Thursday, December 29, 2016

Spent a lot of time this year making presents - here are a few that went to some close family members.  I have to say each of these was my favorite when I was working on it.






Antique redwork embroidery made this old-fashioned-looking lap quilt. 



I stockpiled fabric with a tea theme for several years to be able to make this one!

A whole bunch of Christmas fabrics went into this one



And this one, which uses some darker holiday-themed fabrics.  Finally, I made this one

for the person who's something of an elegant minimalist...  but I wasn't done.  There were still Bill's red socks to knit - I took them everywhere and added a stitch or a round whenever I had a few spare moments; and then, needing some quick small gifts to go into holiday cards, I made these extremely simple bookmarks



by crocheting a chain onto a charm with doubled-size 10 thread, then finishing the chain with a tassel.  Folded into a holiday card, I gave them to people in my newest bone-builders class.  It was fun to see who picked which!

New Year's resolutions - and I'm starting already, because having resolved, I see no reason to wait - I'm going through my studio, paring down.  Having a few quilts planned for the winter, I thought it was time to get a bit more organized, so when the recipient of the redwork quilt offered to help me sort, I spent a day going through quilting fabric.  She took home a little, and another box worth was slated for giveaway.  So there's just a bit less to deal with as I begin winter projects!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

the season turns...



Today is Thanksgiving, tomorrow is the open studio day... We've had a little snow to remind us we're  transitioning towards winter and the holidays, so here is a stocking to hang for someone moderately good.  Not quite a joke...  haven't you noticed that stockings seem to get bigger and bigger, so that they're either filled with lumpy, not-very-significant gifts or they're stuffed like sausages, distorted and weigh a ton? 


Call this an elegant step backwards.  I knitted it on four needles - large ones - size 9s,  using Paton's Shetland chunky, one of my favorites of the commercial yarns I carry in my shop.


.  Cast on 36 stitches - 12 on each needle, and knitted down five inches, mostly in the main color, though I noodled around with changing colors a bit - two of each color for the first three bi-color rows, offsetting the stitch by one each round.  Then a round that was just the second color, and a final, fifth bi-color round alternating colors every stitch.  I was going for a random pattern, but someone saw it as a string of reindeer.  cool.

After another inch and a half (this was part of the original 5 inches), I divided the stitches with half of them (18) on one needle, 9 on each of the other two.  I added the second color in for the heel.  Because this is a Christmas stocking, not one to wear, it could be straight back-and-forth, knit-and purl  for two inches, then I knit 12, knitted two together, turned, purled back and when there were six stitches left on the other needle, purled two together and turned, repeating the process with 5 on the other needle, then 4, 3, 2 and then the last stitch was knitted or purled with the stitch before it.    At this point, the second color is temporarily finished.

Returning to knitting in the round, pick up stitches from the side of the heel using the main color, decrease one stitch on either side of the heel until you're back to 12 stitches per needle, (with a little redistribution).  I knitted straight for about 2 1/2 inches or so - your choice, if you'd like to make the foot longer - then end the main color and switch to the second color to finish the toe. 


For the toe, redistribute the stitches so half (18) are on each needle.  The toe and heel should line up.  In the photo, the heel is shown at the bottom, the finished toe at top.  Decrease one stitch on each side of each needle (4 decreases per round).   It took me five rounds to complete the toe - I Kitchener-stitched the toe, but if the idea frustrates you, you could simply draw the yarn needle through, pull all the stitches together, secure and sew in the end.  



All that's left is the cuff and hanger.  I'll admit I began this stocking by knitting five rounds of the cuff, but I didn't like it.  I'd recommend picking up and knitting the cuff, I think that might be neater.  I finished it with a shell stitch round, then chained up through both layers, crocheted a round of reverse single crochet and chained a hanger-loop. 

This leaves enough yarn for a second stocking.  Or, a hat.  I decided to crochet mine.




Just for a change, I began at the brim by chaining 9 stitches.  Leave at least a six inch long "tail."  Single crocheting in the back loop only, I kept going until un-stretched, the band measured 19 inches.



I threaded the tail yarn through a yarn needle and connected the last row to the first, then crocheted around a long, now connected, side.   Switched to the second color for the body of the hat, adding in the first color, just noodling around, so no one would think I'd forgotten about it.  I think this alternating two stitch pattern looks like flying birds, but it was purely geometric and random.



When the hat was about 5 inches from its beginning, it was looking a little large to me, so I began decreasing by sc two together above every second bird.  Then 3 rows were sc even, before I did the decrease round again.  Added a stripe of the first color for a few rows, and began the decreasing in earnest, over the same places I'd previously decreased.  Finally, I pulled the last few stitches together with a yarn needle and ended it off. 


The finished hat can be worn with its brim up or down - the crocheted ribbing is pretty much as stretchy and as versatile as a knitted one.   And there's still some yarn left for tying packages...

Monday, November 14, 2016




           

Here are four very easy patterns – three for knitting, one for crochet.  (I ended up with the mug cozy photo insisting on being front and center - couldn't get it to budge.  Maybe it didn't want to be last in this post?) The first two use relatively large needles – size 11s.  And if you read this blog and the facebook page for the shop, Graceful Arts Fiber Studio, you might have seen them each before in a slightly different incarnation.

First the scarf.  People frequently ask whether a single skein of yarn is enough for a scarf, and usually, the answer is, I’m sorry, no.  One generally needs about 300 yards for a scarf.  However, this one seems to take not very much yarn and in fact, I did not go through an entire skein.  I’m estimating about 200 yards.  I put this back into the gifts lineup this year because “shawlettes” have become a popular alternative to scarves; and this will definitely keep your shoulders warm.
Cast on 5 stitches and knit one row across.
Pattern row 1: slip the first stitch, YO, knit to within one stitch of the center stitch (which on the first row, means K1), YO, K1, YO, knit to one stitch before the end (which on the first row, still means K1) YO, K!.
Pattern row 2: K every stitch.
Knit 6 rows in pattern, repeat row 2 five more times.  That’s it, for as wide as you want to go, which doesn’t have to be terribly wide.
Finish with a crochet hook – Y CH6, sc 3 stitches from needle together, repeat from Y across.  Cut end and sew in both ends.


Easy kids’ hats – Hats can help prevent ear aches.  Kids need hats, even when they’re running around so fast a mom has to nearly sit on their child’s lap to put one on.  A local agency in my county gives a new hat and a pair of mittens or gloves to every child under 10; I also partner with a knitter and crocheter, each of whom prefers to make mittens (and sometimes provide “magic” gloves to hats.  So I end up making a lot of hats.  The two layers of knitting worsted make them warm, and they’re also nicely stretchy.  The knitting worsted is acrylic, meaning a busy mother can put it in the wash now and then without worry.  I strongly encourage every knitter or crocheter to make a hat or a pair of mittens and give them away.  Because the best gifts are often anonymous, even better might be to give it to an agency that gives it away.  Many houses of worship have a mitten tree or mitten wall where contributors add mittens and hats given away in December.  It took me about an hour to make each hat and I’m not a fast knitter.  In the middle of making stuff to give to people who give us presents back…  end of sermon.

For the one on the left, meant for a smaller child, cast on 40 stitches.  Knit in a k1, P1 rib for 6 inches.  Then begin decreasing: K and p4, K2 together across. 
Rows after decreases follow the K and P pattern of the previous decrease row.
Then, K and p 3, K 2 together
after a row without decreases, K and P 2, K 2 together
after a row without decreases, K 1, K 2 together.
Cut yarns leaving a 6 inch tail, thread the tail through the yarn needle and pull remaining stitches together tightly and secure.  Then sew down the hat until you run out of yarn, fasten off and hide ends.  Using the left-over tail yarn from your cast-on, sew up the hat from the bottom.  Presumably you’ve planned so you can meet in the middle with a little left over.  Fasten off and hide ends.

for the hat on the right, meant for a slightly larger child, cast on 48 stitches.  Knit in a K2 P2 rib for about 2 inches.  Switch to garter stitch and knit until the hat is 7 inches from the beginning.  Keeping in garter stitch, decrease and finish in the same pattern as the previous hat.

Using handspun yarn, you don’t want to begin knitting hats with a cast-on that leaves a bunch of yarn left over, even if it might potentially be useful later.  I don’t want to use up and potentially waste yarn with sewing in ends, so my handspun hats are Crown Down hats. 



  Start by casting on 6 stitches.  Knit off two onto each of 3 dp needles…I’ll use something between a 9 and a 10 ½ for handspun.  Increase one stitch between each stitch for the first round, then knit a round of these 9 stitches.  Increase one stitch between each stitch for the third round, then knit a round of these 15 stitches.  On the fifth round, increase one stitch between each stitch on a needle, increasing to 27 stitches around.  On the seventh round, and the ninth and the 11th,  increase two stitches per needle.  Work even for a few rounds and eyeball your hat.  You should be up to 45 stitches.  Need another round of increases?  Okay, make one more increase round (that’s 51 stitches), then knit every stitch on every needle until you’ve got about 8 inches of hat, from the crown down.   Now you’re at the decision point for how you’ll finish it.  You could simply keep on knitting and bind off when it feels right.  The brim will roll.  You can decrease a stitch to have an even number and K1, P1 around for a couple of inches for a ribbed finish.  Bind off loosely and sew in the end.  You will have a sturdy, distinctive hat.

I coordinate a raffle project to raise money for our local fire company, auxiliary and the local library, an effort that happens during fire company breakfasts.  This means we’ve got to engage our audience with the raffles quickly – and the raffles need to be something people will really want.  In a basket of carefully selected gift items, I was surprised and delighted to see that what attracted the most attention this year were the cup cozies crocheted and donated by a generous gifter.  It was amazing that everyone bypassed the more expensive things and zeroed-in on the mug cozies with glee – and they were what sold the raffle tickets!

These are great for using up small amounts of yarn and interesting buttons.  After experimenting with knitting and crocheting these, I decided crochet was easier.  Ch 8, then crochet in ”moss” stitch            alternating sc and double crochets across, then on the following rows, make a sc above a double of the row below, and a double where there was a single.  Have a mug nearby to try out the fit.  When you’ve crocheted enough that your strip is about 7 inches long, or goes most but not all the way around the cup, crochet the first 3 stitches of the next row, CH 9, fasten back to the base of the last stitch and end off, sewing in the end.  Sew a button on the other end…  and you’re done!  No more scorching your hands on a hot cuppa - or having the condensation on the outside of your glass of iced whatever spoil a table.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Crochet basket technique

Because a couple of people were having trouble with the transition from the bottom of the basket to the sides, I decided to make the extreme sacrifice of starting another basket so I could demonstrate the technique.   Oh, gosh, I'll have ANOTHER washable basket to stash a project in...  what a pity!  It all came together when I got this great deal on Christmas-colored dishcloth cotton at a bargain store I was writing an article about.  I couldn't be there and not check out the store, right?  I began my basket,
crocheting around both sides of the starting chain using a double strand of yarn and a small hook, until the bottom of the basket was about as large as I wanted it to be.



You'll see in the photo above that the hook goes into the previous row and the crochet is proceeding in the ordinary, usual way.    But then - and this part sounded tricky without the photo, things changed.


I turned the crochet so I was looking at the stitches head-on, the needle goes down from the back and comes back up around each single crochet.  It's still a single crochet, but the position is a little different.   Below, you'll see what this looks like when you've got at least a few stitches started in that new position.  The last row of single crochet before the turn forms a sort of braided edge look.  The basket sides are now proceeding upwards.




 You can see, too that my fingers are dented and battered - this part is hard on your hands.  Do it, then put the crochet down and do something else.  That something else might be fun, not (as you can see from my cuticles) washing breakfast dishes from 168 merry diners who showed up at the Fire Hall this morning for the monthly all-you-can-eat breakfast.  We do have another person who washes dishes, but he doesn't stay all morning, and stuff had piled up by the time we all realized he'd left.  I had dishes from about the last 60 people, silverware from about the last 120 people (after all, who really likes washing eggy forks?) and the food prep stuff.  Luckily, I enjoy running the commercial dishwasher.   At one point, I accidentally - and I promise, it really WAS an accident -  threw the dishwashing brush out the window, but someone quickly brought it back.  

That's about as far as I got with this new basket tonight - I did have other things to work on, with patterns to be posted tomorrow.  Hope this explanation helped!


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 (threads@empacc.net) 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



Wednesday, January 13, 2016

After all the pre-Christmas knitting / and the post-holiday knitting, I was burned-out and ready for a break.  I managed to finish most of the projects I'd planned -


This shrug for one of Bill's daughters - she found a pattern we both liked, but it wasn't for the yarn we liked, so I ended up making it entirely to fit her (notice the thumb holes at the end of the sleeve?  That innovation combines the shrug with being a hand-warmer too!) and a large t-shirt quilt for Bill, which couldn't be photographed because Bill leaves it upside down on the couch, and the cat really likes the corderoy backing!  Bill's red Christmas socks...  better not to talk about those.  They're still in progress.  Sort of.

Then there was this large afghan, knitted by four people, for a raffle to benefit the library.  Being one of the four and the organizer for this enterprise, I supplied the yarn and knitted the widest part and put most of it together; then finished the edge.  Raffle tickets anyone?  We'll probably pull the winner on Valentine's Day! 


And this project, a handspun shawl I started spinning in October, didn't finish the spinning and plying until after Christmas (and after I'd actually begun the knitting).  The knitting took longer than expected.  I was trying to knit at least a couple of hours every day, and my hands hurt every night.  I was putting the finishing stitches in last Friday night, in advance of a Roc Day show, where I entered it in the competition there.  (I won). 
Meanwhile, I was also working on workshop projects I'm teaching this winter, including
 this "Ocean Waves" coaster
and the "Best Friends Sampler Coaster"


Ocean Waves will be taught at the Sunshine State Tatters Gathering, Best Friends for the Lost Art Lacers in New Jersey.  
Then there was the first Tatting Times issue for the 25th anniversary year.  That's ready to go to the printers tomorrow.  Or Friday, if it snows.
Time to relax, I thought.  I found this pattern online, and I really liked it.  It's from Georgia Seitz's site, a reprint from Needlecraft Magazine, February 1925. 


I wanted a simple sort of pattern to relax with, maybe even update a little, where it might lend itself to that.  Time, I thought, to use up even just a little of my stockpiled cordonnet, so I wound two shuttles CTM with size 50 in a soft sage green.  But my first try, the example to the left, clearly wasn't going to work.  The problem

is apparently the lock chain, which was just a hair too long.  So I started over - that's the one on the right - and that one looks like it WILL work just fine.  The difference between the two is less than 1/8 inch.  Small changes really do matter.  Stay tuned - more on this later!