Of Rats and Jen (Inactive)

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

The Following Feathers and Instructions Would Be Useful …

Filed under: Daily Life,Knitting,Spinning — folkcat at 1:00 pm on Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The rain continues on, though at a much slower rate. Rivers are beginning to subside, but not before having left lots of people with damaged homes. Rumor has it that the Souhegan River, the one passing through our town (and only a block away from our home), reached 200-year flood levels.

Gryphon went to work last night, as the waters had receded from the roads between us and them. I still cancelled craft circle, because there was just a little too much uncertainty about some of the lower roads between me and the friends who normally attend. So I stayed home, watched American Idol and Dancing With the Stars, and tried to craft.

The productivity streak was good while it lasted, but as always, all good things come to an end. I spent a lot of time yesterday trying to come up with a pattern for that red/pink/whatever yarn I spun, and didn’t have much luck.

I swatched something with acrylic yarn, and liked it a lot, but when I tried to knit it in my handspun, it looked like dreck. Then I tried a few different stitch patterns I found around the web, and they looked like dreck, too.

I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t my choice of pattern that was the problem. Maybe, I thought – just maybe, the yarn itself is dreck.

Well, in color, anyway. The problem is that the colors knit up too busy for a cable. And in anything else, they just looked dull and lifeless. I really want this yarn to look bright and inviting, and instead, it looks kinda like dirty Silly Putty ™.

I’m thinking I need to overdye it, but with what? Something to brighten it up, certainly. But do I go with a pink, to enhance the color it’s trying to be anyway? Or do I pick something else, and try to skew the color in a different direction? Yellow would make it all more orange, a nice sky blue could bring in a lot of purple shades with some hints of green. Or would the orange areas mix with the blue to make muddy brown?

I’m going to need to sit on this for a while, see what I can come up with. Meanwhile, I’m not going to sweat it – sometimes, the roving doesn’t look like you expect when it’s spun! That’s part of the learning process here.

Since crafting effectively went nowhere worth showing yesterday, I’m going to leave you with this for your amusement. Gryphon recently received a freebie pedometer from AARP (yes, he’s that old!), and the instructions are the most wonderful mishmash of Engrish we’ve seen in a while. Click through for larger, and enjoy reading!

pedometer engrish.jpg

Lest You Think I Spent Monday Bemoaning the Rain…

Filed under: Spinning — folkcat at 5:37 pm on Tuesday, April 17, 2007

…I did do some crafting. Most important, I took the yarn that I plied last Monday – my first finished wheel-spun – and I skeined and washed it.

Here’s a couple of detail shots:

Spin FO - Merino Shades of Red - Even Bits
Spin FO – Merino 2-ply, the even bits

Spin FO - Merino Shades of Red - Uneven Bits
Spin FO – Merino 2-ply, the uneven bits

As you can see, parts of the yarn came out better than others. Still, I think it will knit up nicely. I haven’t done a WPI yet, but there’s a little over 3 1/2 ounces. I did count the number of wraps on the niddy-noddy, and came up with 265 yards for my length.

The yarn is very soft, so I’m thinking a nice scarf – something I can wear next to my skin. Soft waves of reversible cables are coming to mind. I know there are a few patterns out there, and I’ve studied them a bit – I think I understand the principle enough to come up with my own approach.

Today’s Crafting

Not a clue. It’s Anything Goes Day, and I simply haven’t figured out what “Anything” is yet. Tune in tomorrow!

Soggy

Filed under: Daily Life — folkcat at 1:55 pm on Tuesday, April 17, 2007

What can possibly push news of 33 people dying in a shooting at a VA college to a fractional corner of the newspaper’s front page?

How about the fact that all over New Hampshire, we’re either evacuating our flooded homes, or watching the rivers rise and wondering when we’ll have to evacuate, too?

This is pretty major, folks. Roads are closed all over the place due to the effects of the rain. While some have re-opened today, many won’t open for a while because the roads are either completely blocked (as in the case of a mudslide that blocked all lanes of Route 101 with dirt and trees), or are washed out and simply no longer there.

Gryphon got a call from his company early yesterday afternoon – the major roads leading to the plant were under four feet of water in some places, so they weren’t going to open for the day. How could they? They couldn’t safely get to the building to open the doors!

We’re still safe here in downtown Wilton, though I’m really glad our apartment is up a little hill from the river. Even so, we’ve seen issues on our street. The most alarming sign of just how much water we’ve had was this photo that appeared on the front page of the Nashua Telegraph this morning:

town hall trout.jpg
Rainbow Trout Behind Town Hall, Wilton, NH

You’d think this came from the closest river, right? Except, no – this is on the uphill side of Wilton’s Town Hall, opposite the side of the building that faces Main Street and the Souhegan River. If the river rose this far, we’d have had to evacuate all of downtown Wilton – even our apartment is located lower than this point.

No, the fish had to come from uphill somewhere. Not only that, it had to be washed down a massive distance through residential neighborhoods, past schools, and down driveways.

Just for fun, I thought I’d look in Google Earth to see where the unlucky trout came from. Here’s what I found.

fish map wilton.jpg
Google Earth Map of the Closest Possible Source for the Wilton Town Hall Trout. Click for larger. Marker at bottom left is where fish was found; Marker on pond at top right is the likely source.

Can you imagine that big a gulley-washer of run off, cutting through neighborhoods where there was no path for it? Not only that, but large enough to carry a trophy-sized rainbow trout with it? Mind-boggling!

Things are beginning to clear up today. The roads that blocked Gryphon from going to work yesterday are clear today, and he called in to the building and actual people answered. So he’ll go to work tonight. I’ve cancelled the weekly craft circle, though – there are still too many roads connecting my town with those that my friends come from that are under water.

Then, of course, there’s the forecast. We’re looking at rain, sleet, and snow today, and more rain both Wednesday and Thursday. Will it worsen the flooding before it gets much better?

The nice thing about being a multi-crafter – I’ve got plenty to keep me occupied while I sit at home, nice and dry! I have to admit, though – I watered the houseplants this morning, and bizarrely, it felt silly to do so with all the rain that’s happened outside. I know, I know – the water outside can’t possibly have anything to do with whether houseplants are dry or not. But when you’ve been hearing rain, water runoff from your roof, and massive numbers of car tires on wet pavement for over 48 hours, you can’t help but feel a little waterlogged!

So, there you are – the news from Lake Wilton. Where all the people are soaked, the roads are rivers, and the trout are blocking traffic!

Weekend Wrap Up

Filed under: Crafting Miscellany,Knitting,Sewing,Shopping Adventures,Stitchery — folkcat at 12:11 pm on Monday, April 16, 2007

My productive streak continued through the weekend. Let’s see if I can remember everything!

First off, a friend and I went out to visit a Local Quilt Shop on Friday for their Friday the 13th sale. The big draw is bundles of 13 fat quarters for $13.

I’d been to a previous Friday the 13th sale entirely by accident, and picked up this stack of retro print fat quarters then:

Fabric - 13 Retro Prints

I’ve taken a notion that I want to make a hexagon quilt, some variation on Grandmother’s Flower Garden, and these fabrics would be perfect. So I went up to the sale Friday hoping to find another stack of the retro prints.

As luck would have it, there was exactly one left on the sale table by the time I got there. I pounced, and it was mine!

Fabric - More Retro Prints

Best of all, there are only three fabrics in the new stack that duplicate fabrics from the old stack. So I have 23 different fabrics here. What fun!

Anya and I kept going after that shop, and visited another quilt shop where I found these friendly-looking cats in the clearance corner:

Goofy Cat Fabric
Psycho Kitties?

Of course, they had to come home with me. No idea what they’ll wind up in, but how could I resist those faces? I bought a yard on Friday, and then when I went into the same shop again Saturday, I bought another yard. (I’ll probably do that every time I visit there, so long as the fabric is still present in the clearance corner.)

Here’s the info about the fabric as found on the selvedge, if you want to try to track it down yourself. Click the picture for a larger image if you need it.

Goofy Cat Fabric, Selvedge Info

While out at quilt shops, I had a chance to show my first quilt squares from last week to an expert or two. Turns out that what I thought was a cutting error that made one piece of each square a little too long, was actually a sewing error. I’m still practicing, folks, and apparently I haven’t nailed the art of the quarter-inch seam yet. All my seams came out just a hair larger than the magic quarter-inch, and though there weren’t that many seams in any given square, the cumulative effect was enough to make that last piece appear too long.

Not to worry – the squares I made will get trimmed, and sewn into a pillow. That sounded like a better idea than picking apart the seams and trying again! When I went back to the quilt shop on Saturday, I bought quarters of the same fabrics again so I can start fresh for the wall hanging I’m working on. And I’ll have a pillow to match!

Enough About the Shopping – How About the Crafting?

Managed to do pretty well there, too. Both Gryphon and I put in a lot of work on the PixelHobby tiles. Four baseplates are now complete, with two more well over halfway done. The entire picture contains twelve baseplates, so we’re approaching the halfway point on the project as a whole.

Having decided that the weekend might offer better, focusable time for needlework, I put in the latest Netflix disc (Veronica Mars, Season 1, Disc 4), and pulled out the miniature knotted rug. At last, the border on that central medallion with the mice is complete!

Needlework In Progress (NIP) Kitty Corner Knotted Rug, Medallion Complete

The next step is to stitch the vines that border the stone pathways radiating out from the center.

I’m beginning to think that there are “Bad Thread Days” in needlework. The previous two times I’d tried to work on this stitching, the thread seemed to misbehave badly, snagging, popping the French knots through the fabric when it shouldn’t, etc. This time, everything was smooth and easy. Humidity? Stitching Goddess? Who knows?

Later Sunday, after my fingers were worn out from tiny embroidery needles and pixelating, I picked up Gryphon’s latest sock and got back to work. The heel was finished in good time, and I began working up the leg. Home stretch, folks, and then I get to do it again!

WIP - Gryphon's Socks, P2, S1, Into the Leg

Into Today

Monday is Spinning Day, and I think the yarn I plied last Monday has sat on the bobbin long enough. I’ll be skeining that up and giving it a wash today. Then I think, rather than start a new project on the wheel, I’ll put some time in on one of the several unfinished yarns I’ve got on spindles.

I hope you all stayed warm and dry yesterday. Gryphon and I planned well, and were able to stay inside crafting and relaxing. Of course, the Weather Channel is predicting various combinations of rain and snow for nearly every day this week. Yuck! Did we use up all of spring in January, do you think, or is it going to wait until it’s officially summer to make an appearance?

Knit One, Purl Two, Rip Gazillion, Try Again

Filed under: Daily Life,Knitting,Papercraft — folkcat at 12:11 pm on Friday, April 13, 2007

Yeah, I made knitting progress yesterday, on Knitting Day. I shudder to think about how much progress I could have made, though.

I did four more repeats on the edging to my eternal Carnival Glass Shawl. I never believed all those bloggers who talked about edging hell, endless edgings, etc., until I started knitting one of my own. Maybe it’s the turning the work so often. Maybe it’s such a simple pattern repeat, with no variation. Whatever it is, it seems an interminable amount of work to produce the knitted on edging to this shawl.

Still, progress was made, and will continue each time I work on it. At this rate, I’ll have the FO to show you in a few years.

Better progress was made on Gryphon’s latest sock – Sock One, Pair Two. I picked it up last night about an inch short of doing the short row heel. Made it as far as knitting most of the heel, including working back through the short rows on the far side of the heel.

That’s when disaster struck. A slip of a needle caused some wrapped stitches, along with their markers, to drop, and I wasn’t able to pick them up adequately. Heck, I couldn’t even find where they were, as they seemed to have vanished into the edge of the knitting.

There was nothing for it but to yank out the entire heel and begin over. Which, muttering under my breath, I did.

By the time Gryphon got home after midnight, I had not yet knit as far as I’d gotten the heel before, but I’d made it most of the way there.

WIP - Sock One, Pair Two for Gryphon, Turning the Heel

So there it sits on my untidy desk, with the heel about 2/3 done. Progress, yes, but if the heel hadn’t failed me the first time, I’d be at least an inch up the leg now.

Foo.

Today, it’s P-Day. I think I’ll pick out a Papercraft project to cut out…I’ll let you know which one on Monday.

Which reminds me – we’re expecting another nasty storm on Sunday and Monday. Another nasty WINTER storm. Apparently, the Boston Marathon may be cancelled if the weather is bad enough. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Me, I wish Mother Nature would get a new battery for her Palm and get back on schedule. No offense, Ma, but you’re dropping the ball a bit these days.

Ich Bin Ein Quilter

Filed under: Daily Life,Sewing — folkcat at 11:50 am on Thursday, April 12, 2007

The mojo seems to be working, but I don’t want to dwell on that too much – mojo is easily scared away. But yesterday, I continued my productive streak.

I exercised. I worked on book stuff. And I made four – yes, four – quilt squares.

QIP - Bento Box, Squares 1-4
Quilt In Progress (QIP) – Bento Box, Squares One – Four

The cutting and sewing instructions for this pattern are very fat quarter friendly. They guide you through cutting strips, sewing some of them together, cutting the sewn strips down, and then tell you exactly what order to sew the resulting pieces in and which way to press the seams.

Follow the instructions with a pair of fat quarters, and you get the four squares you see above. Plus, you have enough fabric left over to do it again, so you can actually get two sets of these from each pair of fat quarters.

Before I do that, though, next Wednesday I’ll move on to a different pair of fat quarters. I could assemble the quilt with sets of four matching squares arranged like in the photo, but the best ones I’ve seen mix the fabrics up a lot more. I look forward to having all my combinations made up. Then I can play with layouts to see where I want to put all the squares.

Having actually sat down and pieced four quilt squares was a threshold event for me. Before, I didn’t consider myself a quilter. Now, I do. I actually experienced a near panic attack Wednesday afternoon as I faced the concept of getting out the ironing board and iron, setting up the cutting mat, and prepping the sewing machine.

I was preparing to try something very new, and was afraid of complete and utter failure. And taking up quilting signifies a major change in my self-image. I’ve always defined myself as a crafter who would do just about anything except quilting.

Thankfully, I powered through the panic and did it anyway. And I’m pleased with the results. Guess I blew that old self image out of the water, huh?

I think my cutting skills need a little work, and perhaps I need some enhancements to my meager collection of rotary cutting rulers. One set of pieces came out just a skoosh longer than they should have, but they’re easily within the range of a small cutting error, or inaccurate use of the rulers. All the rest of the parts fit together just as they should, and the tiny excess in the one piece will be easily trimmed away.

So now, I am a quilter. What else don’t I know about myself?

Tonight

The weather is confusing today. So far, just rain, but they keep saying we’re going to get mixed rain and snow accumulating up to a few inches. It’s Panera night, and I’ve been trying to figure out if I’m going to brave the weather and have to drive home on sloppy, slippery roads, or stay home and watch as it does nothing but rain more.

I think we’re going to err on the side of going out, and just taking it very slowly and carefully if it turns sloppy. Keep your fingers crossed, and send good, warm thoughts our way!

Tuesday is Needlework Day – Unless It Isn’t

Filed under: Crafting Miscellany,Daily Life,Sewing,Stitchery — folkcat at 1:25 pm on Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Because, you know…it just doesn’t seem to be working out.

I thought that needlework would be doable for Tuesdays, but in reality, I just can’t seem to get there. When I sit down to do embroidery, needlepoint, cross stitch, it takes a certain amount of time to set up, and you want to be able to work uninterrupted for a good while before having to set things aside.

Tuesdays are Craft Goddess day. My friends come into my home to sit and craft for a few hours in the evening. In fact, I go out to pick one up and bring her back. Which means that there’s always a change of activity to anticipate within an hour or so of starting anything on a Tuesday.

I’m going to shift things around, then. The way things are currently set up, Monday and Wednesday are already filled with crafts that require the same sort of attention as the needlework – spinning and quilting. Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday all involve outings or gatherings of some sort, and aren’t conducive to needlework. Weekends have been considered “Anything Goes,” but there’s no reason I can’t put a Needlework Day on either Saturday or Sunday.

The new concept, then, is to have Tuesday as an Anything Goes day. I can pick up whatever craft is easy to do while chatting with friends. On the weekends, when it’s just Gryphon and me, I can work in needlework activities among the other things we do quite easily.

The failure of yesterday as a Needlework Day means I have nothing to show you today. I did a fair bit of work on book stuff, but it looks a lot like the last photo of that which I shared.

Wednesday is Quilting Day

I actually got enough cleaning and organizing done on Monday that I think I’ll be able to do this, too. The card table is ready for the cutting mat to be laid out, the sewing machine is up and loaded with the correct needle. Wish me luck!

Bob, Bob, Bobbin’ Along – Ow!

Filed under: Crafting Miscellany,Daily Life,Spinning — folkcat at 12:48 pm on Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Boy, am I aching today. Though not as bad as I might have feared.

Before I get to that, though, here’s the picture of the PixelHobby progress that I had wanted to share yesterday. If you really want to see the detail, click on it for a larger image.

Pixels In Progress - Baseplates 1 - 3 of 12

This is, from left to right, Baseplates 1, 2, and 3. It’s the top row of the final image, along with Baseplate 4, which will go to the right. These three tiles together measure 4 inches high, and 15 inches wide. In the final assembly, there will be no visible seams – I placed them with a little gap so you could tell the baseplates apart. There’s a little flare in Baseplate 2 because it’s not actually complete, so the glossy, transparent baseplate is reflecting the camera flash.

As for that aching – I actually got out the weights and the book I talked about yesterday, and did a full set of the exercises – six exercises, two sets of eight repeats for each. It felt good, at the same time that my arms and everything else was hurting a little at the end. But a good hurt, you know?

Spinning & Lifting

As you can see between the weights, I also fulfilled the promise of Monday is Spinning Day, and finished my first plied, wheel-spun yarn. This is a mixed red, orange, pink, and cream merino roving that I’ve been working on for far too long, totalling about 4 ounces. It’s now a variable weight 2-ply. Next step will be to wind it off onto a niddy-noddy, give it a good bath, and do a WPI check to see what I really have here.

Spinning FO, detail

It looks a bit sloppy here – I’m still getting the hang of how often to move the sliding guide down the flyer to evenly distribute the yarn on the bobbin.

No idea what I’ll knit with this yet, but at 4 ounces, there’s enough to make something measurable. Hat, scarf, who knows? I’m sure the right thing will suggest itself as I finish it off into a nice skein.

The spinning was another factor contributing to today’s general achiness. This was my longest wheel session ever – over two hours, with minor breaks. I finished the last half ounce of the singles, then decided that, since everything was right there, I might as well go ahead with the plying. So I did, and I kept going until it was done.

So at the end of the day – and getting out of bed this morning – yeah, I hurt. My legs and arms know that I worked yesterday. But I’m very pleased, because yesterday was perhaps the best example of how this new approach of mine – assigning different craft categories to different days – can work for me. I got a lot done on a craft that’s been neglected, and have a nearly finished yarn to show for it.

Yay, me!

Today, Tuesday, I get to be a bit more still. It’s Needlework Day, meaning embroidery, needlepoint, etc. Good thing – I need a day of rest before I repeat my strength exercises tomorrow, and spend Wednesday running around the house cutting fabric and sewing up some quilt!

Out of Sight, etc…

Filed under: Crafting Miscellany,Daily Life,Knitting — folkcat at 12:38 pm on Monday, April 9, 2007

I sometimes think I must literally be out of my mind. How can something drop out of my routine so completely that I forget I ever did it, just because the equipment is in a different room?

My exercise routine used to involve alternating days of:

The strength exercises were easy to do, and made a distinct difference in my fitness level. But sometime in October last year, I stopped doing them altogether. Only recently have I remembered about them.

What made them go away? Nothing more than the living room/bedroom swap we did in October. Who knew that the simple act of leaving the weights and the book with the exercises in what became the bedroom would make them completely vanish? It’s almost as if they became cloaked by a Somebody Else’s Problem Field, only they didn’t become somebody else’s problem. I think, instead, it was the related-but-not-quite Out of Sight, Out of Mind Field. (No Wiki link for that, I just made it up now.)

I’m not sure what brought them to my mind again, but I went to the bedroom this morning and retrieved the weights and book, and have brought them into the new living room. Now, I just have to find space for the more stable, but not foldable, chair that I prefer to use for these exercises, and I’ll be back in business.

Crafting?

Crafting this weekend didn’t involve any knitting. I had a pre-migraine type of weekend – the sort where you get some of the warning signs, but never quite get the migraine – which left me a bit off balance. Since the Current Sock is within an inch of having the heel turned, it has temporarily moved out of the realm of mindless knitting.

What I did accomplish was in the category of Perler Bead sorting. Half of an entire 22,000 bead jar has now been sorted into 8-oz. deli containers. Only half, because I was only picking out half of the colors on this go ’round. That’s how many color containers I could, in two stacks, fit conveniently on my little Tablemate in front of my armchair, The remaining beads have been set aside for separate processing into the other half of the containers.

Gryphon and I worked some more on the PixelHobby picture on Sunday. I’d show you a picture, but my current set of rechargeable batteries is on their last legs, and didn’t last long enough for me to get the shot. I’m going to have to buy some replacement sets this week.

What’s Up This Week?

Hopefully, I’ll be able to report on starting the weight training exercises again. I want to get the heel turned on the sock, and I want to spin the rest of that fiber I’ve got on the wheel. I’d like to finish the border on that central medallion on the miniature knotted rug, and maybe at least begin laying out and cutting the pieces for my Bento Box quilted wallhanging.

Feel free to start laying bets about which items, or how many, will actually happen. I’m keeping optimistic about it, I think there’s a chance I might get to all of them! Now, if I can just do it all with my fingers crossed…

Oh, yeah…we’re also in Spin The Wheel mode with regards to our upstairs neighbors. The folks with the little girl suddenly moved out this weekend. So we’re waiting to see what the Wheel of Neighbors decides to spin up for us next. If you can, send out good thoughts to the Wheel that we get quiet folks without children this time, okay? Not that there’s anything wrong with children, they just don’t seem to be able to live in the apartment above us without being noisy beyond belief.

Good, Bad, & Ugly

Filed under: Crafting Miscellany,Daily Life,Knitting — folkcat at 12:43 pm on Friday, April 6, 2007

Any good idea is worth stealing, right? So here’s my own version of Good, Bad, and Ugly for today.

Good:

WIP: Gryphon's Socks, Pair Two, Sock One

I’m within an inch or so of turning the heel on the first sock of Gryphon’s second pair. As much as half of this was knit last night at Panera.

Bad:

No pictures of the mystery knitting project yet! They were to be given out last night, but several of our knitters didn’t make it due to nasty colds. So the rest will be given next week. Because there are still blog readers on the recipient list who haven’t gotten theirs yet, I can’t post them until then!

Ugly:

Nasty cough this morning. I frequently have some coughing in the morning as the nighttime accumulation of crud clears. Some mornings are worse than others. Today was one of them.

I’m fine now, but the extra coughing can leave me a bit tired.

Good:

I should finish the next sample piece for the book today, and possibly start stringing for the final version of the project. And no, I won’t be more specific than that.

Since it’s P-Day (Perler, PixelHobby, Polymer Clay, & Papercraft), I’ll probably also spend a satisfying session continuing the Perler Bead sorting.

Bad:

My friend Bea who usually comes over on Friday nights to watch television is one of the knitters who was home sick last night, and she won’t be coming for our TV night, either. So I’ll watch TV alone tonight and send healing thoughts her way. Get well soon, Bea!

Not So Ugly:

It’s Friday. How ugly could that be? I hope you all enjoy your weekend as much as I plan to enjoy mine!

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