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Friday, December 31, 2004

Wherever you are, whenever it's time...

Happy New Year!!!!

If you're interested, here is my sewing cabinet before and after my father adjusted it so the machine would sit in the hole.

Before...
Sewing machine and cabinet before

After...
Sewing machine and cabinet after

We did much running around today, had lunch where a friend works, and I picked up everything I need (except the second pattern - it should be in next Wednesday) for Maidens of the Seasons I and II. I actually had most of the floss in my stash, just had to get the Needlepaints, about 10 packages of beads, about 8 skeins of floss, and the fabric. I changed my mind when I saw the platinum cashel linen, and decided to go with it instead of what I'd been thinking originally. Quite a few people have already agreed that I'm crazy to do them all together, but I still think they're going to be gorgeous.

Again, Happy New Year!!!!!

Thursday, December 30, 2004

For a short week, it's been a LONG one...

And it seems as if I didn't really have time to get ahead on things at work, with all of the updates that came in pretty steadily. To top it off, we've had some really strange Dreamweaver issues come up in the past couple of days too. I think we've got them resolved, but that took some time too.

I did manage to figure out why my CSS wasn't working for my photos in Internet Explorer 6. It took some searching, but it turns out that I didn't have the precise 'doctype' cited in my pages. Stoopid IE. It worked just fine in every other CSS-compliant browser - just not IE. Stoopid Microsoft.

And now to show off my pretty half-a-butterfly. I haven't quite finished the bar-weaving, but I'm almost 3/4 done with it.


Karen asked what I was referring to when I mentioned Baby Steps. Dave Ramsey, author of Financial Peace (and several other books), created them to help others get out of debt. I found a really good explanation of them at It's Your Money (a site with a lot of good financial planning and budgeting resources). I highly recommend following the steps if you are trying to get out of debt (and I was definitely when I started with them!) and plan for the future. There is a very sound basis behind the Baby Steps and Debt Snowball. I'm living proof that it works, and I'm not alone. Of course, if you aren't in debt, then you are ahead of the game, and congratulations to whoever is debt-free! C and I are now, except for the house, and it feels great! With as much other stress as there is in this world nowadays, not having major money stress makes life so much more enjoyable. :)

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Reflections and Goals

Wow, this year just went by so fast. They say the older you get, the faster time flies by, and I have really felt that this year. Maybe it's partly because I'm basically doing the same work as I was before (plus a little more), but it really doesn't seem like 6 months have gone by since I transferred departments. And yet it has.

I've been reflecting over what I've accomplished this year and thinking about what I'd like to do in 2005. I've set some good plans into action (especially joining the StRIP club for cross-stitch), and I'd like to continue that in 2005.

This year I already had 30 WIPs. I started 14 new projects throughout the year - pretty bad Start-itis. Only a couple of those were already kitted or ones for which I already had the chart. The good news is that I finished 12 of the ones I started this year, plus 4 others started in previous years. Not a great ratio, but not terrible either. Of the ones I started this year, 4 came from a class, 3 were already kitted, and 1 was from a chart in my stash. I bought brand new kits or charts and materials for 6 of the finished projects. I would really like to reduce that number this year.

In looking at my current rotation and the StRIP list, I truly feel that I should be able to complete everything that I currently have in my goal-based rotation by the end of 2005. These are:

  1. Nova
  2. Fantasy Sampler
  3. Merrick
  4. Smokey (Moonstruck)
  5. Snow Leopard
  6. Trellis Sampler
  7. Butterfly Fantasy (if not finished in 2004)
I also think I should be able to finish the last of the Myrtle Beach projects, Summer's Magic. There is one design that I would like to start in 2005 for which I have neither the charts nor the supplies - Mirabilia's Maidens of the Seasons, together.

I will also probably start and finish a few things for which I already have kits or charts and materials (for example, some of the smaller designs on my Kitted, To Be Started page, and maybe a chart or two for which I have the appropriate floss and fabric, it's just not kitted yet).

My main goal is to have fewer WIPs again at the end of 2005. With 28 current WIPs, I think a reasonable goal would be to have 24. I'm going to shoot for even less. I think I will make this my year of WIP-slaying.

Obviously, cross stitch is not my only hobby. I have two quilting goals for 2005: finish Scott's Ships quilt in time for Christmas, and figure out what kind of quilt design I'm going to make for my sister-in-law. If I get some more progress made on the Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt, hooray, but I'm not putting it into any sort of rotation.

My one crochet goal is to finish the 63 squares afghan. At a rate of 3 squares per month, I should be able to accomplish that.

My two knitting goals are to finish the kitty bed, and to learn to knit a hat for myself.

I have no beading or other sewing goals for this year - if something inspires me and I have the time, then I'll deal with it then. I think I forgot to mention that Mom & Dad came over the other night and Dad worked on my sewing machine cabinet. My sewing machine sits nicely down inside the hole now (instead of on top of a piece of particle board which was sitting over the hole). It really makes it easier to sew at, and I can still take the machine out to a class if I need to! I've GOT to take a new photo to share.

My big goal for the house is to put hardwood floors down in the living room, dining room, and hallway. I'd love to go ahead and do the other rooms also, but that all depends on how much it will cost and how much I can save up for it. Realistically, I see the LR, DR, and hallway with them (and kitties sliding all over the floor when they go chasing each other). I'd also like to figure out some sort of window treatment for the living room, but that will probably wait unless something strikes me and I get to sewing something - preferably with fabric obtained with a 40%-50% off coupon.

I know that I also need to replace the windows where the seals have broken - that's a nice big expense to plan for... but they will be more energy efficient once they're replaced. Ah, the money one can spend on their abode. Maybe if I spread out the maintenance / improvements over a couple of years, it won't be as bad... :)

For financial peace (thank you Dave Ramsey!), Baby Step #3 (emergency fund) is nearly complete, and so next year, I want us to work on Baby Step #4 (15% into retirement) and hopefully start working on Baby Step #6 (pay off the mortgage). Baby Step #5 is the college fund for children, and while we feel our kitties are brilliant, we won't be shipping them off to university.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

That alarm goes off early...

...when you have to go to work. And I'm not one of those people who goes ahead and tries to get back into the habit of getting up early a day or two before she goes back to work. Oh well... I'm REALLY looking forward to retirement someday!

I managed to finish up quilting 3 more blocks on Scott's quilt (for a total of 4 now). I changed my mind about how I was going to quilt the wave block. I decided on a spiral pattern for the whole block, so it will be a bit more evenly quilted. The photo doesn't show it real well, but you should be able to get the idea.


I managed to crochet another square for my 63 squares afghan. I should now be back on schedule (3 per month). This one is the "Little Crowns" stitch. It's probably the first one I've had measure out perfectly, and be almost perfectly square. I don't know if that is because my tension is getting better (even though I've been crocheting for years), or if it's just the pattern.

Square #36 completed December 27, 2004 - little crowns

And to end up the evening last night, I worked on my Grandmother's Flower Garden for about an hour, making a few more little hexagons. My eyes were a little tired, so I knew I shouldn't even try to work on the over-1 of the butterfly. I plan to work on it some today though.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Whipped backstitch

Ann had asked what a whipped backstitch was. Well, it's a little hard to describe, but basically you do all of your backstitching, and then you bring your needle up at the beginning of it, and you'll be working entirely on the top of the fabric until you finish off the floss. Run your needle from one side of the backstitch (say the right side as it faces you vertically) to the other underneath the backstitch without piercing the thread. Then do the exact same thing under the next backstitch and so on and so forth.

For this piece, it was a double-whipped backstitch, which meant that I had to run my needle underneath the same backstitch twice before moving on to the next backstitch. It give a nice raised effect.

We went to the grocery this morning (with a plan!), and managed to make it out almost at budget. It was the 2 cans of kitty food (which we call special dinner) that must have put us over the top, LOL. That's our running joke - whenever we go over we blame the smallest, most insignificant, cheapest items in our cart.

We got home and got everything put away, and I treated myself to an apple - I bought a bag of small ones. With all the holiday sweets we have leftover (and sent home), it's a nice change of pace. Don't worry though, I'm sure I'll have a bite of chocolate later in the day!

I've been trying to clean up some of the detritus from Christmas, and I did manage to declutter all of my Revereware - it's sitting in the hallway with a few other things so that I can take it to either the Goodwill or Help Center. I also went through some of my tupperware and pulled some pieces that I never use, so it felt good to declutter that too.

I'm going to go pull out Scott's quilt now - I bought some additional blue and green quilting thread at Joann's just before Christmas, so we'll see how well it matches. My Steelers game isn't on tv here, so I'm having to check in on NFL.com (or watch for updates in the Colts/Chargers game. It's close at half-time - but we're winning 10-7 so far (fingers crossed!!!).

I'm still off tomorrow, and then I'll return to work Tuesday-Thursday, with Friday off for the New Year's holiday. I have to say that I've had a really nice vacation.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Simply Having a Wonderful Christmastime

We really have had a wonderful Christmas today - I hope the same for everyone. We drove to my parents' house first, and exchanged stories, news, and gifts with them. They were so generous, as they always are. They loved everything we gave them, especially the little Yorkie cross stitch. I know that C is looking forward to trying out his George Foreman grill, and I'm looking forward to decluttering my Revere cookware now that I have a few more essential Lifetime cookware pieces. This is the stuff I grew up with - my mother bought a set when I was very little - and it really is wonderful, long-lasting, energy-saving cookware. She has been watching e-bay over the past couple of years, ever since I mentioned to her that I really wanted a set like hers. Of course, I had no idea what I was asking for at the time. But she has slowly been collecting pieces for me, and now she is doing the same for my brother and his family.

We all packed up and headed to my brother's for a yummy lunch, and then exchanged gifts with his family. The knitted scarves were a huge hit - especially for Chris, who was still wearing his when we left in the late afternoon. Scott and Teresa both loved their stitched gifts (Voyage at Sea, and Guardian Angel, respectively). In fact, Teresa told me she was going to hang her angel in their bedroom, and wanted to take it back there immediately. I was so touched by how much they all appreciated their gifts. I've heard so many stories about people don't appreciate hand-stitched and woven gifts, and I'm really grateful my entire family is so supportive and appreciative.

So, we are back home now, watching some tv, and I am doing a little knitting. I started this yesterday, and I'm probably almost half-done with the bottom section.


It's going to be a kitty bed, and it's stitched with Wool-ease and fun-fur. We'll see what the kitties think of it when it's finished, and then we'll decide whether to do another one.

Oh, and I've been doing a little crochet also. I've finished squares 33, 34, and 35 on the afghan.




Merry Christmas to All and to All a Good Night!!!

Friday, December 24, 2004

Happy Christmas Eve!

I just love being able to stay at home and stitch for a few days. The fact that it snowed here, making it more treacherous to get out (although a lot of it is melting now, but the temp is still cold enough to make one be extra careful outside), made it more wonderful to already have the time scheduled off. And now, of course, it is the Christmas Eve holiday!

I've been stitching a bit more on my Butterfly Fantasy - I've had other projects mumbling to me out of their bags (including Scott's quilt, my grandmother's flower garden quilt, my 63 squares crochet afghan, and a new knit project I'm anxious to start), but the Butterfly Fantasy has just captured my attention for now.

Thanks, Jo, for the information on alphabet letters in samplers - very interesting, and I'll definitely keep that in mind when I look at other samplers in the future. I'll probably be looking to see which designers include them and which ones don't.

Ann, I think the blackwork in this piece really is more like backstitching because of the use of the variegated threads. I wanted my butterflies to have a smoothly shaded appearance, and so I didn't use the double-running stitch which is also one of the ways to stitch blackwork. It's a very nice way to fill in spaces decoratively.

Karen (congratulations on starting your STRiP list and rotation!), the cream-colored stitches above and below the butterflies are smyrna crosses - but they are stitched with size 12 perle cotton, so they are a bit more dimensional than they would normally be with floss. I love the effect!

Okay, so here is an update (this is the thumbnail, click the photo to see a large view). I finished the blackwork butterflies (edges are a whipped backstitch), the three mirror bands of specialty stitches, and the kloster blocks. Then with trepidation, I pulled out the scissors and managed to cut correctly! I started wrapping the bars last night, and probably have about half of them stitched now. For a change of pace (and because I know that it's going to take a bit of work), I started the over-1 butterfly.


My gifts are all wrapped, and I'm heading back out to the living room to do a bit more stitching (or will something else pull my attention away...?). I hope that you all have a wonderful Christmas!!!! Much love and peace to all!!!!!

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Butterfly Fantasy so far


Here it is so far - I did not add the letter 'I' to the alphabet, it just seemed like it might be off if I had, and I frankly was feeling too lazy to rechart the rest of it. ;)

It is still snowing here (it started last night with rain and turned to ice in the middle of the night, and then snow). I am SO glad that we don't have to go anywhere - I've already heard about too many accidents happening all around town, and my preference is to avoid being one of the statistics.

I hope everyone else is safe and sound. I'm heading off to stitch again.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

So, what's next? you ask...

A little project I've had kitted for a while called "Butterfly Fantasy" by Nutmeg Needle. I actually picked this up out of the sale bin at the LNS over a year ago. It's a little hard to see in the thumbnail, but it uses overdyed floss, and has several bands of specialty stitches. There are a couple of blackwork butterflies, and the main butterfly is stitched over one using another couple of overdyed floss colors.

It will also be my first ever attempt at real hardanger, not just kloster blocks, but real cutting of the fabric! I have just finished the alphabet and started on the first specialty stitch band. One thing I noticed - the I is missing. Maybe this is normal for samplers with alphabets? Anyway, I'm not sure that I will finish it in one round, but it's definitely the start of Rotation Round 7 - in the Small Projects / Samplers slot. Looks like I need to update my blog template and Rotation page! But not now - I've gotta go stitch!

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Wow!

Thank you all so much for your positive and enthusiastic feedback! Depending on how you look at it, it's either been a long or relatively short journey. It seemed to take forever to actually make the commitment (having tried and failed several times in the past because of one thing or another), and it has taken 7½ months to accomplish.

I have to credit Erica as my original inspiration for making the commitment. She lost a heckuva lot more weight than me, but the fact that she did it was awe-inspiring. And I thought if she could do it, then why couldn't I?

I finished up my round on Snow Leopard, and decided to take a photo this time instead of piecing together scans. The detail isn't quite as clear, but you can see I've made it to the bottom right side of the design now!


I just love his eyes - they are so expressive. And I've decided to go ahead and give him real kitty whiskers too. I think I have enough for both him and Smokey (Moonstruck), and they should be the perfect size.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Fitness photos, as promised

I'm about to head to the gym this morning (hence, the chance to take new photos). Ignore the fact that I'm wearing no makeup and haven't fixed my hair - I actually clean up a bit better than this. ;)

Melissa's Before and After Photos

Hope everyone has a great week! I'll be back again soon.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Yes! Chris's scarf finished in time for Christmas

Yay, I finished this yesterday while watching my Steelers go to 13-1 (it was a close game the entire time), and then a couple of episodes of 24 (C has decided he doesn't like it as much as I do and opted to watch more football instead).


I decided to add the fringe at the end, and I'm really pleased with the way it turned out. That's everything I'm making for Christmas this year, which means that I can now cross-stitch, quilt, and crochet again without any pressure thinking I need to be working on something else.

I think once I hang Lucien (he's definitely going in my fantasy-themed bedroom), I'll have to take new pictures of the room to share with everyone. I love being surrounded by all my wizards, guardians, and other fantasy creatures. Thank you all for your wonderful comments on him!

Saturday, December 18, 2004

We couldn't wait until Christmas

and so, I will share with you what my husband insisted we share with each other...
Lucien framed

with a closeup of the frame and mat

As Anita said, it is gorgeous!!!

Now I'm working on finishing up Chris's scarf while we watch my Steelers game... more to come as the weekend / week progresses!

Friday, December 17, 2004

Christmas partied-out

Whew, I'm feeling a bit wiped out and worn down. I can stand only so much excitement and rich foods. I think I'm ready for a long winter's nap.

Last night's party at the Stitchin Post was a blast. I felt a little strange at first because I didn't bring any projects with me to work on while waiting for everyone to arrive and the festivities to begin. I walked around a bit, checking out the fabrics for a project I'm thinking of starting next year. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), I didn't find what I was looking for, and so I didn't purchase anything.

The project is Maidens of the Seasons by Mirabilia - both sets stitched on one piece of fabric, so it looks similar to below.

This is a representation of what Maidens of the Seasons I and II should look like stitched together on one piece of fabric


The ones I've seen stitched have been done on lighter fabrics, and I really think the design looks better on a little bit darker fabric. And it just screams linen to me - either Cashel or Belfast, but I'm thinking Cashel because of the size of beads (don't want them to get crowded). I think I'm going to have to order the fabric unless I can find it at either the shop in Clarksville or the one in West Nashville (road trip, hint, hint)... I should have most of the supplies except for the Needlepaints and maybe a couple of the beads. If I do decide to start it, this will be my only large project start in "Guilt Free January." And if I do start it, I will probably work it into my rotation so that I can see it more frequently. I don't want to start a bunch of projects again, only to put them away for another year or more.

In other news, I got my ring guard installed today, and it's perfect - I don't even feel it, but it keeps my ring snug on my finger without feeling too tight. We're going to pick up the Sentra (routine maintenance) this evening after work, and when we get home, hopefully snuggle in with some good television. We've still got some Christmas shopping to do, and I just heard that Lucien is ready (and Anita said it's gorgeous!), so we'll go pick pick him up tomorrow and put him uh, beside the tree (knowing he won't fit underneath). Maybe we'll get most of the running around finished up tomorrow, because they're predicting a major cold front to move in Sunday, and maybe even *snow*!!! We should probably run by the store tonight with everyone else to pick up eggs, milk, and bread...

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Christmas Parties Galore

Well, I managed to get the cookies all baked last night, and so I'll be taking half of them with me to my LNS's Christmas party tonight, and half to my work Christmas party tomorrow.

By popular vote, I'll take some new "after" photos this weekend and post both the before ones and those. Thanks so much for all your comments, I'll chat with you more tomorrow!!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Achieving goals

I've managed to get a little over 22 inches knitted on Chris's scarf now. Last night I got my cookie dough made, so tonight I can (hopefully) bake up a storm. I'm just doing one kind of cookie for the Christmas parties - white chocolate macadamia nut. While I'm off next week, I hope to make a couple of other batches for home and gifts - chocolate chip, of course, oatmeal scotchies, and maybe one or two others. I don't want to kill myself baking cookies, but I do want to make a couple of different kinds.

It feels very weird not having actually cross-stitched in several days. I've pulled out Snow Leopard and put a few stitches into him, but because of the deadline on the scarf, I haven't picked him back up since whenever it was - Friday or Saturday night. So I'm really looking forward to finishing the scarf, which is my last project for this Christmas. That way I can get back to my rotation and doing everything at my pace.

We haven't watched the Earthsea miniseries yet, but we do have it taped now. I expect to catch up on a lot of tv and dvds next week!

I've also met a non-stitching goal that I set for myself back in April when I set out on my weight loss / get fit journey. I think this is one I'm most proud of this year, because I've had sputters and starts before, but never got really serious about it and always gave up in the past. I didn't have an exact number but a general weight and size range I wanted to achieve (because I know that weight naturally fluctuates up and down a few pounds each month). I didn't want to lose every ounce of the weight I had gained, because I wasn't doing any weight training at all when I started gaining the weight almost 7 years ago, and I am building muscle now, so my original weight wouldn't necessarily be the best weight for my new state of fitness.

I worked out last night with the two people who got me started on this journey. It has been over a month since I saw my trainer/friend Clifford, although I've kept him apprised of my progress. It's been even longer since I worked out with my other friend, even though I see her at least once a week at work, because she started going to the gym closer to her home. It was such a rush to get to work out with both of them last night, because they help push me to do better. Clifford and I are going to work on a new routine for me that should involve strengthening my body over the next several months. As I have assured people who are concerned for the way I might look - I will NOT get bulky muscles because I'm not made that way, nor am I taking any hormones. I think this new program is also going to help out with some of the repetitive stress injuries I have. I may share my before and after photos - I'm becoming less self-concious about them, and I'm finding that it's a great way to educate others about the benefits of exercise. Most people did not think I had much extra weight, and are really surprised when they see the photos. Should I share? I mean, there are plenty of other photos of me on the web site, a couple more probably aren't going to hurt. I think I'll take a new picture to have a really recent one - the last one I have is from October, I think.

And because I have finally achieved my goals, I went shopping for new clothes last weekend. I bought 4 new pairs of pants and a couple new pairs of jeans, plus several new sweaters and one new skirt. It's really nice to have things that fit again and don't feel like they're falling off (though that was nice for a little while - because they no longer felt way too tight!). I also ordered a ring guard for my wedding band, because I just don't want to have the ring cut for resizing. It would ruin the pattern and finish, and frankly, I just don't want to have that circle broken - it represents the best thing in my life. I'm not really superstitious or anything, but I just don't like the idea of cutting it apart.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Too much to do, too little time

This week I've just got WAY too many things going on. What with car maintenance, preparations for two Christmas parties (not at my house, thank goodness!!!), personal shopping (we won't even go into the Christmas shopping I have left to do), and routine doctor visits, I don't think I'm going to have time to catch a breath. I didn't get to the gym last night, and I haven't even bought Christmas cards for sending out this year yet!

But I have my little list of things that HAVE to be done, C has renewed the 24: season 1 disc 3 for me (we had rented a couple from Hollywood video - long story ending in I'm getting the rest from Netflix), and fortunately it's only Tuesday, so I'm not terribly behind yet.

I did get just a little bit of knitting in on Christopher's scarf yesterday, so I figure it's about 17 inches long now. Tonight I'll work on getting all the dough made for the cookies I plan to bake tomorrow night. I'm SO looking forward to next week off, even if just to recover a bit!

Monday, December 13, 2004

Realization

Okay, I think I said that I was going to go spend about an hour in my craft room doing some clean-up / putting away / organizing... that was such an understatement.

I guess the first step is recognizing that you have a problem... and I definitely have a problem... it's that whole clutter thing rearing its ugly head. And one of my issues is not putting away my supplies once I am completely finished with a project.

Actually, it goes deeper than that. I tend to be the type of person who doesn't like to throw anything away (even the smallest bits) because it might be useful someday. Take floss for example. Now if I have a full skein (or even a bit less than half of a skein) left over from a project, I like to put that back into my "main" floss organizer. I hate to be wasteful, and many projects only use a little bit of a given floss color, not even the majority of the skein.

Yesterday, though, as I was de-kitting Legends of the Dragons' flosses (yes, it has been since the end of August that the floss box has been gathering dust in my craft room where I lazily laid it down thinking that I'd de-kit it "soon"), I came across one bobbin that used a little bit of one color that was not used anywhere else in the design, either by itself, or in another blend. There were probably two lengths of floss on this bobbin, approximately 12" long each. One had 6 strands the other had 2. I have plenty of this color in my stash, and even if I didn't, I am fortunate enough to live in the USA, where I can buy floss for 25 cents per skein or less. WHY IN THE WORLD AM I WORRIED ABOUT SAVING THIS LITTLE BITTY AMOUNT OF FLOSS???????

It really hit me right then, hard, that I have an issue with throwing remnants away. Of floss, of fabric, of paper - whatever. I might be able to use this in some other project. Oh good grief.

Well, now that I'm aware of my behavior, I will address it. Actually, I started addressing it yesterday. I spent several hours in my craft room. I still need to spend more time, but I had nearly a whole bag of trash that went out. And it really was trash - little bits and pieces of floss, tiny pieces of fabric that I won't be using in my next quilt (or the quilt after that...), working copies that I just hadn't pitched yet, a frame that I will never use, leftover beads from a kit. I'm not even bothering with the Goodwill or donating to another stitcher / quilter on most of the stuff, because it's just not worth it. It's not worth the time or space to transfer it anywhere else but the trash.

And I feel good about it. Good like I felt when I realized that I was never going to make an afghan from the scraps and leftover skeins of yarn I had from previous projects. I bagged them up months ago and took them to my LNS for donating to the Women's Prison Ministry. I guess over the past year or so I have been doing things like this a little at a time, but I needed another jolt to get back on it.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

All 3 fuzzy scarves are knitted!

So last night, while we watched Jurassic Park (it was showing on Sci-Fi, so we went and rented the DVD), I finished the Mango scarf!

And so, without further ado, I present Citrus and Mango:


I also started a new scarf for my nephew. Obviously, I don't think he will want one of the fuzzy ones, so I decided to try some that I had in my stash - it's another Lion Brand Yarn - the Homespun series. I think it is Pacifica, but can't be sure, because I've lost the label. Anyway, here is what it looks like so far:

It's going to take a bit longer to knit this one, because I'm knitting it with a size 9 needle, but I think I'll be able to finish it before Christmas.

I'm off to spend an hour or so in my craft room - I have some cleaning up / putting away to do that I've been putting off for several finished projects now...

Friday, December 10, 2004

2 fuzzy scarves down, 1 to go

Last night, while watching The West Wing, Lost, and a couple of episodes of 24, I finished up the Citrus scarf and started Mango. I nearly had a disaster with Citrus - somehow I dropped a stitch in the middle, and that is the ONE thing I've been majorly fearing with this fun fur stuff. It was easy to knit with, once I got used to it, but it is really difficult for me to actually distinguish the knit stitches (which is part of the beauty of it, I think) once they are off the needles. So I took it completely off the needle, ripped out a few rows, and then had fun putting it back on the needle. Okay, so it's not really a fun task for a newbie knitter, but I managed to get it back on with the correct number of stitches, facing the correct direction, and continued with no major crises afterwards.

Thanks again, everyone, for your lovely comments on my ornament. I'll be working the three days between our Christmas holidays and our New Year's holiday this year (Tuesday - Thursday), so that others on our team can take off then - some of us are taking off before Christmas and some afterwards so that our work is covered. I really don't mind at all working those days, because it tends to be pretty quiet, and I'll get all of my preparation for changing to 2005 done then.

We're going to see Ocean's Twelve this evening - TGIF!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, December 09, 2004

A finished ornament


I took a couple of pictures to show off my new ornament (already hanging on the tree). I finished it up late last night, just after we had finished watching the last episode of 24 on the first disc.

Of course, as I was stitching it, I held it up to C, and pointed out that it was going to blend in nicely with the rest of the greenery. But I love the colors. I would like to do the rest of the ornaments (I have 4 more in this series) over the next year or two. They don't take very long to finish, and they will make nice additions to our tree.

Thanks for the suggestions on what to do with all the little beaded designs - I'll have to check out the boxes at Michael's and pick up some felt. I may go ahead and give a few away as Christmas gifts in addition to hanging some on my tree. I do have some spare ribbons just hanging around in a box that I might be able to use with them, and of course, I have my little cording drill too. Did I mention I'm taking off the entire week before Christmas (20-24)? I plan to use the time to get some stuff done - a little baking, a little ornamentification, maybe some organizing, definitely some quilting and stitching and knitting and crocheting. I'm really looking forward to a whole week of time off from work. I haven't done that in a while, mostly just bits and pieces here and there.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

More beads

So I spent most of last night working on the ornament, and I got it almost all beaded. I had to stop, though, and go to bed. I might get the chance tonight to finish it up.


Okay, I've uploaded the pictures of all of my beaded pieces that haven't been finished. I've put them all on two pages with a few comments. The only problem with some of them is that I did them on very small pieces of fabric, with very little edge room for finishing (we're talking an inch or less, and mostly it's less). I think I could make some into some kind of Christmas ornaments, but I really have no idea what to do with the others.

I think we might start watching 24 tonight while we tape our usual Wednesday-night-shows. I've never seen that show, but I've heard several people give it rave reviews, so we have Season 1 Disc 1 from Netflix. We finally finished up Sliders (Seasons 1 and 2), and he feels quite disappointed that I "misled" him - since the rest of the seasons have not yet come out on DVD. Hopefully they will come soon enough.

Oh, and Crusade came in today from Amazon - so I'm anxious to start watching Babylon 5 all the way up through Crusade again. Oh, and one other show I'm going to make sure to tape and watch is the Earthsea miniseries on Sci-Fi - I've not read the books, but the miniseries looks interesting - it's going to be on next Monday and Tuesday nights. And also on Tuesday is the Lord of the Rings: Return of the King extended edition release. I see an entire day of LOTR in our future! ;) Good thing we have some holidays coming up - a great time to have marathons.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Fun fur and beads

Micky and Karen had asked if it was hard to knit with the fun fur, and I have to say it was really weird to try to get used to at first. But once I got into a rhythm, it was pretty easy to pick out the yarn vs. the eyelash fringes. I tried to get a closeup picture of the stitches on the needle last night, so you might be able to see too. Once you get used to the feel of it, it's pretty easy to ignore the extraneous stuff.


And Ann asked about Smokey's whiskers. In the original design, yes, once the cross stitching is finished, the whiskers are long-stitched on top of the cross stitch (which is obviously shaded to mimic where the whiskers will be laid). Some may think I'm crazy, but instead of floss, I'm going to use actual whiskers - I've been collecting them as they are shed (my 3 do a LOT of whisker shedding - who knew?!?!?). I saw someone else do this on a grey cross stitch cat design with roses around it (and once again, I can't remember who it was that did it) but it looked really neat.

Here is my Mill Hill ornament so far (looks great, right? ).

beginning of Mill Hill tassel ornament

I've finished all of the cross stitching (using 4 strands of floss on perforated paper - always fun, but not nearly as bad as perforated plastic), and now am really anticipating the beading. I love beads - always have - even made some in a previous life . And along the way I discovered beaded cross stitch, a marriage of two of my favorite worlds. Mill Hill has some really pretty designs using both the little seed beads (below, left) and bugle beads (below, right) of varying sizes.

Seed beads Bugle beads

I really love designs that combine them in unique ways and with cross stitch. I have quite a few designs I've stitched that I've never finished. Maybe I'll scan them or take photos, and ask for help to figure out what to do with them. I just love looking at them, but they're currently hidden in a box on a shelf - and that's no way to treat them, right?

Monday, December 06, 2004

Rainy Days and Mondays...

...don't always get me down. In fact, I'm feeling pretty good today. I had a fantastic weekend. My Steelers won again (and I had pretty much written them off before the 2-minute warning in the 4th quarter with as many penalties as they kept getting - beating themselves). C grilled cheeseburgers in the rain. I finished up this round on Smokey, and here is how he looks now:


My fuzzy scarf #2 is about 18 inches long now. I just love the colors. I'm finally getting into a rhythm with the whole knitting process!!!


I also worked on the quilt a bit yesterday, and I've completely quilted the first ship block now. I need to take a picture in some good light to show off the quilting.

Next up in the rotation is the Snow Leopard, but I don't know if I'll be pulling out his supplies tonight or not. I'd like to get in a little more time on that ornament and the scarf, so that may wait a day or two. No worries, though - I'll get to him soon!

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Blissful Saturday, once the errands were out of the way

It's been a wonderful day. I got up before C this morning and had my breakfast, then started my Mill Hill ornament (I've been wanting to do a new one for the tree this year for a couple of months now). I got a little bit of it cross stitched, but then C woke up and we knew we had errands to run, so I set it aside.

One of the errands was to visit Anita and choose Lucien's framing (Merry Christmas to me, Merry Christmas to me - thank you C!!!!). C stood patiently by, taking it all in. We finally decided on the frame (which was his suggestion, by the way) and triple mat, and I can't wait to see it finished. But, of course, I'll have to, because it's 2 weeks until it's ready, and it will be wrapped in paper, so I might not open it until Christmas. I think it's going to be gorgeous, and unusual compared to my normal choices.

Oh, let's see - while we had a couple of friends over last night for a few hours, I finished the fuzzy scarf (but I still have to weave in the ends), and made the decision to give it to one of my nieces for Christmas. Since it worked up so quickly, I've decided to make one for each of the other two nieces also. So that was another of our errands - get two more colors of the Lion Brand fun fur. We chose Citrus and Mango! I've already started Fuzzy Scarf #2 this afternoon while we've been watching Enterprise (we taped the 3-parter, the 3rd of which was finally shown on Friday).

Fuzzy Scarf #1 finished!

The kitties are curled up in their usual spots, Smokey acted as if he was one of the Christmas presents under the tree last night, and I've just had a bit of cocoa and thought I'd check the net a minute and add an update.

Now, because I obviously have ADD or something like it , I've put away the knitting for a bit, and pulled out Smokey to stitch on. I've not ruled out working on the quilt tonight, but more likely, I'll work on it tomorrow some.

Would love to have you over Karen! Okay, so maybe we have to do a long-distance Stitch Day, but that could work, right?

Happy Saturday!!!!

Friday, December 03, 2004

Another weekend is upon us, yay!!!

We had a fabulous evening last night with a couple of good friends we rarely get to see. Our hibachi chef / entertainer was even better this time than last time, and the food was fabulous (and plentiful) as always. The guys toasted with sake (not my choice of drink),

I had a little bit of time to stitch after we came home, while we watched Jack & Bobby from Wednesday night, so I worked a little bit more on Smokey's paw. I hope to get some good quality stitching in this weekend, on both that and the quilt. I don't have any other plans now, and I hope it stays that way. I would absolutely LOVE to have a nice, quiet weekend at home with C, the kitties, and the occasional steaming mug of hot chocolate. Sigh, life IS GOOD!!!!

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Happy Birthday!!!

Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday dear C!
Happy Birthday to you!

As for my birthday, we're planning on going to a local Japanese restaurant to celebrate tonight. A couple of friends are planning on joining us too.

I did work on Smokey last night, as intended, and I'm really pleased with how far along he is. I won't be finishing him this round of the rotation, but I think he should have a full left arm/paw by the time I'm done.

We watched Lost and The West Wing last night. Lost is getting really interesting. Now that I think about it, so is Desperate Housewives. The West Wing brought back someone I thought long gone, and all of a sudden, there is a new storyline with the character. The episode certainly kept my interest, and the teaser-scenes from next week look pretty dramatic. Of course, isn't that how teaser scenes are supposed to look? The only thing I really dislike is how they will chop up completely different scenes and then splice them together in promos to make it look as if something is going to happen, when it's not. Or when they take things completely out of context in order to make them seem very important but of course, they're not. Generally, the shows are good enough that I'm going to come back next week and watch them anyway. But for the teaser-promo producers to try to make me think someone is quitting the show or dying (when nothing of the sort is happening) in order to make sure I watch it the next week insults my intelligence and frankly, really irritates me. If the show is good enough, you don't have to stoop to that level. And if the show isn't good enough, well, you're going to have problems anyway.

Okay, I think I'll step down off the soap box I inadvertently climbed upon now. :)

Happy birthday, my sweetheart. I hope you have the best one yet!

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Let the quilting begin!

Yes, indeed, I shirked my third crochet square for November in favor of starting the hand-quilting on Scott's Ships. I think I've figured out the basics of what I want to do...


Okay, most of this you won't be able to see, because it's not all white quilt thread…
  1. The waves around the entire block are quilted in dark blue - to match the background.
  2. The X's in the gold blocks are quilted with a tan quilt thread, so they don't stand out much at all either.
  3. The boat is quilted with a thread closely matching the fabric, and all of the sails are quilted with red/maroon.
Those are the parts I did last night (well, the bottom wave anyway - I haven't done the other border waves yet).
  1. I'm thinking about quilting the waves in the water with white/off white/light blue so they stand out a little bit.
  2. I'm also thinking about putting in a cloud with white (the stitches won't be really visible, but they will add a bit of detail).
  3. And I thought I might add a hint of a bird - I'm not sure if it will show up in every block or not, we'll see as we go...


Once I get one completely done, I'll take a photo up close.

As for the wave block, this is kind of what I'm leaning towards...


Of course, the quilting lines of the waves will be blue or green, and they'll be a little neater too. The border will also continue with the waves and X's.

I've promised Smokey (Moonstruck) that he gets some attention tonight, so I'll have to put the quilt away for an evening or two.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Time

Christine asked how I find time for everything. It's funny, because I sometimes feel like I don't have enough time for everything I want to do.

C would say (in the nicest way possible, really!) that I'm a freak. I can't just "do nothing," and I'm constantly doing something, usually craft-y. Yes, I do work a full-time job. But my children are kitties, and they are much easier to take care of than human children. What amazes me are the people who have children (and those who have children and jobs outside the home) and can still stitch.

But really, I tend to be a couch potato. We watch a lot of tv - series, movies, C playing video games (which is why I have to make myself go work out at least 3 times a week - we have a pretty sedentery lifestyle). I would say that I make dinner a couple of times per week, max. C cooks some, and we go out some, and we eat a lot of easy-to-fix food, so I'm not spending a lot of time in the kitchen preparing, cooking, and cleaning up afterwards. I've learned how to make a few things in the slow cooker, and you'd be amazed how that helps.

I believe I'm also very fortunate that we have a very laid-back lifestyle. We don't entertain often, but the guys come over and hang out for game night, or occasionally I'll host a Scrabble day with girlfriends. My housekeeping skills are moderate at best (but I'm working on it a little at a time, thank you Flylady - my sink is shiny!), and C does help out with it too.

And C is my #1 cheerleader and fan. If he wasn't so enthusiastic about everything I do (okay, so he wasn't quite so enthusiastic about the furry scarf the other night, but he will be ), I probably wouldn't be as proliferate. I have found that when I am very content, I tend to enjoy my quilting, crocheting, knitting, and cross-stitching immensely, and that when I am disconsolate, perturbed, or just out-of-sorts, I don't do anything nearly as much.

So, basically, my "free time" is really FREE time for me to work on whatever I want to do. I generally have a couple of hours after work before bedtime to indulge in my crafts, and sometimes I have most of the weekend too - lots of hours there...
I now have Scott's quilt sandwiched and ready to go - I just have to figure out how I'm going to quilt it.

Oh, and I finished square #32 - this is the aligned cobble stitch:


And here is a little update on the Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt I have started to piece - it is a REALLY long-term project, so I'm just working on it when I feel like it. I don't quite have one flower finished yet, but I think what I do have done is kinda pretty. I should take a picture of some of the fabrics I plan to include. It's going to be a 1930's-fabric quilt, for me.

Monday, November 29, 2004

A yarn-y kind of day

Well, here is the second knitted dishcloth - I probably should have added several more rows to it, but I'd already made so many mistakes and frogged and re-knitted, that I just decided enough was enough.


Once I finished the dishcloth, I permitted myself to start a new knit project - one of those fuzzy scarves I've been watching everyone else knit up. I bought some new larger-but-shorter knitting needles and got some Lion Brand fun fur prints yarn (Sandstone), and cast on 15 stitches. It is probably about 14 inches long here. It feels so much softer than it looks, according to C (who thought it looked like something he might see on a bag-lady).


I also finished one crochet square for my 63-squares CAL and started a second one. Will I make my goal of finishing 3 in November??? We shall see - I have tonight and tomorrow night to try! In the meantime, here is #31, check stitch:

Square 31 - check stitch

Sunday, November 28, 2004

A quilt top is complete, too!


I've been slowly working towards getting Scott's quilt top assembled over the past couple of weeks, and I'm proud to report, I've finished that this morning!

Now I've got to wash the backing fabric and assemble it before I can sandwich it and start quilting.

I've also finished my little knitted dishcloth #2. It was not without frogging, and it is not without errors, despite the frogging, but it is finished. :) I should have a pic of it tomorrow, once it's been washed and dried.

We had a surprise yesterday afternoon - our friend Dave (who moved to Arkansas) had been in Chicago for the holidays, and he made a slight detour on his way home. We had a great visit, and now he's on his way back home.

Right now I'm watching a little football, doing some laundry, crocheting a couple of blocks on my 63 squares afghan, and I'm about to pull out Smokey (yes, I can get back to my rotation again!!!). Thanks for the wonderful comments - yes, I took a photo of Lucien instead of a scan, and the sparklies show up better, even though the quality isn't anywhere near as clear. Compromises, eh? Oh, and I think I'd better grab some leftovers for lunch, yum!

We have to return to work so soon?!?!? ;)

Saturday, November 27, 2004

And now, may I present...

Lucien, finished just this afternoon:

Lucien, finished

K.C. & the Sunshine Band: "Do a little dance, make a little love, get down tonight!"