September 23, 2007

Not so Scary after all

Football season is here, and while I'm not a huge football fan I do enjoy the ritual of watching the game with my husband, steaks on the grill and the dog curled against me. And because I enjoy the ritual, there are teams I have come to care about. So, I now spend much more of my Saturday and Sunday on the couch, significantly increasing the time I want hand work (and decreasing the time spent at my sewing machine.) While I knit alot, I am not always in the mood to knit.

So, I've decided to try my hand at applique. I don't know why I've always been scared of it or felt it was too big a commitment. (And a quilt isn't? It takes me years to finish one of those suckers. On second thought, that's probably it. If it takes me years to finish a quilt pieced on the machine, what would happen if I added applique to it.) But, inspired by Britt's love of applique, I've decided to add some applique in to my football season repertoire.First up, a simple little pattern of Halloween ghosts. It turns out it's not so scary. I finished five of these guys without noticing, and I could easily have finished more if I didn't decide that was plenty for a simple Halloween quilt. (For next year, this fall I'm still trying to finish the t-shirt quilt. I literally just need to add the border and the top is pieced. I couldn't make myself do it yesterday.) The fabric I used for these ghosts didn't require a turned under edge, so it was particularly easy with just a running stitch along the edge.

Next up - needle turned applique. Or freezer paper applique. Whatever it turns out to take for me to get neat edges.

September 16, 2007

Showers of Babies

This week was my week for baby showers - hosting one on Friday and attending another on Saturday. It's enough to make you think wistful thoughts. The Mom's are glowing, the idea of a new life so exciting... And the packages of diapers stacking up keep it all grounded just enough.

One shower was for my childhood friend and demanded a handknit item. Except that I lost track of time and as of Tuesday hadn't picked a project yet. Fortunately, I have a pattern that is fast becoming my Baby Shower Sweater. It's from Hip Knits - the only pattern from the book that I've made, but I've now made it three times. The pattern calls for size 11 needles. I get gauge with 13s. Needless to say, it knits up fast. For this sweater, I cast on Tuesday night and had it wrapped up and gifted Saturday morning.If I hadn't waited to the last minute, I might actually have tossed this one and made it again with different yarn. The pattern calls for a Lion Brand yarn that has mohair in it. It looks pretty, but I find it a bit scratchy. When I made it for the first two showers, the baby was due in warm weather and I was making a 6 months size. I decided the mohair was okay at that age, especially for outer wear. But, this time the baby is due in October and I was knitting the newborn size, so I decided to use Homespun.

It turns out I'm not happy with variegated Homespun, the color changed dramatically from bright primary colors to muted blue/green at points. (It doesn't show up nearly as much in the photo as it did in real life.) I also reached a point in the skein where the yarn hadn't been spun correctly; I had just stringy threads... I don't know exactly how to describe it, but it looked awful. I had to cut the yarn and reattach further down in the skein, and this isn't a good pattern for weaving ends in. And the yarn stretched more in the hood than I anticipated. I actually told the Mom that I'd take that down for her, after seeing it grow at the shower.

On the other hand, all of that seems to be a knitter's pickiness. The Mom loved it, the other women oohed and aahed far more than politeness dictated, asking me questions about it later in the shower. And if the baby never wears it, I'll never know.
I was also surprised by the reaction I got at Saturday's shower for bringing leftovers from an activity I created for Friday's shower. A stack of onesies ranging from newborn to large, a handful of fabric markers, and just a little encouragement resulted in a great activity and a pile of hand decorated onesies for the baby.
I can't decide whether it was more fun at Saturday's shower, where there were kids to participate or at work on Friday, where we had a competition that resulted in onesies with bikinis and highly detailed pictures. All in all, it turned out to be a great activity for any informal shower. (I'm sure I saw it somewhere, and I wish I could remember where to give credit.)

September 13, 2007

A Day Off Work?

Today is a holiday. (Rosh Hashanah. Yes, my office is closed.) When my boss asked yesterday what I planned to do today, I said "I don't know. Probably not much."

You'd think I'd know myself better by now. I slept in until 8:00, but when I got up I went out in the yard to pull down some vines that are trying to take over. I looked around and realized I should really re-pot a hibiscus and get a support for the bamboo orchid. I had a massage scheduled for 9:30, so I decided I'd go to Home Depot afterwards. But, when I got to the office my therapist had to cancel. So, I was at the dry cleaners by 9:45 and Home Depot by 10:00. Since its late summer and it doesn't get hot quite so quickly, I can buy a few plants, right? After all, it's September, perfect vegetable season here.

You know where this is going, don't you? Yup - a purple shower and a penta, both of which I've been planning to pick up to fill in spots in the front. Three crooked squash vines and three tomato plants. Oh, and since our soil is so sandy I need two bags of garden soil and a bag of manure compost if I plan to actually grow any of these veggies. A daisy to fill in that pot in the back that needs an annual. And a flat of marigolds for color in the vegetable garden. Or to fill in around the pond. Or maybe under the bare tree out front.... And, oh yeah, a pot for the hibiscus and the circle support for the bamboo orchid.

Two hours later, I am filthy and beet reed. The temperature is definitely creeping up and the heat-loving dog has even abandoned me for the cool house. But, my hibiscus can now grow and is properly staked, my bamboo orchid is standing up (more or less), my pre-existing beans are in the topiary, all five of the tomato plants I now own have enriched soil and proper support (and the three new ones are planted, of course.) The squash are in the ground and looking pitiful for the transplating. The front is filled in, as is the pot out back. The Australian fern I bought at the farmer's market Saturday is in the ground, and I've enriched the soil in that area after realizing it was dust.

The flat of marigolds is under the grapefruit tree waiting for me to decide what I want to do with it. It will wait until tomorrow. Or Saturday. Maybe Sunday.

I am now showered, but find I don't have the energy to put lotion on my skin. Soon, though, I'm going to have to find the energy. I need to go shopping for the last of the supplies for tomorrow's baby shower. And I'd like to finish the knitting on the sweater for Saturday's baby shower before we go out to the Bar event at 5:30. Oh, and I suppose somewhere along the line I should eat some lunch. Water is good for you, but it doesn't stand alone.

But, I must say, this is a great way to spend a Thursday.

September 08, 2007

Productive Time

I was at a three day Summit this week. What with all the sitting around listening to speeches in between the productive session, it provided very productive knitting time. This scarf was only four or five inches long at the start and now its well on its way.

Ironically, I almost abandoned the scarf at four inches. The crunchy silk wasn't quite turning out as I envisioned. The waffle weave wasn't particularly interesting. (You can barely see it in the photo, but is clear in real life now that the scarf is long.) I had pretty much decided to set it aside until I came up with a new use for the yarn. But, I needed knitting to take to the Summit and lace wasn't going to cut it. I grabbed this just so I'd have something to knit - for the feel of knitting, not the product. And now I'm pleased with how its coming out and so glad I knit on it long enough to see that it was actually going to be something nice.

It was intended, though, as a scarf for Alex, and I think it will end up being for me. Upon seeing and touching the start of the scarf he asked, 'why isn't soft like the things you make for yourself?' Okay - I guess my thought that crunchy silk was more masculine was not well thought out. I know perfectly well that he prefers his clothes and accessories soft. Guess I'll just have to make a trip back to the yarn store for some smooth silk. Darn. ;)
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September 01, 2007

Snapdragons and Cookies

I bought a clutch of lavender snapdragons this week and put them in a vase in our bedroom. The next time I came upstairs I was puzzled by the lovely spicy smell. And then I realized it was the snapdragons. Such an unusual smell for a flower! I've been enjoying it all week.

Snapdragons always attract me in the professional gardens, but I've never planted them myself. I like the tall varieties, and to stay pretty they require regular clean up and staking. I'm too lazy. (And, unlike the landscapers, I don't plant anything for just a week or two and then yank it out to replace with something else at the peak of its bloom.)

This winter, however, I'll be planting snapdragons and considering them worth the work. Any cutting plant that will fragrance my house that way can claim some extra attention. Though, my vegetables plant will warn them, not too much extra attention. I am willing to pamper plants that produce something for me a little, but anything that requires me to wait on it hand and foot is out.


We are a living cliche. I am baking chocolate chip cookies. He's participating in a fantasy football draft. When did this happen?