Saturday, September 27, 2008

This is a picture of a baby hat. Okay, it looks really stupid on the cat. As much as I tried to convince Callie that it was the Grand Empress of the Universe's crown, she wasn't buying it. But I wanted a picture of the baby hat, and it looked even stupider just sitting on the table.

Yes, it's a very small baby hat. It will fit a head the size of a nice navel orange. This is the size of a premature baby's head in this part of the world. In some parts of the world this is the size of an average baby's head. And that's why I made the wee thing in the first place.

Save the Children has a program going on now called Knit One Save One. It's part of their ongoing work to help children survive until the age of 5. It turns out something as simple as putting a hat on a baby's head will help them stay alive until their body systems are a little more developed and they can do a better job of regulating their own body temperature.

There's a Ravelry group dedicated to making these tiny little hats will get you there. You can also go to and download their action kit that gives all the information about deadlines and where the caps need to be sent and all that practical stuff. They even have a few basic patterns so you can get the idea about sizing and all that.

Callie is wearing the first of what I hope will be 100 caps finished between now and mid-December. It boggles my mind that the mindless thing I do with my hands while I'm watching tv can actually save the life of a child. I can't image why everyone wouldn't want to do this. Sometimes the simplest things we do turn out to be the most profound.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Okay, it's not quilting, but I do have two more finished objects to show off to the world.

First is the first of the 2008 Holiday Mystery Gifts Group offerings, a hat called Gansey Gayle, created by Terry Liann, who also designed the Handsome Devil Socks. I had some worsted weight wool in a color that I thought would work up pretty, and those bobbles just kept calling my name. So now it's out of my system and I can get on to getting important things done. At least until the next batch of patterns comes out and there's something else that I have to make before sundown.

And then there's the Kitties in a Row Blanket. I made this for MJ's pending grandchild. I wanted something that would work up quickly and let me use up this yarn that I've had in stash for a while. This afghan seemed perfect, and it would be except for working in all those yarn ends. I added an outer border that helped, but there was still a lot of sewing in to do. Still, in the end, it's a cute blanket that I hope the Tweedlet will like. After all, I still have the blanket that was made for me when I was born; who knows what may become an heirloom.

But I had to have my fun with it. Bart glommed on to this little ball of yarn months ago, even though it's not orange. We have played "hide the yarn" with it many times; I wind it up and hide it in a new place and wait to see how long it takes him to find it. He was beside himself with joy when I just set it on the blanket; it was better than putting an open whiskey bottle and a glass in front of an alcoholic. It took a little while to get good pictures, but it was worth it. He looks so proud of himself, you'd think he had crocheted the blanket with his own paws. Of course about 5 seconds after the picture was snapped the ball was totally unwound across the floor again, along with the other ball that was on the sofa that I had used as a "teaser" to get him to sit on the blanket. Right now he is totally passed out on the ottoman; he's sleeping it off. We'll work on the addiction tomorrow; there's no reasoning with him now.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Two more finished objects to show off to the world.

The first is my GA shawl, which I actually finished back in June, but didn't get a picture of until today. I decided that I wanted to make a prayer shawl as part of my preparation for GA. It had to be red, the color associated with the Holy Spirit; I think because of that association wearing red makes me feel confident and empowered. I remembered that I had this red mohair, which I knew would make a very light and airy shawl. And I found the perfect pattern - one that makes up in sections of easy repeats that allow you to adjust the size to the amount of yarn you have and the size shawl you want. I wanted a shawl big enough to wrap up in on an airplane, and the fact that this would be lightweight meant that it would easily fit into a travel bag.

I didn't get the shawl finished before GA started it, but I did finish it before GA ended. In fact I was knitting furiously through the Friday sessions so I would go home with it finished. I've traveled with it a few times since then, and it very nicely fills the need for a wrap for most occasions. And I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it didn't even really need blocking. I think this is a personal favorite.

This pair of socks is appropriately named Handsome Devils. The designer is one of my favorites, Terry Liann, and I joined a Yahoo group just so I could have access to this pattern. But then when I actually got down to the making, I hit a wall. I didn't have any yarns in my stash that would work together, and I couldn't make up my mind what colors I wanted. Then someone in the group made them in red, white, and blue, and I fell in love. I tracked down her yarn (who knew a true navy would be hard to find in cotton yarn), and started in on the socks. Even though I was translating the pattern to work with 2 circular needles, it was an easy knit, and really fun.

Since I finished them I've had a chance to wear them once. They are as much fun to wear as they were to knit. Finding shoes that were big enough to accommodate them was a bit of a challenge, but where there's a will there's a way. I love the fact that even though I can't find pretty shoes to fit my clodhopper feet I can have fun with socks.

While I had the camera handy I had to get pictures of the kids. Callie went through a spell this week of napping on the laptop. It wasn't ideal; she fell off at least twice. But I found it amusing, so I took the picture.

And then there's Bart. We know about Bart and yarn, especially orange yarn. I want to know how he knows that the tote bag he's curled up on contains a sock knitted from orange yarn. Does it give off vibes that he can pick up? Does he have x-ray vision? Or did he just guess lucky?

This weekend is a mini quilting retreat. I have a couple of projects that I can make progress on with a couple of hours spent, so I think I will try to do that, even though I really should be working on a project proposal. I'm ready to sew the sunflowers together, and free up my design wall for another project. And I got the fabric to make the covered buttons to "fix" the Laurel Burch quilt, so I should be able to manage that with an hour or so of work. If you see the pictures posted tomorrow you'll know I got it done.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

This was the state of my finishing basket this morning. And this wasn't even all the things that needed at least some degree of finishing. Clearly it was time to take action. I declared today Finishing Day, got out my yarn darning needles, crochet hooks, scissors, and the reserved bits of yarn, and tackled the challenges that lurked within. At the end of the day, everyone posed for their picture, and then got put away in their appropriate place (okay, some are still piled on the bed in the guest room, but they're not in the basket).

This batch of baby sweaters wasn't part of the basket. In fact they were completely finished except for having their picture taken. These eight sweaters were my Ravelympics project. I decided to match Michael Phelps one baby sweater for each gold medal. I was trying hard not to jinx the poor boy, but there was a tiny smidge of me that wanted him to lose at least one; eight sweaters in 16 days, even with vacation, was a bit daunting. But I really really wanted him to win. I love seeing what human beings can accomplish when everything works to perfection. He got his eight medals, and I finished the last wee sweater about a minute and a half before the closing ceremonies began. Not quite on the same level of competition, but I did it. And here's the picture to prove it.

Those eight now join these other eight that I found in the basket. Mostly they just needed their ends woven in and their ties added. The whole 16 of them are now in the drawer with the other two that I had finished earlier in the year. This should be plenty to fill the quota for layette kits for the year, so now it's on to hats and mittens.

What else did I find in the basket? There were hats of course. I think the majority of these were the ones I made while I was at General Assembly, but there were some others there as well. They're now sleeping happily with other hats waiting for my trip to DeGray State Park in October, when I will take them to the Knitting for Noggins drop off place in Arkadelphia.

Except for this one. I have no idea why it came out so big. I'd made another hat from this pattern and it was no where near this huge. I've nicknamed it the Troll Hat, because it seems that it would fit the mountain troll in Harry Potter's world. But then I've had a couple of men swear that it will fit them just fine. I haven't had any of them try it on yet. I hope they'll let me take their pictures when they do.

And then there was the Eyelets and Bobbles hat. The only thing it needed was the wee bit of ribbon tied around its topknot. I had found a model for it earlier, before it had its ribbon. Gracie wasn't really happy about this, but she did it. And the hat will always make me think of her, even when I give it away to some lucky baby.

What else was in the basket? There were two scarves made from the Seafoam pattern. I liked the way it worked up in the variagated wool (that's the green one), so decided to try it in a ribbon yarn (that's the other one). I'm not as fond of that result as I thought I would be; the scarf is bulky, and not as drapey as I wanted it to be. I may find a use for it in the winter. But I like the pattern, even though scarves are not my favorite thing to knit. And I think I have some more yarn that I bought to make at least one more.
There were two crocheted baby blankets. These were completely finished, just waiting to have their picture taken. These are a sort of traveling project; they live in a bag on the seat of the car, and get worked on when I'm on the road, sitting in traffic, waiting for an order at the Sonic, and such. It also means that I'm never at a loss for a project when I haven't prepared anything else suitable to work on during a meeting. They're done with a very easy crochet stitch that I haven't gotten tired of even after two blankets (and #3 in progress even now). And of course, color combinations are possible.

There were two knitted baby blankets from Mason-Dixon Knitting, a knitted version of a log cabin quilt square. They had LOTS of ends to weave in, and even a little bit of sewing up. It wasn't much fun, but when the challenge was to empty the basket, they had to get done. Now they are. I'm happy.

Okay, the basket didn't quite end up empty. There are still two Baby Surprise Jackets sitting in the bottom, looking very forlorn. BSJ's have actual seams that have to be sewn. I wasn't up for that, even with the challenge of emptying the basket. They're still there. I'm thinking of them as a sort of nest egg, creating a happy place for more nearly finished items to land.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Today was all about watching and waiting to see what Hurricane Gustav might throw at us. It felt like a day suspended in time. It was a holiday anyway, so lots of things were shut down - banks, mail, and such. It was my Sabbath. And there was the hurricane. It was a day when the rules about what "ought" to be done could easily be suspended. It was a perfect day for playing in the studio.

I guess it started raining here about 3 p.m. So far we've hardly seen what we could call a storm. There's a tornado watch up, but that's not unusual for this time of year. But we learned with Katrina not to sound the "all clear" too soon. By morning we'll know better what we're actually going to get out of this storm, beyond a town full of strangers. For the sake of the farmers I hope it's nothing more than a night of rain.

I spent most of my suspended day in the studio. I started with the slanted star blocks. I sewed up all the ones I had pieces cut for, and when I pressed them out and added their count to what I already had finished I realized I only had a few more to do to finish making blocks. So I cut more pieces and finished that part of the task. I laid out a few to take a picture. For now they're back to hibernating in their box waiting for the design wall to be cleared off. All 192 of them. Actually 193; having a spare seemed like a good idea. And there are squares cut that can be made into blocks if needed for color balance or something.

After I finished those I was ready to work on the sunflowers. And I started by rearranging the pieces I already had, and suddenly the whole thing came together. I cut a couple new pieces, but basically I think I've got it. I'll let it marinate a few days and see if I still like it before I sew any blocks together. But this is the first arrangement that has felt "right," so if I'm not there yet, I'm getting close.

So then it was time to play with the spring quilt, and that's where I hit a sort of wall. The wall was more a lack of knowledge than a lack of inspiration, so I got on Amazon to look for some of the Baltimore album books that are basic primers on dimensional applique. Discovered that I already had one in my library that I had forgotten about. So later tonight I will look through that one more thoroughly and see what I can figure out. The pieces are still sitting on the pressing table; I'll get back to it another day.

But that meant there was still time in the day and I was pretty much out of projects that I had pulled out of hibernation on Saturday. There were tesselated leaves waiting for quilting, but having started on the machine I wanted to keep going on the machine. I started looking at storage boxes to see if I could find something that would be easy to finish and found the New Year's Day mystery quilt from January. The blocks were finished; they just needed sewing together, so that was relatively painless. The snowball blocks now need something appliqued, so I'll study on that for a while. The pieced border called for in the directions is history; I'll do a border in the theme print I've been saving for a winter project, and call it finished.

So not bad progress for one weekend. The studio got cleaned and a bunch of projects got moved forward. I had no illusions of actually finishing anything; I just wanted to get my brain used to the idea of playing with fabric again. Considering that all the flat surfaces are once again covered in fabric, I guess I'll call the weekend a success.