to tack down the fringe pieces muscle memory reminded me of the joy I once had in embroidery, needlepoint and counted cross stitch. But instead of hankering after one of those unfinished projects I began to yearn to start a new one. Maybe a petit point (18 to 22 stitches per inch needlepoint) which I have always meant to do and must do soon before my eyes can't do it anymore even with 2.5 to 3.0 magnification.

Well I can say I have an excuse to do so in that I would need to start something brand new for my Secret Santa Giftee this year. Of course that could be something crocheted which would be a much simpler and quicker project. But well, I need a good excuse to start something new. :D

I've been looking at the kits online for needlepoint and counted cross stitch. I even found some very likely ones but it will be a couple months before I can afford the $30 to $40 cost of one of the good kits. I prefer the ones of the caliber of Dimensions Gold which tend to have the extra embellishments like gradual shading, blending filament, metallic thread, beads, outlining and other embroidery stitches on top of the needlepoint or cross stitches all of which creates a more intricately detailed work that looks less cartoonish than some of the plainer kits.

I got to thinking though that I had all the thread I needed to get started on a project of my own making. I even have a 10 inch square piece of petit pint canvass tho a yard of aida cloth would not be too expensive. I have some beads though by the time that step came around I could afford to add whatever is missing from the collection. I have nearly a full pallet of thread as once I collected two each of every color in the trays when there was a sale. I'm sure I'd be likely to run out of this or that color once a project got under way but I can easily replace the thread.

So all I need is a picture to turn into a pattern.

I spent six hours online this evening doing image searches on the theme of enchantment, fairies and fantasy collecting possibilities. I was completely surprised when Ed came in to bed. I hadn't done my post yet and didn't want to change the subject in my mind so I continued working planing to post a handful of the pictures. Then I remembered the slide show gizmo.

But I had not be careful to keep track of the artists during the search before I planned to post images. I'd just be getting screenshots of them for my needlework folder. So in order to post the images with a clear conscience I had to go back and find each one again to establish title of work and artist name.

I discovered the artist Sanderson via the Dimensions Gold kit that was made of her Woodland Enchantress. That is the kit I was hoping to get but I can't afford it for two or three more months and that may be too late to get started in order to finish by mid December.

Even after the intense search that image is in my top five favorites. I'm just not sure I should choose it if I can't get the kit that already exists. Whatever project I start I would want to blog about it and if I feel like I'm violating some ethical code I would shy away from posting images of my work in progress or even just admitting to what I'm doing.

But before I can start a new major project I HAVE to get that afghan finished. But that's a story for another post.

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