Vicki Rules!

I truly believe the greatest blessing you can get out of a group situation is to connect with someone as a friend. Someone you would be glad to hang out with outside of the group. For as much as we need the company of others – sometimes you just want the company of someone. Some one.

Lucky me – I’d be happy to hang out one on one with everyone in my knitting group (well, everyone I know. I haven’t met all 120 of them.) I’d especially be thrilled to hang out with Miss Vicki because Miss Vicki crochets.

I do not know when this crochet bug bit me but we all know it was recently and I was really happy because I made my round crochet motifs and I was as happy as a clam…

but I wanted to make a granny square and last Wednesday night Miss Vicki showed me how. Yes, I’ve made these since Wednesday night…and this isn’t all of them. I am not bragging, I want that to be known, I just cannot believe how easy this has turned out to be .

I have tried fiddling with the design to put a unique spin on it but that hasn’t worked out yet, though I am confident I may come up with something if the attention span doesn’t run out. Bit this is so much fun! I cannot believe I had learned something which has eluded me for years.

Miss Vicki doesn’t read the blog, so she doesn’t know I’ve gone granny square manic. Hopefully I will have something more to show her than a bunch of squares the next time I see her.

This is a testament to her teaching skill. She was very patient with me as I questioned almost everything and my brain went into lock down and she cheered me on when I finally got it. All these squares are not perfect – but they are perfectly cute and that’s going to be close enough for me.

Thanks Miss Vicki for hanging out with the group and teaching me how to do something fun!

Gorge Jus

So here are the results of the Epais yarn and my favorite afghan pattern. Finished it just in time before the major part of the ‘isn’t this project over yet’ feelings started coming in. And they were starting. There is some Homespun in the mix of this and it is much bigger than the photo shows. This can go on a small bed.

Now, I am project-less. Work on the afghan for my pastor’s son? It seems as if his report date has been moved to August so now there’s no rush – not that you all had anything to say about which one I should make. But now I can work on something else and you know – since I have to do a stash bust – I am thinking granny square and falling leaves central.
I’m thinking I should grab a tote bag and take it to the upstairs stash and fill it up with as many colors as it can hold, then grab one of the big pound skeins of dark purple that I no longer need for the afghan that doesn’t need to be made for six months and start motif madness.

I found my inventory of crochet hooks and they are now sharing the ones from the M-I-L collection and they coexist peacefully and are asking very sweetly to be made into granny squares and I have about 12 skeins of Nuro Kureyon that would make pretty squares as well.

Then again, I can pull out a knitting pattern book or check out Ravelry for something in my queue….decisions.

I am curious..how do you decide what to make next?

Happy Friday!

I need your input.
The pastor’s son enlisted in the Marines and will be off to basic training next month – almost one month to the day. We, OK I, cannot let him go without an afghan blessed by the congregation. His favorite color is purple and I have two skeins of Caron By The Pound in Deep Purple (because that’s the manly purple. Can’t send a Marine pleb into basic with lavender. I thought I would do squares and so pulled out my knit stitches book (one of many) and cast on and, well, I ain’t feeling it.

But I don’t have a lot time to let feelings get in the way, the lad needs an afghan!
So, off I went to my Ravelry cue (blbochenek for those that want to be a friend) and I looked over what I had in my cue and selected the following: Give me your input and I will do the one with the most votes:

Here’s this one. I would do it in one solid color or add aubergine to the deep purple.
Then there’s this one that also could be done in a solid color for texture.
And the final one that could also be done in a solid color.

The good thing is I think I’ve done all of these patterns before so the learning curve should be short and once I get going it should roll trippingly off the needles – to paraphrase Shakespeare.
Please give me your thoughts – I need to get going on the afghan and I have to put the green Epais one to bed and it would be easier if I knew where I was headed.

You think about it – I’m on my way to the yarn store.

Wait..where?

Stop Me!…I Think

The wonderful Melissa takes delight in tormenting me. (I so look forward to the comment that’s coming from that opening salvo.)

The wonderful Melissa has said on several occasions: “Why aren’t you publishing your patterns?” or even more Mom-like: “I just don’t understand why you’re not publishing your patterns?” Yes, she makes it into a question. Melissa is Jewish (insert stereotype here) and the guilt has plagued me. Because one of my patterns is published on Ravelry and has even sold and because there are others playing around in my head. I’ve taken a look at a photo and then decided just to cast on and knit what I think I see. “Who,” says the person with 50 knitting books that she knows of, “needs a pattern?” Sometimes I do. I like patterns – they give me someone to blame. I don’t have to take responsibility for a pattern if someone else makes it. I just have to follow it and admire my ability to read or fail at it and say someone else doesn’t know how to write a pattern.

SIGH. But the wonderful Melissa is playing over and over in my head because she was working on a cute bag and progressing very well and as I was watching her knit it my mind was saying how I would change this or that and make it something different and then when I went to church, Joyce had the cutest bag made out of leather and I thought ‘I could knit something like that.’ Oh that Melissa!

Do you know Hill Harper? He’s on CSI:NY. He has a degree from Brown, a law and master’s degree from Harvard is the author of several books along with being a lecturer and actor. He says you should follow your heart even if it takes you all over the place. (And let us admit the man is creamy! Wanna spread him on a cracker and eat him right up!)
His voice is nearly as loud as the wonderful Melissa’s. He sets a great example of moving. You can’t ge
t anywhere without moving so if you think you’re stuck start at your feet.

Of course, I will put the patterns on the long list of things to do because the truth, Melissa, is that I have thought about publishing them I just haven’t gotten to it and then I know from the example of Hill Harper that time is something we made up and something we have some control over and can accomplish whatever we set our minds to doing. I believe that. I sincerely do.

I appreciate Melissa being in my head because I appreciate Melissa being in my life. She’s someone I love hanging out with even as she leads me on the path of breaking my stash resolution (you should have heard her last Friday!!) Stay in my head, Melissa, I could use the noise.

Being Wrong Can Be a Good Thing

We edit this post to come to the aid of a knitter in need!
Valerie sent me a message on a post from March 2008. The post here. (No, she didn’t send it back in 2008 – I’m not that slow. She sent it today.) And she would like to know how to get to the section in the middle – the horizontal part.

Well, Val, I can talk you through it! But let me say, you have to trust the pattern is telling you the truth in this case because it is – but I get why it’s confusing. OK, let’s go step by step (the rest of you can follow along by casting on about 20 stitches and you’ll get the idea and Val, this might be something you want to do to practice:

You’ve completed the garter stitch vertical panel and you have 200 stitches on your needle.

  1. Put six more stitches on your needle using the cast on method. (Knit the stitch but instead of transferring the stitch to the right needle, place it back on the left needle. Do that six times.)
  2. You now have 206 (or 26 if you’re doing the smaller version)
  3. Knit 5 stitches
  4. slip a stitch -purl wise
  5. knit a stitch
  6. pass the slipped stitch over the knitted stitch
  7. TURN YOUR WORK as if you have completed the entire row
  8. slip a stitch
  9. knit 4 stitches
  10. purl the last stitch
  11. TURN YOUR WORK as if you have completed the entire row
  12. slip a stitch
  13. knit 4 stitches
  14. slip a stitch
  15. knit a stitch
  16. pass the slipped stitch over the knitted stitch
  17. TURN YOUR WORK
  18. repeat 8-17

Essentially what you’re doing is a bind off. With each turn, you’re picking up one more stitch on the needle and with the passed stitch, you’re decreasing. You are going to end up with one stitch on your needle and be in a position to pick up the stitches to go vertical for the last part of the scarf. It’s a pretty cute technique! Practice it on the 20 stitches first and you will be able to see how it picks up and the horizontal section starts to form. You have to trust that it will all happen as written! Let me know if you need anything else.

Back to the regular post!

It is said that your really good lessons come from being wrong than from being right. After all, if you’re right about everything you really have nothing to learn, do you? And since you cannot be right about everything (and if you think you are you’ve just proved the theory into fact) you learn that and whatever else you need to learn from the mistake. Hence, we have the Epais yarn:

You remember this yarn. It was an exception to my yarn busting rule. It was the one yarn I was salivating to try and I was going to wait until it went on sale to purchase some and then the marvelous Vickie brought some to the yarn exchange and I had gobs of the stuff.

And I didn’t think I liked it because it wasn’t feeling right. But I was going to give it one more shot and put it into my favorite afghan pattern and challenge Yarndis, the fiber goddess to a duel of spirit. After all, this stuff is kinda pricey. It couldn’t just sit around the house. Well, the lesson is one should never give up:
look at it. I mean, look at it – are you looking? It’s beautiful!
It isn’t quite done yet, these are the two panels that are done and the third one is almost done and there are two more (at least) after that. That stubby white part at the center bottom is where the yarn came out of it’s weave so it’s a natural distraction that adds character and you should feel this stuff – soft as butter (OK, you know what? Who has really touched butter like that?)

I also said I had enough to make the afghan out of Epais alone and that might not be true so I have included some of the green shaded Homespun and it fits in pretty darned nicely. I even like the color of the Camo which was so disappointing to me before and the marvelous Vickie’s yarn is a great color splash. I hope to have it done by the sale next month. It’s going to be the most expensive afghan I ever made and it will break my heart to see it go – but I do want it to go.

Do you see what happens when you keep putting one foot in front of the other? Sometimes you do take some steps backwards but eventually that forward motion gets you to some new and unexpected places.

Because I’m Not Obsessed Enough

Yes, it’s crochet! Go ahead, oooh and awwww. I was watching episodes of Knit and Crochet Today and Needlearts Studio I have saved on my DVR and they made granny squares (and circles) look pretty easy.

Now, let me say the reason I gave up crochet, which I used to like better than knitting, was because I couldn’t get the hang of a granny square. They used to befuddle me. I didn’t get how come other folks were getting a square while I was getting a cup. For whatever reason, my brain couldn’t understand the instructions and so I gave up crochet. That, and because my ends were always wonky which is still a problem. But with age comes wisdom and so I picked up the crochet hook and decided to give it another shot. Not surprising, the solution was quite simple.

In the first round, make the stitches in the circle and not in the weave.

That was the entire solution to the problem and I made a couple of sample squares that I pulled out and made again and then made these…and of course I purchased a book of crochet motifs. Because what I really need is an excuse to go out and fill in my crochet hook inventory with the missing hooks of the set.

What is really touching about getting this down is that my late mother-in-law loved crochet more than she love knitting. Part of what she left behind is her inventory of crochet hooks including a beautiful wooden one. Joe gave me those crochet hooks and now I can use them for more than just making a trim. She also left behind a huge bunch of small circle motifs and I can now make more of them and also connect them and make them into a blanket or more likely a table runner that we can take from house to house during our Nana Christmas celebration and a little bit of her will go on and when I go north, it can go to her eldest granddaughter and so on and so on. Not that I have anything against male grandchildren, I just kinda know how my M-I-L would think and I want to do what I am sure she would do.

I’m really grateful I tried it again. I don’t care what anyone says, I don’t think God is in the details, I think God is the detail and whatever and however we conceive Him to be, trust is always rewarded on a timetable we don’t always understand. I need to trust more because look what happens.

The Blessings

Well to apologize would be futile. I’ve ignored the blog. That’s a sin and a crime. I know. I’ve been playing around with my eyes…changed the contact lens prescription, had to have the pupils dilated, etc. etc. etc. Mostly I’ve been busy with the Craft Cafe.

It is coming together, though probably not as fast as I’d like it. We still have some spots left and I would feel so much better if I had 15 of my 20 spots filled. I need a couple more for that to happen.
I, of course, had no idea of how much it would take. It’s a lot of fun and really gets into the creativity and practical sides of my brain!

You should see the talent out there. I always knew it, but now I see it more up close than ever and I am so impressed. Without being the least bit envious, I do admire those with that kind of talent. God gives blessings to everyone.

There was also the weather to contend with. My new sobrina that’s Spanish for niece, Lily, is in Maryland where they have been socked by snow and she writes on her Facebook page that it is all so pretty and beautiful, even as it has inconvenienced her and her hubby (my nephew) because he couldn’t get home. I railed a little against her love of the snow and then I went outside in my own snowstorm to clean off my car, and I had to admit it was very pretty. It was the fluffy kind, not the icy, slushy kind. It was powdery and willowy – so yeah, it was rather beautiful and considering this is mid-February and we’ve had only three snowfalls – certainly not much more – I can allow myself to be gracious enough to admit there is a beauty there. Because again, God gives blessings to everyone. To Lily, he’s given the blessing of being able to see beauty and express it. To my nephew, he’s given the blessing of Lily.

The blessings of work to do, people to love and to love you back, and the ability to see good everywhere you look.
Gotta love that God, don’t you?

I Can See Clearly Now

I went to the eye doctor the other day because I have not had new eyeglasses since – probably ten years. So I knew it was time and since we have eye care coverage, and they pay for a new pair of glasses, I thought I should go.

and spend $250

OK, I can explain. At least I think I can explain.

You see, Sears was running this two complete pairs of glasses for $100. (They say it’s $99.99 but come on.) I thought I would take advantage of that. I know I could go to other places and get 20 pairs of glasses for that, but Sears Optical is on my insurance plan. Yes, I know the insurance pays for one complete pair but I was also interested in contacts so I was going to have the insurance pay for contacts (if I could wear them) and I would pay for the two pairs of glasses (one regular, one tinted for sunglasses) as backup to the contacts.

In the event I couldn’t wear contacts (I have a serious astigmatism from being hit in the eye with a rock in grade school) then the insurance could pay for one pair of glasses and I would pay for the other.

Now, you know that makes sense.

So, I met with the wonderful Dr. Stevens (He’s in the north ave store if anyone wants to see an eye doctor that takes the time to explain everything and is very patient.) As it turns out, I can wear contacts. But I wanted to have the contact/glasses combo.

Theoretically, I should have let the insurance pick up the more expensive of the two (the contacts) and I should have paid for just one pair of glasses – but believe me, it wasn’t the glasses that cost the most. I kinda got caught up in the moment and I think I may have purchased a pair of glasses I might not need – a regular pair of sunglasses. I have no idea how much I paid for them but I’m thinking they weren’t that much. What did my $250+ get me? Two pairs of subscription glasses, one pair of smoking sunglasses, and a 3 month supply of contact lenses: here’s how

2 pairs of glasses $100
co-pay $ 40
protection plan $ 40 (two years replacement)
tinting 1 pair $ 15
contact fitting $ 40
sunglasses $ no clue the sunglasses are for me to wear when i have in the contacts. I looked good in them, what can I say?

She went over everything with me, but it’s all blurry (forgive the pun) On the one hand I think I got a lot for the money – on the other, don’t know. Mr. Honey spent that much a few years back for his two pair of glasses.

You can weigh in if you like…but let me say I’m loving the contacts!! and these are samples! the real ones will be in next Tuesday. but they are soft and comfortable and other than the glitches in getting them in and taking them out, they are smoking nice to have. So I can see quite clearly as I show you the ‘shawl that never ends!’

It has ended and can I tell you what I thought when I realized it was all bound off and done? I was holding it in my hand, this shawl that I was bitching and moaning about; this shawl I could not wait to get off my needles and be done with. I said to myself, ‘I wonder if I could put some kind of lace edging around it?’

Naturally, I slapped myself silly until that thought went away. Lace trimming? Who am I and where did that saner person go? What’s up with me and lacy edge trimming? I stuck the tassels at the corners and called it a very long day. It took me a while to figure out how to do the tassels. I don’t think I’ve ever done them and it’s a little different than doing fringe – just a little enough to make me want to run and find a fifth grader to explain it to me. But I did persevere.

Can you all tell how sparkly it is? It’s quite sparkly and it even has a little warmth to it. Now my knitting group can stop making fun of me. I started this on the 18th of January and was still working on it at our last Wednesday meeting. “You’ve been working on that for more than ten days? You usually have about 20 things done in that time…hahahahahahaha.”

Last laugh, baby, last laugh. And now I can see who’s laughing at me!

Idiot!

Just to let you know, the ‘shawl that never ends’ has ended. That puppy is all done and complete with tassels on the points. Yes, I stayed up until 5:30 to complete it and I had an 11 o’clock appointment but we were not going one more day.

That’s now why Idiot is the title of this post.

I was explaining to someone what an i-cord is. See the handle on the bag? It’s an I-Cord. “I” stands for idiot. I’m not kidding. It stands for idiot because it’s so easy even an idiot can do it. (You may insert your guffaws here, but I warn you, if you know how to make an i-cord you may not be laughing at me.)

As it turns out, this is a brilliant piece of stitchery. The I-Cord is not only good for making handles (like on the bag); it’s also great for edging, belts, even for the body of the bag. It’s a versatile little thing. Just in case you don’t know how to do it:

1. It can only be done on double pointed needles or circular. Truth to tell, I don’t know why one would do in on circulars if you’re just making an i-cord. In fact, though I’m sure there may be a reason to use circulars when making an i-cord, I can’t think of it.

2. Cast on 3 or 4 stitches. Don’t go any higher than that or you’ll create a mess instead of a funky tube that you want.

3. Knit across.

4. DON’T TURN the work. Instead, slide the stitches back to the working end of the needle. The working yarn is going to be at the opposite end – which is just where you want it.

5. Knit across. Keep the yarn in the back and yes you will be pulling it across the back. That’s what makes the tube.

6. Repeat until the cord is as long as you need. To bind off, k1 sl1 psso, turn, k2 tog.

Of course, there are nuances and different ways to bind off and all that stuff, but if you’ve never made one, it’s a pretty cool thing to master.

Yes, I will show you the ‘shawl that never ends’ but in the daylight!