Sunday, March 29, 2009

Progress of a Sort

Yes, that post title is a pun.

In working toward cleaning up that back room, I bought some totes yesterday and went to work sorting my stash. I thought I bought enough to have all identical totes, but I ended up having to use some from my daughter. It turns out that I have much more stash than I thought I had.
There are 1 1/2 totes of acrylic, much of it off-white because I had enough off-white acrylic for two afghans that I never made. I am slowly working that down by using it wherever white is needed in charity knitting blankets and will be using some more in some blankets for my grandchildren.
Amazingly, though, I have a whole tote of sock yarn! Oops!
The wool category includes enough for about 3 projects and some leftover yarn from previous projects.
The blend category contains yarn for a project or two and leftovers which will be combined with new yarn in afghans or turned into other things.
The cotton is my dishrag stash, and I really, really need some. I need a takealong project for this week, and it's not going to be a sock--it's going to be a dishcloth. As soon as the race is over, I'll "tote" these out of the living room back to the studio-to-be.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Jane Austen Trio

The three dresses

With shrugs (and wind)

They are finished just in time for spring! The three Jane Austen Dresses with Shrugs for my granddaughters! They are not perfect, and there are things that I would certainly do differently if I were beginning the project again, but I promised an evaluation, and here it is:

The yarn--I used Knit Picks Shine Sport, a cotton, modal blend. I chose it because of the cotton content, the price, and the color availability. I love the feel of the fabric that it makes, particularly after it is washed, and I think the girls will find it to be very comfortable to wear and their moms will find it easy to care for. However, any ends want to fray terribly and work their way out of where they have been secured. I have used Fray Check on them to attempt to remedy the problem, and I sincerely hope that something doesn't unknit.

The skirt fabric--purchased from The Quilt Shoppe. Three different patterns of "Dreaming of Roses" by Jane Shasky for Henry Glass Fabrics in the blue and yellow and green colorway. It is a nice quality quilting cotton. When I ordered, the fabrics arrived promptly and were packaged beautifully.

My knitting skill--I am NOT pleased with the appearance of the seaming that I did on this project. The yarn has such a smooth texture that any seam I could come up with just didn't look good on the stockinette. Even the two dress tops that I modified to be knit in the round required an inch or two of seaming to keep the back openings from being longer than the shrugs.

Added details--Dressmaking details on the skirts:

TWO pockets for the girl who loves them

A pocket, a band, and a grow tuck

A patchwork panel with hidden pocket for the big girl, who likes butterflies

Instead of sewing the skirts on by hand, I attached them with machine stitching--a straight stitch length of 3.5 on my Janome.

Rose (of course) buttons, found somewhere by my daughter. No, the leaves don't go with the rose buttons--they're on the tree.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Last Day of Vacation Progress Checker

How have I done so far with the goals I had planned for the week? Well, of course, there were schedule changes and unexpected surprises. I have so far accomplished the following:

Grocery shopping.
Kitchen cleaning, mostly.
Jane Austen dress top finished.
Store bills paid.
Two days with local grandchildren; one day with out-of-town children.
ONE bathroom, of three, cleaned.
Panoramic picture made.
Experiment with Windows Live.
Significant progress on blanket.

Still to accomplish before the end of the weekend is over:

Skirts, buttons, and loops for Jane Austen dresses.
Getting broken recliner to repair shop 70 miles away. (my knitting chair)
Grade papers and post grades before midnight Saturday

And the refrigerator is not cleaned, but it is decorated--


I found my information with a Google search after realizing that the word I was looking for was “blip” of color and searched for “blips on applied I-cord.” Here is the info: “make a YO after the usual slipped stitch, then pass both the slipped stitch and YO off the needle during the PSSO step. This covers the blip nicely.” I got it from Weebleknits.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009


I know that somewhere, perhaps in Zimmermann or Swansen, there are directions for doing applied I-cord in such a way that the little bits of the other color don't show. I know this because I did it, but I've forgotten how I did it, and I need to do it again, and I can't find the directions! Does anyone know how to do this? I can't even examine the item that I did it on first because it was a charity item that I gave away.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Little Knitting; A Little Photo Experimentation

I finished the top for the third Jane Austen Dress last night. It was a little more complicated because the larger size used more rows of lace in the front. This is, however, a very easy lace pattern to memorize and knit. I think I may try to work a modified version into some socks.

I also want to post some “before” pictures of my studio. As you can see, this is pretty much just a junk room right now even though my very nice sewing machine and cabinet are out there. This was to be last summer’s project so that I would be all ready to go for one last year of teaching and then retirement. Life intervened in a series of “happenings”:

First of all, we were going to replace the big single-thickness windows with double-insulated windows like the ones showing on the end of the room in this first picture. The windows were measured, ordered, and came in and were placed in the garage for installation. The very next week, there was a terrifically bad hail locally—missed us—and our contractor has been busy ever since, whenever the weather was suitable, doing repairs for people who had damage that affected the weather-tightness of their houses. Since we have not already paid for the windows, we know he’ll get to us eventually, but I am growing impatient, both with my studio situation and with the windows in the garage.

Furthermore, this room has a separate heater. Part of what the contractor was going to do was revent the gas heater. I can’t use it until it’s vented, and the room is much too cold without it to do anything in the wintertime except in the middle of the day on the warm days. Of course, I’m at work then.

Retirement has also been postponed. One good reason—my work situation has improved astronomically. I knew things were bad, but I didn’t realize how bad until it was all over, both because I am still finding out about things that were wrong and because things are so good now by comparison. The bad reason, of course, is that our retirement plans have been affected by the economy just like everyone else’s.

FYI—The first picture was stitched together using the Windows Live program. The second pictures are just single pictures. I tried to combine the two of them, but the perspective difference was evidently too much.

I would welcome anyone’s suggestions for a storage wall. I messaged someone on Ravelry this morning asking about a picture on her profile page. As you can see, I am dealing with a number of windows and two outside doors. Fortunately, it is a big room.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Testing, Testing . . . .

Actually, I have very little to post about.  Mostly I’m just testing writing this post on Windows Live to see if the process works more efficiently as I have been told that it does.  It will be hard to tell until I want to post some pictures.

The knitting is coming along.  I have almost finished the dress top.  I have made more progress on the blanket, thanks to an extra car trip.  I am not, however, quite through with the kitchen, due to some unexpected alterations in my schedule for the last two evenings.  I can finish this morning, however, since I’m not going out of town today.

I have also posted another book or so to my Shelfari shelf.  I’ve been listening to audiobooks while working.

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

See the Snow?

After all of my complaining about not having winter, we had snow on the day we dismissed for Spring Break! No, there is not a picture. There were beautiful big flakes, but the only place any snow stuck for long was on the north side of the roofs of unheated buildings. Of course, all the blooming fruit trees and the trees that have already leafed out looked a little strange with a frosting of while, but that was ok. Actually, this sort of weather is not unusual in our area. Anyway, I should have made pictures, but the opportunity was fleeting.

In an effort to make more of a committment to use this holiday wisely--that sounds rather ironic--I'm writing down my goals for the week:

This morning--Groceries and out to lunch with DH.

This afternoon and tomorrow morning—clean kitchen, knit on dress top, laundry

Monday afternoon—pay bills at store—will get bill-paying mess out of my kitchen—a couple of hours—knit on dress top, laundry, and sort some yarn out of living room

Tuesday—Out of town to visit my daughter and her family

Wednesday—Time with my local grandchildren all day, laundry, knit to finish dress top

Thursday—work on skirts for knitted Jane Austen dresses—should have all 3 ready to go by then!

Friday—local children, handsew skirts to dresses, buttons and loops on dresses

Miscellaneous strange goals—and not so strange ones—to work in when I have a moment:

clean bathrooms, grade papers and post grades, clean refrigerator, send off some insurance stuff, blog post using Windows Live, including a panoramic picture of SOMETHING—if a 7 year old can do it on tv, surely I can--knit on granddaughter’s blanket—trying to finish for birthday as a read and cuddle project for her chair. Right now this blanket is also my car knitting. It works great for that, but my sock production is now ZERO.

I'll see how much of this I get done before next Saturday.

New book review on the Shelfari shelf--The Garden of Evil by David Hewson

Sunday, March 08, 2009

A Weekend of Miscellany

This was a welcome weekend off after a stressful period at work. I took advantage of the time to putter from one project to another.

Of course, there was knitting:

There was a goodly amount of garter stitch: I added two more blocks to the Moderne Blanket. I also finished the third shrug of the sets for my granddaughters. I hope the garter stitch looks a little more even once it is washed and dried. I plan to get most of the dress top done this week so that I can sew and attach skirts over the spring holiday next week.
While I was knitting, I was either riding in the car on a short trip to a nearby city, where we ate lunch and I got a much needed haircut, or I was watching Harry Potter. Since I do not have children at home, I've only seen one of the movies in the theater--The Order of the Phoenix. The others I watched on DVD or network television on our old tv set. Now that I have a new flat screen, I enjoyed a weekend showing of the first four movies in HD on the ABC Family Network. I sometimes can't tell much difference between HD and regular television, but the difference in these films was amazing. Other than NASCAR, I'm not much of a sports fan, but quidditch was definitely better this way.
I also began a new audiobook, which reminds me somewhat of The Da Vinci Code, without the religious controversy. I'll review it when I finish and post it on my Shelfari shelf.
I graded a few papers and posted grades to the computer since progress reports will go out on Monday, did a little bit of laundry and even less housework, and cooked a meal or two. No grocery trip and no other regular weekly errands. It was great!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Thank You, Yarn Harlot!

Along with many of you, I laughed at the Yarn Harlot's February 26 post, knowing that it sounded exactly like something I would do, except for the fact that I would have given up long before she did.

A few weeks ago, I knit a Jane Austen Shrug, size 4. I pointedly made the comment on my blog and, I think, on Ravelry, about finding the pattern hard to follow at first until the cables were established and I could just look at them. In the last couple of weeks, I knit the second shrug, also a size 4. I made the same comment. Two days ago, I began the third shrug, a size 6, with many more beginning and middle stitches on the needles, and with experience under my belt. Cast on--no problem; Row 1--ditto; Row 2--lovely purls; Row 3--obviously wrong. There should be 6 knit stitches in that beginning section, but the pattern says only 3. There are no parentheses for the larger sizes. Could something be wrong? Aha! Errata!
It wasn't that I was too dumb to knit correctly at the beginning of shrugs one and two--it was just that I was too dumb to notice that there were only 3 knit stitches when there should have been 4 and to look for an error in the pattern. If the third shrug had not been larger, I would still have been trying to figure out my problem.

On a lighter note--things accomplished this week: The ELA TAKS test is over for another year. My dual credit research papers are graded. I qualified again as a TELPAS evaluator (for the two people out there who know what that is). Tonight I'm heading for a hot bath with audiobook and a new CSI and Burn Notice while knitting on the shrug. Life is sweet.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


The ELA test is over, and it went smoothly. I did feel sorry for some students, though, who were still writing when I left at 4. The test is a real struggle for some of our non-native speakers and special education students. They began at 9, with a 30 minute lunch. That's a long, long time.

There will be tests later in the year for math, science, and social studies, but my only responsibility for those is just to monitor. My one secret fear at that time is that I will be in the position of having to clear one of those newfangled graphing calculators.

I can now enjoy the time until the end of school. I am in the middle of Macbeth, preparing to start The Bean Trees, beginning Oedipus Rex tomorrow, and handing out Wuthering Heights next week.

Monday, March 02, 2009

A Garter Stitch Weekend and Jane Austen 2

Since I was determined to get started on my granddaughter's blanket even though I had to frog the butterflies, I worked during the NASCAR races when I ordinarily work on my Victory Junction Blanket. I mainly just wanted to see if this would work. I think it does. The fourth color will be an off-white. The yarn I'm using is Vanna's Choice, in Light Dusty Rose and Antique Rose, and Vanna's Choice Baby in Mint. The off-white is some Schachenmeyer (spelling?) that is very nice. I've had it in stash for some time. I must admit that even though this yarn is acrylic, it is much, much easier on the hands than the Red Heart.

I also got around to making a photograph of the second Jane Austen set. This one is also for a 2-year-old granddaughter. I'm starting on the set for the 6-year-old tonight.

Today is a little-recognized holiday--Texas Independence Day, the day Texas declared its independence from Mexico in 1836 with the signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence (What else?) at Washington-on-the-Brazos.

Tomorrow is THE day--the English Language Arts TAKS Test. After this day is over, we can go back to teaching something much more interesting and worthwhile for the rest of the year. I always feel as if an enormous load has been lifted from my shoulders when the day ends, even though my seniors are already past the testing. I still tutor younger students, teach one class of sophomores, and have departmental responsibilities.

Now, please allow me to be totally unreasonable and complain about the weather for awhile. One of the things I like about where I live is that we have a change of seasons without having the extremes--most of the time. However, we do have the occasional non-winter, and this has been one of them. I have worn a coat about three days. I know it seems awful to complain when so many of you out there have had power outages and slogged through snow in extremely cold temperatures, but the unexpected warm is not great either. Our allergy season has been extended because many of the native trees begin pollinating in January when we have a winter like this. For those allergic to red cedars and other trees, the early pollination only complicates the flu and colds that are normally part of the winter mix. No really cold weather also means no moisture, and we have wind, usually in the spring, but we have had quite a bit this winter. We live on the edge of what was the Dust Bowl in the 1930s, so very dry, very windy weather means dirt in the air. My humidifier is running constantly, and even that is sometimes not enough to keep my sinuses from hurting. And the worst? High school seniors get very restless to get OUT OF HERE in the springtime. Unfortunately, when springtime begins in January instead of late March, the season of obnoxiousness lasts much, much longer. I am fast developing a case of the real grouchies just dealing with them. Ha! "Developing" is an understatement--I've been at the full-blown grouch level for a couple of weeks. Dealing with late papers, students and parents ungrateful for extra effort on my part, poor attendance, and their general gripiness has me down.