Tuesday, January 27, 2015

SOMETIMES IT ACTUALLY WORKS, SORT OF

I always think that my newest project is going to be beautiful and quick.  Sure, I can knit that scarf in one week!  Well, this time it actually worked.  And here is the finished product, on the guy I made it for, our good friend Tom, Jim's college roommate.  He'll take it back to Ontario, which is having a horrible winter and it will keep him warm while he takes his daily walk.

It's really, really long.  He folded it in half and put the ends through the loop.  So glad to have been able to make that for him!

The "sort of" means I didn't finish it in one week.  It took a week and two days!

And this second photo shows, that at times the guys actually do take their turn in the kitchen.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

CHANGE OF PROJECT

Ever had it that you started one project and then another suggestion came your way and you switched in midstream?  That was what I did this past Friday.  We had company from Ontario, Tom and Helen.  Tom was one of Jim's roommates in college and we two couples have kept our relationship going ever since, emailing occasionally and, even less occasionally visiting each other in person.

This is the project I had started: a sock for the youngest granddaughter, using the 1 ounce of "Tie Dye" yarn from my last sock project and some plain purple to stretch it out to sock length.  I plan to use the purple for the toe, heel and ribbing and alternating rows of tie dye and purple for the body of the sock.  Although the gauge on the label is the same, the purple is fractionally less in bulk than the tie dye and that is giving a few minor problems at the change between needles.  I think that discrepancy will mostly disappear when I block the sock.

I plan to use the "After Thought Heel," a process by which you knit a simple tube with toe and ribbing and then remove one row of stitching on the sole at the appropriate place, pick up the stitches on either side and knit the heel as an after thought.  That way the first sock can be knit until there's just .5 ounce of yarn left and then finished off with the purple.  There's a good video of that process on the net.

Then Helen mentioned that she could never find a scarf for Tom that could be wrapped around his neck a few times.  Well!  Mention that to a knitter and she's off to the races.

I bought two related colours of acrylic yarn (she wants to be able to wash the scarf easily in the machine) and started experimenting.  When I knit without a pattern, which I usually do, the beginning is a series of experimental starts until I settle on an idea.  I wanted this scarf to be the same on either front or back, and so a "basket weave" seemed to be a good idea.

Cast on 30 stitches.  First Row: Knit 5, Purl 5, repeat to end of row.  Second Row: knit the knits, purl the purls.  Repeat for 6 rows.  Next row: Purl the knits and knit the purls.  Follow that setting for 6 rows and switch again.

I'm using DPNs to facilitate switching yarns every row.  That way I can start knitting from whichever side of the row the yarn is waiting.

It's been growing at a very satisfactory rate, mostly due to the fact that I've suffered a horrendous cold since last Wednesday and wasn't able to do much else than sit, knit, read a bit and drink some coffee.  Oh, and cough, blow my nose and suffer.

I must be feeling better because I'm getting restless with this regime, but I would like to knit all of the two balls of yarn into the scarf before Tom and Helen return on Friday.  Think I'll make it? 

Monday, January 19, 2015

LEE ANN'S SECOND QUILT

I met Lee Ann at the Quilting Group late in December.  She had come to ask for help in finishing her first quilt, a panel to which she wanted to attach borders.  She had picked some red and blue fabrics, which related beautifully to the panel picture.  I helped her cut and attach the borders, and Bev helped her sew a "pillowcase" of the three layers, and then turn them right side out and quilt them by machine.

Lee Ann was ready to do more.  But first she wanted to buy a sewing machine.  At home in Wisconsin she has an elderly Singer in a cabinet, but she wanted a machine to use when she is here in Sun Village, and I was delighted to go sewing machine shopping with her.

We went first to King's Sewing & Vacuum Store, very close by, because they are a Janome dealer and I'm a very loyal Janome user.  We looked them over and then took the trip down Bell to Joanne's, courtesy of our "chauffeur," her husband Gary, and looked at what machines they had for sale there.  It was pretty clear to us that the choice was a nice little Janome.  They went back the next day and bought that Janome.

Lee Ann had seen some rag quilts that inspired her, so while we were at Joanne's we bought material for a rag quilt.  The top is a tropical print, appropriate for a quilt for their daughter who had been married not too long ago in Aruba.  We picked a mottled blue flannel for the back, and bought a packaged batt 46" x 60".

Last Monday Lee Ann and I got together at the sewing room and cut out the squares for this lovely lap quilt.  She went home and got busy sewing.  Today she stopped by to show me the result.  It turned out terrific!  And doesn't she look happy with it?!!!

Congratulations, Lee Ann, on a quick finish to a lovely quilt!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

FINISH ONE, START ANOTHER

I had a very early start this morning, awake at 2:20 a.m. and up by 3:15 a.m.  That happens at least once a week.  When I know I'm not going back to sleep, I don't fight it.  I just get up, put on a pot of coffee and get out the knitting and reading.

That enabled me to finish the second "tie dye" sock this morning.  They are in the "Skew" pattern, so they look a little strange, more like a skinny, straight piece of knitting with a funny triangular heel.  They're pretty neat though, as seen in this next photo:

I didn't manage to get the stripes in the same order on both socks.  That was a disappointment.  The other pair of Skew that I made were mirror images of each other.

They are a little tight, so maybe they will go to my dear Sis, as she has smaller feet than I do.

Yesterday I was at Michael's (the craft store) when we had a downpour. Buckets and buckets of rain hammered down on the roof making a racket, bouncing off the pavement of the parking lot.  It was a good time to browse the yarn aisles.  I found five balls of yarn that needed to come home with me.

One of the balls is the deep purple in the top
photo.  I plan to combine that withe the leftovers of the "tie dye" yarn from the Skew socks, and make a pair for the youngest granddaughter.  Purple toes, heels and ribbing, and stripes of Tie Dye alternating with deep purple for the body of the sock.  The little toe is already knit in the top photo.  Doesn't look like something that could turn into a sock, but that's the plan.

In the afternoon the sun came out, but there were still several very dramatic banks of clouds in the sky.  Then the setting sun turned them all a range of glory from a deep salmon to a neon pink.

Clouds fascinate me and I'd like to paint many cloud studies.  My iPhoto is full of cloud pictures.  I remember Jim remarking on the first roll of pictures I took after we were married when he saw there were about five pictures of the same sunset, "Wouldn't one picture have been enough?"

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A SHADOW OF ITS FORMER SELF


Way back on October 23 I posted this picture of the greenery in front of our condo.  The bush on the very left with the orange blossoms is directly opposite our bedroom window.  Hummingbirds are especially attracted to its blossoms.

There are crews hired to maintain the village in a pretty pristine condition.  Lawns are mowed regularly, detritus from trees is collected and removed.  It all looks very neat and well cared for.

However, the method of pruning here is to take a power hedge shears and chop everything down to a fairly small ball shape.  That luscious shrub had that sort of "haircut" about 6 weeks ago.  It still hasn't showed many signs of making a comeback.  What a pity!  Hard to believe it's the same shrub, isn't it?

Because we run a garden center we do know about pruning shrubs and trees, and this is a real butcher job.  I do hope it will recover.

The village has a fragrant rose garden that was blooming profusely in December.  That, too, was given a "butch" haircut.  What a great pity, because roses do thrive in the cooler weather.  A "haircut" like this is a real shock to a blooming shrub.

We are back in the warmth, with highs in the 70's and residents are back to using the outdoor pool.  I did keep on swimming in sunny afternoons, except for the week of New Year's Day, when our highs were in the 40's.  Now with the sun shining on the pool and the air calm, it's just a treat to get some exercise there in the afternoons.

Friday, January 2, 2015

BRRRR!!!!

It's been so cold here this past week that we've started leaving the heat on overnight.  And being thankful for the furnace!  This morning around 6 a.m. the thermometer (at the nearby weather station, as per surpriseweatherbug) stood at 29.9ºF.  We watched it dip down, down, down to bottom out at 28.5ºF.  That's cold!

Last year we left here on the 7th of December, and at that time were still able to sit out on the patio in the late afternoon and enjoy a cold drink while reading library books.  So when I packed some clothes for this time here I didn't even think of including some sweaters or sweatshirts.  I do have some jackets to layer for the trip home (planned for early February), but never thought I'd need warm clothing for this "depth of winter."  Well, we can't really complain.  The high predicted for today is 52ºF, and that's not too shabby.  In the meantime, turn up the thermostat and pile on the layers.

Yesterday I finished the lap quilt (42" x 52") that I cut out last week Wednesday.
It's backed with a blue flannel print and bound with a red cotton binding.  I machine quilted in a moderate sized meander stitch and had an incredible amount of trouble with the upper thread shredding and breaking.  I tried all the traditional fixes, rethreading, changing the needle, using different thread, etc. multiple times and the problem never went away.  I finally just soldiered on, cutting the thread and restarting after each break.  I have no idea what caused it, and had no trouble with thread breakage when sewing on the binding.

The next quilt is already cut out: a vivid print fabric that more or less had built-in stripes.  I've cut 3", 2-1/2", 2", 1-1/2" and 1" strips and plan to make a bargello quilt, taking advantage of the printed stripes to take place of sewing all separate strips together.

The bit of knitting beside the quilt is the second sock of the "Skew" pair that I had trouble with earlier.  I did some research on "Skew" in Ravelry and now understand the pattern much better than I did when knitting the first pair, made a few years ago.  I remember being puzzled throughout the pattern the first time through.  Now I have a clear understanding of what's going on in the very unusual sock pattern.  A careful reading and following of each instruction helped to clear up the confusion.

Monday, December 29, 2014

A KEEPSAKE

This afternoon Jack, Mardelle's husband, had a "garage sale" of her art supplies and many of her paintings.  I had been hoping to buy a good brush, but was too late for that.  I did buy two brushes, one a good rigger and the other a simple brush, but one that had her name taped on the handle.

At one of our last classes together she was painting this watercolour of daisies as a demonstration for Lois and myself.  Lois did make two paintings following this, but I was working on a different painting and didn't pursue this.  I love this painting for its freshness, because it is one of the last paintings Mardelle did, and because I've always loved daisies.  Now it's hanging in our bedroom.  It needs to be matted and framed, and I will see that that happens.  What a lovely keepsake!

 This afternoon I took up a some quilt squares that were started last summer or fall.  They are for a "Delectable Mountains" lap quilt.  The half square triangles are completed and need to be trimmed to 8" squares, cut into strips and sewed into blocks.

I was delighted to discover that the shelf in my sewing cubby hole is just the right height for a cutting table, as long as the project is small and fits on the 17" by 11" rotary cutting mat.  That's plenty for most blocks.  That "room" is proving very versatile and comfortable!