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

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Four Things...

Okay, I know I'm supposed to be getting ready to leave on my errands, but figured I'd toss this one out too before I go. This was the result of some of my browsings on my bloglines (which, as with everything else, I'm hopelessly behind on, but I digress...). I wrote this up and drafted it early this morning.

Spotted this meme on Cordelia's blog and decided to give it a spin, since for once I could actually think of answers to most of the questions without straining my brain!

Four Jobs You Have Had In Your Life
1. Babysitter
2. Nurse's Aide
3. Partner in P.I. agency (now those were some interesting times!)
4. Accounts Payable

Four Movies You Could Watch Over and Over
1. Creator
2. The Spitfire Grill
3. Any Cirque Du Soleil video (I own 3 - magical!)
4. K-PAX

Four Places You Have Lived
1. Chicago, IL
2. Palatine, IL
3. McHenry, IL
4. Kenosha, WI

Four TV Shows You Love(d) to Watch
1. X-files
2. Dr. Who (particularly the Tom Baker era)
3. Any of the Star Trek series
4. Murphy Brown
(haven't watched regular TV in over 6 years)

Four Places You Have Been on Vacation
1. New Orleans/Baton Rouge (my heart aches)
2. Sedona, AZ (my Love lies sleeping)
3. WI (lots of camping, before I moved here)
4. IN (had a summer trailer there, place of best times in first marriage)

Four Places You Want to Visit
1. Peru
2. Mexico
3. British Isles
4. Italy

Four Websites You Visit Daily
1. Bloglines (doesn't seem to help though - I'm hopelessly behind, as already mentioned above)
2. C'ville (usually, except when I'm short on time - I can lose whole days here, and have)
3. Weather Underground (as much for the pics as the weather reports, which you can set for your specific location and then save link - here's my pic for today)
4. Information Clearing House & Truthout (a tie - my primary sources for alternative news)

Four of Your Favorite Foods
1. Kemps Denali Double Fudge Moose Tracks (must. not. run. out of it!)
2. Rotini pasta slathered in slow-cooked (as in minimum 12 hours) from scratch spaghetti sauce with homemade HOT Italian Sausage chunks
3. Phil's "Chicken Iguana" (chicken breast chunks stir-fried with every vegetable that didn't escape, lightly coated in a creamy alfredo sauce over pasta - yum!)
4. Fresh baked whole grain bread, spread with melted real butter (salted, please!)

Four Things Currently on the Floor in Your Car
1. Ashes (blush)
2. Big quartz crystal cluster (on the hump between driver and passenger side - it's my guardian)
3. Towels
4. Snow/Ice scraper/brush (this is the Midwest, after all)

Like Cordelia, I tag no one. I hate putting people on the spot. If you feel so moved, go for it.

Scrambling to catch up, as usual

It was a rather nasty weekend here, both inside and out. Outside, it pretty much rained for two days straight. Good news was that it was rain, due to the unseasonably warm temps (mid to upper 40's), bad news was that all that "warmth" was wasted on me. I couldn't get warm to save my life - except deep in the night when I woke up Sunday night - twice - drenched. I mean sopping, dripping wet! I had gone to bed fully dressed because I was so cold, with a turtleneck sweater on, and the heating pad on my back, which was acting up something fierce, and still shivering despite all that and a down comforter with an extra blanket on top! And a cat! But not for long, poor Meeps - it's pretty hard to rest when your mistress is tossing and turning every few minutes. Apparently something shifted, though. I think it was somewhere around 4 am when I awoke practically in a puddle and desperately stripped down to the barest of essentials. I had been sneezing violently all weekend, too, along with the other usually reliable signs of a cold - I'll spare the rest of the details! Let's just say I feel much better now.

So, after having lost the whole weekend... Okay, I'll admit, it wasn't a total loss. Since I was incapable of crocheting and too weak to sit at the computer for more than a few minutes at a time, I decided it was finally time to crack open that Harry Potter book, which I did late Saturday afternoon. I turned the final page shortly after midnight Sunday night. As I went about my routines yesterday, my thoughts periodically strayed to the story, and I contemplated J.K.'s strategy - where is she heading, where is she taking us? The story of Harry is, ultimately, a Hero's Story but also a classic story of someone on a shamanic path too. It is a pretty impressively imposing tale for a "children's tale". Having read "The Half-Blood Prince", I now understand fully the silent distress of the fans of this series, particularly those who have a soft spot for Snape. In case there still be those who have not yet made it through this latest installment, I will say no more, except to urge J.K. to finish this series up with the seventh and (supposedly) final installment soon - VERY soon! I say supposedly only because there is obviously an awful lot that must occur in this last book to bring the tale to a satisfactory conclusion - unless, of course, the author chooses not to grant us that, but to leave us dangling. A choice I will agree is the author's right, however I must point out that it is one not generally used (or recommended) in a children's tale. Let's face it - the child in me cries out for full closure, as I'm sure it does the vast majority of children young and old that have taken this journey with Harry. And, quite frankly, the mother in me yearns to hug that boy tight - he could sure use it.

And so I - and a bazillion others - await the release of that final adventure. Not to mention installment 5 on our movie screens! Regarding the video segment of this tale, I must admit that I deeply miss the presence of Richard Harris as Dumbledore and wish he could have held out until the series was finished. I much prefer his Dumbledore to that of his successor (which I'm a bit embarrassed to admit I don't even know the name of). Harris had Dumbledore nailed to the penny, he was Dumbledore. So far, from what I've seen of him, this new Dumbledore seems to lack that special warmth that Harris was able to exude in the part. That "soft and gentle" element is missing in his performance, at least for me, don't know how anyone else feels about it. Of course, it is hard to follow in the footsteps of another actor in filling such a huge role, so I will cut the guy some slack. But, could anyone imagine anyone else playing the part of Snape in place of Alan Rickman? I can't, not at all, and I can certainly understand how he would have developed such a loyal (albeit now distressed) following. It will be interesting to see how Episode Six is handled on the big screen...

But enough of my childish meanderings - it's time to move on! A few weeks ago, I had picked up several clear crates at Wally-world to store my stash (or rather, some of it :blush:). I got 2 large and 3 smaller ones, on sale. I managed to almost immediately fill both of the large ones, bringing them reluctantly to the basement with all of the contents well-sealed in clear ziplock freezer bags inside the clear crates, so they will be well-protected and I can still see what's what. Then I got busy with other things, and the 3 smaller crates sat, patiently waiting their turn, which finally showed up late Friday. Except I ran into a teeny bit of a problem. I couldn't find the lids.

As crappy as I was feeling, I still spent a considerable amount of time over the weekend hunting all over the house - not that it took all that long, as small as this place is - there's not that many places 3 plastic crate lids can hide in here, not to mention even less places I'd be likely to stick them, were I a sane person (which at times like these I doubt). Still, I went over the place several times before going into phase two of my hunt: searching my memory files for the one that showed me placing those lids in the stack of crates, carrying them home and putting them somewhere! Much to my horror, I could not recall with certainty that I did, in fact, do this, the certainty being the ability to "run a tape" of the activity in question with the clarity I've always relied upon with my former photographic memory. I recalled wrestling with that big stack of crates with lids and other things inside both at the store, the car, and once I got home with the loot, even recalling where I had stacked the lids to get them out of the way (a place I had checked literally a DOZEN times over the course of the weekend, only to come up empty handed). I finally had to admit to myself that it was possible that I had somehow managed to forget to grab those 3 smaller lids - and that it had taken me TWO WEEKS to notice they were missing! I miserably contemplated my odds of being able to convince some store manager at Wally-world to give me the lids without receiving any grief over the tardiness of my discovery. I'm sure it happens frequently, but that didn't bring me any comfort. Not knowing what to expect, I emptied the two crates I'd filled before making my discovery, stacked them near the back door to be dragged to the car and found my receipt, then went on with other chores and activities.

One of those activities was the preparation of a blocking board so I could finally get my doily blocked. I had picked up a large panel of ceiling tile which was supposed to be 24x60 in size at Menards. I am going to have to stop back at THAT store too, because the panel I have is most definitely NOT 60 inches long, as I discovered. It should have been the exact proper size for the padded cutting grid I had picked up at JoAnns earlier in the month, but it turned out to only be 48 inches long! Well, no matter - I recalled that all the panels were the same size, whether they were mislabeled or not, and I hadn't seen anything better to use. So I set about wrapping the thing thoroughly in plastic wrap and packing tape, to keep it from crumbling all over my living room, then reached for my ironing board to set it on. And found my missing lids, cowering behind said ironing board! Which prompted the return of that missing bit of memory, and a great swelling of relief - no need to eat crow before some anonymous store manager. I happily turned to the task of blocking my doily and blocked the unbidden thoughts of my increasingly frequent absent-mindedness.

What a job! I think I spent a good hour or more pinning that sucker down, checking measurements and adjusting to try and make sure I was, indeed, stretching it evenly in all directions. In the process, I also discovered a previously missed error - a missed treble and picot in the last round. Considering how difficult it was for me to spot it, I'm not going to worry about it - besides it's well past too late for that now!. After satisfying myself that the doily looked passably round and as evenly shaped and pinned as I felt able to get it, I sprayed it down with the spray starch I'd purchased a few months ago in anticipation of this event, following the instructions on the bottle, which stated it was "fast drying - about an hour". Perhaps, had I just dampened the doily before starting this ritual, maybe it would have only taken an hour. But since I gave it a thorough washing and it was therefore much more than merely "damp", I suspected it would take considerably more time than an hour before this doily would be fully dry and ready to be unpinned. I was right - it wasn't ready for it's "unveiling" until about two hours ago.

But I did get a picture of it in it's pinned glory - and the picture showed me what my bare eyes could not see: the crisp, beautiful lines of the design showing that I had, after all, pinned it fairly even! See?

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I am so proud of myself! I know this first blocking effort is far from perfect, and it will take some practice before I will be satisfied that I'm doing it right, but it turned out pretty darn good anyway! Okay, I'll try not to break my arm here. (To view a larger version of the above pic, go here.)

I have since unpinned this baby, and later (when I have more time for it) I will set it up on the same pillow I used for a final photo-op before I carefully wrap it up for it's recipient. I will say this - as much of a PITA blocking is, the results are SO worth the effort! And I think I achieved just the right level of starching too, not so much that the item is stiff as a piece of cardboard, but enough that it will hold it's shape - picots and all - and show off it's lovely pattern to it's fullest. Now all I need to do is get that half a dozen snowflakes done, and then I can reclaim the half a living room now being taken up by my blocking/ironing board.

Okay, I could sit here rambling all day long, but I have a long list of errands to run, so I will save the rest of my meanderings and other odds-n-ends for later. It's far too easy for me to procrastinate - I really don't care to leave the house unless I must, and today I must! I have several items that must make it to the post office today...

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Attention all threadies!

Check out today's free pattern from Annie's Attic! A really cute pineapple motif vase and tissue cover set! Get it while you can!

Oh Happy Day!

FINALLY! I am pleased to announce that I have completed my FIRST EVER DOILY! Yipee! WOO HOO!

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It taxed my patience (which has been in severely short supply lately) to no end working on this thing! It really wasn't all that hard to do, I was merely hampered, as usual, by my own ineptness. I think it would be safe to say that about a third of the stitches that make up this doily were executed at least twice due to my tendency to lose the loop from the hook on the way through, most often on the second pass-through of the trebles. Once dropped, there was no way to recapture it as the yarn-over loop would usually slip off as well, or stretch out intolerably. I also had to re-do numerous stitches after completion because the top loop came out too loose, no matter how hard I tried to keep the tension tight (yet not too tight). The loops constituting the top of the stitches that jumped across a space were the worst. I think I may make a post asking for tips from the expert threadies at CVille on how best to remedy that so I can save what little hair I have left, lol! Then, of course, there were the numerous times when I came out of the finished stitch with only part of the thread on my hook - I was amazed at how often I managed to split the thread! And those little buggers were HARD to disengage from my hook when that happened - in fact, as you will recall, I had a mini-disaster with that problem early in the project!

Despite all these problems, I surprised myself by making very few actual errors on this project, unlike nearly all of my previous ones. I only had to frog back for a correction once, that must be a record! I'm hoping this is the start of a trend!

I finished this late late late last night, but my eyes were so blown out by that point that I couldn't see well enough to hide the last tail, so I had to wait until this morning to do that last necessary bit. It still needs washing and blocking - and then it will REALLY look spectacular! - but I couldn't wait to share it. So here it is, in all it's glory!

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This was the March doily from the Leisure Arts booklet, A Year of Doilies, Book 5*. I used one ball of Aunt Lydia's Crochet Classic #10 thread in a pastel variegated and a steel #7 hook for this project. I plan to gift this to my mom for her birthday next month, I know it will knock her socks off. Can hardly wait!

(*You can see a picture of all the doilies in the book from this link, but the price is inflated. Here's another source for the book. It doesn't appear to be available at Annie's Attic anymore, though I just may not have looked hard enough. I got my copy for half price (about $5) at Hobby Lobby, which has been having an ongoing "instruction book" half price sale, to clear inventories.)

I am currently waiting (impatiently) for my jimbo hooks, which are on the way - maybe they'll arrive today? He shipped them Saturday, so we will have to wait and see. Naturally, I will post a picture and report as soon as they arrive! I have an afghan project all set and ready to be started as soon as I get them so I can give them a proper test run. I am going to be making the Quilted Trellis ghan from the Lily Chin book Mosaic Magic* which I had gotten for half price at JoAnns in early December. I have spent a good deal of time drooling over the patterns in this book, and have inventoried my stash to find enough materials to make at least 3 projects plus most of the materials needed for a couple more - good stash-busting projects. I need it! I am up to my eyeballs in yarn here, lol! Not that this is a BAD thing, mind you, and I still lust for more (crazy me!). At least I have ideas for most of it, just have to get on the stick and get 'em done! I just wish I wasn't so dang slow at it.

(*You can see a picture of the book here. For those hunting for a copy, I found a reasonably priced one here - I've never purchased from this online source before, so don't consider this a recommendation of this seller.)

Anyhow, wanted to share my joy.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Those promised pics

I guess all those weeks of sleep deprivation finally caught up with me. Almost immediately after I made my last post, I went to bed and was soon out like a light, woke up a little before 8 this morning. It has taken all morning, however, to loosen up a bit, and my right arm is still giving me hell for the workout it was forced into yesterday. So, whether I like it or not, I will have to take it easy today. I have plans on making major strides on my doily, though I will have to take frequent breaks, both for the sake of my arm and my sanity. I am in full PMS mode today, which I discovered as I was redoing yet another stitch for the umpteenth time because the loop had snuck off my hook and refused to be recaptured without the whole thing coming undone. I will NOT repeat what I said when that happened, lol! I had to walk away from it at that point, and go cool off. My patience level is in the basement today, lol!

Well, I've been promising pics for days now, let's see if I can get them posted finally!

First off, here's a couple of shots of the loot I came home with the other day...

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I had some time to kill before my dentist appointment, plus two 40% coupons to cash in, so I toddled on over to the Super-JoAnns in Vernon Hills. Most all of the other JoAnn stores within my reach are of the smaller variety and limited inventory, so I don't like to pass up the opportunity to visit this one too often. I used up my 40% coupons on the Lion cotton because I have not seen that color anywhere else, and I had been lusting after it! The beads were clearance priced and too pretty to pass up. And the material... All of the "home decor" fabric was on sale at 50% off, and this stuff just caught my eye. It is gorgeous! I have a notion in mind of using it as a lining of sorts for some small thread bags done up in a mesh stitch so this lining will show through. Other ideas are in mind as well, and I have enough here for several of them, some of them may even incorporate the matching beads. I am such a magpie for colorful, sparkly things, lol! Even if I never use this fabric on anything, it's almost worth it just as a piece of eye candy! Everybody that walked by the cutting table while it was being measured out had to comment about it, lol!

I spent so much time in JoAnns that I almost didn't make it to the shop where I picked up the items in the next picture. I had discovered there was a LYS not far from my dentist's office, and I'd wanted to visit, but I seemed to recall they closed at around 4 or 5 pm. My appointment was at 3:40, and by the time I got to the neighborhood after my JoAnns foray, it was after 3, nowhere near enough time to go browsing in a store full of yarn goodness before having to rush off to have my teeth drilled! Considering the weather forecasts and not knowing how long I would be at the dentist's, I didn't think I'd have enough time afterward either - I was hoping to beat the weather home.

I got to the dentist's about 15 minutes early after lollygagging a bit and was surprised to discover that they were running slow and could take me right away (how often does that happen?!). I had dragged my feet coming in because I was so early, had I known, I would have gone in immediately, but no worry. It all worked out. I was out of there shortly before 4, so I decided to swing by the shop and see if it was still open. It was raining, with a small amount of snow mixed in, by this point, so I thought I might still be able to beat it home.

The shop was open! Even better, they were having a sale - 40% off ALL yarn! How could I resist?
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This shop, Basket of Stitches, located in Palatine Illinois, has apparently been there for about 5 years or so. It's very tiny, tucked into a row of storefronts on a one-block long street in a congested area. And it looks like it's been there for centuries. The shop had a rather dingy look and was rather disorganized and messy looking and, unfortunately, so was much of the yarn. Many had lost tags or ball bands, making them harder to identify. It was a bit of a disappointment, actually. But I did find the above and with the 40% markdown, at very reasonable prices, especially the Gallway - I would LOVE to go back and get more of that, they had lots of it in different colors. I had even contemplated getting some Noro to try out, but it seemed to be one of the worst as far as the messiness I mentioned above was concerned - I couldn't even identify most of it. Despite my disappointment in the ambiance of the shop, I was pleased with my selections, and got out of there with arms and legs intact. Of course, said limbs were then put in danger of being lost on the hazardous ride home, which I probably could have avoided had I not made that stop, but all is well that ends well!

Next up is a few trips down memory lane!

This picture shows my first attempt at making a wearable, it was from a pattern I've had for YEARS, clipped from a magazine a long time ago (mid-eighties, I believe). It was also the first thing I made after my long hiatus from crocheting, and I was still programmed to reach for the Red Heart, which this is made from. I started this in early spring of 2001 and didn't complete it until the fall of 2004. It didn't turn out too bad, considering that I had to almost relearn everything I knew about crocheting in the process of making it and, as far as wearables go, still didn't know squat! It fits, but just barely - I'm a little too busty for it. Still, not bad for a first effort!
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Next up are a couple of pics of a baby afghan I made for my daughter - when I was pregnant with her 28 years ago! I still have some of the unused yarn in my stash, believe it or not, lol! I gave this to her last year after I ran across it in my storage, but I didn't think to take any pictures of it before I did. Earlier in the week, I remembered this and asked if she could provide me with some pics of it, and here is the result:

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I remember putting the final touches on this thing while in labor, lol! I must say, it's certainly stood the test of time - it doesn't look like it's almost 30 years old!

Off to find some mischief or, even better, to see about making some more memory lane-worthy materials!

No title comes to mind

One of these days I'll manage to get this multitasking thing down right. In the meantime, I continue to muddle along focusing on one thing or another to the neglect of all the rest, until their time for my undivided attention rolls around. There hasn't been all that much along the way of exciting stuff to report, and so I have bypassed making a post to my blog - beyond last night's oh-so-exciting pictures of Midwestern snow - for a few days in the hopes that I could talk about something a little less ho-hum than the usual "I'm not making any visible progress on much of anything" posts.

I will say that I actually am making some progress on my doily project, finally! I am now over halfway done with round 16 (of a total of 20), still struggling with loose and loopy loops, as well as dropping my loops off my hook while in the midst of executing my stitches, or (worse yet!) not catching the full thread when I'm pulling it through. All of these problems often force me to pull out just completed stitches and redo them, in order to correct for my sloppy errors. If I could count all those re-executed stitches as part of my project, I'd have been done with it by now, and be well into a third of the way through a second doily! But it is really beginning to take shape and is looking nice! Dare I hope that I might be able to finish it before this weekend is over? I sure hope so! I won't allow myself to get upset if I don't though, that just ends up adding to my excess stitch count!

Beyond my doily, though, the only major accomplishment I seem to be able to point to for today is the snow shoveling I had to do. I don't know what the official total accumulation was, but from my decidedly UNscientific viewpoint, there was at least 10 inches on the ground, quite possibly even more since the snow was trying hard to melt away as the forecasts had suggested it would so it was compacting itself. But that only made cleaning it up more of a challenge. Wet snow is very heavy snow! It clogged up my snow blower repeatedly, and there were some areas where I had no choice but to wield the shovel to finish the job. On average, if I don't stop for a rest, it takes me about an hour to clear all walkways, stairs and the driveway. Today, it was about a two hour job, and the worst was trying to clear the end of my driveway, where the plows had piled up large heavy hard chunks of ice and slushed-up snow from the street. My back is a bit iffy but okay so far (knock wood), but I'm worried about my right arm. It is hurting something fierce, even though I did my best to not stress it too much.

I feel fairly certain that what I am suffering with in this arm is what is commonly known as "tennis elbow". I determined this after spending some time browsing through the sport bandages and wraps at my Walgreens, looking for something to wrap mine up with. I had settled on an elbow wrap, which straps around the bicep just above the elbow and again at the top of the forearm just below it. The wrap did help reduce the pain but it was otherwise uncomfortable to wear, too tight around the upper arm and it made me sweat like crazy under it. So tomorrow I am taking it back and will check out the other, lighter contraption I had considered and passed up. Until then, I will just have to take it easy. Now that's not going to be too hard to do - I can't even keep my eyes open as I type this! I think it will be a very early one tonight. I have pics to share, but again they will have to wait. I'll try to get them up tomorrow, unless I catch a second wind. But don't hold your breath on that!

Nifty new tool

Day before yesterday, I received in the mail an item I ordered after reading about it on Crochetville, and after a very enjoyable evening spent working my project without straining my eyes, I am happy to say that it was money well spent! It is a headlamp, a contraption that is strapped to the head and has a small, very bright light beam that shines on your work, illuminating it. I've been massively frustrated by the lack of good lighting in this house, no matter how many lamps I have lit. And, to be honest, my eyes aren't up to par lately, either - they need all the help they can get! It's so much easier to work my stitches now that I can actually SEE what I'm doing, yay!

This little headlamp was a much better investment than any full-sized lamp I could have come up with. Along with size, proper placement is a primary concern, as it won't matter how bright the lamp is if the light it casts doesn't correctly illuminate the work between my hands, and that was a problem I kept running into, repeatedly. No matter where I placed my light source, I couldn't get the full illumination needed, and it was usually my own hands that would block that light because I had no good place to set up a lamp that could shine from behind and above me! Even had I been successful with the light placement, I would have run into the other obstacle: I would have been locked into that location, or would have been forced to schlep a full-size lamp from one favorite crocheting spot to another. Either that, or I would have had to invest in additional lamps.

All of these problems have gone bye-bye, thanks to this little high-tech solution! Moving to another work area is now merely a matter of grabbing my stuff and going, no more elaborate setting up routines! And that's even if the next work area happens to be in the car, or the dentist's office, or at Phil's watching a movie in a darkened room, his preferred ambiance. Have light, will travel. True, I look mighty geeky with this thing strapped to my forehead, lol, but I don't care! The only issue I've had with it so far is that it is not padded enough for me, my forehead is feeling a tad bruised where it sits. But I'm working on a solution for that, in the meantime I swiped the cotton bedding out of one of my small jewelry boxes to stand duty, and that's working quite well! I anticipate getting a very great many hours of use out of this thing. Many thanks to whoever it was that shared that link!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Winter wonderland...

As always seems to be the case, I had a dentist appointment this afternoon, scheduled right around the start of a well-aimed snowstorm through which I had to struggle homeward once I got away from the drill. Good news is that I made it home in one piece, though it took me nearly twice as long to make the return journey as it took me to getting there. Oh, and I did do a bit of shopping while I was in the neighborhood, more on that later! And that "one piece" bit almost didn't happen either, due to stupid drivers. But I'd rather forget about that, especially since I DID make it home intact!

I'm not sure when the snow started falling here, though from the accumulation thus far when I got home, it couldn't have been coming down too long - there was only about an inch or so. This was around 7 pm. Since temps were hovering around the freezing mark, the snow was a rather wet affair, with big fat fluffy flakes fluttering down (try saying that five times, lol!). By 10 pm, our accumulations had developed to this:

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I snapped this shot from my back stoop, where my rolling trash can resides in the winter time. This was three hours' worth of accumulation, and it was still coming down heavy! I got these two shots of my backyard, again from the stoop. The snow transformed my bare yard into a winter wonderland! If you click on the thumbnails here, you will go to a desktop-sized version. What blew me away was the clear image of some of the snowflakes that were falling at the time I took this pic! In the first one, that is one very large snowflake! The flakes in the second pic were falling directly in front of the camera, so of course they looked big. I loved the way my fence got transformed, and you can see the tracks of some critter, most likely a cat, that went running through my yard earlier.

(Hey - anybody know how I can get the thumbnails to display side by side?)

By the time I snapped this last shot from my kitchen window, the snow had slowed down to a light sprinkling, and I suspect that the melting had already begun. As you can see, the pile on top of my trash can didn't grow all that much more in the approximately 2 hours that passed since I'd taken the first shot.

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Meeps was too funny - she wanted so badly to go out that she wouldn't leave me alone, leading me first to the back door and then the front (hoping for a magical change in conditions). Each time, she crouched on the doorjamb, contemplating her options and finally resigning herself (for at least five minutes) to the fact that there would be no chasing of mice tonight, or whatever it is she occupies her nights with! The third time around, she got so desperate that she actually hopped out there, and then tried to sneak around to the front by hugging the house, where the snow wasn't quite as deep. I gave her about 5 minutes and then went back to the door to check - barely got it open before she came streaking back in, lol! That last one convinced her!

Okay, it's late late late, and I've had no opportunity to work on my doily today, at ALL! I'm having severe withdrawals! I have several other things to share, but they will have to wait until tomorrow so I can go take care of these withdrawals. I'm up to Round 15 of this 20 round doily, hoping I can speed it up as I approach the finish line. It has taken some getting used to working with a size 7 steel hook, but I'm getting there. Hopefully as I become more comfortable with these tiny hooks, my speed will improve. A doily like this one should only take me an evening, not a full WEEK to get it done! I'm also anxious to finish it because I feel like I can't start any more new projects until I do, and I have several I really want to sink my hooks into, including a few gifts that will most likely miss their target dates no matter what I do.

More tomorrow (actually, later today - shhhh!).

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Doily World

I thought I'd share a WIP shot of my doily, the one that was moving along nicely until I hit that snag the other day. I took a picture of it just before I cut the thread to remove the damaged section - maybe better eyes than mine can spot it in this pic! At any rate, after I snapped this shot, I took a deep breath and *SNIP* I went, and proceeded to carry on, even pausing after I got several stitches completed to hide those tails so I wouldn't have to worry about them later.
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Since then, I haven't had as much time as I'd have liked to work on this, am now nearly done with round 9, which I hope to finish shortly and make an effort to make progress on round 10.

I also took a quick picture of some of my pattern book loot from Hobby Lobby, my doily pattern stash enhancement (and a few others). I'm pretty excited about these!
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I think I can safely say that these will keep me pretty busy for some time to come!

Okay, off to work on that doily...

Lovely evening!

Once again, I find myself lost in futility, trying to catch up on things online, but this is now a good thing, imo. It means that I am not spending as much time in compulsive-driven activities, but I do wish I could report that it also means I'm getting loads of my "to-do" stuff done as well. A quick perusal of the messy space I call home tells me this is not the case, though I do take heart from the fact that some progress has been made. More is surely to follow! So I will allow myself to get backed up with my blog, and reading other people's blogs, with hanging out at Crochetville and with reading and writing emails. Hopefully, my friends will understand!

I spent a good amount of time online still, however, over the past few days. Shopping! I'm sure things would have gone much more quickly if I didn't have the old "resolving host" issue slowing me down, often to the screaming point, but beyond that, I spent a great deal of time browsing several different sources of good yarn, looking to put a knock-out package together for my Winter Wool swap partner, Dawn - without spending a fortune doing it. I know I could have just ordered it all from Knit Picks, their prices are so excellent that it's not hard to put together a package that includes multiple balls of woolly goodness - but I wanted to provide a real variety. I'm happy to report that I think I have succeeded, but won't know for certain until the packages arrive, hopefully quickly! I can hardly wait to put this package together and send it off to her, and I'm already imagining her squeals of delight when she receives it. Pretty confident of me, eh? Lol!

I spent a wonderful evening with Isis tonight. She treated me to a movie that I've been wanting to see on the big screen - the latest Harry Potter. It was my first ever experience watching a movie at an IMax theater too! I enjoyed it very much, even if my butt did start getting numb and sore a little over halfway through - but I took no breaks, didn't want to miss a single moment of it. Very impressive! Now I'm wondering, how soon until #5 comes out? I'm also going to have to find a way to set aside the day and a half I will need to read #6, which has been sitting next to my yarn for a few weeks now, taunting me. But the yarn has been taunting me louder, so thus far I was able to resist Harry's call. Since I know I cannot read a book like this with lots of breaks (once I crack that cover, I'm gone until the last page is turned), I have to know I won't be neglecting anything important while I'm lost in Hogwarts! For the same reason, I've been doing my best to ignore the new(er) Dean Koontz books that I know are out there (Phil even notified me of one he saw at the library not long ago), as well as several other books I would love to dive between the covers of.

There's been another reason I've been resisting picking up all these good books, though - my inability to concentrate. But I'm beginning to feel like it's returning, so now may be the time for me to find out. Harry gets to be first in line!

In other news, my computer is acting squirrelly again, reminding me that procrastinating on getting those maintenance tasks done isn't helping. Last time it gave me a scare, I managed to back up a bunch (though by no means all) of the files that were important to me. I need to do that again, hopefully scooping up new stuff as well as the previously skipped stuff - and then get to it with the maintenance. Usually by the time I'm finished with the backing up, I'm too pooped to continue with the rest of it, but I must not let that stop me this time, and hopefully the back-up tasks won't take as long since there are less files to save.

Because of my computer's squirrelly behavior, I was unable to get it to recognize my camera yesterday and thus couldn't retrieve a couple of pictures I'd taken to share. I checked a little while ago, and everything appears to be working just fine now, so I will share those pictures separately. Coming right up!

Once I get those pics posted, I'm gonna try and catch up a little bit at the "Ville, then it's off to crochet myself to sleep. I was too busy all day to get a chance to work a single stitch, can't have that! But I had a good excuse, for once.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Winter Wool!

I had mentioned previously that I was going to hold out on you with one of my happy-dance items to report, and for good reason: I had photo manipulations to attend to before I could post my news and no time for said manipulations as I had an appointment to rush off to. I'm all set now, so - drum roll, please!

I received a package in the mail! It was a box, stuffed with wooly goodness from my swap partner Eliany, aka LaniK! Looky looky!!!

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Sigh... I just LOVE Knit Picks yarns! And Lani treated me to a nice selection of colors and weights, including a hank of color-your-own lace weight. She even thoughtfully included several envelopes of Kool-aid for me to dye it with! I've already got some ideas on what I want to do with this one - as well as the yummy Shadow laceweight in the gorgeous heathered color Sunset. I have LOTS of laceweight projects planned, with a good selection of both the Shadow and Alpaca Cloud on hand - which is why I'd been so anxious to get that swift! This laceweight, I think, just may end up becoming another Seraphina - or maybe a lacy scarf. I've been reviewing several different pattern ideas for a crocheted version similar to the knit ones.

Then there were the 3 balls of Wool of the Andes in Blueberry, and 3 balls of Palette in Hyacinth, oh yeah! I am contemplating several possibilities for these two, may have to wait for them to provide some inspiration for what they want to become.

They are all soooo soft! But then, what have we here? Ahhhh, the Andean Treasure! Talk about soft! And the lovely heathered color - she sent me Moss, which absolutely got me to drooling all over myself! I have a total weakness for heathered yarns, I love them so! I had previously picked up a couple of balls of this wonderful yarn in the Sunset color and had spent a good amount of time just petting it - it's so hard not to! But I couldn't make up my mind what to do with it. When these new balls of this luscious yarn arrived, the lightbulb finally went off!

I've had a sweater pattern that I really wanted to make, been hunting for over a year for the perfect yarn in the perfect colors for this project, and I think I've finally found it - in this Andean Treasure! Later (not tonight) in a separate post, I'll give more details about this, but to keep from turning this "Thank You!" into yet another of my long rambling messages, I'll save it. So, Lani - hopefully you will get to see at least this yarn used in a project very soon! I can't promise I'll be able to show all of the yarns you sent me "in action" real quick, but this lovely Moss yarn definitely won't be one of them!

Along with my yummy yarns, Lani sent the Kool-aid, as I mentioned before, a small sticky note pad (I love these things and use them constantly - and this one will be fun to use!), and some wonderful smelling hand lotions. Now I know you've been reading my blog, Lani, to know how much I need and use lotions all the time! The HG Green Tea is one of my all-time favorites. And I had to try out the Gardenia one right away, and ran around sniffing my hands all day, lol! People probably were giving me furtive looks and rolling their eyes behind my back, but what do they know? Maybe I should have just stuck my hands under their nose too, lol!

All in all, I am feeling TOTALLY spoiled by the wonderful package you put together, Lani - many many thanks! I have a feeling I just crossed over today into the world of yarn snobhood, these yarns are definitely going to spoil me now for sure. I just hope I can do as good a job of putting Dawn's package together for her! I'm certainly going to have fun trying, though. After spending several hours over the past few days browsing all the possibilities, I am just about ready to start my shopping, yippee! I will probably have a ball of Andean Treasure clutched in my other hand while I do, stopping to pet it every now and then!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Ay Yi Yi!!!

I amaze myself, I really do! I cannot believe the propensity I have for screwing up with every dang project I touch!

I finally decided the other night that it was time to save my hair - and what remained of my sanity - by setting the Cosetta shrug project aside for awhile and moving on to something else. Yes, I had caught myself up from the last frogging session. Yes, I have to frog it all AGAIN! That's what comes from working without a pattern, though, goes with the territory - it's all trial and error after all, but I seem to be more prone to error in my trials with this thing. Best to just let it cool for awhile. I haven't buried it, it's still sitting out, just taking a break while I dive into something else I've been itching (severely) to do - make a doily.

Searching my faulty memory databanks, I don't recall ever having successfully made a doily in the past. I know I've always wanted to, and I do remember diving into a project once, an oval dresser scarf. I don't think I got very far with it, however, as I had much to learn about working in rounds and such. All I remember is that my oval took on the shape of a canoe, lol! Beyond that, I don't recall.

I did successfully make a small handful of snowflakes recently - though they have yet to have tails woven in and be blocked (finally picked up the pins the other day, still have to come up with a decent blocking surface). I've also been picking up some doily pattern books here and there, on sale and with those nifty little 40 to 50% coupons, as well as browsing the pattern books at Hobby Lobby, which have continued to be on sale for 50% off. Naturally, I am drawn to the most complex of the doily patterns out there, fool that I am! Who am I kidding when I think I can tackle one of these advanced projects as my first? Ha Ha! I MUST be nuts!

I actually did have the nerve to try and start one of these little marvels but didn't get too far. At the time, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't stay focused on it long enough to even run into trouble with it! I got 2 rounds done, and there it sits. I think I also came to my senses, somewhat, in realizing that I was about to bite off more than I could chew with it. So I went hunting for something a bit simpler for my first ever effort. I found a nice pattern book, at half off, at Hobby Lobby earlier this week - A Year of Doilies #5, and picked one out that didn't look like it would be that hard. With Cosetta relegated to the sidelines temporarily, I got started on it the other night.

It took me awhile to get used to the tiny hook - a #7, with which I seem to have the talent of using to split the #10 thread I'm working with! Not to mention losing my loops on a regular basis and being forced to start my stitches all over again as a result. But I slowly got the hang of it and was rolling along nicely. As of last night, I was almost finished with round 8, and my doily was looking mighty nice indeedy! I was excited!

I stopped a few stitches shy of the end of the round, having become insecure about whether I'd made any mistakes in the round or not - I had been working on it while watching a movie (Shakespeare In Love - LOVE it!), and I wanted to review my work and make sure I'd gotten the right number of chains in the right places before continuing. After a short review a few moments ago, which assured me I'd worked the entire round without error, I decided to continue for a little bit before getting ready to leave the house on some appointed round of important errands.

Bad idea! Having just slurped down a large cup of espresso to help me wake up, it wasn't long before the jitters it caused created a HUGE problem with my stitching. I had finished off round 8 and joined to begin round 9, and was in the process of performing a couple of slip stitches to start the new round as indicated in my pattern when - horror of horrors! - I split my thread. Again! Only this time it was the worst it's ever been, as I hadn't noticed I didn't have the whole thread on my hook as I attempted to pull the slip through. The thread caught, and stupidly I tugged on it a bit harder, which only served to distort the thread and knot the stitch into place! I had to get under a real bright light with my magnifier and a needle to get it unstuck, but it caused the strands to tear... CRAP!!! So now I will have to cut the thread, rip back several stitches and rejoin (with resultant hated tails to hide) in order to continue with this project! I feel like a crappy King Midas with my crafting efforts lately - instead of everything I touch turning to gold (for good or not), it keeps turning to crap! Sigh...

If I wasn't so damned stubborn, I would have given up a long time ago! But I honestly truly do wish things would go a little smoother at least once in awhile!

Okay, now that I got that uber-whine out of my system, on to happier things. First off, the much anticipated, and sorely needed, check finally showed up today, so the first item on my agenda this afternoon is to fly to the bank and get that puppy deposited. When I wasn't tearing my hair out over my project woes, I was spending much time browsing catalogs and websites, trying to make up my mind what to get for my swap partner for the Winter Wool swap, as well as some yarny choices for my planned gift projects (sweater for Phil being the most prominent on the list). I think I've spent a fortune on wool in my mind a dozen times over this past few days, lol! Best to get it out of my system before I do the actual shopping, so I don't go overboard! I will say, it's been fun letting my imagination run wild with me, picturing myself buried in a mountain of wool, tee hee! I would never have allowed myself that luxury if I hadn't had the ability to indulge a small part of it, though. I've always hated "window shopping" when I have no money to spend. Knowing I can have at least a little of what I want makes it less of a torture - otherwise I tend to break out in a rash from all that drooling!

Hmmm, I have another (super) happy thing to report, but I'd rather not bury it in this lengthy post. I will make it a separate entry, to give it the full attention it deserves! But since I have run out of time - I have an appointment in a few hours, and several stops to make on the way - I will have to save it for my return. For now, I will just post this, and then get my snaily heinie moving. Even when I have places to go and things to do that I look forward to, I find it hard to push myself out the door - dang this stupid agoraphobia! So I must stop using this as my method of procrastinating. More news later!

Oh - note to self: remember to update profile, silly!

BTW - thanks for your comment Regina, and I can hardly wait for that jellyfish pattern! You rock!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Shruggin' struggle

Seems like the past few days have zoomed off on me! As much as I'd like to say otherwise, it pains me to say I haven't much to show for my time either. On the positive side, I've stayed busy with various and sundry things. On the negative side, I look around me and wonder what they were.

Same goes for my crocheting. I had decided that I would put my full focus on the Cosetta shrug for awhile, since it wasn't making any progress for such a long time. I am having to battle the urge to drop it again and move on to other more pressing projects waiting to be begun. But I've forged ahead - only to have to return to "square one" far too many times due to one stupid error or another. I suppose I should forget about trying to work on this project while watching movies. Granted, my crocheting picks up speed and I get farther along than I've managed in the recent past - but what good does that do when you have to undo every advance you make?

The other night I got several rounds done on the shrug while watching a really good movie, Gattaca. Yesterday afternoon, when I picked it up to start up again, I spent about a half hour fruitlessly hunting for the starting point of my rounds - this, despite the fact that I had a stitch marker placed at the join spot from several rounds down (when I'd last moved it). I finally had to accept the truth that I couldn't find that stupid join spot because it wasn't there - I had (almost immediately after marking the spot, apparently) switched off to working in spirals! I thought about just trying to continue with the spiral but scrapped that idea after realizing I'd have too difficult of a time melding my pattern stitch for the edges into it and no easy way to transition from the spiral to a joined round. So I went to town frogging - about 10+ rounds of work, including going past the addition of a new ball of yarn. When I was done, I had a HUGE pile of yarn on the couch next to me - two, actually, thanks to the second ball involved.

I did manage to work my way back to the point where I'd been when I had to start frogging, the piles of yarn are now back into the project - and I was careful to mark that join spot - and perform the join! - all the way forward, and just a little bit beyond where I had started out before this frogging session. But I'm still feeling a bit discouraged over this pattern, I feel like I've been working on it forever, and I still have a long way to go. Curse this mental challenge I seem to be dealing with lately! If I don't stay focused and concentrate on what I'm doing, I screw up - and sometimes even that doesn't work! The worse thing is that I've also been having so much trouble staying focused and concentrating! Having a movie on was supposed to help in that department, and to some extent it has, but not enough, because it's now a distraction in itself. Can't win!

I've got numerous other projects clamoring for my attention in the meantime, but I am resisting the lure of their call until I get this done. The only other project I will allow myself to work on is Iris, my Seraphina - because I don't seem to be having a problem staying with the pattern and I don't have to think very hard while I'm working on it. It has finally developed it's own rhythm - albeit a slow one - and I am able to maintain it with much more ease. Which is a good thing, since I have plans for making more of these.

Still, I need to get this Cosetta project done. I have at least 3 gifts I need to be working on NOW (all three birthdays fall between the 25th and the 19th of Feb), as well as several other gifts I want to get to, things I had been hoping to do for Christmas but couldn't move fast enough to accomplish. And. I have the materials to make several afghan projects I've been dying to get to, doilies I want to make, etc etc yada yada. So much yarn, so little time (or brain)! But I don't want to set Cosetta aside. I worry that if I were to put it away for awhile and come back to it later, I might discover that I don't have enough to finish the project, and there would be no more available in the stores. That's probably more my obsessive-compulsiveness thinking (I feel pretty certain I actually have more than enough, actually - due to the same syndrome), but there you have it, my main motivation for not abandoning this project now. Besides, I'd like to wear the darn thing before next winter!

This can be a problem - this worrying about having enough yarn - when working on a "patternless" pattern. I'm following the shrug schematics provided by "Mrs Who" (married to the good doctor, I presume? That was always one of my favorite shows, especially the Tom Baker series) at Crochetville, but it's difficult to estimate the amount of yarn that might be needed. Knowing my penchant for going overboard, I probably have enough to make TWO shrugs out of the supply I put up of this yarn, lol! Yet still, I worry about not having enough... Sigh.

After I had ripped out all that work, I decided to take a (short) break from Cosetta, and picked up another one of my WIPs - the Tweed Tote that has been languishing since spring. Only to discover that I had screwed that one up, too - and will probably have to start all over again from scratch because of it. All in all, a very demoralizing day with the hooks.

But! The good news is - my Swift is coming! Today, I received the highly-coveted email for 50% off one item online, which I promptly applied to my swift order, then applied the gift card I got for Christmas from my sweet daughter. Thanks to that coupon, the gift card covered the entire purchase! So now my swift has been ordered and will be winging it's way to me. I can hardly wait to get it! I have LOTS of winding of laceweight hanks to do, so it will get an immediate workout. Gotta do the happy dance...

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(My thanks to Micky for having this cute little gif in a blog post - I just HAD to save it to use for moments like these!)

Because I've been trying (albeit dismally) to start catching up on other things, I have stayed offline at Crochetville periodically. I lose SO much time whenever I log in there that I have been limiting myself with that forum. But I'm dying to know what's been up with everybody lately, so I will probably log in tonight and check it out. Hopefully I'll still be able to get some crocheting done too. With all the projects I want (and need) to be working on, I don't want to not crochet at least a little bit every day, and I find it impossible to crochet at all when I'm on the computer.

But for now, I must get cleaned up and dressed, and get out the door shortly. I have a dentist appointment in a couple of hours, and it's almost an hour and a half's drive to my dentist. When I worked, it was only about a half hour from there, but I'm not there anymore so...

Hoping I'll have another completed project or two to show off soon. Many thanks for those comments folks, I really love them. And for those who are contemplating making Etaria's hat - go for it! While working the post stitches can be a bit tricky and tedious, the results are so spectacular as to be worth every minute of it! I would love to get the other hat patterns she's designed, as well as the matching scarves, as these would make perfect gifts - and I am considering using these to make some sets for donating. These are some seriously warm items and would be perfect for that role, as well as handsome.

Okay, off and running. Hope everyone's having a great day!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Misc Saturday Meanderings

Last night, I got so drowsy around 11 or so that I actually went off to bed before midnight, a rare and unusual event for me. I had forgotten to mention this, but the same thing happened to me on New Year's Eve (Happy 2006, btw!) and was in bed by 11:30 (on NY it was closer to 11). Both times, it was with the hope that I would actually just sleep straight through until morning and actually get more than 4 or 5 hours of sleep on something resembling a normal sleeping schedule. No chance!

My daughter, who was in Seattle visiting a friend, called me shortly after midnight to wish me a happy. She has always called me on New Years, but I had kind of been hoping that she would be too busy partying with her friends to follow the tradition. Oh well! Still, it was nice to talk to her and to exchange the usual holiday greeting. I LOVE hearing from my little chatterbox!

Even though our conversation was brief, I was not able to go back to sleep once I was awakened, until nearly dawn. Sigh. Last night, I managed to get in a good solid 3 hours before I woke up and couldn't go back to sleep. It was dawn again before I finally made it back to dreamland, and I got another 3 hours in before waking up again. No worries about sleeping past noon today! I may have to indulge myself with a nap shortly, just so I can try to capture enough sleep to make up for the shortfalls. I'm feeling mighty sleepy right now, as a matter of fact. At this point, naps don't affect my sleep/wake cycle at all. So I'd be better off taking the naps than not, at least I'd be less likely to be chronically tired, which would be nice.

I probably should use my S.A.D. light for awhile today, it's been so gray and gloomy all day that a dose of full spectrum light would help, I'm sure. But sometimes I'm just not up to having the equivalent of the sun shining directly in my face - in order for it to work properly, you have to sit within about 2 feet of the box and have it directed at you from the front, rather than behind you, which would work better for crocheting, especially if I'm working with a dark yarn.
(this link shows an example box - not the same as mine but similar - and explains a bit about the condition and treatment. I am providing it only for informational purposes, not as a recommendation. You should do your own research if interested.) It also helps if you use it regularly, which I haven't done this year. I just decided I may as well turn it on now while I'm writing this, maybe I'll even do some crocheting under it for awhile. I'd rather have it in the living room, but there's no place to set it up in there - it is a pretty big box, with a stand that puts it at an angle, different from the one shown in the example weblink I gave above. I will admit, I respond pretty well to it, though - already the drowsies I was feeling have dissipated! Silly me, I should use the tools I've got to help me out here, wonder why I sometimes resist?

Okay, enough of that rambling chatter and on to some other! Good news: my mail carrier showed up EARLY today, before noon in fact! BAD news: the check was NOT in the mail! CRAP! This is the first time that check has been late, go figure, when I need it so badly. If it does not show up Monday, I will be on the horn with the Unemployment office, and then the post office. I suspect the culprit is local, I've been seeing some new faces behind the blue uniforms lately, no doubt my regular carriers have both been out due to holidays. New faces often means misdelivered mail. But you would think an envelope from the Unemployment office would receive more careful attention, if not by the carrier, then by the (possible) person who may have received it by mistake. These are all big assumptions, of course. I won't have a clue until Monday, though. This would be scary if I didn't have that other check coming next week.

In the meantime, I'm sitting here still with my piddly bank balance and pocket fuzz, and a phone bill that MUST be paid Monday. Fortunately, I have Phil, who just happened to stop by around 12:30, and when I cried about my troubles to him, lent me what I needed to get that all-important bill paid and have a few dollars to cover expenses until Monday. This is in addition to the money he lent me earlier in the week to stretch me until today. Whichever check arrives first, I will be repaying him pronto. He's such a good friend!

While he was here playing his "knight in shining armor" role, I gave him his hat. It fits, looks good on him and, most importantly, he likes it! But he did say he hoped he wouldn't need to wear it much, lol! As long as the weather holds like it's been since just before Christmas, he may get his wish, but if not, at least he's covered. Literally. It is definitely a warm hat, and pretty handsome if I may be so bold as to say. Thanks, Etaria, both for designing it and offering it for free!

Well, I think I will try to get some crocheting done (if Meeps will let me - I'm getting the "let's play" pestering routine again) before it's time to start getting ready to head to Phil's for a yummy dinner and a movie. Tonight's menu includes my all-time favorite, "Chicken Iguana" a delish chicken and fresh vegetable stir fry in a creamy alfredo sauce that Phil (aka "Iguana") is famous for. And, since he always makes enough for an army, I'll be bringing a doggy bag or two (or rather, a tupperware wannabe container. Or two. Or more...). We'll both be eating Iguana for the next week, lol! Which is fine by me, I LOVE the stuff.

Well, Meeps finally gave up hope of coaxing me into that play session right now and opted for a jaunt to the garage to see if any mice want to come out and play, *smirk*. In the meantime, Phil called to announce that the only tomatoes he found in his fridge were "from the 12th century" and would I pick up about 4 or 5 plum tomatoes on my way over there later. He had picked up all the rest of the ingredients,
including the chicken, fresh this morning so there's no worries on the antique nature of those, lol!

LOL! Just got another call from Phil with another request, one I should have anticipated, knowing the style of his cooking. Would I bring my 12 quart stockpot when I come? His largest is an 8 quart, and it's not big enough!

How very interesting... Shortly after I got up this morning, as I was going through my usual stretch and yawn routine, I felt a bit of a "snap" and an immediate tightening in my neck. Great! I rushed and put some of my back liniment on it, hoping that what worked so well for the lower back would also work for the neck. I also pulled out my neck comfortpack, which I haven't needed in a long while, heated that puppy up in the micro and slapped it on, and kept my fingers crossed. But still, the muscles were tight, and I could feel the tension traveling down my spine to between my shoulder blades. And my throat started to ache, way back around theend of the nasal passage, in my sinuses. A nice little tension headache accompanied all of this, and my heart sank. I just got over the back pain a few days ago, now this - why???

It's been bothering me all afternoon, liniment and heatpack notwithstanding. But about 15 minutes into the session with my light box, I noticed that first, the headache had disappeared, then the tight achy feeling in my sinus area had lessened, and finally, the neck is slowly loosening up again. The LIGHT did that? Wow! I can only assume it has to be the dose of light, nothing else had changed. I'm amazed, let me tell you!

I'm still not 100% back to being pain and tightness free, but I'm pretty close. I can only feel it at the point where my head attaches to my spine now, and only when I move my head from side to side - and it's bearable. Let this continue to dissolve away, please! I really don't want any more reasons why I can't make that 75 mile drive to see mom, which I'm hoping to do next week.

Okay, I've rambled for far too long as usual, and only have about an hour left to crochet now before it's time to hit the road to Phil's (5 minutes away, not counting stop for plum tomatoes). I think I will see if I can start making some significant progress with my Cosetta sweater, will also be taking that along for my movie project. In case I find it too hard to work on it for that, though, I'll also bring Iris for back-up. I'd like to speed the process up on that shawl a bit, I still have a way to go to finish the second hank on this project. I'm still contemplating gifting it to mom for her birthday, so I will probably only use part of a third hank on it and fringe with some of the rest of that hank. Maybe I'll make myself a light lacy scarf out of whatever's left of the third and the remaining hank of this colorway.

Oh yeah, before I forget - thanks to those who have left comments these last few days. I really love it when you folks leave comments, makes me feel good. And thanks for the well wishes! I really am feeling better. Hopefully, that will soon be translated into displays of more finished objects here!

Okay, okay! Shutting up and posting now!

Friday, January 06, 2006

Latest completed projects

I'm not sure why I was so scared of that reverse sc row - once I managed to adjust enough to stop snagging split threads on my yarn (which plagued me through the entire project, to be honest), I zipped through that last round on this hat! I do like the result it gives as far as texture and a nicely finished looking edge, too. Got the tails woven in, and it was ready for it's photo-op. Herewith is Phil's (tardy, obviously) Christmas present, the Men's Thick Warm Crocheted Winter Hat (pdf), from the free pattern provided by Etaria (website named Crochet Garden). I'm happy to say that the pattern was well-written and easy to follow, and even though this hat was filled with first experiences for me, it turned out spectacularly well! I feel fairly confident that it will fit him, it fits my head with a little bit of room to spare, and is stretchy enough to accommodate a more manly sized noggin without being too snug. Watcha think?

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I made this hat using worsted weight Wool-ease in the color Blue Mist (love love LOVE that colorway!), it took all of 1 and a small part of a second skein to complete this project. This was my first time working crocheted cables as well as fp/bp ribbing in addition to the afore-mentioned reverse sc. Except for the yarn's tendency to split, I had virtually no problems executing the stitches once I learned to hang onto the loops on my hook - primarily when doing the bp dc stitches, as my yo had a tendency to sneak off the hook by the time I'd drawn the new loop through and around the post! I'm still a tad mystified how it was able to do that, sneaky little houdini-yarn!

And here is the Light and Lacy Stole (pattern by Dot) I made as an additional giftie for my mom, because I just didn't feel the mohair scarf was a big enough present for her. Two pics here, showing it opened in shawl fashion and gathered in scarf fashion.

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This one, while not difficult per se, was a bit frustrating for me, and I've determined that if I make this pattern again, I will do a few things differently. It took me far longer to make this than it really should have, and that was mainly because I found it so hard to work with the fine baby-weight yarn (I used TLC Baby in Powder Blue Sparkle. As with the hat, this took all of 1 and a very small amount of a second skein.) with such a big hook (pattern calls for a K size) - my stitches kept coming out rather sloppy looking, too loopy. I'm a loose crocheter to begin with, and this mismatch between the yarn weight and the size hook only served to make things worse for me. I had started this with a plastic hook and had such a hard time that I finally decided to try my trusty aluminum, which greatly improved the look of my stitches, so I had to frog it and start all over. But it's still rather loosey-goosey, too much so for my tastes. Part of it, in addition to the larger stitching, is the type of stitches that form this pattern, with strips of ch 5 netting separated by clusters of dc, making this very stretchy at any size, so it all combines to make a very light - and fragile, imo - fabric. I'm hoping that mom won't be afraid to use it because of this, but I fear she might. I will say, though, that it is very pretty!

I did make one very silly glaring (to me) error - I forgot to do the last round as specified in the pattern, and didn't realize it until I'd already cut the yarn and woven in the tails, lol! Fortunately, I think the shawl isn't spoiled by the lack of that missing round of slip stitches - which I may have forgotten accidently on purpose, since the slip stitch is one of my least favorite crochet stitches to do, it's too much of a struggle to keep from wrapping the yarn and I have a harder time pulling the hook through without it!

My next one will be made with a hook more suited to the thickness of the yarn, and I will just have to increase my starting chain in order to achieve the length. I had shortened the chain on this project anyway, since mom is only about 4'10" and I didn't want the shawl practically dragging on the ground in front of her tiny frame, lol! So I dropped 3 pattern repeats to shorten it to a finished 60 inch length. I started this the day after Christmas and didn't complete it until New Year's Day - granted, I wasn't crocheting on it around the clock (and I was alternating working on it with the hat above), but I felt like I should have been able to finish this much faster than I did. I mean, I know I'm slow, but really! And I no longer have "lack of time" as my excuse, at least not for awhile.

Still, I think it turned out cute. I'm thinking of trying this pattern out (with requisite smaller hook) with some sportweight cotton yarn I have.

Adding insult to injury

I signed onto my library account online with the intention of renewing the 2 books I had due, only to discover that my memory had misfired again. Instead of being due today (the 6th) like I thought, I discovered they had been due Tuesday, the 3rd! Gaaaaa!!! Thanks to my lint-filled pockets, I will have to rack up more in late fees on these until I get that check, too. Sigh...

Well, at least the Wheatena warmed me up, even my fingers, yay! So I'd better not squander it. One last check of the online rounds and then I'm off to crochet for awhile. Maybe I'll put some music on. Hmmm, a little Kitaro sounds nice. Silk Road here I come!


Well, right after I made the last post, my missing mail carrier finally surfaced - YAY! But, the hoped-for check was not there - waaah!!!

I had known it would be a long shot that the check would show up today, seeing as how Monday was a holiday, but I'd been hoping against hope anyway. Now, my main worry is whether it will show up tomorrow or not. And it won't be early enough, most likely, for me to be able to get it in the bank while it's open, which means NO money for me until Monday. Even worse - I MUST make a past due phone/internet acct payment by Monday, in order to avoid having my service shut off! I had missed last month's payment (it was a choice of that, or paying the full rent - and that was a week late to begin with), with the hope of paying it up out of this check, which is fine except that the phone company isn't cutting me any slack here (so what else is new? Only the ones who don't need it get the breaks.). That 401k check can't get here soon enough, to nip this mess in the bud. But in the meantime, a few more days of severely lean times.

Drowning my sorrows in a bowl of piping hot Wheatena, yummy! Then it's time to lose myself in learning to reverse sc...

WIPs are driving me batty

I thought maybe if I list them out, they'll stop the siren songs playing in a cacaphony in my head! Besides, I need a distraction from my constant pacing to and from the front door, checking to see if I can spot my uber-late postal person, who normally delivers by no later than 1:30. It figures that on the day I am expecting a desperately-needed check (I have $2.57 in the bank and 31 cents in my pocket, yikes!), they don't show up on time. Sure wish I could get unemployment checks direct deposited, this sucks!

Anyhow, here's my list, in no particular order of importance (just what hollers the loudest in my head):

  • Hat for Phil - all that remains is one round of reverse sc and weaving of ends. I'm waiting for a) my fingers to defrost (finally couldn't take it anymore and turned up the heat) and b) the postal-critter to arrive, so I can stop thinking about that.
  • Iris Seraphina - about 50% done
  • Cosetta shrug ala "Mrs Who" - ready to start rounds. Maybe today...
  • Modifications for hand warmers - frosted fingers are still my most pressing problem, don't know why I keep procrastinating on this one!
  • More hand warmers - okay, this is technically not a WIP, haven't actually started them yet. But importance is high enough to rate them a slot on this list!
  • Tweed Tote from Crochet! magazine (I think it's in the September 2004 issue) - about 50% done
  • Girl's Winter Set, from another Crochet! issue (January 2005?) - mittens 90% done, have yet to start on hat and scarf. Except that I may have to scrap the mittens (all 3 of them!) because the child this set was meant for has probably outgrown them by now. Besides, there are no two the same size, sigh. Whadya want - they were my first mittens ever! So I may just do the hat and scarf, in which case we're back to square one with this project.
  • Aurora/Glitzy Girl scarf - two actually, one full size and one skinny scarf. All's I need to do is fringe the dang things and I'll be done with both. Skinny one is for me, not sure who will get the full size one, so I haven't been in a mad rush to finish these. They aren't winter-type scarves anyway, so what's the rush?

It's possible I have more wips I'm forgetting about here, but they've been silent so we will let sleeping wips lay! Even longer is my WIM list, but I'm not going to attempt to even TRY to list these out! These are the "ready to go" items, materials are in hand and I can start 'em any time I choose. If only the WIPs would shut up!

Okay, hopefully I will get that hat finished in a little bit (soon as I get some fuel - er, food - into me. Wheatena cookin' in the micro as I type, tummy growling), and then I'll do a little photo shoot, download, upload etc. Then I can show it off, along with the Dot Light and Lacy Stole I finished earlier in the week. I'll post more info on these with the pics.

Man, WHERE is that mailman??? Sigh...

Silly me

I've gone and let my schedule get all topsy-turvy. I swear, sometimes I wonder if I'm not turning into some kind of a vampire or something - except, of course, I refuse to allow myself the decadent "luxury" of sleeping past noon, usually it's no later than about 10:30 and often earlier. And even though I can, I haven't indulged myself in any naps to make up for the lost sleep - yet. Maybe it would help if I got out more, then again maybe not. But like I told my heart sis in our lengthy phone chat the other evening, I find it nearly impossible to leave the house during the daylight hours of late. What the heck is up with that??? And these crazy nocturnal hours I've been keeping. Vampire! What else could it be? I did always have rather pronounced points on those "canine" teeth...

Worst of all, Meeps is getting used to being able to go out in the wee hours of the morning! And, even were I inclined to, I can't finally hit the sack until she returns. Any other time of the year, fine, let her cat about until I rise to meet the new day - but not in the winter. Although I don't like her to stay out all night. I swear, you'd think she was a teenager, and me her nervous mom, waiting for her to get home past her curfew, lol! Can't help it, though. Sigh... Such is the life of a human who is owned by an inside-outside cat.

My back finally stopped giving me hell a couple of days ago, and now my energies are starting to rise again, finally. Maybe I'll actually manage to get some things accomplished. It's all been piled up and waiting expectantly, of course. Way overdue!

Ooh - speaking of overdue! I'd better remember to renew those library books today, or they will be too! Wonder if a post-it note stuck to the computer will work to remind me? Or will I manage to make it invisible like I somehow managed to do to the other one (which stares at me as I write this), reminding me of a task that never got done? Maybe I should bring one of the books in here and set it in my working area, where I can't ignore it? I must be getting old, to have to trick myself into remembering important things, abilities that once were effortless. Maybe it's just temporary insanity. Sounds plausible!

It was certainly insanity that made me decide that tonight was a good night to compact my email folders! I had spent about an hour performing a much-needed purge in one of the folders, clearing out about 2500 non-essential emails (don't ask!), and after I emptied the trash folder, I thought it might be a good idea to perform this function on my grossly bloated email archives, don't ask me why I didn't realize that it would take probably almost as long as it took for Windows to do that surface scan of all my hard drives on New Year's Eve - and far into New Year's Day! But at least that one was involuntary. Windows insisted it would not function until this critical task was performed, and wouldn't take "no" for an answer. Where this computer is concerned, lately I'm a glutton for punishment. When it's not meting it out on me, I go looking for it! This is not a GOOD THING.

So, what have I been doing with these crazy wierd hours, especially since far too often (this year, at least), I haven't been able to get into mischief online? Why, watch movies and crochet, of course!

My crocheting hasn't gotten speedier, unfortunately, but I'm plodding along anyway, and having fun doing it. At least I can take comfort in the fact that this is a GOOD THING. If all goes well (and I actually do get some sleep), I should even have a couple of FOs to show off! Well, one is a definite FO, the other still has one last round to go, plus evil ends to weave in before that title can be applied, but I fully intend to have it done today, FINALLY! I'll admit, I'm a teensy-tiny bit TERRIFIED of that last round, though - it is a stitch I have never done before: reverse sc. I decided it would be best not to try and tackle it while watching tonight's entertainment, which happened to be the very charming movie Chocolat! So I finally picked Iris back up and worked on that while I watched. Can't say I made huge amounts of leaping progress (even had to frog back a bit to recover a missed stitch), but it's still forward movement, a GOOD THING.

And speaking of which, I am finally beginning to feel the pull toward my pillow, so I think I'll wrap up this rambling little message and go see if Meeps is also ready to come in from the cold. With any luck, I'll be back later...