"Whatever shall we do in that remote spot? Well, we'll write our memoirs. Work is the scythe of time." --Napoleon Bonaparte, on his way into exile.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Many moons ago

Originally uploaded by CreativeExile.

I cut out this wall quilt 13 years ago. I never had a machine, didn't get my grandmother's machine until just a few years ago, and hand piecing annoyed me. So, into a box the pieces went. Thirteen years ago.

The 1953 machine sounds like an airplane taking off, and I never could get the tension right, so it's been in the cabinet and will stay there, especially now that I have my snazzy new machine (a Kenmore 15212) on top of it.

Anyway, it took me all of two days (and several lessons learned) to put this together. Lesson number one: No amount of pressing can make up for poor pinning. Lesson number two: Anything sewn can be ripped out. Lesson number three: ...the sooner the better.

I've always said I get along with both Spartans and Wolverines because my university colors were maize and green. I choose gold and green to go with the black and gold (stars background) because I was still all rah-rah for Wayne State back in 1993. I also thought blue and gold celestial stuff was overdone at the time.

I picked up black batting at Country Stitches the other day. It might darken the gold a bit, but at least it won't glare through the darker materials. I'm planning on quilting it with black thread (I have plenty of gold left over for the backing fabric) around the moons and along the "ditches," so the back should look interesting, too.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Baba's Sweater (for Tess)

Wool Ease Dress
Originally uploaded by CreativeExile.

I'm going to spare you a picture of the now-too-tight neckline on Tess's Pink Fluffy Cloud sweater, and share this with you instead. My MIL made this sweater for Tess. Probably from memory, again. She has really taken to knitting, and frankly, I'm glad. Tess, however, is lukewarm on this one. Not quite pink (or purple) enough. But, Baba made it, so she'll love it. Eventually. Looks like Wool-Ease, so I should be able to wash it in case she suddenly wants to wear Only This. It happens.

Today was my Artist Date day. Haven't had one of those in forever. E's home from work for the week, so he took over parenting duties and I took off for Lansing. Country Stitches benefitted greatly from E's Xmas gift of a sewing machine to me. Thread Bear Fiber Arts Studio benefitted from my promise to make Tracey, an ex-coworker friend of mine, a shawl for her wedding dress.

She is getting married in Cancun in early March, then coming back (and wearing the same strapless dress) to Michigan (where it will most likely still be winter) later that week for her reception.

Her dress is white, shot through with gold thread (but still, she assures me, thoroughly white-looking), so I have been on the lookout for likely fiber(s) ever since I promised her The Shawl back in early September.

Walking into Thread Bear, I had an experience similar to Robin William's Russian defector character in Moscow on the Hudson. You know that scene? Where he walks down the coffee aisle, and faints at the selection? Yeah, Thread Bear is like that. Holy cow. The store just kept going, and going, and GOING. Lorna's Laces sock yarn, in University of Michigan colors! Lorna's Laces sock yarn in every conceivable color known to man!! Every yarn known to man in every conceivable color known to man (or woman, sorry)!!! I thought I was going to have a fainting fit of ecstasy right then and there.

I picked up two more skeins of Summer Tweed for The Stole (which I insist on calling The Afghan). They even had 5 skeins of the background color I need, 514/"Reed," but I resisted. $70 in (mostly) sale fabric at Country Stitches, $70 at ThreadBear already, I needed to stop. But oh, it was hard...

Rejected shawl

Rejected shawl
Originally uploaded by CreativeExile.

Tracey is too short and well-endowed for this to look like anything but Not Enough Shawl/Cheap Knitting Friend. But it was a serious runner-up anyway, because it only took 2 skeins of warm, fuzzy GGH mohair (see cheap knitting friend, above). (See also, chickenshit knitting friend: who has never done lace and was too terrified to make this her first lace experience. I'm on a deadline, people).

Garter stitch shawl: yarns, design

Shawl yarns
Originally uploaded by CreativeExile.

Glitter (gold thread) and Dropps cotton viscose. Shiny, elegant, pretty. Perfect. But that thin gold thread might be the end of me. I've dropped it once already. Still, easier to unknit than mohair.

And the pattern? You can't get any easier than this. Perhaps even I cannot screw it up...

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Learning curve

Neck dilemma #2
Originally uploaded by CreativeExile.

First, I picked up stitches around the neck without counting, just by looking at the stitches and seeing what I could evenly space. I came up with 65 stitches. I was supposed to have 123.

Now, perhaps it is significant to note that I already blew off the instructions, and long ago cast off the shoulders. The first bit of instruction for picking up stitches was to use the LIVE ONES FROM THE SHOULDERS. Oops.

I had already sewn up the fronts and backs of the raglan shoulders, so I did what I could to pick up stitches, but came up waaaay short.

Kim convinced me to try again last night at Knit In, but the light was dim so all I managed was ripping out what I had and setting it aside (she also suggested giving in and doing a crochet edging, to which I merely cackled. Sorry).

All night long I dreamt of knitting into the front and back of stitches to get the right amount (since the instructions required DOUBLE what I came up with). That idea was easy enough, and I spent the better part of this morning finishing up the neck.

In the (paraphrased) immortal words of Scarlet O'Hara, I'll tear this out and think about it tomorrow.

I just hope I don't have any more knitting dreams. They're exhausting.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Hoodie front

Hoodie front
Originally uploaded by CreativeExile.

From The Yarn Girls' Guide to Simple Knits. I "accidentally" added (meaning, I just wasn't paying attention, and was too lazy to unknit) an extra inch to the back, and did the same here. Good thing, because Gierdra made this same sweater, and said she wishes she had added some length.

I've finished sewing up the shoulders on Tess's Pink Fluffy Cloud sweater, now I'm going to try and figure out how to pick up stitches around the V-neck. If I get totally confused (apparently I was supposed to leave live stitches along the neck, and I bound off instead), there's always Knit In tonight!

Did a second holiday card but I'm not overly fond of it, so I won't bore you with a picture of it. Almost all cards are out the door. The rest need to go today or they won't get to folks before next Monday. The overseas ones, I've determined, simply won't make it. Oh well.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

That time of year again

Cardmaking at work...
Originally uploaded by CreativeExile.

Thanks to NaNo, I didn't get out to crop at all in November, but hey. I am so not complaining.

Of course, that now means I have to haul @$$ to get my cards done in the next week. Or so.

La la, off to stamp and cut and paste and play. I really like this card. I'll do about 25 of these, then another 25 of a different style. Haven't decided yet, but I picked up this punch I've been lusting after since I first used one in Michelle's class a couple of months ago, and I'm hoping to incorporate a mini file folder somehow.

I'll tumble for ya

Originally uploaded by CreativeExile.

Okay, I read the likes and dislikes of my secret pal again and realized the Retro Diva tumbler might not light her fire. Seems she likes the color orange (a LOT) and cappuchinos. Luckily this summer I bought a boatload of coffee stamps and voila! The perfect tumbler for my secret pal.

I sent it off today full of candy corn (one of her candy favorites) and threw a big bag of Butterfingers (her other fave) in the package for padding. I was only a little sad that the bag of candy corn filled her cup. I had like, 6 left for me. Wah! I so love candy corn too.

Includes "I take life one cappuchino at a time" and my favorite, "Decaf is for Sissies." Both from Creative

Coffee bean stamp, "Time for Coffee" stamp from Cat's (GREAT site, love their stamps. Totally retro and a gas).

Monday, December 05, 2005

Running away hat

Senior center cap
Originally uploaded by CreativeExile.

The crocheted hat from the Senior Center bazzar this weekend. Tess obviously didn't want to model it.

Russian knit helmet

Russian helmet
Originally uploaded by CreativeExile.

Tess recovered it from deep within the couch this morning. She was oddly more willing to pose with this one (still bothers her chin, though) than with the crochet hat which is her new favorite.

My MIL knit this from memory (says she made one every year for E). She used "Angel Hair" yarn from JoAnn's, very soft but already showing wear. Ah, well, she'll need a new one soon enough.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Brandy decanter

Brandy decanter
Originally uploaded by CreativeExile.

Decided to give my mom half of my plum brandy for Christmas. Seems dad slowly siphons off any fancy liquor she gets, and as she only wants a sniff of brandy (or Bailey's, or Kaluha) every now and then, when she goes to find it it's usually gone (thanks, dad). Soooo...the tag says "don't mess with MOM'S HOOCH."

Tess willingly went to three (!) craft shows in the village with me yesterday; we blew through them and, as usual, the seniors were the best salespeople.

Tess got a really cute crocheted hat (she's hidden the AWESOME Russian "helmet" her Baba knit for her...from memory... I wanted to show it here but the little sneak has decided she doesn't like it).

She also got a little crochet bag with a cat button (detecting a trend here? I still don't crochet) and a paper star ornament. Little old ladies just love her.

Anyway, I picked up two decanters for 50 cents and some really retro, bright potholders for my kitchen at the Senior Center show. I'm such a sucker for the elderly and their crafts. Especially crochet.