Tuesday, November 28, 2006

It Seemed Like a Good Idea...

I had all this acrylic yarn sitting around not getting any action. I was in a mood to purge and it's about to get chilly in this drafty old house. Besides, I'm between projects and I want to destash. I decided to use up all my leftover yarn and make afghans. Mindless repetitive crochet.

My idea was to put all my scrap yarn in a bag and randomly use whatever I pulled out, regardless of color, weight or texture. Do you know how hard it is to completely random? It's virtually impossible. First, I realized there wasn't enough textured yarn to balance out the smooth yarn. I'd have a few textured patches and the rest would be smooth. Then, after going through everything, I realized I had enough yarn for 3, maybe 4 afghans. So I decided to start with what I had the most of: varigated purple (don't ask) and tan worsted weight held together. I used a size N or Q. I don't know. It's a huge, plastic hook with no markings on it.

I got about 2/3 the way done with it when I saw that there wasn't enough yarn to finish it, so I had to buy 1 more skein of tan and 2 more skeins of purple. Don't you hate it when you go to destash, and you actually have to buy more yarn? Anyway, it's almost finished. I should use up my yarn tonight and then it's done. Maybe I'll put a fringe on it. Whatever.

Then I put all my scrap Lion's Brand together, and boy, what a mishmash. There was everything from Microspun (I hate that stuff) to Chunky Chenille. This was my chance to make a true scrap afghan, in the vein of the wonderful crazy quilts of the 19th century. Each of these yarns was used to make something for either my kids or someonelse's. OK, there are a couple of Christmas scarves in there, too.

What a wonderful reminder of my kids' baby days, and old friends. And what a great chance to practice randomness. Well, not exactly random. After all, I did group them together as being the odd yarns. Then I thought, There is too much difference in the weights of some of these yarns, so I'll group them by weight and double strand the thinner yarns. I was going to try to be random with the colors, but the first time something really awful happened colorwise, I couldn't take it. Yes, I chickened out on total chance of colors. I ripped back and put something less offensive together. You can't really tell though, huh? I mean it looks pretty random, doesn't it? I call it my Crappy Scrappy Afghan. The kids love it, and argue about who gets to snuggle up in it. I'm just glad all that yarn is now in neat little rows that I can fold up and put away. I don't know why I care, that yarn wasn't hurting anyone, sitting in its basket, but I had to control it and make it into something, anything, even this:

I wish I had a better picture, but the camera battery gave out just as I was snapping the photo, and I don't have the recharger. But, you can see it, right? Something only a 4 or 6 year old could love? Actually, my husband likes it, too.

Now, all I have to do is use up my garish colors: oranges, blues, yellows, reds, greens, black and white. That one will definitedly be for the boys. And then my more subdued colors. I really want to use up all this stuff before 2007. Why am I so compelled to do this? Probably thinking about the new year, and a fresh start. Making room for the new stuff.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

Dinner's over, the dishes are washed and the carcass is boiling. What a day. Actually I've been at it for the past 2 days and I'm beat. I thought I'd sit down with a cup of tea and unwind with a post. The turkey went in at 7:30 this morning and I was pretty busy from there on getting things ready. Every thing turned out great. My mom and dad got here around 12:00 and we ate around 2:00. The turkey turned out beautifully, but the pictures of it aren't so great, so I thought I'd show you some nice close ups of the other things on the menu.

My Poppyseed Rolls. They are 1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 white. I tried to make things as healthy as possible without sacrificing decadence. There's an awful lot of butter involved:

Here are the Brussels Sprouts before I cooked them. I've got an after pic, but the colors weren't as vibrant:

Mom's Cranberry Salad. Kinda looks like Borscht, doesn't it? Nice color here too:

Also, I thought I'd show a couple of pics of the lace bags I've been making in progress. Here are two different patterns blocking:

They are both make out of the same color Sinfonia, but the top one is dry and the bottom one is still wet. I learned 2 things doing this. One: Use quilt needles rather than short sewing needles. Really helps. Two: I need a blocking board. Can you see how crooked my edges are? Santa, can you hear me?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Shopping Frenzy

From here on out, it's nothing but the holidays, my friends. This morning DH & I attended a Thanksgiving program at #1's school. He had 2 speaking parts, and used a microphone. No faltering, clear, strong voice, he delivered his lines like a pro. They all did really. The program went longer than I expected and then DH wanted to have an early lunch and I caved. I didn't get back home till 1 in the afternoon.

I rechecked my final Thanksgiving grocery list, and went shopping. First I tried Walmart, but it was too crazy. In this small town there aren't many options for grocery shopping, so the Walmart gets insane on big shopping days. Besides, they didn't have any Brussels sprouts. I went elsewhere. My other 2 options were a shop and bag-it-yourself place, a rather long drive, and the pricey boutique grocery store. Being the frugal gal that I am, I opted for the longer drive and found everything but whole allspice. Hmm. The pricey boutique store it was. They had the allspice and I was just ready to pick up the boys, when I realized, you can't have Thanksgiving without some kickass wine. So I pulled into the wine store and got some Charles Krug Merlot, and some Erath Pinot Gris. The Erath has a screw top, but is really good. I have a wine friend who told me that natural cork isn't as plentiful as it used to be so they are turning to fake corks and screw tops.

ANYWAY. Then I ran to get the boys and now I'm home. Shortly I will begin to prepare the ultimate feast. It is really an orchestration, but when it all comes together, how satisfying. On the menu:

Cider Brined Turkey (20 pounds for 4 adults. I just really wanted to make sure there were leftovers this year) with Gravy
Southern Cornbread Dressing
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic and Bacon
Not So Sweet Potato Casserole (no marshmallows here)
Home Made Poppyseed Rolls
I hesitate to say that there will be canned cranberry sauce on my table. What can I say, DH must have his jellified-crimson-can-shaped-log every year.
My mom is bringing her famous Cranberry Salad, so that is a little redeeming.
For dessert, there will be home made Apple and Pumpkin Pies.
To drink: wine, iced tea (sweet, we're in the South you know), sparkling cider, and coffee.

Sound like enough for 4 adults (one of whom weighs less than 95 pounds and eats like a little bird, hint, not me) and 2 boys under the age of 7? I tend to overdo it when it comes to cooking. Just wait until you see what I do for Christmas cookies.

Now, as for yarn related things, I've made 4 sachet bags out of my Sinfonia and still have 1 skein of it left. I'll probably just use it up on some more little bags. They'll make nice gifts for teachers and other deserving people. Last night I started a ripple afghan using 2 strands of worsted acrylic held together. Nothing fancy, but I'm just in the mood to get rid of the stuff that has been laying around for a while. I'm using an "N" crochet hook, and it's going pretty fast.

Sorry, no pictures of ANYTHING. I don't have the camera and have been running around like the proverbial chicken. I intend to show some pics a little later in the week. If I don't see you before the day, then have a great Thanksgiving. Remember to be thankful for everything you have.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

They're done!

The last pair of Christmas socks has been finished. I can't believe it. WHOOHOO! That's one less thing to worry about. They are from top left: Snowflake Socks in Opal Uni, Cornflower; Manly Socks in Lorna's Laces Cedar; Manly Socks in Cherry Tree Hill Java. Bottom Row: Girl's Cable Socks from Bear Brand Socks in Opal Uni (I forgot the color), and another pair of the same, in the same yarn, color forgotten. There's one more pair I didn't show, the Manly's for DH, using Fleece Artist Merino. They're finished, but not blocked. DH couldn't wait for that. You can double click the picture to see the details better if you'd like.

Now what? I bought the Knitter's Bible, by Claire Crompton, and it has lots of little projects in it. I started a lace sachet bag last night using some sage colored Sinfonia I had in my stash. I figure I'll bust a little stash for a while and learn some new stitches and techniques.

I'm glad it's Friday. It's been a weird week and I'm ready for a break. We're having Thanksgiving here and I have no idea who's coming. If it's just us, so much the better. More dressing for me.

Ya'll have a great weekend!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Rainy Tuesday Doings

I woke up feeling completely awful this morning. I didn't sleep well, and woke up nauseated and with an achy head. Felt a lot like a hangover, but without the alcohol. I think it is a mild migraine. Anyway, I decided not to paint. Instead #2 & I went by McD's and got sausage biscuits before I dropped him off at preschool. After that I ran errands and bought a new container for my stash. I put the natural stuff in the new container and the synthetics are safely hidden away.

I still have a lot of acrylic yarn. I hate to waste anything, so I'd like to use it up. I could make a crazy afghan or make blocks to practice stitches. I could make granny squares till the cows come home. Maybe I could make a crazy ripple afghan and just randomly put the colors together. I've already got a sampler afghan in the works, but the pattern has so many mistakes in it, and I keep loosing my corrections page...something tells me to let that one go.

Another thing sorting through my stash made me realize is how far I've come as a knitter in the past year. I taught myself to knit about 8 years ago and I worked in isolation until last year when I ventured into cyberspace. I joined a couple of online groups and started to learn about blogs. Through these media I learned so much about knitting, crochet, materials and other resources. I guess the acrylic represents the before internet knitting and the alpaca, merino, silk, etc represent the after internet knitting. I'm grateful to the friends who've helped me on the net. One of these days I hope to get some folks around here brave enough to try some yarnwork (I crochet and knit, I could teach them either). I've offered to teach several people, and they express interest, but nothing has come of it yet.

Anyway, my friends, thank you all for being such great blog pals and for coming around here every now and then. I don't have any knitting or painting pictures for you, but I hate to leave a post without a pic, so I'll show you the results of my creative endeavors from yesterday afternoon. Here's a preview of our holiday card. #1 is Mr. Blue-eyes, and #2 is Mr. Brown-eyes:

Saturday, November 11, 2006


I stole this from Beth.

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The South
The West
The Inland North
The Northeast
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

Maybe my Southern drawl isn't as bad as I thought...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

This one's all about painting.

Sometimes I'm writing for you, but sometimes, like today, I just need to kick myself in the pants and tell myself off. So, pardon me, but here goes.

I know what I want to paint. I have an idea about how I want it to look. But it's like there's a glass wall between me and what I want to do. It seems easy to smash it, just throw a brick, but then you have all the broken pieces to pick up, and they're sharp! I guess we're all a little nervous about breaking glass.

My problem is I can make things look pretty much how I perceive them. I can paint tightly and realistically. I have been wanting to get away from that for a long time, but I hold myself back. There is a kind of abandon one must reach in order to just let it all come out. I'm reluctant to let go like that. Why is the image so precious?

Why not hold on to realism? Why not do what seems to naturally come to me? Because, especially in this instance, a sharply focused realistic image doesn't say what I want to say. I want to say something about the freedom and joy of being a child in the summertime. I want to show movement and delight. And not in a saccharine way.

So here's today's work. First I started another watercolor. I intended to work wet on wet, let the colors bleed and let the forms dissolve into one another. I started off pretty well, but a little timid (a little?!!) with the color saturation.

Then lunchtime came around, and so did DH. He wanted to go scout new vehicles, and because I'm the intended recipient, it wouldn't do for me to say, "Lovely, dear. You go do that and I'll stay here and paint." So I went along. We spent an hour looking at mommy mobiles, and then I came home. I went back to the painting, and was feeling a little impatient, and once again I gravitated back to the tighter image.

Now I'm not saying I didn't achieve anything today. Nor am I saying that today's work isn't salvageable. I'm just irritated with myself. I guess that irritation can be productive if I channel it properly. Working it out in watercolor and pushing myself with a quick and relatively inexpensive medium is better than wasting a lot of time and expensive materials using oils. Also, maybe when I go to do this in oils, I will feel relieved of a heavy weight and will let my arm go. Did I mention water color is HARD?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Some Days the Bear Will Eat You...

Watercolor is HARD! I mean to relax and just let the medium flow...I want to control it and tell it where to go. I worked on the first watercolor and started another. I promised myself I'd loosen up for the second one, but it still is too tight. Next time I'm going to start with wetting the entire sheet of paper, and letting the colors bleed together. I think I want to use more arbitrary color as well. One good thing I did was make the figures larger on the second one.

I know these pictures aren't very good, but you can see that the first one just got tight, and the second one is looser, but kind of crappy.

I finished the first of the Manly socks for my dad. It's a pretty simple pattern, so I just flew through it. Here's where I was with it yesterday afternoon.

The yarn is Cherry Tree Hill in Java and I just love the colors. Here's a closeup:

The problem is there is supposed to be enough yarn in one hank of this stuff to make a pair of socks, but the 1st sock used up a little more than 2 oz. of the 4 oz. ball. I weighed the remaining yarn before the sock was finished, and there was just a little over 2 oz. left. Now there's just a little under 2 oz. I ordered another hank of the Cherry Tree Hill, but I know it's going to be a little different.

The same thing happened with my husband's Manly's, except, I had almost finished the second sock before I realized I wasn't going to have enough yarn. I ordered another hank of yarn for him (Fleece Artist Merino in Ebony) and it arrived a couple of days ago. The color is slightly different, but it's OK for the toe.

Should I go ahead and start the second sock for my dad, and finish up the toe when the 2nd ball of CTH Java gets here, or should I wait and knit the entire sock out of a single hank? I'll probably go ahead and start it. I think having one toe different and having to weave in a few more ends is better than having the entire sock be slightly different.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Getting it Done

Today has been very productive. I finished the Snowflake socks for my mom. All I had to do this morning was graft the toe and weave in the loose ends. Then they were done. The pattern doesn't show up very well in the picture, nor on the sock. I'm hoping that after some blocking, the snowflake motif will be more apparent. I'm going to wash and block them and then I can put them with my other Christmas socks. Now all I have to do is get Dad's Manly socks made. I'll start them tonight while I watch Grey's Anatomy.

I spent a good part of the day in the studio. I painted on the last figure. It's staying pretty open, but looks a little muddy. I discovered my brushes were really too mucked up to function well, so I spent an hour washing them. They have to sit for a couple of days to let the water evaporate before I can use them with oil again. But they're clean. They'll work much better next time I go to paint.

Being unable to work with oil due to watery brushes, I decided to do some watercolor. I have all that great Arches paper that I've been too nervous to ruin. I got brave and started a compositional study. I have to say that paper is a dream to work with. It's heavy and has a nice tooth. It takes the paint beautifully. It's been a long time since I've really used watercolor and it took me about an hour to remember how to apply it. The study is kind of tight, and unfinished. I'll work some more on it over the weekend. When it's done, I'll probably do another one, and hopefully start it better and keep it more open. I can see the possibilities of that paper, and I want to use it to its fullest potential.

And to top it off, I mixed up my Christmas cookie dough this afternoon. I make sugar cookies for the teachers, the kids at school and friends. Making them is fun, but a little stressful because of exams and the holdiays. I promised myself this summer while I was sick I was going to avoid stress this year, so I planned to mix the dough in advance and freeze it. It'll be ready for rolling, cutting, baking and decorating whenever I feel like it.

WooHoo for getting it done. I'm feeling pretty pleased with myself just now.