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

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Gold

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Ready to SCREAM!

I swear, this project has driven me mad! I don't know if I can stand the sight of it for one more minute!

It took me a ridiculously long time to lay down the first of two finishing rounds, mainly because the counts for each side were given so precisely that it was obvious that this was a thing that matters. Which it does, for the second round - picot stitches separated by two slip stitches, so the round had to end with a count that is a multiple of 3 in order for the last round to come out right. Late late last night (or rather, early this morning), as I began working that round (having gotten a bit of a late start due to a lengthy phone conversation), I ran into one of the infamous knots that my Jiffy yarn has been plagued with throughout this project. The minute I hit that knot, I lost all recall of the number I had just announced to myself as I counted my stitches, a problem that bugs me no end! I was using safety pins to mark every 50 stitches at that point, so it really was only a matter of counting from the last safety pin once I undid enough stitches to cut and reattach the yarn in order to continue, but my brain was already shutting down such that this became an almost impossible task. It was definitely time to wrap up and go to bed. Of course, Meeps was out, which is why I made the previous post, in an effort to stay awake a little bit longer to give her a chance to make it back home, but she was still gone when I checked after posting. Fortunately, it wasn't horribly cold out last night, and she does have access to the garage, so I stumbled off to bed. I don't think I was conscious when my head hit the pillow.

Spent several hours finishing off that round, finding (much to my distress) that I can't even count to 25 accurately - I had begun placing my safety pins at this shorter interval to make the counting easier since I was having trouble making the numbers given and had to make adjustments. It will remain to be seen if I managed to hit a number of stitches that will be a multiple of 3. Finally, I started on the final round, a mind-numbing round of slip stitch, slip stitch, slip stitch ch 3 slip stitch. I hate slip stitches, because invariably, the slipping accomplished is usually the stitch off of my hook instead of through the loop on it. It's a screamingly slow process for me.

And now I'm faced with having to add yet another ball of Jiffy yarn to continue, since I have run out on the current ball. How to attach new yarn on a slip stitch only row? I'd much prefer to avoid having tails to hide at this late stage - I've mostly managed to avoid this throughout the project, mostly by working over the ends and, when that wasn't practical, using the Russian join technique. This second option is probably what I will choose to do at this point, even though there might be a problem with the slightly thicker yarn over that join section. But my patience is at an end. The ball of Jiffy I grabbed turned out to be yet another problem child, and I ended up gutting the middle of it in search of that elusive end, and had to set it aside to be dealt with when I have more patience. The next ball I grabbed was much better. But I'm too flustered to be able to do the join technique, and tiredness is sneaking up on me yet again, so I think I will indulge myself in a rare nap before attempting to continue, maybe my mood will have improved and I will be able to make the necessary progress to reach the finish line by tonight. I sure hope so. It's reaching the torture stage to have to work another stitch on this thing.

Ironic, but here I sit, in the same predicament as last time - Meeps is out, and I want to go to bed. Hopefully this time she won't be a no-show. And hopefully, my next post will be of a finished afghan.

It's FILLER time

I'd be in bed right now, if it weren't for Meeps... Silly me for letting her out for a "quick" jaunt about the neighborhood when I knew I was going to want to hit the sack soon. Since I don't sleep well when she's out all night, I will just write up this little update while I wait for her to get bored with the non-action and want to come home where it's (somewhat) warm.

Rows are finished, hallelujah! After reading carefully through the instructions for the rounds, I realized that it would be necessary for me to count my stitches for this part. I started in on it, and got a little past 70 when I hit a snag. Well, actually, it was a knot. Just one of several that have plagued me with this (same dyelot) Jiffy yarn Oh yay, so I get to cut the yarn and begin again from where I left off'. I will definitely be contacting Lion about this - 8 balls of Jiffy, all from the same dye-lot. 9 knots!

Hopin' I'll be having pics of finished ghan to post sometime tomorrow!

I'm far too pooped to write right now, more tomorrow... Hope Meeps is at that back door!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Thursday ramblings

Never did make it to the 'Ville last night. I was so paranoid about not getting those last 6 rows done that I kept putting it off in the hopes of finishing up my row requirements before signing in, since I knew that as soon as I did so, a giant sucking noise would ensue here. The sound of time disappearing down the vortex of my computer! So, I sent my maiden post off to the Crochet Olympics yahoo group I'd joined at the beginning of the event, and loaded up my progress pictures for sharing there instead, and got my six rows done. It was 4 am by the time I got there, a tad too late to be signing on for catching up purposes on the forum, so I decided to wait yet again.

Signed on to Crochetville today, to find twenty pages of new posts waiting for me to browse, gulp! I think it was sometime around 1 or 1:30ish when I signed on, and five hours have passed... I may have managed to visit links from a grand total of one page's worth of new posts in all that time, due mainly to the fact that my computer is being a real P.I.T.A. today - "resolving host" for just about EVERY link I click, and each one taking no less than a full minute of "resolving" before the page will load! Some of them have taken so long that they've timed out and I've ended up with an error message instead. I'm getting nowhere fast, sigh.

And now I have to throw myself together and run out to take care of a couple of errands that I've put off for the last couple of days. I just have not wanted to take ANY time out from working on this afghan to even run essential errands until I have no choice - and this evening, I have no choice!

I also have yet to start in on today's row quota, which I will do as soon as I get back from my errands. I have a minimum of 10 rows to do, but am shooting for an ambitious 12 - I am antsy now to finish this thing up ASAP, as the cacaphony of yarn hollering at me to "work on me next - ME ME ME!!!" keeps getting louder and louder, lol! I suspect that once I finish this 'ghan, I will be starting on about 5 different projects at once!

I have the square I had started prior to the beginning of this Olympic challenge that I want to complete, and add companion squares to - with the plan of forwarding on to Drew for the HMB group, something I've been wanting to do for a long time. After sorting through the bulk of my yarn, I have coralled and isolated my acrylic yarns for this project, which will be an ongoing one, or at least that's the plan. I am hoping to have one square in process all the time regardless of what else I may be working on, at least for the next several months, and when I have a reasonable number of them to fill a good flat rate postage pack, I will forward them on. I had spent some time earlier in the month collecting and printing out a bunch of nice 12 inch square patterns to use for this little project I'm hoping my Olympic run will have helped me in the speed department, as I've found getting even a simple 12 inch square crocheted took me a ridiculous amount of time. I envy those who can crank one out in a few hours!

Beyond that, my first major project, post-Olympics, will be the bag I have planned for my purse/tote swap - hoping to be done with the afghan early enough to chain the start of this project Saturday, but it will definitely be by no later than Sunday when I start on it, and I'm not anticipating it to take me more than a week to get this project done and mailed if all goes as planned, this estimate being based on how long it took me to do my sample piece.

I'd like to finish up my Iris Seraphina, which is at approximately the half-way mark. I hadn't really been pushing myself all that hard on it, since it is not a suitable shawl for winter, but spring is coming (hope springs eternal!), and I'd like to have it ready for wearing by then.

I have some experimental laceweight and thread scarves and other projects to try, as soon as I can clear the schedule for them. Successful ones will be gifts.

Doilies I'd like to do... A cotton bathroom rug, which is sorely needed (my floor is bare!)... That sweater for Phil, and a cardi for my daughter... Just a few of the many projects floating about in my brain or being suggested by the yarns in my overflowing stash - I desperately need to start working it down, as it's spilling out all over the place here!

There's lots of other things I wanted to mention, but I need to finish this up - and get those errands run. I am far too good at this procrastinating thing! And I'm running out of time for a couple of the errands I need to do.

Will close for now with a
shot (unfortunately very fuzzy) of my furry companion, who always looks sweet and innocent when her eyes are closed! Maybe she'll give me another opportunity to get a better picture later tonight, but I'm not holding my breath. Oh well, there are always other chances, when is she ever NOT cute looking? Of course, that could just be my prejudice talking, LOL!

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Until later...

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Zooming down the Home Stretch! Goin' for the Gold!

Crochet Olympics - Day 13 Update: she's gonna make it, folks!

I swear, I've been on an emotional see-saw with this project! Actually, now that I think about it, I tend to ride that piece of playground equipment with ALL my major projects. Oh well. Guess it's just a sign of my insecurity coupled with the obsessive desire for perfection, usually thwarted by my nerve-induced ineptness that keeps me feeling off-balance with these things. Completion of these projects is thus hard-earned but ultimately oh so satisfying!

Today, the see-saw is in the UP position! Until now, I really wasn't sure I was going to be able to meet the deadline for completing this project. I had again lost so much time yesterday that I felt myself falling behind on my quota row count, which never fails to put me in a state of panic. But yesterday was not a total waste in spite of it - I did manage to finally get all the taxes done for both me and Phil, and just in time too, since my service went down last night for several hours, shortly after I posted my last wildly rambling update message. I was at row 106 at that point, and when I finally crawled into bed this morning (yes, it was daylight by then), I had made it all the way to row 118! As of this writing, I have completed 123 rows. My goal is to get at least 8 more rows done tonight so that I will head into the final 3 days (I'm not counting Sunday, more on that shortly) with 21 rows, per the pattern requirement, left to do. Depending on it's measurements at that point, there may be a need for an additional 8 rows before I can proceed with the 2 rounds to finish the project off. The end is in sight!!!

I think I feel comfortable enough now to lift the foot off the accelerator and start thinking about picking up the other pieces of my life again, or at least the ones I was able to set aside. My house could sure use a cleaning! And I am looking forward to finally not feeling guilty about signing in and losing several hours of time hanging out at Crochetville, yay!

As far as my not counting Sunday: as I understand it, the deadline Sunday is at 2 pm (same time as we started a week ago Friday). Because of my tendency toward a topsy-turvy sleep schedule, I can't chance leaving myself a window of only a couple of hours to finish this project up on Sunday, so my plan is to have it completed before I hit the sack Saturday night/Sunday morning - whatever time that may be! As long as I stay on track, this should be attainable.

And it can't come soon enough! A large part of my difficulty yesterday had to do with boredom. I'm tired of this project and anxious to get on to other things. I've hit that burnout stage that under more normal circumstances would see this project getting stuffed in a bag for awhile, to be completed some months down the line. But (obviously) not this time! I was reading the updates posted on Yarn Harlot's blog earlier, and in yesterday's entry (it's toward the end of the post), she mentioned being in a "black hole" spot on her project (if she actually pulls it off and completes that sweater by the deadline, she will earn my undying awe - have you seen the project she chose to do? In sixteen days??? OMG! And even she has been questioning her sanity over her choice, as this hilarious entry from Monday shows. Just so you know she's not completely over the edge, she's making a woman's size version of the sweater. But still...). A "Black Hole" for a knitter is the part of the project where you knit and knit and knit and seemingly make no visible progress - no increase in size seems to result. For a crocheter, I think, that "Black Hole" is more the abyss of absolute boredom, where you feel like you just can't STAND to start another row (or round). This is made infinitely worse when the majority of the work you are doing is unrelenting rows of nothing but single crochet stitches, which combines a bit of the knitter's dilemma with the crocheter's sentiment - the project grows oh so slowly when you are stacking row upon row of single crochet stitches upon each other! Fortunately for me, I did have the break of a row of single crochet mixed with front post slant stitches and another where the singles were mixed with the long double crochet stitches. But 50% of this afghan is still made up of those mind-numbing sc rows anyway - can't tell you how many times I've dozed off in the middle of a stitch while working those otherwise super-easy rows! But luckily, it is almost done, and I can escape that black hole now.

Here's a pic I snapped earlier, before adding the last two rows. This is a progress shot taken at 121 completed rows, the last one I will share before this baby is completed, at which time I will share pictures of
the final result:

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Looks good, no?

I happened to do a browse session through my Homespun stash earlier this afternoon, for something else, and what do you believe I found? TWO skeins of Regency, the color I'm using for this project! I had started out with less than the called-for amount of this yarn due to a mental math malfunction, necessitating me to scramble to pick up the 2 skeins I was short (using 40% off coupons, no less). Monday night, I had picked up another skein because even if I have enough to complete the project, I have plans to eventually make a matching pillow for it out of what yarn is left over (and it's now looking like it will be enough for TWO pillows, not counting this extra find). Too bad I hadn't thought to check my Homespun stash before shopping, but I honestly did not believe I had any of that colorway on hand! Well, now I'm more than flush with materials, I guess - one less thing to have panic attacks over.

Okay, gonna go lay down two more rows before I sign onto Crochetville, as I anticipate losing several hours there, and don't want to lose my momentum...

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Where've I been lately? Lost in Olympic Fever...

And the ironic thing is I've seen maybe about a total of one hour of the actual, international sporting event so far!

Oh lordy but do I feel frazzled today! Heading into the final days of this Olympic challenge, I was looking pretty good at first. After tightening my concentration levels and eliminating as many distractions as I could manage, I had finally started to make some significant progress as far as speed goes, and so I entered the week feeling a tad cocky. Big mistake!

I knew that I was not likely to be able to meet my self-imposed minimum quota yesterday, the day was just too busy for it. Illogically, I still demanded it of myself, despite having been gone all day - without my project, which I had (rightly) determined I would have no opportunities to work on while out and thus left it waiting on the couch for me (besides which, an afghan at the 2/3 mark is not exactly a portable project), languishing and looking quite fetching. It was well past 7:30 pm by the time I made it home, and not a stitch made as yet.

Adding to my sense of pressures building were the taxes still needing to be finished and filed (for myself and Phil, with anxiety to see this done felt by both of us since refunds were expected - and needed!), as well as the fact that it has been a few days since I've had the luxury of time to log into Crochetville. Since I was made a Supermoderator, I am feeling that much more like I can't stay away from the site for extended periods of time, yet I simply have not had the time or attention-span to devote to browsing and posting (and performing clean-up duties as needed). Hence, I feel torn!

As if all that weren't enough - I have also been called on over this past week to perform "supermom" duties, spending considerable chunks of time on the telephone with a distraught child in need of a sympathetic ear and sage advice in dealing with a personal crisis. This I do willingly, and if a choice were to be demanded of me between this and finishing my Olympic project by the deadline... well, it's a no-brainer really. My child always comes first. There isn't a mom in the world that wouldn't understand that! But of course, I am hoping it doesn't come down to that, and I know she doesn't want it to. I haven't mentioned this before for fear she would read this and try to suppress her own need to talk to me in an effort not to interfere with my progress - I do not want her to do that!

So, I guess what I'm trying to say is - I feel like I'm trying to pull myself in too many directions at once, something I'm famously lousy at, and this is setting off massive amounts of anxiety attacks in me. Yet I continue to try to juggle the damn balls without dropping them, especially since some have been feeling suspiciously as fragile as raw eggs.

So, last night, I thought I'd try to get my minimum 10 rows done despite having been gone all day - oh, and also despite the fact that my "tennis elbow" problem was acting up something fierce, aggravated by the intense crochet sessions of the weekend topped off by the hauling of four 5 gallon bottles of waters from my car to the back entryway of my house, which was as far as I could manage to drag the things. I would have much rather left them in the garage, but thanks to the near sub-zero weather we've been having, especially at night, I couldn't chance them freezing and bursting. But I knew it was going to be rough when I felt extreme pain on carrying just ONE of those bottles from the store to my car earlier. Luckily, the after ringing me up for the bottles, the cashier kindly carried the other three and placed them in the car for me. My back stoop is pretty tightly crowded now; by rights since they couldn't go in the garage, the extra bottles should have gone in the basement, but there was no way I could maneuver them down the steep stairs (and with nothing but space on one side as you go down the steps), I was lucky to have gotten them that far. But now I'm all set for clean, non-chemicalized water for the next couple of months. Sometimes I swear that what comes out of my tap is straight bleach, it smells so strongly of it, yecch!

Anyway, to make a short story long (which I seem to be proficient at), I started in on my day's quota at a distinct disadvantage, and it immediately proceeded to get even worse. I ripped quickly through my first two rows, but about 2/3 of the way through the 3rd row, I noticed my pattern elements were beginning to get wonky - my ldc stitches were slipping further and further under the diamond post stitches, instead of lining up on either side of the inside of them like they were supposed to. I was having to dig deeper behind the post stitches to find the proper spot to place my ldc stitch to make it line up like it should with the rows below to form the proper grid pattern on the reverse side. Something had gone wrong...

I know I've made a few errors on this pattern as I've gone along, it's going to be far from a perfect job, at least by my perfectionistic standards, but as long as everything was lining up okay, I was willing to sacrifice a little perfection in order to complete the project. But this was really stretching it! I took a deep breath, and then another, to try to quell the immediate sense of panic that threatened to overwhelm me...

and started frogging. Since everything had seemed to be okay when I'd stopped the night before, I only frogged the work I had just done, all 2 2/3 rows of it, figuring that in my haste I had maybe missed a stitch somewhere or something, shifting the pattern over just slightly enough to make it not immediately noticeable. I made some adjustments on the diamond post row and redid my rows. But the interruption in my momentum had a negative effect on both my state of mind and my ability to stitch smoothly and quickly. It took forever to get that 3 rows done, with lots of snagging, swearing, redoing of stitches, more snagging, more swearing - well, you get the picture! Through it all, I battled the tendency toward fatalistic "never gonna make it" thinking that insisted on invading my thoughts with each snagged stitch - this being the worst on the homespun rows, go figure - after all, I'm working this afghan with a K hook, which does not normally have an easy relationship with homespun! But I can tell you it gets downright hostile when you tense up and start tightening up with your stitches!

I don't know how I managed to make it past that first 3 rows, but I finally did, and the pattern seemed to have straightened out, at least enough to be acceptable again. I pushed on and got 5 more rows down before calling it a night at an hour so ridiculous, I don't even want to admit to it.

I didn't get back to the project until late in the afternoon, as I had other struggles to deal with first - taxes! After several days of preparation and research, I was ready to file the dang things. It took me most of the afternoon to get about halfway through the filing process, with one more e-filing and one paper filing to be processed before I can finally call it all done. Then Phil showed up for a visit and hung around for a couple of hours, then the phone rang, and I proceeded to spend another hour or so chatting with my daughter - which, as I told her, would be no problem if only I could crochet while we talked. But I haven't got a single phone in this house where that is possible, and it's currently not in my budget to change that. Oh well!

At any rate, I finally got back to it some time around 7 this evening, with the need to make a minimum of 12 rows weighing on my mind, not to mention the fact that I really need to log into Crochetville - soon! And my adjustments, which worked okay for the rows I applied them to, are showing signs of developing a few other unanticipated issues which I now need to adjust for. Somehow, after 100 rows of near-perfect alignment, my pattern is sliding off the edge on one side! The space between the last post stitch and the edge of the afghan has shrunk to near nonexistence! When I saw what was developing, I took the blanket and laid it out on my bed, the only area large enough for me to lay it out flat and see all sides clearly, to make sure the edges were even - which they were. So I hadn't lost any stitches. It seems that the pattern is just sliding over... Sigh...

I will, once again, attempt to make an adjustment in the placement of my stitches, probably in the reverse direction from which I'd gone previously, and hope for the best of it. I am, once again, at row 3 for today's effort...

I know I promised an update pic (I think it was) yesterday, but I'm going to hold off for one more day, or at least until I can get past this little crisis point in my work. I am working on row 106 as of now, with the hope of making it at least to 115 before bedtime tonight.

When I had it spread out on the bed, I also took the opportunity of measuring it and estimating what the final measurement with all 152 rows would be as a result - and find that I will be several inches shy of the final 56 inch mark. The only way I'll be able to get that length is by adding a full pattern repeat, which is 8 rows. This was not an unexpected revelation, but it also does not help to relieve me of the sense of pressure I am trying not to succumb to! So, I calculate that as of now (not counting my current row, or rather thinking of it as already done), I have 54 more rows to go plus two rounds in order to reach my finish line. And according to the countdown timer on the Crochet Olympics website, which originated with the
incredibly insane - er, very creative gal who dreamt up this crazy crafting venture, Yarn Harlot, I have 4 days, 15 hours, 12 minutes and ticking seconds left to go in order to pull this feat off - and the time continues to shrink (I almost typed shriek, perhaps apropos?) so let me get this posted and get back to it. I have other musings and things of interest I'd like to talk about, but am currently too consumed with this project so will have to postpone them until this is done..

Monday, February 20, 2006

Rounding the corner

and heading into the home stretch...

Well, with considerable and focused effort, I have caught up my deficit, allowing for a short starting day of only 5 rows. I now have completed 95 rows on this afghan, and it's looking good for me to make it to the finish line, as long as I don't seize up. I don't intend to.

I don't know how many rows I will manage to accomplish today, as it is shaping up to be a busy "running around" kind of day, but I will pick up any slack from it over the next couple of days. My goal is to complete the rows (as called for in the pattern) by Friday. Depending on what it measures up to at that point, I may have to add some rows to get it to it's stated dimensions of 50 x 56, and I want to allow enough time for that possibility. Then the finishing rounds taking me to the goal line, and the GOLD!

I will continue to have to cut back on online activities until this is done, as that was a major factor slowing me down. I kept losing too much time and focus. I'm anxious now to finish this project, as there are other projects hollering at me constantly to get started on them, including my purse swap project. But I don't do well splitting my attention between projects, so I must finish this before I can start another.

I'll try to get pics up tonight, if there's time, but tomorrow for sure! For now - time to get rolling. Hope everyone has a nice day!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

It's getting there...

Things are (slowly) coming along with this afghan project. I worked feverishly (it felt) to try to close that deficit gap, and I think I am close to doing so now. I was going to post an update before heading to bed last night, but I was so exhausted I decided to wait. Woke up late this morning, then Phil came over for awhile and I also spent time on the phone with my daughter. Apparently, I still needed more sleep, as I could barely keep my eyes open, so I laid down for a nap - a 3 hour one! Wow! Guess I was making up for missing a night the other night.

These pics (below) are from yesterday afternoon - I had made it to 62 rows by this point. I am now on row 68 and should be able to break 70 shortly. Then I will have to stop for awhile (again) to take care of some other business I must attend. I really envy those folks who can whiz through a row in short order, sometimes it feels like I'm moving in slow motion as I make my stitches. I get clumsy when I try to speed it up, and just end up having to make two or three tries on many of my stitches as a result. As long as I go slow and steady, I do okay. Guess I'm just feeling impatient!

Many thanks to the folks who have left encouraging comments here - and Kimberly, let's save the pom poms for when we near the finish line. You do look cute with those pom poms though!

I need coffee - but my pot quit working on me, ack! I have to go now to figure out an alternative way to get my caffeine fix so I can wake up, otherwise I feel far too tempted to take another nap, and that won't get things done!

Full length view of front:
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Close-up of front:
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Full length view of back:
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Close-up view of back:
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I will wait a few days before posting any more update shots, but as you can see from the above, this blankie is turning out nice!

Okay, off to get a few more rows in and then take care of business (after I find a way to make some coffee)...

Friday, February 17, 2006

Hook franticly flyin'

Don't mind me, folks, while I get a tiny bit hysterical here - after all, it's my modus operandi, remember? Maybe I need it to fuel me, to keep me going, I don't know. But I feel the panic rising as I contemplate the fact that despite my studious efforts at laying those rows down, I am now 15 rows behind my established goal, based on a daily output of 10 rows! I did not skip any days, though I didn't have as productive a day as I would have liked on Tuesday, and dragged quite a bit yesterday (as in Wednesday) as well. But I still crocheted on, right through my slump. I just didn't get very many rows done!

Well, I knew this was going to be a major challenge for me! Speed has never been my strong suit, but it does seem like as I get older, the slower I get. EEP! That won't do!

I'll keep plugging away, and try to keep from nervously counting the dwindling number of days between me and the deadline for this project. I'll try - and I mean try hard not to allow myself to have a nervous breakdown over something that, after all, is a voluntary effort with no real penalties for "failure". Ah, but I would still like to WIN!

I've completed 55 rows out of 152, technically putting me a third of the way through, and as I get further along with it, my technique has improved so that the patterns are aligning much more neatly than they did in the beginning. I'd had an argument with the indwelling perfectionist who had insisted that to do this right, I really should have frogged the whole thing and started over once I realized how I was messing up my patterns (even though just a little), but the competitor in me pointed out that this was impossible to do and still meet that deadline. I have read of many of my team-mates being forced to frog back on their projects in order to correct for errors and size adjustments, but they still are tending to run ahead of schedule even with those setbacks. So, I had to sacrifice a little perfection in order to remain reasonably competitive.

Alrighty now - I'm wasting time here! I am begrudging any activity that steals time away from this project now, so I will wrap up this quick little update so I can get back to it before I have to give up for the night. The goal is to complete at least 4 more rows, more if possible, before sleep is allowed to overcome me. I will post an update pic tomorrow night sometime. At least I'd like to take an opportunity to brag a little bit in the midst of my normal state of hysteria - it really is looking mighty fine! And this is as perfect a time as any to be hiding under a growing blanket - it's pretty cold tonight, and my afghan is keeping my lap toasty warm.

Maybe tomorrow I'll even be able to chatter about other things too, we'll see. It will depend on the level of my hysteria! And that, of course, will depend on how far behind I still find myself (holding out for a miracle in the form of a shrinking deficit).

Music to accompany my hookin tonight: A Rush of Blood to the Head, Cold Play.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Day 4 - slowly picking up speed

As far as I'm concerned, this day isn't over yet - I'm still in a five row deficit, hope to shrink that to zero, but I'm about to sign into Crochetville once I get this posted. Huge chunks of time seem to magically disappear whenever I get on that board! But staying away for long periods of time only makes it worse because then there's that much more to try to get caught up with. Ya just can't win!

Part of the problem there is my stupid "resolving host" situation. I probably spend a good 20 to 25% of my time waiting for pages to be served up, it can be anywhere from every 5th link I click degenerating all the way down to every stinkin' one. You just don't get much done when you're waiting for up to 3 minutes between page views, ya know? Tonight, though, I have a plan: I will just stitch away on my afghan while waiting for that host to resolve.

But anyway, enough about that, on to my main obsession of the moment - my progress on my Olympic afghan. Recall that I went to bed last night with 25 rows completed, but with the prospect of frogging one and a third rows to fix a blatant error being the first order of today. I wasted little time in getting right to it this morning. I got the frogging done (rippit-rippit!) and redid my work, correctly this time, and then kept on going. I had to run out for a few hours around noonish, returning around 3, and once I'd unpacked the groceries I picked up while out and had a bite to eat, I jumped right back at it. Or rather, tried to. Just as I got my hook positioned for the first stitch, the phone rang. It was my daughter.

Today was her birthday (Happy Birthday Isis!), and she had some stuff she needed to discuss with me. Unfortunately for me, I haven't got a single phone in this house that I can use hands-free, so the project had to wait until the call was over. I managed to start back up around 5 pm, or somewhere thereabout (I wasn't paying all that much attention to the time). I worked steadily, with short ten minute breaks every few rows to ease up the tension buildup in my arms and neck, until I stopped around 10:30 in order to take another update photo session, have another bite to eat and now, write this blog report. I am about to begin row 36.

For some reason, the Regency Homespun, which is a gray-blue-green blend, keeps insisting on looking like it also has browns and yellows in it, which I know it doesn't - at least in natural daylight it doesn't!

Okay, I just fiddled around a bit with the images, turned down the red value a good chunk and now the color looks a bit closer to what it should look like. I am a bit more pleased with the appearance of these update shots than I was of last night's pics, though granted I was a tad too tired to even notice that the colors were off until I looked at it again this morning.
I'm not real wild with the striping effect this is adding to the overall pattern, but maybe it will look better once the piece is larger, who knows? At any rate, here's a shot of the piece, folded over so you can see the patterns of both front and back...
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(large size version of this shot can be viewed here)

And here's a close-up shot so you can see the stitch detail...
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(large size version of this shot can be viewed here)

It's amazing to me how much more easily small errors seem to pop out at me from these pics, errors that I don't notice when looking directly at the piece! Although I've improved the placement of my long double crochets (in the Homespun, which is creating the rather uneven looking grid pattern on the back), I see I still have to take more care with those. Some are a bit cockeyed, but should be able to be straighted out with a bit of hand blocking, but a few others I obviously managed to hit the wrong stitch three rows down. I'm pretty sure I've managed to solve that - I've been much more aware of their placement since I noted the unevenness last night - but it's distressing to see the errors nontheless, since I can't frog the whole thing and start over, not if I hope to finish this thing by the 26th. I had actually entertained the idea this morning, briefly, but changed my mind after studying it for a bit. It really doesn't look as bad as it does in the pics. I also realized that no matter how much care I take, I'm not likely to achieve the same level of perfection that the pattern picture shows (and who knows what errors are hidden there? Maybe that's why the picture was so dark you couldn't tell the diamond patterns were in a teal blue?). But anyway...

I've had one small thing plaguing me and slowing me down this evening with my stitching - the old dry skin problem. I've got a calloused area on my right thumb that decided to flake out on me tonight, of course snagging my yarn left and right. I've been loading on the lotion like crazy, even have a tin of Burt's Bees cuticle creme which I've also been applying liberally, all of which has been getting quickly absorbed and in next to no time (or so it seems), I'm back to snagging my yarn! Well, guess this Olympic event is going to insist on being filled with challenges!

I also discovered that I'm a nitwit today (hush now - I heard that!). I think I'd mentioned (maybe not here, probably on CVille I suspect) that I started to worry that I'd run short on my yarn supply. My biggest worry at the time was the Jiffy (the teal colored yarn), which I had only managed to find at JoAnns online, but I figured it was plausible that I could possibly run out of the Regency Homespun too, though that was usually easier to acquire locally. Since I had a fistful of 40% off coupons at Hobby Lobby last week, I thought I'd pick up the Homespun there, having ordered a few more balls of the Jiffy from my sole source (it arrived today, btw). No go. In fact, BOTH of the Hobby Lobbys I visited had mostly bare shelves where yarn should normally be - except maybe for their Yarn Bee yarn, which was still well-stocked. I did note several large crates stacked up along the back wall behind the yarn area and peeked into a few of them, noting that they were filled with various Lion Brand and Red Heart yarns. But they hadn't been priced and prepared to be shelved yet, and I wasn't up to shuffling numerous large crates in order to find my needed yarn. I figured, oh well, I'll just wait till next week - maybe it'll be on sale then (it's not). What I hadn't discovered - until today, as a matter of fact - is that I really DID need that Homespun. BADLY!

My pattern calls for 36 ounces of the Homespun. It comes in 6 ounce skeins. 36 divided by 6 equals...

4? FOUR???

Well, that's apparently the answer I came up with when I shopped for my materials! I only have FOUR skeins of Regency Homespun. I need SIX!

I will never cease to be amazed at the occasionally broken way my brain works lately.

Fortunately, my local JoAnns does have this yarn on hand - and better still, I happen to have two 40% off coupons I can use for it there - I have this "rule" that I will not purchase yarn in these stores unless it's on sale (at more than 10% off) or I have a coupon for it. This is how I've amassed my humongous stash on a shoestring budget! Fortunately, I won't have to break my own rule in order to get the needed yarn.

Okay, this has taken me longer to write up than I'd intended (but then again, it always does), and the clock has manged to slip well past the midnight hour. I still have to log into CVille and find out what's been hopping there in my absence, and I still have to cram five more rows into this night before the head meets the pillow. I have more running around to do tomorrow, though I plan on taking the project with me since a few of my stops may have some waiting time involved. I just wish I could crochet while driving! I've actually tried, sneaking a few stitches in here and there at stop lights, but I quickly discovered that those lengthy lights suddenly seemed to change much faster than they used to as soon as I picked up that yarn and hook. Even sitting at a train crossing waiting for a freight train to go by went much faster than usual. It's like the whole world speeded up to thwart my attempts at getting a bit of extra crocheting done, go figure!


Monday, February 13, 2006

Olympic Challenge Day 3 - Progress, sorta

I'm exhausted, and my arm is hurting, but I figured I'd share a progress shot on my project so far, as promised. I was feeling pretty good about it despite still being in the deficit as far as where I determined I should be at this point. But as I was preparing my pictures for this post, I discovered yet another error that will require a frog session, only 1 and about a 3rd rows to get to it, but it's still a deflating feeling. This is the second time this evening, the first one took me back over 2 whole rows to return to the error spot. Thus, I end with 25 completed rows less the 1 1/3 I will have to redo tomorrow. I should be at 30 by now. I'm also noting that my backside pattern is looking a bit on the choppy side so I will have to take some time to study that to figure out what I'm doing wrong to cause that problem. But it will have to wait until tomorrow.

It remains to be seen whether I will be able to meet my challenge. An afghan in 16 days is mighty big indeed, especially when you stitch as slow as I do - and I have to take frequent short breaks because my back, arms and neck stiffen up on me something fierce. I stayed off of Crochetville today because I lose way too much time when I go there, my "short" breaks extending to hours and I needed to try and catch myself up today. Ah well, I will keep plugging away at it and hopefully I'll be able to pick up speed as I go along. I've pretty much got the pattern sequences memorized now, so all I have to do is beware of the stupid errors I seem to be plagued with, they annoy me no end!

So, without further ado, here is where I'm at as of this posting
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If you'd like to take a closer look, this link will take you to a larger version of the above pic.

Tomorrow is another day...

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Slow start...

It was late late late before I finally sat down and started my chain for the afghan. Worked on it while watching a movie, with a few breaks and one major break while I took an important phone call. I just finished up row 5 and am calling it a night. I'm surprised I did so well, considering that I netted about 2 hours' worth of sleep yesterday and did some running around in the late afternoon/early evening. I have more running around to do later today, and I may end up visiting Phil tomorrow evening (though the project will be with me at all times from now on), but I will hopefully still be able to devote more time and concentration on it. While I was at the library yesterday (one of my "running around" stops), I browsed through and picked up two audio-books. I'd love to watch movies while working this afghan, but since much of it requires that I actually look at it while stitching, it's a tad hard. I know I found myself stopping numerous times last night to just watch various parts of the movie, which is one of the reasons why I only have 5 rows to show for my efforts out of the gate. Hopefully, listening to a book on CD while working on my afghan will work to help me speed up. I'm going into day 2 of this challenge 7 rows short! My goal for tomorrow is to catch those 7 rows up and then lay down the designated 12 for the day.

I'll provide a progress pic with my next update!

Along with the website for this CAL (you can click on the big Olympic button in my sidebar to go to it), a yahoo group has been set up for participants to chatter amongst themselves - and boy are they chattering! I doubt I'll be able to keep up there and actually get any crocheting done, so I'll be mostly skimming posts as time permits, maybe adding a comment or two of my own along the way. We had a pretty decent number of people sign up for the CAL (for those who may be scratching their heads - CAL is short for "Crochet-Along", meaning a group of folks working on the same project together. In this case, the "project" is the Olympic Challenge, and the actual items being crocheted differ from one person to the next), and it appears that most of them also signed onto the yahoo group as well.

Okay, gonna post this and then wrap up for tonight (such a nit-picker you are! Okay, this morning! Satisfied?) and try to get some real sleep. I keep drifting off at the keyboard here, I think that's my cue...

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Success with Felting

I'm driving myself crazy here, trying to get several things done all at once - something I'm not very good at! I've had numerous things I've been wanting to blog about but it's going to take me awhile to get them all covered. I'd like to try (for once) to break it down and limit my postings to one topic each, then maybe I can get them all covered and with the coverage they deserve. Of course, that will require a bit of organizing on my part. After running for 3 days on about 4 hours of sleep, I crashed and burned today, and I think I caught some of it up. But it sure does make for a short one!

Anyway, I wanted to share my excitement over my first foray into the world of felting! I worked up this little envelope piece - calling it a clutch for want of a better description - as a test piece for what I have in mind as my major project: a felted tote for my partner in the spring bag swap. I still need to work a bit on my joining technique, which gave one side of this clutch a few problems, but it otherwise turned out pretty dang good I think! I'm going to see if I can post some clickable thumbnails here so you can see this little bag in it's before and after states:














If I did this right, all of the images should be clickable so you can see pictures large enough to show the details on this thing.

I worked this piece up free-hand, without a pattern. I will say this: I am in LOVE with Galway wool! I used it double-stranded on this project (as I will also do with the tote) so that thickness-wise, it would be a closer match with the Lion Landscapes I paired it with. I wasn't sure how this was going to felt up using two different brands of wool - and one of them only being 50% wool, but it looks like it is going to work out just fine! It took 3 turns through the washing machine to achieve a full felt, with approximately 20% reduction in size. Due to it's thickness, this is a very firm fabric, and I don't think I'm going to need to worry about lining the tote when I make that up. If my swap partner sees this and hates these colors, she'd better let me know asap! I do have some other colors I could use instead, but I thought these were nice and springy. I checked with the LYS today where I picked this yarn up from previously, and they still have that 40% off all yarn sale going on, so I am thinking of going by there tomorrow to get some more of this Galway, I'm not sure I have enough (especially considering how much I ended up using on my test piece!). The store had a LOT of this yarn, and in lots of different colors too. Last time I visited the shop, I left hauling a trash bag full of yarn, lol! I'll have to control myself a bit more this time.

So, I think my first try came out successful. My little clutch is drying now, and all I need is to find a toggle of some sort for the flap to hook over, then I will decide what to do with it. With my Olympic project scheduled to begin tomorrow afternoon, I don't know how soon I will be able to start on the tote for my purse swap. It will be totally dependent on how fast I am able to move with my afghan whether I think I can sneak some crocheting time from it to work on other things. I've calculated that to stay on target with finishing my afghan by the end of the Olympic period, I need to work a minimum of 12 rows a day, which means I'd have the afghan done to the point of working the edge rounds, in 13 days, giving me 3 days to get those rounds done and all the finish work accomplished.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

OMG! He outdid himself!

I received my N hook from Jimbo in the mail today. He had that package well-wrapped in tape, so much so that it took me awhile to wrestle it open, lol! After getting past that first barrier of cardboard and tape, I came upon another, consisting of red felt and yarn. My package looked like a small rolled diploma with ties on each end instead of just in the middle, and since he'd taken care to wrap the yarn several times around the felt-covered treasure before tying it in a tidy - and tight! - knot, it once again took me some time to work the yarn off each end (nope, no sliding it off!), figure out which end was up (both me and the hook - the price I pay for sleep deprivation) and finally slide that baby out of it's felt blanket.

I gasped!

I sighed!

I petted!

I stroked!

And since the sun was again streaming in - the snow having stopped (big sigh of relief and crossed fingers it will be warm enough for it to melt away so I don't have to wield the shovel), and my kitchen was plenty bright, I grabbed my camera and took a quick shot of this beauty on it's felt bed so I could share it with the world!

FEAST YOUR EYES!
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Is this not THE most beautiful piece of whittled wood you have ever seen?! And let me tell you: It is smooth and silky to the touch, and just glides right into place, following the curves of my fingers as they wrap eagerly around this lovely tool of creativity! As one, hand and hook seek yarn with which to play, and so I will send this off and give them their opportunity!

Kari mentioned in a comment just recently placed on my previous post about how sold she is on hers, both the lovely classic TOTC hooks as well as Jimbo's rustic beauties. I couldn't agree with her more! I am totally hooked! (yes, yes - intended!)

Jimbo, you have outdone yourself! Somebody, tie a weight to my ankle, so I don't float away!

Monday, February 06, 2006

Heaven is a piece of wood!

There was no way I could pass up the opportunity of finally realizing my dream of having some wood crochet hooks to work with, and with all the trouble I've had with cold hands trying to wield cold aluminum hooks in a cold house this winter, there were practical considerations involved as well. I lost a great deal of crocheting time due to that cold issue over the past couple of months that I did not want to lose any more!

I knew from the moment I saw the first one posted on Crochetville that I wanted to have some of Jimbo's wonderful hand-whittled hooks. It was especially appealing to me to have a hook that was designed with my specific grip in mind. I worry often about those repetitive stress issues, considering I spend the vast majority of my time doing things that can create and aggravate that problem - and I am already suffering from it with my "tennis elbow" issues. So I wasted no time placing an order with him.

We ran into a small problem along the way, though, and I know the fault is mine (though he might try to insist on taking part of the blame, I refuse to allow it!). In deciding what sizes to order, I looked at what major projects I was lining up for myself over the next few months and reviewed the sizes of the hooks required for those projects. I found them to be pretty evenly split between two sizes: J and K. I also wanted to order an N hook, but had no immediate plans for any projects using that size of hook and, being anxious to make sure that no matter what project I chose to do next it would be with a wood jimbo hook, I went ahead and ordered a J and a K. Granted, I did hesitate over the idea of ordering two hooks so close in size, realizing there could be an opening for error in doing so, but foolishly I persisted and did it anyway!

I received my package from Jimbo week before last, and ohhh - were these hooks lovely, and felt so wonderful in my hand! BUT, I couldn't for the life of me figure out which one was the J and which the K! I used every trick in my arsenal to try and puzzle their identities out, resorting to a final swatch test to see which was the larger of the two... The swatches worked up EXACTLY the same, and from the gauge, and the comparison to my aluminum hooks, I determined that I had two J hooks on my hands. Oh darn!

Here's a few pics of the two hooks, along with associated aluminum hooks for comparison, to show the dilemma I was in...

The two hooks:
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Hooks side by side with the aluminums:
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I contacted Jimbo rather reluctantly, because I didn't want to make him feel bad, although as pretty much anybody that knows him knows, this is virtually impossible to avoid. So of course, it made me feel bad. There was just no escaping it! But after a few swapped emails with attempts on both sides to wrestle the blame from the other, we came to the agreeable decision that I would send one of the J's back to him, to be replaced by an N hook, and all that was left for me to do then was make up my mind which hook it should be. That took another couple of days, and I finally got it sent off to him last Tuesday. Trust me, it was hard to send that second hook back, despite the fact that there was really no reason for me to have two wood J hooks at this time. I sent the shorter one (in the pic) back, and kept the longer one, only because I seemed to be able to work better with that one, though the grip on the returned hook was the most comfortable of the two.

But now that I have worked with a wooden hook, I find I have gotten totally spoiled! What I really wanted was to get some of the smaller hooks in wood, especially an F, for working with my laceweight yarns on my Seraphina shawls (of which I have many planned, materials being on hand and standing by). And wouldn't you know it, someone posted on Crochetville that Bill over at Turn of the Century had just restocked his hooks. I had to go look... And buy...

Going for broke, I ordered the F I needed, along with an H and, since it hadn't worked out with Jimbo, I got a K too - I really did need that size! These lovely babies arrived last week:
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I am finding it sooo much more comfortable working with these wooden hooks, I'm not sure I will ever be able to return to my aluminums again! I highly recommend both styles of hooks for those perched on the edge of wanting to buy a wooden hook. Both are beautiful in their unique ways - gorgeous woods, fine finishes, smooth hand and operation. I gotta tell you:

HEAVEN IS A PIECE OF WOOD!


Sunday, February 05, 2006

Crochet Olympics

I've got several other things I've been meaning to blog about, will get to those as time permits. But I wanted to put up my notice of participation in the Crochet Olympics now preparing for official start of ceremonies this coming Friday the 10th! I have signed on with my challenging project: the Quilted Trellis afghan from the book Mosaic Magic by Lily Chin. Materials are gathered, hook is handy and I've even worked up a gauge swatch - good thing, too, because this pattern is a tad more complex than I'd expected! Fortunately, I found when I measured the piece that I'm on target - which is good because I don't have extra yarn to spare, and one of the called-for yarns wasn't easy to come by! I'd hate to have to be scrambling to get more as we approach the end of this ordeal - er, event! If I succeed - no, make that WHEN I succeed! - I'm going to have one beautiful blankie on my hands! Just the swatch looked pretty spectacular!

Here's a pic of my materials, standing by and ready to go go go!
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And here's a (crappy) shot of what my ghan should look like when I'm done:
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I have several other projects to concentrate on in the meantime, can't be wasting any time since I will have to set them all aside come Friday. I will try to get the buttons up on my sidebar by the end of the day, and maybe another post or two written - been bursting at the seams over some of it! We'll see if this old flake can get it together...