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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Hexagons - Making Progress and UFOs

I'm making progress on the hexagon project. It is almost squared off using the Medium Dark hexagons. There are only a few more of those on the right side of the picture. Once I'm squared off I'll be putting the very dark hexagons all around the outside edge. I've purchased a black on black fabric to mount the project on, and I've figured out how I will quilt it. The entire project went much faster than I expected, especially since I've also been knitting. So I had two hand projects going at the same time.

I've had a little upper back pain, so I'm avoiding the sewing machine right now, but I probably will be able to get back to it next week. I've got some UFOs to deal with.

I want to finish the FMQ on this project. I've done all of the larger blocks. I need to do the square in square blocks. 

The Class Project quilt, from a Craftsy course in FMQ just needs binding. I'd like to get it finished.

And then there is the Bloom Where You Are art quilt. Not totally sure what I want to do there. Some FMQ I think. But possibly some hand embroidery as well. I'm just not sure what to do with this one.

It might be time to look through all of the long term UFO projects. There are more of them hidden away. The general post I did about a month ago didn't include everything out there. In addition to actual projects there are things that never made it to the project stage. I've got equipment for a couple of different crafts, where I've never done anything with the equipment.

Take care all.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

What is on my needles

I've been working on a first sock and I've hit a decision point. I have finished turning the heel and I knew I needed to try the sock on.

So here it is. It was looking huge on the table, and sure enough it was huge. I moved the sock from 3 dp needles to a large circular needle so I could try it on.

I have large feet and swollen lower legs. It almost looks like the leg portion fits in these photos, but actually even the leg is too big. The heel is literally huge.

No question that there is no reason to continue with this sock. I've got one and one half balls of the same yarn available. It would make sense to just cut the yarn off and start over with some changes. If I don't just rip the entire thing out, I'll have something to compare the new sock against the old sock.

Here are the changes.

Even on a #1 set of dp needles my gauge was 6 stitches to an inch, not the 7 that the pattern called for.  I'm going to change to zero needles to try to get the gauge down. In addition, I've always tensioned the yarn only over my forefinger. One of the problems with learning how to knit at 11 from a book is that I didn't have anyone to tell me that I needed to do certain things differently from the way I worked out. I purled "wrong" for decades. I finally found a different book that explained why most knitting directions weren't working for me. Like a lot of Continental knitters, my stitches were sitting on the needle in the wrong direction after a purl row. I got that fixed quite a while ago.  And now I'm working on using a better tension system. I can already see that my stitches are tighter. That is going to affect gauge.

It is very obvious that the knitting is too loose for a sock. Unfortunately it is almost impossible to get a double zero 40 inch circular needle. At least I've never seen one for sale online so far. I will be looking again just in case.

I am going to make a medium rather than a large. That will make the entire project smaller. I might end up with a problem in the leg area if I do that, but the foot will fit. On a circular needle I should be able to try the sock on even at the point where ribbing becomes stockinette stitch. That will help me decide how long to make the leg of the sock. If it is a bit tight, I can just make it shorter.

I'm going to make another try with Magic Loop. I was constantly dropping stitches from needles that were at rest with the dp ones. Partly because the sock had so many stitches. Partly because they were so loose. Partly just because that stuff happens with dp needles. I will do one sock at a time. I'm convinced that even an experienced knitter needs to go back to being a beginner when they are learning brand new techniques. For me Magic Loop is a brand new technique.

I am also considering another simple beginner's sock pattern. this one had the most annoying decrease instructions at the end of making the heel. I now know that being told to decrease on stitch on each row, but at different ends of the heel just drives me crazy. I never could remember if I was on round one or round two.

Take care all.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

I Blog

The question at Mommy's Nap Time is:

What is one regular thing you do for yourself to keep up your creative mind? Do you go to a guild, out for coffee with a friend? Are there people / activities you do regularly or as needed?

I had to think for a minute, and the answer is I blog. I don't have a guild. My "guild" is the general crafting online community. I've had guilds in the past and this is the place where I do show and tell, and look at other people's projects and comment and receive comments.Through two different web sites I've had the classes I couldn't find locally. They are quite different concepts on how to run classes, but I've learned a lot in both Craftsy and Quilt University.

I do have a local quilting friend and we go out to lunch once a week and that is a load of fun. We do very different kinds of things, but she gets it, and so do I.

I do Morning Pages. I think that brain dump in the morning makes all the difference. I write down the things that bother me and I don't have to think about them again during the day. I plan out creative things. I wonder if I should do this kind of thing or that. I decided to start blogging on Morning Pages.

But mostly, I remember to have fun. At this point in my life, having fun makes sense.


I don't have a stash. Not really. But I have been buying some fabric on spec recently. For the first year I was back to quilting, and a bit more, I bought scrap bags from the local quilt shop. I like a scrappy look. Their scrap bags frequently had a lot of a single fabric cut into useable sized strips, and occasionally pieces almost the size of a fat quarter. I've used a lot of that in projects. A couple of the fabrics in the bed scarf were from the scrap bags and all of the fabric in my table scarf were from there too.

Yesterday I got a box of fabrics from JoAnn's. I've never ordered mail order but everything I bought was on sale. And a couple of the fabrics I got were things I just had to have from the photos on the web site. I decided to try the mail order because I had a good idea what kind of thing I wanted for the hexagon project and I was pretty sure I could not find what I wanted locally.

I was pretty amazed at what came out of the box. Everything was of reasonable quality. That was something I was worried about. The black fabric was exactly what I wanted. I thought it would be, and it was. One of the two had to have fabrics was just wonderful. The other was OK, but not great.

Each fabric came in a separate plastic bag. Nicely folded. Every piece of fabric had at least some additional fabric. The smallest amount extra was about 1/8th of a yard. Two of the bags were marked that they had been the end of the bolt. I got 3/4 yard extra of the black fabric, 2/3 yard extra of one of the others and 1/2 yard extra on a third.

Would I order again. Yes. In fact last night I ordered for a specific project. In this case it is possible that when I get the fabrics I'll need to tweak from my new stash, but now I actually have a stash.

Now that I've got the yardage organized I need to organize the larger amounts of fabric that isn't at least a yard long. I've got some fat quarters and some half yards and some of the stuff from the scrap bags are the equivalent of half a yard to a yard. I need to put those where I can actually see them and not with the smaller pieces of fabric.

The box above doesn't look full in the photo, but by the time I located and folded all of the one yard or longer pieces of fabric on pendaflex folders, it was totally full.

Take care all.

Daily Life, the Weather, Pain, and All of That

I've basically been stuck in the house all week. On Tuesday I pulled the car out of my garage thinking that it was raining, but it wasn't. It was snow.

Yes, that looks like rain, but it is actually snow. That isn't my house. It is the neighbor's across the street. I took the photo from my doorway.

Very little of it stuck. And all of it melted as the temperatures increased and the snow turned to rain.

I don't drive in questionable conditions, so I didn't go out.

It did not help that I've been in pain all week as well. I developed upper back pain on Sunday night. I'd picked up something too heavy for me. That is very easy to do. Almost everything is too heavy for me. This time it was the water bottle for the Humidifier which was heavier than usual because it was completely full.

My chiropractor helped a lot with that. It is now down to a very low grade discomfort, but only some of the time if I move just so.

On Wednesday morning it was my left leg. I have arthritis in both knees, but also in the left hip joint. I had another chiropractor's visit. He advised heat on the joint. I hadn't though about heat. It was great advice. It isn't totally better, but it is better.

I use a pedometer. And I've been forcing a few more steps than my regular number. Normal people can do 6000 steps in a day without even thinking about it. 5000 steps is pushing it. I'm pulling back on that as well.

I can knit. I can work on the hexagons, and I have. But no free motion quilting because of the back. I'm letting that get all better.

I can't wait for Spring. They say it will start getting a little warmer in a couple of days. It was a lot warmer last year during the first week in March. That isn't a given around here, but generally it becomes Spring in March.

Take care all.

Beginning to work on the heel

I've started working on the heel of the first real pair of knit socks. And I've learned a lot.

But first, that is the first photo I've tken that shows the real color of the yarn. All of the others have been too dark or too light. this photo was taken on the kitchen table and I've got a lot of light in the kitchen.

One thing I learned is how to count rows. 61 years ago I taught myself how to knit mostly from a book. I had been taught the knit stitch, Continental style, by my older sister. It never occurred to her to teach me how to purl. I learned that from a book. It wasn't until decades later that a different book explained why I was having problems with following stitch patterns. Like a lot of people who are self taught Continental style my purl stitches were done wrong resulting in them turning the wrong way. Things as easy as slip, yarn over decreases do not work right unless your stitches are sitting the correct way on a needle.

This time I finally learned the correct way to count rows. For one thing the right kind of stitch marker now exists. I haven't been doing much knitting but I'd never seen the kind of stitch marker that is sitting on the sock before this year. And I never knew were to place the marker, and I never knew to count the stitches on the needle as the last row in the count.

I'm 20 rows into knitting the flap right now. 10 more to go and then I turn the heel. I know that doing that with this method means I'm using short rows, which is another thing I've never done before.

One of the things the Internet has given me is the ability to take classes online. And I am learning a lot more than I did trying to locate those few books that can fill in the gaps of what I learned on my own over the last 6 decades. One thing I know I need to address is tensioning the yarn. There has to be a better way.

Take care all.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Everyday Life

The big project I finished this week was the taxes. I was expecting all kinds of problems because my husband died last year and I had to deal with the stuff that happens financially when one half of a couple dies. Turns out that Turbo Tax was totally able to deal with everything. As usual they just took me one step at a time. Even the problem that my federal taxes where going to be filed as married, filing jointly and the PA taxes could not be done that way was not a problem. I located a step by step tutorial on how to manage the PA tax forms in their online site. They deserve 5 stars out of 5 for how all of this was handled.

Now I've started shredding several years worth of documents that were never needed for the taxes in those years. I'd just filed some and put some into a holding space. That holding space and the filing space are filling up. Time to make some room for new stuff. This is a project that is going to take several days, or even a week or two as I locate more and more paperwork that needs shredding. I've got some downstairs in my computer room/office and I've got even more sitting in a file cabinet in the attic. ...[sigh]...

I didn't do any Free Motion Quilting while I was working on the taxes. Seems that the kind of "energy" I needed for the taxes is the same kind I now need for Free Motion Quilting. So once the taxes were done I figured back to the sewing machine. But I pulled something in my upper back, and I'm not stressing those muscles until the pain is totally gone. My chiropractor has an excellent handle on this kind of pain. I'm almost better. He told me what he did yesterday will take a couple of days. I'll see him tomorrow again, so if what he did needs a bit more tweaking, that can happen.

I have been working on the hand projects. Neither the sock nor the hexagons have gotten much further since the last time I blogged about them. Not enough that pictures would mean anything. But in both cases I can see some progress.

I'm going to be joining up with a Quilt Along at Patchwork Times. See the link here:

(I need to learn how to do the "here" thing. I'm open to help on how to get that done.)

I've never joined a Quilt Along before, but they look like fun. I need to pull my fabrics together. I'll probably need to buy most of it because I do not have a yardage stash worth talking about. So there is going to be a shopping trip in person or online. Or both. Even in person I will probably change my mind about one or two fabrics once I get them home. The bed scarf was the first quilting project in decades where I bought all of the fabric for a particular project, and I replaced two of those fabrics before I started cutting, with better ones I had in the house. I'd be really shocked if that didn't happen again.

I'm going to end up with a bed sized quilt. Not totally sure what I'll be doing with a bed sized quilt or even if I'm going to be able to get it quilted on my own. I have a friend who uses a long arm quilter, so I do know of a person who does wonderful work that I feel I can trust if it turns out I can't manage it myself. But I don't really care. Sooner or later I need to make a bed sized quilt.

We are dealing with end of Winter weather here. I'm supposed to meet a group of women for lunch. But there is no way to tell if the weather that is coming today will be all rain, or if it will start with a wintery mix. I'll be playing it by ear. And there are already rumbles about something for the very end of the month that could be nothing much except a lot of rain, or could be very ugly indeed.

I am so tired of Winter!

Take care all.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Hexagons

Leah Day asks what are we working on. Well, the socks in the previous post, obviously. And the hexagons as well.

I put them on a chair in my Sun Parlor hoping to get a reasonably good photo with good color, and that worked. But this is obviously the last time that is going to happen. At this point I have all of the light, and medium light hexagons sewn on. And I've begun with the medium dark. I've pulled a few of the lighter medium dark to start with. But even with that, what I hoped would happen with the values is just beginning to show.

I do this project while watching TV. I was asked how I could do that, but it is actually quite easy. The basting was literally mindless. No real thinking required. There was more learning how to organize what I was doing with my hands than anything else.

Sewing them on does take some thinking. I am choosing which hexagon should do where, and I have to think about that. I want this to end up somewhat free form in shape, and I'll need to pay attention to that as well. I've got the medium dark and dark groups separated in plastic bags.

I've also moved to a different thread. The light beige thread was beginning to show, as white, on the medium dark fabrics. I bought two shades of grey embroidery thread. That kind of thread is thinner than regular sewing thread.

It is an interesting project.

On my needles

I've been knitting on the sock. I'm almost to the point where I will turn the heel. I am quite happy with the new set of 5 double pointed needles.

I didn't buy them from one of the luxury companies. I got them from JoAnn's online. And they were amazingly cheap. The quality is fine and they are a pleasure to knit on.

 So here is where I was last week. And the second photo is where I am now.

Neither of the photos show the right color. It is actually lighter than the top photo and lighter than the bottom one.

The yarn is self striping in a rather heathery way. The stripes aren't as obvious in the real sock as they are in the sock in the second photo.

Anyway, so far, so good.

And meanwhile I've bought more sock yarn, and I'm seriously thinking about the hand spun yarn I bought 6 or 7 years ago, before Joe got sick and I stopped doing much of anything.

That yarn was intended for a shawl of some kind. And I've already bought a Craftsy class on how to design a lace shawl.

I think that project is on the horizon, but not just yet.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Five Needles

I knit Continental Style. I think knitting looser than most people is pretty typical of he style. What that means is that if the ball of yarn, or the pattern, says to use a size 3 needle, I probably need a 1 or even a 0. I found a deal of sets of 5 double pointed needles at JoAnn's online. Sizes 1, 0, 00, and 000 in steel. They arrived today.

I've been knitting the sock on a set of #1 double pointed needles, but there were only 4 in the set. And the heel side of the sock was all on one of the needles. I was beginning to have problems with one, two and even three stitches falling off the needle just about every round.

I moved them tonight. So much better! When I get to where I'm turning the heel, I need to pay attention to which needle I'm using, but it is so much better.

I was at the local dollar store this week, and I found this neat plastic basket. Just enough space for the one ball of yarn and the sock. Everything else is elsewhere. I'm quite happy with it.

These two pictures show what the yarn actually looks like. The color is almost right in the upper one.

Grief Update

It will be 6 months since Joe died in a few days. Actually a couple of weeks. I seem to need to do an update here.

There was someone who commented on a post from the month or so after my husband died who took exception to the idea that anticipatory grief did not exist. Several of the books I read took it for granted that you don't start grieving until the person dies. It was obvious to me that she is dealing with caregiving for someone with dementia, or one of the other diseases where the care goes on for years or even decades. She sounds like she is in the middle of anticipatory grief.

I totally agree with her. I've been there myself. I was fully in mourning mode for at least a year to 15 months before Joe died. By the time it started there no longer was any interaction with him because he had lost the ability to interact in any way. But there was plenty of grief even before that.

You grieve the loss of the life you thought you were going to have. You grieve the loss of "the couple" thing, being part of a partnership. You grieve the loss of a social life, in my case it was an almost total loss since my actual contact with other human beings, and not just Internet friends, tended to be limited to the person at the cash register, or the person serving me a meal at the local diner. That went on for a week or two at a time, and repeated for a couple of years.

When the death finally comes, there is more grief, but there is also relief, and guilt that you are feeling relief. It doesn't matter how good a job you did in the caregiving, because with some diseases, and dementia is one of them, failure is the only possible outcome. In my case there was also numbness.

I had chosen life when my hands on caregiving days were over because my husband was placed in a nursing home when it was no longer safe for me to keep him at home. Because of how long he continued to live, he would have had to be placed because I would not have had the physical ability to take care of him once he was totally bedridden and could no longer get out of bed even to sit in a wheelchair.

I had chosen life, but it took me quite a while to move on that choice. I made small, tiny changes to my life, and slowly they have begun to show up as rather large changes.

I look back and I see how much better I am than I was even 6 months ago. I look back and I can't quite see when the mourning started, but I'm glad I chose to deal with the pain and the sadness and the grief when I did, because I seem to have come out of it almost completely.

Most of the time, these days, I'm happy. Life is full of interesting things to do, and interesting people to do them with.

Take care all.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Early February Update

I have four active projects in the loop this week.

I have made a new beginning on the sock project. I HATE MAGIC LOOP. I ended up with long ladders in between the two sets of stitches. Literally huge ones. I attempted to save the stitches from one of the projects, and I got rid of the ladders immediately as soon as the sock was on double pointed needles, but after the first round on the new needles I realized that one stitch had been dropped, probably very early on because I could not locate it at all. I started over and dumped the stitches for the second sock as well.

The yarn is closer in color to the bottom photo but neither is a really good photo. These might have been easier to handle on a set of 5 needles, but all I have right now is the old fashioned sets of 4. I did most of the knitting watching the Grammys last night.

The hexagon project is also a do while watching TV hand project.  Almost all of the lightest hexagons have been used. I think I've got only one more. I've already started on some of the next set which is a medium range. 
I've chosen the quilting pattern for the square in square blocks. I've drawn them out, but I haven't sewn even one of the sample blocks.
I haven't touched Bloom this entire week. I have looked at quilting patterns, but that is all. 
What is going to be interesting with this kind of post, which I think I'll be doing pretty regularly, is that it makes me think about which projects could use some attention. This week, I think I need to make some time for both of the FMQ projects or they will become real UFOs instead of WIP.

Take care all.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

What's on my needles?

Believe it or not a pair of socks!

I wanted to learn how to make socks from the cuff down. I'd played with magic needle. The Craftsy class was toe up and on 5 dp needles. I only have sets of 4 and I didn't want toe up. I'll go back to that class later.

I found a different class online at that taught cuff down, magic needle and two at a time. I've always knit sleeves or fronts two at a time so making the socks that way makes sense. I am having some problems with the magic loop stuff, but I'll survive. I've cast on and knit two rounds mostly while watching the class videos.

She is a good teacher.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Making Plans

Some of the time you just have to have an opps to get you out of one mind set and into another that is more creative.

I had the hexagons all laid out. I started sewing from the middle and figuring out which was the next one to pick up wasn't easy. In the end it became almost impossible to be sure I had the right one.

And then the board tipped over and the hexagons were all on the floor. A really big opps. 

Now, I know I could lay them out again. I actually did it more than once, after all. But it occurred to me that wasn't the way to go.

And I know I could make sure that the shape, once finished would be squared off, but my plans were to mount the finished hexagon project onto a piece of fabric. Did it have to be squared off? Did it have to be round? Could it be a shape that just happened?

I thought about it and my answer was yes.

It doesn't matter what shape this ends up. It can be regular. Or totally irregular and rather wonky. It just does not matter.

Irregular just might be exactly what I want. At this point I've separated the hexagons out into piles by value. I've sewn a few more onto the grouping I've got. I know were the 3 or 4 on the bottom are going to go. I've got a vague idea of where the group on the side of the board should go as well.

And what is really weird is that I know, roughly, how I'm going to quilt this. It is going to be a wall hanging, not any kind of blanket. I've got some other things to think through. Should I do some hand embroidery on it? Beading? What colors will I use to quilt it? One color? Multiple ones? But I've got time for all of that.

Meanwhile, I've got another project in process. It is time to pick out a quilting pattern for the square in square blocks on the table scarf.

I have Leah Day's book of the 365 quilting patterns and I went into it and made a list on my notebook. The page I photographed has notes for both the table scarf and Bloom. I had a full page of designs I liked for both of the projects. The design I chose for the table scarf is Granddaddy Long Legs.

I drew out the pattern about the size I'll be quilting it. I can sew much better than I can draw on my desk. The desk has some weird bumps on the top. It makes the lines more out of control than they should be.

But I like the design. It is one I can do. So it is the one I am going to try to do.

I also need to watch the videos for the three designs I am looking at for parts of Bloom.

And I still need to get stitches on my needles for that first pair of socks.

Take care all.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


Things happen.

I had the hexagons laid out on a board. I started in the middle and had gotten a chunk of the lighter colored ones put together.

And then I hit the board with an elbow. Most of them fell on the floor. I took this picture after I'd picked up most of them and put them back on the board in a heap.

I laid them out once. I could do it again. But I'm considering just putting them together without making a full scale layout. I might find myself needing to make more of the hexagons because I never counted just how long or wide the project was. That's OK.

I have a rough idea that I have to add more light hexagons to the "top" of the piece that already exists, but not to the bottom and not to the left side.

I've already sorted the hexagons roughly by value. I think I could put most of it together that way. It wouldn't be exactly the same, but it might actually be better. It certainly would be easier.

I've been enjoying the process of putting the hexagons together. I went to YouTube and watched a couple of videos before I started. I haven't done any English Paper Piecing since around 1986 or 1987. Back then I used a running stitch to attach the fabric to the base which was made of paper. The method I used this time doesn't involve sewing through the light cardboard the blanks are made of.

Back then I used normal sewing thread to put the pieces together and you could easily see the sewing. This time the teacher on YouTube said that if you only take a tiny bite of fabric, the stitches wouldn't show.

Mine aren't that perfect, but they certainly are better. I'm also using a fine needle and a fine thread.

But mostly I am having fun.

Take care all.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Knitting Saga

The picture really says it all. The red yarn is a baby fingering yarn. The multi-colored is a sock fingering yarn. I could not get 8 stitches to an inch in the red yarn with a #0 needle. So I checked out the the size of the two yarns and the sock yarn was absolutely thinner. Not by a lot, but thinner.

I'm not really happy with the local yarn shop. Frankly I was clear that I was a beginner as far as socks went and they should have spent some time on me.There had been a class going, but the class was finished even if most of them hadn't left yet. They had opened the door to regular customers. That was last Tuesday. Then they were closed on Wednesday because they were running another class. And we have been having weather, or life got involved. Or I just couldn't get there when they were open.

Meanwhile I tried to take a Craftsy sock class and it was too advanced for me. They exchanged it for the beginner's class, but that turned out to be a toe up class as well. I already know I'm not ready for a toe up sock.

I did a bunch of practicing with that red yarn, and I really am ready to make a real pair of socks. I located another class on the web. I've downloaded it and it looks like it might work for me. It is a top down sock, for one thing. For another they are calling for 7 stitches to an inch and not 8. There is a hope that I could manage that between the thinner yarn and the one stitch less guage.

I went to site KnitPicks and very much liked what I saw there. The prices look good. Not cheap. Just reasonable. They seem to have everything I would need. And I don't have to fight parking.

But I wanted to start the project today and I had one ball of yarn. The pattern that came with the class said TWO balls of yarn. So I went back to the local yarn store. I fought the parking fight. Parking is not good at the triangle in Emmaus, PA. I figured that maybe they would have a #00 needle so I'd have one smaller than the one I've got. They don't. I did buy a #1 however. Just in case I need to go one size up. Everyone else in the world is knitting this yarn on a size #2 or even a #3.

They didn't have another ball of the yarn I bought last week, but they were willing to exchange it for one in the store. I found the same brand in a different colorway that I liked and there were two of them.

KnitPicks doesn't have #00 needles either. But I might find one through Amazon. I am very unlikely to be going to the local store again. They did try to help me, but I have standing issues, and I really can't shop there anyway. I'm better off with mail order for a lot of things. I might just order something from KnitPicks just to begin to have a stash. I like having stashes.

I will be putting the new yarn on the needle later today.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

A Weekly Update

I've been seeing a lot of monthly and end of year updates and I began to realize that I needed to do some of that too. I tend to underestimate what I actually do some of the time.

I got moving on my free motion quilting. I choose Bamboo for the large rectangles in the table scarf I am making. I tried it out on a practice sandwich, and then on two extra blocks which will become mug rugs because they came out pretty well. And I've done all but one of the blocks on the table scarf.

The next step is to choose something for the square in square blocks, try that out on both a practice sandwich and the two extra blocks and then put them on the table scarf. Then all it will need is binding.

I didn't do anything on the Bloom art quilt this week. But I'll be picking that one up again soon as well.

The big focus has been on my hexagons and learning to knit socks. Both of them are hand projects that so far can be done, at least in part, while watching TV. I always had a hand project when I watched TV. And always means from the age of 11 or 12 to quite recently. A good 55 to 60 years. But when my husband was sick, I didn't manage much of that. Even during the last year I sometimes could knit a simple project and some of the time I just needed to sit and do nothing but watch mindlessly.

Part of it is that the programs on TV are now my programs. I'm not watching, at least some of the time, programs other people chose. My mother owned the TV set in the evenings. My husband owned the living room TV set most of the time as well. Once there were DVRs I recorded what I wanted to watch on the smaller TV in the computer room, and watched after he went to bed. I'm not trying to keep busy while I keep whoever else is watching company. I used to read with the TV on too, but that is long gone.

But, as I kept telling myself, in part, this too is grief. And it needs to be respected so you can do the grief, feel the grief and move on when the time is right.

Now I NEED something to keep my hands busy at least some of the time. The result, at first, was hexagons.

Over the last two weeks or so, I've gone from a few hexagons, to a lot of hexagons, to laying out what I've got. I'm doing a value project. I'm ignoring the colors and just going from light in the center to dark on the edges. I've cut a bunch more dark hexagons and I'll be filling in and probably adding one more row, or maybe even two, all around. I'm not sure how I will put this together, but I think from the center out.

And then there were the socks. It all started on someone else's blog. She was knitting socks. I asked WHY does someone knit socks. She wrote a blog post. And the comments came in.  You can read Judy Laquidara's post here:

(Sorry for the long link, but I haven't figured out how to just have a one word link yet.) Baby Steps around here.

Next thing I knew I was at the local yarn store buying a book, one ball of very expensive yarn and a very nice, very long circular needle. It turned out to be a book that I wasn't anywhere near ready for. I hit the Internet and my own supplies and this is what happened, sort of.

I also bought a Craftsy course. The "thing" on the circular needles was from that class. I've asked Craftsy for an exchange to an easier class and that is in process. When I took the "thing" which was supposed to be a toe off the too small circular needle it was a pretty good looking beginning toe.

But from that and another attempt from the book, I recognized that toe up socks were not something I was going to be able to do at this point. As you can tell from the double pointed needles, I've used them before. I was just rusty. I found a small sample sock pattern on the Internet and that is what is on the white needles.

I finished it last night. Not too bad. The same site had a free pattern for real socks using the same heel and toe and that is what I'm going to start today. On double pointed needles in the red yarn. There is a possibility that because of my big, and rather swollen feet, that I won't actually be able to wear these socks, so I'm using a fingering weight baby yarn I already owned. If I can wear them OK, if not I learned something and I didn't continue to buy yarn and/or needles without actually doing something with them. One thing from that Craftsy course I am not yet ready for that stuck was that, if you are knitting from the cuff down, the swatch you need to make should be circular and about the size of what you would be knitting as the beginning of the sock. So the best way is to make a guess about needles and yarn and just begin. If you guessed right, you just keep making the sock. If you guessed wrong, you haven't lost anything because what you have knit is the first swatch. So I'm guessing.

This kind of spinning is the way I learn. But there comes a point where you have to settle down and actually DO SOMETHING. You need to sew the blocks together. You need to machine quilt something. You need to put something on the needles and knit an actual object. And when I was in school, you need to settle down and write that paper.

Take care all.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

What is that on my needles?

The saga of learning how to make socks continues. I found a pattern online at for a small practice sock to be used to learn how socks are made and I've started the project.

I took pictures at the three stages I've done so far. One three needles and almost to the point where I needed to move the stitches. On two needles and a bit more than half way through the first part of making a heel.

This sock is the size you would make if you wanted a tree ornament, and it just might turn into one. Both of the other attempts at starting are gone now. I did save the beginning of the toe I had made. Off the needles it looked pretty good considering. I'll be doing a bunch of swatching before I put anything real on needles again. I think when I finish this I'll be ready for a beginning sock for real.

That isn't going to be easy, by the way. I have big feet, and I have swollen ankles. We have been working on the ankles and they are so much better, but they are still 2 or 3 inches larger than the circumference of the foot.

Friday, February 1, 2013

When did I start sewing?

There's a new linky in town and it's Emily's Sew Thinky Thursday! Her debut questions are:

When did you start sewing? Tell us a bit about your sewing history. When did you realize you were really hooked?

I'm not sure when I started sewing. I know that I raided my mother's stash of ribbons and lace and made my Toni doll a fancy ball gown, probably at age 10 because I don't remember playing with it much longer than that.

I belong to a generation that was taught to sew in school. Hand sewing and little projects at first. Needle holders. Something that was hemstitched. I can't remember what. In the 6th grade I made the apron I was supposed to wear to my cooking class in the 7th grade.

And I believe that sewing class was also in the 7th grade. They didn't have enough sewing machines to go around, so we mostly sat around waiting for our turn. To keep us busy they taught us to pin the seams, and baste the seams and then, and only then, did we get to actually sit down at a machine and sew a seam. When the year was over I could not stand to even look at the two garments I had made, a blouse and a dress.

I have no idea why I kept sewing, but maybe it was because I knew what I'd been taught in school was not sewing the way it was supposed to be.

I started making my own clothes at 16. And I continued to make clothes for the next 20 or 30 years, until it became a lot cheaper to buy clothes and I found out that I enjoyed buying clothes.

I made my first quilt in the early 70s. I'd never seen a quilt. There was one quilt magazine, QUILTER'S NEWSLETTER and I followed the instructions in that for a quilt as you go quilt. It was a disaster, but my daughter loved it to death anyway. Since quilting was something that was done by hand, quilts took years to make if you had any other kind of life. I'd get bored and put the current project away, and take it out again and work on it some more. All three of the quilts I own from this era took decades to make.

About 3 years ago I pulled out the two quilts that were still being quilted. One was a white whole cloth quilt that I had worked on and off for over 10 years and the other was a quilt I had pieced in the early 90s. I finished the whole cloth quilt and then the pieced one. And about that time I bought a gently used sewing machine after not owning one for several years.

And for some reason, it all took off.

So when did I start sewing? Which kind of sewing? I've quilted on and off since the 70s, but there isn't a whole lot to show for it. I made clothes for decades, and I'm glad I'm not doing that anymore. And I've started making machine made quilts during the last 18 months.

Free Motion Friday

I've finished the Bamboo on all but one of the larger blocks in my table scarf. I was rather worried about doing free motion on this piece. I wanted it to be perfect. Bamboo was a great choice. Instead of trying to make the lines straight, I had to try to make them wiggle, just enough. And for the segment lines to curve down.

I'm rather pleased at how it has turned out. I need to find a complementary pattern for the four square in square blocks. Not sure yet what I will do there.

Take care all.