Monday, September 29, 2003

Lately I have not felt as productive as I like. It is not that I haven't been able to get in my fiber and sewing time, in fact, I knit like crazy to keep me from going crazy during home school. I just haven't finished anything in awhile and I like the sense of satisfaction that comes from a completed project. I was tired of looking at the same old works in progress here week after week. So I decided to strike and post nothing until I finished something. Well, I finished COTR #2! YAY!!!

It didn't photograph too well on my heavily patterned bedspread, but I HAD to post pictures of something COMPLETED.

The color of this shawl reminds me of whole wheat cranberry bread. The picture does not show the rosy tint of the shawl. It is pretty and much lighter in weight than my last one. I think my grandmother will like it. This one is as big as my first though and I used a size 5 addi turbo circular needle instead of the size 7.

Lately, the evenings have been chilly. Of course I am measuring by my Florida standards and mean 70 degrees or a little less. My daughter and I have been stealing away into the back yard before bedtime to spend time in the swing cuddling and star gazing. My first COTR shawl is large enough to wrap us both up and we love it! I plan to continue to knit lace and can see having a whole wardrobe of lace shawls. They are completely practical for Florida panhandle life.

I refuse to post more pictures of the same old stuff this week. However, I did finally get pictures from last December (2002) developed. These pictures included the first and only wedding dress I have ever made so I will post these instead.

The bride's family and ours have been friends since we moved here five years ago. When she couldn't find anyone to make her renaissance wedding dress (combining two patterns), I got talked into it. (Had it not been for this dress, I would not have been "burned out" on sewing for awhile and would not have discovered spinning and knitting. I would say this is thus a good thing, but whether my husband would agree is a different matter.)

All of the trim had to be sewed on by hand. The bride is not a sewer and she bought and delivered the material and trims. Some of it was nice, some of it required creative sewing.

Fortunately, the bride was very happy with her dress. . . And I was very happy when I finished! I started this dress right before I had to pull Gregory out of school and homeschool him. Thus I took on two very stressful tasks at the same time.

I added some embroidary and beading to the sleeve on my own. I constructed the sleeve from two different patterns. I truly felt like I was making it up as I went. Not a good feeling when you are a perfectionist and are working on someone else's wedding dress!

We don't celebrate Halloween here, but my kids like to dress up. Thus, the last few years I picked up sewing patterns for various costumes and turned them into pajamas for the kids. Gregory is wearing the body of his dog pajamas. Made from faux fur, they are warm and cozy for winter. He also has a hood with ears that match. We started this tradition with teletubbies. The kids also have Cheetas. October is almost here and I need to decide whether I'm going to continue the tradition. I probably won't. Despite being only 6 years old, Gregory is almost a size 10 now and it is tough to find patterns that big.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

I love Sunday mornings. We usually stay up a little later than normal on Saturday evenings since Kurt doesn't have to go to work and on Sunday morning the kids sleep in later than usual. Today (and the last few Sundays) I've "played hookie" from church. Now don't get me wrong, I love church. We have a great pastor who delivers wonderful messages and lots of friends at church. But after taking care of everyone's needs all week and rarely having a break, I like to just relax in quiet, peaceful bliss for an hour and a half on Sunday morning while the family is at church.

It is raining lightly outside and a mockingbird chirps for the return of the late summer sun somewhere in the distance. There is no arguing or fighting to compete with Creation's voice and NOBODY NEEDS ANYTHING. No one needs a drink. No one needs me to find a shoe. No one wants food. No one is wondering if I can get to a dark load of laundry today. No one wants to detail the injustices recently inflicted by his/her sibling. I love this little window of peace on Sunday morning. Sigh.

But I do miss going to church and my husband misses having me with him at church so I'm going to have to figure out a way to get a break during another block of time on a regular basis.

I've been focused more on my COTR this week than my other projects. I'd like to get it done so I can jump into the Legends of the Shetland Seas without distraction.

I finished the Crab and Sea Horse chart, Bubbles B, the Starfish chart and most of Bubbles C. I have two fish charts, Bubbles D and the Sea Foam remaining. I can't decide whether I should just finish this shawl and THEN start the LotSS or jump right into the LotSS now and work on both shawls at the same time. I'm starting to feel overwhelmed with so many ongoing projects, but I also feel like I need to start the LOtSS since I committed to it when I joined the LotSS knit along.

I finished Kurt's first Shetland wool sock.

He tried it on and it is a perfect fit. I've already cast on for sock number 2, but have only done about 4 rounds. Simple socks are great for "on the go" or "during the wait" knitting. I knit most of sock number one during homeschool while the kids completed school work.

I got a little bit of shoulder shaping done on Gabrielle's bobble sweater.

Most of this I did sitting in the front yard watching the kids ride their bikes. As warm as our weather still is, it is hard to imagine wearing a sweater.

Once I FINALLY finish this bobble sweater, I want to try a stranded sweater by Dale. I've already picked the pattern.

I thought I'd do this in off white and dark and slate blue. I finished reading the Philosopher's Wool Book on stranded knitting and am ready to go! But I HAVE to finish the sweater I am doing before I can start a new one or I will make myself insane!

I started spinning for the Peacock Shawl.

I really like the Ashland Bay merino and silk blends but with the heat and humidity of summer in Florida, I felt the roving in my hand while I am spinning. I am ready for Fall. Of course I will have to wait another month or two for Fall to make it's way this far South.

One of the Spindlers, Kathleen, who lives in Mobile, Alabama told me about a spinning group named Synergy which meets monthly in Pensacola. I attended my first "meeting" yesterday and met some very nice ladies. Kathleen gifted me with some of the lovely Alpaca fiber she is currently spinning.

She gave me a little over 2 ounces of it and it is SOOOOOO soft. I think I might blend it with some black merino wool I have and make ANOTHER shawl. I sure hope I like wearing shawls since I sure like making them!

Sunday, September 14, 2003

This has been a pretty "ho hum" week. Not too much progress on anything. I'm plugging away at the Crab and Sea Horse chart with my COTR.

The critters are starting to manifest. I really enjoy this project!

Kurt's first Shetland sock is coming along.

At least it fits and is soft enough and thus meets his new wool item standards.

I finished spinning the skein of kelp Wensleydale.

It is 18 wpi and about 200 yards. The fiber is fabulous and comes from Grafton Fibers. I'll have to spin some more if I want to make a pair of socks with it.

Gabrielle's Aran sweater is coming along slowly. I just started shaping the first shoulder.

It sure will be nice to have the front done and so I can start working on the sleeves. Sleeves always seem to go so fast after working on the sweater body!

Kurt keeps finding stuff at work for me to use for our home school. He has actually overwhelmed me and I have a stock pile in the garage. However, he brought home a nice storage bin set up last year that I finally put to good use!

I got all the yarn out of what is quickly becoming my spinning closet. I don't have much really good yarn, but what I have will be great on the ISM. I prefer to use less expensive yarn for stuff for the kids because they grow so fast and stain their clothes so readily. Now I can see what I have and perhaps it will get used faster. Much of it has price tags from stores in Las Vegas which means it is at least 5 years old. I think I got most of it when I took up knitting while on bed rest when pregnant with Gregory.

I finally got my copy of Spin Off magazine. My skein of Gulf Coast Native homespun made the magazine and is even on the first page of the article. The fiber came from Running Moon Farm. I previously said I didn't care if my skein made the magazine or not, but I must admit it was pretty cool to see it in there. All of the submitted skeins can be seen on the Interweave website under their spinning section.

Sunday, September 07, 2003

I got my knitting needles and started my second Creatures of the Reef Shawl this week. Boy do I love this shawl! If I let myself, I could knit it again and again. But since I have so much more I want to learn, I won't.

I love beads so naturally I had to "bead up" the shell edging. I sure hope my grandmother likes beads since this one is for her!

In order to complete the things I start, I give myself a quota. I must do a certain number of rows on each knitting project per day in order to end the day working on whatever I want. What I want to do right now is this shawl. My two row quota on this has been easy to do.

I am stilling working on the bobble sweater. My quota for this project is four rows per day. It works. The front is almost finished.

I hope that by next week I will be working on the bottom edging. Of course that will depend upon how distracted I get with my new project, the LotSS.

I finally gave in and joined the Legends of the Shetland Sea Shawl Knit Along. I couldn't stand hearing Dot talk about how much fun she was having working on it when I wasn't doing it too. Since the kit was only $20 and since I had just had a good run of Mary Kay sales, I went ahead and ordered it from Blackberry Ridge. I've heard great things about the yarn in this kit, but I will admit when I saw it, I thought I could have spun a more consistent single. I guess that means my spinning skills are improving.

Naturally, the LotSS needs a set of knitting needles in a size I do not have, so I ordered them. They should be in this week and then I fear I will have yet another project on the needles. Sigh. It stresses me out to have so much unfinished work in progress. But then studies have shown that knitting is relaxing so it should all balance out in the long run.

I finished Gabrielle's ISM sweater finally.

It took 2 weeks.

It turned out better than I originally thought it would, but it sure doesn't have much growing room in it. I am going to have to start swatching!

Gabrielle is so tough to photograph. She won't stand still and she has no clue how to smile for a camera.

While this is not the greatest picture of Gabrielle, I had to post it because she looks like my sister Wendy in it. My daughter resembles my sister quite a bit, but rarely do I capture whatever it is that reflects Wendy in a picture. Well Wendy, what do you think?

Speaking of swatching, I am a convert! I started knitting socks for Kurt out of the Shetland. After 4 days of 10 rows minimum per day, I realized my hastily knitted swatch had been inadequate and the first sock was WAY too big. Of course I was to the heel flap before I broke down and slipped on my husband's leg. So I had to frog the whole thing and start over. I spent the rest of the evening trying to make up for the lost time by reknitting as much as I could.

I did pretty good for a couple of hours, but I am not even close to where I was. On the bright side, I am now working with fewer stitches so it should go faster. I am using a cool software pattern Nannette told me about called The Sole Solution. You just plug in your measurements and the (correct) gauge and it spits out a pattern. Pretty cool!

I finished sewing each of the kids some sweats. They look like pajamas to me, but the kids like them and they are comfortable.

At least there is plenty of growing room with these.

The kids love to model their new clothes.

Unfortunately, after the pictures, the kids wanted to wear these clothes to church. They would have melted! I did finally get them dressed in more appropriate summer clothes.

I started spinning some kelp colored Wensleydale I had for another pair of socks for Kurt. I am still not in love with the Shetland yarn with all of its nubbs so I wanted a back-up.

As I spun up the Wensleydale, I realized how gorgeous it is. Look at those beautiful colors! The greens and blues remind me of the sea. Of course, that makes me think of the pattern for the Creatures of the Reef shawl.

I certainly don't need to do another COTR so I will have to think of something else. Perhaps a second Legends of the Shetland Seas stole???

I've never worn a shawl or a stole in my life and now I'm trying to fill my closet with them. I sure hope I enjoy wearing these things as much as I enjoy making them!