Sunday, August 26, 2012

Finished Knit: Luscious Lace Scarf

This was supposed to be finished August 12, so I'm two weeks late as far as Olympics Knitting goes, but it's very, very pretty, so who cares?

The picture on the pattern shows a straight edge, but mine really wanted to ripple, so that's how I blocked it. And while I hate blocking and actually thought, I would pay somebody to do this, it wasn't really all that hard in the end and I'm just a lazy complainer.

The yarn is Aurora by Jill Draper Makes Stuff, a wool/silk blend. It was a peer-pressure purchase at the Squam Art Fair in June, and it's gorgeous. The two photos taken against the chair, indoors, show the color better than the one outside.

In fact, it's a little too gorgeous for me, all knit up. I don't know where or when I'd wear it, and how I'd manage not to snag it on something.

A few more details: I knit 19 repeats, and it's about 60 inches long. I used US size 5 needles and as much of the skein of yarn as I could. I have a wee itty bit left, and I meant to take a photo of how little, but I forgot. This is very simple lace, a 24-row repeat which is really two 12-row repeats, offset from each other, which accounts for the zig-zagginess. By the end of it I was comfortable knitting with spiderweb thin yarn, and I might even knit with more lace weight, at some point. You get a lot of mileage out of such thin yarn, if that's your goal. I began this while watching the Opening Ceremonies on July 27 (5 hours later than the rest of the world watched them, of course) and completed it on August 24, but there was a break there in the middle where I didn't work on it daily. Stuff happens. The knitting, lucky for us, waits patiently.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Pencil Pouches

My oldest child begins school in a week. (A week! School should not start in August in New England. Our summers are short enough! It goes against everything right and natural.) His supply list includes "A SMALL zippered 'pencil' bag for personal effects (please, no pencil 'boxes')."

Well, obviously I was sewing that. Zippers? Pouches? Yes, please.

I was looking for standard camouflage fabric, either jungle or desert, simply because he's a ten-year-old boy and likes that sort of thing even though he is the biggest pacifist I know at heart. But I couldn't find green or tan, and so settled for this blue, which my daughter said looked like clouds on the ocean. (I won't tell the boys that.) And of course I made two, because even though my younger son will be homeschooling, who doesn't like a new pencil pouch? I plan to make some out of different fabric for my daughter and myself, too.

I used 8" zippers for these. I have one I made with a 7" zipper, and that opening is just a little too short for a new, sharpened pencil. Both stores I looked in skipped from 7" to 9" zippers, so I ordered from Zipit Zippers again. Such a huge selection, and the orders come super quick.

I lined these with denim, to give it some sturdiness.

I was actually hoping to find some boy-appropriate upholstery fabric, because these pouches are sturdy without being bulky, but I couldn't. (I did, however, find a purple and green version of the same fabric those pouches are made from, so I bought a yard.) The denim lining does make it a little bulky, but a pencil isn't going to poke through it, either.

Alas, that was the only thing on his supply list I could make myself, but at least I'm sending along something handmade in his backpack. We'll just have to wait and see how it goes here with one in school and two at home.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Gifts for Nieces

Last week I made a couple of small things for my nieces, which of course couldn't be shared until I gave them to them yesterday. My oldest niece turned sixteen last week, and she'd asked for a special birthday shirt, like the one I made my daughter. Of course, I was happy to make her one!

There are some smudgy bits that I'm not happy with, but I stopped myself from pointing out each and every one to my niece. Once the first coat of paint had dried, I had to touch up a few spots, so I did, but those spots (don't know why) began to look different as they dried, so I covered the whole thing with an even coat of paint, but those touched-up spots still look different to my eye. This has never happened before with this paint, so I'm not sure what caused it or what to do differently next time. Other than that, I think it's adorable and it looked really nice on my terribly grown-up looking niece.

Since we were bringing gifts for my oldest niece and a gift for my nephew (whose birthday was last month, but I was a little late!), I thought it would be nice to bring something for the youngest in the family, a five-year-old who has to wait all the way until February for another birthday. Using her Zodiac sign of Pisces as inspiration, I painted her a rock.

Black is her favorite color, and I wanted to use silver on the black, and she also likes pink...and thus the color scheme was set.

And my husband and I received a HUGE gift of our own--we left all three of our children with my sister after the birthday party and we spent the night in Boston. From about 5 pm Saturday night until about 1 pm Sunday, we were in Boston just us, doing grown-up things. We got dressed up and went out to dinner. We had brunch and I didn't have to stop eating to cut anyone's food. (It was fairly easy to find safe places for me to eat in Boston. It is such a treat to simply go out to eat.) We talked without anybody interrupting us. We slept past 7 am. When I say we have rarely managed to date since having children, that is a huge, huge understatement. This was like a decade of dates rolled into one, and it was long past-due.

(I have the best sister, don't I?)

Monday, August 13, 2012

I Got Nothin'

So, last week? Crazy times. And not in a good way. I did not finish my Ravellenic Games lace scarf (last seen here). I was trying to do one repeat per day (64 stitches times 24 rows), and I was on pace up until three days to go, so I guess that would be Thursday. At that point I weighed what was left of the skein of yarn and realized I had enough for six repeats, and since my real goal was to finish the scarf by using all the yarn I had, I knew I wasn't going to make it. But I still thought I could finish out the Games with 17 repeats. But, like Tom Daley, I got distracted--not by the flashbulbs of adoring home-country fans, but by the way my week exploded, not in a good-busy-doing-fun-things way, but in a solo parenting-all-heck-broke-loose way. Unlike Tom Daley, I'm not going to petition for a re-do because, y'know, it's just knitting.

So anyway, I got nothing to show you, except this seagull mug shot.

He and his gang were trying to thieve our lunch at the salt pond today. I think he's a new initiate; he looks like a juvenile to me. But there you go--this week is already better than last week, because we spent the day at the beach. I would say, Geez, how could it not be? but I'm afraid to curse myself.

How about you? August treating you a little better so far--I hope?!

Monday, August 6, 2012

More Painted Rocks

Two finished:

Finished: Elephant and Ladybug
Another in progress:

In progress: Crab
They are just so fun and satisfying to make!

Saturday, August 4, 2012


This week, the one that begins with my mother's birthday on July 29 and ends with the anniversary of her death (five years this year) on August 5, has the potential for being rocky every year. I say "potential" because these things vary. Some years it's okay. Others, not so much. Sometimes bracing yourself for it just means it pops up somewhere else. I still have a lot of big, yucky feelings, understandably. To add into that, my 96-year-old grandmother was discharged last weekend from the hospital to a nursing home--the same one, actually, in which my mother died. When I visited my grandmother in the hospital I really thought, well, I thought I'd better tell her whatever I needed to tell her, and I did. Last weekend we brought the kids to see her in the nursing home--this is her third rehab stint there, all after hospital stays--and my oldest looked drawn. He remembers just enough of visiting my mother there. But we visited again on Thursday and he noticed right away how much better she seemed. She sat up and visited with us, enjoyed the kids, and she and I joked and laughed together. I felt so much better after that visit with my grandmother.

And despite the sneaking feeling that I spent a goodly part of the week lying on the couch in a heat- and inertia-fueled stupor, that's just not so (although there was some of that, too). We began the week by taking the kids to Watch Hill's Flying Horse Carousel. This was my daughter's first ride on the carousel.

While she was riding she was almost solemn. She smiled when we waved to her, but otherwise, I think she was just quietly soaking it all in. After her two rides were over and I went to help her off her horse, she didn't even say anything (unusual for this talkative girl), she just wrapped herself around me and hugged me tightly, so overcome, I think, with absolute excitement and joy. That ride was just so wonderful she was rendered speechless.

Later in the week I took the kids to the zoo, and later still, the oldest, youngest, and I painted rocks. My daughter had been asking to paint rocks again so on a hot hazy afternoon, we did. My oldest and I took our inspiration from an activity in My Art Book, which I borrowed from the library. It's based on Australian dot paintings from the Balgo Community--but really it's just taking the technique of painting dots and transferring it to rocks, not trying to reproduce the traditional paintings (which would give me pause). My son opted to paint a turtle but without the extra layers of dots; since he was painting a local turtle that already has spots, he kept his dots to the shell. I decided to paint a snake and go all out with my dots.

This was just super fun to make. And since I have acrylic varnish on the shelf (what don't I have, I wonder), I made it shiny. I want to make more--and even though we have rocks aplenty, I couldn't help but bring more home from the beach today, to become more animals, more shiny rocks, more brightly colored happy things.

Which is why I also painted this:

It's on a 6x6 gessobord, in need of a frame. It's a fragment from a favorite poem, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T. S. Eliot. (I have also embroidered this fragment on my jeans.) I was trying out some different Pages + Paint techniques here, although no collage. It's just a happy piece, created to make me happy.

In the same vein as beach rocks and mermaids, this week I received a sweet little package of sea glass and driftwood from Cameron at Paint Myself Pretty.

The bag is shiny so it's hard to get a good picture of all the goodness inside, but it's also so pretty with that sticker and all that I haven't been able to make myself tear into it yet, even carefully. I'm just enjoying looking at it the way it is. But soon I will pour the sea glass into a little bowl and put it on the table so I can just look at it and enjoy it all. Thanks, Cameron!

And I've been working on my Ravellenic Games lace:

I've been trying to do a repeat per day (64 stitches times a 24-row repeat). The pattern says it took 15 repeats to get a 60-inch scarf, but my gauge must be different, because even with stretching, I don't think that will happen. That length right there is eight repeats. So while I may meet my Olympic goal of a repeat per day, I don't think I'll be done with the scarf at that point. I want to use every bit of that skein of lace weight. It's really pretty stuff, too. Here's a close-up; unblocked, of course.

So that's been the week, pretty much. Posting may be spotty for the rest of this month; we'll see how it goes. Pages + Paint had me in the computer a bit more than I wanted to be in July, trying to contribute to the discussions on the blog, in the Flickr group, and in the private forum. I'm feeling I need to counter-balance that and step back a bit (so much so that for two days this week, the laptop was not only off, but shoved under my bed so I couldn't even see it). Summer feels like it's slipping through my fingers, and I'm not quite, not quite ready.

What good things snuck into your days this week?