Being the continuing story of my creations and curiosities.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Still Not Here Yet

The grandbaby is now 9 days late! Doing fine apparently but still not ready to exit. Her poor mom is hanging in there and actually looking rather serene and cheerful. We are all getting somewhat impatient though! This kid is going to have a December birthday if she doesn’t hustle.

Meanwhile, I’ve been working on a new knitting project and trying to get a few things finished and tidied up in my studio. Not getting so far on the latter but I’m plugging away slowly. The knitting project is a slightly larger version of the Sassymetrical sweater by Gay Schiff (Ravelry link). She shared her own (extra-small!) size so those of us who want it larger need to size it up ourselves. Not a difficult task because it’s a simple top-down raglan with wide straight fronts that can be pinned or buttoned in a number of ways. I’m using a heavier yarn (Berroco Remix) which knits at 18 sts per 4 inches instead of her 20 sts so that increases the size right there. I already made the area to the underarm slightly deeper too: 7 inches instead of 6 and added 6 stitches at each underarm when I joined the body sections. I plan to make it a little longer and with 3/4-length sleeves for warmth and because the back is tapered I’ll need to adjust the shaping to fit me as I go. At least with top-down you can try it on! I knit off my Addi Lace circ onto a very long Denise cord when I want to do that instead of taking it off onto a string or whatever. Then I can just knit it back onto the nicer Addi when I’m ready. I also use the Denise cords with stoppers to hold my sleeve stitches until I’m ready to knit them. Very handy.

So I promised another FO, didn’t I?

Not-Pink Eyelet Neckwarmer

NotPinkNeckwarmer

For: Princess Pink

Begun: November 22, 2010
Completed: November 25, 2010

Yarn: Lion Brand Cotton-Ease, 50% acrylic/50% cotton, colour 191/violet, used most of one skein.

Needles: Denise interchangeable circular, size 8 tips (5mm), cord just big enough to knit with.

Pattern: My own using the eyelet pattern with seed stitch edging to match her Not-Pink Cardi. Similar to my Green Eyelet Cowl but reduced to 90 stitches for a smaller size.

Comments: The curve develops when I make the cast-on edge tighter than the bind-off.

She asked for a scarf that would stay on and not get lost. Hope this fills the bill!

We had a fairly busy weekend trying to get our small amount of Christmas shopping done (more than half the way there) and seeing the new Harry Potter movie. It was absolutely perfect – following the book as closely as possible and looking exactly as I pictured it. Too bad it ended rather abruptly! Now I can’t wait for Part 2. I covet Hermione’s beaded bag too. It would sure save me from having to lug heavy backpacks all the time.

What else? Oh yeah, if you sew at all, the BMV pattern company has Vogue patterns on sale for US$3.99 and Butterick & McCalls on for US$1.99 today and tomorrow only. Plus with a $15 purchase today only you can get free shipping in the US & Canada. Of course I took advantage and ordered 5 patterns for a total less than the normal price of one single Vogue pattern. Super good deal! Yes, I know I need to get sewing.

Friday, November 26, 2010

How To Eat A Whole Day

Or several. Gazillions of bytes at a time!

I have a new BFF and we’re just getting to know each other. Meet Ruby:

Ruby

Her name is short for Rubyspot (a variety of damselfly, of course) and she’s my new iPod touch. Do you like her new purple dress? (I’m not sure that colour is accurate but I can’t adjust the photo correctly. Hint: it’s not pink.) She’s also wearing her new glasses (screen protector) and has a cute little black shoe so she can stand up. Even if she was free I couldn’t help buying her a few accessories! Now I’m hunting down some of the must-have apps for her. And learning how to use all the features: cameras (two: fore & aft), audio, video, mail, web etc. etc. Quite a huge upgrade from my old Palm T/X (poor limping thing!) and a little bit of a learning curve. After a lot of manual reading I finally have functional wi-fi and e-mail and a brand-new iTunes account. Whew. And the requisite Mah-Jong game. No Mah-Jong; no giving up Palmie.

I also have not one, but two FO’s. Here’s the first one:

Happy Legs

Tights1

For: me

Began: April 13, 2010
Completed: November 24, 2010

Yarn: Newton’s Yarn Country Happy Feet, 100% superwash merino sock yarn, 1800 yds per pound, burgundy multi, .67 lb (just over 300g). Also, overdyed 70g of red/blue multi leftovers with black, used about 20g.

Needles: Clover Takumi bamboo dpns, 2.75mm, Aero aluminum 16” circular, 2.75mm, Addi Lace 24” circular, 2.75mm. Began legs with dpns and switched to circulars when piece got wide enough.

Notions: ¾” wide non-roll waistband elastic.

Pattern: Zarina Leggings by Phoenix Bess (Ravelry link) (US$6 purchase link)

Tights2 Mods: Began with smallest size at ankle and speeded up the rate of increases to equal the XL by the upper leg. Made the legs 27” (5” shorter than pattern calls for).

Comments: These are quite warm and fit well but sag a little at the ankle. I probably could have gotten away with 25” legs. Then I might not have run out of yarn 1.5” before the turn for the elastic casing! The fabric is somewhat looser than I usually make my socks or it really would have taken me forever – and a lot more yarn. This turned out to be a well-written pattern and worth paying for. I certainly got my money’s worth of knitting out of it.

I’m going to save the second FO for the next post.

Currently there is still no grandbaby yet, though this state could change at any time. I knew you’d want to know if you missed anything. Nope. We did have some snow and cold but it’s warmed up somewhat now and melting. We’re back to the usual November drizzle. Bleh. Meanwhile my garden popsicles are thawing into limp mush. It remains to be seen what might have survived those several nights of –10C. That’s extremely cold for us and I’m sure there will be some damage to show for it. First we have to lose the rest of the ice and snow and then dry out enough to go look.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Around & Around & Around

I’ve run out of the main yarn on my leggings and am now into the yarn I dyed yesterday.

Leggings_prog

The old yarn ended only 1.5” before the turn for the elastic casing but I think it’s working out fine with the new yarn seeming like just a dark shadow at the top. I was pondering (uh-oh!) the reactions that I’ve been getting from friends and family about just what I’ve been knitting so madly on. It varies from “huh?” through “what? why?” and into “better knit faster, it’s cold outside!” Fascinating. But I think very few really get it, not even fellow knitters. Personally I’m imagining the feel of the equivalent of warm handknit socks from the ankles to the waist. When it’s –9C outside (in the daytime!) it seems like such a good idea. I can hardly wait until they’re done. Of course, by then the current cold snap will be over.

So I’ve always been a bit of a rebel in my wardrobe. I joke that it stems from the 9 years in my childhood where I had to wear a uniform to school. (Hmmm… maybe it’s not really a joke?) Anyhow since school I’ve never lived the kind of life where I needed to dress a certain way so of course when left to my own devices I wear what I like. Usually it’s practical clothes: t-shirts and sweatpants, woolly socks and fleece vests. And I have no real use for anything excessively dress-up. (What? No cocktail parties or nights at the opera? Not so much.) I do appreciate wearing something handmade every single day, even if that’s only socks that nobody can see.

Just reading an issue of Väv, the Swedish weaving magazine (now in English too!) and pondering (yes, some more) how often Europeans talk about expressing their individual cultures. How in this town they historically wore these garments and wove those textiles and did this craft. Coming from and living in a huge mashup of cultures myself, I find it hard to understand the desire for what I view as sameness and conformity but at the same time I’m a little envious of their distinctive roots and pride in their ancestral accomplishments. I’ll never know what that feels like from the inside of the tent.

I remember when my kids were in grade school and had to dress up in the costume of their ethnic heritage. Hah! Where do you start when you are Scots-English-Newfoundlander X French-Bohemian-Alsatian? I suggested that their national costume was a t-shirt, jeans and sneakers! I forget now whether or not they followed my advice. I seem to remember they might have – they share the family’s quirky sense of humour. Today I would also suggest adding a toque and an MEC rain jacket just to make it more west-coast Canadian. Heh.

Speaking of my kids, no there’s still no news on the grandbaby front. She goes back to the doc tomorrow. We’ll see what happens then. Anyway it’s my birth-mom’s birthday today. She would have been 75 had she not passed away just over a year ago now. It might be nice to share your great-grandmother’s birthday, Little One! What do you think? Come out! Come out! Wherever you are!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Quick & Dirty

I discovered that there’s still about 3” to go on my Happy Legs and I’m running quickly out of yarn. I had more of the same brand but not the same colour in the stash: leftovers from these socks and these fingerless mitts (Ravelry links). One 70g ball had much darker areas than the others so I chose that one to over-dye. After winding it into a skein and securing with cotton ties I washed it in Orvus and then soaked the wool in my everlasting bucket of acid water for an hour. I no longer have any idea what the exact pH of this is. I should check, shouldn’t I? It still works well though.

Lanaset (aka Telana) was to be my dye of choice because it has the most neutral black of all my synthetic dyes. I used my ever-adaptable casserole method which works well for a single skein and is quick to do. I dissolved 1% WOF (.7g) dye powder in a little hot water in the dish and added enough water to keep the skein very wet but not swimming. Then I smooshed the squeezed-out skein quickly into the dye, making sure that it all got into the solution. Since the wool is already acidified, the dye takes up almost immediately and if fairly even results are wanted then speed is of the essence as the yarn hits the dye. I popped on the casserole lid and nuked the dish in the microwave several times in 3-minute bursts. After it cooled a bit and the water in the dish was clear, I rinsed the skein to get out the acid and any excess dye (though there wasn’t any visible so the dye exhaustion was excellent). Lastly I spun out as much water as possible in the machine and now I’m just waiting for it to dry. The wool still shows some of the underlying red but it’s all muted down and should work fine for the very top of the panty part of my netherstockings…er, tights. Photo to come when it’s dry.

And there’s even enough of that yarn (in its original colours) to make another project. Perhaps a hat to go with the knee socks and mitts? However, I’m determined to get these things off the needles before casting on anything else.

I’ve also been plugging away at the Watercolour Rag Quilt though it’s going rather slowly for some reason. Still tearing squares out of the dyed fabrics and pinning them together in sandwiches with flannelette in the middle.

WatercolourQuilt_prog

I’m nearly half done this part, but I’m going to have to piece some squares from the scraps and patch a few holes to have enough to make this thing as big as I want it to be. I was working on it last evening but had to quit when I screwed up and cut 4 pieces 1” too small on one side. Doh. Need my wits about me to make 8” squares more-or-less the same size. I’m obviously not really a quilter.

In other news, there is NO NEWS! No new grandbaby yet - two days after her due date. Well I don’t blame her for not wanting to come out. It’s cold out here! We’re currently having a rare November cold snap, some snow included. So much for the anything edible left in my garden. They’re all turned into popsicles. Oh well. Anyway, interesting sounds are made when cars crunch through the small amount of frozen slush that remains on the streets outside! Kind of a nice break from the usual pounding rain.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Not Today

We were all kind of hoping that today would be the day of our new granddaughter’s birth. T-Man even took the day off (not really expecting the blessed event but because he wanted the holiday). However, the little one missed the memo. Tomorrow is her due date but the doc says that apparently she’s not quite in The Zone yet. Instead we enjoyed a lovely lunch here post-appointment: Milady Daughter, her Milord, T and me. We had the chicken, red rice and veggie soup that I made yesterday and some really good bagels and cream cheese to go with. Lots of chatting and they headed home before the afternoon traffic got too busy and more importantly before it’s supposed to start snowing. Next appointment is Wednesday if Her Highness doesn’t make an appearance before then. Let’s hope she’s not trying for her mother’s record time of 10 days late. Stubborn little beastie! But she can wait until the expected snow is melted.

Further to yesterday’s post on aging, I found an inspirational blog and this article. Interesting reading and some good advice. Unfortunately we don’t all look like Angela Paul. But come to think of it, maybe being gorgeous (in the commonly accepted sense) makes getting older harder instead of easier. I wouldn’t know from personal experience. Heh.

In crafty news I’m cruising up to the waist on the Happy Legs nether-stockings. Nearly done. Mindless round-and-round so I can read at the same time. It’s going quicker than I thought it might. Pretty soon I’ll have to transfer stitches to a holding thread so I can try the things on to see if I’ve got the waist at the right point for comfort. It needs to fold over for the elastic casing and I would prefer to put a purl row to facilitate the turn. The yarn is holding out so far!

It’s cold outside and finally feels much more like winter is setting in. We still haven’t finished up raking the leaves but have been neatly avoiding the issue. If it snows like the weatherman is expecting, we won’t have to do it tomorrow either.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Acceptance

I’ve already chosen that as my focus word for 2011. Actually I need to use it right now. It’s less inspiring than the usual words I choose (not that I can even remember now what this year’s word was!) but more something that I need to work on. Oh, I don’t mean to accept anything and everything that comes into my life willy-nilly. No, more like accepting that although I have power over some things, others I cannot influence in any way. I can only accept that they are the way they are and let them go. Sounds like one of those classic self-help-y mantras doesn’t it?

It doesn’t help that I’ve been increasingly frustrated with wanting to do more and more interesting things while my time is not only getting shorter, it also rather annoyingly keeps going faster. One doesn’t know exactly where the end is but instinctively knows it’s getting closer and closer. That finality doesn’t scare me really but like most small children in a particularly exciting playground, I don’t ever really want to leave. I’m just learning how to use the equipment.

Life isn’t what we are, it’s what we think.

I’ve been reading a lot about successful, happy older people and how they embrace life. It’s interesting to me at what age is considered “older” though. For some it’s 45 and others 65 or even 74 (apparently at 75 you go directly into “old”). There’s a big gap there! I remember being 45 which now feels quite young to me – not even middle-aged really. Passing 50 was a breeze too. However 60 has been a little bumpier. I’m starting to feel a slight disconnect between the person I feel I am inside and the one I see in the mirror:

Me2010sm

I guess I’m still getting familiar with the More Mature Me. Grey hair, wrinkles, double chins, potato body, aches, pains, mysterious rashes and all. Somebody’s Granny. Several sweet little somebodies actually. (Time to come out now, Alien!)

Yep, I need to work on this acceptance thing. There’s several other areas I can apply it to also. Like for instance the upcoming Holiday Season. It is what it is. (Right, Susan?) Embrace it, Damselfly! At least my version (yummy baking, a little tasteful decorating, giant turkey dinner for the extended fambly, inexpensive presents for the little ones, lots of laughing/hugs/kisses). You don’t really expect me to accept the whole barrel of total insanity that takes over the months between Halloween and New Year, do ya? No way.

Deep breath and moving right along. I’m off to my weavers’ guild meeting tonight. I slept in this morning on purpose so I can hopefully keep my eyeballs propped open this evening. They will just have to lump that I’m bring chocolate wafers instead of cookies. I don’t feel like baking today. Besides I have to make a big pot of chicken soup. Right now.

At least I’m never bored.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Domestic Goddess

Because I accidentally sent today’s post yesterday (yes, sometimes I write more than one at a time!) this one will be short. I have a life you know. Really. I need to finish the laundry that I started yesterday, vacuum and locate the bathroom under the grime. It’s a dirty job but somebody has to do it.

I also have to mention that excitement is building because of the immanent birth of our new grandbaby. Milady Daughter is doing very well, Alien is behaving herself, and she is due this coming Saturday. Which of course doesn’t mean that’s when she’ll arrive. MD herself was 10 days late. Meanwhile in anticipation T-Man has taken Friday off. Just in case we’re needed. Or because he didn’t get Remembrance Day and needs a holiday. Whatever works.

So what makes you think that, along with all my other chores, I should rake some leaves today? The sun is out. Must take advantage.

Leafy Yard

Monday, November 15, 2010

Fun With Numbers

More computer tech stuff coming up. Those who prefer crafty stuff can skip down to the FO now.

I was interested in how our little 2-person household stacked up with the rest of the computer-verse gadget-wise. So I checked the stats (as of last month): more than 88% use Windows and of those more than half are still with good old XP. Less than 7% use MacOS and a mere 1% are running Linux. The popularity of iPads and smart phones, especially the iPhone is growing fast though. And I’ve noticed that most new computers advertised are laptops, not desk-sized versions. Portable is taking over. Fascinating – to me at least.

As you might know, we’ve been using computers around Damselfly’s Pond since the early 1980’s. Ah, the joys of the Commodore 64 with no hard drive, just big old floppy disks and a whole 64k of memory! Currently we each have two actual computers: two big desktops, a netbook and T-Man’s new baby, a Macbook Air. Plus his iTouch, iPod and my now-ancient and feeble Palm T/X (which even in it’s current has-been state still has considerably more brainpower and function than that first C64). I think there’s a mostly-dead vintage MacBook kicking around here somewhere too. I bet that’s nothing compared to some households! We don’t even have a flatscreen TV. Or Blu-Ray. By the time we get around to it, there will be new technology available I’m sure.

One thing I’m currently coveting is my own iTouch. We have enough credit card points to get the model I want and T has just ordered it for me. This is how we got his and he loves it – but the new ones are even better. Cameras, voice recording, video recording, useful apps – light-years ahead of my poor old expiring Palm. (No, I don’t want an iPhone.) Now I just have to wait until it comes. No instant gratification here. So what do I expect for a freebee?

Geek babble over. You can come back now.

Green Eyelet Cowl
(aka the Neck Ring)

Eyelet Cowl

Begun:  November 9, 2010
Completed:  November 12, 2010

Yarn: My friend Linda Spence’s handspun wool and silk 2-ply, approximately light-worsted weight, blues and greens, approx. 110 g (unknown yardage).

Needle: Addi Lace 24”circular, 5mm

Pattern: my own design.

Eyelet Cowl

CO 120 sts, place marker for beg of rnd.
Edging: K 3 ribs of garter stitch (alt k & p rnds x 3)
K 3 rnds.
Row 1: p
Row 2: (k2tog, yo) around
Row 3: p
Rows 4-6: k
Repeat Rows 1-6 x 7 (or however deep you want the cowl.
Repeat garter rnds.
Bind off.
Finish ends.
Wash, pat to shape to block (no pins or wires)

Comments: Since I won this skein of yarn in a draw, I decided that it needed to be knit up into something nice. I never did measure how many yards I had and there is some little bit left that I’m not quite sure what to do with! This is a simple cowl using the eyelet pattern from the recent girl’s cardi I made. It can also serve as a prototype for the requested one I’ve just started to knit out of the cardi leftovers. I quite like the shape as it can be worn in several different ways and doesn’t come undone or fall off. Now I know why I’ve seen so many of this type of neck warmer being worn around town!

Nuts & Leaves (Minus The Nuts)

We did get some of our sweet chestnuts this year thankfully. But it was an off-year for the walnuts and there weren’t even enough squirrel-munched ones to use for dyeing. I still have some in the freezer from a couple of years ago though so no biggie. The hazelnuts also were not abundant and of course the Evil Fuzzy-Tailed Scrats got the few that were any good. T-Man and I (mostly T) have been raking up the leaves for the last few weeks but now they’re really falling in earnest. It’s super windy and wet today – another day of Sideways Rain and typical November murk. It’s supposed to be nice tomorrow so maybe we can get out there and work some more. It’ll be nice to finally get the yard all cleaned up for winter. And we haven’t had any frost yet though they’re saying we could have a sprinkle of snow later this week.

So I realised I had forgotten to post a recent FO.

All-Sorts Shawlette

Scarflet

Begun:  August 8, 2010
Completed:  November 2, 2010

Yarn: Knitting - Aurelia superwash wool, colourway Navy All-Sorts, handspun into 2-ply light-fingering weight. 50 g = 340 yds approx. Crochet – Ashland Bay merino, colourway Baltic (blue), handspun into 2-ply light-fingering weight (slightly finer than the superwash). Leftover amount from the Fishtail Scarf.

Needle: Addi Lace circular, 3.5mm
Hook: Clover Softouch, 3.25mm

Pattern: Knitting – my own design.

Shallow Garter Triangle

CO 3 sts
Row 1: k1fb x 2, k1
Row 2: k1fb, k to second-last st, k1fb, k1
Repeat Row 2 until you nearly run out of yarn or it’s big enough.
Bind off.

Scarflet block3Crochet – Used a picot stitch on the top edge and a single crochet around the other two sides, then carried on with #170 from “The Complete Book of Crochet Border Designs” by Linda Schapper. 

Comments: This took longer than it should have to complete due to the Itchy-Peelies affecting my hands. I finished the spinning of the superwash right after I received it as a test gift from Andrea but then put it aside for another month until my hands were better. Finished up the knitting while we were away on vacation in September but waited until we got home to hunt up more yarn and pick a suitable crochet edging pattern. Edging it with crochet made a much more substantial piece though it’s still more of a scarf than a shawl.

Scarflet block1

Am I the only person who is annoyed that you can’t put a project in Ravelry that is both knit and crocheted?

So now what am I up to? I’ll save my second FO for next post, but I’ve also been beavering away at my Happy Legs tights. It’s going to be fun to see whether or not I run out of yarn! I do have some more of that particular brand but not the same colour. It will be up near my waist and consequently won’t show though so it doesn’t really matter – at least to me.

Well I seem to be doing much better so far with the blog posts this month, aren’t I?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Attempted Organisation

And no, that’s not a typo. I just prefer the British spelling of “organise”, rather than the American version “organize”. It’s more refined and less harsh. Of course some spell checkers will automatically replace the ‘s’ when I’m not looking. If I have the opportunity I will argue with it until I get my own way. I tend to be stubborn like that. You know.

Anyway, today I’m not talking about physically organising the stashes or the kitchen cupboards but about organising ideas. I recently came upon a blog post that mentioned using a program called Evernote which I had never heard of before. Quick google-search later and I was convinced to try it. What’s to lose? It’s free for the basic level which seems like it will be adequate to my needs. I got registered and downloaded and installed the desktop version on both my XP-running PCs, big Damselfly and little Bluet. I also got the Clipper apps for Firefox on both machines. I don’t have a smart phone, but if I did there are Evernote apps for pretty much every type out there. Oh, Macs and iPad too and probably other things I don’t know about. Nobody should feel left out! Features you get are dependant on what each device is capable of. Oh, and you also get an email address that you can use to send a note to your Evernotes. Is that cool or what?

I found it a little confusing at first since there really isn’t any user manual and the help is also very scattershot. This issue has been mentioned in some of the reviews too so it’s not just me. Somewhere on the Evernote website is a basic getting-started section (not immediately apparent so I’ll link it here) and I did read a lot of different blog posts and got some ideas of the ways one could make use of the program. A little (ok a lot!) of experimenting ensued. And continues to ensue. After all I’ve only been using it for a day. So far.

What does it do exactly? That’s kind of hard to say really. It’s pretty open-ended. Basically it collects your notes, check-lists, photos, voice clips, web clips and PDFs in notebooks. But here’s the kicker for me: Evernote synchronises them over all your platforms and also keeps them on a web-based “cloud”. This means I can access my notes from either of my computers (no finding out that something I need to check is on the other computer) and I could conceivably access it from anybody else’s computer or other device with Internet access. Only someone with multiple devices could comprehend how useful this is.

What kinds of things would someone make notes about? Ummm…pretty much anything. Craft projects, home dec, gifts, impending wedding or party planning, baby names, to-do’s, home or car repairs, research on any subject, holiday itineraries, packing check-lists, design ideas, photos, quotes, blog ideas, music or movie or book lists, etc. etc. etc. Limited only by your imagination. And your time to pursue it. But really I think this will save time in the long run and keep my ideas (of which I have many!) somewhere where they’re more easily accessed. My mind is not big enough to hold everything I want to keep.

Once you put things in there how do you find them again? Tags and a good search feature. There is also a feature similar to optical character recognition (OCR) that can read words (clear handwriting, type etc.) in photos. You can take a photo or a scan of a note, business card, nametag, anything and search for keywords. You do need the premium (paid) version to search inside PDFs though.

What are the drawbacks? There are a couple, apart from the big lack of a user manual that I mentioned earlier. However I did find a third-party manual here but it’s kind of pricey. Might be worth it though if you aren’t comfortable with experimenting on your own or you’re a power user type who wants all the secret codes. You don’t need to be a whiz though to get started. You do need to do a lot of cut and paste and drag type things. Everything you put in wants to be a separate note, but I just discovered that you can merge notes together pretty easily. The note interface is very rudimentary, particularly if you’ve been used to something like Word. It’s a bit glitchy with formatting and line spacing and such. It’s just a basic way of getting the words in there and not necessarily to make them pretty. Old newsletter editor’s habits die hard. I have to let go of my urge to fix things up.

If you have the right devices you can simplify getting photos into Evernote. Unfortunately I don’t have an iPhone or a compatible scanner. My scanner is a very ancient legal-sized behemoth that still works just fine though I can only access it from the big computer. Rather than scan directly in, I need to do a few extra steps: scan things, save them as JPEGs and then put them in Evernote. And getting photos off my older digital camera is similarly multi-stepped. Doable though even if a little more roundabout. I have the time if I want to use it.

And time is what’s needed to get familiar with the interface, set up your notebooks and start to put stuff in them. I think once you’re past the initial stages it gets easier to keep up on an ongoing basis. I hope. It’s kind of fun though. I keep finding things I’ve totally forgotten I had – hidden away in files on 2 different computers. They’re on the same network but the file sharing doesn’t work very well – or at all mostly. I’m forever trying to find a photo or file that’s on the other computer and it’s not even turned on! Now I can put it in Evernote on whichever computer I’m on and they will sync so I can access it from anywhere. And I can put all the relevant notes on a project in one place so I don’t have to go hunting all over or forget I had it. Where was Evernote when I was planning our last vacation? I think I need to put my sci-fi/fantasy book list into it before my vintage Palm dies. And I need to put the rest of my sewing pattern scans in along with my fabric inventory as a checklist. I already have my current quilt project in there. I’m starting to collect blog ideas there too. Hmmm…I think this is going to mean a major change in how I do things. Five million other users seem to think so too. More anon.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Lest We Forget

Break out the poppies! Yes, it’s Remembrance Day here in Canada. Lots of folks get the day off but poor T-Man doesn’t. Both our dads were in WWII, mine in the Canadian Army infantry serving in Italy and T’s (much younger than my dad) in the Navy but late enough to have missed most of it. My brother The Sergeant-Major was in the Canadian Armed Forces Reserve until he retired and served as a peacekeeper in Egypt. So we get the full meaning of the day even if we don’t gather at the cenotaph or raise a glass at the Legion Hall. I’m especially grateful that my husband, son and son-in-law never had to serve in a war and hope the same for my little grandson. (And so as not to be sexist about it, the girls too. Even if one isn’t fighting the front lines, war affects everyone.) I was reminded of the hour when I heard a vintage plane go over at 11am but couldn’t see it for the low cloud and drizzle.

Because it’s so much more dreary out today, I’m glad I got out for some Adventures In Public Transit yesterday when we had a gorgeous sunny fall day instead of rain. I headed downtown and went first to check out the clothing options in Sears just because I so rarely get there. Meh. Too much polyester and absolutely everything seems to be made in China. Badly too. There were a couple of cute items but the only things that really interested me were either in an uncomfortable fabric, didn’t fit me or were too far beyond what I’m willing to pay for a Name Brand (which apart from my expensive taste in shoes and boots is admittedly a rather low number). On to Dressew.

I got lost in the elaborate underground maze on the way through Pacific Centre Mall. It’s changed some in recent years and I haven’t been there for ages. I finally bumped into the Skytrain station (otherwise known as SewerRat at this point) and since my transit pass was still good decided to take it to Waterfront Station. Probably could have walked it faster but oh well. Emerged into the light in Gastown and walked around a little playing tourist. The area is “gentrifying” considerably and I for one think it’s a good thing. The opening of the Woodwards complex hasn’t hurt. Lots more people around who didn’t look like they wanted to panhandle you and stylish new businesses opening up. Personally I’m not at all afraid of the sleazier areas, at least in broad daylight, but I hope it attracts some of the more timid folks to explore now.

Dressew still had some of its infamous cheap yarn available so I restocked my supply of Kaffe Fassett sock yarn. Been using it up on baby things lately and I just love the colour combinations. I did a goodly perusal of both floors and ended up with a few small notions and these fabrics:

Fabrics

I seem to have been in a neutrals mood. They’ve all been warm washed and machine dried and came out with flying colours. Number 1 is a black double-knit in nylon, rayon & lycra – I think. I didn’t write it down and most of the tagging in this store is suspect anyhow! It has a nice weight and drape and lots of stretch and I hope to make some pull-on pants and a funky skirt and maybe even another simpler one out of it.

Number 2 is a heavy flecked gray double-knit with less stretch and a lot less drape than Number 1. I’m not sure of the fibre content but I think there’s some polyester in it. I think it will make a great dress. Like this one:

B5244-B

Butterick 5244 view B, circa 2008 and apparently now out-of-print. I’ll have to be careful that the neckline isn’t too wide or it’ll fall off my non-existent shoulders though. I can wear it with a top underneath for more warmth this winter.

Fabric Number 3 is a medium-weight brown sueded cotton/lycra jersey. The edges curled under a lot when I washed and dried it so it will be gangs o’fun to cut out. I want to make this vintage number:

S9897

Simplicity 9897 from 1996, probably view B with short-sleeves this time. I made view A, the long-sleeved high-neck version, years ago in a cheap and pilly polyester knit with an almost terry-cloth texture to it. Since I’ve lost a little of the old midsection bulge, I wear it more often than I ought to since it’s totally shredded and makes me sweaty and stinky. It is indeed very quick and easy to make with no facings or zipper. I just might begin with this one to get my sewing mojo jumpstarted.

Number 4 is a cream-coloured very lightweight stretch knit (can’t remember what fibres!) which is going to become some very light and soft underdrawers. This is part of my ongoing project to find something that is more comfortable for me than regular ladies’ panties. Something that doesn’t cut in to my delicate areas, doesn’t roll up and doesn’t slip down. A tall order methinks. This stuff only cost me $12 for 3 metres so I’ve got lots of room to experiment for less than the cost of a single pair of these:

Pantalettes

I’ll just modify this well-aged pattern from the stash:

B3430

Butterick 3430 from 1985. This should be a lesson to you – never throw out a pattern because it just may come back into style 26 years later. Hmmm…I just recalled that I actually made a pair of matching tights from this pattern for that Simplicity dress! They wore out in the thigh area rather quickly due to chub-rub. Sometimes cheap fabrics are not a bargain.

Lastly we have fabric Number 5. I was not shopping for this one. (Actually I wasn’t really shopping for fabrics at all!) I have no idea what I will make out of it. It was also the first piece I got them to cut for me so that says something. It’s a black lightweight rayon/lycra scrunched crepe something – maybe a voile? I just looked more closely and I’m now pretty sure it’s woven rather than knit but hard to tell the weave structure. It has a deep super-stretchy texture and is quite soft but with a certain amount of body. All I know is that it will be some kind of long tunic top and that I love it. $4 a metre in the bargain basement bin. Not exactly winter fabric though so it goes on the back burner.

Yes, I know I started a sewing binge last spring and never got very far with it. Apart from my lovely Debbie Double and a bunch of new patterns anyhow. Plus right now I have a partially cut out quilt for my bed that is Priority Number ONE. (And seems to be taking forever to do – for a quick quilting technique. Must be the 256 x 3 layers squares, huh?) But lest we forget, this is what my hands looked like a short 3 months and 2 weeks ago:

Hand

And this is what they look like now:

BetterHand

Absolute perfection. See why I might be able to get a little more delicate work accomplished these days? I’m officially off any meds at all and am currently just using my own homemade moisturiser. Whew. Better stay this way. Just sayin’.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Is It Lunchtime Yet?

My stomach is still on Daylight Savings time. I’m hungry at all the wrong times! I seem to be sleeping ok but waking up earlier than I did before the clocks changed. This is a good thing. Did this adult really need 10 hours sleep every night? OK, maybe not quite 10. T-Man’s been snoring quite a lot lately (allergies? remains of his cold/flu thingy?) and if I’m not deeply asleep even my deaf ears don’t help. But I usually need more sleep than the average: 9 hours is about right. Otherwise I’m a cranky bear! I kind of envy folks who can get away with less sleep – they have more time to get things done. However I guess I should be grateful that I don’t suffer from insomnia like several people I know. Wanting sleep and not being able to have it must be horrible.

In crafty news I managed to finish up Princess Pink’s new sweater before we went to their house for a very yummy dinner yesterday. All steam blocked, machine washed and dried and everything. It’s pretty large on her but still wearable I think. At least she’ll be able to grow into it over the next few years. She quite liked the silver and black buttons I found in my stash.

The Not-Pink Cardi

For: my granddaughter, Princess Pink

NotPinkCardi1

Begun:  October 30, 2010
Completed:  November 8, 2010

Pattern:  Fresh-Picked Color 3/4-sleeve Cardigan by Sarah Hoadley, Ravelry link, free pattern link.

Yarn:  Lion Brand Cotton-Ease, colour 191 violet, dyelot 35851A, 50% cotton/50% acrylic, 100g = 207 yds, 3.2 balls.

Needles:  Denise circulars size 8 (5mm) and 7 (4.5mm), Clover bamboo dpns, 5mm.

Buttons:  3 silver and black metallised plastic from the stash.

Comments:  Completed in just over a week!

NotPinkCardi2 Princess Pink loved her 4-year-old version of this sweater. She’s completely grown out of it so I’ve made her another considerably larger one using the middle size (my gauge was a bit off so it came out as wide as the small size) and lengthening the sleeves and body to 14” because I didn’t want a tight cropped sweater. I also put 3 buttons (from the stash) on it instead of one. I am using the actual specified yarn though. Very unusual for me! I was seduced by its washability since her mom is not up for careful laundering or blocking of any sort.

Other mods: used a k1/p1 long-tail cast-on (now that I know how to do it thanks to the Knitting Daily video tutorial). Did the sleeves in the round and joined to body with a 3-needle bind-off. Didn’t read carefully and found that you were supposed to bind off 8 stitches on the sleeve to attach to 6 stitches on the body so had to decrease the extra 4 stitches on the next row, one at each side of the sleeve joins. Had to write out the instructions for the yoke row by row because they were way too confusing as written. Lastly changed to 4.5 mm tips for the neck’s seed stitch - didn’t want to have it too baggy. Worked great!

Unusually for me I sewed the buttons on with the yarn instead of thread. I didn’t want them to be floppy. The shanks were very large and even 3 loops of relatively thick yarn didn’t fill them. I secured the yarn by tying a tight square knot and using a bit of Fray-Check. Hopefully they won’t come undone.

Now I have most of the last ball left. Her mom suggested a cowl that PP can pop over her head. She tends to not wear hats and loses her scarves. Maybe I’ll use the eyelet yoke pattern from the sweater.

Meanwhile I’ve got the leg parts of the Happy Legs tights up to somewhere near mid-thigh. This is the equivalent of a couple of pairs of socks! Still lots more knitting to go. I don’t think I realised when I started this project that it would take so long to finish. Plugging along faster now because I want to wear these as the weather gets colder.

BTW have you seen the new free electronic version of the double-sized 100th issue of Knitter’s magazine? (Info is here.) I already own all the other 99 issues and keep wanting to stop buying them but somehow I can’t. The early ones were really innovative and informative but lately the styles are kind of dumpy. Interesting stitches or techniques sometimes but the shapes are not fitted enough. Or they’re just plain not wearable by Real People (Lydia, XRX’s ubiquitous model aside). Is it just me that thinks this? Anyhow I’m a little suspicious of e-mags in that I doubt they will be readable in a couple of years, unlike my 30-year-old paper magazines. This one uses a service/software called Zinio that you have to register with to use. You can read it online or download a program that will let you save it to your computer. I get that it’s nice to save paper and ink and trees and all, but I do like to keep my craft magazines and will definitely look at them again years down the road. How long will this file and more importantly the software to read it with survive? And can I resist buying this issue in paper version? We’ll find out. It’s a really huge magazine issue anyway and I thought the history of the publishers was a fun walk down memory lane.

Speaking of buying, I was going to go downtown to Dressew today but changed my mind because the weather is kind of sucky. (You know it’s bad when it rains sideways.) Lazy me. I’ll wait until it’s supposed to clear up tomorrow. I want to get some little notions, check out the cheap yarn (like I need any more?) and generally see what’s available. Haven’t been there in awhile and I’ve been feeling the need to browse – not necessarily to buy much. I already did a good peruse of the new local Michael’s and good old Maiwa Supply last week and controlled myself pretty well. It does serve to remind me how much stuff I already have but helps keep my creative juices flowing. I need to survive the next two months where I pretty much boycott the shops entirely except for groceries. I’ll be working from the stash until the holidays are over.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Squirreling Away

I finally got around to harvesting the rest of the woad crop. I didn’t really have anything I wanted to dye right away so I took it to the extraction stage and got a lovely dark blue. There wasn’t much colour in the froth on the top but there was sure a lot of frothy foam! I left it to settle out for an hour or so and it was still sitting there undiminished so I took a spoon and scooped it out into a small pail. Now that it was clear I poured the rest into three 2-quart canning jars plus a 1-quart jar. It didn’t quite reach the top of the smaller jar so I just topped it up with a little plain water. I even remembered to label the jars!

CannedWoad

No idea what the pH is or whether this will keep very long but so far so good! To use it all I have to do is dump it in the dyepot add a wee bit more soda ash (to counteract any fermentation), warm it up to 50C and reduce it with thiox. This is the first time I’ve tried to save the woad for later use so we’ll see how it goes. It would have just been composted anyhow so nothing ventured nothing gained.

While I was waiting for the woad leaves to cool I used the time to snip up the meagre handful of 2-year-old madder roots I managed to get from my big galvanised pots. It’s easiest to cut when it’s still fresh – later on it’s like sawing lumber. I decided that since I have more garden space now dedicated to dye plants it can go in the actual ground. Besides it hasn’t done very well over the last couple of years so I thought it could use a change of soil. I added some lime and bone meal to help perk it up and it will get compost in the spring with the rest of the garden. So now there are 6 hopefully healthy roots in the corner where they can go as crazy as they like. And a weensy pile of madder root drying in my basement, maybe enough for a small skein or two:

MadderHarvest

I love the smell of madder root. It’s kind of earthy and quite distinct. Better than woad anyhow! Smells even better when it’s cooking but I’ll save that for another time.

Today is a lovely and mostly-sunny fall day but I’ve got a nasty migraine. The light is too bright! I’m knitting on Princess Pink’s Not-Pink Cardi instead. Nearly done but don’t know if it will be blocked in time to give it to her tomorrow afternoon.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The Day After

Huge thank yous to everyone who sent me birthday greetings! I’m definitely feeling the love. Awwww…

Also, we had a really fun dinner last night at SalaThai, my favourite Thai restaurant. Their website is worth it for the cool Thai music but it features the big downtown restaurant, not our neighbourhood version which was actually the first one. We’ve been going fairly regularly since it opened over 20 years ago and they know us pretty well by now! My mother-in-law (aka Nana) invited me and T-Man, plus T’s little brother, his lovely wife and their kids (17 & 19). We were totally noisy and silly but nobody seemed to mind. Our darling host Art, whose real name is probably something unpronounceable in Thai, and both his waitresses served the (family-provided) cake and sang Happy Birthday to me along with the family. He said he nearly put the 6 candle upside down, making it say 90, but the girls put him straight. Too funny! Nana gave him a big hug on the way out. And a big tip too.

I thought the family fun, fabulously yummy dinner and sinful chocolate cake were spoiling enough but I even got presents. Nana gave me a lavender cookbook (and I actually have some saved from my garden so I can try a recipe or two) plus 4 little “buns” of baby alpaca top in white, tan, chocolate and black. She said she visited the farm on one of her bus trips: Krystal Acres Alpaca Farm on San Juan Island, WA. No need to convince me that alpacas are adorable! Not a lot of fibre here but if I spin it fine, perhaps enough for a scarf or hat. Or gloves? Yum.

In crafty news, I successfully finished a project yesterday that’s been dragging on but can’t blog it. It’ll have to wait until mid-December when it goes to its rightful owner. Sad face. Now I’m trying to control the urge to start something new until I finish my Happy Legs that still are only two uncompleted legs instead of warm tights. I’ve also started the body of Princess Pink’s new cardi now that the sleeves are done. Speeding right along. So good to be able to knit and crochet again! You have no idea.

The sun is out and it’s a spectacularly lovely fall day! Think I need to go for a walk.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

The Story So Far

It’s my birthday today and it’s the big Six-Oh. I’m trying to decide how I feel about that. I breezed through 30, 40, 50 with barely an eye-blink but for some reason I’m feeling more…contemplative? Perhaps a smidge more concerned about the speed of the passing years and the ever-diminishing time remaining to me. In earlier eras I would be considered an old woman but I don’t feel old – at least most of the time. I feel fit and strong and productive. I’m happy with my life (Horrible Summer of the Itchy-Peelies aside) and wouldn’t really change anything that I have any influence over. There’s a few things I’ve learned over the years: don’t sweat the small stuff, don’t try to fix anybody else (just me), and don’t be afraid of change because it happens anyhow. So maybe it’s going to be OK, this Seventh Decade in The Life of Damselfly. Bring it on!

I’ve been working on yet another secret project which can’t be blogged about. Yeah, that’s what? Number Five in the last few months? This one is not for a baby or a grandkid but is for my local Ravelry group’s Festivus exchange. I have just over a month to finish up a gift package for my Swappee. Unfortunately I won’t be able to post about it until the middle of December. Sigh.

The sweater for Princess Pink is coming along. I’ve nearly completed the second sleeve but of course I haven’t even started the body yet. Worsted yarn knits up a lot faster than my usual lace and sock yarns though. Easy-peasy. I’m aiming to finish by next Monday when I’ve been invited to My Son The Ninja’s house for a belated birthday dinner.

I also found a sweater that I want to make for me out of the Berroco Remix yarn that I originally bought for the PP sweater. More on that later. It’s an interesting yarn:

BerrocoRemix

100% recycled fibres in a tweedy blend of 30% Nylon, 27% Cotton, 24% Acrylic, 10% Silk, and 9% Linen. Whew! It was the nylon that stopped me from using it for PP because we’re now pretty sure she’s allergic to it. Not a good choice of yarn with 30% nylon, even more than sock yarn contains. Oddly enough, my son-in-law also is sensitive to nylon. I didn’t know that was such a common problem. Not for me though. So I get a sweater for me out of the mistake. Heh.

Meanwhile it’s a sunny day with a little fog. Kind of like my life…

Monday, November 01, 2010

Eleventh Month

How can it be November already? There’s still leaves (very pretty ones!) on the trees and it’s not even very cold yet. I was gardening on Saturday in short sleeves. Today is raining and dreary but it still doesn’t feel as late in the year as the calendar says it is.

We had a Halloween blast last evening! T-Man and I kept switching up who got to wear my spider deely-boppers. (I have several of these for different holidays!) He carved a great scary pumpkin, for the first time using a printed graphic instead of drawing it freehand, and then we roasted the seeds. Yum. We must have had quite a few trick-or-treaters because we gave out nearly all our candy, though it must be said we doubled-up a lot to get rid of it quicker. There are a few left for us! The across-the-street neighbours had fireworks and the last one hit our bedroom window making us both jump as we were watching from the living room window. It left a couple of big ash blotches that will have to be washed off but at least it didn’t break the window. We call that guy “Numbnuts” as it obviously suits! Everyone disappeared into the house after that blooper finale. That left us to try to get to sleep with lots of fireworks still going off around the neighbourhood.

I’m finished another baby sweater, this one for my new great-niece. (If her parents are reading this, sorry you won’t get it until I see you next. It’ll give her time to grow into it a little because it’s way too big right now anyway!)

Emma’s Sweater

Emmasweater

Begun: October 11, 2010

Completed: October 28, 2010

Yarn: Schachenmayr nomotta Regia Design Line Kaffe Fassett, 75% superwash wool/25% polyamide, exotic colour: ember, #4455, dyelot 32636, 50 g = 210 m. 2 balls.

Needles: Addi Lace circulars, 3mm

Pattern: b18-25 Jacket in Garter Stitch from DROPS Design, Ravelry link, DROPS link

Size: 1-3 months

Comments: Not the pants - only the jacket! This turned out quite nicely after a bit of a worry that there wouldn’t be enough yarn. (I had a little bit of purple Sisu from the scraps box just in case. Didn’t need it.) I also didn’t want to go button shopping so was glad to find an excellent choice in the stash. I love the Kaffe Fassett colour combo. So not pastel baby colours.

EmmasweaterBackI admit this looks very similar to EZ’s Baby Surprise Jacket (nearly 13,000 versions on Ravelry!) but there’s a bit more sewing involved in this one. The sweater is knitted in two pieces starting at the cuff of the sleeve. I worked both at the same time, one with each ball of yarn. The plan was to make it easier to keep them the same size. It worked out ok most of the time but I eventually had to use a couple of stitch holders. They worked well for holding the back stitches so I could graft them together instead of binding off and then to hold the neck stitches until time to finish the neckline.

EmmasweaterDetail I used a knit-on cast-on to add the stitches over the buttonhole. Not so happy with the results. Must try different combinations for a two-stitch buttonhole in garter. I think so far the ones I did on the Frogimono are my fave: decrease two stitches by k2tog/ yo2/ssk on the first row and then k1/p1 in the double yarn-over on the second row. More experimenting necessary.

So now I’ve begun working on a cardigan for Princess Pink. She loved the sweater I made her when she was 4 but of course it’s too small now. There’s an up-sized version of the pattern so I decided to try it. I got some charcoal tweed yarn (Berroco’s Remix, 100% recycled fibres) but decided not to use it since it’s 30% nylon. PP seems to have a sensitivity or maybe allergy to nylon because she refuses to wear anything I’ve made her with nylon-reinforced sock yarn claiming it’s itchy. She proved it to me for certain one day when the tag on a new t-shirt gave her a horrendous rash. So I’ll save that yarn for me! I went to the new Michael’s store (walking distance. Yay!) and got the recommended Lion Brand Cotton-Ease (cotton/acrylic) which should be ok with the princess. It’s not the sophisticated dark charcoal I wanted though but a periwinkle blue-violet. At least it’s not pink! So far I’ve got one and a half sleeves done and it’s going very nicely. More anon.

Unfortunately I still haven’t taken advantage of my remaining woad plants. Doesn’t really matter – they can just become compost anyway. But do ya wanna see my weld harvest?

WeldHarvest

All dry and crispy and smells like Stoned Wheat Thins crackers. Truly! Pretty good for a couple of late-planted early-bolted plants, don’t you think? That’s everything but the roots and the thick stalks. I have no idea how much yellow dye there is there but it should be enough for a deep shade on a couple of good-sized skeins of wool anyway. No time right now to test unfortunately. I have other things to occupy myself and this will wait in my storage cupboard.