Goldi's Locks of Yarn

My place to discuss my raging obsession with yarn and crochet along with happenings in my life and the world at large

Monday, October 24, 2005

Greenhouse

Missed my usual Sunday night/Monday morning update. Not that I wasn't still up - of course I was! And for far far too late this time too. I was exhausted but still scrambling to get my living room cleared out, cleaned up and organized to receive my huge household companions which spend their summers outdoors but must come in for the wintertime. That would be my 4 large tropical plants, my "buddies" that have been with me for over 15 years now!

I pushed it to the limit with these guys, having had several nights that dipped well below my usual "lowest" threshold of 40 degrees (lowest was a scary 36, back when I was still wrestling with my beaded shrug project). This weekend really was the first real opportunity I had for the necessary housecleaning I had to do to prepare for their presence again. Tonight, with Phil's help, I got them in!

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"Corny", the tall one, did not do as well as the others this year. His leaves are mostly looking a tad ragged, though there are still some good ones left. Even though he doesn't have all that many leaves, I will have to give him a trim, and perhaps look into adding more dirt to his pot. Although you can't see it, the leaves at the very top are very healthy looking indeed, and are only inches from the ceiling!

"Sheffy", my Sheffelera (forget it, I'm not looking up the proper spelling tonight!) did very well and, as usual, is sprawling all over the place.

Thanks to Sheffy, you may have a hard time spotting my Peace Plant. This plant is in a pot that is not quite as huge as the clay pots the others are in, and the plant is not one that grows much either vertically or horizontally, so I am (fortunately) able to set it on the table next to the couch, where it will get it's unimpeded dose of daily light from my grow bulbs. Thanks to Sheffy, that table can't really be used for anything else anyway, so this arrangement has worked okay for all concerned.

Prior to today, the area now being covered with plants was piled up with bags and boxes of - what else? - YARN! And patterns, and wips, and other crochet and craft-related odds and ends. Next to my "working" chair there is still a mountain of these things, a corner of which is viewable in the above pic, lol! That's the part that sticks out past the front edge of the chair. Getting into the plastic covered 18 gallon crate underneath that formidable pile is a bit time consuming - hope I can remember what yarn is in there! Then there's the clear plastic covered blanket box which sits on top of that, then various bags of yarn stuffed all around and on top of it, along with various other crafting tools and small baskets of whatnot. There's my organization, folks, such that it is! I do have a bookshelf next to that pile, against the wall - but it's all filled with books! We won't even go into the rest of my stash, which is (literally) stashed all over the house (some of which previously resided where the plants now sit). There isn't a room or closet that doesn't hold a considerable amount of it. I can't believe how fast my stash grew - or how broke I am as a result of it! I'll sure be busy this winter, that's for sure!

(MUST stay out of the craft shops! MUST ignore the ads and emails and coupons - COUPONS! OMG - BOTH Hobby Lobby and JoAnns have gifted me with 40% off coupons, AGAIN! And me with NO money! Oh my! Not even gas money to rob... Sigh...)

And here's Benji:
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"Benji" is what I affectionately call my Benjamina Ficus when I talk to him -- yes, I talk to my plants, why do you think they've lasted this many years? This is not Benji's usual spot, of course. I still have to clear the path from the living room, down the very narrow hallway and into this room in order to move him into his usual spot. It will require moving furniture and other items that are simply in the way - but in this tiny house, that's a major chore. I can't just move them across the room because the rooms are so small. They have to be moved out of the room, and a spot found to tuck them (usually blocking the bathroom) for the time being until we get everybody jockeyed into their rightful places. And I wonder why I procrastinate?

His picture looks a little weird, almost like part of him was waving as I took the picture, lol! He had a rather spectacular growing season this year, and his leaves are all green and glossy looking, very luxurious. He looks mahvelous! I hope he will be able to sustain that through the long, dark, cold winter here. Having that lovely greenery here really perks me up.

For now, he will sit in front of the couch, though. I got far too little sleep last night (er, this morning) and it resulted in my oversleeping. In order to save my job, I had to take a half-day at my boss's direction, which on the one hand I hated to have to do (I'm now down to 2 and a half days of pto time left until the end of the year) but ended up working out well for this plant-moving project. But I intend on crawling into bed very early tonight, and spending what little waking time I have left crocheting. I'm still not done with my Harvest Prayer Shawl, since I was too busy to work on it yesterday. I'm anxious to wrap that up so I can dig into my Christmas projects. And there is still plenty more work to be done on this house to prepare for the inevitable winter. As soon as I recover from hauling all those heavy plants around (even with Phil doing the bulk of it with the use of a two-wheeler, I stressed my back out. And my right elbow is giving me serious trouble now too), I will get back to it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Insomnimaniac?

Insomnia sucks. The brain feels like mush and the body just wants to melt into the nearest soft surface. Work? What's that? Boy, can a day go slowly when all you want is for it to end so you can get home and go to sleep, only to find yourself once again wide awake, albeit more thoroughly tired than before. Hopefully it won't get to that stage tonight. I fully intend to get tomorrow's preparations completed, finish my browsing early (by skipping much of it, or this will never happen!) and go crawl under my down comforter with my shawl project well before midnight. I will be starting on my 3rd skein for this project tonight. I would have been at this point last night, but got myself too tied up in trying to catch up on the heavy posting activity of the day after I finished the chores I had assigned myself.

This will be a very nice and warm basic shawl, using the prayer shawl pattern, done up in my favorite Homespun yarn in the fab colorway "Harvest", perfect for the season and one which will go with many things in my fall wardrobe. I will use up most, if not all, of 3 skeins on it, and then edge it all the way around. I have not decided how I want to finish off the ends, but was thinking possibly of a chainstitch fringe of an as-yet-undetermined length. Seeing as how I adore this particular blend of colors, I know I will be getting a lot of wear out of it. I have decided (due mainly to being rather pressed for time with a long and urgent to-do list) not to post wip status pics of this project, besides which it's going to be finished pretty quickly. I started this last Thursday night and, unless other things tie me up in the meantime, I anticipate being fully done with it by Saturday night at the latest So it will be debuted in it's fully completed glory.

As I was working on it last night, I thought about whether or not I wanted to make myself some ponchos. At first, I wasn't all that enthused over the idea, even though I must have a thousand and one patterns for the things by now! But then I got to thinking - as I struggled in frustration with my then currently worn shawl, which I found tended to get in the way when trying to do mundane chores such as feeding the cat or washing dishes, etc., that a poncho might not be such a bad idea after all! It would keep me just as warm (maybe even more so) and would not be so awkward to work around the house in. I had managed last summer to snag the Bernat pattern booklet with the turtleneck poncho on the cover, and I'm thinking I will make a few of these for this winter.

Okay, so I wandered off for a bit, to get a few of my morning preparations done, and already it's heading toward 11:30, so I will post this and get a move on if I'm to meet my midnight goal.

Tomorrow, if there's time, I will talk about the main topic that occupied my sleep-deprived mind (when I wasn't obsessing over staying awake and trying to look productive): getting some kind of plan together for the Christmas projects I would like to do, and for whom. I can tell already that I'm getting overly ambitious with these plans, will have to work out a schedule of projects that will be more realistic - or as close to it as I am capable of getting. I still find it hard to anticipate those unexpected challenges! By now, I should know they will arrive with great dependability, so I can be better prepared (and less hysterical, lol!). I should also know that it usually always works out just fine in the end anyway, and try to save my dwindling hair supply...

Monday, October 17, 2005

Obligatory Sunday night/Early Monday morning post

Well, it's been a mixed bag of a weekend for me. I hobbled into it, literally and figuratively, dreading my long to-do list and somehow managed to avoid by default most of it anyway. Just too wrung out. But I did manage to get the most important item on my list done - tuning up my car, however that wasn't as easy to accomplish as I'd hoped. I had the good fortune to have my friend the mechanical genius just happen to be in town (flew in from Detroit is what I'd heard) to build a shed for a mutual friend in the old neighborhood - near our previous house in McHenry. When asked if he could do it, he said sure, bring the car on down! And so I did. And spent several hours watching him work to lay the foundation of the shed before he could take time out to look at my car, figure out what parts were needed and send me and Phil (who was also there, but getting pressed into slinging the sledge hammer, rather awkwardly I'll admit. But he tried!) off to the auto parts store while he continued to work on the shed. The mutual friend for whom this shed was being built was off at some function, lol! Wiley old coot!

Anyhow, part of the diagnostic routine Mr. Wizard had in mind required that it be dark, and so we sat around for several more hours watching him work on that foundation, which he finished just as darkness was settling in. Not having expected to be gone so long, and the day being a lovely sunny one with temps in the sixties, I had neglected to bring a jacket with me. I got cold. Very cold. And sore, from standing around, with breaks to sit in my car and work on my "brainless" shawl (which I was smart enough not to forget!). His inspection of my car determined that all I needed was a new set of spark plugs (there seemed to be a general consensus between the guys that what I had were possibly the original plugs in my 13 year old car - despite the fact that I have had it tuned up before. Wires were fine - this was what had required darkness to verify. He had also recommended an additive called "Seafoam" to put in my gas tank, to clean the fuel injectors, that had been a little harder to find, but we'd managed to come up with one of the two cans of it he'd sent us off to get, along with the plugs. We then took the car for a spin through the country roads - to reset the computer settings I was told, and to give the Seafoam a chance to circulate. By the time we got back, I could already begin to notice a difference in my car's performance.

I had arrived there a little after 2, pulled out shortly after 7 and headed home, with a stop at the grocery store on the way. By the time I got in, I was beat, and still freezing. Spent the rest of my evening crocheting, finishing up the first skein on my shawl.

Woke up this morning in abject agony. Every part of me ached, but none more than my back, which had taken a beating from all that standing around. I can't handle standing for long periods of time, or rather I should say my back can't handle it. It also can't handle me sleeping for more than about 5 hours at a stretch, or it locks up on me. Yeah, I've got a bum back, and it goes way back. I have to be real careful with it, but especially as the weather gets cold, or it's likely to go out on me without prior notice. At least so far it's giving me some indications which helps me to avoid the things that will send it into lockdown. So today, I did virtually nothing. Not too happy about it, especially since those plants have to come in next weekend - no more delays! But my car is now running like a dream again, and hopefully I won't be going through the gas as heavily as I have been. I still need to find a good source of that Seafoam though, it was recommended that I put a can of it in every two or three fillups. Hopefully my local auto parts store will have it, will be swinging by there on the way home from work tomorrow.

So, I'm off to bed with my shawl, to lay down a few more rows and then pass out for a few hours. As usual, I don't look forward with much in the way of anticipation to going to work tomorrow. But I'm too tired now to rant about that so we'll leave it at that.

There's more I could probably write, but I'm just too pooped. If it's important enough, I'll remember it next time I post!

Friday, October 14, 2005

Special Giftie!

In all the flurry of frantic crocheting and sewing these past several days, I have not had the chance to get the necessary and proper picture taken of a very special gift I received from a dear friend this week. I finally managed to get that done tonight, and am proud to present this lovely handstrung peach pearl necklace and earring set worthy of a daughter of Neptune! Is this not exquisite?!
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The "green" stone is actually aquamarine reflecting the green backing. I tried taking the pic over a purple background, but the green allowed more of the details to show through.

We are to have a lovely day tomorrow (today) with temps in the 70's (okay, so I know the apostraphe is not supposed to be there - but it doesn't look right without it!), and I have an outfit in mind that should work very nicely with this set. I'm wearing it tomorrow!

Many many thanks to my fishy sister! This was the highlight of an otherwise anxious and stress-filled week, the perfect antidote!

TGIF!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Rest of The Story

Gonna try and keep this uncharacteristically short. I'm seriously ready for bed, it's been a long week - but at least it's almost over! As far as the shrug saga goes, though, it IS over. Yeah! I was really beginning to think I was going to be stuck in some kind of an infinite loop where this thing would never get finished.

It's tricky making an article of clothing for someone else, especially with as few fittings as we were able to manage, but it looked good on her and I think it will do what she desired, and look nice too.

I sewed the very last stitch, took a couple of quick pics and then jumped in my car at 8 pm last night for the hour-long ride to her place. She had worked late, and was trying to gather everything and get packed for her 1 pm flight the next day. I wanted pictures, and she was worried about her dress fitting, so we were in agreement to go through a full dress rehearsal of the outfit, the pics of which you see below. The seed bead trim hangs in little loops all the way around the edge of the shrug, as well as on the sleeves, this loose stitching allows for a little bit of stretchability, but not a lot; however, on those areas the stretchiness wasn't as critical since it ruffles outward. So she should have full mobility in it, and a subtle bit of sparkle.

I ended up sewing one small embellishment on it after all (this was the last thing I did). Because of the composition of this little jacket, it's really hard to tell top from bottom! Technically, it would normally not really matter, but because of the special side panels I made (they needed to extend further than I wanted the top and bottom to be), it did. So I sewed a little heart on the collar where it folds back, so she'd have some way to orientate it when she goes to put it on. The symbolism wasn't lost on her either!

She was planning to take her camera, and will try to get some shots of herself in full regalia (hair, makeup and all, which were obviously missing), and eventually there will be the wedding pictures to plunder once the newlyweds get back from their honeymoon.

And already my mind is turning to what crochet mischief I can drive myself nuts with next? That luscious roving keeps calling to me, I started working on separating it tonight and am hoping to sink a hook into it this weekend! I also have several other projects eagerly trying to wave me down, and I really have to start thinking seriously about those - gasp! - Christmas presents that need doing as well. So I suspect I'll be soon happily tearing my hair out and moaning my fate here before too long again! Stay tuned for the next Crochet Nightmare saga! That is, unless my hooks fly unerringly through the yarn and no frogs are in sight... Yeah, right!

Well, this isn't exactly "short", but for me it is!

Shrug Shot 3

It was late.  We were both tired.  She got silly, and my hand shook!  That's my story and I'm stickin' to it!
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Shrug Shot 2

My daughter wearing her new shrug.  We had a quick try-on with the dress.
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Shrug Shot 1

I was just too wrung out to get these posted last night.  This is a quick shot taken of the back, before delivery.



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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

It's Wednesday...

...and now here we are, past our deadline and still not finished. Oh, and one of the things I forgot to mention in all my rants is the fact that I have not been feeling well for the last several days. That has certainly not helped, in fact it is the principal reason I am running behind. But, due to my obsessing over this project, I have tried my best to just ignore the discomforts (it's that painful "middle of the cycle" deal again, and man can it be painful, especially combined with my chronic back troubles. It's hell getting old!), except when they became insistent. For the most part, I've been fairly successful at it, but it has still slowed me down considerably.

So, I gave up on the idea of the embellishments, and proceeded to try to get the trim done. Only to be met with MORE frustration! I started by restringing my seed beads onto a double strand of thread (I just knew a single strand wasn't likely to hold, no sense putting all that work into something that isn't going to last. Just wish I'd thought of it sooner.), which fortunately didn't take too long. I'd figured out a fairly quick manner of getting them strung, so I got that done and then set about to getting them applied to the edges.

My idea had been to attach the strand by running a second thread (I'd planned to use the #10 for this) with slip stitches to grab and hold the bead strand between each shell. Well, easier said than done! After several unsuccessful attempts, I threw up my hands in frustration, figuring I wasn't even going to be able to get this done! Then I decided to try one more thing - sewing the strand on, tacking it down, again at regular intervals. And that finally worked. Only problem is, as slow as I am at crocheting, I'm even slower at hand-sewing! By 1 am, I'd managed to attach about 2/3 of the long strand around the body of the piece. I still have the sleeves to do.

And it's now Wednesday. The day this shrug is due for delivery.

I ended up calling in again today. I still feel crappy enough to justify doing so, though I'm not crazy about using up my pto time (pto = paid time off, as in vacation and sick days) too quickly. This will leave me only 3 days until the end of the year, and who knows what lies ahead? But I will take advantage of it to get the damn project finished if it kills me, and then I will have to make arrangements for how best to get this to my daughter later. She leaves for Vegas, and the wedding, tomorrow (the wedding is Saturday or Sunday, I believe).

I'm not totally thrilled with the way it looks, but at this point, I can't let my perfectionism run amok. It doesn't look bad, just not like I would like it to look, and frankly it still bugs me that I couldn't do the embellishments the way I'd wanted to. It's pretty obvious the only way that would have worked was to sew each bead on - carefully - by hand, a very lengthy process (especially since it's me doing the sewing!). But, with the trim, and the embellishments I'd managed to add to the starting fabric, the shrug should provide a bit of sparkle and shine, in an understated sort of way. The edge of the shrug, once done, will be edged with about 95" worth of seed beads. It will take about 26" of same for each sleeve. Due to their weight, there was no way I could have used the much easier to maneuver 6/0 beads for this trim, the shrug would have been dragged down by it. No doubt, once this project is done and out of my hands, I will be cursed with flashes of brilliant hindsight on how I could have done things better, easier, etc etc. Guess I'll just have to file those for future reference. If I'm ever crazy enough to attempt something like this again!

I will be soooo thrilled when I can finally say "this project is done!", and I can resume my regularly scheduled life! This has so consumed me that far too many things have been left unattended in the meantime. I will be scrambling to get the long overdue cleaning and reorganizing done on my house so I can bring my large houseplants back in (I got lucky last weekend - they survived the one seriously cold night we had, when the temps dipped into the upper 30s), and see about sealing this drafty old house up to conserve the little amount of heat I'm going to be able to use. I also need to get started on some things I need to make to help me survive the lower thermostat settings (shawls, lapghans, handwarmers, etc).

Okay, so I think I've allowed myself enough "wake up" time. It's time to get back to wrestling with beads...

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Deadline...

...and it's not lookin' good for the beads, folks.

I'm trying real hard not to get hysterical - like I did the other day - it doesn't help.

At this point, methinks nothing will.

Being the stubborn lass I am, I will probably try at least once more, an effort to add to the four previous attempts to do what I want to do, yet can't seem to. I just wanted to apply some bead embellishments along the back panel and around the sleeves. I'd even quit worrying about the "stretchability" issue...

Gawd - what ELSE could screw up? While I'm sitting here whining on my keyboard, I heard a "slithery" sound, something definitely not belonging here. Except when there are strings of beads everywhere... Sure enough (don't know how that happened), the strand of 6/0 beads I'd been working with had somehow decided to slither off the worktable here. One side is secured with a bead knotted on the end, the other (naturally) is not. It conveniently had slid between the table and a shelving unit a few inches from it, not an easy place to be retrieving a string of beads. I tried, and thought I was successful, in finding and grabbing the UNsecured side to lift the strand out of it's tight spot, but... yeah, I heard little beads go tinking off, never to be seen again (until I move, probably). It wasn't many, but still...

Anywhoo, where was I with this whine? Oh yes, applying the little buggers. I have a panel of three solid double crochet "rows" on this shrug (technically, they're "rounds", not rows, but for beading intents and purposes, I am viewing them as rows. Not like it's making it any easier!). I had some really pretty sparkly twisted bugle beads, about a quarter of an inch long I thought I would use for this, making a zig-zag pattern across the middle of the three rows, capped at top and bottom with the 6/0 beads. My idea seemed easy enough, especially since I'd determined that I wouldn't have to worry about the fabric stretching (or needing to stretch) in this area. I could just sew them on...

Maybe if I had another full week of Sundays, I could get this done. But it is now heading for 8:30 pm on Tuesday night, and this shrug needs to be placed into my daughter's hands tomorrow. I can't get those zigs and zags straight if my life depends on it! I've been at this for several hours now. After realizing that I can't sew beads on straight on a stretchy yarn (to begin with. We won't even mention how slippery everything chooses to be, or how much cat hair seems to keep leaping onto this black shrug, driving me crazy as I pick them off constantly - oh yeah, and my hair too! I am literally shedding all over this thing! And lint - this thing is a magnet!), I decided to abandon the pretty bugle beads and try just sewing on a strand of seed beads, anchored at intervals with the 6/0s. I tried it two different ways, and the result was, well, childish looking, to say the least. It just plain looked stupid, and I still couldn't make even zig-zags, nor can I make straight and even "U" shapes. At this point, I'm not even sure I can lay this string on and sew it down in a straight line!

It doesn't help that my manual dexterity, never all that great to begin with, leaves loads to be desired. It's kind of hard to work with tiny beads and gossamer threads and teensy-tiny needles when your fingers feel like sausages around them. And thanks to my attack of nerves, I broke out in a major skin flake around nearly all my fingertips, further hampering things with the constant snagging of threads and yarns on rough skin. I think I've gone through a half a bottle of the heavy-dutiest hand lotion I own! The lotion gets sucked up and is gone in practically minutes!

It would be funny if it wasn't so pathetic. Sigh...

I think I may have to abandon this idea. I still have the seed bead strand to try and apply to the edges of the thing, not real sure about that right now either. I think I have to restrand them all too, before I can do that. I failed to consider the fragility of the sewing thread when I strung them all originally - though in my defense, I hadn't thought they'd fit on more than a single thickness. What is it that people usually use with these beads anyway? I don't think I recall ever seeing any mention of that anywhere I looked when I was in my research mode.

Beads are pretty. They are shiny, and sparkle beautifully. But they are a major PITA to work with, at least with clothing items. Maybe that's why there was no information about it online. Everybody else already knew that!

Well, on the (somewhat) brighter side of things, other than the stupid beads, the shrug is done, right down to the weaving in of all evil ends. It does look pretty even without the beads, and probably will fly just fine the way it is. And it fits her, we had a fitting yesterday, which gave me the opportunity to make minor adjustments along those lines. But it's not what I wanted. Instead of elated, I feel deflated over this project.

Well, I'm off to see if there's going to be any way to at least get the edges trimmed. That had been part of my "bare minimum" requirement for this project, I've got to at least shoot for that.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Labor Pains (massive)!

Okay, now I HAVE to write about this, before I do some serious damn damage. I am LIVID. I am SEEING RED!!! I am ready to hang up my hooks, give away all my yarn and QUIT!

I can't keep a pattern straight to save my life. Dropping stitches. Adding stitches. Checking my work is useless - I don't even SEE the damn mistakes until I've reached the spot on the NEXT fucking row! I am SOOOOO PISSED!!!!

I have been working feverishly - and with great anxiety as I watch the clock run down toward the deadline when this MUST be completely done - on the shrug for my daughter. The design isn't hard, it's a simple rectangle to start, with crocheted rounds of the stitches of my choice around the edge after sewing it up on either long side to create "sleeves". It's based on the schematics provided by a generous soul who calls herself "Mrs Who" at CVille, found here.

Me, being me, I decided the shrug, which I'm making from Lion Brand Microspun in Black (first challenge: working with a color that swallows all available light and demands more in an environment sadly lacking in that department), wasn't "fancy" enough. It needed something to make it sparkle: beads. (second challenge: choosing to work with materials never before attempted).

I scrambled around for a week to several different Hobby Lobbys, collecting what I hoped would be a large enough supply of beads for the project (this being my first attempt, I had no way of knowing how much would be "enough"), they just happened to be having a half-price sale on said beads that week, fortuitously. Then I set about trying to take a crash course in the best ways to work with beads on clothing, finding not much in the way of information available. Plenty of how-tos for making necklaces and other such items, but no embellished clothes.

So then I spent some time (far too long, unfortunately) thinking things through, and stringing as many beads as I could, after working out and acquiring the right sizes of thread/string the different sized beads were willing to slide onto. The 6/0 beads went very nicely onto the black #10 crochet thread I bought, but the 10/0 beads said "no way!", and so I went and bought a small cone of black sewing thread, which they liked better (but now I'm worrying the thread, which is VERY thin, might not be strong enough!), all the while puzzling how to apply them to the project. It occurred to me that I couldn't just crochet them on in strung fashion, because neither the #10 thread or the sewing thread will stretch, and this shrug needs to maintain that ability. So I came up with a clever solution (at least for part of this project): knotting a small cluster of the 6/0 beads on a short length of the #10 and tying it to the centers of the spiderweb pattern I'd established for the rectangle. That worked very nicely, but it took forever and a day to hide all 100 loose ends! Until I got that done, though, I couldn't progress with the rounds, and I found myself running into this weekend still stuck at that point.

This shrug MUST be complete and ready to hand over for use by Wednesday!

So, this gave me only this weekend, plus two (very short) evenings to complete it all, beads and all (I still have more beads to apply!). So I started into the weekend already in a full-blown panic.

I don't crochet well when I'm hysterical. To add to my misery, the PMS has kicked in YET AGAIN (barely done with the last cycle, good ole menopause - when does the "pause" come???). But, by late last night (early this morning, truth to tell), I had managed to make enough progress that I had started to calm down a bit. I had laid down several rounds on the body of the shrug, and it was shaping up quite nicely. Looking good - maybe I can make it after all!

I picked up the work late this morning, having slept in to make up for the extremely late arrival to bed, and proceeded to work the next round (with the thought it might be the last, though that has not turned out to be the case yet, as I try it on for size each round). I got several stitches into this new round - and ran into the first mistake. Instead of the 2 tr-ch 1-2 tr, I'd made 2 tr-ch 1-3 tr! Arrrgh! Panic immediately set in, as this meant I would have to frog the ENTIRE previous round to fix the error, since it occurred at the beginning of the round! I looked at it, contemplated it and thought about my shrinking timeline - and decided to live with it. It wasn't that noticeable, though it bothered me greatly (being the perfectionist that I am). And so I continued, on until I nearly finished the round - and ran into ANOTHER error! This time, instead of the 2+1+2, I'd done a 2+1+1! AGAIN, it would have required the frogging of a full round of work to correct it (and I was already feeling the blood pressure rise from the fact that my visual inspection hadn't caught that before I'd started this round). Again, I decided I would just have to live with it, I simply did not have the luxury of time to be frogging that much work to fix these errors.

Feathers ruffled, I finished the round and had the usual try-on, determining that yes, one more round at least was still needed, and so I proceeded to start it. Just reached the end of it a short time ago, only to discover that ON THE VERY FIRST SHELL, I'd ADDED a stitch! ON THE VERY FIRST ONE!!!

Mt. Goldi erupted over this one! The lava is still flowing hot and heavy! Because of the prominent placement of this particular error, I have to frog THIS ENTIRE ROUND! And here it is, 4 pm on Sunday - and I still have the sleeves, not to mention the beading, to get to! Oh yeah, and there are some unavoidable chores I have to squeeze into this day as well, before the misery of work tomorrow. My head is NOT in a good place!

The right thing to do would be to frog all 3 rounds to fix all 3 errors (it's otherwise going to be driving me crazy, knowing they are there). But can I handle that kind of a set-back with this deadline breathing down my neck?

I don't know yet if I can do it, but I am looking at the notion of taking Tuesday off from work, to save on gas, since I'm short on money for it, as well as to give me at least one more full day to work on this thing. That would at least take some of the pressure off and give me a little more wiggle room. But it's not going to help if I keep making stupid mistakes like this and losing any of my valuable time reworking what I'd already done!

It is now very obvious to me that I no longer am able to work well under pressure - I've discovered that in spades at work, which has become a personal hell for me as a result (they keep upping that pressure to where it's near my breaking point now, but that's a rant for another time). This never used to be a problem for me, but now it's become rather routine, and that frankly freaks me out to the max.

Somehow, I'm just going to have to take a deep breath, calm down (writing about it is helping), and then get to frogging...

Here's a pic of things so far.
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I'm really hoping I can persevere, because the shrug in my mind's eye is mighty pretty indeed. I really want to see it get translated to this piece of fabric. If I don't destroy myself, and it, in the process of trying!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

On the Hook, off the Hook (or maybe in over my head?)

Only Time will tell, and lately he's not talking!

Wellll, "tomorrow" kinda came and went, and no, I wasn't sleeping that whole time! I've just been up to my eyeballs busy, and distracted, and, well, tired! And I've been battling - and losing - against my old arch-enemy: Time. I don't remember things being this hard when I was younger! Of course, it's really difficult to get much done when you consistently don't make it home until 9 or 10 pm, and then have to spend part of those precious few hours of "free" time preparing for the next grueling day, all the while obsessing - but not progressing - over the latest and most challenging project of your life! Ah well, and so it goes...

My current crochet obsession, one which has had me tied up in knots with anxiety (why do I do this to myself?!), is the shrug I talked my daughter into commissioning from me to wear with her bridesmaid's dress a little over two weeks from today. She had expressed some trepidation over wearing the dress alone, with it's strappy top - being a very well-endowed and heavy young woman, she tends to like to hide in her clothes, but there's nothing to hide in with this dress, lol! So I suggested that a shrug would probably do the trick, and a style immediately sprung to my mind's eye, and I offered to make it for her. She, not being too anxious to go on a shopping hunt, promptly agreed, putting dear old mom on the hot seat to perform!

I spent about a week tossing around ideas in my mind for the stitch pattern I would use, having already determined that I would use the "Fluffy Pink Shrug Schematics" so helpfully posted at my favorite crochet hangout, Crochetville. I finally decided on the spiderweb stitch from the Crochet Stitch Bible after trying it out, along with several other candidates. In the meantime, I hurriedly scrambled to finish up some small projects I had promised to other folks, to clear my schedule for concentrating on this one big one. I managed to make two of these little soap saver bags, one was for Phil who had requested it, the other was purchased by a guy I work with, he'd also requested one when he saw the original ones I'd made for the bathroom and kitchen swap.
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I love this pattern, it's very easy to do and the bag turns out really nice! This is the Chain Stitch Soap Saver, from Marlo's Crochet Corner. She also has a matching face cloth pattern, the two go very nicely together as a set and would make a good gift. I used this blue variegated cotton yarn from Lion Brand (I'm not sure, but it may have been discontinued as I got my supply out of clearance bins, good for my pocketbook but a shame otherwise!), which made it seem a bit more "manly". Both guys love it! I know Phil is using his, I took a peek into his shower to see it hanging in there, all filled up with his little pieces of soap, lol!

I also managed to finish up the shrug I made for myself using the Lion Boucle yarn and the pattern from the new Family Circle Easy Crochet magazine, which I posted about here last Tuesday.

I still have some other odds and ends wips waiting for their turn, which I will get to eventually, but on with the main project!

So, I had settled on my pattern stitch, and had decided to use the marvelously soft Lion Brand Microspun for this shrug. Isis's bridesmaid's dress is a deep, rich wine color, and after conferring with her it was decided the shrug would be done in black, which is a large girl's best friend of a color. In the Microspun, it has an almost velvety quality to it, with a nice sheen, very classy!

Okay, I'm a little fuzzy on the timeline here (that old battle fatigue setting in, heh!). I believe it was two weekends ago when I actually started to work on this, having made a modification to my original stitch pattern plan due to the fortuitous arrival of the latest Crochet Fantasy magazine - with an item made with a spider stitch pattern! Yes, it is the the ponchette which graces the front cover, and that version was actually much simpler to do than the one in the Crochet Stitch Bible, plus it had the added benefit of a nice framing stitch pattern seperating the webs which gave it a nice symmetrical look, so I decided to switch to that.

It took me some time to work out the stitch multiples calculation in order to modify the pattern from the magazine for my needs, and in the process I discovered that there was a definite error in the number of starting chains needed for the ponchette pattern, at least for the larger size. Although I can't verify with certainty that the error is the same for the smaller size (since I pretty much ignored that size while working out my calculations and crocheting my swatch), I would imagine that it could have the same error in it. If anyone attempts to make the ponchette pattern in the smaller size and comes up over or short at the end of your first (or, more probably, the third) row, you'll know. The larger size called for a starting chain of 84, which when worked would theoretically provide 6 spider stitch repeats across (which until I reviewed the pattern again while writing this little blurb, I had believed it to be 5 and had proceeded under that assumption. This actually means the pattern may be even MORE screwed up than I originally thought!). When the ponchette is assembled, the pattern becomes vertical, but I wanted mine to remain horizontal, so I wanted to double the width of the pattern (assuming the repeating pattern to be at 5, I wanted 10 which worked to my sizing specifications based on the gauge I got) and then work five repeats for the height of my starting rectangle for the shrug. With me?

In order to do that, I had to figure out what the stitch multiple was, since it wasn't given in the ponchette pattern. It took me awhile to determine that it was 14+6 (plus an additional 6 for the starting chain). Had I tried to just double the number of chains for the larger size (which was given as 84), I would have ended up with 6 extra chains at the end of my first row. and my pattern repeats would still not have worked out correctly. So, finally armed with the number of chains I needed to create to start my project (152), I charged forward with it! I got the base rectangle completed pretty quickly, considering how little time I've actually had to devote to any "leisure" activities lately, and conducted the first "fitting" with Isis that following Friday. I wanted to make sure it would be wide enough at the sleeve zone, and to determine how much I would have to sew up on each side to make the sleeves and provide a snug, but not too tight, fit across the back. We almost didn't get that crucial fitting done that day, as both of us were crazy-busy all day, but we managed to sneak off to the handicapped bathroom late in the day, where we could have the necessary privacy for her to remove her top while I did my fitting and marking of seam lines, lol!

Here is a shot of the base fabric.
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The spiderweb pattern provides a nice, lacy look to it, don't you think?

As I worked on it, I was thinking (I know I know - dangerous thing to be doing, lol!) about what kind of edging I wanted it to have, and how to dress it up more. This was, after all, to be worn at a wedding, and really should be fancier than your average sweater! So, I came up with the idea of adding beads to the design...

It just so happened that Hobby Lobby was having a 50% off sale on all their beads that particular week, and I ended up visiting 3 different stores several times over the course of the week, snapping up as many of the sizes and colors of beads for this project as I could get my hands on, not knowing exactly how many I would actually need. Of course, I did also buy some other colors/sizes because I couldn't resist them and I figured I'd be wanting to do other things with beads once this project's through! Here's a shot of the beads I grabbed primarily for the shrug:
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Now all I had to do was figure out how to get all those beads ONTO the shrug! I can't tell you how many hours of reading and browsing, experimenting, and just plain thinking I have invested into this part of the process! I'll save all those details for another time, since (obviously) while I'm sitting here writing about it, my project is not progressing, and it MUST! But I wanted to at least get this up here so people would know why I've been awol for so long. I owe people responses, and I'm hopelessly behind literally EVERYWHERE in my online world, and that's not gonna change until I get this project done. But hopefully I'll have some knockout pics to post when I reach the finish line. If I haven't lost my mind by then!

I sure don't know how to pick 'em easy! Guess I love challenges - or flirting with a potential nervous breakdown, lol!