Sunday, December 30, 2007

End Of The Year Checkup

... or, how did I do with my stash-reduction goals for the year? Confession is, I suppose, good for the soul, and in any case the public acknowledgement of my success/failures ought to be therapeutic. Or at least motivational!

Note: for 2007 I focused on yarn mainly, especially in the written goals. I did work on the fabric stash, though, and for 2008 my goals apply to all stashes--fabric, fiber, and paper!

Here we go. I'm going to put last year's goals in black type, and then comment on how well or badly I did in color. Let's see how it works.

1. Assess and organize. Knowing your enemy is the first step, right? Besides, it will be fun to meet old friends and maybe get to play with computer programs--I think Excel will work for this. Well, this is coming along. It's not anywhere near completed, though. I've tried using the Excel spreadsheet and Ravelry, but I seem to bog down. The rationalization: I'm purging, so I should wait till I've got it down to a manageable size. That's not good enough; for the coming year, I need to work on this more effectively.

2. Purge. Ruthlessly. I don't think this step needs explanation. Maybe it would help to think of it as Sharing The Wealth. Well, that's been happening. A lot of yarn went out of the house this year. The Yard Sale helped. Maybe another yard sale is called for. Or maybe more charity knitting and definitely more charity quilts!

3. Assign. Some things were bought for a specific pattern, so it would help to have the pattern and its source stored together with the yarn. Getting there. Same with the fabrics.

4. UFO Patrol and WIP roundup. Again, self-explanatory. I'm starting to think that a monthly repeat of this step would be really good for me. Knitting WIPs and UFOs are well herded and corraled. Time to do this for the quilts now! After all, there is that Fan Quilt that's been needing only to be quilted since... literally... 1985.

5. WIPs get whipped into shape. UFOs get judgment: they are either going to become FOs or they are going to return to their roots, ie yarn balls. Or charity quilts. No mercy! The knitty ones have been taken care of, so let's get to those quilty ones.

6. Periodic evaluations. How well is this working?? Not nearly as well as it could. Ah, the joy of distractions--like the Grandcarrot and Audrey. And the lure of shiny new yarns. Not so much with the fabrics, though!

7. Pattern round up and organization. All those lovely designs printed off the internet, especially the ones in the stack that the cat knocked over and mixed up. I've got notebooks and sleeves, so let's put them to work. Total failure here. The situation is actually worse than it was, since I've printed out more patterns!

8. Books books books. Lots of knitting books, most of which are keepers. Gotta weed out the ones that aren't, make working copies of some patterns so they're handy for assigning to yarn. A lot of books... A LOT OF BOOKS!!--got moved out in the yard sale. Quilt books, knitting books. I went from a 5-shelf bookcase in the studio to two 2-foot-high stacks of keepers. And the purge continues!

9. Gift and charity knitting. This is one of the reasons I said these steps weren't being assigned to a particular month--I want to do this all year long. If there are going to be yarny gifts for birthdays or Christmas, then I should decide that early and get on with it! And I've sorta let the charity knitting slide, since my knitting time has been drastically shortened, but that's really no excuse. Coming along nicely. Add charity quilting to this list, though, and it's not nearly as it should have been. The only excuse? The closing of Bearly Stitchin' means we lost our venue for spreading out and working on charity quilts as a group. Once I get my "studio" in order, I'll be able to do more at home, and that will help a lot.

10. Knit from stash exclusively. For this part I may follow Wendy's rules, except that since I don't knit socks, I won't need the Sock Yarn Exemption. I'm not even going to push for a Scarf Yarn Exemption, since I have lots of yarn that would make good scarves. Okay, didn't happen. Who could have foreseen the Black Sheep Knittery sale, or even the Pink Porch closeout? I think I need to plan to shop from stash FIRST whether it's for a quilt or a knitting project, and leave myself some slack as far as buying or not. Let's face it, will power (or won't power) isn't my long shot, so what's the point of setting unreasonable goals for myself?

11. Review, Reassess, Re-evaluate. Frequently. Okay, this is doable, and has been done. Maybe not as frequently as I would have liked, but often enough.

For next year? I think I'll keep it simple--the KISS approach seems to work for me. I did join the Stashbusters Yahoo group, and I think that will be very inspirational. Anne is a member and she and I have a lot in common as far as paring down the stash goes! She's wayyy ahead of me on the whole-house cleanout front, though. See, this is where I am having a problem. There are too many areas here (meaning in the house) that need attention, and so my efforts are scattered. I need to focus myself more on one or two areas, so that I actually accomplish something that can be seen. As it is, I do some here, some there, and whoa, it doesn't even show.

Since I fell on Friday, and managed to hurt myself yet again--this time it's ribs, ouch--I'm not able to do much physically, so I'm going to try to use this time for planning. (And no, it's not a bad injury, and it's getting lots better pretty quickly, just right now highly inconvenient!)

Friday, December 28, 2007

Back to Real Life

First, a quick peek at my now-cozy comfy feet. Real UGGs! New slippers! Yay!
I always ooh and ahh over the UGGs in the stores, while simultaneously noting that they are really not appropriate footwear for a person of my age and girth. But I had been hinting for new slippers and D4 saw her chance, and the rest is history.

I got several very thoughtful and delightful presents, but since none of them (well, except for the SnB calendar from D5) were knit-related, I'm not going to regale you with all of them.

The gifts for the "rest" of the family, ie the East Coasters, Denverites, and the Vegas Crew, have finally gone into the mail. I don't know why we were so lax this year with the preparation and mailing--well, actually, I do know why, it seems to be tradition, and every year I say it's going to be different.

And it never is. But here are the boxes of gifts, loaded into the Purple Present Mover, and after a few adventures with Office Depot and their errant printers, they have been consigned to the trusty services of UPS. I know that the USPS will also allow us to track packages, but there's a funny little quirk in mail delivery to some of my family--packages don't get delivered to them. Instead they get a notice and have to go into the Post Office to pick them up. In the kind of weather the East has been having, I think that's just not cool, so I sent things UPS. Brown will take them to the door.

Have I mentioned that there have been windstorms here? This is what the driveway looked like as the liquidambars dropped their collection of seed pods. Hazard underfoot! Fortunately for all, while I was at Jury Duty today (did my service, released for another year, yay!) the gardeners came and swept all this up. There are now 8 trash cans lined up at the curb, waiting for the green waste collection in the morning.

The wind also left some interesting stuff in the yard--seeds from the Chinese elm tree that is two door up from us, leaves from trees halfway up the block, papers from who-knows-where. The trees are not bare, though, and so it's likely we'll have another crop of burrs.

Too bad I've left my artsy-craftsy stage behind: these would look wonderful sprayed with gold paint or dusted with fake snow to make cheery wreaths! Oh well. Been there, done that, got the glue gun scars to prove it!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Stockings Were Hung...

...on the stairway, since hanging them on the mantel means you can't light the fire, and it was just chilly enough today for a fire.

You may notice some bags on t he stairs behind the stockings. The elves who fill these often find that the stocking itself is not big enough to hold everything it's supposed to, so there are usually "annexes" to hold the overflow.
Mine is the grey one, fourth from the bottom, right next to Audrey's. It's the "silver fox." Silk and velvet with beads and crystals. Not my usual style, but I love it!

Audrey enjoyed her first Christmas. As is often the case with new babies, a full tummy and a dry bottom leads to great contentment. Who cares about presents??
Little Sweet Pea had a red "pod" for the occasion. You can't see the details in this picture, but there's a little kangaroo pocket on the front of the jumpsuit. And those are Dodger booties on her feet--her dad is a big Dodger fan. (He also was the winner of the Eric Gagne lookalike contest a year or so ago.)
Speaking of gifts, there were a few silly ones--this was a stocking gift for the Carrot's daddy. A blow-up Cheesehead... I did get pictures of several people wearing it but this was the cutest.
The grandcarrot had a lovely time. He's still not quite into the whole idea of Christmas--his M.O. today was to tear strips off the wrapping and either stack them neatly on a chair, or tuck them into his little step stool's "cubby." He's 18 months old, so we figure by next year he'll definitely be able to go with the plan. And then Audrey will be the one who's not quite there...

And this is the gift that had us all in tears:

It's one of the Willow Tree series, called Generations, and it shows a mom, grandma, and little girl all working on a quilt together. Since I am a quilter (as well as a grandma) and all three of the local daughters quilt (as do D1 and some of the Conn. group), it struck a chord with us and we were all teary. Of course, all of us were sleep-deprived and that may have had something to do with it! D4 found the figurine at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels when she was on jury duty last summer--she definitely makes the most of her jury duty time!

I hope that you are enjoying the season and spending time with friends and family and "good people." I had a wonderful time on Monday knitting with a great group of ladies--in fact, it was such a good time that I forgot to take any pictures! I think Ellen did, but even though I had my camera with me I was just too busy knitting and talking! Top it off with a great meal and it was a perfect lead-in to the barely-controlled madness that is Christmas Eve chez mehitabel!

Friday, December 21, 2007

By Request

Some knitting! These are the main projects that are getting my attention (such as it is) these days.

This is a Comfort Shawl which will be headed for Conn. as soon as it's done. I'm using two shades of Jiffy--the darker one is called San Francisco, and I have no idea where it came from. The price tags say "Walmart $1.27" and I know for sure I didn't buy it there! (I went into a Walmart once, and it was so depressing I haven't ever been back. Target all the way, baby!)

Digressions aside, it's coming along. I think it will be warm and cheery. There will be two stripes of the paler color, and three of the darker. It's currently about halfway done, and it makes good "coffee knitting" or "watching something exciting on TV" knitting.

Next up, the Ab Fab in progress. It's coming out stripier than I had expected but I'm liking it all the same.
Definitely an interesting knit, unless one is (as I am) bored to tears with feather-and-fan. At least the color changes keep me awake.
Okay, here's my "problem child." I think this photo emphasizes the problem I'm having with this little blankie for Audrey.
The yarn is gorgeous--love the color, it knits like buttah, especially on my Options. The lace pattern in interesting, with only a few rows that require close attention. I think there will be enough yarn for at least 7 repeats, most likely 9. But I think the pattern is obscured by the yarn's variations. What do you think? It's currently one repeat and a part of a second in; should I frog it and use the yarn for something else?

Lady E III. I love the way the Tapestry shades--the color runs are long enough to do at least one and sometimes two blocks and the color-blocks don't pool much. It's another one of those wonderful projects--yarn, needles, and pattern all coming together to make for a fun and satisfying knit.

We're decorated for the holidays. (Thanks to D1 and her family for the wreath. It smells wonderful!)

Here's the holly bush I mentioned. You can see that the berries aren't as vivid a red as the traditional English holly, nor are the leaves as deep a green. On the other hand, they are also not as prickly, so it's a "friendlier" bush to have in the yard, and the effect is almost the same.

Been a while since you've seen a cat photo here, so I took a couple today while I was trying to fold laundry. My little "helpers" were equally busy.

Simon curled up in the basket and went to sleep. Can you tell which "parts" are visible here??

HiHi took it upon himself to keep the folded bath towels warm. Wouldn't want your towels to feel chilly, would you?
Didn't think so.
Camellia blossom, a large one--hand included for scale!

And, what's left of the berries.

Crumbs, and empty wrappers.


Holly-days happenings

...which reminds me, I need to get a photo of my big ol' holly bush all covered in berries. It's a Burford holly, not an English one--we had some of those but they have died off. I'm blaming the drought but the truth is, I'm thinking that even plants and shrubs have a life cycle and maybe they were just elderly.

Speaking of which...

I came home from knitting on Wed. to a porchful of packages, including a red and white box with some rather cryptic instructions:
"Close and lock doors.
Hide behind a large piece of furniture. Quietly open box. Savor and enjoy!"
This is what was in the box:

The box also stated:
Perishable! Once opened, contents may disappear immediately!"
Needless to say the box no longer looks like this.
Can I just say that chocolate-covered strawberries make an excellent breakfast?
Many thanks to D1 and her family!!
Oh, and happy birthday to Granddaughter Lizziebug today! Very special people are born on the solstice!
Another one of the boxes contained this tower of festivity:
Gevalia coffees and teas. From my bro. Who knows of my addictions!

The box of truffles is from son Jeff and his family.
Contributing to the delinquency of my diet, that's for sure, but so deliciously!

My darlings have taken my message to heart: I don't need more stuff! So, delicious consumables are great!

(Some rewards, I suppose, for being another year older. I got to talk to all the offspring, one way or another, as well as my brother.)

But, of course, not everything is going to be consumable.

Some things will just get used for "other things."
Like, for instance, this:

Yarn Pirate merino/tencel in Icicle.

I love the colorway. And the yarn is very soft. And shiny.


Then there is the Austermann Inka, which just happens to come in a colorway perfect for the Laughing Carrots sweater. And of course, I do happen to know a little-boy-carrot who looks smashing in orange!
Props to Laura for alerting me to this special on Elann. I love me a good enablement!!

And then there was the STR order:
I am just nutso over the Pink Granite colorway. Had to have some Pond Scum.
I promise not to put them in the same garment. Well, maybe not...

On to some quilty goodness. Tuesday night was our last class of the year, which we celebrated with a potluck and some happy sewing.
Louise finished a tree skirt for her niece:

Drs. Harry and Ellin finished a wonderful batik quilt top. Here's Harry doing his Kilroy imitation.

Can I just say that these wonderful people sent off 14 boxes of quilts and clothing to New Orleans? 20 quilts, people! 20!! And some school clothes for the kids, plus they were able to raise some money with an art auction. As well as all the other things they do. Their particular focus in NO is the dialysis community, which has been hard hit and is having even rougher times. Not that many people in the Katrina/Rita disaster zone are having it easy; but when you add the additional problems involved with dialysis patients, well, it just multiplies exponentially. Ellin, a retired pediatric nephrologist, has remained connected to and committed to the network, and is putting a lot of time and energy into doing what she can to alleviate the sufferings.

What's really great to see is how much fun they have with their quilting and sewing and fundraising. Tuesday night, I helped them plot out another fundraising quilt, which will be for their granddaughter's school.

Whew, didn't mean to get so heavy there. Onward!

Anne is making a quilt for her granddaughter. This one is all blocks of the same design--Churn Dash/Monkey Wrench/Hole in the Barn Door, probably has dozens of other names too. The blocks are all different sizes, ranging from 16" down to 2.5". Her granddaughter specified turquoise and pink, so that's where the color combo came from. (Anne is SO not a pink and turquoise person--she had to buy most of the fabrics to make this--but there was a quilter's run on the Central Coast, and those shops did have pink and turquoise.)

In the midst of holiday prepping, the more mundane tasks still need to be done. Today will be devoted to paying bills, doing laundry, and if the stars align properly, I might even get to the cards. One never knows!
In case I don't get back to the blog before next week--I have been tapped for jury duty, starting on Monday--I'll wish you a happy holiday, whichever you celebrate, and a very good new year, too! (More on that. Going to be some resolutions for next year, you betcha!)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Enough, Already!

funny pictures
...with the LOLcatz? Okay then... on to other topics

Sweet Audrey, sleeping. I hear she does t---his for approximately 3 hours a day, mostly between the hours of 8 am and 8 pm.
FO Day at Montrose Monday:
Dim Sum Mary
and Patty finished their scarves. I especially like Barbara there in the background, holding her "kittens"!
She got some of Elann's new KSH clone and some Inka Alpaca and brought it for sharing.

Madgik is trying to get the last of her slippers knitted and felted by deadline.

Lastly, some of the cookies baked by D4 over the weekend. These are meringue cookies, known to my family as Forgotten Cookies (you put them in the oven, turn it off, and forget about them till morning--so they are always the last batch baked) and definitely a standby. D4 is an artistic sort of baker, so hers are piped onto the cookie sheet and not plopped, as mine always are!

Equal Time

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

By request, picture of the canine Miss Kitty. She's 12 (or so, in people years) and lived for a long time with my in-laws, who like many people in their 80s were not super active. So, when my FIL went to live at The Home (which is a tale for another day) Miss Kitty went to live with sis-in-law Linda, her husband, and their two mini dachsies. Kitty has been having a ball making up for lost time--she runs, she hunts, she lords it over the other two.

Yarn pics and knitty tails (tales?) shortly--gotta upload the pictures! Miss K. couldn't wait...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Miss Kitty, aka Miss Piggy

funny pictures

moar funny pictures

This is one of my Connecticut grandkittens, although I do think "kitten" is a bit of an exaggeration for her! Inspired by Barbara's version with Midnight in her cave, I was able to get Kitty's photo on the page.

We have another Miss Kitty in the family--my sis-in-law, Sadly Blogless Linda, has her parents' little dachsy, also named Miss Kitty. Maybe I'll need to look for a picture of that Kitty to put up alongside this one!

Counting down to Christmas and I think I'm getting a wee bit punchy here. What other explanation for my sitting here at the computer, doing LOLcats instead of cleaning/cooking/wrapping? Hmm. All right, I'll go work, and I'm hoping to have some knitting to share tonight too!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Those Pictures

The pink Faroese-style shawl in Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk, 5 balls.

Pattern is a Lion Brand one from Cast On back in 2004. I haven't checked, but it might also be available on the LB website.

It's a little on the short side but perfect for keeping the shoulders etc warm, and the shorter length means it's also just right for draping over your front if you're sitting in a chair or in bed, reading or whatever.
The front view here shows the inside of the arrowhead lace panel.

I did not do the crochet edging around the bottom, since I barely had enough yarn left to bind off fairly loosely.

The only drawback to this yarn is that it does shed quite a bit. I wore black pants one day while I was working on it, and it looked as if I had been rolling around in pink fur.

It's the alpaca content. The long crimped fibers give it away. However, the softness of this yarn is incredible. It knits like air and feels like a feather when it's on.
I'm hoping my friend will enjoy it!

Now, this unruly-looking tangle is the 9 skeins of Bartlettyarn I got as an ebay bargain.

I mean, this all cost me $10.52 plus $5 to ship it.

This is what it looks like now, all neatly wound into fat little cakes.
Then there's the last picture, of some similar yarn that's a little lighter in color. I'm not posting a picture of it rolled since it looks very similar to the Bartlett.

There. Now I can go take more pictures for another post!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

No Pictures, Sigh

After trying a couple of times to upload some pictures tonight, I've decided to let Blogger sulk and post anyway. Without photos, this will be a short post!

I have an FO to report. The pink Alpaca Silk shawl was finished today, with about 1/2 yard of yarn left over from the 5 balls I started with. This didn't give me enough to do the crochet edge, but I think it looks fine the way it is. I took pictures of it, then drove over to my friend's house to give it to her. She has her next chemo treatment on Friday and I thought she might like to have it. Both she and her husband seemed very pleased with it--she has lost a lot of weight along with all her hair, and she feels the cold very keenly, so something snuggly warm (but light) will be good to have.

Other than that, it's been really pretty busy around here. D2 came to town over the weekend for a visit with the neurologists at UCLA, who will be evaluating her in more depth come Jan. or Feb.--whenever they can get the time. (She was in a bad accident back in 2002, her car was hit by a van that ran a red light and slammed into her little car. The head injuries she sustained have left her with seizures that are difficult to control. She's been referred to UCLA since theyhave a wonderful program there to evaluate and hopefully "fix" the problem.)

On this trip, she and her husband and daughters got to meet Audrey and visit with the Grandcarrot as well. We had a potluck dinner and a good time was had by all.

Don't know if I mentioned this before, but D4's car was sideswiped by a presumably drunk driver while it was parked out in front of our house. (Oh, yeah. I posted pictures. Duh!) Anyway, it looks as if the damage is bad enough for the insurance company to total the car. Guess who's going car shopping! (Naturally. There's something about making that last car payment...)

Pictures next time of nicely wound yarn, and the tangly messes it started out in. Also pictures of the shawl. Next I'm going to decide if I want to make another shawl--I have 5 more balls of Alpaca Silk in purple, which just happens to be D2's very most favorite color. The down side? It sheds like crazy. By the time I finished, I looked as if I had been rolling around in pink cat fur!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

It Was a Party!

Just got home from partying heartily with the quilt guild members. Tonight was the guild's annual holiday dinner.
Here was the centerpiece for our table:

And here's dinner. Provided by a Mediterranean restaurant. It was pretty yummy.

I'd have enjoyed my baklava more if the nuts had all been shelled. Luckily I am a cautious nibbler where nuts are concerned, so I caught it without having to break a tooth.

We all brought fabric postcards to share. They were quite interesting--some of them were more "postcardy" than others.

After dinner, we played a game with them which involved passing them left and right and getting thoroughly confused. That way, we wound up leaving with a different card than the one we'd brought.

Some people had more fun than others.

(This group is saying Hi to Amy!)

So is the next one.

There were prizes, too. Each table contributed a basket full of quilt-related goodies.

This is the one from our table.

Pretty hefty basket--loads of fabric.

There are pictures of the other baskets, as well as other table centerpieces and more postcards on my Flickr page--click on the badge on the right to get there.

The guild does an Opportunity Quilt every year, and sells tickets all year long.

Usually the winner is someone who needs to be notified and we never get to see how he/she reacts. Well, not tonight.

Annette won! She's a very active guild member, and you can tell from that grin how delighted she is!

Want to see next year's quilt?


Here it is:


Back art.

Tickets will go on sale as soon as they're printed!