crafts · knitting · Uncategorized

Another WIP off the List: Socks

I had hoped to have my Lemon Pepper Lap Quilt finished to share this weekend, but the quilting is taking WAY longer than I had planned. Hubby and I made it through the audiobook A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny (We’re working our way through the Inspector Gamache series), all 10 hours and 50ish minutes of it while I quilted and he worked, and I’m still not finished with the quilting. I see another entire audiobook in our future before I’ve sewn the last stitch.

Meanwhile, I did knock another unfinished object off my lengthy list. The goal for the year was to finish up three projects (before starting anything new…although where’s the fun in that?), and I’ve now completed two.

Behold…the socks that took at least a year:

Not only did these socks take at least a year for me to finish, but they weren’t even supposed to be one of my projects.

Several years ago…probably at least ten…my daughter and I bought yarn to knit socks. I picked a black and orange and pink and numerous other colors variegated yarn for mine. She picked a blue and brown yarn. After several years (YEARS!) I finally finished my pair.

It took years because I was terrified to do the whole “Turning the heel” bit because our local “Knitting Lady” had passed away and I felt like a YouTube video couldn’t possibly compare to live instruction. Thankfully, YouTube did not fail me, as I haven’t found a replacement Knitting Lady to pick out my mishaps and pick up my dropped stitches. (I can actually pick up my dropped stitches all on my own now.)

Anyway…my daughter moved on to other knitting projects since socks didn’t really interest her, and I became the owner of the blue and brown sock yarn and about 1 inch of the sock that she had completed. Last year I finally picked up the project, unraveled what she’d completed (since we knit at a different tightness), and vowed to make myself another pair of socks. Hours and hours, days and days later, I finally Kitchener Stitched up the toe on the second sock yesterday. I can’t explain why it takes me so long to knit a sock or a pair of socks. It just does.

(I like how this yarn stripes. And, amazingly and through no effort on my part, the stripes on each sock nearly match.)

Now the question is: Do I frame these? Hang them up somewhere? Put them in a safe and bring them out once a year to admire? They’re super comfortable, but after all that work I can’t just wear them and wear them out!

crafts · knitting · Uncategorized

Felted Clogs

At the top of Texas on a very windy day!

It’s been a rough couple of weeks. Following a super fun, two-week Texas adventure where we hiked lots of miles, saw family, and summited Guadalupe Peak (the highest point in Texas at 8,751 feet), we returned home and started battling a “cold.” It’s been approximately 24 days of one symptom after another, and I finally seem to be in the final days of a nagging cough. (Do you ever wonder when sick if you’re ever going to feel fully normal again? I’m at that point right now!) Our daughter, who claims she’s just “built different” by which she means “built better,” luckily had barely a sniffle. No one got tested for anything since we were able to just stay home, so we will forever not know if we caught the “thing.” (Our daughter and son did eventually get tested when they moved back to college.)

It wasn’t until the last week or so that I felt like doing much other than vegging out on the couch watching television or napping. When I noticed that my slippers were sporting some holes in the soles, I decided to get busy making a new pair since that was something I could easily work on while continuing to recuperate.

I really like using the Felt Clog pattern from Fiber Trends for my slippers. I’ve been using this pattern for close to 20 years. I believe this is the same pattern http://www.fibertrends.com/p/ac33e-felt-clogs-pdf-download.

Before felting

The pattern calls for using a double strand of heavy worsted weight yarn. I chose to use a single strand of bulky yarn. I purchased Buttercream Luxe Craft Roving from Hobby Lobby as that is the only local place to purchase 100% wool yarn. (Lest you think I went shopping for yarn whilst sick and potentially infected other townfolk, let me assure you that I purchased this yarn a couple months ago when I realized that I would soon need new slippers. I went nowhere for 3 weeks, finally venturing out to the grocery last night since we were nearing a dire empty fridge situation.)

Still a bit large

Comparing this yarn to one I had purchased at a Joann’s store in a nearby town (sadly our Joann’s closed many years ago) for my last pair of slippers, I believe this brand felted up a lot faster.

The felting process is like magic. It’s amazing to see what can happen to what looks like a big floppy pair of clown shoes in just 10-15 minutes of hot water and agitation in the washing machine. I’m not a fan of trying the slippers on during the felting process. They’re wet and dripping everywhere, a bit soapy, and hot. Plus I don’t like that fuzzy yarn against my bare toes! (I always wear socks with these slippers.) They were still a bit large in the photo, so I put them in for another 3 minutes which made them just right. After forming them to my feet, I placed them in front of the fireplace to dry.

All finished!

Though both slippers are knitted from the same pattern, once you form the wet slippers to your feet, you do end up with a distinct right and left slipper.

These are so cozy. They are great for when you’re just sitting around on the couch at night. I prefer a hard-soled slipper for when I’m walking around the house during the day as these are a bit slippery on hard surfaces. Plus, though I enjoy knitting them, I like for them to not wear out quickly.

A final note: I do not make the extra “bumper” sole that can be added to these slippers.

I hope to get back to quilting soon!

knitting · Uncategorized

A Pretty Impractical Afghan

Many, many years ago when our kids were little (actually before our youngest was even born) I attended a knitting group with my mom. The local hospital hosted the group, titling the class “Knitting for Stress Therapy.” I’m not sure how many people actually attended for stress relief or whether most just saw it as an opportunity to hang out with people who enjoyed doing the same things and as a chance to maybe gossip just a bit. I was, at the young, young age of 23, the youngest person in the group. The oldest attendee, I believe, was a nun who was probably in her 80s or 90s.

The class was hosted by a woman I always refer to as the Knitting Lady as she was probably responsible for teaching at least half the knitters in our town how to knit. She had a shop outside of town where she hosted additional classes on occasion and sold all sorts of supplies, patterns, and gorgeous yarn. She was our go-to person for knitting advice and was always more than willing to rip, rip, rip out entire sections of mistakes. She was also my go-to person whenever I needed a dropped stitch fixed. Sadly, she passed away several years ago. I’ve since had to learn how to do all that ripping and dropped stitch fixing on my own.

As a fun idea for a class one year, the Knitting Lady decided to do a Block of the Month project which would yield an afghan by the end of the year. Each month we would purchase a new pattern and yarn. I think the entire afghan ended up costing well over $100. (Probably $150, which makes me shudder!) Crazy, I know. (Now I buy a couple skeins of that One Pound yarn…whatever brand that is… when it’s on sale and can have an afghan for about 1/4 the price or less.) What was even worse than the $100+ price tag was that the yarn used by the class for the project was gorgeous, hand-dyed 100% WOOL!

Now, do you know what happens to 100% wool if you toss it in a washing machine?

It felts.

Which is probably not a good thing. Because afghans that are actually used for…I don’t know, say, snuggling under to stay warm…rather than just as a chair decoration might actually need to be washed once in a while.

Other than the initial very delicate hand washing (which I did prior to blocking each block), this afghan has never been washed. It has never been used. It hangs out on the back of a rocking chair in our bedroom just looking cute.

I have to say that I love the colors I picked. The Knitting Lady seemed very skeptical when I chose the orange yarn, but as there was some orange in the variegated yarn, I knew the variegated would tie all the solid colors together.

knitting · Uncategorized

Half of a Pair

Finally. I have a sock. My oldest daughter’s response when I sent her a photo of the completed sock was, and I quote, “Ayyy. Only took years.” I have no idea what “ayyy” means. I’m sure it’s some sort of exclamation indicating astonishment at my slowness. But let’s talk about the “years” that it took, shall we?

Several years ago…less than ten, or maybe more??…I took oldest daughter to the yarn shop to purchase sock yarn. I bought some for myself, which I knitted up into a pair of socks in approximately 5 years, and she chose this blue/tan combo.

She began knitting her socks, completed approximately one inch of ribbing, and declared that she was ready to do the heel as she didn’t want high socks. At this point in time I wasn’t even close to ready to start on my heel, and, as we needed to make a trip to see the “knitting lady” for a bit of show-and-tell on how to actually do a heel, my daughter laid her pair aside.

By the time I was ready to learn how to do the heel, our “knitting lady” had passed away and my daughter had lost all interest in finishing her socks. (She had moved on to sweaters and afghans by this point and thought that knitted socks weren’t worth the effort.) Without our “knitting lady,” I had to watch YouTube videos on how to form the heel since our printed directions were slightly lacking in photos and instructions. Finally, I completed my pair.

As I’m not really a blue and brown kind of gal, oldest’s partially completed sock lurked in my knitting basket for several years before I finally picked it up to work on it. As I wasn’t certain exactly where she was in the pattern and since we knit at a different tightness, I picked out her work and began again. After several months, which involved much picking out due to misreading directions, I finally completed this sock. It’s mate is in the early stages and may be completed within this decade. I can’t make any guarantees.

I was recently discussing the cost of homemade socks with my husband. I believe one skein of this particular sock yarn was somewhere between $9 and $18. It’s been so long ago that I can’t remember what I paid. When you add all of the hours spent working on a pair of socks to the cost of materials you end up with a pair of socks that would be too ridiculously expensive to sell.

So why spend all the money and time making them?

They are super comfortable. Many of the socks I buy from the store are too long for my feet. I have some toasty wool socks whose heel lands significantly north of my Achilles tendon when pulled on all the way. They bulge out from under the hem of my pants like a fluffy tumor. Homemade socks can be made to the exact size of your foot. That said, I don’t think I’ll be making all of my socks in the future. At the rate I knit, I’d be barefoot most of the time. I’d also be broke.

knitting · Quilting · Quilts · sewing · Uncategorized

The Unfinished Object List

As I was sifting through a box this week, I happened upon an old Unfinished Object list. While I was happy to note that I had completed at least one project on the list in the past year, I still had several more to finish and had even added new projects over the past year. So I sat down to make a revised list.

Here’s what I ended up with:

Quilting projects

  • X-scrap quilt
  • Pink and green paper-piecing quilt
  • Tiny pineapples quilt
  • 4-patch squares scrap quilt
  • Cabin Quilt
  • Striped squares scrap quilt
  • Lemon Pepper quilt (Just needs to be quilted.)

Other Craft Projects

  • Knitted socks
  • Cross-stitch project

I suppose my list is not as lengthy as other’s lists, but it is still a bit daunting.

Here’s a peek at each of them:

Despite the urge to start another new something, I chose to work on three of these projects this week. I worked on the pink and green paper piecing quilt, which will probably end up hanging on a wall in our home. Or it may be a lap quilt. I haven’t decided yet what we’ll do with it. I also worked on the 4-patch scrap quilt. I intended to continue working on the pink and green paper piecing when I wandered into the office/sewing room later in the week. However, I arrived just as my husband, who often works from home, started listening to an audiobook. Normally, I’m not a fan of action books (in this case, Lee Child’s The Sentinel), but I somehow got hooked in the first few minutes. Since I was unable to hear it playing over the sound of the sewing machine, I chose to work on my cross-stitch project. Abandoning all of my other work, I arrived in the sewing room/office the next day to continue listening and cross-stitching. This could quickly become a dangerous habit!

What does your Unfinished Object list look like?

knitting · Uncategorized

Knitted Socks and Pureed Peaches

This past weekend was all about peaches. (And hiking and errands and church and movies and knitting. But mostly peaches.) Our peach tree is a sad little thing. It’s lopsided and leans heavily toward the ground once the peaches begin growing. Once upon a time we had its trunk tied to a large aspen in our yard in the hopes that it would eventually end up standing straight. We’ve since given up all hope of this happening.

Our peaches are also sad little things. They have dark specks where bugs have attacked them, and they are generally no larger than ping pong balls. There may have been two in the bunch this year that were a decent size.

While they are sad looking and tiny, there are many of them. This year we picked a grocery sack full. After at least 4 hours of peeling and cutting while listening the Paper Ghosts podcast over two days (resulting in a horribly cramped hand), we ended up with 28 bags of puree to freeze and add to smoothies. While I know that all those little plastic baggies aren’t good for the environment, it was the best option for us this year. In years past I have frozen the puree in ice cube trays and stored the cubes in a large plastic bag. The trouble with ice cubes is that they take up a lot of room. These bags flattened out nicely and fit well in our overstuffed freezer. Last night we enjoyed our first peach smoothie, and it was tasty!

This weekend I also decided to make some progress on my knitted socks. I enjoy the sock knitting process once I get the needles all sorted out after the first few rounds. But when I neared the heel I knew I would need a lot of concentration and a few YouTube videos to get past it as I’d only knit one other pair of socks before and had forgotten how to do the heel. So I set the project aside until I felt ready to tackle that part.

I’m not sure why working on the heel seems so scary and daunting. It’s not really that difficult. After a few tries and bit of picking stitches out when I struggled picking stitches up on the heel, I managed to produce something that looked pretty good.

Below is a photo of the sock in process and one sock of the pair I made a few years ago. I really like the striping yarn. I’m using a five needle sock pattern that I got for free from the woman who taught me how to knit. I believe she may have created the pattern herself as there is no information on it that indicates it was created by someone else. Whenever I get to a tricky spot in a knitting pattern, I always think about this woman and wish she was still around to help me out of a bind. Sadly, she passed away several years ago.

knitting · Uncategorized

Shrieking Owls

I sat down to write and an owl started hooting outside. It sounded close to the house so I rushed out on the deck to see if I could spot it in the trees. Luna, the dog, fearing an intruder on the property, got mad and started barking. Nevy, the other dog, charged out onto the deck with me because that’s what he does when the slider opens. The owl hoots had him quickly wanting to go back inside. He’s a bit of a scaredy-“cat” when it comes to loud or strange noises. I wasn’t able to spot the owl, but as I stood and listened, another owl, also close by, began shrieking. Our hooter, perhaps offended that someone else was in his/her territory or scared off by Luna’s barking, quickly relocated across the pond.

(Luna is on the left, Neville is on the right. Luna was enjoying the brown-eyed Susans on Saturday. The photo of Nevy is from a hiking trip where he managed to get himself from the back of the car into the middle seat. He was very pleased with himself.)

We’ve lived in the woods for over 20 years, and up until this year I had never heard an owl shriek. We’ve only ever heard them making their cute little hooting call. A couple weeks ago I stepped outside IN THE DARK with Nevy so he could do his business. It sounded like Jurassic Park out there. There were shrieks coming from all directions! This is 2021, and, as we all well know after living through 2020, anything is possible. I didn’t know if there were velociraptors lurking in the weeds or alien life forms swinging from the tree branches. What I did know was that Nevy and I were not going to stay out there long. He was in total agreement with that.

After a bit of YouTube searching, I discovered that our little shriekers were the barred owls that we’d only heard making cute sounds up until that moment. For many years we would occasionally hear a pair hooting to each other from separate sides of the neighborhood. After listening carefully to our shriekers, I’ve determined that we have at least three now, which is incredibly cool!

We’ve been enjoying nature a lot the past few weeks. I’ve not been spending much time in the sewing room, because when northern Michigan gives you decent weather and minimal mosquitoes (I hear others aren’t so lucky), you get your fanny outside because you know it’s only a matter or months before your fanny will be freezing out there without multiple layers.

I’ve picked up my knitting again in the evenings. My goal was to use up most of my yarn before purchasing anything new. Ha! I stayed strong until I saw some yarn that would make a pretty afghan. As if we need ANOTHER afghan! And now that I have the yarn, I can’t find the pattern I was going to use. So while that yarn sits gathering dust, I knitted up some dishcloths.

The variegated yarn is from a large spool which I believe is never going to run out! I can’t tell you how many dishcloths I’ve already made from that spool. You can see from the photo that I’m attempting to use up every last bit of dishcloth yarn, even if some of the color combos are a little wacky (such as the variegated and blue one). Once I bored of dishcloths I started a pair of socks.

I find it’s nice to have a project going that you can do almost mindlessly while watching television at night. I feel just a bit less lazy if I have something to occupy my hands while relaxing on the couch.

We’ve been working our way through Schitt’s Creek, a show our middle daughter suggested, and have found it to be really funny. On the opposite side of the “humor” scale, we’ve not been enjoying HBOs (which I think stands for Random and Pointless Nudity) The White Lotus, which for some strange reason claims to be a comedy (and a drama). We started watching since it claimed to be a comedy. We keep coming back week after week and cringing through it because we just want to know who dies. Why are we doing this to ourselves? It’s not like we don’t have better things to watch. Hubby has that DVR filled up with movies…and there’s always those Chicago Med episodes that I haven’t been desperate enough for entertainment to work my way through. (I got fed up with a few of the characters…well, all of the characters…and stopped watching last year but never told the DVR to stop recording them.) The good news is, we are four episodes in and there are only six in total. I gotta say, though, I’m about one random and pointless nudity away from not giving a crap how it all ends.

knitting · Quilting · Quilts · Uncategorized

The 2020 Afghan

My kids prefer afghans to quilts for cold winter days or chilly summer nights. I’ll let you in on a little secret…I do too. When it comes to having something to snuggle up under on the couch, afghans are our go-to.

That’s not to say that quilts don’t have their place. In our house that place is on the walls, the backs of the couches, or atop the beds. So basically everywhere…just not on top of us.

It’s silly, I know. I love making quilts and all the different designs, but to me they are more of a decoration than a way to keep warm.

We recently had a conversation after what happened in Texas about how we would never get too cold in our house even if the power was out for days since we have so many quilts and afghans and blankets all over the place. We could build a fort and stay nice and cozy in front of our fireplace. While it sounds fun and novel, romantic even, in reality it would probably be none of those things!

Without electricity, we’d have no hot water and quite quickly no water at all since our well would stop pumping it from the ground. While we’ve cooked in our fireplace before, it’s never been anything more complicated than a hot dog. In fact, hot dogs cooked over the fire was our Anniversary dinner this past December since we were without power that evening. Also, the guinea pigs, Winston and Basil, would suffer as they are delicate little fellas who can’t handle the cold. I’m not sure I’d enjoy having them in our fort since they throw hay all over the place!

I finished this particular afghan last weekend. I began working on it early last year. It looks a lot like another I finished last year since I wanted to use up all of the remaining yarn from that project. The pattern was my own design:

The first 10 and last 10 rows were all Knit rows.

Then Knit a row, Purl a row for as many rows as desired. This started out as 20 rows. As I ran low on some yarns and had a lot left of others, I adjusted and did less rows of some colors and more rows of others. (First 5 stitches in all rows were Knit.)

Then (when on right side) 2 knit rows, 1 purl row, 1 knit row. (I did these in green and purple)

Things got a little wonky color-wise as I neared the end of my yarn supply and had to change up the color pattern I had started out with. This didn’t bother me as it was a project I began just to use up leftovers. I was amazed that I was able to get two very large afghans out of 5 1-pound skeins of Caron yarn.

The Celitc Knotwork St. Patrick’s Day project is coming along nicely. I’m still not sure I’ll finish in time for the holiday, but I made good progress yesterday. The first clover is completely sewn now, and all the letters are glued in place. I’ve also begun sewing the letters. I’m hoping to make some progress this weekend but may not as there’s a birthday to be celebrated. Special food will be prepared. Brownies and ice cream will be consumed. Presents will be unwrapped. And fun will be had.

knitting · Quilting · Quilts · Uncategorized

Afghans or Quilts?

Seed stitch.

Every time I saw those words on the pattern, I groaned and stuck the afghan in my knitting basket where it gathered dust until I was ready to tackle the tediousness of Knit Purl Knit Purl over 199 stitches.

Times 10 rows.

I knit while watching television at night. I want something easy, something I can do mindlessly so I don’t miss key plot points in whatever show we’re watching. Let’s be honest. I want to just knit every row because I can do that without even thinking about it. I don’t want to have to worry that I’ve knitted when I should have purled or purled when I should have knitted. But, I also want a finished project that looks amazing, so I suffered through the seed stitch. (Don’t get me started on the raspberry stitch I’m using for a dishcloth right now. Who in their right mind thought that up?)

This is the second time I have used this pattern. (It was free from Bernat. I found it at Joann’s or Micheal’s probably 10+ years ago.) The first afghan isn’t quite as soft as it once was. We still enjoy snuggling up under it, but it was time to make something new, something that would look a little nicer draped over the couch than the old fuzzy one.

I used up all sorts of scraps in the first one, but for this one I wanted to go outside my comfort zone with the colors. I found myself pulling out pinks and purples and blues and forced myself to put them back and use colors that I ordinarily wouldn’t…hence the green, orange, and yellow. I love, love, love how it turned out.

I finished this early in the week and despite telling my son that I wanted to be the first to use it, I caught him burrowed under it doing his schoolwork. I still haven’t had a chance to try it out! This leads to me admitting something. We prefer knitted afghans to quilts when it’s cold and we want something to keep out the chill.

But, I still love how beautiful a quilt looks draped over the back of the couch, hanging on the wall, or decorating the kitchen table.