Saturday, September 29, 2007

Craft-y bits

I got invited to participate in two -alongs on Ravelry. One is a Cephalopodalong. Yeah, I'm crocheting an octopus. It's silly. And relaxing. I just picked some yarn from my stash--something I don't have enough of to make something serious. The pattern is here. Here's how far I've gotten:

Cephalopodalong 1

The marker is the point where the increases stopped. The ceph will be ten inches below that before the legs start. This is a nice, no-brainer project I can work on during my lunch break at work.

In an effort to get at least one WIP out of the way before I started the octopus, I finished my socks:

Socks 2

The second -along I've joined is My-First-Sock-Along. It has a community here on LJ as well as a group on Ravelry. It's for encouragement and coaching for knitters attempting their first socks. Since my actual first socks were crocheted, I qualify for this group with my first-knitted-socks attempt. I think I'm using this yarn:

Bernat Jade

It's a very soft yarn. 100% acrylic, which may not be wonderful to wear, but this is in the nature of an experiment, anyway, and if they look nice I may want to frame them rather than wear them. The pattern I'm planning to use has a tiny cable in it, so I think the pattern needs this very plain, one-color yarn.

I finished a simple dishcloth from this pattern. I didn't make it very large. It's an interesting pattern, but I don't think I love the way it works up: there are gaps between the blocks of the stitches that I'm not crazy about:


I got pictures of my sister's vest. It still needs to be seamed, and have the ribbing added at the necks and the armholes. And buttons, of course.

Vest front Vest back

I finally got some pictures of the Amore plum and the Homespun prairie yarns I'm planning to use in the coat pattern I found:

Colette Coat yarn

I still have the doily to work on. No pictures, yet.

Work's been fine. There's a new academy class, but I'm taking my vacation time next week (after Monday) and the week after, so I won't have to struggle to get dogs. I have plans for crocheting, genealogy, cemetery-searching, and greyhound stuff during my time off. (Greyfest is next Saturday.) I've stayed busy on Ravelry in my free time...hanging out in their Help! chat room to coach newbies through problems and chat with other Ravelers while I crochet away, and I've set up several states' worth of local yarn store data for Ravelry's data base. (Ravelry is up to more than 16,000 members, now, with another 17,000+ on the waiting list.)

The post office delivered my latest pick from Netflix today: Hamlet (the Brannagh version) finally is available on DVD. It's lovely. I've got pictures to post on Ravelry, then some needlework to do. Maybe I'll get that vest finished. Or work on the needlepoint stocking. Or something.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Craft-y Bits

I ordered some grab-bags of yarn and thread from Elmore-Pisgah, makers of Peaches & Creme cotton yarn and Grandma's Best crochet thread. The bags had some of the crochet thread, which is pretty awful stuff: it's way too fuzzy. If you stitch with it, there's no stitch definition. I may try unwinding some of the balls to see if they get better further in--they may just be fuzzy on the outside from wear and tear.

There also was some yarn--odd lots of various colors, including five balls of this stuff: a cotton yarn in a discontinued colorway called "Passion" (the colors in the picture). I wasn't impressed with it in the ball. (It's paler than the photo: weathered red, light purple, dusty rose, orange, and light green.)

But I had a pattern for crocheted socks that called for worsted weight yarn. I don't want to make socks in wool that I'll have to handwash to keep them from felting. And socks in acrylic yarn--yech! So I figured I'd try some cotton yarn--and there's enough Passion yarn to make a pair. (And one grab bag contained a solid-color weathered red yarn that goes with the Passion, so I can use it at the heels and toes.) I'm being pleasantly surprised by how the yarn works up. The sock pattern might not be great--the jury's still out on that one--but I like the color combination made up much more than I liked it in the ball. Quite often, my feelings about ombre/variegated yarns and threads go the opposite way. And fat cotton socks should be lovely in cold weather. (They'll fit inside my Crocs, even if they don't fit inside other shoes.)

I'm also working on a doily for a friend: I've done halfway through round 18. It's 21 rounds for the main doily, then 6 rows for the two "wings."

And I got two gorgeous sets of yarn for a coat pattern: TLC Amore's plum for the body of the coat (the solid down the page, not the print near the top) and Lion Brand Homespun in Prairie for the edging. (I can't find a good color swatch of Prairie: it's mostly olive green with bits of brown, red, blue, and plum in it.)

Friday, September 14, 2007

I was at an odd spot on several projects (need to seam the vest or do little add-ons on another project) and not in the mood to work on them, so I started another doily yesterday.

I had looked at the picture and glanced at the pattern info. The pattern included lots of cluster stitches (easy to do), V-stitches (also easy), and picots, but the picture didn't look alarming. But then I got into it. 36 picots per round. For several rounds. And for about half of them, I've forgotten to do the chain stitch needed after the picot, so the stitches looked crammed together. Ouch. So I'm frogging what I've done (about 10 rounds) and going to another pattern. It has picots, but they're kinder picots.* And it's a cool-looking doily.

I haven't felt well today--upset stomach. I was lying on the couch, and Sam wanted his dinner. He stood and barked at me for a while, finally decided I wasn't budging, and got up on the couch with me and slept. But I've fed the dogs, and Jacey's on the couch with me now. Yesterday, I went out to pick up the mail. There was a piece of junk mail and on the way to the trash can I tapped Jacey on the head with the envelope. You'd have thought I'd whacked her with a two-by-four. In the 16 months she's lived here, I've never popped her with rolled up paper or anything like that, so her flinching and looking for someplace to run from an envelope has to be something leftover from her previous life. Well, she's going to get tapped on the head by an envelope every day from now on until she understands that it's nothing to be afraid of. Sam's getting tapped, too, by way of a demonstration. He just blinks and looks at me like I'm nuts. Maybe I am, but I hate that Jacey flinches from so much stuff, and I want her to learn that loud noises or pieces of paper tapping her head are not--in themselves--things she needs to fear.

*Picots are worked however the instructions for a piece say. The ones I was doing were chain 4, slip stitch in the third chain from the hook; doing a slip stitch into a little chain is a pain. But the new doily calls for chain 3, slip stitch in the stitch just made, and slip stitching into a real stitch is a lot easier; it's a bigger target. And the picots are only on the last round.

Monday, September 10, 2007


There's a reason that boy's muzzled when I leave the house.

My company has an employee shopping day (double the employee discount) twice a year, so I tend to stock up. The last one was in June, and I bought big. We're still working our way through the goodies, and when I went to work this morning, the front room of the house contained four 40-pound bags of dog kibble and five 60-ounce boxes of Nutro Lamb & Rice treats.

Sam knows this stuff is there. When we're about to go outside, he dashes into this room and lovingly sniffs the bags and paws the boxes, then hustles back to the front door when I snap, "Sam!" Ordinarily, the foyer and the front room are blocked off from the rest of the house by an ex-pen--a sort of doggy playpen made of metal--that's propped in the doorway of the living room. It stands on end, accordion-folded, and I just pull it open to block the doorway, or fold it back out of the way when we go outside. In four years and eleven months in this condo, Sam's never gotten to the other side of the ex-pen on his own. He easily could leap the thing--and never has.

Tonight I got home about 9:45 pm (I left for work at 10 this morning). My first step through the door--something crunched underfoot, and Sam greeted me at the door--on the wrong side of the ex-pen!

Happily, there are still four 40-pound bags of dog kibble in the front room. However, there are only four 60-ounce boxes of dog treats; the fifth box fell victim to Sam.

Sam pushed the ex-pen to the side--got it to slide on the carpet--and got into the front room. (The front room also leads to the pantry-area, which he explored. But he didn't find anything he liked, so, aside from leaving claw marks in the paper towel rolls, he didn't do any harm there.) The Nutro treat boxes are glued very, very well. Then they're shrink wrapped. I've had to take scissors and a knife to hack my way into the box. Poor muzzled Sam couldn't even use his teeth. He did it all with his front feet. Once he got into the box, he spread the treats on the floor of the foyer and on the carpet in the living room. He pushed them under the bathroom door and into the closet where the heater resides. He finally managed to trap a few of the treats against the baseboards in the foyer, and he battered those treats to powder and crumbs with his muzzle.

Clean-up from this incident was much easier than some of the other Sam-episode clean-ups have been. Except for the pulverized treats, the treats were easy to pick up, and there's now a full-to-the-top treat container in the kitchen. (This container is in Sam's reach, he knows the treats are in it, and it would be much easier to open--just flick the latch. He hasn't figured it out...yet.) The pulverized treats were vacuumed easily, while a muzzled Sam watched sadly. (Jacey, still upstairs in her crate, couldn't figure out why mom wouldn't come let her out.)

An exhausted Sam is now asleep on the sofa--on his back with his feet in the air. The poor boy worked very hard today...and didn't get to reap the reward.

But what will happen tomorrow? Will he try to get past the ex-pen again? And if I secure the pen so it won't move, will he just jump over the thing? (He did that when he was penned outside one time and he just decided he didn't want to stay in the pen.) And if he gets over the ex-pen, will he attack the kibble? Or another box of treats? Either way, I'm running out of storage containers. And the only room downstairs that has a door is the bathroom--which isn't big enough to store 160 pounds of kibble and 15 pounds of dog treats. If I have to haul these 40-pound bags upstairs to store them in a spare bedroom, I'm going to be pissed.

Maybe I need to buy another dog crate. Not for Sam--who destroyed a crate (and hurt his feet) in his first foster home--but for the dog food!

An old photo...

Monday, September 3, 2007

Craft-y Bits

Sam and Jacey went to work with me today. This means they missed lots of nap time. They're both sleeping like the dead now. But they're clean, and they smell good. I'm pooped and about to turn in.

I'm going to rip out what I've done on Jacey's sweater. This patten probably would work on a big, round dog. It isn't going to work on a long, skinny dog who's just got a big chest. (That's right: a sweater pattern that doesn't look terrific on a busty girl!) Both dogs have fleece coats. If they need extra warmth, I can put one of my tee-shirts on each dog before I put the coats on them. But this is the second time I've tried to make sweaters for the dogs, and I think I'm going to find something else to do with this yarn. (I already have plans...) Enough! already.

I finished the front-right of the vest I'm making my sister. It works up very quickly, although there are some glitches in the pattern. For one thing, following the pattern would have resulted in armhole shaping at the waist rather than at the shoulders. (Details, details...) Nothing like having a pattern that keeps you awake. The yarn is a lovely cornmeal color, and my red-headed sister is one of the few people I know who can wear yellow without looking jaundiced.

RHSS Cornmeal

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Errors in the vest pattern

The crocheted vest pattern I'm working from is not for beginners. There are some errors in the pattern that you can figure out or work around if you're experienced, but they'll bite you if you aren't experienced. And they're silly, pointless errors. (If you make the small size and work as instructed, your armhole spacing will be on the wrong part of the front; it's a matter of the pattern wrongly giving the same instruction whether you're on an even-numbered row or an odd in a spot that makes a difference.)

Button, button, who's got the...

Does anyone know the reasoning behind the traditional "worthless" button on a vest--the bottom button (or buttonhole, at least) that doesn't get used?

I'm crocheting a vest for my sister. The instructions quite clearly tell you to buy six buttons. And make seven buttonholes. Sure enough, if you look at the picture of the vest: six buttons, and--if you know where to look--one lonely, unused buttonhole at the bottom.

I've made the seven buttonholes. But I may buy seven buttons and give my sister the option of buttoning the last button or not--as she chooses. At least she won't be left wondering why there's a hole in the bottom of the front band on her vest.

I felt awful this morning--sore throat and allergy trouble. I went to work anyway, but I came home after a couple of hours. I only had two dogs on the books (for a 10-hour day), and this way someone else can get the dogs and I'll actually make more in sick-pay than I would have made in commissions.

I had worked a couple of rows in Jacey's sweater while I was sitting in the parking lot, waiting until it was time to go inside. After I came home, I worked some on the needlepoint stocking. Then I finished up a crocheted dishcloth (experimenting with a strange pattern--it works okay, but it's unusual). So now I'm working on the vest for my sister, which means I've worked on four out of five works-in-progress today. If I work on the fifth one this evening, it'll be to rip out what I've done: I'm so far over gauge on the width, that I need to rework the piece and leave out at least one set of shell-repeats for either front (which I haven't gotten to) and two sets of shell-repeats from the back (which I've started and worked about 4 inches' worth--of 25 inches). I don't mind redoing what I've done since (a) I'll have fewer stitches to work on the redo and (b) I botched the edges in this crocheting-from-a-chart business, but I think I know how it's supposed to go now.

I'm working tomorrow. I expect we'll be dead all day. Sam and Jacey are going with me to get baths.