3 Ties Down …. 6 to Go

I finished my 3rd tie to the Christmas Tree Skirt last night.

I have one more tie to make out of this hand spun yarn and then 5 more white ties. The goal is to finish it by August – well in advance of Christmas. In order to make sure I don’t fall off the wagon, I have made myself a strict schedule. One tie must be completed each month; no excuses.

This schedule thing is working well right now. The best laid plans always do start out with a fine flourish. I just hope I can keep this going in the middle of summer when it’s hot and the last thing I want to work with is wool.

Well, I’m going to try not to think about that now. It’s still winter and hopes are high.


My First Zoe Paper Birthday Card

I cleared off my sewing table last night, relocating my sewing machine to the floor, so I could roll out my new ice cream wrapping paper. I cut out two small sections from the paper to play with. Coupled with my huge stack of cardstock paper (recently purchased with the gift cards I received for Christmas), I made my first birthday card.

I am pretty pleased with how it came out.

I only made one because the Transformer fabric was calling my name. It informed me that there are only 3 more weeks till Easter. My sister has requested pillow cases for each of the children. I plan to make them reversible, so in a year when they hate the Transformers, I won’t get a call for more pillowcases. It’s a brilliant plan … I hope.

A Sunday Stroll in Brooklyn

Thanks to our first real snow storm on Friday, I spent most of the day relaxing and knitting. Poor Jake didn’t even get his morning walk. Surprisingly, he wasn’t upset at all. Rolling, sliding and romping in four inches of freshly fallen snow is just as good – maybe better.

The relaxation did me good. Not only did I made good progress on my 3rd tie, but I was finally able to kick the cold I had and enjoy a weekend out on the town. Saturday was spent celebrating my godson’s 3rd birthday. I’m sorry to say that Dan and I are lousy godparents. We didn’t take one picture while we were there. Hopefully, his mother will share the 5 million pictures she took soon.
Then, on Sunday, Dan and I spent the day in Brooklyn with my SIL. More accurately, we spent over seven hours traveling to and fro Brooklyn and about the same amount of time in Brooklyn, but who’s counting?

Once we arrived, we got to check out my SIL’s studio apartment. It’s small, but the huge bay window overlooking Brooklyn and the large kitchen off the main room more than make up for the lack of space. Afterwards, we had lunch. Well, they had lunch; I had blueberry pancakes made the correct way with the blueberries mixed into the batter and cooked together. Any other way is just plain wrong. Then, we strolled the streets of Brooklyn, making our way towards The Brazen Head. The Brazen Head was hosting their tri-annual real ale festival. (Real ale to a Brit is a cask conditioned ale to an American.) My SIL has learned how to woo us into agreeing to a 7 hour round trip to visit her: good beer. It works almost every time.

I asked before we headed out if we could shop along the way. Dan insisted that we keep the prize (good beer) in mind and not dally too long. I was persuaded by his gentle nudging until we came across a little store named Zoes Papers filled with beautiful papers, cards, stationery, and pens. No way was I passing this store up. My SIL and I both came away with goody bags.

It’s supposed to be wrapping paper. The clerk and I decided that it was absurd to use such pretty paper to wrap a present only to have it torn and ripped into shreds in a matter of seconds. Instead, I plan to make birthday cards out of it.

I spent the rest of the night showing off my pretty paper to Dan.

Jake Loves his new Etsy Purchase

Jake & I went shopping on Etsy last week. Can you tell what’s different about him?

He’s not helping much, I know. I took these pictures directly after Dan had called for dessert. Jake wasn’t breaking his perfect Sit or his attentive monitoring for anything. Chicken strips are tasty.

Here’s a better pic.

It’s the blue ID tag. His old brass tag was getting tarnished. I suggested that we simply polish it. Jake vetoed that idea. Varnish smells bad. He wasn’t about to have some smelly thing dangling from his neck all day. He already has to endure ear drops once a week; that’s bad enough. Besides, he needed a tag to match his handsome blue collar.

We received it in the mail yesterday and made the swap immediately. Jake wasn’t so sure at first and then he shook his head. It made such a lovely sound against his other two tags!

Oh, boy, oh, boy! He spent the rest of the hour jingling his tags at every opportunity.

When Dan came home from work an hour later, Jake tried to show off his new tag. Dan didn’t seem to notice. Jake was undeterred and kept bouncing around him. With a few hints from me, Dan finally figured it out.

By the way, Jake wanted me to inform you that he did get his chicken strip for dessert while we ate our inferior cheesecake. mmmm, chicken strips.

A Long Walk to the Frog Pond

I feel the time has finally come for me to frog the sweater jacket I made 6 years ago. It never looked right on me. It was never long enough. Rather, it was too long in the front and not long enough in the back. Two of me could have fit in it. The cables were way too big for my frame. I’m only 5 feet tall (let me convert that for the rest of the world – 152 cm). Each cable repeat measured 3 inches (7.6 cm), 5% of my height.

Do you see the size of those sleeves? They measure 18 inches (45.7 cm) wide!

It has taken me 6 years to frog a sweater jacket that did nothing but sit in storage all those years because it is more than just a jacket. It was my crowning achievement to the early knitting years. I was proud as a peacock that I knit something so large and so beautiful. I can also tell you exactly where I was when I was knitting it: in Tennessee attending Dan’s grandparent’s 50th anniversary. I was sitting in a glider chair in Dan’s Uncle Scott’s house on picture day, the day we all lined up outside to take pictures of the whole family together. I was younger. Dan and I had only been married for approx 2 years. I was still uneasy around his family – his father’s side of the family to be specific. I can’t ever remember being uneasy around his mother’s side.

There is a big difference between Dan’s mother’s side and Dan’s father’s side. His mother’s side welcomed me into the family with open arms. I felt loved, totally comfortable, and an integral part of the family within a month. Only now do I feel like I am a part of Dan’s father’s side of the family. I truly enjoy spending time with his father and fam where before I dreaded going down to TN or over to his father’s house. Partly because time has worked its magic, but mostly it is due to the fact that I no longer the anxious, wanting-their-approval, naive girl. OK, I’m still a bit naive, but I’m ten times more confident and have no need for anybody’s approval.

My marriage with Dan has blossomed over the years. My sister now loves to tell me that we’re old married people. Part of her teasing comes from the fact that her marriage isn’t as strong or as happy. It pains me. Long have I wished for her to have the happiness I have known.

So, this sweater is a testament to our marriage. It is a gauge of how much I have grown into a woman. It is still a crowning achievement of my FOs.

My mind is made up though. I am frogging it. I plan to make it into the sweater jacket I have always wanted it to be.

Visit from my MIL and other updates

No, she didn’t pop in unannounced over the weekend. She lives in Maine. It’s virtually impossible for her to pop in for a visit to her son’s house in Pennsylvania without making some advanced planning. It’s a good thing too; I don’t think I would have been good company yesterday. I was under the weather and still don’t feel 100% today.

Alright, I’m going to get to the point here. …. My MIL has been visiting my blog.

I’m tickled pink that she has been stopping by and sneaking a peak into my knitting WIPs and ramblings. Yet, all of a sudden, I have a desire to run around and clean everything. Except, this is a blog. There are no closets to shove things into. So, instead I have been fretting. I keep thinking that I said something awful about her son lately. I haven’t, have I?

OK. I went back and read a few posts and couldn’t find anything negative written about Dan. I feel better.

So, let me tell you what I am knitting now that the Ode to Quilting afghan is completed. I have started knitting the 3rd tie in my Christmas Tree Skirt. If you remember, I made myself a schedule to knit one tie each month until all 9 ties were finished and sewn together. Since one project is never enough, I am also knitting on my mystery project. Why is it a mystery? Well, I would like to submit it to a magazine once completed. Rules state that you can’t post pictures anywhere prior to the publication.

Other bits of good news, yesterday I received my prize from EtsyGreetings. They were running several contests as a way to celebrate their 1st blog-versary. I won the 7th contest.

I received 8 cards and a stack of business cards of other EtsyGreeting card sellers. My favorite card is the one in front, a Christmas card by BBesigns. The snowman is painted in water colors and then adhered to a stack of homemade papers.

Other contest news: I won’t know if I won the Lion Brand Yarn Slideshow Contest until February 27th. Thank you to everyone who stopped by! I truly appreciate it.

Ode to Quilting Afghan

I finished the last seam this afternoon. I think I let out a hoot. Jake was excited for me until he realized that we weren’t going outside to play and I didn’t have any treats for him.

Since I finished this afghan before the deadline to enter Lion Brand Yarn Slideshow Contest, I entered it. Vote for me! There are 400+ entries already, so I have no illusions of winning. Yet, this contest provided good motivation to complete the afghan early. Now I can take 6 zillion pictures before I have to mail it off early next month. It’s headed to the International Fiber Collaborative.

Although, I had originally planned to add a border around the whole afghan, I hesitate to add one now. I think it would detract from the blocks. What do you think?

On a side note, I can now boldly proclaim that I am a Master of Seaming. This project has taught me much about seaming.

As mentioned to both Knitsy Bitsy Spider and Mr. Puffy, I plan to compile all 9 block patterns into one downloadable PDF pattern. Please don’t expect to find it listed on my blog by tomorrow morning. It is going to take me some time to compile everything together. Additionally, I will be adding schematics, charts, and a seaming tutorial. Hopefully, I can pass some of my tips to you before you attempt to seam the blocks together.

One of my tips will be to not wait until the end to seam everything together. Jumping off a bridge will seem like a better idea. Ditto for weaving in your ends; the back side should Not look like a shag carpet.

OK, I’m going to shut up now and let the pictures say the rest.

The Front

The Back

Want more pictures? You can find the whole pictorial story from beginning to end in my Flickr album.

Scarf Applique Block, 9th and Last in Ode to Quilting Series

Although I said I would post this pattern yesterday, I didn’t. I have a good excuse though. Yesterday was my 8th anniversary. Dan and I were supposed to go out for dinner to one of our favorite restaurants, Spinnerstown Hotel. The weather had other plans for us. It insisted that we stay home.

So, we did. We had spaghetti and meatballs for dinner while watching a baseball documentary. Then, we toasted with a glass of port and played Parcheesi. It was a fun and relaxing evening.

Pattern for Scarf Applique Block

Recommended Knitting skill level: Easy

Yarn: Lion’s Wool by Lion Brand or substitute any wool yarn from your stash that meets the below gauge specifications.
1. Color A = Ebony, 1 skein
2. Color B = Scarlet, 1 skein
3. Color C = Winter White, 1 skein
4. Color D = Pumpkin, 1 skein
5. Color E = Purple, 1 skein
6. Color F = Goldenrod, 1 skein

Needles: Lion’s Wool recommends size 8 (I used size 5)

Materials: Large blunt sewing needle and safety pins

Gauge: 3.75 stitches and 7 rows is 1 inch/2.5 cm in Garter Stitch.
4 stitches and 6 rows is 1 inch/2.5 cm in Stocking Stitch.

Garter Stitch Pattern: Knit all stitches.

Stocking Stitch Pattern: Knit all the stitches on the right side of the work; Purl all the stitches on the wrong side of the work.

Knitting Instructions:
In Color A, cast on 34 stitches.
Knit in Stocking Stitch until piece measures 8 inches.
Bind off all stitches.

In Color B, cast on 32 stitches.
Knit in Garter Stitch for 14 rows or until piece measures 2 inches.
Bind off.
Repeat these instructions, making two long rectangles.

In Color B, cast on 10 stitches.
Knit in Garter Stitch until piece measures 12 inches.
Bind off.
Repeat these instructions, making two tall rectangles.

Finishing Instructions, Part 1:
Take one Color B Long rectangle and place it directly underneath the bottom edge of the Color A square. Line up the edges. Make sure both pieces are facing up. Secure in place with safety pins. Seam together.

Take the second Color B Long rectangle and place it directly above the top edge of the Color A square. Line up the edges. Secure in place. Seam together.

Take one Color B Tall rectangle and place it directly next to the right sided edge of the Color A square. Line up the edges with the top and bottom of Color B long rectangles. Secure in place. Seam together.

Take the last Color B Tall rectangle and place it on the left sided edge of the Color A square. Repeat the above instructions.

Weave in all seams.

Scarf Instructions:
With Color C, cast on 6 stitches.
Knit in Garter Stitch with Color C for 16 rows.
Then, join in a ball of Color D. Work 4 rows in Garter Stitch.
Then, join in a ball of Color E. Work 4 rows in Garter Stitch.
Then, join in a ball of Color F. Work 4 rows in Garter Stitch.
Then, join in a ball of Color B. Work 4 rows in Garter Stitch.
Then, join in a new ball of Color C. Work 16 rows in Garter Stitch.
Repeat the last 5 rows of instructions once more.

Then, join in a ball of Color B. Work 4 rows in Garter Stitch.
Then, join in a ball of Color F. Work 4 rows in Garter Stitch.
Then, join in a ball of Color E. Work 4 rows in Garter Stitch.
Then, join in a ball of Color D. Work 4 rows in Garter Stitch.
Then, join in a new ball of Color C. Work 16 rows in Garter Stitch.
Repeat the last 5 rows of instructions once more.
Bind off all stitches.
Weave in all ends.
If desired, add fringe to the bottom of scarf.

Finishing Instructions, Part 2:
Position the scarf to your liking inside the Color A square. Secure in place with safety pins.

Hand tack the scarf down only in the Color C sections. Using a running stitch, tack down all four sides down of each Color C section.

Pull the ends of the Color C yarn to the back of the block.

Weave in all ends.

What is Wrong with this Picture?

Can you find my mistake?

Even with the dark light (the weather consisted of cloudy skies, snow squalls and howling winds), I think my mistake is fairly obvious.

You see it, don’t you? At first, I thought I could leave it. Surely, nobody would notice. Who looks at a scarf to see if the pattern is the same on both sides? Then it occurred to me. I do that.

I never thought to invert the striped pattern at the halfway point. I was too busy patting my own back, giddy that the block was knitting up so quickly. What did the Yarn Harlot always quote in her first book? Pride goeth before a fall? Yes, that was it. Apparently, someone should sell those t-shirts.

Now that I am officially more humble than a week ago, allow me to present to you my final Ode to Quilting block.

Scarf Applique Block

I won’t tell you that I was so darn proud with the way this final block came out, because I am determined to stay humble. I will tell you that the free pattern will be published in tomorrow’s post.

After finishing this block, I pulled out the other 8 blocks and laid them on my dining room table. I shuffled and reshuffled the blocks. This was the final resting point for them.

What do you think?

Knitting it Again

My last Ode to Quilting block:

It looks an awful lot like Jake, doesn’t it? Well, I thought I could fool you with his cuteness. It always works on me.

I made a stupid error while knitting the last block and didn’t notice it until I was piecing everything together. So, now I have to knit it over again. Since I wanted the block to be a surprise, I’m not even showing you a picture of my mistake. I’ll let you see Monday of next week what I did wrong. Dan noticed my error right away. I didn’t notice it until I had worked on it for over 2 days. I think I had my “I’m almost Finished” glasses on. They never see any errors.

Since Jake is now my Guest of Honor on the blog today, let me share with you his new trick that he learned. The past two times that Dan and I have poured ourselves a beer after dinner, I gave Jake a treat, thinking we’ll all have a treat. Yesterday, when we were pouring beers, Jake sat right in front of my feet, tail wagging, waiting for his treat. I laughed, patted him on the head and promptly went and got him his treat. Does that mean I trained him or he has trained me?