To Market, To Market…

To buy me some wool.

Home again, home again;

This tote is cool!

Only took me two months to get photos of this great little bag posted, and I was afraid I was going to totally wear the thing out before I got them taken! Right after Christmas, my brain still wasn’t functioning very dependably, but I was yearning to start a new project – for ME! One of my older daughter’s Christmas gifts was sufficient yarn to make two market totes, and I’d picked up yarn for myself to make a Green Grocer bag at the same time. I hadn’t crocheted anything for several years, and it just sounded like fun – not to mention that this pattern is pretty much brainless. It turned out to be a perfect fit. 🙂

To be honest, I wasn’t happy with it when I was working on it. The bottom of my bag was too small, but there was no way I’d have wanted to work it at a looser gauge, so I resigned myself to having a bag that was too small to carry much of anything. In an attempt to make up some of that problem, I did work substantially more rows in pattern than was suggested, guessing how much I’d need for the top band and handles.

I was off. It wasn’t by much, but I ran out of yarn about two inches before the final tie off, and I was fit to be tied. 😦 After some rather frustrated pacing, I started thinking about a dishcloth I’d made with Cotlin a while back. Wasn’t it light green? The leftover twist of Cotlin was just slightly different in color and lighter weight, but it was close enough. I raveled the handle back, since it was worked double strand, and reknit it using one strand of the Red Heart Eco-Cotton Blend and one strand of the Knit Picks Cotlin together, then finishing the top edge with the Eco-Cotton, which now reached just fine. I have to really study the handles to see which has the Cotlin strand, so I’d say that worked. 🙂

One other change of sorts… This pattern is in crochet, so the designer used crocheted i-cord to make the handles. Trying it was an interesting experiment. It’s an experiment that I’d had enough of after about two inches, and I’ll NEVER try it again! Crocheted i-cord is one of the best examples of making a very simple task extremely difficult, and since I’ve been able to sit a 7-year-old who had never seen knitting needles in her life on my lap and have her making i-cord in about 5 minutes, I’m guessing pretty much anyone could knit it. 😉 I knit an entire handle in less time than it took me to make two lumpy inches with a crochet hook.

So anyway, I said I was disappointed by the finished size of my bag. That would have been before I actually used it. First time out, I dropped in a knitting project and a bottle of pop, and it looked about right. Next time I added something else. It looked about right. By the time I stuffed 4 projects, a bottle of pop, and some paperwork in it to go to knitting guild, and then came home with 5 additional skeins of yarn in it, I rechristened it. It’s now my Bottomless Pit Bag. The photos here show it with 13 fat skeins of worsted weight wool tucked loosely inside. They would have all fit down into it, but that wouldn’t have been so picture pretty. I’m convinced that there’s some sort of magic going on inside this thing, and I love it!

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I Want a Fiber Studio for Christmas

This evening a friend introduced me to I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas, and it took me about 10 seconds to know precisely what my own “hippopotamus” was. Consider this a little Christmas gift to all of you. Enjoy!

I Want a Fiber Studio for Christmas
© De-De Heeter 2009

I want a fiber studio for Christmas.
Only a fiber studio will do.
No diamond ring.
Nothing from Dior.
I want to card and spin and knit and weave and felt and more!

I want a fiber studio for Christmas.
Hubby surely won’t mind that at all.
He won’t have to fight
The noisy, crowded mall.
Just grab a hammer, nails, lumber, and his favorite saw.

I can see me now on Christmas morning, creeping out the door.
Oh, what joy and what surprise when I open up my eyes
To see a furnished studio standing there.

I want a fiber studio for Christmas.
Only a fiber studio will do.
Eight harness loom,
Kromski spinning wheel,
A tri-loom and a carder and a felt machine – surreal!
And a cupboard full of qiviut fiber, too!

All I’d need’s a bed, and dinner catered in,
And I’d walk in and never have to walk back out again!

There’s lots of room for one, if we fill in the pool.
I’d throw a shuttle, hook a rug, ply handspun made of wool!

I can see me now on Christmas morning, creeping out the door.
Oh what joy and what surprise when I open up my eyes
To see a furnished studio standing there.

I want a fiber studio for Christmas.
Only a fiber studio will do.
Schnact warping mill,
Walnut Woolee Winder,
English combs, an inkle loom, Tom’s spindles, and dye pot.
And a cupboard full of qiviut fiber, too!

Looking Forward; Looking Back

I think I’m officially the last person in the entire blogging world to do this, but it’s been percolating so long that I can’t quite bring myself to not do it. Besides, I feel like I need to, if only for myself, so here goes – my New Year’s Day post!

I never was real keen on making New Year’s resolutions, as it just seems like the perfect way to start off the year with a resounding dose of failure. Sometime around the end of January you eat that piece of turtle cheesecake, miss 3 consecutive days of exercising, or realize you are already a week behind in your read the Bible in a year program, and you promptly brand yourself a loser, throw hopeless hands up into the air, and say, “Maybe next year…” I just don’t need that sort of thing in my life. I’ve fought hard to get where I am emotionally, so I have no intent to shoot myself in the foot by setting myself up to 334 days of each year thinking uncharitably about myself. However, like most of the people I know, I do feel that fresh start excitement that comes with the scent of a January calendar page, and a couple years back, I came up with an idea that is working much better for me – New Year’s Goals.

New Year’s Goals have very few rules, though last year they did need a few more than they had. They have to actually be possible. I’m not allowed to beat myself up if I don’t accomplish them. They have to be well defined. Two of those three rules were added this year. Having goals instead of resolutions gives me an entire year to succeed, and they help focus my ecclectic brain on a little bit narrower range of possibilities. Another benefit is that it sets some things before me that I have heard myself say, “I always wanted to” so many times I’m sick of hearing it, but without a steady reminder, I find drifting out of my mind when I have the time.

Last year’s goals were not too many:

  • Knit a Pair of Socks – This one was accomplished with my Coriolis Socks, which I absolutely adore!
  • Master Lace Knitting – This goal would show you just how little I knew about lace knitting December a year ago. It’s also totally undefinable in reality. Just how does one know they’ve “mastered” lace knitting? Should have been “Become Very Comfortable Knitting Lace.” That I definitely accomplished.
  • Go Somewhere New – I didn’t think I was going to get this, but when I ended up with a nearly last minute trip to Honduras, which included a side trip through Guatemala into Belize, I found I’d accomplished it well beyond my original dream.
  • Read 100 Books – Somewhere around June, I added this, which has now been classed as an illegal move on New Year’s Goals. I didn’t succeed, but I might well have made it had I not read th e entire Outlander series. Books with 48 CD’s take a good bit longer to read than your run of the mill 6-10 CD offering.
  • Make a Gail Wilson Kit – Considering the collection I have of the kits, I thought it was time to put my money where my mouth is – or my hands where my money is, or some such thing. Thinking is as far as I got with this one. Oops!
  • Finish the Laundry Room Remodeling – Well… Perhaps this would have happened if my dear daughter hadn’t offered to help get the sewing room started, then hubby hadn’t suddenly revived his nook project and added allowing me a studio door. I was spread too thin with those four projects to complete even one of them, though I don’t regret the progress that was made on all.
  • Be out of Debt by the End of the Year – Total flop. ‘Nough said?

My list for 2009 is much longer and definitely more ambitious, but I’m doing some things differently, and I’m feeling quite positive about a lot of them. The biggest change is that this year, I’m not settling back in January and thinking that I have a whole year to do this stuff after all, so why rush? There have been a fair number of serendipitous occurrences to help me move in the right direction, too, so I’m off to a great start! I don’t really think I’ll be able to get them all done, but I’d sure like to surprise myself, and I’m not going to aim low!

  • Be Debt Free by the End of the Year – I hate having to have this goal. This also includes non-financial IOU’s. I’m going to have to have a miracle to pull this one off. I need to sell an awful lot of books if this is going to happen – and my knitting pattern needs to be a smashing success! I also have several projects, including a quilt to finish for this.
  • Get My Email Under Control – This is another one in the miracle category, but who knows?
  • Make a Gail Wilson Kit – Sound familiar? Serendipity is that Gail is currently running a Hitty class, I have the kit, and the fee wasn’t very high. I’m far behind the front runners, but I HAVE actually started my girl.
  • Finish Reba – The most attainable of the miracle class of goals. There is little to do for her to be complete, but it involves a kiln, learning to fire bisque, renewing my acquaintance with bisque painting, and getting up the nerve to put my beautiful, nearly done head in for a last firing.
  • Complete Sewing Room – Mid-range in terms of difficulty. I’ve done an awful lot in there, but I still have oodles of sorting and organizing, along with quite a bit of trim painting to do – like the bookcase and two casement windows. This isn’t a gimme!
  • Complete Laundry Room – Another mid-range sort of project. As much as is done in there, the floor tile is a bothersome, time consuming project, and I have some trim painting to do. Really challenging would be that I have to stop knitting long enough to crochet the curtains!
  • Lose 25 Pounds – This is going to be easier than I thought. I’m already half the way there!
  • Learn to Do Entrelac and Knit Backwards – I’m really looking forward to this one. I have the pattern and yarn to do Autumn, and a week or so back, I finally found a tutorial that made knitting backwards suddenly easy. I’m still slightly awkward at it, but a little bit of practice and it’s going to be second nature. Biggest challenge here is just to actually break away from the temptation of so many interesting KAL’s and do this piece.
  • Go Somewhere New – Looking very challenging at this point in time. I had two cruises planned for this year, both to new places,  both depending on other people, and both fell through already. So much for this goal being a gimme. All the states within decent driving distance I already have, and I don’t currently have any good set up for a low cost visit in a new state or country – and there ‘s that “out of debt” business… Stay tuned!
  • Become Comfortable Spinning – Easy? Well… First I have to finish building my wheel. Then all that remains is finding time!
  • Read 100 Books – I’m really cooking on this one already! I think I just listed book 15 – or was it 16?
  • Knit Another Pair of Socks – This is more desperation than goal. I adore my socks and I hate it when I have to take them off to wash them! I need more hand knit socks!!! This is a “just do it!” sort of project, and I’m sort of hoping that the SHP KAL is enough to jumpstart the process.
  • Stash All My Downstairs Yarn on Ravelry – This would be much easier if the stash would quit multiplying! That said, I’ve already been working hard on this. I’m currently at 244 in my regular stash, so ignoring minor fluctuations due to usage, it will be interesting to see where I am on Dec. 31.
  • Do a “Difficult” Lace Pattern – Challenge here is just focusing on doing it – ignoring some of the other rabbits dashing across my path constantly. It’s tough to do that with something like 7 shawls on my  needles and two KAL’s imminent…
  • Do Something/Anything with my CSM – I’m not even aiming so high as a pair of socks at this point. I just want to sit down with someone and find out for sure my machine actually works! Socks would be a nice side benefit to the process, though. ;o) A circular sock machine is too valuable to just hold down the floor, in my opinion, and that’s all my lazy contraption has done for about 3 years now.

Now that I type this all out, I’m thinking it’s a very good thing I have a solid start on so much of it. This is quite a list!!! I think I’m going to make a separate page listing the goals in the sidebar here on the blog, then update as things happen…

And How is my Knitting Progressing?

So, I’ve not posted a knitting update since I’ve been home, but it doesn’t mean nothing has been happening. I did a fair bit of yarn play in Honduras, too, having somehow managed to wedge it in between  mud removal and potato peeling.

I cast on a washcloth – the first that is just for me, rather than a class sample – while I was in Miami between flights. I knit on the plane; I knit standing in line at immigration, I knit on vans and buses traveling to and from Belize and on the drive to Pulhapanzak, where I finished it, promptly casting on a second one to see me home. I’m reasonably sure I was one of the few passengers on our plane who didn’t mind sitting on the tarmac for a half hour after landing while we waited for a gate. I chose washcloths for my travel project because they are small and portable, nearly brainless knitting that would be boring done at home sitting on the sofa, would cause little emotional trauma if lost, and could be very easily washed if soiled. Besides, I wanted to have some! I’ve been using KnitPicks Cotlin, and I’m spoiled rotten. They feel so marvelous and look great! I actually had someone ask to buy one that was still on the needles – they are that nice.

Once I got to the Children’s Home, I cast on my traveling lace project – a cashmere scarf with a simple enough pattern that I had it memorized in a couple minutes. However, it was lace, it was cashmere, and it was fun to watch it grow – until I got home and it wasn’t quite done and the tiny ball of yarn remaining started reproducing itself in the dark to become never-ending… Other than that little challenge, I’m loving this scarf! Pattern is by Arlene Graham and published in One Skein Wonders. Anyone who has spent much time in Arlene’s shop, Fiberworks, knows her passion for this pattern. When I was there yesterday, she was knitting it in a marvelous, vintage, brown, pure angora yarn, producing a scarf that I would have just stood and petted were it not for the boxes of new yarn calling out for me… Anyway, the scarf came home somewhere over three feet long, and I really want to finish it tonight – presuming I can knit faster than this gorgeous JoJoLand Cashmere reproduces.

arlenes-razor-shell-scarf-01-blog

Another thing I did in Honduras was a total accident – and will be hibernating a while, now that I’m at home. Hitty Darlene was, of course, my companion on the trip. She conned me into buying some crochet thread (It was only 5 Lempira per ball – about 25 cents.) and a hook at a little shop we visited a couple days after I got to Honduras, and next thing I knew, she had an entire outfit designed for me to make. I think this thread is a pearl cotton – or very close kin.

hitty-thread-shopping

I got a good start on it, as my daughter and I holed up in our room in Belize and crocheted until lunch on our full day there, then both evenings until we couldn’t keep our eyes open any longer. This outfit is going to be like a casserole – everything in one – skivvies, slip, skirt, and blouse. Here are the little tap pants, which I absolutely adore! hitty-tap-pants-blog

And with the slip added on…hitty-slip-blog

Thankfully, I ran out of time before I had to figure out how to make the blouse portion, but I did nearly finish the skirt, which isn’t photographed yet.

And my daughter made herself a little doily start to finish in Belize. It had an oddly tricky maneuver around the outside edge, and it took us a while to figure out what she was supposed to be doing, but as you can see, we finally got it. I’m proud of her for persevering despite her frustration, and the end project looks great.

marissa-doily-blog

She’s working bit by bit to make her room, which was formerly an examination room in the clinic, more homey. I took her  a clock and matching picture frame, and you can see the doily under a candle sitting by the frame. She made the larger doily, too. marissa-arrangement-blog

My first order of business once home was to download the final clue for my Way of Life Shawl, and using the excuse of nursing my cold, I had it finished and bound off within just a few days. It looks wonderful – love it! Can’t wait to block it now, so I can see the full effect. I did pin out a portion just to see it, though that’s definitely only second best. (Remember that this was knit from the long side, so this shows it from cast on to bind off.) It’s been around my shoulders often enough unblocked that I know I love it, though. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m sure. I absolutely adore Dream in Color Baby yarn! I’m so glad I risked buying it sight unseen!

way-of-life-clue-9-blog

As soon as Way of Life graduated to the blocking pile, I started in earnest on my Rose Trellis by Tina/Yarnfeathers. This is such a gorgeous knit, and I’m loving it! I’m within a row of completing the second repeat section, which will be 45% done, but this photo was taken a few days ago.

rose-trellis-repeat-1-blog

Yarn is KnitPicks Shimmer in sherry. It has a lot of silk in it, and the only needles I had in the size I wanted to use happened to be their Options needles. I have to say that I should have waited and bought a Harmony in this size. The Options are quite slick, and I’m finding it to be somewhat stressful to keep the silk blend yarn under control on these needles. I won’t make this same mistake again! The pattern is super – just a little more challenging, IMO, than Way of Life because the rows aren’t as repetitious across. It’s definitely another winner of a project, though! Pattern is currently available for free at the Yarnfeather KAL Yahoo group. Tina also did up a beaded alternative.

Okay, for the moment, I think that gets my most active knitting up to date. I either need to stay home so I can do this more often or knit less… nah…

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