A very lucky unbirthday for me!

It was my unbirthday recently. Out of nowhere this beautiful, quilted and cross stitched bag arrived at my home by post.

clairesewsawesomely

Claire93, author of Claire93’s Blog, remembered my plan to make Halloween-themed things for my living room and very thoughtfully put this together for me, wishing me a very happy unbirthday. It is absolutely beautiful and truly shows off her skills. I’m always very much in awe of quilters. I suppose if I actually attempted quilting I might learn how. But, it’s one of those things that still looks like magic to me. A little bit of magic isn’t bad, though, is it? This piece is so detailed, right down to the little brass Jack O’Lantern sewn on. The choice of colors is truly festive and the quilting detail is really appropriate for the piece. If you check out her blog you will find all kinds of inspiration. Claire makes beautiful quilts, cross stitches really amazing pictures and adornments, and crochets very cute amigurumis. She even knits sweaters! A true crafter with so much awesomeness to share on her blog. I also love her hen house updates and the wonderful names she’s given to them.

Claire also must have read my mind, because I am feverishly stitching away at my last pumpkin for my decoration goals. I’ve been working on it all week. The four pumpkins will hang on the china cabinet doors, surrounding Claire’s beautiful bag. Here’s my progress on this fourth vegetable:

Photo Oct 20, 23 33 11

I’m determined to have it done tomorrow and then get all four sewn to fabric and hanging by Sunday. Let’s see if I can do this! The cool thing about these is that they’re good for all of Autumn, not just Halloween, so I’ll be able to enjoy them for a while after October 31.

 

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A can o’WIPASSessment

Now that I’ve got the naughty WIPs under control and disciplined, it’s time, on this WIP Wednesday, to open up a can o’WIPASSessment on what’s left, which are five projects plus 1 new one I started on Monday. The rest of them aren’t featured here in photos because they look the same as the last time I photographed them.

If you pay close attention to what I blather on about, you might remember that I said I would only start a new project when the crochet table cloth, the sweater, and the cross stitch pumpkin were finished. Recently I have had a conference with the WIPs and, as we now do in education, from elementary to university, an assessment was performed. Higher Education administrators who read this blog will be just thrilled to know that I prepared paperwork for this tedious – yet administratively necessary – procedure. The evaluation questionnaire, filled out by all WIPs, collected the following data:

WIP Title:

Indicate to what degree you agree or disagree with the following statement. 1 = strongly disagree 2 = slightly disagree 3 = agree 4 = slightly agree 5 = strongly agree

  1. I am necessary for use in the upcoming season.  1  2  3  4  5
  2. I am handy for this season and can be finished now.  1  2  3  4  5
  3. I am boring to work on.  1  2  3  4  5
  4. I am 3 hours or less from being finished.  1  2  3  4  5

The tablecloth is nice enough, but it’s summery and this hot season is almost over, not to mention the fact that it is pure decoration for the table when it isn’t being used. You know, it’s for “company” that comes over to sit about on a sofa for a cup of coffee or a stiff drink to chit chat. When subjected to assessment, it strongly agreed that it is not necessary for the upcoming season and strongly disagreed that it is 3 hours from being finished. Clearly, the administrative procedure has revealed that its moment is not this year so it shall vacate the back of the sofa and rest a while in the bottom of a bin in a dark closet.

The cross stitch pumpkin is good for about twenty minutes of cross stitching once a week because it’s really boring to get through and has this tedious nature about it that is quite revolting. Its prime moment for being done is in October. It is now August. I don’t have to work on it more than I’ve been working on it. Once it’s done it’s only going to get processed through the sewing machine so it’s displayable with its other pumpkin friends for Halloween. The three finished vegetables alone, in fact, could serve a decorative purpose without this fourth gourd. Its current pace of completion is just fine. It should be no surprise, therefore, that the cross stitch pumpkin strongly agreed that it is useful for the upcoming season and that it’s a bore to stitch on.

The two afghans and the Celtic Wheel cushion were going to be permitted to be in progress for a long time. So, their status remains the same. Don’t worry, though, they got a taste of the very same paperwork the others were tasked with and so very much deserved. It was not necessary to assess them, but the administration requires everyone to participate in the process even though it’s a waste of time.

I finished my “Telegraph” sweater – it’s drying now, and should be ready for supermodel photos by FO Friday – and so it escaped the assessment. To celebrate, I have started a new crochet sweater that I’m inventing on my own without a pattern. I began the project after the paperwork, so it, too avoided the questionnaire. It’s just in its very first stages:

sweater

This sweater is going to be for my partner, who is unaware of this. I have decided to keep the wearer out of the know due to a general lack of patience and a constant asking about when things are going to be finished.

You can tell that, in the past three weeks, I have devoted a total of about 30 minutes to my last cross stitch pumpkin.

pumpkin

Trust me, this pumpkin is really cool when it’s finished. I saw the photos in the magazine where the other ones you’ve seen are published. It’s just annoying to sit down with and commiserate because it’s too easy, which makes it a very dull companion. The last five minutes I spent with it I didn’t even get out the chart. Before I put it away I checked the chart and I made no mistakes. Really. That much of a dud.

Conclusion of this WIPASSessment report: It’s all a total no-duh.

Not quite finished

Today I only had to teach one class in the morning so now I am free to do whatever I want. I decided this morning to work on my mosaic knitting rectangle. I think with a couple more pattern repeats this will be taking a direct flight to done city.

mosaic18_2

I’m still not 100% certain about what I want to do with this, but I’m considering either using it as a table runner or turning it into a rolled up storage case for my most often used tools. I’m not really happy with the colors, though, so I’m leaning towards table runner a little more. On the other hand, I was thinking that in the future I could knit another roll up in better colors with a different mosaic design and switch them out. Two is better than one, I suppose. Another idea would be to just give this to someone who wants it and likes the colors for a roll up storage case.

I have finished two more pumpkins although the pumpkin project itself isn’t really done. I think they’re pretty cool.

I’m so glad it’s the weekend!

Text-only Wednesday

No pics today. Nope. Just some text. I want you to feel nostalgic for the days of yore when you were trying to beat The Legend of Zelda and you went over to the GameFAQs site to read the walk through with its ASCII terminal type and maps “drawn” with symbols. OK, maybe you never did that. I did, though.

What made me think of this? Because way back in 2002 I decided to get out the old Nintendo and follow the walk through to beat Zelda, finally. 17 years later I did it again! That’s how I spent my weekend. No, I did not remember all the things I had to do to win the game, so once again I relied on good old Colin Moriarty’s nerdy, ASCII instructions. By the way, Colin, thank you again.

Wait a minute, this is a knitting and crochet (and sometimes cross stitch and sewing) blog. Totally off-topic. I’m supposed to talk about crafty things. OK. Here it goes:

  1. Socks knit with Cascade Heritage Prints yarn: I turned the heel on the second sock.
  2. My sister’s pineapple shawl: languishing in the UFO bin.
  3. Cross stitch pumpkins for Halloween: I’ve got three done and I’m working on a fourth one. I wanted to photograph them but I worked all day and now it’s night time so, nope, no picky-picky. Another time. I’ll be talking about these things for a while, anyway, because cross stitching them entirely is just the first volume of the saga. Once they’re cross stitched I’ve got to decide how I want to sew them together. I also “need” to buy fabric to accent them. I really “need” Halloween-themed fabric.
  4. Cross stitch “Celtic Wheel” throw pillow (or cushion, take your pick): I’ve managed to get some little details done. I’m still in quarter 1 of the chart. I might overstay my welcome in this area given that the details are time-consuming. Yesterday, with about three hours, I got the little thingies that might be rocks or might be snails (not sure what they are supposed to be) stitched up partially. If only Joan Elliott cared about my blog. I follow hers. BTW, Ms. Elliott, if you’re reading this, what are those things supposed to be? Are they magical rocks or magical snails? And please excuse my ignorance. Sometimes I see them as snails and sometimes as rocks, because the thingies that sit in the middle of the piece don’t have antennae, but then the ones that are on the border framing the whole piece seem to have antennae. I debate with myself often if they are snails hiding in their shells or magical Celtic rocks with mystical time travel powers.
  5. Top-down crochet “Telegraph” sweater: languishing in the UFO bin with its cousin, the pineapple shawl.
  6. Crochet cotton tablecloth: languishing yet perched on the back of my sofa, exposed to the elements but certainly free to finish itself if it feels motivated. I tell it often, “feel free to finish yourself” but so far it isn’t getting my drift.
  7. Tunisian crochet afghan: on month 4 of being ignored, yet pleased to be resting in the afghan cubby. It often shouts at the projects in the UFO bin that it’s in the VIP furniture.
  8. Hexagon afghan: Resting peacefully next to its brother, Tunisian crochet afghan, telling him to shut up and leave the non-VIPs alone. It’s not their fault they’re wool and need a line of protection against pests, after all. I’ve even heard Mr. Hexagon say to Mr. Tunisian, “don’t get so full of yourself, we’re cheap acrylic, after all!”
  9. Socks that are finished yet not washed or blocked yet: Those three pairs are in the UFO bin, shouting at Cascade Heritage Prints to get done already, so that maybe they can all have a bath together.
  10. Never-before-mentioned mosaic knitting thingy: I made some progress on it. I still have no idea why I’m knitting it and what it will be. It’s blue and white and a big rectangle. I cast it on some months ago and forgot I had started it. I found it by accident yesterday and knit some on it this week just for fun.

If you’ve read this far, thank you for your attention. Since you are kind enough to stay, I pose the question to you: What the hell would you do with all these WIPs? It’s too much. Some days I feel like putting white dresses on them all, parading them through the town, and leading them to the mountain to sacrifice them to the volcano.

So far the only idea that has occurred to me is that I will finish my socks and then just work my way through all the other projects until they are done before I ever, ever, ever start something new. Obviously the afghans have a low priority given that it’s July and it’s hotter than seven shades. However, the shawl is manageable. I think I’ll try to finish the shawl and the table cloth next while using cross stitch and the mosaic knitting whatever-it-is to take a break from the shawl, table cloth, and cross stitch. I don’t like this idea much because I WON’T HAVE A PAIR OF SOCKS GOING. THE AGONY. But that’s life when you have the attention span of a fish that knows how to knit, crochet, and make other things.

Getting ready for Halloween

As many of you know, a lot of people tramp through my house because I tutor them in English in my living room. Well, after two years, I’m tired of looking at this leisurely work space. I need to add new colors and patterns to perk it up.

I’ve decided that it would be entertaining for the students to see festive decorations during particular key seasons for Americans: Halloween in October, Thanksgiving in November, Christmas in December, etc. So, I’m getting ready for Halloween by planning and creating little things to put out here and there in the living room. I’m pretty sure I’ll knit and crochet some things: how about some knit throw pillows with Halloween-colored stripes and some amigurumi bats? I’ve also decided to cross stitch some things to hang up.

This week I’ve started cross stitching some pumpkins I found in Just Cross Stitch. There are six different ones. I haven’t decided if I want to stitch all of them because I might like to mix them with other Halloween-themed items. I’ve finished one pumpkin and started another one. Here’s the one I finished this morning:

pumpkin

I like them because they aren’t the typical Jack-o-lantern, although I plan to stitch up one of those, too. Anyway, that’s what I’ve been up to. How about you?

Mostly, I’m cross stitching

I’ve been knitting my socks and crocheting my table cloth some, but, for the most part, I’ve been cross stitching. I’m pleased with my progress, but it’s slow going.

cross stitch jul15

The part that makes this project evolve slowly is the border. It’s very detailed. I’ve considered just getting the rest of the border finished before doing anything else, but the border doesn’t run completely around the piece. There are other things that interrupt it and add interest to the design. Once I get this quarter of the chart all stitched I’m going to complete the backstitching in this section before moving on to the next. What I can’t decide: work to the right or go up? I suppose I’ll figure it out when I get this done.

A helpful tip: it IS possible to backstitch before completing the entire project, just as long as you backstitch in an area that has all the cross stitching around it completed. The cool thing about this pattern is that the backstitching only happens inside the borders. So, I can do the little details bit by bit when I finish cross stitching a quarter of the piece.

Today I’ll also be knitting because it’s knitting and crochet club day. We’re going to a new bar that has a large outside seating area. It’s a beautiful day for a beer and a little sock knitting with friends. I’m looking forward to it a lot.

I can talk about my WIPs on a Wednesday

This morning I actually caught a break from working and had time to photograph my WIPs with some good quality sunshine. I’ve been knitting, crocheting, and cross stitching.

My sock made with Cascade Heritage Prints is taking its time. You’d think I’d be pumped to finish the first of the pair since I’ve already finished the foot and most of the leg. But, nope. My hands get too sweaty in this 90 degree (F) weather.

sock

The background for my sock is my crochet tablecloth, which is also progressing slowly because I only work on it for maybe twenty minutes a day. Again, it’s the uncomfortable feeling on my hands in the hot weather. Cotton breathes but while it’s doing that it suffocates my hands!

Anyway, as you can see, it is approaching the correct size of its intended wearer, which is the table that it is resting on. When I use up this second skein of cotton it will be time for me to start a nice border for it with skein 3. I’m thinking about using a filet pattern.

tablecloth

My crochet “Telegraph Sweater” designed by Peter Franzi is also coming along very gradually. If the cotton is uncomfortable in my hands, just imagine how the wool feels. Anyway, this garment can take its time. I’m in no hurry just yet to wear it, considering it’s July and I wish it wasn’t necessary to wear clothes.

Cross stitch – for the most part – has cured my need to create in uncomfortably hot Castilian weather. I’m glad I’ve got back into this pastime. I’ve been spending most of my free time cross stitching and less of it knitting and crocheting. The pattern I’ve chosen, which is Joan Elliott’s “Celtic Wheel Cushion” from her book Magical Cross Stitch, is a delightful challenge with very fine color details. The rose and the bunch of grapes you see have three or four shades. If you think the fruit and the flower look awkward you have a good eye. There is a lot of backstitching to complete for outlining things as well as to add stems and other little details. Right now the poor rose’s leaves are just suspended in midair and disconnected from the flower.

crossstitch

I have already become an over-enthusiastic cross stitcher and ordered more stuff for future projects. I’ve got plenty of Aida cloth in different colors and I’m waiting for some seed beads, floss, and Kreinik metallic threads to arrive in the mail. Yeah, you bet, when I’m in, I’m all in. After placing my order I forgot that I wanted some gold-colored Aida cloth for a bookmark I’d like to make, so I’ll have to buy some more supplies soon.

I can’t wait for the end of the day when I finish work and relax with a little WordPress browsing so I can see what you’re up to with your WIPs.