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Archive for the ‘Loom knitting’ Category

The start of Aneira’s choker. The pink wire is the base, not part of the necklace.

Well, the hooks are, anyway. I’m pretty sure craft wire is copper. But yeah, still with the wire crochet, and kicking myself for choosing what I think is the most ambitious of Yoola‘s beginner designs. It’s not that it’s difficult–once you learn how to do the stitches, it’s actually fairly easy, so long as you can see what you’re doing (yes, I’m still using the magnifier, and yes, I’m still grumbling about it). It’s a beginner design, so it’s only going to be so hard. No, the ambitious part lies in the amount of time it’s going to take to finish it. I probably should have started with a smaller project, but I know how much Aneira likes choker necklaces, soooooo…

My girls are growing up. Too fast for me, as it happens. Bryony turned eight right after Christmas. Aneira will officially be a teenager in a few months. She is only an inch or two shorter than I am (and I’m 5’10”), and regularly steals my shoes. Not that they’re fashionable, because they are far from it. I live my life in sneakers, because they are comfortable. Aneira is very much like me in that regard. Jeans, sneakers, and tee shirts are the order of every day. Neither of us is fond of dresses, but we’ll wear them if we have to. She’s no fashionista, but she¬†is starting to enjoy jewelry and–may all benevolent gods help me–boys. She considers herself “emo”, whatever that means, and dresses in black whenever she can get away with it. And she has this love of chokers. The design is deceptively simple, and I know how much she would love it, so thus occurred my choice of project. I was not, however, entirely stupid. I know, from past experience, how hard she is on jewelry, and how quickly she loses it, so I am not using the sterling silver wire for her choker. I’m using craft wire. We’ll see how long she manages to keep this one before I consider using more expensive wire on her.

Meanwhile, the craft area is coming along. Tonight, for the first time since we moved in, I have unearthed the surface of my desk. Yay, me! I was beginning to despair of ever seeing it again. I invested in a ton of Command strips and hung all of my knitting looms on the columns of the loft. Yarn went into a bookcase that matches my desk, in an orderly fashion, while cone yarn is on the top of the bookcase, and nine other totes hold yet more yarn. I’ve still got a little ways to go, though, in finding places for all the small things still scattered on the floor.

Having my area in the loft is both a curse and a blessing. It’s a curse in that I lack two walls and a lockable door to keep kids and pets from messing around in my stuff, but it’s a blessing in that the location allows me to be a part of things and to keep an eye on the girls at the same time. Everything is a trade off, yeah?

And slowly, all of my WIPs are resurfacing as we empty boxes and bags. So far there are a couple of amigurumi, several blankets, and a few bags, all in various stages of not-finished. I guess I won’t lack for things to do throughout the winter!

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A very early loom-beaded piece made for my mother

A very early loom-beaded piece made for my mother

I’m curious how many others are out there who are as involved in various crafts as I am. I do tons of things, although not all of them well. To recap, my interests are loom beading, weaving, spinning on wheels and spindles, knitting, crochet, naalbinding, chain maille, stained glass, and Kumihimo. I guess I should include finger weaving as well, since I started trying that out yesterday (I was incredibly frustrated, too, I might add, but I still enjoyed it). So holler out in the comments if you play in the same arenas, or maybe others I haven’t tried yet! I love feedback; it makes me feel special. ūüôā What do you do? How long have you been doing it? Why did you start? Did you start playing with one craft only to have it lead to another?

For me, weaving was a childhood dream, but one I didn’t get to until a couple of years ago. Beadwork was my second love, and was largely self-taught. Beads were inexpensive, and so were looms for beginners, so that collection built up fast. There are beads everywhere in my little bedroom studio, mostly seed beads. My preference is 11 aught Delicas, and over the years I’ve learned not only loom beading, but freehand and other techniques. I’ve also upgraded from the cheap beginner’s looms to much nicer ones!

Weaving I came to a few years ago when we moved to Colorado, and it’s made me very happy to finally be able to do this! Of course, I have more yarn than I could possibly use, with more always on the way! I’ve learned that I have no willpower when it comes to yarn or tools!

Weaving is my “gateway drug”. It led me to Ravelry, which led me to all of the other fiber arts, and even stained glass. Yes, I know, there’s no connection. Well, it was suggested I take a weaving class. The local community college was offering one, so I signed up for that and jewelry making, since I needed two classes. Then they dropped the weaving class, and I still needed another class, so I took stained glass, not expecting to really like it. I expected to love jewelry making, and I hated it. The blow torch is not my friend. But stained glass? Wow. Just wow. Once I got past the terror of breaking glass –¬†on purpose!!! –¬†I absolutely loved it. Who knew?!

Sanity is at a premium around here. Truly. The children have reached the ages where they can’t get along for five minutes without someone whining or shrieking at the top of their lungs. Mix with bipolar parents, and the results are predictable if you don’t have a way to stay sane. The ability to lock myself in a room, turn up the music, and tune out the stresses of the day is a gift.

Take today, for instance: first thing this morning, as usual, I let the dogs out. No one has yet had coffee, I’m running a bit late, Aneira is still in bed despite needing to be in the truck in fifteen minutes, and Bandit falls down the outside stairs and lacerates her right eye. Being late is now a fact, as we now need to take care of the dog. Assess her situation, get her settled in the crate, it’s now eight am, Aneira is late, jump into the truck and get her to school. Come back home and realize that I really need to take Bandit to the vet. I don’t want that eye to be infected, and although the wound isn’t bad, it needs to be protected. By nine am, she is unhappily tucked into the cone of shame, and Bryony is up. Get coffee and breakfast going, then hobble out the door once again for a post-surgery doctor’s appointment. Naturally, there is nowhere to park, and for someone with handicapped plates, that’s saying something. Finally find a space, and get up to the office just in time, only to learn that the health insurance that just sent me an approval letter two weeks ago has suddenly decided I’m ineligible. So, while waiting to be seen by the doctor, I begin what will ultimately be a series of calls to correct the problem (note, as of right now, the problem has still not been corrected). As I sit on hold, the nurse takes my blood pressure: lo and behold, and what a shock (not) – it’s 158/102. Is anyone surprised? Nope, I’m not.

After the appointment, I returned home and decided that I was done for the day. It’s Monday, after all, notorious the world over for being the crappiest day of the week. I of course returned to the fighting of the two girls. Aneira, smug in her older sister role during fight number 3 in the last half hour, has informed five-year-old Bryony that her things are gross, which is the end of the world for Bry, whose glass-breaking shriek can probably be heard by her cousins in New York and vibrates down my spine to my tailbone, and back up to my ears. Wanna guess where I am right now?

You got it. Hiding in my little studio blogging and playing with string with the music blasting. Have a good night, folks.

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…when you’re busy making other plans. Isn’t that always the way of things? It’s been extremely busy since March, and nearly none of it has been fabric arts. ¬†I¬†had started a couple of blanket knitting projects though. Both of the blankets that I’d knitted for my girls on looms have started to unravel, and I don’t know why. Briony’s is the worst, with gaping holes in it, though she’s still carrying it around together with the now-ten-year-old crocheted blankets that are still intact with only a couple of easy repairs. So I decided to try double-knitting on needles, which turns out to be fun if you can keep track of which stitches go to which side. Needless to say, the only way I can do that is to use two very different yarns in the making, at least as far as color goes.

But, as I implied, both blankets have moved to the back burner for now. Friends of mine lost their home due to a fire in their complex, so they and¬†their two girls moved in with us. Originally it was supposed to be temporary, but everyone gets along so well that we decided to make it permanent. So we’re now a family of eight. Twelve, if you count the dogs, and I most definitely do! Like hubby and I, they’re also a mixed couple, she being black like me, and he being white like hubby. Their girls were friends of Aneira’s from her first school, and I loved them the first time they came over. So now the girls’ ages are 4, 8, 9, and 9. Chaos reigns!!! Four girls, three of whom basically count as ‘tweens and one of whom wants to be a big girl so badly she can taste it, essentially means constant argument. Normal, I know, for siblings, which they might as well be at this point, but it drives the parents absolutely insane! Because they fight over the most minor of things, from who has more hairbands to who stole what doll from whom. Add in the rest of the neighborhood girls, bringing the total to seven children in and out of the house on a daily basis, and the arguing increases exponentially. Sometimes I think the only reason all the parents have not yet committed suicide is the fact that we don’t want to give the children the satisfaction of winning!

My friend is native to the area as well, as we aren’t, so my girls have acquired a whole host of family through her: a grandma, several aunties, uncles, and cousins. They’re ecstatic with all this new family, and everyone treats them – and hubby and I – as family as well.

Speaking of family, my brother and I hadn’t seen each other in years, everyone being busy and all, but we made a trip out to see him and my dad, who has Alzheimer’s and lives in a very nice facility for dementia patients. They live in Nevada, which, for all you folks who are fortunate enough to live elsewhere, means it is¬†hot.¬†I no longer live in the desert for a reason, and that is one of my top reasons!!

While we were there, Dad fell and broke his hip, and a hip replacement was needed. Because of the Alzheimer’s, Dad is a flight risk, so my brother, my sister-in-law, my hubby, and I had to take shifts staying with him. You would think that wasn’t necessary with a broken hip, but dementia patients don’t feel pain in the same way other people do, and there were numerous occasions of having to stop Dad from trying to get out of bed and walk out. As a result, our four day trip turned into eight, and drew all of us closer together, which was a good result of the entire ordeal. Overall, things could have been much worse.

Dad is now in a rehabilitation facility with a locked unit and is doing very well. Hip replacement surgery was the Friday before last, and he was walking again the following Monday. Not bad for 81!!!

Unfortunately for me, hubby enjoyed the return to the desert, and he and my brother ganged up on me for a bit to convince me to move back. Unfortunately for¬†them, none of their persuasions worked in the face of the 114 degree temperature that was hammering us at that point. I’m very happy with the temperatures here in Colorado, thank you. The day we arrived home, the temperature was a lovely, comfortable 77. Since then, the hottest it’s been is 90. It’s highly unlikely that anyone will convince me to go back to the desert. Alaska, maybe, but not the desert!

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Handmade dollhouse, made by hubby for the girls.

Handmade dollhouse, made by hubby for the girls.

Yup, the unthinkable has happened: I’m actually enjoying needle knitting. How did this happen?! I can’t even think of it as an “old lady” thing anymore, because I know too many people who are much younger than I am who knit, and do it a lot better than I do!

So, this past week I added more yarn to the stash–as if eleven tubs full weren’t more than enough–and some knitting books, by taking a trip to my favorite yarn store up in Black Forest. And a trip to Wally World netted a few more skeins of yarn and some more straight needles, because, well, they were inexpensive and shorter than the 14″ needles I¬†had been struggling with. And I also sat down with YouTube and learned to do double knitting on the needles, which is turning out not to be as difficult as I had anticipated, and it allows me to do a little bit of colorwork. Go, me!

The first attempt, while successful, was made with a pair of yarns that I’ve decided I really don’t like. They’re not soft enough, and kind of rasp against your skin. So I put that one aside and tried again, this time with some Caron yarn, which is more than soft enough. In fact, it may actually be¬†too soft. It frays very easily, and I’m not happy with that either. I’m still going though, because despite that, they’re both acrylic yarns, which means they’re cheap enough to use for practice runs like this. Once I get it down pat,¬†then I’ll break out some of the good stuff!

Annoyingly, the blanket I made for Bryony on the longest of my Spanish knitting looms is coming apart. I don’t actually know if it’s something I did wrong, or that Bryony is that hard on her blankets. It’s been suggested that I might have missed a stitch somewhere, or dropped one, and that’s causing the problem, but I would have sworn I hadn’t. I was so careful, but I suppose it’s possible. It’s so annoying because her original two blankets are still intact, and I crocheted those for her older sister’s birth more than nine years ago! Okay, yes, some repair work to the edges has been done, but that’s it, and it was easy work. The main bodies of those two blankets have never come apart, which is why it pisses me off that this one has. It’s only a few months old, in comparison to the nine + year old crocheted pair, which have been washed repeatedly, dragged all over creation and back, yanked on by dogs, and slept with every night for three years.

Needless to say, Bryony has commissioned me to make her a new blankie. Also needless to say, since the new one will follow in the drag marks of its predecessors, this one will be acrylic as well. I just have to find the perfect color for her, or let her choose them. That’ll be fun for her. She’ll drive me crazy until it’s done, of course, but she’s four, and driving mama

Front of double knit fabric

Front of double knit fabric

crazy is in the job description of all four-year-olds.

Speaking of my children, hubby took it into his head this past Christmas to build them a dollhouse, and he has done an outstanding job! We weren’t thrilled with what we saw in the toy stores as far as dollhouses went. The last one the girls had cost about $125, and was horribly flimsy. It was made of very thin MDF and plastic. Hubby took $60 and went to Lowe’s for 1/2″ plywood sheets, trim, and some 2 x 4s. ¬†This dollhouse is enormous. It’s 4 x 4 x 2. It’s a lavender/pale pink castle, complete with drawbridge that works, and three floors, counting the roof. It takes two people to move the thing, and it isn’t quite finished yet, but the girls are already using it. We haven’t yet attached the chains to the drawbridge, and the girls have decided that the interior walls to create separate

Back of double knit fabric

Back of double knit fabric

rooms are unnecessary for them. Well, okay, if that’s what they want, so be it. The floors are all perfect heights for 12″ Barbie dolls, and the girls are thrilled. They’re not the only ones. I’d like to be eight again, with a massive, hand-built dollhouse to show off to¬†my friends!!!

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Apple's Knit Counter

Apple’s Knit Counter

I’ve picked up another skill necessary to needle knitting this week: UNknitting!!! For someone like me, this is absolutely a necessity. One of the pros of loom knitting is the fact that it is very difficult to lose or add a stitch without knowing it immediately. With needle knitting, I consistently do both, with no idea how it happens, and then I have to unknit everything all the way back to where I made the mistake. It’s a royal nuisance if you are a beginner and have made the further mistake of using a dark color to knit with. It is, however, much better than starting over from cast-on, which I have also done numerous times.

Another tip: count your stitches at least every other row. Me, I count them at least that often. See above.

This was a good weekend. I got the early release of Thor: Dark World on iTunes and watched that with the family while trying very hard not to look as though I was lusting after Thor, and the cable knitting is still keeping me occupied which, given how many times I have started over, is nothing less than miraculous.

This brings me to what I really wanted to do today, which is an app review. It’s for a knit counter app, named, appropriately, Knit Counter, which I found in the Apple app store. I don’t know if it’s on Android as well, though I’m certain there will be similar apps there. The app is made by Cordless Dog.

I know a knit counter doesn’t sound very impressive, and ordinarily I’d agree, but this one allows me to put a number of counters on each project. As you can see from the first picture, I’ve named the project and got four counters on this project. I’ve got a total of 44 rows altogether, 40 of which are cable rows, and 4 of which are the foundation rows. Next cable row is where I’ll be using the cable needle again, which in this case is every four rows I switch again. ¬†When I’m done with row 41, then I will add four to the “Next cable row” counter, so that I know when I reach 44 on the “cables” counter, the next row I will need the needle again.

In the second picture, I’ve shown a project I have on the sock loom. I’ve named the project “Autumn colors sock loom socks” so I know exactly which project it is, and this one has six

Sock project on the Knit Counter app

Sock project on the Knit Counter app

counters on it. “Row” is total number of rows, “Cuff” tells me how many ribbed rows I’ve done, “Leg” for how many rows of the leg I’ve done so far. “Heel”, “Foot”, and “Toe” are empty because I haven’t gotten to those sections of the sock yet. But when it’s done, I have a template for the second sock. ¬†And as you can see, for this project, I actually included a picture of the work in progress.

At the bottom of the picture, you can see three buttons: Counters, Info, and Frog. By clicking on info, the app takes you to four other headings that can be edited however you like. Pattern info has sub-sections for designer, name, size, source, and URL. Yarn info has eleven sub-sections: amount, brand, fibre, dye lot, name, shade, source, weight, skeins, wpi, and gauge. Needle info allows you to input the material, size, and type of needle, and Notes allows you to type in anything else you might want to remember about the project that isn’t included in other areas. The third button, Frog, allows you to go backwards on a counter if you need to rip out rows.

According to the information on Cordless Dog’s webpage, counters can even be linked together, and there are alerts available. I haven’t yet found those features or figured out how to use them, but it’s good to know they’re available! The app isn’t all that expensive either; unfortunately I can’t remember exactly what I paid for it as it no longer shows in my app store, but I can assure you that it was no more than $3, and possibly less. Honestly, I don’t think you can go wrong purchasing this app. I had a few other knit counters, but deleted them after working with this one. There is a Knit Counter Lite, which is the same app, but although it’s free, it’s limited to one project at a time. If you’re like me and have several projects going on at once, it’s much more convenient to buy the app. Presently, I have seven projects on the app on my iPhone, and two on the app on my iPad.

So, to sum it all up, you can customize all the counters and add as many as you need per project, keep as much or as little information as you need for your various projects, the app is easy to use, and it’s inexpensive. It annoys me that before I found this app, I actually spent $10 for a physical knit counter that only counts total rows and apparently only goes forward, not back!

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Storm Kloud's Borealis North Lights, aka Vanir

Storm Kloud’s Borealis North Lights, aka Vanir

And once again, I’ve fallen behind on blogging. ¬†You would think that, having taken a leave of absence from school, I would have kept up, but no. Somehow, I have both more and less time to blog. It’s a paradox I don’t understand. Well‚Ķmaybe I kind of do. I’m home, but busy.

To bring you up to speed, first we got rid of deadbeat roommates. In keeping with the “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” philosophy, I will say no more than that on that subject, other than that I’ve decided that I don’t care if we’re on the verge of having to live in our trucks, I absolutely will not have any more roommates in this house.

After that, on December 17th, we picked up our Alaskan Malamute puppy from Storm Kloud Kennel, who has been named Storm Kloud’s Borealis North Lights, with the call name Vanir. He is disgustingly cute and soft, and talks almost nonstop. This was the first time I’d ever gone to a breeder; my other dogs are rescues or strays. But we wanted a puppy this time, and a good quality one. He will be fourteen weeks old on this coming Tuesday, and is already very close to as big as two of my other dogs. The breeder thinks he will be about 90 lbs., minimum. Looking at his paws, which are nearly the size of my hand and still growing, I’m thinking he’s going to be better than 100 lbs.! He is settling in very well with the other much older dogs; there is the occasional “you’re getting out of hand, chill out” snarl, but beyond that, he’s doing well with them. House training is a work in progress, although he’s doing pretty well there too, considering how young he is.

Of course, there is also catching up on all the housework that never seems to get done while I’m in school, such as laundry. That’s a never-ending job anyway. And both the vacuum and steam cleaner both decided to break at the same time, so I’m trying very hard not to look at my carpet, lest I lose my mind. We actually tried to vacuum the living room with the shop vac. Let me tell you, that did not go well at all.

On top of all this, one of our two furnaces decided to break down as well, just before Christmas. This is the furnace that heats the children’s rooms, which meant that they slept in our room for about three weeks while the home warranty company took their time getting it fixed. That was the worst, but the dishwasher and stove also broke around the same time. When it rains, it pours. Christmas was very barren this year for the kids, but they each got a scooter, which thrilled them to no end, and hubby decided to build them a castle dollhouse. That is still not finished, but it’s well on its way, and the girls can’t wait.

I also filled out a volunteer application for a local Siberian Husky/Alaskan Malamute rescue. I’ve had a kind of preliminary interview, and there are a few other steps that still need to be taken, but I’m hopeful I will soon be helping out there. I’d like to foster for the rescue, but I’m already at the city limit with my own dogs, and we aren’t sure how that will affect fostering. So for right now, that’s on the back burner.

And Bryony turned four just after Christmas, which required a birthday party, of course. Her first, and she enjoyed it immensely. She had two birthday cakes: one the day of her birthday that was just for the family celebration, one of those sickeningly sweet, store-bought concoctions; and the other one I made specifically for the party the next day. She couldn’t have been more thrilled.

There was one extremely negative incident on Martin Luther King day, which involved a carload of twentysomethings yelling the “N” word at me in front of my eight year old. I didn’t respond, not because I’m that good of a person at turning the other cheek, but because I was that shocked it had even happened. It’s probably better that I¬†was¬†too shocked to say anything. It’s not unheard of for me to lose my temper and say something that will make things worse. Of course, I do try not to do that, but I’m an Aries, with all attendant negative stereotypes. My daughter had never been exposed to that kind of hate before – why would she be, after all? Her dad is white, and I’m black, so there isn’t exactly an overabundance of hate in this house – and she really didn’t know what to make of it. Her innocence in that respect is now gone, which is what hurt the most. I would have preferred to broach the subject of prejudice in a much gentler way, but living in what seems to be the interracial couple capital of the USA, I didn’t think I needed to worry about it this soon.

That’s life in a nutshell‚Ķcrazy. It rarely seems to be anything¬†but crazy. Thankfully, though, it’s equally rare that life takes that negative a turn.

In the last couple of weeks, I learned to crochet a basket weave type of pattern, which is very cool, picked up my naalbinding needle to practice a little, and have made myself pick up needle knitting again, in the hopes that I’ll get it. It’s very frustrating for me. I’ve mastered the long tail cast-on, and decided to try knitting socks. I thought nothing could be simpler. Um‚Ķno. It’s anything but. Every time I start to knit, I either lose a stitch, or gain one. In one day, I unraveled the stupid knitting no less than eight times. I cannot stress enough how irritating it was to start, rip it out, start, rip it out. I was so sick of it that the last time I gained a stitch out of nowhere, I just knit two stitches together as one and kept going. Were my needles not so gorgeous, I swear by my pretty floral bonnet, I would have ended them. But these are part of the limited edition Knitter’s Pride set of needles, in all their loveliness. Throwing them across the room was not an option!

I almost never lose a stitch when I’m loom knitting, but hand me a pair of needles and I’m as inept as it is possible to be. But I’m determined to get the hang of this. Other people can do it, so I can too. It’s just going to take me longer than I expected, and I hope my patience holds out.

The basket weave crochet was much easier. Someone posted a question on Facebook about the tutorial, which is how it wound up on my radar. The poster couldn’t figure out the pattern because the lady who did the video only spoke Spanish. I do speak Spanish, but it’s been years since it was spoken to me, so I’m very rusty. But I managed to follow along well enough to actually do it. It helped that her videos were very clear, even though I understood almost nothing she said.

So that’s it. Life continues on its insane path, and we just keep it as positive as possible. Hopefully, I’ll be back soon!

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The maple tree outside my studio window

The maple tree outside my studio window

A few days ago, I frogged a blanket I’d been working on using a knitting loom. I wanted to make a cabled blanket, and yes, you can do cables on a knitting loom. I had begun this project a few months ago, and when I started it, I looked up instructions for doing cables on the loom. Unfortunately, it didn’t occur to me until far too late that I¬†should have asked in the loom knitting group on Ravelry. Duh.

At any rate, all of the directions I found were quite helpful in all but one thing:¬†none of them informed me that I wasn’t supposed to be relocating stitches on every row. Fancy that.

So here is the actual deal: you mark off four stitches. The stitch before and the stitch after that group are purl stitches. Within the group, you will take stitches 1 and 2 and move them to pegs 3 and 4, respectively. Stitches 3 and 4, therefore, are moved to pegs 1 and 2, creating a criss-cross pattern. You knit the entire row, except for where you’re doing cables, in which case you do the purl, criss-cross, purl. When you’re done with that row, knit back normally.¬†But don’t do that only once!!! That was the mistake that wasn’t addressed in the instructions I found. You have to knit normally for at least two rows, if not more, to get the cable look. ¬†Since I didn’t know that‚Ķyeah, you can pretty much guess what my so-called cables looked like. It was a mess. And when you consider that I started the cables almost immediately, and had used an entire skein of yarn already‚Ķyou get the idea.So, ticked off at the whole thing, I put it down and left it sitting. For months. Until this past weekend, when I removed the whole mess from the loom and unraveled it, and spent an hour winding the skein around my hand because I was too lazy to go and get the electric ball winder out of the closet.

I was going to restart the thing properly. I really was. I set the loom up for it. The stitch markers are in place, waiting for me to get started. I did all the math to figure out how many cables I could do, keeping them equidistant from each other. The yarn is in a ball, waiting. And I didn’t start it. I¬†thought about it several times over the course of Sunday afternoon. As I cooked dinner, I thought “After dinner I’ll do it.” During dinner, the same thought. ¬†After dinner, I discovered I hadn’t logged out of World of Warcraft, which sucked me in once more. Then I thought, “While I’m watching tv with the kids.” Ha. Bryony, in her infinite three-nearly-fourness, decided to act up‚Ķagain‚Ķtonight, which resulted in her being sent to bed early. Which resulted in several trips back and forth to my studio with spurious excuses of the pre-schooler variety: hunger, thirst, something horribly important that has to be related to me¬†right now,¬†a diaper needing to be changed, etc. ¬†Yes, my child who will turn four at the end of this month is still in diapers. Why? Because she has a big sister who likes to tease and torment her any time she actually uses the toilet, if one parent or the other is not present. If I was Bryony, I wouldn’t want to use the toilet either.

News flash: the so-called “Mother’s Curse” really does work, ¬†and it doesn’t have to be¬†your mother who curses you‚Ķit could be your spouse’s mother. In which case, the fact that the curse spills over onto you simply makes you collateral damage. Also, if you have not yet figured it out, the Powers That Be made babies and children irresistibly cute to ensure that their mischief does not drive their parents into killing them. Don’t believe me? Think about how often¬†you have threatened to kill, murder, or maim your offspring.

We’ve actually tried to cut back on that. People overhearing that (usually people with no children or siblings of their own) tend to flip out. My current favorite threat involves duct tape, a ceiling fan, feet, and an inverted child. The logistics of such a feat are utterly improbable, but my children don’t need to know that. I need every advantage I can get.

But I digress.

So every day this week, I have thought about this blanket. I have looked at the empty loom and contemplated this blanket. I have gone to sleep thinking that tomorrow, I will restart this blanket. And as the week draws to a close, I have not even cast on this blanket. And I don’t really know why. Sure, I’ve had things to do: a research paper due this coming Monday, elementary school projects that really mean work for the parents, refereeing the incessant sisterly fighting‚Ķyet at some point, I had some free time, and¬†still did not start the blanket over again. I have a very clear picture of it in my mind, assuming all goes well, so the motivation should be there, but it isn’t.

This weekend. I will get started on it this weekend!

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Honeycomb stitch throw in progress

Honeycomb stitch throw in progress

Yes, I meant for the title to be a play on the title of the children’s book that my youngest loves. It¬†has been a very mixed-up week for me. There has been a pall over Colorado Springs and the surrounding areas due to the wildfires around us. Until today, we really didn’t see much of the sun. Unlike last year, with the Waldo Canyon fire, I wasn’t afraid for myself or my family, because the fires weren’t as close. This year, the fears were different, because this year, I actually know people in the affected areas who either were, or came very close to being, evacuated. So it’s a little different, being afraid for others.

This week was also finals week, which adds to the “mixed-up” and “no good” factors. I studied so much that my brain went on strike during some of the tests. As of right this moment, all I can say for certain is that I failed the lecture portion of the AP final by¬†one point, which has had me kicking myself all week long. The lab practical final I¬†think I did okay on, and once the two scores have been combined and weighted, I’m hopeful that I actually passed. I¬†did pass the Introduction to Veterinary Technology final, which is a huge relief, as I had to repeat the course this quarter. Medical Math was another one that had two parts, lecture and lab practical, and math has been the bane of my existence since elementary school, so I have no expectations there, or at least none I’m willing to give voice to. Medical Terminology I’m pretty confident about, but we’ll see. I’ve always been good with words and spelling. Cross your fingers for me. I¬†really don’t want to repeat Anatomy. ¬†The smell of formalin is not my friend. So the finals were both good¬†and bad.

There is also the fact that we have to pull out our bathtub contributing to the “no good” part. There are hairline cracks in the bottom of our present, fiberglass tub. Since water can and will leak through and cause structural damage to the house, the tub has to go. Hubby has bought a cast iron tub to replace it. It took three men to lift the monstrosity into my poor Serenity, and two to get it out again at my house. It now resides on my living room floor, where it will remain until hubby assesses how much floor reinforcement he’s going to have to do to install it in the bathroom.

To the fantastic portion of our program, I must add that a friend of mine is moving from Jacksonville, FL, to Washington State, and will be spending the night here together with her hubby, brother-in-law, and grandson. We’ve been friends for several years now, but have never met in real life, despite many hours spent both online and on the phone, gabbing away about any and everything, so this is our opportunity to give each other real hugs rather than virtual ones, which are nowhere near as satisfying. And along with her human family, her four Siberian Huskies will also be spending the night. Can you say “seventh heaven”?? My kids are ecstatic! Seven dogs in the house at once? There is no way they are sleeping tonight.

Also adding to the fantastic side, we have taken the plunge and put a deposit down on a Malamute puppy. If the breeding took, we will have a new pack member around September. I said that we don’t have a preference as to gender, but I do want a long-haired dog. They always make me want to cuddle. Needless to say, we will be buying a new crate for crate training. Again, kids are ecstatic. No surprise there.

That sums up the Terrible, Fantastic, No Good, Very Mixed Up Week. During breaks from all of the insanity, I’ve been working on Bryony’s throw blanket on the largest of the Spanish long looms. It’s a honeycomb stitch that looks fantastic and is fairly simple to do. Bryony is already nagging me to finish it already. She’s going to have a bit of a wait, but it does look wonderful so far. It’ll be great when it’s finished, and hopefully she won’t balk at replacing the worn, falling apart security blankets she is presently dragging around!

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My odd-looking cable pattern

My odd-looking cable pattern

Fiber arts are very dangerous crafts to get into, I’m discovering. Dangerous to your wallet and your willpower. There is always,¬†always a new tool, new yarn, new colorway, new pattern, new something for you to discover and covet. There are so many little Etsy storefronts selling drop or supported spindles, and each one is prettier than the last. Or the new loom that X manufacturer has released. Or new needles for naalbinding or knitting. Or new spinning wheels. Or new yarn…there is always new yarn!!! That one is the easiest trap to fall into, because yarn just isn’t that expensive in comparison to all the tools you have bought. When the spinning wheel costs $600, what’s $45 for a skein of that pretty handspun yarn with all the yardage? Just think what you could do with it! And though you have ten…twelve…twenty plastic tubs filled with yarn, you don’t have¬†this one. And then there’s all the roving available, hand-dyed by someone who really knows what they’re doing. How gorgeous will that be when it’s spun up and plied? I bought a roving from Russia…Russia!…because the lady dyes them so beautifully, and I hadn’t seen one like it domestically. It took¬†weeks¬†to get here. It wasn’t overly expensive, and was well worth the wait. I haven’t spun it yet; I just haven’t had time, what with finals coming up, but I managed to restrain myself to the one roving. I have also managed¬†not to go browsing on Etsy for the last couple of months since I bought that roving. But then there’s Ravelry. Quiet, insidious Ravelry, where you converse with people who make and sell the goodies you’re interested in, and they post pictures. This one is de-stashing a to-die-for spindle. Someone else is selling the loom she doesn’t use. Another has posted patterns for sale. Others are just purely evil, encouraging you and enabling you, because they have the same addiction you have. It is a minefield, I tell you! How does your willpower hold out against someone telling you what you have already said to yourself a dozen times?

I’ve gotten quite good, if I do say so myself, at¬†not jumping to buy the tools. I haven’t bought a spindle in at least a month. Spindles run around the same price as yarn, anywhere from $20 and up. I am very proud of my restraint. Oh, wait…there¬†was that set of interchangeable circular knitting needles…gorramit! And my pride in my restraint has just dissolved. Those knitting needles were only about three weeks ago. Back to the drawing board…

In other news, Bandit, our hit-by-car dog, has been completely discharged. She is out of her bandages, splints, and staples, off of antibiotics, and is doing so very well that the veterinarian has decided that the remaining surgeries will not be done. The ankle is stable and she’s walking on it normally. Everyone is amazed at how well she has healed. She is not a young dog, and it was expected that she would be in a splint for at least six weeks. She was out of that in¬†two weeks. The staples came out yesterday.¬†I don’t heal that quickly, and in comparison to her age, I’m a lot younger!! She’s geriatric!

We still have to keep her relatively quiet: no running and jumping. That has become a full-time job in itself. She¬†wants to run and jump, and we have to be faster to keep her from doing either. So far, so good. She’s going to miss going to school every week and all the attention she got while there, but she’ll live. And she’ll see her tenth birthday. With any luck at all, she has learned something from this, but I’m not going to count on that. From here on, she is strictly an indoor dog. We often say she is dumber than a box of rocks, but she is a¬†very savvy escape artist.

Aneira has found that she really enjoys her knitting loom. Hallelujah! We have had a meeting of the minds. I’m not sure what she’s making right now, but she claims she’s making me a hat. I haven’t seen it yet, though she’s told me she’s had to start over several times.

I’m working on an afghan on one of my long knitting looms right now. It’s supposed to have a cable pattern, and it isn’t going quite the way I expected at the moment, though I have followed the directions faithfully. I’m told it may be my choice of using acrylic yarn, as it doesn’t have the same memory as wool, or it may be that I need to wait until it’s done, washed, and blocked, and maybe it will settle into the pattern it’s supposed to be. My present plan is to make a swatch of the same pattern on another loom and see how that one goes before I take this any farther. Honestly, I should have done that in the first place. Live and learn, I guess.

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Spanish knitting looms

Spanish knitting looms

I received a gift today from my most excellent enabling friends in the Ravelry loom knitting group: knitting looms all the way from Spain. They are essentially Knifty Knitter clones, except for their colors and one major difference: they are capable of two gauges. They are set at the same gauge as the Knifty Knitters, but between each peg is a hole for another peg. With the additional holes filled by pegs, you now have a loom able to do small gauge knitting. Only a few knitting loom manufacturers were doing small gauges on this side of the pond: Decor Accents, which has been out of business long enough that finding one of their looms is a major score, and the price paid for the loom generally reflects that; and the Martha Stewart looms which, despite its many configurations, can only manage one size of circular loom. There¬†were¬†others, but, one by one, they’ve dropped out of sight. So these pretty, translucent pastel looms were a treasure. This gift was in thanks for my enabling the group to order their own looms from Spain. My Castilian Spanish is rusty (very rusty), but I can read and write it almost as well as I used to, so I helped get those orders in place for anyone in the group that wanted to buy them. We are an elite, well-trained, international group of enablers.

There are nine looms of varying sizes, four oval, five round. I’ve set all of the additional pegs; the next thing is to start a swatch on one of them and see how small the gauge actually is. Maybe I’ll get a chance to do that this weekend. It’ll be a nice way to spend some one-on-one time with Aneira. As expected, her time with the knitting needles was short, so I gave her the Knifty Knitter set I’d been holding onto for her, and that, she actually loved. Her birthday is early next month, and if I’d had any sense at all, I’d’ve held onto those looms and given them to her on her birthday, but she so wanted to spend time with me doing something together that I gave her the looms earlier. Once I showed her how, she was off and running!

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