Friday, November 2

You may now commence nail-biting!

Much of my brain power in October was used on compiling pattern proposals. There were times I was sure I was going to have grey matter goo seeping out of my ears! But they are all done, and as of 8:33 this morning, all have been submitted!

Due to the nature of the calls, I can't really reveal too many details. However, I *can* say that three were previous (unsuccessful) submissions, and three are outside of my usual design comfort zone. I am really excited about all of them, and am expecting to know the results by Christmas.

I really need to get working on the Ontario Corruption pattern, but I'm having a lot of trouble getting it into a format that makes sense. I am still hoping to have it released in December, but we shall see.

Until next time,
Nicole =o)

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Thursday, November 1

I now have a Ravelry group!

Well I've been working on a *ton* of proposals lately. Keep your fingers crossed for me that they are accepted! A couple are reworked previous proposals, and a few are completely original. I'm really excited about them all and I'd love to be able to flesh them out.

In other news, I've pretty much replaced the various email groups I had sponsored in favour of a new group on Ravelry: I would like to see a bunch of activity there, and once there is at least 50 members, I will start some knit and crochet-alongs. I think it will be a great place where we can all share what we are working on, and things like that!

Until next time,
Nicole =o)

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Sunday, September 30

Decision making time

I often hate having to make an *actual* decision. It's so much easier to have others make them for me. Who *really* wants to act like a grown-up all the time anyway? Life was so much simpler when I was five!

When I was five, I had to go to bed at 7:30, or encounter the wrath of "Mom". At forty-something, I now have to decide for myself what is a reasonable bedtime for getting up at 5:30am.
When I was five, my mother told me what to wear to school, an orange skirt and bright pink top weren't an option. At forty-something, I have to remind myself that an orange skirt and pink top aren't an option... neither is the yellow pants paired with the purple t-shirt.
When I was five, the teacher told me which subject we would be doing at that time. At forty-something, I have to decide what time it is, for knitting, for crocheting, for sewing, for quilting, for designing... and don't forget stuff like housework and such too.

Being a grown-up sure sucks sometimes! But now that I've had my five-year-old temper tantrum, it's time for me to go decide what, and if I will submit for the two submission calls I'm interested in. Plus I need a swift kick in the arse to get a couple spec proposals prepared and sent in!

Till next time,

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Thursday, September 20

Holy cow it's Thursday!

Where did this week go? I think it went into the same hiding spot that the rest of this year has disappeared into! Please tell me that I'm not the only one that feels like this entire year so far has sped by in the blink of an eye.

I've been "busy" and "not busy" all week it seems. I used a tutorial I found online to design a dress for Melissa. It turned out pretty darned cute if I do say so myself. I'm waiting to hear back from the person that wrote the tutorial, and if she agrees, I'll be posting my own "how-to". I took a ton of photos as I went along so that I could share with you all. I haven't finished off any other projects this week, but I've been making steady progress on everything at least.

My biggest efforts for the last few days have been business-type ones. As you can see from my blog layout, I've *really* been messing around with the appearance of it. I still can't get it to where it pleases me again. I really liked my old layout and template, but it didn't support any of the dynamic features that I wanted, such as searching posts by tag. I'm also having some trouble with graphics, since I no longer have a graphic artist available. I have an extremely talented daughter that can draw amazingly well, but she doesn't do it on the computer. I have been working "behind the scenes" a ton too. I'm completely revamping my standard pattern layout and such. It will be a fairly involved process since I will be going through each one with a fine-toothed comb and making sure that every little aesthetic detail has been taken care of. My 10 year anniversary as a published designer is coming up, and I'd like to have everything looking really spiffy for the occasion!

Off to town to get the thread I need for the dress hem, and see what else follows me home today. It's the last day of a sale at the fabric store, and I have two 40% off coupons for the craft store!!

Till next time,
Nicole =o)

Wednesday, September 19

Dangit, she's been changing things again!!!

I've been playing around with the colour theme a bit again (finally?). I am in the process of completely re-vamping all my patterns and such, and therefore want that scheme to be the same across everything I work on... well at least the items that I have creative control over. I too dislike "new and improved"... it seems that the "old and ordinary" works so much better!

Please let me know what you think... Are the colour combinations readable and such? Things like that. I *still* need to work on the overall layout and content, but I'm going one baby step at a time. Now that the summer is over, and the kids are back in school, I have no choice but to buckle down and get to work myself!

Till next time,
Nicole =o)

Friday, September 14

(U)FO Friday...

Well today's FO isn't my UFO. I was hoping to have the basket weave afghan finished by tonight, but it just wasn't in the cards. I can *partially* blame it on knit night last night... I didn't get to work on the afghan since I was out for the evening! I *am* on the last pair of rows before the three round border, however I have to weave in the ends before I can start that. Well over half the ends were already done, so it won't be *that* bad of an ordeal for me. I'm looking very forward to completing this project, and have already chosen the next UFO to turn into an FO.

All is not lost, as I do have an FO to report. The last of the boot sock samples was finished this afternoon!!! The ladies pair, and the first of the men's were washed and are now hanging on their blockers to dry in the bathtub. I only have one men's sized blocker, so the second sock will need to wait until the first one is dry. I have that particular pattern about 75% done, and the editing shouldn't take very long once the photography is finished.

I had one of the sproggins at home today, so I wasn't able to "work". I still made sure I was productive though! I finished the sock, and cast on another sample sock for a different design. I went into the craft room today to hunt for some sweatshirt fleece, which was located elsewhere as it turned out. I decided to do a bit of organizing in there since it's mostly been ignored lately. I can get in and out, and locate what I need relatively easily again, so I'm pleased with that progress. Once I located the sweatshirt fleece, and the pants pattern for it, I copied the size I needed, and cut out the pieces to make Alex a pair of sweat pants. I also cut the seams off of 2 out-grown, worn out pairs of jeans, so I can now add denim "inserts" inside the pant legs to help reinforce the knees. Add in some housework, and you have what I'd call a pretty decent day!

Till next time,
Nicole =o)

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Do you hear voices?

No, not *those* kind of voices!!! I am talking about yarn, thread, patterns, fabric, etc that "speaks" to you? I can hear them! =o)

While I was in Ontario this past summer, I collected most of the fabrics for my pink ribbon bargello quilt top. I swear Auntie Wendy was right there with me, guiding me to the perfect addition to my stash in each shop. One of the quilts I made this summer makes me smile every time I look at it. For whatever reason, no matter what mood I'm in, it cheers me up.

Yarn talks to me too. When I'm choosing which yarn will become my next project, it will often tell me whether or not it wants to become that item. I've been told by many that I'm crazy, but that's something I've been told many times before, and I'm sure that I will hear again many more times... Don't forget, I have SEVEN kids!!!

Today I introduced one of my neighbour-friends to *her* fabric voices. She wanted my help in choosing fabrics for two upcoming quilts for her "classes" this fall. The first required 12 fat quarters and a metre for a border and binding. I told her to find a metre cut in her stash that she liked. I spread it out on the table and very quickly placed some of her FQs all around it. Some would immediately be tossed in the "no" pile and others immediately in the "yes" pile. I quite simply, and almost callously, rifled through a few of her bins picking out suitable co-ordinates. When we had about 20 "possibles", I removed the large piece of fabric and haphazardly arranged the FQs on the table. She thought that we'd never be able to figure it all out. I told her to remove the ones that didn't belong. It took her a few (or more) minutes, but finally she had weeded the choices down to the 12 required. The entire process took 15-20 minutes, tops. She had expected it to be an afternoon-long ordeal trying to match up all that fabric. She was very pleased at how it had all turned out... even after I announced to her that she had just learned how to listen to the fabric voices!! This is a woman who has known others before me that said fabric, or yarn, or whatever spoke to them, but adamantly declared that she never heard voices, and thought we were all a few sandwiches short of a picnic!

So do you hear voices? If not, maybe you need to open your heart and listen!

Till next time,
Nicole =o)

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Wednesday, September 12

What *am* I working on?

Anyone who knows me even slightly can attest to the fact that I am *far* from a monogamous crafter. Now that I've added sewing and quilting to my current hobbies, of course that means even *more* WIPs (and the resultant UFOs as well). This year I've been trying to focus better, and I think I've been pretty successful in resisting the urge to start every "Ooh shiny!!" project that tempts me. Of course I still have a multitude of projects, but I'm getting pretty darned good at producing quite a few FOs also.


Knitting is still my favourite pastime, as the callous on my right index finger will attest to. Strangely enough, I only have one project that I'm actively working on, and that's sample socks. I'm getting one done at a time, finishing one before casting on the next. I am halfway down the foot of my current project, and have three more socks to knit for photography purposes.


I've been crocheting for over 20 years now, so it's inevitable that I would come across some pretty old UFOs. My current "living room" project is my oldest (that I know of) UFO. It's an afghan that I began in 1998 or 1999. I have about 6 more rows to work before doing the edging, so I'm anticipating finishing in the next day or three. My current "travelling" project is another crocheted afghan. It's a plaid design worked in strips and I purchased it as a kit from Herrschners this spring. I have completed over a third of it, and don't expect it will take very long to complete.


I have a large bin of projects ready to quilt, and more ready to "sandwich". I am not too worried about those right now, but I have 3 quilt tops cut and ready to sew. The first one I want to work on is a pink ribbon bargello. It's in honour of Auntie Wendy, whom we lost just over 5 years ago during her third battle with breast cancer. I've put away my sewing machine for a little while so that I can spend my energies on designing and writing. We shall see how long I can resist *that* temptation!!!
Most of all, I'm having fun working a combination of my own designs and OPPs (Other People's Patterns), and in a variety of mediums. Doing that helps in keeping me motivated. I added a bunch of new-to-me yarns to my stash while on vacation this summer so I'm looking very forward to seeing what they want to become. I also increased my fabric stash by 2 over-flowing suitcases, so that will be fun to play with as well!

Till next time,
Nicole =o)

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Tuesday, September 11

Back to school means back to work!

Where has the summer gone? For that matter where has the year gone?!! It seems like it was only March a few days ago.

The kids started school last Thursday, and Derek went back to work yesterday, so today is my first "real" day of work since some time in May. My ISP has been extremely "helpful" in making sure I was productive today... my rocket stick isn't working!! I found out after a few calls to their useless customer service line that they are working on the cell tower by my house. There is no tower redundancy out here in the middle of nowhere, so I'm stuck with just my mobile phone (from a different company). Gotta love modern technology!!!

Even though it's been quite a while since I have released any new patterns, I *am* still busy designing. My most recent release was on Knit Picks in July, "By the Sea" socks: I have two more sock patterns in the works, and three finished sock patterns that are currently on hold until I get the results of the design contest they were entered in.

I picked up a new hobby this spring, quilting/ sewing. Derek bought me a shiny new sewing machine for Mother's Day, and I've put quite a few miles on that the last few months. Speaking of miles, check out my current tally of yarn consumed!! I have a couple things to add to the meters, but I'm well over 11 km used between knitting and crocheting.

I'm trying to decide what to work on next. I've always been an "Oooh! Shiny!!" type of person, so it's hard to stay focused on just one or two things. We shall see what the new school year brings...

Till next time,
Nicole =o)

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Sunday, March 25

And the hits just keep on comin'...

My entire last week has been an exercise in futility from a photography standpoint. As I had posted last weekend, I was building myself a light box to improve the quality of my photographs. My KP-IDP socks were finished, so I could get my pics taken, and have them shipped off before the kids started spring break... or so I thought!

If there was a mistake that could be made, I made it! My first testing of the light box was with light yellow yarn with a white background. My camera over-compensated, and I ended up with too-dark pictures. My camera is far from the easiest to adjust, but I managed to figure out how to get it to work a bit better. Then I decided to start working on the socks. No matter what I did, they looked HORRIBLE!! Even though my LCD display on my camera seemed okay, when I would get the images loaded on my computer, craptastic would have been an improvement! I spent TWO FULL DAYS playing around with every single setting on my camera for colour, as well as colour correction software on the computer and online. I was crabbing because even my phone got the colour closer than my camera did, or so I thought. I even had a picture of my computer that I sent to my BFF that showed the colour differences... the yarn balls perched on the laptop, with one of the pictures I had taken loaded on the monitor... and even in a tiny picture viewed on a phone, the difference was blatantly apparent.

It wasn't until Friday that I discovered the real culprit, and no, it wasn't (entirely) operator error. It was my monitor of all things! Like I said, I had been using the leftover balls beside my monitor to try and correct the colour on my images... much easier to try and colour match when you have the actual yarn right beside it! I had heard on Rav that the pictures in the KP catalogue, and the web site weren't all that bad. I went to the site and grabbed a large thumbnail of the yarn I was sent. I loaded it up beside the picture I had taken of my socks, and still had the yarn sitting there in front. Imagine my surprise when I discover that the colour from the KP site nearly matched my photo perfectly, which of course meant that it was nowhere near the actual yarn I had in front of me!

So that all started the weekend's exercise in futility... trying to fix the colour on my monitor. Many, MANY posts on Ravelry to various forums, plenty of Googling, and tons of playing around with my display settings was my main task this past weekend. All of this to discover that it appears I can not fix my laptop's colour. There is nothing in the control panel that lets me actually adjust it... just some other settings that are either okay (brightness), or I can't fix the way they say (gamma). I am going to have to come up with a series of workarounds for this since a new computer, new second monitor, new imaging software, and the like, simply are not in the budget right now, or for the foreseeable future!!!

Sunday, March 18

No good deed goes unpunished

Truer words have never been spoken, and that was the theme of the day today. It turns out that our last few days of winter are more like what you'd expect from the last days of spring in June. The temps have been in the high teens for a couple days now at least. This means that we're all outside enjoying the beautiful weather and getting a head start on the yard work.

One of the many spring tasks around here is giving the truck a good interior cleaning. Winter tends to accumulate a fair amount of flotsam and jetsam in the various nooks and crannies, as well as a healthy layer of dirt over everything. The way the weather has been (mostly) for the last month or so means that I have been putting this off as long as I possibly could. Today was the day where it was finally getting done.

4 pails worth of cleaning water, a scrub brush, a toothbrush, 2 shopping bags of trash, $3.48 in change, and 3 hours of the doors open and radio playing later, it was nearly complete. I was done in even though the job wasn't completely finished, and as it turns out, so was the truck! About an hour later I tried to start it and the battery was dead. I let the truck sit for several hours before trying it again, to no avail. We ended up borrowing a battery charger from a neighbour, and it's hooked up to the truck now.

Serves me right for giving the truck a detailing!!

Nicole =o)

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Saturday, March 17

Light box -- before, and *almost* after

I apologize for the phone camera pics, but I think you will get the idea. I wasn't able to get the *exact* supplies I wanted, but what I *did* get should serve my purposes. The finished frame gets a backdrop attached to the cup-hooks, and a translucent sheet draped over the top. Lighting is aimed through the sheet, over and beside the frame to light the "stage" inside.
I gave it a quick test drive shortly after the frame was finished. I will definitely need to work on tweaking my camera. It turns out that I can't change the settings I need to the most, but I should be able to do macro with little difficulty. I also found that using 2 Ott-lites doesn't provide enough light, at least not with the sheet as it is. I will do another test run with wax paper as the "filter" to see how it works.
Once I get it working how I need to, I'll post pics of how everything turned out.

Friday, March 16

Gonna build me a light box!

Well the hands aren't co-operating with knitting like I need them to be, so I have to find other productive things to do with all the deadlines I have coming up soon. A lot of the extras, as I call them, that need working on have been put off for waaaaay too long now. Unfortunately, a good portion of these tasks require me to be able to concentrate fully, and that simply isn't possible when the kids (or Derek for that matter) are home.

My photography skills need quite a bit of improvement, although I have been doing better with them recently than I had in previous years. I spent nearly a full day last week doing all kinds of research on what I can do to make my pictures better. I simply am not in a place financially where I can justify any kind of professional photographer. I discovered that even with my cheap ~$100 camera, it is possible to take much better photographs than I have been. I downloaded a copy of the full user manual to teach myself how to play with some different settings, but I'll save that for another post.

What I will be doing today is making myself a light box to take pictures in. What is a light box? Basically it's a box with translucent sides that allows filtered light in to improve the quality of the pictures of the item inside, particularly with macro-type images. One easy DIY version that you can likely make with items you already have is here. Another cool version that uses screen frames can be found here. The one that I plan on making is here. It uses PVC pipe for the framing, and I plan on purchasing extra piping to be able to adjust the size of the "box". I'm also going to be purchasing a few colours of large poster paper so that I can change the background to best suit the item I'm photographing. I have 2 Ott-lites, a floor and desk version, so I'm basically set for lighting, along with our large dining room window for natural light. I have a tiny, table-top tripod for my camera, but I'm going to look into a floor version as well.

Wish me luck! I'm heading off into town in the truck with 3 kids, on a Friday with no school... what was I thinking???

Tuesday, March 13

The tape measure LIES!!!

Yes everyone, it's no longer just the bathroom scale that is a lying, cheating you-know-what. The previously trustworthy tape measure has now been delegated to "the boy who cried wolf" status.

Now before you all go commenting about how tape measures can stretch over time, and should be replaced periodically... this is a FOUR INCH DIFFERENCE!!! In less than an hour! Here is what I wrote on the project notes for my While Shrug earlier today:
Well I’ve discovered that my measuring tape LIES!!! I’ve mainly been working on this when I can’t work on socks… Knit Night, travelling back and forth to the airport, things like that. I had measured it a few days ago and had placed a marker at the 40” mark, since I wasn’t quite a 50” yet, and I knew I had to get to 57” before doing the ribbing for the cuff. Yesterday evening, we drove into the city since Derek had a very early flight this morning. I took advantage of the time and got quite a bit done on the shrug… or so I thought! Measuring on my lap, in the truck, my work was 17” from the marker. When we got to the hotel, one of the first things I did was roll it all out to get a proper measurement. Derek and I checked it, and it was only 53”!!! I have no idea how it shrank that much, since I was knitting away for well over an hour of our drive in on it! I placed new markers at 50”, and hopefully the last bit will be done over the next few days or so! 
See what I mean? It lies... it totally, and completely lied to me! At least it won't take all that long to finish it up. I've got my fingers crossed that this will be done before Derek gets back home again in 2 weeks. I like having FOs to show him, so that he knows I'm actually finishing things, not just starting them! Besides, I'm enjoying watching my knitmeters increase over there on the sidebar.

Nicole =o)

Monday, March 12

The best part of slow shipping...

... is that you forget what you ordered, so when it arrives it's all a surprise!!!

That happened to me today. I placed an order with Herrschners back on the 29th. I had been waiting for a free shipping offer to place my order for the yarn to finish Derek's Popcorn MAM. That morning I got an email from them announcing a 29% off sale for that day only to celebrate the leap year. I knew that the discount would more than take care of the shipping costs, so off to their web site I went to place my order.

One item was a given... the yarn I needed for Derek's afghan. Pretty much everything else was optional, so I began the process of putting things in and taking things out of my cart while I made my final decisions for my purchase. I chose two different crocheted sock monkey kits; one was a pair of mint candy-striped regular-sized dolls; the other was a set of 6 ornament-sized dolls. I also ordered an embroidered pillowcase and thread kit to make for Derek's room out at the mines. These had been in my wish list/ shopping cart for some time, and I had planned on adding these to the next order I placed. The rest of what I wanted to order went in and out of my cart so frequently, that I couldn't remember what all there was.

Today Derek made the trip to our post office at lunch time and came back with a notice card. He asked me if I had ordered anything. I told him, "yes, I told you I ordered the yarn to finish your afghan, remember?" After the lunch break, he went back to pick up my parcel. When he came through the door, he teased that he nearly needed a fork lift to bring it home (referring to a joke I made with my daughters about a very heavy Knit Picks order I had placed with many books). When I saw the size of the box, even I was astonished at how large it was. He asked me what I ordered again... your yarn, and a few other things... He accused me, rightly so, of forgetting what I ordered. I had to agree, but I really didn't think I had ordered THAT much!! At least not enough to fill that box.

Well, after taking the required photos with my phone to send off to my bff, I opened the box and dived in. It turns out that the box wasn't completely outrageous in size after all. Derek giggled at my reactions as I pulled item after item out of the carton. Of course there was the items I had remembered (or at least half remembered), but the fun part was the items I had completely forgotten about! There was a latch hook kit of a breast cancer ribbon (no explanation necessary to him on that at all!). There was a huge project bag filled with yarn, that I remembered was a crocheted afghan kit. The final item that had both of us puzzled was a plain white box. It wasn't until I began opening that I remembered... it was a crochet thread ball holder! Derek just shook his head and laughed at me.

In all honesty, the only thing I really needed to justify in any way, shape or form, was the afghan kit. It was the only thing in the order that was completely extravagant as far as I was concerned. The 4 balls of yarn were to be able to finish his afghan in the colours he wanted. The pillowcases were meant to be a surprise for him, as a piece of home in his room at the mine. The sock monkey kits were cute, he knows I can get them finished fast, and were mostly intended for one of the teenagers. The latch hook was simply because it was a pink ribbon item, and even if it's never made, he would never complain about my buying it. The thread holder is to make using my large balls of crochet thread easier, something that I have in vast abundance after cataloguing my stash previously. That leaves us with the afghan kit... I purchased it because I really liked it, knew it would be a relatively fast and easy project, and came with a pattern booklet with 3 other patterns. I justified the cost by showing him the savings on the invoice, and how it nearly covered the cost of the kit.

All that being said, I really am blessed. I don't need to justify any of it to him at all. He just likes seeing me happy, and knows how my crafting makes me happy. As long as our bills are paid, there's food in the fridge and cupboard, the kids have clothes, there's gas in the truck; it doesn't matter all that much to him where I spend the rest. I guess my biggest obstacle is me! It just kills me that I'm trying to knit and crochet through more than what I buy this year, and that afghan kit alone is just shy of 6000 (yes, SIX THOUSAND) yards!!!

Thursday, March 8

I wonder if my rocket stick is ready??

My main internet access is using a mobile rocket stick for my laptop. About two weeks ago, it died on me and I'd only had it for around three months at that point. Now I know I'm an internet addict, but that's just ridiculous for "wearing it out". I spent a good hour or more on the phone with the customer service/ help department before it was finally decided that I needed to go into town to have my stick sent in on warranty repair.

Now first of all, this all happened the same day as last time I dropped off Derek at the airport. The (normally) three hour drive was extended by less-than-ideal highway driving conditions due to the weather. Plus, I had spent an extra hour or two in town doing some shopping to try and find him a unique luggage tag. I arrived home and was playing along happily when suddenly pages stopped loading. This happens occasionally, and all I do is just disconnect and then reconnect the stick. Even this didn't work, so I tried rebooting, and that didn't fix it either. My next step is to contact the guy that sold it to me, who tells me to call 1-888-ROGERS1 for the customer care department. My next message to him is, "What is that in numbers?" I have a BlackBerry, and there's no letters on the numbers! LOL!! While on the phone with them, I go through my rebooting process again, changing settings in the connection, uninstalling and reinstalling the software... no luck. After finding out that this software is supposed to be compatible with my snail-driven dinosaur in the craft room, I head over there, and once again try hooking up... still no luck. That's when I'm told that I have to take it to the Rogers dealer and have them send it in. I contact my dealer again, and find out that he can't deal with it, that I have to take it to the corporate kiosk... which of course I have no idea where it's located! So after already being stuck in the truck driving for about 8 hours that day, I hop in and dash off to town. Of course it takes forever and three days to get all the paperwork done to send my little stick off, and issue me a temporary loaner. But all is now good in the world again because I "haz interwebs agin".

We shall now fast forward in this story to Monday afternoon. I get a phone call from the dealer to let me know that my stick is back and ready for pick-up. I politely say "thank you", and hang up. I wasn't worried about going to pick it up right away since I already had plans to run some errands in town the next morning. About an hour later, I'm sitting on the couch happily knitting away on my KP-IDP sock and watching LOTR: The Two Towers on Blu-Ray. My laptop is in its usual spot on the coffee table, screen black from being in sleep mode. I hear a bird chirping noise come from it, and am slightly puzzled since I am off-line. I start checking the various open web pages to see if one of them has an ad on it with sound... still skeptical because I've been off-line for at least an hour, and hadn't heard anything, and there was no way a new ad could have loaded. I finally realize that I had received a text message on my connection manager. I am paraphrasing here, but it basically said that my stick had been repaired and was now ready for pick-up. I shrug it off, since it was an automated message, but still a touch annoyed since I had already been phoned. Around an hour after that, I'm in the kitchen doing something with supper. I hear my phone's ringtone for an incoming email. I check my email folder to find that I had now received an email from Customer Care, telling me that my stick had been repaired and was ready to be picked up. REALLY?!!?? YA THINK?!!? Of course this starts a sarcastic conversation between my BFF and I, which is completely typical in this kind of situation.

The next day, I prepare all of my shopping lists, and head off into town fairly early so that I would still have the afternoon to do things around the house. I had to leave the house quite early Wednesday morning to pick up Derek, so I wanted to be able to go to bed early without a lot of housework and such on my mind. I mentally planned my route... start at Walmart, go across town to the mall where the Rogers dealer is, Giant Tiger, and finally Sobeys on my way out of town. I wasn't sure if the mall opened at 9:30 or 10:00, so that's why I went to Walmart first. I get to the mall around 10:30 to get my stick back to find out (after standing there for close to half an hour), that they couldn't do the exchange because their computer system was down entirely! I explained that I lived out of town, and it would be at least Thursday or Friday before I could return... and how their automated system was giving me fits about picking up my equipment already. I was also counting on getting my deposit back for planned purchases in the city the next day. Since there was nothing that could be done, I simply resumed my errands with plans to call them before I left town and inquire if their computers were back up or not. It turns out that they were, but again I was stuck driving across the city to get back to the mall once again... and to add insult to injury, I received my $50 deposit back in $5 bills because they hadn't done any business yet for the day and only had their float for change! I finally arrived home much later than I had intended... totally exhausted!

Nicole =o)

P.S.: I have come to the conclusion that Derek being home not only throws my housekeeping routines off, but my blogging routines as well!

Monday, March 5

Works in progress...

Just like all of my socks right now, this blog is another work in progress! It's definitely going to take me a bit of time to get all the settings just how I want them. The advantage is that a lot of the content will be dynamic... which means less time needed when I'm doing updates down the road. The source coding is a lot more than what I'm used to, so I will have to decipher it all before I can start fixing it! I'm still encouraging comments and feedback for all of it.

Back to the socks...

I am trucking along on my KD-IDP sample. I was sort-of hoping that I would have it finished today, but no luck there. I have gotten it past the heel turn, and only have a couple gusset decreases left. Fingers are crossed for completion tomorrow, and casting on of the second sock. I really want to have these done by the weekend so that I can get them washed, blocked, photographed, and sent off next week. That will be very satisfying personally, and as an added bonus, another 422 metres on the knitmeter!

I was able to knit a stripe's worth on my Felici sock yesterday too. I want to get at least the first sock done before Derek leaves next Monday. Wednesday I head off to Winnipeg to pick him up from the airport, but he's only home 4½ days this time around. It's looking like my trips into town will only be once a month from now on instead of every two weeks. That means I have a ton of running around to do before the airport. I just hope that Winnipeg Trading Post is open at 9 or 9:30. I want to check out their bead selection. I wasn't able to find them online, and I do recall that they used to do mail order. I'm hoping to find some glass beads larger than the 6/0 I can get here. I also need to run into Ram Wools. I am hunting for some inspirational sock yarns, specifically some Durasport; a yarn swift; and hopefully some circulars for socks. If I still have time, I will be hopping over to Wolseley Wool as well. I haven't gotten an email from them yet, but my fingers are crossed that my crochet hook set is in.

I've been injured!!!

Yuppers... I have a spring cleaning-related injury of all things! It's bad enough how I jab the nerves of my finger with my dpns, and have built up a fairly thick knitting callous, but now I've been damaged by my cleaning rags! I guess I use a lot of strength when wringing it out, since I now have two very tender, and very raw spots on my right hand, exactly where the cloth rubs! I forced myself to finish off the back hallway despite my "disability". That was the goal I had for the day, and I was damned and determined to finish it. However, until my fingers heal up, 90% of the cleaning is up to the kids. Lord, help me with that!!! Dishes and wiping the counters, etc. will be about the extent of my efforts until a healing layer is present. This really derails my momentum, and I certainly hope that I will be able to continue on with my plans by Thursday. That would mean I would only be losing one real day of scrubbing, and since I already had a lot of errands to run, and last minute things to do around here, I am unsure if I would have been able to get much done tomorrow anyway. Wednesday, of course, I will be travelling back and forth to Winnipeg, so nothing can get done around here then.

No worries!

Just a fast note to let you all know that I'm in the process of updating my overall template here on Blogger. This overhaul will have everything moving all over the place today as I convert from my own template to one of the Blogger ones. One of the biggest changes will allow me to use "gadgets", something I've wanted for a while now, but was resisting because I knew it meant I would "lose" my layout (and I really liked it).

The majority of it will be done today, but I fully expect to be tweaking and nudging it for several weeks until I get it exactly like I want. Thanks for your patience, and feedback on these changes is *definitely* welcomed!

Nicole =o)

Sent from my BlackBerry® powered by Virgin Mobile.

Sunday, March 4

Running around in circles...

That's exactly what I feel like when I have too many different things on the go. I get overwhelmed and then don't manage to accomplish much of anything. It's very frustrating as well since I feel that I should be able to get more done now that I don't work outside of the home, and rarely go out.

Well that is the situation I am finding myself in right now. Within reach of me here at the couch I have three socks-in-progress, my shrug-in-progress, Lissa's cardi swatch, and a crocheted place mat-in-progress. There are also several hanks/ balls of yarn in varying states -- some in the process of being wound into hanks, washed, weighed, and catalogued before being stored; some recent purchases that need to be photographed and put away (or cast on since they're interesting); a balled up hank of Tanis fingering that's in the "time out corner" for not behaving when I tried to design with it. Add to that, my usual flotsam and jetsam of design reference books, yarn/ craft catalogues, various knit/ crochet tools and gadgets, and my pencils, notepads, and notebooks for my endless lists and notes. Can we say, "recipe for disaster? I knew you could!"

Bright Idea #825

I am also in the midst of spring cleaning. As I put it when I talked to my DH the other day, "I had one of my bright ideas!" Any of you that have been following me since the beginning know that those are the words of doom when they escape my lips! I'm certain that Derek was quite thrilled that he is/ was a full three provinces away when I made this announcement.

Like all of my Bright Ideas (tm), it started off innocently enough. Wednesday morning I went into town to purchase Derek a new Keurig coffee machine, and get some groceries. While at the grocery store, which wasn't my usual place to shop, I picked up some new-to-me spice blends. This is something I've been doing quite regularly since starting my diet. When I got home, I dutifully put away all of the refrigerated and frozen items before taking a rest. This is quite the norm for me since my back and feet are usually done in by the time I'm finished the shopping. Besides, there is a very good reason I don't normally shop at that store... it's simply way too exhausting. After having my coffee, I went back into the kitchen to finish putting away the dry goods. I grabbed the two spice bottles and was about to put them away in the cupboard above the stove where they belong. There was really only room for one bottle without shoving and knocking everything over, and that was when I decided that that cupboard was too dirty and too disorganized. That's where it all began. I removed everything from the cupboard and started scrubbing. Being right above the stove, it doesn't take long for a thin layer of oil and grime to coat every surface. Our cupboards are mainly oak, and that seems to soak it in even more. Some more scrubbing, some more spraying of my bleach spray, and I even removed the cupboard handles so that I could get it all super clean. Then came the cleaning and culling of the items that were in there. I have quite a bit of Tupperware (I was a dealer many, many moons ago), so there was a lot of shuffling between containers and soaking in hot soapy water. My garbage can runneth over with all of the items I chose to toss... especially spices that were older than some of my children, and were never likely to be used anyway even if they had been fresh. Scrub, toss, and then scrub some more. My handy, dandy label maker was put to work making new labels for some of the containers that either lost their labels or never had them to begin with. A list was added to my phone of the items I had tossed that would need to be replaced. All totalled it took me the better part of the afternoon and part of the evening to complete to my satisfaction. Granted I don't do it all at once, I simply can't, but I was definitely focused, as evidenced by my lack of procrastination.

Well the first cupboard turned out so nice that the next morning I started work on the next one. It was the same type of process all over, since this was the cupboard beside the stove that is the catch-all for the odd-ball baking supplies mostly. This process continued through the next few days, and I would estimate that I have about a quarter to one third of my kitchen cupboards now detail-cleaned. I have a lot of cupboards when you include the "side board" with glass front cupboards above, and extra-deep cupboards below. We don't have a pantry, since we have more than enough cupboards to require one. I'm trying to get one or two cupboards done per day, and that's a pretty realistic goal I think. It's not too much, and it keeps me off the computer in the mornings when I can't knit anyway. As a side benefit, I've been able to knit as early as 10 am these past few days. I'm guessing it's all the hot water that my hands are in that "get them moving" earlier than usual! I just find it funny, and that's why it's classified as a "bright idea", that this all started by buying one rather than two new spices at the grocery store!

Saturday, March 3

Picture, picture... who wants a picture?

Finally... for your viewing pleasure... or not, as the case may be, is a selection of FO shots!!!

First we have Derek's denim work socks. After I gave them to him, he then told me that he had enough at the mine site! These will keep his sock drawer at home warm in the meantime!!! I used Denim Tuffy and some scraps of Smoke.

Next we have Denise's slippers. I used the leftovers from the comfort shawl I knit her about a year and a half ago... she matches now!

Third, we have Raith's slippers. These were made with a ball of yarn that was a mystery until the end (RHSS Soft Navy)... I learned how to hand-wind my own centre-pull balls well over 6 years ago, and this ball wasn't wound that way. I had wrapped it around the yarn label, which was the norm for me before learning the other method. That actually came in handy as I had run out of yarn half-way through the second "tongue". Thanks to having so much of my stash catalogued on Ravelry (including bin location) I was able to not only locate another ball of the same yarn, but one of the two listed was even the same dye lot from 2002!

Last but not least are Raith's "Wild" socks. He is the most-wool sensitive person I have ever met! He picked this yarn out of my stash for me to make him a pair of socks with. Since this yarn is Bernat Sox, a 75% acrylic/ 25% nylon blend, I gave them to him with the warning that his feet will sweat and these won't be nearly as comfortable as my other socks.

There are links to all of these projects in yesterday's post since I'm too lazy to grab the links to make my life a little easier. I'll have a longer post tomorrow... I'm pretty well done in with all the spring cleaning I've been doing this past week!

Friday, March 2

I had February goals???

Yes, apparently I did! Although you'd never know it by looking at what I planned to work on and what I actually did work on!

What did I do in February?

Note: As of this writing, a lot/ most of the updated pictures I have, haven't been uploaded to Ravelry yet. I will be working on that over the weekend for many of them. I didn't want to delay this post any longer.
Checking my Rav project page, I have only two FOs to report: my Little Bit Irish Cardigan; and Derek's At-Home Slippers. I worked on my Felici socks while Derek and I were out together, but haven't made much overall progress on them. They are in my purse at all times, so I can always grab my sock and do a round or three when I have an idle moment. I am reconsidering the name I gave them however, "Nearly Instant Gratification" seems to be turning into "Slog Until You Die"!! I started my While Shrug just over a week ago, shortly after finishing my Little Bit Irish cardigan. I had done the swatching for Lissa's ruffled cardigan, but put it aside after getting gauge. I need to follow the pattern for that sweater, and a project like that just doesn't fit in right now. The shrug does because most of it is just stockinette, and it's perfect for something other than a sock when I need no-brain knitting. I started a new design for Ram Wools' Footwork Design contest prior to recieving my KP-IDP yarn Wednesday. I'm really liking how it's turning out, but there won't be project pages (or at least ones with pics other than just the yarn) until much later on this year.

I guess the worst thing about my February progress is that not a single stitch was done on a single afghan or shawl. I do have good afghan news though... The Monsterghan was finally delivered to the recipient, and I placed an order for the Popcorn MAM yarn. Gotta love a 29% off sale, it took care of the outrageous shipping and then some! Of course there's other goodies in there as well!

What will I do in March?

I can sum up that question in one word: SOCKS!! Socks are my biggest priority from now until the contest closing in mid-May. Anything else will simply be as a diversion, or to give my hands a rest from tiny needles. I have my first Footwork design started, and it seems to be going well. That pattern is going to need a lot of editing and clarification for sure... I'm using some new-to-me techniques, and loving every minute of it, but that makes for a few headaches when trying to explain what I'm doing! I have 3 or 4 more in the planning stages written into my notebook, and will be stopping in at Ram's when I'm in Winnipeg next week to source out a few more yarns. I also finally received my KP-IDP yarn support for another design, and while that project is also coming along, I'm having a lot of misgivings on how the colour is pooling. I'm going to get another full repeat or two done before I make my final evaluation on it though. My knitting callous is going to be taking a real beating from tiny needles!!!

Nicole =o)

Thursday, March 1

Shall we try this again? ;o)

Here we go... the start of a new month, and the start of a new try at regular blogging! I will do my month-end round-up/ new-month goals in my next post or two. I also have a picture post of January FOs in my drafts folder too that I need to post! I will now apologize in advance for the extreme random-ness of this post. I seem to have a little bit of everything on my mind today!

So what have I been doing for the last 3 weeks?? Knitting like a mad-woman, that's what!! Little Bit Irish cardigan was finished about a week ago, and I've mainly been concentrating on socks, socks, and more socks! Almost everything else has been put by the way-side due to a new KP-IDP pattern I'm working on the sample for, as well as this year's Footwork contest at Ram Wools. I won first place last year, and I have my fingers crossed for placing in the top 3 again this year. I did start a simple shrug out of Homespun I bought on sale recently, so that I would have a completely brainless knitting project for when my hands can't deal with the fineness of sock needles.

On one of my trips into Winnipeg this past month I picked up 2 different orange sock-weight yarns to shut up my best friend... she insisted that I had to buy myself some orange yarn or she would explode! I found two at Wolseley Wool that inspired me. One is going to be turned into a scarf or shawl with a leafy lace pattern. The other is going to be a simple pair of socks. I'm not sure if I will be doing them generic or designing a pattern for them, but they have already been named... Shut Up Liz Socks!!

Derek continues to rave about his worsted wool work socks out west, and the guys at the mine site with him still think he's nuts for spending that kind of money on a single pair of socks... probably along with me too for knitting them!! Funny thing is that his socks (well his work socks anyway!) are the cheap ones! I can only imagine what they'd think about his $45-ish silk-blend socks! What gets me is that even when Derek proves to them how great his socks are -- the guys can wring out their socks at the end of the day, and Derek (who has very sweaty feet) shows them how his socks don't even feel damp -- they still think his socks aren't all that great. We shall see if they still have that attitude in the summer and can't stay cool!

I have come to the conclusion that I really need to get a voice-activated digital recorder. Now before you tell me that my Crackberry/ speed bump-wannabe has a built-in recorder, I will tell you that I know this, but it's not very user-friendly... at least not me-friendly anyway! I have a tendency to come up with my best design ideas and inspirations while driving. The biggest problem with this is obvious... I can't write down any notes while driving. However, it seems that the worse the driving conditions, the better and faster the ideas are. That's why I need something voice-activated!! If I wait until I get to my destination (or even next stop) to record my ideas, I inevitably will forget something (which of course I remember as soon as I get back on the road!). I found a nice Sony one for under $60 that should suit my purposes perfectly. With three hours of solitary driving time every two weeks, I can see it getting a lot of use!

Nicole =o)

Wednesday, February 8

Travelling is tiring!

It's been a very long day for me. I had to get up at 4am to drive into the city to pick up Derek from the airport, and then turn right around and come back home!

At least I didn't come home empty handed... I stopped at Wolseley Wool and got a few things. First on the list was "orange yarn" to shut up my best friend, Liz. She's been telling me for about a month now that I had to get some orange yarn or she would explode! I got a cool hand-painted sock "blank" from Flat Feet, and a nice orangey wool/ alpaca blend from ONline. I also wanted to get some more removable stitch markers for my cardigan, but they were out of stock. I did manage to pick up a new crochet hook to try out to see how my wrist handles it, and a package of straight Chibi's. I also ordered a set of interchangeable crochet hook frojm Knitter's Pride, now that they are available in Canada. I'm looking forward to trying them out.

The only knitting that was accomplished was the leg of Derek's work sock. One of his work buddies caught a ride home with us, so with 3 of us sitting on the one bench seat in the truck, it was the easiest to manage. At least I'll be able to get the sock itself finished in the next few days!

Tuesday, February 7

Travelling tomorrow

Been spending today preparing for being gone most of the day tomorrow. I have to leave around 5:30am to go to Winnipeg to pick up Derek from the airport. I also have to do a bit of shopping before I pick him up at 11, so that's why I have to leave so early. Then comes a second 3+ hour drive in the truck, but this time more squished because his friend that lives nearby is driving back with us. I just hope magic-looping the sleeve on my sweater won't be too awkward with 3 of us on the seat!

Monday, February 6

Facing my fears...

I'm afraid... I'm very afraid... of my craft room!

Yes, one of my biggest fears is my craft room. Right now it is little more than a storage room. I have been picking at it bit by bit over the last year, occasionally with help from the sproggins, to get it in order. There have been times that nearly the whole house has been taken over, and other times where it's only a few boxes or bins that escape the doorway. To the untrained eye, it would seem that nothing has really happened in there... stuff goes in... stuff goes out... stuff goes back in... In reality, a lot of trash was removed, and the rest of the flotsam and jetsam is in varying degrees of organization. The biggest difference for me was being able to access whatever I needed during the months of December and January... typically the worst possible times in there because the craft room tends to become a dumping ground for all the homeless items in the living room when we decorate for Christmas!

My "after work" text message conversation with Derek yesterday read, "I set off a bomb in the craft room", "You did", "That's what it looks like", "Oh", "Alex, Lissa, and I ripped it apart today", "House too with that bomb", "Parts of it anyway". Man does he know me and my methods or what? LOL!! But it's true, it does look like I set off a bomb in there, and the fallout is scattered throughout the hallway and into the living room. At least my family understands that in order to make a real difference in cleaning up and organizing such an area requires making a huge mess to accomplish it!

...anybody got a lifeline for me before I venture into there?

Sunday, February 5

Lookee what I found!

Yesterday was very depressing for me, so I went on a search to find patterns to match some of my stash. I do have some designs to work on, but I also enjoy working on OPPs (other people's patterns). Here's a small sampling of what I came across... I love the advanced search on Ravelry!!! (These ones are all free downloads)

Head in the Clouds Cowl: (knit) A pretty cabled cowl, and who doesn't have enough cowls?? Especially if you live in an area that is supposed to get winter! I don't suit hats... of any type... ever... but a cowl doesn't make me look like a complete dork (well unless that's the effect I'm going for).
Wedding Ring Quilt Afghan: (crochet) I have always loved this design, but knew that it would be way beyond me to ever make one... now I can... in yarn!!! I saw a few examples of FOs where 2 different colours of rings were used, and I can see that being perfect for my Jeweltones stash.
A Recipe for Fish Afghan: (knit) This one has made the rounds of the internet before, but there are people that haven't seen it. It's not as popular as the hexipuff pattern is right now, but its up there! I actually started one for Melissa several years back, and still come across a few fish every once in a while. I had *lost* the pattern, but I found it again now! Maybe I might even finish mine eventually!!
Nine Dwindling Cables Tam: (knit) A beautifully classic tam. It's more like woven cables than twisted ones IMO, but still looks very intricate. I am not a hat person (see above), but this was just too striking not to save it.
Monster Eyes Slippers: (crochet) All you have to do is look at the picture for this pattern and you will understand. Who wouldn't want Mikey from Monsters Inc. on their feet? Yes, it has kid to adult sizing!
Red Bird Hat: (crochet) Angry Birds. Hat. Nuff said!
Fisherman Shrug: (knit) This is the pattern I decided on when I picked up the Homespun a few weeks ago. Strangely enough, a search of the projects on Rav shows that noone has tried this pattern in this yarn, even though nearly every other bulky Lion Brand product has been represented. I have the magazine this pattern was originally printed in, but the vast eratta makes it necessary for anyone that wants to make this to download the freebie version.

Most of these patterns all call for worsted weight yarn, which I personally have in abundance beyond reason! My biggest problem is finding the time to make all these cool things, and then the time to make more when the kids see what I'm making for myself! LOL!

Saturday, February 4

Giving up?

It seems like none of my larger projects want to work out. First there is the missing dark sage yarn for Derek's MAM which completely stalled my plans to finish up that long-term UFO. Now the tweed cardigan is giving me fits. I am beginning to feel that I'm simply not meant to finish any large projects at all this year. Then to add insult to injury, I found a large Rubbermaid bin that was crammed full of more yarn! Most of it was Red Heart Jeweltones... a yarn that was discontinued over 10 years ago.

I think it's time for bed... hopefully things will be better in the morning.

Friday, February 3

Project Progress Updates

I have been quite busy lately, as you can see by the knitmeters on my sidebar. I have also been tracking how much yarn I've bought so far this year, and it's nearly an even amount. My goal for the year is to use more than I buy, and for this, sock yarn does count as stash!

I am now finished all of the commissioned projects I had in my queue. All that's left is washing and delivery! I haven't had time to take any pics yet or upload them, but I'm hoping to get that done tomorrow. For this week I have finished off Raith's socks, started and finished Raith's slippers and Neecie's slippers, started a pair of work socks for Derek and finished the first one.

For the next few days I want to continue finishing off a few things. My tweed cardigan is expected to be finished by Wednesday (according to Derek anyway LOL!), the second sock for Derek should be done, as well as a pair of slippers for him. I also want to get the Gumdrop Placemat set finished up for pattern release.

Thursday, February 2

February Goals

From my Jan. 1st post with my project goals for the first 6 months of 2012, my February project goals are:
Sweater: Melissa's Cute Knit Cardigan (Mary Maxim pattern/ Bravo yarn); Shawl: Diatom Shawl (Knit Picks kit, purples colourway); Afghan: finishing the Melissa design; Socks: finishing the Texaco design.
Considering I didn't finish a single project from January's list (see yesterday's post), I am skeptical that I will be able to complete this month's goals without completely ignoring everything else I have on the go currently. All that being said, I am not going to ignore this list entirely... just use it to guide me through the month somewhat.

Sweater: As of this writing, I still have at least a few days of knitting left on my A Little Bit Irish cardigan. I also purchased some Lion Brand Homespun in Tudor to make myself a shrug to keep my arms warm in our chilly living room. This project will bump my other planned sweater projects down one notch in my list, as I really need something while the weather is cold that is practical while I'm knitting and crocheting... something a typical sweater doesn't do... well at least not exactly how I want it!
Shawl: I have Diatom listed for this month, but since the Denise shawl design wasn't touched... and this design is a higher priority than any of the shawls I have in my queue... just like the sweaters list, the shawls list has to be bumped a notch.
Afghan: This is actually one of the goals I can honestly see myself finishing this month... or at least making progress on. I won't be able to do much on Derek's popcorn MAM until I can order the additional yarn, so it is the perfect time to pull this project out again.
Socks: Only time will tell if I can get back to the Texaco design. I have a sock and half to go on the Felici socks, and a second sock to go on Derek's work socks. This isn't a pressing design at the moment, and I have a few other sock patterns that are nearly ready for release, so I don't feel guilty if I have to bump these socks yet again. 

I have my fingers crossed that I will be able to complete my other goals... releasing a pattern, promoting myself, updating my Rav databases, and getting my craft room functional.

My most important goal of all, and the one that will decide if I can complete anything, goal or not, is my health. Since the beginning of December, I have lost approximately 15 of the 60 pounds I need to lose, and I am making sure I am walking more. I have cut out nearly all of my typical snack foods, and reach for fruit or vegetables much more often. I'm cooking healthier, and beginning to feel better. I have been told that you can see that I've lost some weight, but I can't see it and my clothes don't fit any differently. Hopefully that won't be the case a month from now!

Nicole =o)

Wednesday, February 1

January Round-up

Well, just how well did I do with my goals? Not too well it appears, but I did get quite a bit done regardless! This is what I had on January 1st as my knitting/ crocheting goals for the month of January:
Sweater: Tweed Cardigan (Mary Maxim kit); Shawl: finishing the Denise design; Afghan: finishing Derek's Popcorn MAM; Socks: finishing my Felici socks (Caprica colourway).
  • The tweed cardigan isn't finished, but I did spend 2 weeks mostly concentrating on the popcorn afghan. As I had posted earlier, I recovered from having to rip back so much of my early work due to missed increases, but that was a loss of at least 2 days worth of knitting. I started work on it again the day before Derek returned, and got it divided a few days later. I went through well over a ball of yarn while he was home for the 5 days. I still have the sleeves to do, the stitches are on holders right now; and the body is about half done. I'm on the 4th ball of the 8 included in the kit, and Derek expects me to be wearing it when I pick him up from the airport next Wednesday. It's a fast, and mindless knit, so it is an achievable goal... it all depends on what else I decide to work on.
  • I didn't touch the shawl at all =o( (no links since it's a design in progress)
  • The popcorn MAM didn't get finished, but it wasn't for a lack of trying. Firstly, it wasn't nearly as complete as I first thought. I had wanted to surprise Derek with it finished when he came home. I realized that I wouldn't be able to finish it in the 2 weeks that he was gone initially, as I needed approximately another week or so. I then discovered that I didn't have enough of the dark sage yarn to finish up the afghan. I checked my stash, and according to my Ravelry listings, I have NONE!!! It would be my guess that I had used a lot of it on his quiltghan back in 2002 or 2003... knowing then that I could easily buy more. Unfortunately 10+ years later, that is no longer the case. The colour is still being made, but nowhere I shop (or can get to) carries that colour. I will need to order more from Herrschnerrs, the only place online I could locate that colour. I had considered re-working it to become a "striped" afghan... using a different colour scheme for alternating strips... that way I could keep it a surprise still. The more I thought about it, the more I leaned towards letting Derek know, and letting him make the final decision on it. He decided that he wants it all to be in the sage colourways, so I'm ordering the additional yarn needed when I next get an email letting me know about a free shipping offer.
  • The Felici socks were worked up to picking up the gusset stitches, and left at that point. As much as I love the socks, and love working with the yarn, my priorities dictated that I work on Raith's socks and other projects that were "needs" rather than "wants". They still went with me everywhere, but spent the majority of the month being shown off, rather than knitted on.

What got finished?

  • Raith's socks. I finished the first sock on the 26th or 27th I think (checked my tweets for a guesstimate), and of course immediately cast on the second. That one was finished on Sunday (2-3 days), which seems to be quite typical of my second socks... what the first one takes in weeks, the second one is done in days!
  • Derek's travelling slippers. Derek travelling means new slippers... this is a tradition born of necessity for over 10 years now. I wasn't up to making him slippers when he originally left in December, and as it turns out, it was a false start anyway. I had him pick out a ball of yarn from my "scraps" bin the day before he left and whipped them up in time for him to get them in his luggage before we went to bed that night. 

What's in progress?

  • Derek's denim work socks. I cast these on right after finishing Raith's socks on Sunday. I've been meaning to get some more socks done for him, but haven't since I nearly killed my hands doing two pairs back-to-back for his b-day/ our anniversary in June last year. One of his pairs of socks is about to blow out, and I forced myself to buy 2 pairs worth of Tuffy when I was in Winnipeg dropping him off last week. When I got home and tried to put the yarn away in the bin Derek and I had bought for worsted wools, it wouldn't all fit! I did go out and buy another, larger bin, but at the same time I went hunting for the 2 hanks of Tuffy I had balled up back in the summer. As of this writing, I am FLYING through the first sock. I got the stripes done Sunday before bed, the leg done Monday, the heel flap/ turn done and gusset picked up before I went to knit night last night. For whatever reason, my fingers flew while I was there, and I'm now nearly at the toe. I fully expect to be grafting the toe tonight! It would be nice to have them waiting for Derek when he gets home next Wednesday.
  • Raith's slippers. These were also started on Sunday. I have been facing my ever-growing queue, and am seeing the list loom over me like the Sword of Damocles. Derek wants to go into Winnipeg for the weekend later this month, so I need to have the entire order he placed from the fall complete by that time. This pair of slippers, and one more is all that is left. These slippers would have been sewn up last night, but yesterday morning I ran out of yarn a few rows away from the second tongue being finished. It was a "Maxwell Smart" moment... "I missed it by that much!" I knew the yarn was well over 6 years old, since it was wound into a regular ball of yarn and I've been doing centre-pull balls by hand for at least that long. I was guessing at what yarn it was when I created the Rav entry, but when I got to the end of the ball, I discovered that I had wrapped the ball around the yarn label. Thanks to having my stash so well documented on Ravelry, I was able to find out that not only did I have 2 full balls of this exact yarn in my stash (and in which bin), but one of them was the same date code of "No Dye Lot" yarn as what I had been using! (2002 by the way!) Rebecca waited over 6 hours, and didn't go get the ball for me until just before I left for knit night, so the tongue wasn't completed, and I couldn't sew them up there like I had originally planned.

What about my other goals?

  • Releasing a pattern a month: I didn't get a pattern released... in fact I didn't really work on any designs this month at all. I did, however, submit an existing (but unreleased) pattern to the KP-IDP for consideration. I do have the Gumdrop Placemat Set dug out of the craft room, and here in the living room with me so that I will get the last of the samples finished, photographed, and can release the pattern.
  • Continue listing everything on Ravelry: This is an on-going process. I have been very vigilant about making sure that each new purchase is listed in my Ravelry databases. I am also tracking yardage of how much I buy... in the hopes that I will use more than what I bring in this year. A small amount of stash from the "front room" was brought in for me to catalogue, but I haven't made a huge effort in that direction this month.
  • Promoting myself more: I didn't do as much of this as I had intended to, but I still did more than what I have been doing. I have added a few more patterns to my Facebook page, I have registered at Craftsy (but haven't listed anything there yet), and have been tweeting a little more often. I have continued to be active on Ravelry, but not in a promotional sense. I am trying to make blogging and tweeting more of a habit... we shall see if I'm more regular with that in February than I was in January!
  • Stash and craft room reorganization: This particular goal got little more than "a lick and a promise" this past month. I made small, baby steps in a few things, but most importantly, I didn't make any backwards steps. 
All in all, I have to say this was a pretty successful month as far as progress goes... just look at the yarn meters on the left column! No, I didn't achieve the goals I had set for myself, but I didn't give up either. I kept going, kept trying, kept making progress. Since last night was knit night, I will do my February goals post tomorrow. I will also need to do a progress/ FO photo post in the next couple of days. I have linked to my Ravelry project pages for those of you that are interested and taking a look at the details. I have them shared publicly, so you don't need a Ravelry account or to sign in to view them. 

Friday, January 6

I should know better..

...than to make any kind of plans to finish something!

I was just cruising along on my A Little Bit Irish cardigan, or so I thought! I'm not sure if I messed up while at the airport, but I know I messed up on the increases while at knit night. The end result was frogging 7 rows of work:

Then I had to knit it all up again so I wouldn't have a knotted mess:

Now I can cruise again until it's time to start the next ball of yarn, and I'll pause to count rows and stitches and such then!

Thursday, January 5

All brainless knitting isn't the same!

Tonight was my monthly knitting night. It's something I really need for several reasons. First of all, it tends to be my only contact with real people. With not working outside of the home, and being out in the middle of nowhere, and not having any friends out here, I simply don't have contact with people outside of my home other than the internet! It's also nice to meet with other knitters and crocheters... see what they're working on, get to feel and see different yarns and tools... just talk with other people that "get it"... ones whose eyes don't glaze over when you start talking about how smooth your new needles are, how squishy and soft your new yarn is, etc etc.

I learned long ago that for any knit night, that the project(s) I bring to work on have to be mindless, no pattern to follow, nothing that requires counting rows, no counting stitches above about 10. I decided to bring Raith's Wild sock, and my Little Bit Irish cardigan with me. The sock is over halfway down the foot, so I wouldn't have to worry about counting rows before starting the toe. The cardigan is at the point where I increase before and after the markers, and purl the wrong side. Both are very suitable for knit night, or so I thought!

The place we met this time was a restaurant, and was very poorly lit. That eliminated the possibility of knitting on the sock, as the yarn is quite dark for the most part. That meant working on the cardi, which is what I wanted to work on anyway! Well, at the end of the night, as I was saying my goodbyes, I commented about how I was going to go home and check my increases to make sure I got them all. I had knit about 6 rows of my cardi, which is 3 increase rows, but with chatting and such, I'm not completely sure if I remembered to do my increases before and after each marker! LOL!!

Nicole =o)

Wednesday, January 4

Travelling means slippers!

I can't recall exactly when the tradition started, but whenever Derek travels, I make him a new pair of slippers. He used to "blow through" a pair every time he went away, so I simply began making him a new pair before he left! Well, he has needed a new pair for some time now, and since his flight is at 7am, I figured it was about time I made some! I'm proud to announce my first FO of 2012: Derek's Travelling Slippers

I have also set up knitmeters on the sidebar to note how much yarn I've worked through this year. I downloaded my stash database on Ravelry, and it's over 170 km of yarn! Since this project was about 183m, that means I crocheted up 1/1000th of my stash! LOL! I will only be adding to that total as a project is finished, so the numbers will stay static until projects are done.

I am currently working on the yoke of my cardigan while I wait for the time for Derek and I to leave for the airport. I'm not getting the 3+ hours of knitting time as I had hoped because his 7am flight requires us to leave home by 2am! I can knit by feel somewhat, but I can't knit in total darkness. Here's how the collar turned out:

I will keep on working on this until it's time to get ready to go in about an hour or so. We printed up the pattern for the rose-coloured afghan today, so I'm pretty sure that Derek thinks that is the project I will be working on... won't he be surprised when he returns?!? I'm also hoping to have the cardigan done, or nearly done by the time he gets back. The cardigan, the popcorn afghan, and the commissioned projects will definitely keep me busy mindlessly for when I need a diversion from my mind wandering to places that it best not wander off to.

Nicole =o)

Tuesday, January 3

The little swatch that could!

Yesterday I was talking about my swatch, and here it is:

This is the third one I did, and is the correct stitch count per inch at long last! I slogged through the rest of the collar and got started on the body. I only did a couple rows of the body, enough to establish the increases. Those couple of rows were enough to make it easier going now that I'm using the larger needle size. 3.5mm needles and worsted/ aran weight yarn don't mix all that well, no matter how good your needles are! I'm not sure how much I will get done on this daily... I'm sorta aiming for around 10 rows, but since it will be over 300 stitches at the underarm before dividing for the sleeves, that number is definitely negotiable! I'm taking this project and Raith's socks with me on the drive to the airport, so I will have 3 solid hours of knitting time, and possibly more if I wait with Derek for his flight!

I want this project to be one of my "mindless" ones, which means that I don't really have to think. Follow the directions on the pattern, and "just do it"! I like these kinds of projects for the break from the brain-busting that some of my designing does. It's a treat to be able to just sit and knit and not have to think about what I'm doing, how I'm doing it, and getting it written down in a way that resembles English. It's relaxing and soothing in a way that is hard to describe. I enjoy designing... I really do, but I also like to zone-out and feel the rythym of the stitches being formed by my fingers. All that being said, I am changing the type of increases that the pattern calls for. It calls for all eight increases to be standard m1 increases. While this type will serve the purpose, I really prefer to have mirrored increases, especially in a place as visible as a raglan sleeve. The increases I do are a type of lifted increase that I saw in a book once, and they give it a very nice look IMO. They don't take any more time, and I do them without really thinking about it anyway... kind of like how I do a ssk for any decrease paired with a k2tog, or a sl1 k2tog psso for any centred double decrease.

In unrelated news, I found the other missing pattern for my UFO afghan. I was searching around Ravelry a bit when I remembered a printed pattern I had found in the craft room by "SAG55". Searched a little bit more, and found the pattern I wanted on the Internet Archive. It's called Basketweave Afghan, and I remember it being a completely brainless project. It was my "bus project" for some time until it basically out-grew the shopping bag I carried it in. When I was looking at it, I guess-timated it to be around 50% done, and that's how I've entered it into my projects page. I also entered Derek's Popcorn MAM into my projects, but that pattern isn't linked in Ravelry either. I get started on that one Wednesday night!

Nicole =o)

Monday, January 2

Planning... and swatching... (fail to plan and you plan to fail)

I have discovered that I am a person that likes to report things "after the fact", rather than posting about what I plan to do. Yes, I like making plans and stating goals, but more in a longer-term sense, not a day-by-day "to do" list. Part of it is that it is easier for me to write in the evenings, after the house has quieted down a bit. The other part of it is that I know I rarely get done everything I plan to in any given day. I tend to "over-book" myself. The longer term goals are more realistic for me to complete on time... it's just how I seem to manage.

Yesterday is a typical example of my normal goals. It was Sunday, even though it really didn't feel like one, that means I'm supposed to be doing project finishing details. I ended up doing the opposite by starting a new project! I swatched for my "Tweed Cardigan" (link in yesterday's post), which I've named "A Little Bit Irish" in my Ravelry projects. My intent was to simply do the swatch, and then get on with other things I wanted to get done. As I half-expected, the needles called for in the pattern gave me a swatch that was off by one stitch width-wise, and dead-on for the row count. This is the same result I had when swatching for my cabled pullover (Gonna Try to Cable Pullover in my Ravelry projects. Unfortunately, in my enthusiasm for this project -- or was it haste to get on with something else? -- I decided to go *up* one size of needles for the next swatch, but I was trying for 17 stitches per 4 inches instead of the 16 stitches I got on my sample.

A quick lesson in gauge/ tension:

For those of you that are muggles (meaning non-knitters/crocheters), I will explain the importance of gauge for this project. Even my middle DD, who is a knitter and crocheter, looked at me puzzled when I said it was off by one stitch. It is only one stitch, how much difference can it make? A lot actually! The cardigan I am making has a finished chest measurement of 48 inches (~122cm). The gauge swatch is 4 inches (~10cm). A difference of just one stitch in the swatch means a difference of 16 stitches in the project. That means if I don't adjust my gauge, that I will end up with a sweater that's a full 4 inches larger than I want!
Needless to say, my 2nd swatching  attempt didn't match the stitch count I needed! Finally, by going down a size, I got the prescribed tension on my 3rd swatch. My row count is off slightly, but this patterns is written in such a way that the row gauge isn't as critical. I will be trying this cardigan on frequently while doing the shaping so I can add in extra rows when I need to. A good portion of (all? more than?) the time I wanted to spend knitting was spent on these swatches. After all that, I didn't really have time to do much more, but I did anyway! A needle of the proper size was assembled, a fresh skein of yarn obtained, and the collar was cast on. I only meant to do about 2 rows, with the intent of finishing the collar next time... however this skein produced a bigger wad of yarn barf than the previous, so I simply kept knitting until it was all cleaned up... which ended up being 6 rows. No time left to work on the "must-do" projects...

and that is why I don't write at the beginning of my day!

Nicole =o)

Sunday, January 1

Facing it... and avoiding it...

Anybody who knows me, knows that I find different ways of avoiding things when I can. When I'm very stressed out about something, especially something that's out of my control, I tend to "escape" and typically that's into my video games mostly. It's the easiest way for me to occupy my brain with something brainless. That's why I was playing my games like nuts on Facebook Friday night... keeping my mind off of our loss.

During the day I did a ton of searching and such for my queue, and project plans for next year. It was a great way to focus my attention away from what was going on around me, and getting something accomplished as well. If you go back through my blog archives, you will find that quite frequently, my "avoidance days" are often my most productive days... just in other things!

So just what did I manage to accomplish?

Firstly, I discovered that any search for a cardigan pattern on Ravelry can not include "free" patterns unless you have about 4 days to go through all of the possibilities! I narrowed my search parameters to just what I already have in my vast library. With the selection of a few criteria, my choices were now down to just over 250 (from the well over 3000 when I included "free"!). This was a much more manageable list to go through. All of the ones that interested me enough, I added to my Ravelry favourites listing, along with a few keywords to help me sort through them later. After a few hours were spent on that, the 250-ish was down to about 30 realistic options. I tend to keep very few things saved in my queue and favourites, mainly using them for a "true" listing of what I want to make. Next, I went through the remaining patterns, and refined it all... adding yarn, size info; suitable Knit Picks yarn choices and the like. I ended up adding 5 (I think) of these to my queue, leaving the remainder in my favourites for the time being.

I am extremely serious about becoming more focussed in my projects this coming year. I want a sweater a month, a shawl a month, a design a month, a pair of socks a month, and an afghan a month! Those are pretty lofty goals, but since I already have some of these in progress, and the design can go hand-in-hand with one of the other categories, it isn't completely out of my reach. Now that I had quite a few sweaters and shawls in my queue, the next order of business was to get it all sorted. I added the tag "2012plan" to the projects I wanted to concentrate on the most... the sweaters and shawls... many in kit form just waiting for me to start them. After a lot of fiddling around with project order, and tags, and what still needed yarn to be purchased, I now had a game plan for most the first six months of 2012.

Nicole's Project Plan - January-June 2012

I realize that I haven't planned afghans or socks for March and beyond. I have the rose-coloured afghan, and Wayne's afghan to finish, as well as a new design that's intended for Alex that I need to work on a bit and see if it will be accepted into the KP-IDP. I also have several other UFO/ WIPs in various states of completion. When it comes to socks, I'm never at a loss for projects! Derek is in desperate need of work socks, and I have several designs that need finishing up. As the end of February draws near, or I complete my January/ February goals, I can then decide what projects to spend my time on next.

Since beginning quilting and starting to sew again are also goals of mine for this next year, I am strongly considering creating a weekly plan... this day is for sewing... that day is for afghans... this day is for sweaters... you get the idea. I won't be able to purchase any of the quilting and sewing supplies I want/ need until the end of the month at the earliest, so whatever day I choose for sewing will be a "craft room organization day" for the time being. Sundays used to be for end-weaving, and that's what I want to do again... weaving in ends, and other project finishing details including photography. Monday is traditionally my "heavy cleaning" day, so working on the craft room fits in well there. That leaves me five more days to "assign", and I can work on that once the kids go back to school on the 9th (or is it the 10th). By that time Derek will be gone too, so I should have a couple of weeks to work on this "system". Fingers crossed that I can have that all sorted by the end of the month.

Wish me luck... oh, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Nicole =o)