Thursday, October 20, 2016

This is not about needlework, but about stuff that kept me from doing as much sitting on my tush as I'd do if I could...  just that life keeps getting in the way.  Exhibit A - this reminder of winter's inexorable arrival was the first on my list of things that HAD to be dealt with

and interestingly enough, the woodpile, though I talked to it quite a lot, does not respond to whining, complaints or any Harry-Potter-inspired attempts at magic.  So it was pure hard work that brought it to here

and I'm grateful that it's done.  Of course I'll be handling each stick of wood three more times - carrying it inside, loading it into the stove, taking it out as ashes to the garden.  Did I say garden?  There was one a few summers ago, but this past year of mostly neglect, and drought, things went seriously wrong.  Take a look - some of those weeds are twelve feet tall!

And yes, they've got to be pulled, one at a time, not anyone's idea of a wonderful way to spend a sunny morning, but alas necessary.  Because a lot of hard work got us to here

which is the start of next year's garlic.  There's a lot more garden work - it was waiting for me and continues to lurk patiently outside - but I'm starting to think it's possible to get atop the worst of things and make it happen.

So yes, this post is bragging, just a little.  Or gratefulness.  Or something.  I'm grateful I could do these things again, and glad to see some of the stuff getting done.  Sauerkraut is next, it's the last of the summer canning, and then, let the winter begin!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Long overdue but this got in the way.  And yes, it was awful, but it's now done.  By me and my new knee and a lot of Tylenol.

So now, onwards to the promised directions for these neat baskets.  Because I wanted to have a container for works in progress, and because works are sometimes in progress for longer than I want them to be, and sometimes also tea and chocolate are involved in their completion, I also wanted the containers to be washable.

The nylon pictured to the left of the baskets is called Iris; it's designed for crocheting or knitting purses, and a goodsized spool, as shown, makes one basket.  There's variegated blue and variegated red, as shown, plus cream, brown and black available.  With a little left over as in the cream-colored basket, or a bit more left over, as in the smaller, brown basket.

Your recipe for making these is approximate, and can be customized for your needs, larger or smaller.  It needs to be said these wow everyone who sees them and gets a chance to feel how substantial they are.  They're really more cool - they're truly wonderful.  It's impossible to see one without wanting one for yourself.  I'm making a few more for gifts, but it's kinda hard to give them away!

Although this yarn usually requires an F or G crochet hook to be made into something, this time we're going to use something much, much smaller - an 00 steel hook or a B, C or D aluminum one.   The only stitch you'll use is a single crochet.   Both begin by chaining about 2 3/4 inches, then working single crochets around both sides of the chain, with increases at each end.  After the first round, you're making two increases at each end, which creates a 4-cornered oval-ish rectangle.  I stopped the brown one when it was 4 1/2 inches across and 6 inches long; realizing I could make the cream colored one a little bigger, I continued until that one was 5 1/2 inches across  by 9 long.

At that point you have the hardest round to accomplish - instead of pushing your crochet hook into the top of the stitch as usual, for one round, you're pointing the crochet down through the side of the stitch.  This changes the direction of the crochet and adds a bottom rim to the basket.  You can see that in both photos.  Then you crochet up the basket.  Nineteen rows above that turning row on the brown basket brought the sides up about 4 inches above the bottom; 22 rows on the cream basket make the sides nearly five inches.  I made a few decreases on the basket sides, which seems necessary if you want the basket sides to look straight rather than angled out like a bucket.

Then I folded the basket carefully in half, reserving about 15 middle stitches for the handle, and crocheted around to where I wanted the first handle to be, chained 16 stitches, and re-joined to the body of the basket.  Same on the other side.  as I crocheted around, when I got to the handle portion, I crocheted 18 stitches over the 16 chains, and kept going.  After there were two substantial rows of single crochet above each handle, I worked a row of reverse single crochet around the rim, cut the end about 4" long and sewed in that end, zig-zagging through the wrong side of the basket. 

This is a very easy project - the only caution is that working the tight single crochets in nylon can be hard on your hands, so you won't want to work on this more than 20 minutes at a time.  Kinda like stacking wood...

Friday, August 5, 2016

In about 40 minutes, I'm heading off on the long trip up to the State Fair.  I've got a bunch of interesting entries, most look a bit better than the photos.  This one, for instance, is a small but pretty doily in size 40 (really closer to 30) Olympus.  I made it in the time between knee replacement and staple removal.

Then I began (and eventually finished) this one in a different Olympus 40.  It's about 19 inches across.

This tatted house is this weekend's workshop pattern

And I also made a bunch of tatted bookmarks.  These are an abbreviated version of Kersti Anear's "Stumpy" pattern - I had to abbreviate because I was using variegated "craft" thread and there is not much yardage

In June, I started using hemp to make a bunch of crocheted baskets.  Big and little, they seem useful  The 1 mm hemp was essentially designed to string beads, so it had to fulfill its purpose, right?  I've tatted baskets with it, but decided I should crochet a few.  This is the best of the bunch.  When it returns, it looks like the perfect WIP container.

Okay, breakfast and then I'm off

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Spent a little time working on socks these past weeks, but a lot more more time tatting.  Tatting definitely is more portable, though I suppose needle tatters, like sock knitters, have long weapons emerging from their work punching holes in whatever it's carried in.  But the socks are getting there slowly.  I've finished 1 1/2 pairs and managed to lose half a sock, the one I was pushing myself to work on because I liked it the least!  But a few tatting ideas have been floating around, and I came up with this one, which is in the current tatting times.
  I'd been thinking about all the canning I might not be doing this year, and used the Wandering Wheels technique to make some peaches and plums; I could also have used pink for spiced crab apples and yellow-green for bread and butter pickles, and white for pickled onions (which I don't make) and red for tomatoes, although they tend to be smooshed in the jar to the point of losing their shape, you'd definitely see red and think tomatoes!  This was fun and I plan on doing more of them!

Monday, July 4, 2016

This is an embarrassing blog to write.  I've begun cleaning my studio, after an extended recuperation from two surgeries - the big one, a more-complicated-than-garden-variety knee replacement, was planned, the other was a surprise - and discovered, to my horror seven - count-em - SEVEN! started pairs of knitted socks.  In this instance, "pairs" is an imaginary number because they're mostly only about 1/5 of one sock done.  For someone who insists she finishes every project this is, well, you know?  Through July I've instituted "sock Mondays" at the shop and I'm going to put in some concentrated work on these.  I THINK I've found them all, but still, that's an entire wardrobe of socks, and worse, the seventh pair is one I began in honor of sock Mondays, selectively forgetting about the other six.    And it's not as though socks are the only things on my mind - I've got a lot of tatting I've been itching to work on, now that my mind has partially returned from its sojourn with heavy painkillers.  However,  a setback with the knee put me on a course of an almost lethal dosage of Tylenol, so I've been sock-knitting today,  listening to a book on tape and changing projects with every chapter.  If I had a photo to include, it would be one of the large basket now containing all my (sock) projects separated into big plastic bags.  Some progress has now been made.  A few of the projects are now about 1/2 of one sock done.  And you can imagine my red face as I dis-interred the seventh pair, thinking, "what in the world...?"  If I get at least some of these done, I'll be able to limp along next winter on very well-dressed feet!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Although it's been an almost-delightful winter weather-wise, with higher than usual temperatures offering more opportunities to go outside un-coated than we seemed to have last summer, it's been a while since I'd worked on Seneca Santa hats and mittens.  A friend, Jen, made the most gorgeous kid-friendly hats out of an assortment of donated yarn, none of it terribly promising until it fell into her hands.  That inspired me to work on what I had left, buying more yarn when I found it, and digging deeper into my stash...  Then a neighbor's flood prompted her to give away a treasure-trove of beautiful yarn.  (It always strikes me as nothing short of miraculous that just when yarn for this project is so sorely needed, it arrives!(  Some of it got wet, but it's acrylic, and I've been drying it. Another friend sent some mittens she'd knitted over the winter, and I knitted a few more and bought some magic gloves.   The result - because I'm finished for a few months - was that I made 28 hats, some of them finished with mittens, some going to a fourth friend who will make mittens to match, but doesn't like making hats.  So these are some of them - some matched with mittens or gloves, some with yarn for future mittens. 

I've also been doing a whole lot of sewing.  Some has been in anticipation of future lace-related events, additionally fueled by the idea that I might not have time or energy to sew a little further down the road this year.  And I got the idea of making zippered bags like these, bought a bit more fabric, and I've now got an assortment of many bags like this, all about 7 1/2 inches square, lined with inner fabric as interesting as the outer fabric.  I took them to one lace event where they proved really popular, so I made more.  An about-to-close quilt shop discounted Kaffe Fassett-designed fabrics, and I saw some super-hero fabric at JoAnn, and some pretty upholstery fabric and some other good stuff in my stash...  so I've now got about two dozen of these waiting to be appreciated.  I'll have them at the Tatting Seminars in the Finger Lakes next month, a.k.a. "Lodi."  Lodi is the town where the event is being held. 

 Then I got hurt the past week.  I haven't been officially diagnosed yet, but it's pretty clear to me what's happened and that surgery is likely to be in my immediate future.  I'll find out this coming week.  But hurting and somewhat afraid of what's going on, I needed comfort, which I found in a charming old beginner tatting book, annotated by its previous owner.  This is the start of a doily, in Lizbeth size 40, "Falling Leaves" and I'm trying to use split chains and split rings to avoid ending the continuous thread as much as possible, though it won't be entirely possible.  This doily is tersely marked "made" but the next doily in the book, just a tad larger but  a fussy confection of ring-and-chain motifs and way too many picots for my taste apparently took the previous tatter about 11 weeks, with her start and ending dates noted above the pattern.  Other patterns have notations like "Medallion [spelled freely] # 9, 8:45 Sunday night" which made me page through the group looking for medallions - there weren't any, not really.  Guess I'll see how long this doily really takes.  I started it last night, and when I was tatting it, I'm glad to report I wasn't in any pain and only worried about getting the stitch counts consistent. 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

It could look like I was sitting on my hands, but actually, I've been busy enough to keep my original 11 or 12-fingers moving.  (That's another story, for another day, but yes, I probably did start out with extra fingers and no, it wasn't an advantage!)  Taught some fun things in January in Tampa at the Sunshine Tatters gathering, a good example of a small tatting gathering that's so beautifully run and such a good place for sharing and learning that it remains a high point of the year, whatever else is going on.  I taught this there (Ocean Waves Coaster)

among other things, and it was really fun.  Then, I went to Newton, New Jersey to teach there, and taught this (Best Friends Coaster)

which was also really enjoyable.  What makes teaching such a treat always boils down to one thing: the people!  People who tat have one main thing in common - they're extraordinarily nice.  Or maybe I'm prejudiced?

Lately I've been working on patterns to submit to the Palmetto Tatters Guild (which I can't show yet) which  was also a lot of work.  However, the result is always worth it, because when they select patterns for you to teach, you're ready to roll, which means you can really enjoy getting ready to go and then being there because the worry of preparation already happened months earlier.  Pretty smart!

It's why I did these patterns for the Finger Lakes Tatting Group's Tatting Seminars in Lodi for this comingApril (Picnic Blanket Coaster and Bears Just Want to Have Fun coaster) back in September!  That was then, and now we're immersed in the practicalities of putting together the nuts and bolts of the conference, planning food and goodie bags and answering questions about lodging and how classes run and trying out other peoples' patterns.  And for me, spring cleaning, which is, to be honest, no fun at all.

Just when I said, "whew!  That's done, now I can..." almost before I could put that into words, another email fell into my inbox saying something to the effect of could we please have a photo of what you're teaching in June?  So...  here it is! (The African Violet Coaster.  Do we see a theme developing?)

  And I've just written up the pattern AND found a far easier way to tat this than the way I originally did it,  and yes, I promise, if you show up at the Buffalo Niagara Frontier Heritage Lace Guild in Amherst New York on June 4, we are going to have a lot of fun here, too.  (It's at 3755 Tonawanda Creek Road in Amherst, and information will be going up somewhere on the web soon, but if you need more information, write to me ( and I'll send it to you.

So tonight, I finished the African Violet Coaster and made a flourless chocolate cake to eat with champagne for Valentine's Day and finished these. 

They were supposed to be for Christmas, but other things got in the way.  Please note, they'll supply the necessary warmth because they are, of course, RED.  And this is the perfect night for Bill to try them out because we've had below zero temperatures and probably will again tonight, which give red socks  their reason to be here after all.  Yup, just checked.  It's already below zero and heading further down before it's finished tonight.

So tonight I've