Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The lengths I will go to avoid housework

Earlier today, I happened upon some miniature hats and sweaters that someone on Ravelry made for her dollhouse. I was in awe. I could not imagine the skill it must take to knit sweaters in such a teeny scale. I shared the find with my e-pals*. They were duly impressed, and several of them said how they could never do it. At first I agreed that it was beyond my skills.

And then I realized that I needed to do laundry and figure out supper. At that exact moment, I decided that I really needed to see if it was all that impossible. I pulled out a size 1 steel hook, and some peacock blue size5 pearl cotton (both from the charity shop down the street) and went to work. A little while later, I had this:
tiny hat

One index-finger-sized hat. I'm pretty proud of myself. Although the family will not feel that same pride when there's no food on the table tonight at dinner. I suppose I'd better get something going on that front.

*E-pal: noun. An acquaintance acquired via the internet. Some of these e-pals can graduate to "true friend" status by exchanging phone numbers or actually meeting.

Monday, March 24, 2008

If ever you're feeling down

Watch this. My 6-year-old gave it a thumbs up, "Just seeing him laugh makes me laugh." Plus, babies in footie pajamas are among the cutest things on Earth.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Vintage Craft love

I adore old craft books. I really do love them. Each time I walk into the crafty section of my local charity shop, I hope that there is a new tasty morsel of yellowed goodness for me to buy. Many times, though, I look through every book and pamphlet, only to find piles of books on:
- Macrame
- ways to cut paint and sew an ordinary sweatshirt, to make it look like it's not a sweatshirt that has been cut, sewn, and painted.
- decorating your clothing with liquid beads. (On title I noticed today was "Glitzy Lady"

But this week, I found some real gems. I got an old Alice Brooks Designs pineapple-motif cape pattern. There's no date on it, but the envelope had 4.2 cents potage on it. I suppose that puts it somewhere in the late 1950's. There was another Alice Brooks mother-daughter poncho pattern, but I mainly only bought it so it wouldn't be lonely at the store without its friend.

There were Workbasket magazines from 1973, I think the whole year. I also picked up a Columbia-Minerva "Learn To Crochet" book from 1976 with patterns for everything from booties to granny-square vests, all made with bulky yarn.

I thought I was done, I had snapped up all the good stuff, when I spotted something on the bottom shelf, behind a Christian cross-stitch book. It was titled "Fashions made with the Heir-Loom™", published in 1971. On the cover was what looked like an informal wedding dress, whose bodice is made with yarn daisies. And then I opened it up, and the first page my fingers showed my eyes was this:

Obviously, I had to have it. The out loud snort and guffaw was $.35 price tag alone. It is one of the most gloriously perfect examples of the egregious fashions of the early Seventies. Eventually, I'll get the rest of this book scanned in. There are other goodies in store here. folks. I haven't even opened most of the Workbasket Magazines. Who knows what treasures lurk in there.

I hope everyone has a happy and peaceful Easter, and I'll see you on Monday, I hope. :)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

WIP Wednesday.

I have never before actually taken a picture of a Work In Progress on a Wednesday, and might never manage to again, so I'm taking this opportunity to show off my latest creation, a crocheted summer sweater. I created the pattern using Knitware, a pattern generation software. I'm just using the demo version right now, but if I continue to want to make more sweaters this way, I just might fork over the moolah to buy it. Of course that could change me from casual yarn user to full blown fiber addict. It's a big step for me. ;)

Anyway, back to the project. I'm doing a top-down, raglan cardigan, crocheted in Knitpicks Shine Sport yarn and a 5mm hook. I had to rip it back to the first row two times, wasting several hours of my life, primarily due to my resistance to stitch markers. I got over that, and on the third try, got it figured out. I'm now one row into the body, so I was able to try it on and find that it fits. :) After all the "will it fit???" worries of knitting my first sweater, I really am sold on this one-piece construction.

If my wrist and thumb hold out, I just may have this sucker done in time for warm weather.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Hey look- a garment!

I actually finished a wearable. And miracle of miracles, it is actually wearable. I started this July 20 2007, and finally finished it. It spent several months hanging on the back of my office door, wondering if I had forgotten about it. Poor Otis. But I finally finished it, and it fits and everything. Although it isn't truly done quite yet. I need to sew a couple of snaps on it. The pattern called for a ribbon to tie it closed, but I'm jut not a ribbon-wearing sort. So utilitarian snaps it is.

I sewed it together last night without blocking first. It worked out okay, but when I tried it on, I was pretty sure it was a huge disaster. After gently blocking the hell out of it this morning, it fits much better, although the seed stitch border is still flipping like nobody's business. I don't know if that's the nature of the rayon yarn I used, or the pattern itself. I will probably need to crochet around the edges to fix that. Maybe later tonight I'll manage to finish it for reals.

SO here she is, Otis from, knit in Paton's Katrina, on US7 needles. Sorry for the headless shot, it was the best I could do indoors, alone, at 8am. Maybe once I fix the flip and add the snaps, I'll get Mr. Deplume to take a decent picture of me in it. (But don't hold your breath, okay?)

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Gardening season has begun!

It's all of 25 degrees here, so nothing is going in the ground yet, and the lawn is still the color of a paper grocery bag. I have sent the kids out this afternoon to pick up all the recyclables that got blown across the yard in the last wind storm, so at least it will no longer look derelict. The weather promises to be a little nicer this week, so I might be able to clean up a few of the winter leaves and start mapping out what will go where this year. Of course only about 10% of my March plans get carried out each year. I hope that by the time I'm retired, I'll have one of those happy little gardens that cause people to slow down a little as they walk by the house. That would make me truly happy.

And today, I started on a new garden adventure, Winter Sowing. Winter sowing is a process where you plant seeds in plastic containers while it is still winter, then set them outside and wait for them to sprout in their own time. The containers serve as little individual greenhouses, reducing the need for watering, and protecting the seeds from the winter's hungry critters. To my spring-starved self, this concept seems to be genius. A perfect storm of frugality, recycling, and excitement for spring. So today, Nora and I cut apart some milk jugs and an old cranberry juice bottle, filled them with potting soil, and planted basil, dill, cilantro, lavender and rudbeckia. As soon as I gather some more containers, the rest of the herb seeds I have and some more flowers.

There's still a chance that the whole idea is silly, and I'll spend months staring at the stupid bottles, only to find out that is an elaborate web hoax, designed to make me look stupid. Only time will tell.

Thursday, March 06, 2008


Soft 'n Gentle brand toilet paper is neither soft nor gentle. Especially if you buy the giant economy-sized package that touts "75% recycled fiber". Sometimes a bargain just isn't really a bargain.

And Addidas brand deodorant using "Cottontech" to absorb odors doesn't. Methinks there's a reason that they are the only brand using this miraculous cotton odor fighter. I would go so far as to say that the stuff actually made matters worse. Back to the skeery Aluminum tetrahedron bly or whatever it's called.

I didn't pick up any yarn hooks or needles today. I wanted to, but had to go the the giant Walmart today instead. Two hours later, we have some groceries vegetable seeds and potting soil. Contrary to what my intuition tells me, I'm acting on the theory that spring will someday actually come.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

A whole week later

And I still don't have much to report. I'm attempting to be better about housework, leaving less time for the computer and the yarn. But I still managed to get a couple of things figured out this week.

First, I tackled crochet charts. I'm a big fan of knitting from charts, so I knew that I'd prefer crocheting from charts, too. But they are (for lack of a better term) fluffier than knit charts. They are, more or less, a picture of the stitches in the right positions. Knit charts are kinda the same, but in a much more controlled, linear way. It took a few tries to find the right sort of intro project, but I found a fairly simple pattern and went to work. There were a couple of false starts, but I got eventually the hang of it. It's a good thing that I took the picture when I did, too, because The Nige frogged it about 10 minutes later while my attention was directed elsewhere. Ah, life with a boy.

Then I got curious about this foundation chain thing that the real crocheters are always going on about. For those of you not familiar with it, it's making your chain and the first row of SC all at the same time. I think of it as the counterpart to the long tail cast on in knitting, which gives you a row of knit stitches and the cast-on in one fell swoop. I really really dislike trying to crochet into the chain, so the foundation is a must-know technique, as far as I am concerned. :) After a little googling, I found a great clear tutorial on it. In just a bit, here's what I had:

Go there and learn it. I insist. Really worth a couple of yards of yarn and a few minutes of your time. I know there are other methods out there for this, but I'm not savvy enough to know when they are needed. For now I'll bask in the glow of a new trick learned.

I'm nearing the home stretch on completing Otis from, and looking forward to seeing if it fits. I hope so. That much stockinette better not be for naught.

I promise to update again in less than a week. I have some thoughts clanging around in my head, and I need to write them down here before they start crowding out the more important info, like appointments and shopping lists and first-aid techniques.