Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Vermin and Blankets

Ominous title . . . dun dun dunnnnnn!  Ha.

So, life is very interesting in Texas.  Sometimes we have scary weather - remember back in 2011 when we were bursting into flame? - and sometimes its just unusual.  I have now been here for a decade, which enables me to say with feeling that this year's weather has been incredibly unusual.

Wet.  Very wet.  What does the wet do?  Makes the grass grow (with a +10 multiplier) and makes trees and flowers bloom (and pollinate) and breeds these little guys.

3 feet over my reach with a 12" swatter . . .

That my friends is a moth fly, more commonly known as a drain fly.  They breed like mosquitoes, in water.  Or slimy sewers and drains.  Where do we live?  Not very far from a water treatment facility.  This is the most wet year that I've lived here, but talking to my neighbors I've found that these guys always show up when it's wet for long periods of time and they're darn difficult to get rid of.  They climb up through drains and can fit in small cracks around doors and windows, so there's no keeping them out.  Fly strips everywhere!  For the first time in Texas, I am actually praying for hot weather!

Oh well, it's survivable and, unlike other flies, they don't bite people and are only really active at night.  They do like to mockingly sit on the walls where I can't reach them (like the example, grrrrrr).  Still, it could be worse!

Like, fleas.

Yeah, they're back this year with a vengeance.  I've been here for five years and they've only been this bad once before.  So, it's bath day!  Even the cat couldn't escape.  Luckily he takes it well or the Man would be minus several layers of skin.  I find it amusing that the cat comes to me, mewing plaintively afterwards.  He must not realize it was on my orders.  You can still see the top of his head is mussed, despite his constant grooming.  Poor kitty.
"What is that noise?  Attention?"

I, in the meantime, have been blanketing.  First is my niece Madison's blanket.  Forgive me, the ends aren't woven in and the pattern isn't mine but I loooove the colors.  I swiped them from Nettie's stash 'cause she hates my beautiful melon yarn. I'm going to have to make hats and booties and cardigans and all sorts of things to use it up!  The best part is that Madison isn't due to arrive until June (yes, yes, I know June is this week), but I've got until winter to make those baby things!  Small projects over summer, thank heavens!

Larger on Ravelry
I love reversible lace!

Awesome pattern from Ravelry: Wave Baby Blanket.  Designer made it completely reversible and it's incredibly simple to make.  I will probably make more

Ignore the ends, this will be frogged.
On the other hand, I owe my nephew a hand knitted blanket and I needed a "manly" style.  Log cabin seemed perfect and I even had a great mix of colors: Navy, Cream, Grey, and a Country Blue.  Gorgeous.  One snag: finding a good pattern.  I found one that seemed perfect: Easy 4 Colour Log Cabin Blanket.

Fatal flaw?  Me trying to pick up stitches on the edge.  And work in a worsted weight yarn, honestly.

A little to the left . . .

See the curve?  Yep, I fail.  And I HATE picking up on the edges.  You'd think after all the thumb and heel gussets that I wouldn't mind.  Totally do, it irritates the crazy out of me. (If you knew me, you'd realize how special that is.  There's a lot of crazy here.)  There are tons of log cabin patterns out there.  I looked at a lot. Almost all of them pick up and work in the opposite direction.  Yeah, not me.  I'm going to write my own darn pattern from the bottom up. 

Too lazy to rotate, sorry!
Yeah, it doesn't look like much besides scribble, but so far it's coming together well.  I was able to use my incredibly terrible original block to get a gauge (I used the blue square in the center).  From there, I tested it with a lighter color yarn (navy is impossible to see and I had to break out a flashlight and enlist the Man's aid) and made sure that my gauge was correct.  It was wrong.  Twice.  I finally figured it out (see the scribbles?) and was able to cast on last night.  Today I got to switch colors- color blocking on this blanket is going to look insane, but as long as I remember to cross colors across the back it'll be great, I think.  What do you think?

Only 3 color rows so far, compared to 16 cream.

That's all for tonight. Hopefully I'll get some more work done on the blanket.  I've only finished watching through the 10th Doctor's seasons (sad, 10 is my favorite!) and still have to rewatch 11.  Lot's of time to finish the blanket.  And the sweater . . . and maybe some socks . . .  11 has a lot of seasons!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

I am Lazy

I admit it, I'm lazy.  We're working on that, but between the arthritis and the thyroid stuff I get tired and don't want to think about writing.  Or sometimes even crafting.  That said, I think since September I've knit 3 scarves, 4 or 5 pair of mitts, 1/8th of a shawl (lace, so it's about 300 rows!), one baby blanket and tatted quite a bit.  I've also read a ton of books (All of the Miss Marple books by Agatha Christie, several David Eddings, the Guards books by Terry Pratchett and several others) and played more video game than we ought to.  Ni No Kuni was great and I picked up the New Harvest Moon incarnation, A New Beginning.  I have dropped Wow, sadly, I just don't have time to devote to it.

The Man just graduated with his Master's degree so we're going through the fun process of looking for a teaching job with a history degree.  Yeah . . . so far no nibbles, but it's not even June.  I'm reserving full blown panic mode for July, since our lease is up at the end of July and no job means we have no idea where we are going!!!!!  Breathe me, breathe.  Until then, the focus is on packing up non-essentials.

Enough crazy for tonight, my lovely oven pizza is finished and the Man has challenged me to old-school Mario!

Saturday, September 1, 2012



For Shame, A Really Long Blog Post

July and August disappeared.  I don't know what happened, but they are gone.  Many things happened though, so at least I have lots to talk about!

Starting off slow, I covered some canisters with wrapping paper (it will have its own post soon!) and set them around my house.  They're decorative and practical. Afterwards I hung shelves in my bedroom to throw everything onto expand my "dresser" space.

After that I spent most of July knitting a sweater.  Well, only about two weeks really- its for my year old nephew!  It's acrylic, soft, and washable, a definite must for any kid in my family!

(And no, of course I didn't take pictures of it with the sleeves and my sister lives 9 hours away!  Sigh- I'll post them as soon as its cold enough to stuff him in it!)
Why did I knit it in two weeks?  Because my sister, nephew, and aunt came to visit me for four days!  Had a great time hanging out, going to the zoo and shopping.  That's them at the zoo!  A note to everyone- don't leave the zoo at 4:30 on a weekday, Houston traffic is AWFUL at 5!

In the beginning of August I found some awesome yarn on clearance- its beautiful, and impossible to make anything but socks with it!  This is one of the lacy swatches I tried.  Sigh- finding the perfect pattern for varigated yarns is a challenge.  I'm determined to make something with it- probably stockings, but maybe cushions.  Ideas are welcome!

Didn't have all that much time to play with it since we went to GenCon!  Months ago the Man decided I was going with him and his friend so I braced myself for four days of doing nothing but playing board games.  Finally I demanded we look at all the events- I figured it was a con, there would at least be costume contests and vendors.  I'm so glad we looked- there are a whole series of events for spouses and the guest speaker for spouse events was Toni Carr, author of Knits for Nerds!  She is an amazing friendly person and not at all what I imagined- her book has made me fall in love with knitting all over again!

(There are so many projects in this book- check it out on Ravelry to see them! Best purchase ever.)

Another lucky break- I didn't have to spend all my time gaming, GenCon had an open crafting room where crafters of all ilk could use donated supplies and spend time with people who shared their passions.  I got to meet so many different ladies, in an amazing arrange of ages and skills, that I am determined to not dislike any craft- I even picked up a class in tatting while there!  I think I'll go after spinning next- the fiber arts call to me.

Of course, it was a con.  There were lots of people dressed up in every genre imaginable, an enormous dealer's room with artists and authors as well as celebrities and craftspeople.  There really was no available space in there, including the walkways.  So many people were in that room the first day that I fled to the craft room- buying new dice first.  A girl has to have her priorities, after all!  Plus, it gave me a great excuse to knit my first dice bag!  Well, the first one I have made.  I gave it a ruffle and an icord string.  Amusingly enough, I knit the icord while attending a lecture discussing the first crusade.  Gotta love portable crafts!

(Awful picture, need more dice to fill out the bag! And the dice are all teal and purple shades . . . shame on me!)

We had to come home eventually and I'm onto more and more things- the projects this week are a circle skirt (sewn) for myself and some Who-mitts.  What are Who-mitts?  Check back later for the full story and (hopefully) a pattern to make your own!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Blocking Mats

Blocking mats are important, but don't have to break the bank.  Just a few materials and you're ready to go.

You'll need:
Floor exercise mats:  You can get these at WalMart (or Target, Academy, etc.)
Checkered cotton:  I could only find 1" squares, but 1/2" would be better for smaller projects and lace.
Spray Adhesive:  Got mine at Hobby Lobby, but I'll bet other craft stores carry similar products.
Lint Roller:  These are priceless.  Mine is enormous and I use it constantly.
Scissors:  I used ones I wasn't afraid of getting messy, just in case.

If you haven't prewashed and ironed your fabric, stop and go do that.  Trust me.  Always prewash, unless you are using a fabric that is dryclean only.  You aren't for this, we're using cotton.  On purpose. I'm sure this adhesive would melt some of the synthetics and, as this will be something you want to stick pins in, you probably don't want to use anything expensive.

Once you have washed and ironed your fabric, measure your mats.  Mine were textured on one side so I used the back of the mats.  Rather than get out the ruler/measuring tape, I just threw the fabric over the top, pinned it at the corner and cut.  I did cut the selvedges off first and I followed the line of my squares.  I cut out all four pieces at once then lay the other three over the back of a chair so they wouldn't be in the way.  I didn't have enough fabric (hindsight!) to cover all four squares so I improvised and cut some skinny pieces to fill out the last one.

After the cutting comes the adhesive and the reason for lint rollers.  When you want something, say a fabric on a plastic mat, to lie flat, it is best to make sure there isn't anything on the mats.  Roll each one just before you are going to apply the adhesive, but after shaking the can.  This will minimize the dust on the mat and maximize the amount of the mat that adheres to the fabric.  Follow the adhesive's instructions, and one recommendation: put down newspaper before you spray.  I don't have a good place outside, so I sprayed on my ironing board in the living room with the windows open so the smell couldn't get me, but the adhesive got my ironing board.  And the scissors- they're both still tacky . . .

My adhesive said to wait two minutes before applying fabric.  While you are waiting, here's another tip: roll the fabric.  I lay the first one flat and rolled the rest and can really tell the difference.  The rolled mats are straighter and have less bubbles.  They were also much less trouble to put on the mats.  Line up your corners and press as you go- I used my hands, but using a flat edge ruler would work as well.  Once you have the fabric on, set the mat aside and let it cure for about a day, just to be safe.

I recommend something less precarious.
Prep for this takes about twice the time of actually making the mats, but once you are finished you can reuse them over and over.  Mine take up very little space in my craft closet and I can easily fit them around other things.  The size is great for sitting on top of a dryer too.

Here's the one I had to "improvise" on:

Not too noticeable. . .


I hope you enjoy your new blocking mats!
Thanks again to Ms. Nancy Aldredge for teaching me this great trick.  If you are ever in town, please make sure to visit her store, The Hook and Needle.

Etsy Shop is Live!

Well, I just opened my etsy store.  I'm terribly nervous, but otherwise pretty excited.  I have learned several things though:

1)  My camera hates me.  Particularly if I lose it for several days weeks.  It delighted itself by taking 300 really poor pictures, despite my cursing gentle encouragement.

2)  1:00 AM is NOT a good time for taking photos, particularly when your camera is on the warpath.

3)  Writing descriptions is hard and boring, but much easier than taking photographs.

4)  The cat does not approve of crickets under the coffee table and delights in chasing them into my lap.

After all the researching, disasters and balking, I'm finally finished!  I'd like to thank the following people for their support:

Lynnette, who keeps telling me my stuff is worthy of being sold.
The man, who crawled around my floor to find one clear crystal bead, the darling.
The cat, who at least got me off the couch to chase a cricket.
Mythbusters and Netflix, who provided amusing background chatter during the disasters.

And now I'm off to sort pictures for some crazy post about Blocking mats . . .