Just For Fun

Hi there!

Today, I have something a little bit different for you: A video podcast!

TOPICS include:

  • Showing off Projects
  • Yak Yarn Pr0n;
  • Wee cutenesses;
  • Cabin fever;
  • Crafting and writing as ways of gathering myself together when everything around me is crazy pants;
  • One more project, and
  • The End.

Here we go…

The Making Of

I have never made a video before, not of myself, I mean. It’s a bit scary for me, this video-making, and as I went through the process of filming, editing, and writing these notes, I figured out one or two little obstacles I had to overcome before publishing this post. First: I am self-conscious about Being on Camera. (That’s a big Duh.) Second: I don’t have any formal training in shooting videos, nor do I have Clue One about editing a video (aside from the four hours of tutorials and reading I did yesterday afternoon). When those two things come together, I realize I have a bigger problem: I don’t like to let something out into the world if it isn’t Professional and Perfect and someone-please-call-the-Sundance-folks amazing.

Given the above First and Second, and given that I don’t feel that my entire success in life hinges on this one bit of video, and given that today is the third day I’ve worked on the video and it’s as good as it is going to get, well. (Don’t bother calling Sundance; not yet anyway.)

So it isn’t perfect. Oh. Well. However, the truth is: Wow, you know what? Making videos is FUN. Oh, Bob. I don’t know if it will be fun for you kind folks to watch, but let’s do it anyway. Mostly because: I will take fun and playfulness any day over stuffy professionalism.

So this vid is quite homey, homey in that I don’t have the resources (yet) to go all  Craftsy on you with the beautiful sets and perfectly groomed host. I didn’t have a nice script all worked out, and I didn’t try to be formal or grownup or anything other than just me.

Regarding “homey production values”…yeah. The focus is a wee off in parts, the lighting is what it is, and I proceed to make all the appropriate rookie podcast maker mistakes. I spend a few moments talking with my hand in front of my face. I did two edits, and the transitions between clips are not as smooth as one might wish. Oh, and I spend a fair bit of time looking off camera, and gesturing off towards my right. My desk is over there; the sofa with  Catzen is there, and Melody’s office is over that too. Oh, and to my left is the glass sliding door to The Outside. Just makin’ sure you know where all the important stuff is, right?

Links & More Info

clapotisfront

CLAPOTIS

And How About that Lovely Yak/Cormo Yarn?

  • Main Website: Bijou Basin Ranch
  • Page for the specific yarn I am using: Bijou Bliss Sport Gradients
  • Colours: I started off with one ball of the Fuchsia Ombre Flow (currently on the needles) and will make my way through two additional balls in different parts of the gradient: Lilac Ombre Flow (one dark, one light).

Felt Toys and Dolls

Cynthia Treen Studio
Etsy Shop: Felt Kits, PDF patterns, and supplies for hand-sewn about-the-house companions: foxes, raccoons, frogs, and more
Blog/Studio website

birdie-blues

© Cynthia Treen Studio

Gingermelon
Etsy Shop: Unique hand-sewn felt dolls, critters, and tiny clothes; along with everything you need (PDF patterns, felt, kits) to make one (or more) for yourself.
Blog: Charming, crystal-clear looks into her design process and mad making skillz. If you look at the left sidebar, there is a list of “tutorials”, which is Shelly’s way of saying Free Patterns, Folks. Tiny Miniature Bunnies, anyone?

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This one looks ferocious. Watch those ears, there.
Tiny Bunnies, a free pattern from Gingermelon.

Fact Check

Somewhere in the second half, I talk about the trade relationships between Canada (where I live) and the United States (where my heart lives, in California, specifically).

Yeah, I know. Freaky, eh? Sandi talking about economics and trade. (I promise, I kept my hands behind my back the whole time and didn’t touch anything important.) Somewhere in there, though, I did allow some Statistical Numbers to drop out of my mouth. Given how important the whole concept of Truth has become, I went off to find out what the REAL numbers were. And here they are:

A final note: Yes, look at those hands shake, shake, shake! Don’t worry about my shaking hands; that’s just what they do. They shake. It’s not nervousness or anxiety (well, not completely, anyway); I have had shaky hands all my life. It’s something called a terminal tremor, or something like that, meaning that it’s a neuromuscular problem and it can’t really be fixed.

 

Posted in Felt, Felting, & Fulling, Knitting, Sewing & Stitching | Tagged , , , , , , | 11 Comments

news from the wee town of orange

Well, hello there. How are you kind folks? Tired of winter yet? ::rolls eyes:: Here’s what it looks like outside my window as of five minutes ago…

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Wiseheart Mountain

And out the back window…

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That poor little mini-fir-tree out back. It looks like one of those fantasy winter trees you see in paintings with gnomes and hedgehogs and polka-dotted mushrooms. Only without the cute friendly forest critters and gnomes. Boooo.

Warning: More pictures than usual in this post. (12 plus a slideshow!) I will ‘splain anon.

Yesterday, it snowed about, oh, six? eight? inches. Big, quarter-sized flakes, with the winds making a blizzard out of everything, just for added fun. Heavy, wet snow, the kind that gives you a backache just looking at it. Melody was a hero and shoveled the driveway this morning, and of course it took sooo much longer than anticipated. There was no way I was going to get out of the house on time, and she just barely made it to her meeting at York U., with minutes to spare.

After last year’s relatively snowless winter, this one has been a very wintery blustery winter so far. We have had weeks of snow and grey skies, day after day after day, punctuated by the occasional day like Saturday: Brilliant blue skies, with the sunshine setting everything to sparkle. On these sunny days, I watch as the ice and snow make interesting sculptures on our deck.

Over the weekend, the Outside made lace with ice and snow:

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A delicate ice window edged with lace

Down-railing a bit, there was an icy bridge rounding the corner:

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One can see that poor St. Francis has been sporting a new winter look.

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He looks like Bishop Francis with that hat so high

Note that the above pic was actually taken about 2-3 weeks ago, before the snow really got started. As of the other day, Francis was buried up to his Bible in white stuff.

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Someone knit Francis a big foofy shawl.
Maybe it was done via arm knitting, using roving.
I understand that is trés stylin’ these days.
Nifty door screen special effects are on special today for readers of this blog!

The Suburban Plague

It was probably just as well I didn’t get out the door. I have The Creeping Crud, as my mom would say. Yeah. I’m sick, smitten with that horrible never-ending flu that is going around. (Did I get a flu shot when I ought to have gotten one? No. I mean, why should I? I’m only kinda-sorta really immuno-compromised, but I still have a handful of white blood cells around here somewhere. Don’t need no stinking flu shot.)

I seem to have a never-ending eye-roll going on here.

I woke up yesterday with no voice; today I have a voice but no energy to do much with it. That’s the worst part of this particular Flu Fu: It’s one of those that leaves you too fatigued to really focus on anything, but not fatigued enough to sleep all day. Grrrr. Arrrgh.

The last few weeks have been sort of sickly surreal around here. Melody came down with the Human Hairball-Hacking Horror (some mundanes call it “bronchitis”), and her weeks of constant coughing have kept both of us awake most nights. Sleep deprivation, let me tell you, is not good for the soul. Nor for the mental health of the household; we’ve been snipping at each other like scissors at times, bleary-eyed and exhausted. In light of this, we both have developed a new level of respect for OTC cough meds. Melody usually hates taking pills unless she HAS to; after a week or so of nights of endless coughing, she decided that the evils of multi-syllabic ingredients in her nighttime cough medicine were worth a few nights of actual REM sleep. Unfortunately, in her case, the “all-night” effects last a mere 4-5 hours, and then it’s pajama party time at 2:15 AM promptly every morning. Whee!

Good times.

Luckily there are many amusements to be had in the wee hours at Casa Wiseheart. There’s the nightly storms, for example. And the blizzard-making winds. And the after-dark special effects. The other night, the wind threw branches against the outside of my bedroom wall, and I went to peer out various windows only to find the yard (and the driveway) covered in glass:

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shiny icy night

Needless to say, the only thing happening on that driveway might possibly be a nice game of ice hockey. (It’s not actual glass, of course. Half-inch thick ice, that’s all.)

As for more things on the list of Midnight Fun Activities… One can clean one’s sewing table, for example.

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Who knew the top of my table was white?

One can also work on projects! Sometimes, I work on quilts: the quilt-in-progress above is this one:

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I quilted for years Back in The Ago, before Interweave and the yarn arts stole my heart. Sometime within the past two years, I caught the quilting bug again, and now all hope of any free storage space in our home is lost forever. I have a yarn stash, a spinning fibre stash, a very small weaving thread-cone stash, a sensible (ahem) bead stash, and now, once again, I have a fabric stash.

Abandon hope, and all that.

I have not found my old quilt stash yet (something about unopened boxes in my basement?), and my new fabric stash is not yet (!) the sort that has a lot of leftover scraps and bits and bobs. A quilt like the Triangle Heart Quilt above requires either scrappy leftovers, or a good collection of fat quarters/eighths; when I decided to make this quilt, I had neither. (Melody, I can hear you laughing. Stop that. Trust me, mine is a TINY fabric stash. In comparison. No, really. No, no, don’t laugh LOUDER, you silly woman.)

So, last fall, off I went to Sew Sisters quilt shop in Toronto, and there on a table was the biggest basket of random fat eighths and fat quarters I could imagine. It took me an hour of scrounging (“there, wait, I think I see one at the very bottom…”), colour matching, consulting with the quilt shop ladies, and a fair measure of what I call Colour Humility: accepting that there was just no way I was going to be able to put together a colourway I was comfortable with (something having to do with, oh, say…purple, and perhaps green, and maybe even blue). I had to go with what was there, and what was there just happened to be close enough to the main pattern photo that I felt as though I had a prayer-and-a-half of the quilt not being a total eyesore.

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Triangles for the Heart Quilt

I have never worked with coral before. Nor large amounts of yellow and gold. And ORANGE. There are ORANGE triangles in my quilt top. Coral, yellow, gold, and orange. And turquoise. And red. And olive green. Those, people, are the Seven Colours of the Apocalypse. (Run for your lives.)

Since I took that photo above, I have cut out allllllllll the triangles, and put them in piles according to which strip they belong in, in the proper order, even. I have sewn several more strips, but weirdly, I do not have a photo of any of that…because a few months later, I brought home two very enchanting kittens, who proceeded to hog ALL the camera time.

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Tessa is so tiny!
She and Ben are 2-3 weeks apart in age. Or thereabouts.

However, I have managed to work on a few quilty and knitty things in the months since last March’s Great Kitten Takeover (Make Kittens Great Again!), as long as I accepted the fact that whatever I have in my hands is irresistible to small hunters-to-be.

Yes, I Still Knit

My friend Mardi went to Rhinebeck this last November, and brought me back a little prezzie: A lovely cake of Yak/Cormo yarn from the nice folks at Bijou Basin Ranch. (Careful, there. BBR has an evil inventory, you’ve been warned.)

This was so incredibly kind of her. You see, I was all packed and ready to go to Rhinebeck myself; at the last moment, I had to grit my teeth and admit to myself that in the ongoing argument between me and Pain as to who is boss around here, Pain was definitely winning that week; a long drive and a long weekend on my feet outside was probably the last thing I ought to be attempting. GRRRR ARRRRGH.

I have had to miss several festivals in the past two years due to this particular Grumpy-Maker aka Pain Sucks. I miss my fibre friends, and my lovely vendor pals, and, of course, the alpacas/sheep/paco-vicuńas/llama/dogs/critters. And all that lovely yarn and fluffy fluff. I thought of y’all the whole weekend, and sent you Fab Festival thoughts. (There’s always Next Time.)

However, the bright side: Courtesy of my wise friend, I now had 240 yds of blissful Yak+Cormo+Colours. I sifted through All The Patterns in an effort to come up with a Worthy Something. Nothing seemed right; in the end, I realized that the problem was not the yarn, but the LACK of yarn: I simply did not have enough yardage to knit a Worthy Thing. So, I did what any sensible knitter would do, and went online to see if I could find More Yarn. And guess what. The nice BBR folks not only had the same colour, they had a gorgeous coordinating gradient as well. Two “Add to Cart” clicks later, and look!

I made you a story slideshow because I am a total geek: (The slides are numbered 1–7. I can’t figure out how to tell it how to start with Slide One, so if you are starting in the middle, go ahead and click back to the beginning.)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It’s going to be my first Clapotis! Hot pink at one end, moving to lavender, then darker lavender, then lighter lavender, to lavender grey, to nearly white at the other end.

Thank you, Mardi! (And take THAT, winter.)

Hm. WordPress says I have outdone myself this post, with over 1900 words. Well. It did take me two weeks to write all those words, given the Creeping Crud and all.

The sun just peeked out for a bit! These glimpses of sunshine have been blissful, and the house is soon dotted with furry chins like this one:

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Ben happily sunning his chin.
The photo is fuzzy because Ben is fuzzy.
Sure it is. I stand by my alternative fact.

I have more knitting, quilting, crafty stories to tell, as usual. After all: You no doubt have questions, some of which might be:

  • Will Sandi ever finish that red cardigan?
  • What the heck does she DO every day, anyway?
  • Wasn’t there something about a duck quilt?
  • Has she finished ANYTHING lately? A sock? A swatch, even?
  • Why no posts for a whole month? 
  • Why so many pictures in this one post?
  • Where are the other kitties? We demand a Dusty photo!
  • And how is Zoë doing?
  • Does Tessa still have more toes than whiskers?
  • What is Tim snuggling with this time?
  • WHERE ARE THE CHISPAS?!??

I know it’s all important to someone out there. My mom. Me. Stalkers. A reader or four.  👀  All the fun folks!  😉

So, there will be more stories to come. Thanks for sticking with me through the weeks of of no posts. Y’all are the best.  ❤️

1913 words
My, my.
(1916 now.)

Posted in Knitting | 8 Comments

Upgrading to New Year 2.0

Upgrading to 2017

I don’t know about you, but I am completely upgrading to the new version of Year 2.0: Version 2017. Because, trust me: 2016 has GOT TO GO.

All in favour, say AMEN.

Goodness. I ought to have put my earplugs in first. Enthusiastic, much, eh?

At first, I wanted to say that 2016 sucked, big time. Trouble is, it didn’t. Suck, I mean. Well, okay, maybe it had its (long, protracted, get-me-outta-here) moments of deep and powerful Suckage; but it wasn’t all one big Dyson. There were days, sometimes several in a row, even, when one felt the air was clear enough to do that breathing thing.

Those days were a true gift, in and amongst all the loud, clamoring, drama-filled, over-the-top days (and some nights) of sheer Overwhelm, Overdone, and Out-of-Control Nail-Biting. The Drama Llama not only came to visit, she took over the entire guest room and guest bath, plonked herself down at the head of the table, and asked Dusty to fetch her slippers for her, as she was too busy eating the dark chocolate I had bought for myself (for medicinal purposes, of course).

I am pretty sure I saw Dusty gave her the feline equivalent of the Impolite Finger, re-adjust his tail to cover his eyes, and continue to go right on snoring. I believe at the moment, he is planning his speech for Sunday’s Kick the Year Out On Its Arse and Its Little Drama Llama, too ceremony.

The Usual End of Year Project Report: Part One

I finished ONE knitting project this year. Despite its lonely status, I am pleased with the outcome:

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Ruth’s Leafy Fingerless Mitts

The yarn is handspun, and was finished in 2016, so that counts as a FO as well.

The sweet little mitts were a gift for a very special person, my friend Ruth. Ruth is one of those folks people are drawn to: deeply good, deeply kind, as well as funny, knowledgeable, and wise; she also has great stories from her own life to tell. I wanted something special to give to her, her being the special person she is.

I love how these mitts came out. I wore them for a couple of days before giving them to Ruth, and I have to say it was a wee bit difficult to part with them. Good thing I know the yarn spinner. She has more yarn! And more cute buttons! And she still knits! (Yes, I do have more of the yarn. And yes, I do still knit. Just not, apparently, finish said knits.)

I might even have my own pair of cute mitts by the end of 2017, who knows?

I have two other knitting projects I have been steadily working on, a pair of socks, and the endless Little Red Cardi. The socks are an unbelievably tiny-for-me 9 sts to the inch, so they may not be done until we have a new president. No, not the one coming up. The next one.

Up next time: Quilting Projects Report

You will have noticed a lack of photos in this post. Explanation coming next time. OF COURSE I have a story to tell about that. I always have stories. 🙂

Also next time, or perhaps the time after that: I have some news for you. Let me get my head together about it, and then I promise to share. Is it bad news? Good news? Good Grief, I have no idea. Not yet, anyway.

HAPPY 2017!

HOPE IS OUR SONG, 
LOVE IS OUR WORD, 
JOY IS OUR STAR, and 
COMPASSION OUR GIFT TO THE WORLD

yeah, I wrote that. Just now, in fact.

 

Posted in Knitting | 11 Comments

Good Grief. I Finished Something.

Yes I did! I actually sort of finished something. Well, OK. I finished one part of something: I finished appliquéing the tree to the quilt top! WOOT!

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It’s so colourful and happy: Hooray!

I also ripped out about 90% of the basting stitches. There are a few places where seam allowances were wonkified (technical term) and raw edges show, but a bit of needle and thread action at a later point will clear those right up.

Lately, I have been breaking big projects like this one down into sets of major tasks, and writing down those individual tasks in my Doomed-To-Do List. I like to celebrate the completion of each of these steps in my projects, seeing as the completions of the projects themselves happen so rarely. So: Hooray for Progress! Again, I say: WOOT!

HOWEVER: This was not the productivity I was looking for.

It is now Saturday, 7 days before Christmas Eve. My List of To Do or Doom is whining at me, tapping its watch and thinking of unkind words to say to Yours Truly.  Despite my one step forward above, more unfinished tasks intended for this weekend are yelling at me from the List of Doom. I have not done the laundry, nor finished cleaning the Great Room so we can finish decorating the tree and fireplace tomorrow after church. I haven’t gotten in touch with my Rav friends, nor called my mother.

I also, quite frankly, did not even Achieve Lunch. My one cup of coffee from this morning is three-quarters full, and I have warmed it up twice so far. (And I am about to head into the kitchen for WarmUp Number Three.)

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Beau-ti-mous Blanket Stitching and a few inches of basting stitches to take out

 

I  was also hoping to make the quilt sandwich today, and to work on some family gifts, but Stuff Happened, it’s after five PM already, and I haven’t touched gifts nor quilt yet. It’s not like I have been sitting here with my bonbons and bunny slippers, either. I have done several other rather needed things today, but nothing on the list, see, nothing that I planned to do. And somehow…somehow not getting things done that I had planned on doing makes me feel grumpy and unproductive.

Granted: It is probably silly to feel unproductive after unpacking and sorting through five (large!) boxes of winter clothes from the basement. (Yes! I did! I will take a celebratory Woot Lap for this!) And guess what: I found sweaters! my favourite down vest! two great winter skirts! and my beautiful blue fancy dress!–but The Grumpified Sandi says that doesn’t get me any closer to crossing things off the existing List o’ Doom. (Shush, Grump-éd One.)

I kind of want a do-over. ONE WEEK until Christmas Eve, and all that. (Somehow, I have a feeling I am not alone in wishing this…)

Onwards and Forwards and
All Anyone Can Do is Keep Going, Right?

Right. The good news is that it is not even 5:30 PM yet, so I still have a few hours in which to accomplish things today.

Next Up for The Advent Tree Quilt

I have the backing and batting ready to go. Once I finish the few bits of raw-edge mending that need doing, I am going to take a fabric pencil eraser to a few spots where the markings show too much, and after that, I will press the top into submission.

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Twinkle, Twinkle, Prairie Star…

Then comes the Sandwiching, and the Basting, and then the Quilting. And finally, the Binding. (Hm. I haven’t even thought about the binding yet. Sew bias binding from the scraps of all the many fabrics? Use a wide satin Christmas ribbon of some sort? Oooo, maybe candy-cane striped binding on the bias! Pondering must happen.)

Once all that is done, I can sew on the vintage buttons on which the wee ornaments will hang, and stitch on the pockets for ornament storage. And make a hanging sleeve or tabs or something. (Tabs. I like that idea.)

Will it be done then? Let’s get there first and see how it looks.

Look what I made for you!
A little slideshow tutorial showing you
how I made the pockets for my Advent Tree Quilt:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Why, yes, I do feel rather clever now, thanks for asking.

Yes, this is an Advent Calendar Christmas Tree Quilt. Yes, I know it is December 16  December 17. I would like to finish the basic bones of this by next week, hopefully in time to be able to celebrate the last few days of Advent with my little happy Advent Tree on the wall.

One can dream.

Knitting? What’s That?

OH….yes. I remember now. Knitting.

I have also Done Knitting in the past week or so. A sock that now has a toe. Some more rows on the Red Sweater.

We can talk about the Knitting later, OK?

Be kind to yourselves. That’s what you advised me to do in your comments, so I am turning that wonderful idea right back at y’all. Thank you for all that you do for me!

Also: Merry! I love the holidays. xxoo

 

Posted in Appliqué, Making Things, Quilting | 12 Comments

Adjectives, verbs, nouns: A curated collection 🎁

After the semi-blizzards of the past few days, yesterday morning was a glorious surprise: one of those crisp-cold sunny blue days of winter, where the snow sparkles and all things white are almost too white to look at head-on.

I know that I could write “snow that sparkled like candy sugar”, or “snow sparkling with the fire of a thousand/million/gadzillion/universe-full of diamonds” like all the other kids do, but c’mon, people. Have we no new ideas, no original thoughts, no individual quirks of tongue? Part of being a writer is to capture (and perhaps even keep) the attention of those reading, methinks.

If I wanted to capture the attention of folks likely to be my readers, I might say something more along the lines of “sparkling in all the star-shine hues of swarovski crystals scattered by an unseen hand upon the landscape”.

Or something along those lines. Perhaps something with fewer words, and maybe less schmaltz, even.

If I just use the same imagery everyone else is using, isn’t my writing sort of a strung-together plagarism of quotes off the internet, rather than a reflection of my own personal style and ingenuity?

Yeah, deep thoughts today. So deep that I set my mighty brain to use this morning browsing Christmas-themed apps for my iPhone. ::waggles eyebrows::   Impressive, yes?

Making

Speaking of the Day of the Fat Man: Like any other self-respecting knitter/crocheter/sewist*/weaver, I am working on holiday projects, in addition to my daily struggles with red yarn and stockinette stitch. This year, my mantra has been If You Really Loved It, You Would Finish It.

Thus, I have been creeping along on my Mallard Duck mini-quilt:

It’s too bad you can’t see most of the hand quilting…bad camera person, no donut.


Click to embiggen!

As well as making good progress on my Advent Tree quilt:

And, of course, working in the dark of the guest bathroom on the usual Secret Things.

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Zoë: I don’t see any presents in here…What about you, Dusty Bro? Find any stocking stuffers yet? Some organic catnip, maybe, or perhaps a set of those most excellent felted mouse toys like we got last year?

No, I do not have a photo of the Secret Things In Progress. My family, my close friends, my wife, and, as you can see, even my cats all read this blog. They are probably doing so with extra diligence near Christmas, in the hopes of me having a Stupid Moment and writing a post—complete with detailed photos and source linkages—about that One Special Thing intended for THEM. (Sorry, Mom. I am currently out of stock of Stupid Moments. However, I am expecting a delivery of New Improved Stupid Moments any day now.)

I like how the two quilt projects pictured above, in particular, are biting my arse. No, really. They are arse-biters in that they are just a bit beyond my current level of expertise, forcing me to look up good tutorials on the web for what I don’t know, thus ensuring that I learn new things.

Some of this stuff, like the blanket stitch I am using to secure the edges of my appliquéd Advent Tree, some of it I already sort-of knew, but only in a brute force sort of way. This time, I actually searched out examples, step-by-step tutorials, and instruction on the finer points (turning inner vs outer corners, amongst other topics). This time, I wanted to finish the project actually KNOWING how I did things, instead of just cruising along, guessing and improvising along the general correct direction.


Click to embiggen!

Blanket Stitch, I have conquered Thee.

The best Blanket Stitch tutorial I have found covers everything, including how to turn corners, how to turn an inside or an outside point, and more. However, what works for me may be noodle soup to you. The most effective way to find any sort of tutorial (in my  experience) is to do a search on Google Images for whatever it is (“blanket stitch how to go around a point”, or “blanket stitch step by step”, or the thing I seem to forget most often, “blanket stitch how to start”). I find it easier to look for an image that makes sense to me, or looks as though it addresses my question, than to read through two-line text descriptions and click on five or six until I find one I understand.

Peace and hugs on this cold winter evening.

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Granted: Chez Wiseheart is not quite at the point of singing O Tannenbaum yet, but we’ll get there.

P.S. I apologise for the wacky formatting, and the weird sizing of the photos. WordPress “upgraded” their editing interface, and you should have heard the cursing this past hour…

* I am told by my sister that “sewist” is now the favoured term for one who sews. Apparently, some people did not like being called the back-end of a plumbing system, as in “sewer”. Who knew?

Posted in Appliqué, Knitting, Quilting, Writing | 5 Comments

Red sweater

One paragraph, I am saying to myself.

Just write one paragraph. (Technically, this is paragraph two, I believe. Whatever.)

I will say a couple of things.

First: If you don’t know this from personal experience, then allow me to enlighten you: Depression is a horrible way to spend a weekend, let alone an entire, rather gorgeous, season, particularly every knitter’s favourite season: Autumn. The season of mitten knitting, sweater knitting, and holiday gift knitting. It’s our peak season, we knitters, and like knitters everywhere, I watched Ravelry fill up with every sort of Knitted Thing imaginable as the leaves “put on their party clothes” (as the Yarn Harlot would say) and gradually danced their way to the ground.

Second: Being too depressed to blog, when one has been a blogger almost as long as anyone has been a blogger, is just plain super-sucky. Days upon days of waking up (in the middle of the night, in the morning, after a nap) thinking, Today I can do it. I can write a post. Put up a photo, even. Doesn’t have to be eloquent; just has to be words typed into my laptop. I know that if I write a word or two or twenty, then perhaps that will punch a hole in the walls that depression erects around one, walls that start out as soft, sheer curtains, and end up made by that third piglet, the one who loves the smell of well-mixed mortar and properly aged bricks.

Before I know it, another day of excuses, interruptions, and procrastinations goes by. Without a blog post.

Be gentle on yourself, friends say. Hard to be gentle on one’s self when the demons of depression left me feeling as if I do not know myself any longer. But for love of friends, for love of you, Gentle Faithful Readers, gentle shall I be. Anything to ensure that this isn’t the last post for another three months.

(Shhhh. Yes, I know I have officially passed the one paragraph mark. Don’t tell.)

There, for example, is The One Photo, accompanied by two of its friends, as promised. That is my Mirabel Cardigan, the one I started just over a year ago. (I got lost in eight inches of five-point-five stitches per inch, 287 stitches (or something like that). I am happy to report that the eight inches have been completed, as have two short sleeves (as shown above: they even match!). Over the Labour Day weekend, I joined the fronts to the sleeves to the back, all in proper order, all facing the proper way, albeit by the third try. Since then, and since this photo was taken, I have worked another couple of inches upwards, encountering both neckline and bust shaping in due time.

I wanted to finish this in time to wear over a white blouse on Christmas Eve, but I am not going to hold my breath over it (and neither should you!).

I am going to stop now, before I really want to stop, on the theory that I might feel better about blogging if I could resign myself to shorter, less tome-like posts. I am going to break blogging courtesy rules this once and not do the work of linking every possible thing I could link. I am also not going to allow myself to second-guess everything I have written and edit the life out of my words, as I often do when I am not feeling my best. I hope you understand. 

Thank you for still being there. Post a comment; let me know how you are doing in the pre-Christmas chaos!
I almost never listen to music these days, for a variety of reasons. However, I got double-sized Big Girl Panties and, before I began writing this, I searched for holiday music on YouTube. Dulcimer Christmas Music, a playlist by Jane Fountain. Gorgeous. Not too saccrine-sweet, not too happy-happy, just lovely, complex-but-simple tunes played on one of the most glorious instruments on earth.

“Things are looking up,” says one-year-old Ben. “Because when you look up, you might ccatch the food that falls off the counter before it hits the ground!”

Peace. I hope to see you soon. 

Posted in Animals, Goblins of Winter, Knitting, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Summer Vacation, with Chickens & Ben’s Ring of Mordor: Part 1

Overheard in a Syracuse kitchen earlier this week:

J: Thanks for doing that, I really appreciate it.

S:  What are friends for?

J:  Running out to the feed store for chicken poo medicine, apparently.


You need to have the sound on for the true chicken experience. That makes chickens NSFW, I suppose. And that’s  J talking, btw, not yours truly.

Hi there. Me again. I intended to have a late July post for you, and then my summer vacation happened. Here’s the first installment of my adventures.

In which my 7-month-old kitten has a near-death experience…

By now, you folks know that I tend to write about everything and anything sooner or later, so if this story bores you, c’mon back for the next post, because overall, I do not exactly lead a boring life, now do I?

Back to the kitten with a near-death experience. Right. Yes, Mr. Ben gave us quite the scare there for a week or so in late July.

img_3424

dreaming dreams of scurrying bugs

See the shaved belleh? See nasty incision scar? Out of nowhere one day, Ben started having breathing trouble, trouble as in his chest was making wet, crackling sounds at the same time as his breathing sounded like he needed a set of gills. I grew up with a sister who has severe asthma, severe as in regular stupid-thirty a.m. trips to the ER severe. So when I heard the same sort of sounds coming from my five-pound kitten, nanoseconds later we were in the car, cat carrier with unusually quiet mini-cat in tow, on the road to the 24/7 animal ER.

The triage tech took one look and hustled Ben off to the back, where she plopped a tiny oxygen mask on him, and pulled the only vet out of a room (where she was treating another patient) so she could examine Ben. We found out later that the vet listened to his breathing, and without even reaching for her stethoscope, immediately gave instructions to clear the decks–divert all incoming clients to another ER nearby until further notice, send anyone in the waiting room with a non-critical animal to that same ER, and prep Ben for surgery NOW.

I am eternally grateful I didn’t know that was happening.

X-rays showed an “abnormality” in his GI tract, an abnormality that looked suspiciously like a linear foreign object around his intestines.

A linear foreign object, for those of you playing along at home, is the medical term for long, thin, flexible stuff. Like yarn, for example.

Every cat-loving knitter’s worst nightmare, in other words. I was flooded with horror, guilt, and other terrible feelings I have no name for.

I deliberately put Ben’s post-hospital picture at the beginning of this story, to reassure you that the story has a happy ending.

Surgery showed a thankfully linear-foreign-object-free intestinal tract, squeaky-clean, in fact.This was confirmed by not one, but two very thorough exams, inch-by-inch examinations by two sets of fingers and three sets of magnifier-enhanced eyeballs. (I love these people.) No chest fluid, no lung problems, airways and GI tract completely clear…

Oh. Wait. What is THAT?

I really do not like hearing, “I have no idea what that is, I have never seen anything like it before”. Not when it’s me, and even less so when it is one of my furballs.

Near the intersection of the stomach outflow valve, and the duodenum (tube leading to the small intestine and lower GI tract), the vet found a fleshy bit not shown in the anatomy books. This fleshy bit was actually forming a solid ring around the duodenum, a ring that seemed a bit too constricting to be doing anything particularly helpful. Puzzled, the doc took pics, and while Ben was on the table, had one of the senior techs do a quick survey of the internet literature to see if there was anything helpful online. (Which, if you think about it, is a pretty awesome use of technology.)

The internet didn’t have any obvious answers. The ring wasn’t supposed to be there, and as it was clearly up to no good, snip, snip, snip, went the surgical tools, and no more ring around the tubing.

The next day, Ben was breathing better, and we felt very relieved. As time went on, however, Ben wouldn’t eat. He was in the hospital for four days, and on the third day, we were told to “prepare ourselves,” as Ben was declining. We were numb with anticipated grief. M and I took turns visiting him every day for hours, cuddling, talking, singing, petting, and offering food. He would perk up when we were there, and get very depressed when we weren’t there. Finally, not knowing what else to do, the doc let us take him home, “to get better, or not, Ben’s choice now” as she put it.

Within hours of coming home, Ben made his choice clearly known: Ben was gonna choose to chase himself some big, juicy bugs, yessirree by golly. Took him a few days to recover enough to eat the bugs, but our Ben bravely submitted to round-the-clock meds of various sorts until one day he sat in front of his food bowl and chowed down like the little champ he is.

I love kitten stories with happy endings.

O.K. –rubs hands together–

Next up: In which my corset was not struck by lightning.

Posted in Knitting | 4 Comments