Saturday, December 15, 2007

Temptation, thy name is Ravelry!

The holidays are upon us, and what happens? My Ravelry invite arrives! I've tried not to get sucked into the site, because I hear it can eat up a lot of time, but what I've seen so far looks pretty good. I've started adding projects and stash and books, but I don't think I'd ever get everything entered. I do plan to use it to keep track of new projects; I think it will be very helpful there. And by looking at what others are making, I've found even more projects to try. Like I needed that!!

Here's my latest completed project - an afghan for my nephew Mike's wedding. He and Haley got married last Saturday, and I actually got this done with a week to spare. I bought the yarn, Moda Dea Floral, back in June, with the intention of crocheting an afghan. But when I tried the pattern I had in mind, I used up one ball on just the first two rows. So I thought it over, and decided to knit a rectangle from the center out, so that when I ran out of yarn, I was done.
Good theory, but in practice, as the afghan grew, I needed longer and longer needles to hold all the stitches. KnitPicks Options needles to the rescue! I was able to use two 60" needles to hold the stitches, and knit with a third.
Here's a photo of the lovely bride and groom.
And here's a photo of my niece Dawn and myself, in the kitchen before the wedding, helping them set up. I love that little stove, and would have liked to take it home with me!
Ok, enough goofing around for now, time to bake Christmas cookies!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I'm Back!!!

After a long vacation from blogging, I think I'm ready to climb back in the saddle! I'm not sure what happened certainly wasn't dull, but maybe just a little too routine. Anyway, Spring and Summer have passed, and Autumn is settling in nicely, and it's time to cozy up to the keyboard and catch up!

Changes are coming to my humble abode: I've taken the plunge and signed another chunk of my life away to make some much needed upgrades. First on the agenda is the replacement of outdated and dysfunctional single-pane windows with energy efficient vinyl replacement windows. I'm not a big fan of things plastic, but the price and the energy savings can't be beat. My brother is helping me out by doing the installation himself. This is wonderful, because not only is he saving me thousands of dollars in labor (more money for yarn!), he is a meticulous craftsman, and it taking many extra steps to make sure the job is done to perfection. Here's an example - note the before and after!

As you can see, the old storms were in desperate need of paint, as well as glazing. Every Fall when I'd hang them, more glazing would fall off. I was worried that one year the whole pane of glass would just fall right out. In some places the frames are rotted away.

Here's the interior view:

The window on the right has never worked since I bought the house. Most of the windows have latches that are wonky, so this replacement is long overdue. I plan to eventually paint the trim white, so the contrast isn't so great. The replacement job is halfway done, and I'm already noticing that the upstairs and my bedroom are staying much warmer. I have a window over my bed, and each winter I could lay in bed, and put my hand up and feel the cold air blowing in, even with a storm window. The new windows are giving me a warm feeling all over!

Knitting update: I'm busy knitting an afghan for my nephew's wedding on December 8. It's almost done, and I hope to complete it this weekend, so I can work on something more interesting. Stay tuned for photos of the finished project.

Kitties update: Rusty was quite ill last month, with bowel troubles, but we seem to have that under control now, with daily medication. So far he is clueless that his nightly treats contain pills. Let's hope it stays that way. He picked up a nasty kitty cold the day he spent at the vet, which called for more medicine. He's pretty much over it, but managed to pass it on to Rollie. Here's a photo of the sickroom:
Ok, that's enough for tonight. I have to go settle in on the couch for the annual viewing of "Home for the Holidays" with Holly Hunter. It's one of my holiday favorites. I can relate to both the sisters, and I have no doubt that some day I'll turn into Aunt Gladdy!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Spring has sprung, and suddenly there are dozens of things to do, places to go, and it feels like everything happens at once. The May calendar filled up fast, and June will be the same.

I had a very successful garage sale at the end of April. I still have to fill a few boxes with the leftovers to take to Goodwill, and once that’s done, I can get back to cleaning and organizing and other fun chores. Prior to the sale, I was upstairs in the craft room, and I started clearing the space so that I can actually dust the surfaces, vacuum the rugs, and have some space to move around. To do this, I had to box up quite a bit of yarn and patterns, and store them in the closet. I hated to do it, because that section of closet was perfectly organized, cataloged, and functional. Now, it’s stacked to the ceiling with boxes.

But the main workspace is almost clear of clutter, which is very inviting. After I clean and scrub I hope to concentrate on the following projects: finish warping the table loom and start weaving (as soon as I remember what I was going to weave), continue cataloging the craft magazines and patterns that I just stuffed into the closet, and clean off the sewing machine and complete the neglected mending projects. Notice how none of that involves knitting? Oh well, that’s what happens when you have so many interests.

The yard and garden are charging ahead without me. I’m not sure what to make of the yard this year. I’m trying to save money, so I think I’ll work on dividing my perennials, and using them to expand the existing beds. There’s plenty of that kind of “maintenance” gardening to do.

On the knitting and crocheting front, I’ve finished a baby blanket for my neighbor, who is expecting a baby girl in June. Pictures will follow as soon as I put it through a wash cycle and block it a bit.

I’ve been trying to keep plugging away at existing projects rather than start new ones. I’m not keeping track as well as I did a few months ago.

More details to follow, along with photos of knitting, kitties, and the recent trip to the pineries of Northern Wisconsin!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

What's Wrong with this Picture?

See the mittens? See the blue line of stitches on the right mitten, ready for the afterthought thumb? Notice how the left mitten is missing a row of blue stitches. GRRRR! I had planned on finishing this project over Easter weekend, and sat down with them last Friday evening. I worked half a row, and then checked to see which hand I was working. That’s when I noticed the missing stitches.

I don’t even want to try and put a thumb in without those stitches, so one alternative would be to rip back. Look how far I’d have to rip! And the yarn would be a tangle, since it’s been stranded over and over for many, many rows.

The other thing I don’t like about these mittens is that they seem to widen out to such a broad top. I can’t figure out if it’s an illusion or not. The design makes them look top heavy, but they also seem way too big when I try one on. I didn't show the front of the mitten, but it's got a Celtic-style emblem with lots of diagonal lines. You know how those can fool the eye.

So, even though these mittens are more than ¾ done, I’m thinking I’m going to rip them out completely. I think this yarn really wants to be a hat, or a headband. After all this, that’s what it’s telling me!

I started this project during the 2006 Winter Olympics, and was really looking forward to getting it done and moving on. It kind of put a damper on the weekend knitting.

The other damper on the week has been a constant ringing in my head. It started out in one ear, on April 6, but now it feels deeply rooted in my brain. I’m going to the doctor on Monday, but I’m doubtful that the cure will be a simple change of medication or whack upside the head. If it were only that easy. However, since it’s starting to affect my sleep (not getting any), and my sunny disposition (ha!), it’s time to stop messing around on my own and call in the professionals.

The thing that gets me is that one year ago, before I started the big diet and exercise kick, I would have expected something like this. But why now, after I’ve lost 55 pounds, and walked 140 miles on my treadmill, and cut out the bad foods? It’s a mystery.

Finally, here’s a photo of the finished potholder project. These were fun to make, and I will probably do another pair this spring or summer. It would be a good project to take to the ballgames when they start, because the pattern is easily memorized and not hard to keep track of.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Slip Sliding Away...

…My resolution to finish two old projects before starting something new, that is. But I have a good reason, at least I think so. I started a pair of vintage style potholders this week, and they will be a very quick project, so I can almost pretend they didn’t happen. I think I mentioned before that I sell a few handmade things at a local place called The Craft Barn. It’s a nice place out in the country, where there are cats running around outside and you can buy farm fresh eggs. Well, last year I was asked to make some vintage style potholders for a regular customer. I made one pair, they were purchased, and I’ve been meaning to make some more ever since. This customer should be making one of her annual visits soon, so I wanted to get at least one new pair made before she shows up again.

As soon as these are done I plan to get cracking on those old projects. I put quite a few inches on the baby blanket last week, but was still over a foot short of the suggested 42 inch length. And last night I finally unearthed the pattern I was using to make another pair of Norwegian style mittens. Not that anyone is going to need mittens this time of year, but this project is ¾ done, and it will be nice to see it completed. And there’s a little bear that I started making on my birthday last November, who is just waiting for a head, some stuffing, and a personality!

I still have the cleaning bug, and managed to catalog and store two boxes of needlework magazines last weekend. That hardly made a dent in the piles, but it’s a start. And when I was looking for crochet cord for the potholders, I realized that I need to reorganize that stash. I have several boxes of cord, but each box was a combination of weights, so that I had to rummage through all of them to pull out what I needed.

My brother, the enabler, brought me more yarn from Goodwill this week. The cones of blue are cotton, and the others are odd balls of wool and acrylic. I showed him how to do burn tests to determine fiber content, but he didn’t think they’d let him start any fires at the Goodwill store. Probably not. Finally, the cats are loving the fact that I brought the scrap afghan out to work on. I piled it on the coffee table, which makes it really easy to move the bulk of it around while I add to it. But try getting the cats off it first! They all seem to thinks it’s their own private nest!

Saturday, March 24, 2007


I know you’re all waiting patiently for the glorious details of my spring cleaning weekend. I had such high hopes. Dashed, all dashed! Aside from doing the dishes and a little bit of tidying up, the only thing I managed to accomplish was that I soaked the shower head in vinegar, and now it’s like new again. Big woop.

What did I do all that time? Well, knit, of course! Here are two projects I finished last week. The first is a pair of baby booties in some Cervinia sock yarn. This is my standby pattern, and I’ll be trying to sell these on Etsy. The second project is my pair of socks for the Sock-a-Month 3 knitalong. They are the Friday Harbor socks from “Knitting on the Road” by Nancy Bush. I was concerned that they would be too big, but they fit my feet just fine. The yarn is Softee from Kimmet Croft Fibers, over in Wisconsin Rapids. It’s a blend of Rambouillet wool and Angora rabbit. Very soft indeed. I’m finding it very difficult to keep to my “finish two old projects before starting a new one” rule. I’ve stuck to it, but I’ve been paging through craft magazines and pattern books and seeing a lot of different projects that I want to make. The two finished projects shown here have allowed me to start my socks for April, so now I’m up against it to get other things done. My neighbor is having a baby, so I really should start another blanket. I’m almost finished with a knit blanket in baby boy blue, but I need to make a pink one so I’ve got my bases covered. I say pink because my brother brought me some pink yarn this week from Goodwill that should work just fine. He also brought some cream yarn, that I think I’m going to combine with a cotton coned yarn for another boy’s blanket.

Yes, this new yarn added to the stash. But, one of my rules was that I could get second hand yarn, so I’m covered. It actually hasn’t been too hard not buying any new yarn, but I haven’t really been able to peruse the knitting catalogs much. Too tempting.

Ok, enough for now. I’m actually getting more cleaning type work done this weekend, so I better get back to it. There’s a kitchen table full of plastic containers that need to be put away. Oh joy…

Friday, March 16, 2007

Mission Impossible?

Much as I would love to spend the entire upcoming weekend nestled on the couch, watching old movies and knitting, I don’t think I’d better. The Spring Cleaning bug is really biting, and I can think of dozens of chores that need doing.

Do you think anyone ever reads one of those books on getting organized, and then actually does it? Completely? I have my doubts. I’ve started organizing my house time and time again, only to hit some kind of stumbling block that stalls the project. Sometimes it’s lack of space. Sometimes I just run out of steam.

For me, organizing is an ongoing process. I’ve used this analogy before: I picture my house, or just a given room in my house, as one of those plastic number puzzles where you slide the tiles around in the frame, with only one blank space, and the object is to get all the numbers in order, moving them around one square at a time. That’s how I feel when I try to clean. Stuff just keeps shifting from space to space, in a different order, but I never seem to complete the puzzle.

I don’t mean for this to sound disheartening. I realized earlier this year that one of my favorite hobbies is organizing! I love the process of sorting and categorizing and making room for all my treasures. And I actually do have some systems in place that make sense and help me find certain things when I need them. It’s just that the chaos seems to outweigh the order.

So it’s time to sort, scrub, and purge if possible. Late next month I’ll be having a garage sale, so this will be the perfect weekend to start getting ready for that event. So although I’ll still put in the requisite time on the sofa with the pointy sticks, the name of the game this weekend will be “Mission Organization”. And if you’d like to see what I’m purging, click here to link to my eBay seller page. There are some needlework goodies there already, some brand new, with more to be added as the days go on…remember…one person’s trash is another person’s treasure! Gee, not that any of MY stuff is trash…to me, it’s all treasure!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Stash Busting Report for February, 2007

Ok, I didn't bust as much stash in February as I'd hoped, but it's a short month! I completed the following projects: 1 catnip toy, 1 tote bag, 1 ski hat, 1 pair of baby booties, and 2 pair of socks. This effort used up 13 balls of yarn, a total of 46 balls for the year so far. Not bad. I do have some larger projects in the works, which should help with the totals when they're completed. That's the key - complete the projects!!

I've managed to keep my other resolution to only start a new project after I've finished two old ones. In fact, I had to finish the green bedsocks just so I could start another pair of socks and keep up with the "Sock-a-Month" Knitalong. That rule is a little tough right now, though, because I don't have a good project for treadmill knitting, or for carrying along. But I'm going to try to stcik with it. I keep unearthing projects that have been set aside for years, and it's so sad. They need to be finished!

Finally, here is a photo of the shawl I started a few weeks ago. This yarn is so soft, I'm sure I'm going to enjoy wearing this as much as I'm enjoying knitting it.

Friday, March 02, 2007


We have had a week of snow here in Wisconsin. It started last Friday night, and on Saturday morning I woke up to see 18 inches of the white stuff. Just a few days before, I had been contemplating getting out the rake and starting on the front lawn. Ha!

I have a very powerful snow blower, and yet it took me two hours to clear away what usually only takes 30 minutes. Several times the chute clogged because I was trying to blow the snow over drifts already up to my shoulders. Sunday was more of the same, with six inches of new snow. Monday it tapered back to three inches. Then we had a few clear days, and last night it started up again, with six inches of new snow this morning.

Actually, I love it. This is how I remember winter. This is what we should have been dealing with since December.

The photo of the house is from Monday, and it really doesn't show the snow depth very well. But look how pretty the snow makes the house look! The trees are three of the spruces I have growing on the west side yard. I went out on Thursday and knocked the snow off, because we were forecast to get freezing rain, and I was afraid they would snap.
All these snow days mean one thing - more time for knitting! Well, that's what's on tap for this afternoon anyway. I'm going to work at my desk until noontime, then at 2 pm "Sense and Sensibility" is on TCM, so I'll take a break and do some knitting. I finished my tote for the Tote Exchange, but I still have plenty of projects to work on. Tomorrow I'll give a summary of February's stash busting efforts. Knit on!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Sven, Interrupted...

Confession is good for the knitting soul...right?

Here is Sven, brought up from the basement, after a lapse of maybe 12 years or more. I'm going to add him to the list of unfinished projects, and try to get him finished once and for all.
This cute pattern is from Cottage Creations. Carole Anderson doesn't appear to have a website, but if you google her company you can find plenty of vendors carrying her patterns. She has a whole series of these knitted people, and I think I have patterns for German dolls and Polish as well. But Sven came first, and so far, not so good.

Oh, the pattern is very well written, and I remember that I enjoyed getting as far as I got. For some reason, I just never got finished. He's been sitting in a box for years, first at my mom's house, and now at my own house, waiting to become a real boy. I do remember that for several years, the pattern and the project got separated from each other, so that was a good excuse. But poor one-legged Sven has been waiting patiently for way too long.

Hopefully I'll be sharing more of his knitting story with you, and we'll have one more finished project before too long! After all, I've owned up to it, so now I've just got to follow through. Don't read back to the beginning of the blog though, because there are even more recent projects (from last year), that still aren't finished!

Finally, I've noticed that the "k" key on my computer seems to not always function. A very bad key for a knitter to lose, don't you think? Could it be that I've worn this key out? Or could it be that there's just a huge wad of cat hair under there???

Thursday, February 15, 2007

My Kitties Love Me!

Just look at the beautiful roses they gave me for Valentine's Day! They are gorgeous. Ok, yes, I had to buy them, but I know it's the kind of thing the cats would have done, if only they could have gotten to the store. Or had any money. They would have chosen roses, or catnip, or dead mice, or live mice...I'm sure.

Rollie is here with the flowers. He's getting ready to chomp on that piece of ferny stuff they put in with the roses. Rusty is already heading out of the photo - he had a bite of it already! And Lilly's just too small to jump way up on the table...

Seriously though, these blooms were a no brainer. The grocery store had 65 cases of roses delivered, and they were $3.00 for a half dozen. A pittance for something so lovely. I guess by now you can tell I'm a pushover when it comes to flowers!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Well, it Didn't Take Long...

…to find a new project to start! I had been thinking about making a shawl, and seeing some on the knitting blogs only helped that desire along. I made a simple shawl a few years ago, and sold it at a craft fair, so it is one piece of knitting that I don’t have for myself.

I’m not sure I’m the shawl type, but I guess if I had the right one, I could be. So I looked through my pattern books, and decided to make the Wool Peddler’s Shawl from Cheryl Oberle’s “Folk Shawls”. The yarn I chose from the stash is a beautiful medium denim blue color of Kimmet Croft Softee, which is a blend of 80% Rambouillet wool and 20% angora. This yarn is lovely and supersoft, and I forgot how much I adore it. I bought it directly from Jan Kimmet during one of Meg Swansen’s Knitting Camps, so it’s been hanging around for at least ten years.

I was trying to remember if I’d purchased it with any particular garment in mind, and I think it must have been for a shawl, even way back then. Knitting Camp was a wonderful experience, and I attending during the years when Marilyn Van Keppel was working on translating the patterns from the Faroese Shawl book into English. I think she wore a different shawl every day, and during her portion of “show and tell” they came out one after another, each one more spectacular than its predecessor. It’s a wonder I didn’t start one right then and there!

I wound the first hank into a ball on Sunday, and that could have gone better. I put the hank on the swift, and clipped the threads that tied it together, but I guess I didn’t pick the right loose end to start winding with. Sometimes it’s easy to figure out which one to start with, sometimes it’s deceptive. Well, the strand I picked was caught around some other strands part way around the hank, so I couldn’t use the ball winder. I had to wind the ball by hand, and every time I got to the twisted section, feed the ball through and untangle it. It took a little longer this way, but the yarn is a joy to handle, so that made up for it. I got started with the knitting, and have a nice little triangle made already.

I added a stitch to each edge so I could make a slip-stitch selvedge. I plan on working a single crochet or perhaps an I-cord border across this edge when the shawl is done. Since it is the upper edge of the shawl and will probably get the most stress, I want to be sure it’s sturdy. Pictures by the weekend, I hope!

I worked on a rotation of six projects on Sunday evening, doing a few rows on each in turn. As I said, I really like everything I’m working on right now, so it was a pleasant evening. My next goal though, since I finished some booties last night, is to pull an older project into the rotation. I can’t keep working on new stuff all the time!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Another Accomplishment and Another Rule....

I just finished cleaning out the fridge and scrubbing it down, so I think I'm done with chores for the day! That job took a couple of hours and got me soaking wet, but it looks so sparkly in there now!

I finished this crocheted tote last night. The pattern is from the 2006 Crochet Pattern a Day Calendar, July 1, I think. The bag was supposed to be made with plastic store bags, but I didn't have very many, and wanted to use up this yarn anyway. I made the tote deeper than the pattern, again, because I was using up yarn. I like the way it turned out. It's just big enough for an average size project, or a few books, or a nice lunch! The yarn is Skacel Airone, a wool and acrylic blend.
My new rule is actually an old rule. Since I posted that list of uncompleted projects a few days ago, it's been bugging me. Especially because I found more projects that I could add to the list. Some from years and years ago. So my new rule is this: I need to complete two old projects before I can start a new project. I tried this a few years ago, and it worked pretty well for a few months, then everything went haywire.

I actually completed another project today, so I can start something, if I like! I finished knitting a ski hat from the Fall 2006 issue of Knit It - it was the cover cap. It turned out way too large, so now I'm going to try shrinking it to see if it will actually be an ok hat. Pictures will come later on in the shrinking process, although I should have taken one today, when it was soaking yet and covering my whole head down to my chin!

As for what new project to start, I'm not sure. I have one idea, but I don't think I'll start anything just yet. I'm liking all the projects I'm working on right now.

Finally here's a photo of Lilly and her pretty blue eyes....

Friday, February 09, 2007

Scarf in Progress

Here’s a project I started in December. I thought that maybe I’d make scarves for everyone for Christmas this year. In reality, I’m not sure if that’s going to happen. I have 15 people on my list to knit for, so that would be 1.25 scarves per month. Since it’s February, and I’m still knitting scarf #1, and want to be able to work on other projects, I might have to figure something else out.

I like this pattern, and I’m enjoying working on the scarf. I found the pattern here. The yarn I’m using is a mohair/acrylic blend coned yarn that I got from Webs a few years back. I’m using it double stranded on #3 needles. I was worried that the fluff of the mohair might obscure the lace pattern, and it does a bit, but I still like the look of it.
The photo is from the beginning of January. The scarf is 6 inches wide and about 3 feet long now, about halfway done. It’s going to have to be blocked, because at this length it’s started to fold over on itself, in spite of the added garter edging. It’s actually folding on the center of the lace pattern repeat, which is acting like a crease. I probably could have knit with only a single strand of this yarn, but I was worried that the knitting would be too loose. Now it seems a little too bulky. Did I swatch to check this out ahead of time? Of course not!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Happy Holidays from the U.S. Postal Service!

Look what the Postal Service is doing for knitting! This year’s stamps have been unveiled, and the holiday series will feature knitting – four lovely designs. On close inspection, it looks like the color work is done by duplicate stitch, at least on one of the designs, because the stitches are going in both directions. But these are lovely! I’ll be stocking up on these stamps when they are issued, that’s for sure. Last year with the snowflake stamps, USPS had all kinds of extras available – note cards, ornaments, etc. It will be interesting to see what items they come up with to sell along with the knitting stamps. I’d better start saving my pennies!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Stash Busting Report for January, 2007

January was an average month for completed projects. I made 13 items: 9 catnip toys, 2 tote bags, 1 pair of socks, and 1 watchcap.

This effort used up 18 balls of yarn. I know that part of the stash busting program is to also own up to the amount of stash. Well, that’s a bit difficult. What I have inventoried: 937 balls. Additional yarn not inventoried: probably another 500 balls. Coned yarn: approximately 150 cones. So you see, using up a puny 18 balls is not very significant. The key is not to add more yarn. I didn’t purchase any yarn in January, but a friend did gift me with four balls early in the month. I’m still ahead of the game though!

I should probably do more crochet, since crochet goes faster and uses more yarn. But I want to make projects that are useful, and not just make things that will sit around, just to use up stash. Anything I make should have a purpose – either to be used by me, given as a gift to someone, or as a saleable item.

I should get the looms threaded again too, and get busy weaving, because that uses lots of yarn as well. There is actually “waste yarn” involved in weaving – the lengths at the beginning and end of the warp that are attached to the loom’s front and back beams. These lengths can be several inches to over a foot long, depending on the loom. But even they can be used somehow, so I hate to toss them.

February is a short month, but I hope I can increase the number of balls used. I didn’t complete any old unfinished projects from ages ago, so if I can get some of those items done, I will accomplish two goals.

To that end, I will now list the current WIP’s, in order t make myself more accountable:

Scrap Afghan – knit, about half finished
Shapely Tee – knit, front piece half finished
Baby Afghan – knit, ¾ finished
Red Lace Runner – knit – maybe half finished
Woolease Child’s Cardigan – knit – only needs button band and buttons!
Rust/peach Mittens – knit - ¾ finished
Chenille Scarf – knit - half finished
Einstein Coat – knit – just started
Tote for Tote Exchange – knit – 1/3 finished
Fishtail Scarf – knit – half finished
Brown Tweed Socks – knit - one sock half knit
Brown/Gold/Black Baby Booties - knit – one bootie finished, second one started
Tote Bag – crochet – only three rounds left!
Fuchsia Baby Sweater – knit – working on the back.

I see I passed a baker’s dozen, so I’ll stop. These are the “current” projects. I’m sure I could start digging and find many older projects to add to the list.

Finally, Rollie says: “How inconsiderate of you to photograph me while I’m trying to perform my daily ablutions!”

Monday, February 05, 2007

Flowers in the Dead of Winter...

Do you know where that line comes from? Olivia Walton (Patricia Neal), in the original "Homecoming" movie, when John finally makes it home and brings her roses. It’s one of my Christmas "must watch" movies.

My winter flowers come from two splurges I made last year. If you haven’t noticed a theme developing in the blog this year, it’s this: I need to cut out all the non-essential expenses, buckle down, pay off the big bills, and put some money into the upkeep of the house. Another reason why I love the Waltons movie. The theme of poor people getting by on next to nothing appeals to me. I can relate. I didn’t grow up in a financially sound household, yet we got by. It taught me to be creative, if nothing else.
The first flowers are on an orange tree I purchased last summer. I got it at a local shop, and it sat outside most of the summer. When it bloomed in August, the scent came right in the house every time a breeze blew. The oranges developed, but stayed green. It bloomed again before I brought it inside for the winter. I’ve been watching the oranges get bigger, and turn orange, and then right after Christmas it bloomed for the third time. I took this picture in mid-January, when I had ripe oranges, green oranges, and blooms all at once. Although I paid more for this tree than I usually spend on a houseplant, it’s been worth it. I’ve even tasted the oranges, and although they are more sour than lemons, I’m going to use the rest of them mixed with some yogurt for a nice treat.

The other flower splurge was on this Amaryllis. I got it in November at La Crosse Floral, while I was at a used book sale. The bulbs were $15 each, or three for $40. I stopped myself from buying three, and picked out one. A little voice inside kept asking "Why do you need this, you can buy three bulbs for this price at the discount store. And how many bulbs do you already have at home? Work on getting them to bloom again." Even worse, I set the bulb aside when I got home, and didn’t pot it up until after Christmas. When I pulled it out it was very pale, and the bud was a little bent. I potted it and set it in the sun. Little by little it greened up, and spurted up. I still questioned my purchase, especially now that I’m cutting my spending. But on January 15 the first bloom opened, and all my doubts were put aside. Look how beautiful. Not just a single-petal bloom, but a triple- petal bloom. Just lovely. And, it’s taking some time to open, so I’m sure I’ll be enjoying this flower all winter long. Especially since there’s another bud poking up from the bulb!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Bags Galore!

I joined the Third International Tote Exchange, which has just gotten underway. It’s funny how just by signing up, I was put in the mood to make bags. So even before I had a pal assigned to me, I got started. The first bag I knit was from a pattern I found here. I knew I had one ball of Kureyon rolling around, so I used it up making this bag. I changed the handle, although I like the braided handles on the pattern. I just wanted something a little simpler this time around. I’m still in the fulling process, so I don’t have a finished product to show.

The second bag was a crocheted mesh market bag. I’ve been wanting to make one of these, and one day when I was cleaning in the basement, I unearthed a pattern that I tore out of a 1980's Family Circle magazine. I pulled out a nice mercerised cotton from Lane Borgosesia in a muted green, and got going. The one thing I love about crochet - it’s so speedy. I finished the bag in three days. I changed the bottom shaping to make it less severe, and changed the strap, and although it doesn’t look like much, I really like it.
Last weekend our swap partners were assigned, and now I get to start all over and plan another bag. What fun!

Monday, January 29, 2007

New Beginnings

I’d meant to write about new beginnings sometime around January 1st. Better late than never! At least it’s still January. Barely.

I want to get back on track this year with my journal of knitting projects. In 2004, I kept up a pretty good log, with detailed notes, photos of finished items, etc. I really enjoy looking back at it, especially since most of the items were either sold or given as gifts. Without this record I would have forgotten all about them! Why I fell off the wagon in 2005 and 2006, I’m not sure. But I’m going to give it a try, and I’m sure the blog will big a big help.

One of my knitting goals this year is to use up stash and not buy more yarn. I know I am not alone in this endeavor - here are two stash busting blogs to prove it - ! My pledge will be:
1. Bust the stash for the entire year.
2. The only day I will buy brand new yarn will be one specific day in June, when I go to an annual sale.
3. Buying yarn at thrift shops or garage sales will be allowed, but only if it’s a really good bargain.

I’ve made a pretty good start in January. I’ve finished one pair of socks, which I forgot to photograph before I sold them to a friend. Bad blogger! I also made two bags, one cap, and several cat toys. Details about these will be added in the future. I guess one advantage I have in trying to bust my stash is that I like to make a lot of different things, just to be knitting. I’ll make baby knits, even though I don’t have babies. I’ll make hats, even though I have more than I can use. In that respect the yarn in my stash has many more opportunities to be used in projects, instead of just waiting for the right sweater or sock pattern to some along. Of course, maybe that’s why I have a stash problem to begin with!

Seriously though, I really don’t consider my stash a problem. Yes, it’s taken over the house, but that’s ok. I splurged when I could afford to splurge. Now I need to watch what I spend, and cut out all the non-essential expenses. So the stash is able to provide me with what I need, and allow me to save my money for more important expenses.

My other big crafting goal for the year is to finish projects that are already started. I’ve got some in the works since I was nine years old! Seriously! My mom showed me how to sew yo-yo’s for a quilt, and I made bags full, and the quilt has never been put together. In the thrifty, frugal lifestyle, this would be deemed wasteful. It’s not something that keeps me awake at night, but I do feel just a little panicky when I start thinking of all the projects left undone. Especially when I could use a lovely yo-yo quilt for my bed...

I’ve made a real botch of this in January, starting new projects left and right, and not touching any of the old ones. But I’ll step it up in February. I’d better, now that I’ve officially made myself accountable!