Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Yarn Along

I finished up "The Covered Wagon" yesterday afternoon while at the dentist's. The twins were having sealants put on so I got to sit, relax and read in the waiting room.

Not sure what to put this week for what I am reading. I am using a quilting book for a new quilt, and have been reading through that, so I am sticking that in here. I prepared to duck if any "Yarn Alongers" are ready to through tomatoes at me, for I've no clue if mixing quilting with knitting is sacrilegious or not.

Here is an updated pic of my New England Shawl. I figure I'm about 30% done, if that. I'm guessing I may have to add some extra repeats of the stitching pattern to make it bigger as I'm afraid it is coming out much smaller than I was imagining. Thankfully, I have plenty of yarn!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Saturday Stuff

It has been a quiet Saturday here. Earlier this morning I finished a baby quilt for a friend due in March.

I had a terrible time with the binding, and was glad to go out with some of the kids for a short hike up the hill behind us. Benjamin and some of his friends were already out on the trail, taking turns riding a four wheeler. Okay, I know... sounds like a gray hair moment, right? Honestly, I would have liked to give a try myself, but PLEASE don't tell my kids that! They'll be begging for us to buy a 4 wheeler!

After we got back we had lunch. Dale went for a nap, and I got to read with Isaac for a little while.

We were cozied up on the couch, and read "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" and "Whose Tail, Peter Rabbit?". The Peter Rabbit is a touch and feel book, with very few words. Just my caliber. :P

Meanwhile, Esther was in the kitchen making fresh blueberry muffins. Seriously. This girl's love for baking is lethal to my figure.

Anyone want to come over for tea and muffins?

Now I am working on quilting Caleb's quilt. I'm about halfway through it. It is going fast with a very simple stippling for the quilting.

Well, Dale is up from his nap, so I am off to work on my story for a bit. Happy Saturday everyone!

Friday, February 24, 2012

WIP New England Shawl

Since knitting for the family is caught up for the moment, I have been working on a shawl for me. I'm using Chroma Fingering Weight yarn, colorway: New England. Working with this yarn is a joy. It is SO soft! I love the color blending. Throughout the skein are wonderful autumn type colors that remind of my ol' stomping grounds in the Fall. Gorgeous! The pattern is a freebie from Ravelry, called "Azzu's Shawl" by Emma Fassio. I'm only on row 45, but so far it has been an easy knit. It is a very versatile pattern. You can basically use any yarn, any sized needle. It will change the dimensions of the shawl of course, but the fun part is that you get a completely different look from bulky yarn, than you would, say, fingering weight yarn. I think this is a great beginner lace pattern, thought it is more stockinette stitch than lace. The yarn-overs add interest, and of course, the increases that give the shawl it's shape.

It is family fun night here, and we are having "game night". Popcorn is getting made, and the Yahtzee, Monopoly, and who knows what else is making an appearance.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Never Enough Time

It seems like I always have more projects planned than what I will ever get to, whether it be sewing, knitting, home improvement, etc. I know everyone has the same amount of time each day, but it is more than evident some use it more wisely than others.

Sometimes though, I have to wonder, what "more wisely" really means, if that makes sense.

We home school, so the bulk of our day is wrapped up in that for the most part. However, while Dale has been home on lay off, I've been trying to get more writing time in.

(Oh gasp.. did I just end that sentence with a preposition? Oh horrors. Just for the record, there is a surprising amount of controversy over when that might be acceptable. However, in the instance of professional writing, I say... that is what editors are for.)

Even with the bonus of having Dale home, I still find it hard to get in as much writing time as I want. Some days, like today, I did all I could do. Other days, I feel like I had much more to do before quitting for the day.

My ongoing dilemma is that when I spend time doing one thing, something else is always neglected. That is to be expected, I suppose. I'm sure I'm not the only person, home schooling or not, parent or not, married or not, stay at home mom or not, to face this.

For example, if I spend time writing, then I'm not sewing. So, something in my project list, whether it be a quilt I want to give away, or something for the family, is neglected. If I sew, then the writing isn't getting done. If I knit, then neither of those two things are getting done. If I fold laundry, then the kitchen isn't getting decluttered or organized. If I detail clean the kitchen, then the downstairs isn't being decluttered.

You get the idea.

The idea is to strike a balance, I know that, but yet I have trouble over not feeling guilty about what isn't getting my attention. I should feel satisfied that something, anything, is getting done, and enjoy the moment of what I am working on. Instead, I usually feel a little guilty over what is neglected. It is a vicious circle.

Then there are phases I go through where I am very laid back about it, and am perfectly happy to get to three things on my "To Do" list, out of say, 100 things, and call it a successful day. Those days, I feel very at peace, and none of that irritating, background conflict going on.

Setting priorities is helpful. Not always easy, as sometimes every little thing I have to do seems like top priority. Other days, my way is clear, and going down the list is painless and fun.

I'm sure I'm not the only one to have to deal with all of this.

There is something I know for sure: Over the years I have learned that I have got to have a little time to be creative. If I don't, it gets ugly. I mean, realllly ugly. And like my husband once said, "If Mama ain't happy, then there ain't no one gonna be happy."

Part of my creativity today was to finish quilting a baby quilt. I found I had some time to also make the binding for the quilt, and for Caleb's quilt as well. I don't know what it is about making binding, but I find it very "Zen".

I hope you all found a peaceful balance between practical productivity and carefree creativity today!

(Now seriously, wasn't that the longest way around the cow shed to say "Look at the binding I made today? PFFFFT! :) )

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Yarn Along

I am still plugging along with "The Covered Wagon". I don't get much reading time in I guess!

I am glad to say I'm not still working on Josiah's socks, as I finished them this evening, literally just a few minutes ago! I knew I would probably finish them today so I waited to post here until they were done.

Most of us are fighting colds here right now, which started with Dale and is moving through the ranks. I'm in the thick of it, and ended up taking a nice, long, restful nap this afternoon. It felt so good! I can't believe I even feel tired at this point, because of the length of the nap. Obviously, my body must need the rest right now.

Have a restful night, ya'll!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Looking Ahead

The beginning of a new week!

I admit, most Monday mornings I am not that enthusiastic. Monday's are very busy here, and with Dale and Benjamin having to be out the door for class at a certain time, it makes me feel a little more stressed than a usual Monday. Mondays are my organizational days, which means menu planning, shopping list making, making sure weekly logs are printed up, logs from last week handed in and put away, and there is always laundry to do, and extra picking up from the weekend. Not sure what happens from when we do the weekly cleaning until Monday morning, but no matter how neat everything is on a Saturday night, by Monday morning it can appear like a tornado has ripped through the house.

All that to say, it is busy, as I'm sure it is in most houses. I do try to plan in some quilting/sewing time. I know that seems opposite of what I should do, but it is a great stress reliever.

I finished proof reading my story over the weekend, and even jotted some more ideas down for the actual continuing writing process this week. I hope to get a lot done on that this week.

I'm also hoping to finish Josiah's socks. I got a good amount of knitting done on them yesterday. I finished the heel flap, turned the heel, did all the gusset decreases, and am now a couple inches towards the toe from the gusset. That may not make sense to some, but those of you who have ever knitted a sock probably can picture it in your mind.

I have just a wee little bit of piecing left on the back of Caleb's quilt. I'm hoping to have that sandwiched by this weekend so I work on quilting it and binding it.

Speaking of quilting, I have been on the look out for a long time for scrap friendly patterns that are quick and easy. On Crazy Mom Quilts blog, she had a wonderful specimen, and a really fun story behind a quilt she did this weekend. I'm hoping to employ her idea and simple design this year as I work my way through my stash.

Right now I am driving the family crazy with the homemade chicken noodle and vegetable soup simmering on the stove for supper. Even the cat is prowling around restlessly. I feel kind of bad for them, as it isn't even lunch time yet!

Back to helping with the school work for me. Have a great day!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Charity Blocks

I've finished the two blocks I committed to knitting for the block party I mentioned earlier. If I have time before the due date, I'll do another one, but for now I'm working on Josiah's socks. I admit it, I think I may be addicted to knitting socks. It is so homey, so relaxing, and what says " I love you " more than a hand knitted pair of socks? or hand made ANYTHING for that matter? Anyway, the charity blocks are made from the same scrap yarn, but one is a Basket weave stitch, and the other is a simple, easy, triangle motif.

We had a good service today, and a Fellowship Dinner after. Tons of food! Everyone I talked to complained of eating too much. :) I made home made macaroni and cheese, and Esther whipped up a batch of pistachio pudding. The pudding didn't set very well for some reason. I've no clue why, as she followed the directions, and it was the boxed, instant kind. Maybe it sat on the shelf before using too long? *shrug*

I'm off to convince Dale he should take a nap (He is still fighting that cold) and maybe I'll work on some knitting or quilting.

Have a wonderful Lord's Day!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Chunky Chevron Block

I finally got around to getting the second block for February done! I found time yesterday afternoon. I'm really enjoying this class! I can't wait for March's blocks and instructions to be posted. The technique being taught will be on foundation piecing.

My plans today was to kick around in my pj's and do some more proof reading on my story and maybe even get to some writing. Instead, I ended up having to go run a couple of errands, which was fine. I still got in my proof reading, and am all set to continue the story next week. Yay! Then of course there will be more proof reading, spell checking, grammar checking, etc.

The chores today included bread baking, running errands, and cleaning, and laundry... well you get the idea. Just a typical Saturday for us!

Have a wonderful evening!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Cozied Up

Some days are more calm than others. Yesterday was such a day, despite the fact that Caleb had a dentist appointment in the afternoon. Dale is on lay off from work until the middle of March, so it helps to have an extra set of parental eyes around.

We have had several days of very gray weather, with snow showers. Nothing accumulated, just big, lazy flakes falling form the sky. In fact, the kids did try to make a snowman one day but had to use old snow from what we had over the weekend. It was a wee little bit leftover from a bank (and I use that term very loosely) from where the driveway was plowed.

How pathetic, eh?

Anyway, since Dale has been home I have been proof reading the story I wrote back in November for NaNoWriMo. Dale and the twins have read some of it, and all are pushing, em, encouraging me to finish it, and try and sell it. I should probably think of a title too. That poor story is still unnamed!

Yesterday morning I set aside a couple hours to proof read. It was very gray outside, and there was a damp chill in the bedroom, so I had the little heater on in our room.

Pumpkin joined me, and after a ridiculous amount of grooming, circled around, then curled up on a quilt. I usually curl up in it, with a cup of coffee and my Bible first thing in the morning.

For Valentine's day Dale and I had a special dinner (at home, after feeding the kids early then letting them watch a movie) and he gave me these tulips. They were closed up tightly Tuesday, and as you can see, they are blooming very nicely!

So, it was quite pleasant, being able to spend time on my story, cup of java in hand, little heater adding to the ambiance, some nice background instrumental musical playing, and knowing Dale was handling all the supervision with the kids.

Yeah, I could get used to that!

Today is just the opposite, however. The sun is out, and it is almost 40 degrees. I'm working on Caleb's quilt this morning. Then I'll go with one of the olders for a walk later, then spend the late afternoon working on proof reading some more. I'm not sure if I've been overdoing it at the gym, or I'm coming down with Dale's cold, but I am downright T I R E D today.

Hope you all have a good day, and that you have more energy than I do!


Knitting and Reading

Well, I'm a couple of days behind on this post as it was supposed to be up Wednesday. *blush*. Sorry about that!

For knitting I took a very small break from Josiah's socks to work on a charity block. I'm in a group on Ravelry called "Proverbs 31" and the moderator started a "block party". We are to make as many, or few 6" blocks to send in by March 3rd. So far I've gotten one done. I have another casted on and ready to do, and then it is back to Josiah's socks. Actually, since I have over a week for the second block, I'll probably work some on Josiah's socks, so he won't get nervous about me never finishing them, and when I am tired and need mindless knitting, work on the charity block. The first block is an easy triangle motif. The second one I am working is a basketweave stitch. I wish I had one of those old Knitting Stitch Encyclopedia type books from the last generation. I'm definitely going to scour the thrift stores and yard sales this year for one! These blocks are fantastic for trying out new stitch patterns.

I'm still slowly making my way through "Organized Simplicity". It isn't hard reading, but I like to take time to absorb the ideas.

I'm also reading, mostly during my work out times at the gym, "The Covered Wagon" by Emerson Hough. So far I like it well enough. If you like frontier fiction, you'll like this.

I should mention that "The Covered Wagon" is a freebie on the Kindle, in case anyone wanted to know. :)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Irons In the Fire

Like everyone else, our family has plenty of irons in the fires.

Speaking of irons, a couple of posts ago I alluded to a certain vintage waffle iron we recently inherited. Esther tried it out Friday morning, and the results were YUMOLA!

We used both the "New" (Old vintage one) and the "Old" (new one, we got for Christmas... is that all confusing enough for you? It's like the Star Wars episodes. The "New" ones are actually the "Old" ones because of the order of the episodes, etc. But I digress.)

Anyway, breakfast was inhaled by the locusts, despite the gazillion waffles that were made.

I finished Jerusha's very bright sweater today. At least I'll be able to spot her in a crowd. I forgot to get buttons when I was up at JoAnn's a couple of weeks ago (I was distracted by some wicked gorgeous yarn at the yarn store in the same plaza, left my gloves, then had to go retrieve them. I was getting some good ribbing from my Mom, who for some unknown reason was cajoled into driving me to the craft stores... normally she is intolerant of us artists getting inspiration in such a maddeningly meandering type of way. She was convinced that I left my gloves on purpose just so I could go back into the wool shop as I spent an inordinate amount of time drooling over certain bargain skeins of yarn. But, I digress, yet again.)

Anyway, I let Jerusha look through my meager stash of buttons to see if there was anything she liked and she found these buttons. If there had been 4 of the dragonflies... um, excuse, BUTTERFLIES.... (there was some debate with the older children which insect the buttons really depicted... but I better cut short that story here before I digress a third time and lose my small following of readers altogether) it would have been perfect. There were only three leftover from a project from several years ago. Happily, she found that heart metal button and fell in love with it (pun I'll scare everyone off with bad jokes!).

The sweater was a very easy knit, though picking up stitches for the yoke was tedious, but not difficult.

I have plenty of the bright, pink, "got sunglasses?" yarn left. I'm thinking about making her some legwarmers to go with the sweater. For now I just put it aside. I need a break from it. Whew!

Dale and Benjamin start their second semester of Baptist History class they are taking at a neighboring church, tonight. That will be every Monday night until about the middle of May, from what I understand.

I've been getting back to the gym on a pretty regular basis, though my workouts are still not as challenging as I usually like. I think I am ready to try a nice, easy, jog this week. I'll also be starting up with some light weight training.

Caleb's quilt front is finished, and I've been working on piecing the back. I had quite a few pieces of varying sizes, though it is hard to see from a distance, leftover from the strip cutting. I've realized that this piecing is like making another quilt, but the time is all said and done. I just hate to see the fabric get stashed away when I can use it right now, and it matches the front perfectly. Hopefully I'll have that done and sandwiched by this weekend.

Oh, and guess what? Over the weekend we actually got measurably, plowable snow! Woot!

Of course, it mostly turned to mud by the end of today, but maybe we'll get more, eh?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Simple Pleasures

Some of the best things in life are just simply enjoying life, don't you think? So many everyday activities can seem enhanced if you just look for the beauty in them. Here are some things that have been our simple pleasures here lately:

This old chair we got for free a few years ago is made out of hard wood, but that didn't hold up against a certain child stepping on the seat, after turning the chair upside down. Dale was able to fix it, and is now back in its proper place.

Isaac watched Dale for a while then decided to do some building of his own.

It's hard to believe it is early February. Not because of how fast time seems to be going, but rather, the weather is more like early spring! I can't believe it is supposedly winter. I'm very disappointed in this season. Where did the snow go? None of us could resist getting outside today, and Josiah and Elizabeth enjoyed some down time laying out by the bank. If you look in the left, top corner, you can see what little is left of the snow we had a while back.

Dale did a quick tune up on my bike, and I went out riding around the neighborhood today. I got some pictures down at the creek while Josiah and Elizabeth were there.

Caleb has an old, "vintage" type bike. Since I was out and about on mine, he talked Benjamin into giving his old clunker a tune up too.

My mom was out over the weekend and brought us a waffle iron. The old kind, made of heavy metal, that will do 4 waffles at a time. I have to say, I was very excited over this! They don't make them like that anymore! Esther was also excited, and we are going to try using it tomorrow morning for breakfast.

And possibly the best part is that my mom still had the original instruction manual. I should mention that it was actually my Grandmother's waffle iron originally. The copyright in the manual is 1954. How cool is that!!!!

Also, included with the iron, are two griddles that attach to the unit in case I want to do pancakes on them, instead of doing waffles. They really do NOT make them like this anymore!

Oh, yeah... Esther has informed me that she wants it when she grows up and gets married and has kids. Pfffft. We'll see.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Knitting and Reading

I've decided to join a "Yarn Along" (see the new gadget on the side bar to the right) since I've been both reading and knitting a lot over the last couple of weeks. Both are tapering off some, as I get back into the ebb and flow of a busy life, but continuing at their more moderate paces.

I am reading "Organized Simplicity" on my Kindle. It was a freebie a few weeks ago, and though I am only a chapter or so into it, I am gleaning lots from it! I am also reading an older book called "Homestead on the Hillside" (also a freebie on my Kindle ) which is like Louisa May Alcott's darker books, but by a different author. I had a hard time getting into it at first, but then enjoyed it and looked forward to reading more if it when I could.

I finished up the first of Josiah's socks, and started the second yesterday. I haven't had time to knit yet today, but plan on working on that later this evening. Jerusha's sweater is coming along nicely, and I hope to finish that by this weekend.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Pluggin' Away

My mom was out this weekend (for a long weekend, anyway!) which was a nice break from the usual, whatever that is. Actually, she isn't really "company", so most of the "usual" occurs anyway. All that to say... it was good to see her! LOL

I've been working on my projects as much as I can. Josiah's socks are halfway done. that means, for the method I am knitting them, that one full sock is done, and it's time to cast on for the second one. I am using a basic sock pattern, but all my socks have a common ailment: the cuffs are looser than I like them. I've even decreased the number of cast on stitches to make them tighter, then increase to the required amount the pattern calls for in the first row after the cuff, but they still seem loose. Maybe it is just a "thing" with hand knit socks?

Jerusha's sweater is coming along. I'm up to the yoke and quite pleased with how it is coming out. I measured her several times, and knit the proper inches, but I'm still thinking I should have knit the body longer. Looks can be deceiving, so I held it up to her, and it seems fine. She is so long waisted that I find I can never really add to much to the length of things anyway!

Caleb's quilt is also coming along. I have to finish putting the top together, and get the borders on. I have one more BOM of the month for the online free class I am taking to do, but since it is only early February, I obviously have plenty of time left for that.

Dale has been getting in some work here and there. It is such a slow time of year for him! It is nice to have him around, and slightly distracting, but in a good way.

Duty calls, so I must go! Have a great day!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

BOM February

The first block for this month is the Balkan Puzzle:

It was super easy and fun to do. The next one is the Chunky Chevron block which I will tackle next week. My mom is visiting for the weekend, so I'll be spending lots of time chatting, and probably knitting. Still plugging away on Josiah's socks and Jerusha's sweater. Since I have been back into my routines and quilting I'm finding my only time to knit is odd times during the day... Maybe... but mostly in the evenings. I still get tired quickly, so I only knit for a little while then have to call it quits. I'm thankful to be up and around though!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

January BOM

There seems to be two blocks per month for this surprise Quilt I am doing. I finished up January's blocks yesterday, and started on February's.

Asterisk Block:

Wonky Pound Sign.. with Isaac inspecting my work:

The two above blocks used the cut and slash technique, which I am familiar enough with because of all the Disappearing Nine Patch quilts I like to do.

I need to get a 12.5 inch square ruler for squaring these blocks up, but for now they are done. So easy! I'm thinking about doing another quilt with a different color scheme.

The next block am working on is the Balkan Puzzle, and then the other block for February is the Chunky Chevron. The two February blocks explore two different ways of doing half square triangles. I usually use the method where you cut out squares, layer, draw a line diagonally, then sew 1/4" on each side. Then you cut on the line, press seams, and viola! : a nice, tidy, hst. On the Balkan Puzzle, the method is a new one to me, where you layer the squares, then sew all the way around them at 1/4". You then cut diagonally each way, corner to corner. You then end up with 4 hst's instead of only two. I've never tried this method, so I am looking forward to it! You can watch Amy's explanation on the free online video provided with the course.

Today I am taking a break from the BOM sewing and working on Caleb's quilt. I've cut and slashed and organized all the little blocks how I like them, and am sewing up rows. This part takes forever, it seems. Once the rows are formed, then it goes much faster as I sew the rows together to form the quilt top.

Have a great day!