Saturday, October 29


That pretty much describes my mind-set of late... and that's a very good thing! I finished my Tom Clancy novels, all three, last week. I'm looking forward to when the next in the "Jack Ryan" series comes out... It's definitely going on my Christmas list, even though it is a collaborative novel.

My pullover had the last of the seaming and ends woven in yesterday, and the craptastic phone pics we took were uploaded to Ravelry this afternoon. The monsterghan was promptly pulled out of the corner of my bedroom and repaired. I lucked out and it was a very easy fix. I've gotten another 24+ rows knit into it. It's about 32" in length, so I'm nearly at the halfway point. At 176 stitches per row, slogging doesn't begin to describe it, but I'm damned and determined to have it done by the end of November.

I desperately want to start a few projects, but I am trying to be a more monogamous knitter/ crocheter. I have a cardigan I want to do for Melissa, freebie pattern from Mary Maxim and yarn purchased at Ram Wools. I have the yarn for the kids' crocheted monsters waiting, along with the base yarn for Rebecca's Dinoghan. Another one that's screaming to me is the shawl design out of sock-weight wool... I... must... resist!!!

Nicole =o)

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Friday, October 14

Diversions and distractions...

Those have been the key words for this week.

One of the greatest gifts Derek gave me with my "permission to quit working", was that I was no longer expected to contribute to the family financially. This took the pressure off of me entirely in the case of my designing. I didn't have to force myself to come up with ideas, didn't have the stress of worrying about submissions, and everything that goes along with that. One of the other things this freedom does is allow me to pursue other interests as well.

This week hasn't been all *that* productive when it comes to my pullover, but it has been in other respects. I've decided that the piece I'm working is the front. I'm now past the neck division. A couple hours at most is all that's left for that section. I've really only devoted one day to working on it this week.

So what *have* I been doing this week? Mainly reading. I am a huge Tom Clancy fan, and I had 2 new books waiting for me to crack them open. "The Bear and the Dragon" was first on the menu. That one took me just over 2 days to devour. I'm now reading "Dead or Alive", but taking my time with it.

I've also been poking around in my craft room. Jackie and I had the goal of my craft room being "sewing ready" by the time school began, but we failed at that for a variety of reasons. I have a stash of at least 5 felt stocking kits that have been misplaced. No amount of digging and rearranging could locate them. I got a few bins ready for cleaning and reorganizing, and managed to discover one if the kits. That's what I spent the afternoon and evening on today... I forgot how time consuming they can be! It appears I got next to nothing done!

Soooooo... I may have been distracted and diverted this week, but at least I didn't start another knitting or crocheting project!!

Nicole =o)

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Thursday, October 13

Thanks RIM... for nothing!

My friends are used to me calling my phone "the speed bump". Well thanks to a *major* problem with the entire BlackBerry network, I haven't been able to do anything really with my phone for the last day and a half. That means I wasn't able to blog, which tosses me out of the NaBloPoMo contest for the month of October. I'm gonna continue on, as I'm enjoying getting into the blogging habit again.

Stay tuned... I'm working on the armholes and neck of the front of my pullover. I was slightly diverted this week by my books, but this project is still on my high rotation list!

Nicole =o)

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Monday, October 10

Here is another episode in my series of stories about my dear husband, Derek.

The summer we were getting ready to move out to the country, I was put on a yarn diet. Not a strict one, but a diet nonetheless. It wasn't hard to stick to as we only had one *real* yarn store nearby then, and the hours made it difficult for me to get there. I never complained, as I knew our finances didn't allow for it, and I had more than enough stash to keep me going. I did buy needles there whenever I could, and got hooked on Addi Naturas!

In March, Derek was sent to Edmonton for manager meetings for his company. I had a wish list of items that I would like for projects I had in mind. I posted in an Edmonton Ravelry group, asking for suggestions for a LYS that would be able to assist him.

Now I trust Derek's judgement in making choices for me. He doesn't immediately look for the cheapest options, but what appeals to him... He even knows to check dye lots, often reminding me to check when we're shopping together! He will pet and squeeze the yarn to see how it feels even. What he doesn't understand is yarn weight and such, and that's what he would need help with.

My list had the yarn requirements for several shawls, blocking wires, lace needles, a couple books and the like. Now for the shawls, I simply stated the weight and length required, and the inspiration. One was part of a series based on the four elements, called Mystic Light, and I simply told him to find yarn that said "light or fire or illumination" to him.

He set off to the LYS, along with his dad and I can't recall who else, list in hand. Now I considered this list to be suggestions only, and by no means did I expect him to get all, or even most, of the items on it. The clerk at the LYS was everything that the Edmonton Rav group said, being extremely helpful. Derek went through my entire list, and everything they had there he bought! His dad was shocked at the $300+ bill, but understood when Derek said how good I'd been on my "diet" and how "this is what she likes to do and it makes her happy".

He didn't tell me that he'd made it to the LYS until he arrived back home. He handed me my list and asked me to read out each item in turn. He was like a magician with a top hat... endlessly pulling out item after item. The yarn choices he made were wonderful, and none of them were even close to *budget* prices! I recall that for one, it was $25 a hank. The amount I needed was about 700 yards and the hank was 600 (or something similar), so he bought 2!! The "Mystic Light" yarn was fantabulous! He chose a gorgeous semi-solid red that screamed "fire" and was a wonderful wool/ raw silk blend that just begged to be handled! He proudly handed me each item, grinning as he saw how thrilled I was. I felt like a little kid at Christmas!

When he completed everything that was on my list that he was able to get, he told me there was still more! He handed me some sock yarn he'd picked out in a brand I didn't have. He remembered that I always try to buy sock yarn from wherever I travel!

It brought tears to my eyes to think of how thoughtful and generous he was, and is. I had been spoiled rotten on this trip! I posted to the Edmonton group to thank them for their help, and to share how great that LYS was... And of course brag about how great Derek was!!!

Nicole =o)

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Sunday, October 9

The Ugly Doily

Yesterday's post got me thinking about how lucky I consider myself with my hubby, and all the stories I like to share about him to demonstrate that. Today I will share another one of my favourite stories.
The Ugly Doily
My husband, Derek, and I have been together over 11 years now, but right from the beginning I knew I had a "keeper". He loved everything I made, appreciated all the effort that went into it, and encouraged me greatly in anything I wanted to try. When we'd go out shopping and come home with crochet supplies (I only crocheted at that time), he'd even put the items away for me and in their proper places too... labelled bins are invaluable in that respect!
Two of my favourite crochet magazines were (and still are even though they're now out of print) Magic Crochet and Decorative Crochet. I would purchase them faithfully every month and would always have at least a half dozen doilies I wanted to make out of each one. Derek would often glance through my magazines, although I always thought he was being polite, or just *that* bored!
I had one issue that when I looked through it, it had the usual half-dozen or so WIMs, but there was one pattern that was *sooooo* not my taste. It was the last pattern I would ever make out of that magazine... I wouldn't say that I hated it, but the words "strongly dislike" were a mild indication of my feelings towards that particular design. There was no way I would ever waste my time on that doily... life is too short for working on patterns that I don't enjoy!
Derek did his typical glance through that magazine, and to my surprise, he asked me if I'd make him one of the doilies in it. Of course I said yes! How many men ask their wives to make them a doily?!??! Imagine the look on my face, and the dismay in my heart when he showed me the pattern he wanted me to make for him... that gawdawful fugly design that I'd never *ever* make!!!
Well there's absolutely no way I can say no. This man supports and encourages me in every little thing I do. He loves me and appreciates me for who I am. I *have* to do this for him. Even though he knows at this point now that I don't like the pattern (putting it very mildly for his benefit), I tell him to go pick out the thread he wants for it... remember, he's the one that puts it away when we go shopping so he not only knows *what* it is, but *where* it is too. He dives into my thread bin and proudly pulls out the most gaudy (okay, maybe the second-most gaudy) ball of thread I had in there. It was a loud variegated white-to-navy blue that gave me a headache just to look at it!
What am I to do? He's chosen the worst possible pattern, and the worst possible thread, and I have no choice at all but to grin and bear it. I work on the project for him faithfully, bringing it with me wherever I go to work on... if for no other reason than to get it out of the way as fast as I can! Whenever anyone would stop to look at what I was working on, I would get nothing but compliments about how great a pattern it was and how cool the thread was. It took every bit of self-control I had to simply say "thank you", and nothing more!
This wasn't a small project really. This finished size was to be around 45 cm when done in size 20 thread, and I was doing this one in size 10. I had about 5 cm more to go when the worst possbile thing happened... I ran out of thread. Not only was I being forced to work this horrific pattern, in this headache-inducing thread, but I HAD TO GO BUY MORE!!!! I *did* get the doily finished, ends woven, and blocked out in a decent amount of time. It ended up well over 60 cm in diameter, but then again, doilies never really take me a bunch of time (see my 3-day table topper in my Ravelry projects for an example).
Derek proudly cleaned off his dresser, and that doily has been displayed on there ever since. If it's not there, it's because I've taken it to wash and block it. There have been a few times that I've taken it off to show someone that I've shared this story with, and Derek is always terrified that I'm going to give it away (like 99% of my doilies... you admire it, it's yours!). I could never give that doily away. I affectionately referred to it the entire time I was working on it as "The Ugly Doily", and the name has stuck to this day. That doily is a symbol of my love for him, that because he loves me so much, that I will put aside my personal feelings to do what is the most difficult for me, simply because it is for him.
I love you very much honey, and I am thankful for every day that we have together.
FWIW, there never was anything really wrong with that pattern. No errors, and the chart was easy to follow. It was simply something that didn't appeal to me at all in the least. And it seems that I was about the only one that felt that way. I don't ever recall anyone disliking the pattern other than myself!!

Saturday, October 8

The ends never end...

I am notorious for not doing ends on projects. I avoid them like the plague. Everybody that knows me at all knows about this. I have been known to find a pair of socks... where the knitting was completed on them months, or even years before... and all that was required was weaving in *FOUR* yarn ends!

My favourite story to share about my reputation happened about 8 or 9 years ago at Christmas. This is one of the many "my wonderful DH" stories that I love to tell.

First there's the back story. Starting in about late September or October I began work in secret on afghans for 2 of my pre-teen daughters. The finished size of these afghans was about 55-60" by 75-80". There was also a variety of other projects on the go, I was pregnant (or nursing depending on the year, I can't remember), designing when I could, very involved in online communities, and working full-time. At the beginning of November, a new CAL group was created as an off-shoot of Crochet Talk. As one of the admins on CT then, I was heavily involved in the management of this new group as well.

The first project was a 9-patch quiltghan by Bea (something...). I was immediately in love with this pattern, and *had* to start it even though I had *so* much on the go already. My stash had at least one ball of each colour of Red Heart Super Saver that our Walmart carried, so I spread them all out on the kitchen table for my husband Derek to choose. I should insert here for those of you that don't regularly follow my blog, that my DH has wonderful taste, and I've learned to trust his yarn choices in all projects.

He chose a wonderful purple/green/white multi (the name escapes me right now since I rarely use RHSS anymore) along with the co-ordinating solids. I was ready to begin, and was looking forward to the granny squares as a great diversion from the more complex and involved projects I had on the go. This quilt-ghan was constructed like a typical 9-patch quilt, but using granny squares. Each 12" block was made up of 9 smaller squares. These squares could be anywhere from 1 to 4 colours each. If you are counting, that means a minimum of 18 and up to 72 ends per 12" block. It was a 3x4 construction, so that means 12 of these 12" blocks. It's okay if your eyes begin to glaze over at the boggling number of ends, prior to joining the blocks with sashing or adding the border (which was 3 colours if I remember correctly)!

Even though I had so many other things to finish, I couldn't put this project down. Derek is very accepting of my "creative mess" so he tends not to pay a great deal of attention to my "stuff" unless there is a drastic change (for the good or bad). By the middle of December I had most of the squares done and I began to realize that I *could* finish this afghan in time for Christmas along with the 2 others (1 *was* done for sure by this point and the other may have been as well).

Keeping in mind that he was used to seeing my stack of 12" blocks on the side of my computer desk, and knowing that there was a lifetime of ends to work on, I devised a plan to accomplish my goal. I began by working all of the ends on the inside of the 12" blocks, leaving the outer ones hanging. Unless you picked it up, you wouldn't realize that the rest of the ends were done. Once I had the inner ends done, I needed a way to shift his attention away from the squares of *his* afghan (he'd already claimed it as his after the 2nd or 3rd block was done). I began moving the blocks to the UFO pile under my desk. That was his hint that he would be lucky to see this afghan before he retired.

Now I could safely finish off the remaining ends, and even start joining a few of the blocks. He had to work until noon on Christmas Eve, and that was when the last of the border rows were completed along with the last of the ends. I carefully folded it up into a clear zippered afghan bag, gift-wrapped it, and hid it under the tree.

The next morning, when he un-wrapped it, you could see he was pleasantly surprised that I had finished it after all, but he didn't remove it from the bag. He promptly tossed it across the room at me, as I was sitting at the opposite end of our large sectional sofa. I tossed it back at him, saying nothing. He threw it again, and I tossed it back again. This game of "hot potato" lasted a few more rounds before I finally said something to him about just throwing his afghan at me. He replied that he was throwing it at me so I could do the ends. I very sternly told him to open the bag.

His face was as red as a Santa suit as he muttered "Thank You"...

Nicole =o)

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Friday, October 7

Small things...

... amuse small minds!

Well that's certainly true for me today! I discovered a way to do a 2 stitch cable without a cable needle, *without* dropping a stitch first! I actually knit the stitches out of order without removing them from the left needle until they're both worked. Since my pullover is out of Mary Maxim's Starlette Ragg, an acrylic yarn, most of the cable needle-less cabling methods won't work well.

I'm 4 repeats (around 50 pattern rows) into the piece, and I'm happy I managed to figure this out. The 2 stitch cables are on every right side row, so this is saving me a bunch of time and hassle. The main 8 stitch cables are on every 12th row, so I do those with the cable needle. I'm using my Brittany birch wood cable needle and I'm finding that it's great for keeping my cable stitches under control. The main pieces are being worked with my Knit Picks nickel-plated interchangeable set. The slippery finish of these is helping me fly through this project.

It's not entirely stockinette now, but I'm still completely addicted!

Nicole =o)

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Thursday, October 6

Can we have a drum roll please?

I am thrilled to announce Knit Picks latest designer in the IDP program... ME!!! (insert loud cheering crowd sound effect here)

Walk in the Garden Socks: $1.99 USD for electronic download

I'm sorry there isn't a cooler text hyperlink, but I don't know how to do that when I'm posting from my phone. (Sorry, the geek in me is coming out) I know it's silly, but I was as giddy as a schoolgirl when I got the email. Of course I immediately changed my facebook status too!

Oh well, back to trying to cable on my pullover... Stay tuned for when I'm ready to submit my next pattern design proposal to KP, a shawlette in lace weight or fingering weight! I've got the stitch pattern already chosen, it's just deciding which shawl shape I will use and then going from there.

Nicole =o)

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Wednesday, October 5

So much to do, so little time!

Even though I've accomplished so much lately (see yesterday's post), I feel I have so much more to do! I have *so* much in progress, but I have been trying to complete more than I start. Now only if I could force myself to do the last bit of finishing... I have more projects than I care to admit that are 90% or more done!

My pullover is going to need at least a week's worth of solid knitting before it gets to the point of seaming and sewing. We'll see if *that* part goes as fast!!!

The girls' teddy bears need their arms sewn on before I can finish up the body seaming and stuffing. My excuse is that I haven't decided how to sew them on without looking stupid! I even managed to get their faces embroidered before I put them aside for the September commissioned projects!

My Prize Cardi needs seaming and then borders. The side seams didn't turn out neat and smooth so it's just sitting there, waiting for me to decide what to do about it! I still need buttons for it too.

Neecie's Monsterghan needs some repairs and then I can continue on that. I have to have it done before my next trip into Winnipeg. I still have about 5 or 6 balls of Homespun to go... I started with 10.

Then of course there's designs and patterns in varying degrees of completion... I'll get to those eventually! I am gonna *have* to create some hard and fast deadlines to get this stuff done. Wish me luck!

Nicole =o)

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Tuesday, October 4

FO report... Oh my Goodness!!!

The past few months have been very productive, even though I don't really have any new designs to show for it. Here's the line-up, best as I can remember. My Rav project names are in parentheses where applicable.

June: Walk in the Garden socks done; Elijah's blanket finished; Neecie's Monsterghan started; a complete 4 pc. Gumdrop Kitchen Set done; 2 pairs of work socks finished; 2 KAL/ CAL cloths done

July: a complete 4 pc. Gumdrop Kitchen Set done; 2 Gumdrop Placemat and Coaster Sets done; 3 items in the Vichelle Bath Set done; 6 standard dishcloths done; a baby bunting bag finished

August: All that Glitters Shawl (The Mohair Blob) finished; the Season's Shawl (Really in the Mood for a Shawl) 3/4ths finished; my 3 monsters (Candy, Mum, & Frankie) done

September: 2 teddy bears (Ted D. Bear & Ted E. Bear) nearly completed; 12 standard dishcloths done; Zoe Cardigan done (Angelina's Cardi); the Season's Shawl completed

Other constant projects have been: Melissa's afghan (several strips completed); Neecie's Monsterghan which was started in June (about 1/3rd done as of this writing); My Prize Cardi (95% done, currently hibernating while I make decisions on it); Texaco socks (a design-in-progress which is currently my "truck sock", so very slow-going)

Even the pullover I'm currently focusing on seems to be going really smoothly... although I've probably just jinxed it by saying that! So I expect my October list to be pretty impressive too!

I'm sure I've missed a few here, but you get the idea!

Nicole =o)

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Monday, October 3

How can stockinette be addicting?

I'm not quite sure of the proper answer, but in my current WIP I certainly *am* addicted!

The project I'm talking about is a kit I ordered from Mary Maxim earlier this year. The kit is called "Cabled Ragg Pullover", and I'm doing it in the Denim Ragg colourway. It's kit# 4069-70N on their website, and I can't find it listed in the Ravelry pattern database.

I officially started it only 5 days ago, and I'm already nearly finished the 2nd sleeve. Not bad at all considering how little time I've had to work on it! It's a simple pullover with shawl collar and a single central cable section in the middle of the front and back pieces. Everything else is stockinette, and for whatever reason, I can't seem to put it down!

The pattern calls for a tension of 18 sts and 24 rows over 10cm in stockinette. I tried the recommended 5.00mm needles first, and while my row gauge was dead on, my stitch gauge was 17.5. With the size I'm making (42-44), that would have added about 7cm more to the finished garment width! I dropped to a 4.5mm needle, and my gauge was about 17.5 sts and 26 rows!! Considering that acrylic yarns tend to grow in my experience, I decided to go ahead with that size.

I fully expect to be finished the second sleeve and begin working on one of the main body pieces later today... Wish me luck with trying to cable for the first (real) time!!!

Nicole =o)

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Sunday, October 2

Can we *please* get some focus here?

Those words have been my mantra lately. In order for me to be able to concentrate on my designs and design-related work, I need at least a couple of hours without interruptions at a time. If I'm "on a roll" and I'm suddenly distracted, you can forget getting back "into the zone"!

It all started at the beginning of June with company that stayed *much* longer than expected (3 weeks instead of 1) and a deadline for a Knit Picks IDP pattern and project. That project was technically only a couple days late, but the postal strike 2 days after I shipped the socks added a couple weeks or a month to that!

My summer didn't improve "thinking-wise". Kids home, frequent day trips into town, flooding, then heat... Needless to say any attempts to focus were fruitless!!!

Here we are already into October and I *still* haven't built up much momentum!! We were fully a week into September before the kids started school. I *did* have several days where I actually felt I had accomplished some work... Then yarn came in for 2 commissioned projects that had to be done within 2 weeks... Then I found out my father passed away... A weekend trip to the big city for shopping and project delivery... And an out-of-town funeral for a dear relative on my mom's side... Well you get the idea!!!

Here's to praying that October is more focussed!!

Nicole =o)

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Saturday, October 1

Are you organized?

I *try* to be... I tend to have one of those memories that actually *can* remember exactly where a specific item is in a mess! Unfortunately (or is that fortunately?!) I live in home with other people that not only *touch* things, but *move* them too!! This requires me to have some sort of organization method for my crafting stuff. Plus, I am finding order to be calming and very crucial in my ability to focus.

Since this year has all been about focussing more on my designing, as well as working on OPPs (other people's patterns), I need to organize things to prevent me from becoming overwhelmed.

I want to make my work and storage areas clean, tidy, and user-friendly. I have made two gigantic leaps in that direction over the past few months. The first has been my being 99% faithful in uploading my stash as I purchase it. If it's purchased for a particular project or design idea/ theme, I usually include that in the description as well. The second has been entering my entire library into my Ravelry database. Nearly every book, booklet, and magazine I own is now listed. Some of the older ones aren't in Rav's database, and most of my older crochet magazines are still packed away.

I have most of these pages bookmarked in my phone. This has proven invaluable while out shopping. I can check if I've already purchased a particular magazine, what colours of a particular yarn I already own, or how many metres of yarn I need for a queued project.

I have taken other baby steps as well. I own several sets of dpns in smaller "sock" sizes, as I don't do magic loop or two circs. I purchased some small pencil boxes on clearance that are the perfect size. I printed up labels with the size, and it's easy to see at a glance which one I need. They also stack nicely! After receiving my Knit Picks interchangeable sets I purchased a huge tackle box to replace the smaller ones I had been using for years. The only thing it doesn't hold is my straight needles and speciality hooks. It's a one-stop place for 99% of my tools. I bought some magazine holders at the office supply and filled each one as we entered them into Ravelry, then placed a label on the spine with title and dates. I have several small "Show Offs" containers in the CD size. These are perfect for balls of sock yarn. As I purchase them, I fill them with a particular brand or type of yarn. I also have many large Rubbermaid tubs with all sorts of stash and such purchased over the last 15 years. As these are sorted, they get labels too since they are stacked up nearly to the ceiling!

This is all a work in progress, and I take steps back as I take steps forward. My goal to be able to use my craft room by the time the kids returned to school failed miserably. However, Jackie and I *did* make progress. My many varied interests make my task of sorting and organizing exponentially more difficult! I crochet doilies, so there's a large stash of thread. I knit socks, so there's a huge stash of fingering and worsted wool... 100+ pairs worth at least. I knit and crochet kitchen items, so there's a mountain of cotton yarn. I knit and crochet a variety of clothing and blankets, so my stash includes all weights and fibres of yarn in varying amounts. I also enjoy scrapbooking, sewing, painting, and quilting on a smaller scale, but those too require room.

Once you read about me starting my quilt, you will know that I have achieved my goal in my craft room. You can rejoice for me along with Derek!!

Nicole =o)

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