Friday, April 20, 2018

Rainbow Of Possibilities

Have you ever looked at your to-do list and said, "I have no idea where to start?" That has been me for the last two weeks. Every item on the list was really 50 hidden jobs in order to finally cross it off the list. I've been doing my best to break down each job and work on them a little each day. Some of those items have been more mundane like returning a pair of pants or cleaning the fridge coils. Others have been a bit more fun to tackle, like the quilt.

I finally decided to do the quilting with 3 strands of embroidery floss (out of six) in a square pattern that doesn't match latitude and longitude. In order to make the lines relatively straight, I decided to baste little x's into the quilt. Part way through basting, my measurements started to go off and I raged.

Enter Connor. He offered to help and we've spent our evenings with him measuring and basting while I do the actual quilting. We've been listing to Anne of Green Gables on audiobook while working. Of course after watching Anne With An E on Netflix, Connor was curious about the book because I had so often yelled at the TV about how "that wasn't in the book!"
I didn't realize how big this quilt was until I put it on our Queen sized bed for the photo. I might need to make the quilt a little less tall.

I've also been trying to work out what brand of paint to use for long distance trips. I love M Graham watercolors, but they just will not dry in my pans. (I poured these more than a month ago and they are still wet.) It's fine working with them near home, but as we have a bigger trip in the works, it has become clear I need to come up with a new solution.
The reason I love M Graham is because they rewet so easily; great for painting, not great for tidy transportation.

Deciding what paints to use instead isn't easy, especially when you are still sad that your favorites aren't working out. I started by making swatches of what I do have. Then after puzzling a few days more, I decided to order a color dot card that will allow me to try out some new colors. I'm just waiting on that to arrive. Hopefully I'll be able to make a final decision soon.

What kinds of things haven't been coming off of your to-do lists? And is it because of lack of time or a lack of a plan? (Or something else?)

Friday, April 6, 2018

These Boots Aren't Meant For Walking

This past March was a "put one foot in front of the other" kind of month. With a combination of family health scares and a pile of difficult tests, I ended up pretty stressed out. It's taken me a week or two to start feeling better. But rather than focus on the negative, let me show off some things that helped lift me up.

1. I have made a new pair of baby booties. The last pair I made unfortunately didn't fit the recipient. After seeing the tiny baby feet in person, I decided to make up my own pattern. They look weird without feet in them, but I'm pretty sure that with small feet inside them, these new cowboy booties will look much cuter.

2. I finished embroidering the lower 48 states. What a job! I'm not anywhere close to finishing this quilt, but I feel pretty darn good about how far I've gotten. I've ordered some new embroidery floss and plan to quilt the remaining background with longitude and latitude lines. (Alaska and Hawaii will be added too!)
Toughest coastline embroider: Maryland

3. Yarn! My Plucky I ordered at Stitches West arrived. I initially felt it was too dark, but it's growing on me. Then a fantastic package from Wei Siew arrived. She sure did spoil me. Dark Harbor, Bleeting Arts, and Fiber 2 Go?! She also sent a few other unpictured goodies.

4. I finished my Groovy Socks and have cast on two new pairs. Vanilla Latte socks in Stray Cat Socks's Blue Moon color way and Woodpile socks in Spun Right Round's Bug Jar color way.

5. Just today I decided to paint a scene from the TV show Riverdale. Connor and I recently finished it and I really liked the design for Pop's Chock'lat Shoppe. 

How has life been going for all of you? Have you focused on anything to help keep you sane?

Friday, March 23, 2018

Mending

Yesterday was the first day in I don't know how long where I wasn't in crisis mode. There wasn't any homework to be caught up on, no supplies needing to be bought, no promises that I needed to make good on; it felt rather weird.

I looked around, trying to figure out what would be the best use of my time when my eye caught my Dad's sweater. Both sleeves needed some mending and I had finally found some yarn that matched it. It was tough to fix because it was a double knit. Eventually I was victorious... but not before I texted my Dad telling him what a miserable experience it was going to be mending it.

Since I had all my mending stuff out, I looked around again and realized that I had a stack of socks that have been waiting for some attention for maybe more than a year. Some needed duplicate stitching, some needed a woven darn, some needed a combination.

I don't know what possessed me, but I mended the lot.

There is still studying to do and other things that will need my attention in the coming days, but I haven't felt this much peace in a while. Who knew that mending all the knits might mend me a bit too.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Littlest Cowpoke

This past week was another wild one. A loved one had a few days stay at the hospital for a complication from a routine procedure. (All is well, thank goodness.)  It looks like I might be able to go up to Oregon to visit my Oma soon. An exam was delayed by two days. Connor is going back to Japan for business, but it looks like this time I might get to join him. All the ups and downs have left me worn out. Not much happen creatively except these cuties.

I've been doing my best to quickly make these little booties for my cousin and his fiancĂ©e's new little girl. I'm not really sure how quickly baby feet grow, so I really hope that their little girl is able to fit these. 
Embroidery scissors for scale

I'm happy these little booties are done. I've been re-reminded that crochet is not my strength. I ripped out and re-crocheted these so many times! But clearly it was worth it. They are so cute!  Both my parents squealed when they saw them.

Now all they need is a little cowpoke to fill them.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

A Sock By Any Other Name

The last two weeks have been hard. There have been lots of positives, but there has also been an enormous amount of stress. I've been doing my best to ride it out and be kind to myself. Meanwhile I've continued knitting and, in an unusual turn of events, crocheting. I taught myself to crochet a year after I learn to knit. And while I feel ok at it, I don't actively search out patterns to use that skill. Of course it turns out that sometimes those patterns find me. 
My cousin just had a baby and I was trying to figure out a good gift when I came across the cutest bootie pattern. It's going to take me a few days to make these, but I managed to get past the soles with minimal fudging.

I also finished up my Rose By Any Other Name socks. When I mentioned them last I thought I would be finished with them by Valentines Day. Ha! I did finish them, but just before I cut the yarn to kitchener the toe, I counted the stitches. I was one off. Eventually I discovered that I had decreased an extra stitch at the beginning of the gusset and that because I was a whole stitch off for the entire foot, my second sock was a 1/2 inch longer than the first one due to me placing the toe decreases based on the stripe transition. Rip, rip, rip. Then the sock sat in time out while I kicked myself for not counting my stitches after finishing the gusset. I made sure to count multiple times when I knit the foot for the second time.
Vanilla socks in Canon Hand Dyes color way A Rose By Any Other Name

So now I am left with only one project on the needles, my Groovy Socks. I'm actually a little worried about finishing them because I have no idea what my next project should be. I have all sorts of design ideas floating around in my head, but not enough brain cells to devote to figuring them out. 
Groovy Socks in White Birch Fiber Arts color way Wild Thai Ryder

I know that a lot of knitters suffer from startitis. Has anyone had a case of anti-startitis? (Does anyone have a better name for anti-startitis for that matter?)

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Stitches West 2018

This year I wasn't going to go to Stitches West. I told myself, "I have enough yarn" and "If you go, you know you'll buy more because you have no self control once the yarn fumes hit you." So that was that. The day before Stitches opened to the general public my father said, "Well, if you don't go, you might be sad about it, but if you do go, the worst that could happen is you'll forget about the experience. Also, I need a replacement 'Knit Long and Prosper' mug. Mine got chipped." Ever the dutiful daughter, I went.

As you can see, I got the "Knit Long And Prosper" mug from Pawley Studios... and a few other things. Connor came along during his lunch break and talked me into two skeins from White Birch Fiber Arts. The bluer one is "The Truth Is Out There" and the purple one is "Travel Agent For Guilt Trips." We also got a pretty soap dish from Kunihiro Pottery. I've been jealous of the one I gave my mum back in 2015. Then there were the girl scouts...
After all those purchases Connor had to go back to work so I was left to my own devices. I picked up a skein of Baah! La Jolla in La Perla. I've decided that it's my favorite skein of white, it's hard to find, so it is worth the money. After that, I wandered around, peeked in a bunch of different booths, and almost left without any more yarn. The last booth I stopped at was the Plucky booth. There are some really hardcore fans of Plucky. I am not one of them, but I appreciate their colors. I picked up three skeins of Trusty Fingering in Barn Door, but tragically, I needed four to make the sweater I wanted. As I lamented being short a skein, two fellow stitches west attendees chatted with me. They said, "Don't you know you can preorder skeins. Also, that grey would look great on you." Then they left. I wish I could tell those two lovely ladies that they succeeded in enabling me. I not only bought 6 skeins of Trusty (worsted) in Metro, I preordered four skeins of Trusty Fingering in Barn Door. I didn't get a chance to say thank-you, but just know you helped me enhance my stash.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Postcard Project

Late last month I decided I wasn't going to show my paintings online so I could reclaim the joy of painting. That is mostly still true, although a friend of mine launched a 50 State Postcards in 50 Weeks project and I just feel compelled to join in. Obviously, it's more fun to be a part of a project like this when you are sharing. It feels almost like a collaboration, which I think I've needed far more than I realized.

I've really been enjoying dusting off my old graphic design skills with this project. Coming up with compositions that best represent each state has been a fun challenge. I've also enjoyed trying to have the occasional easter egg appear in the cards, like having the Hawaiian Islands dot the i's in Hawaii as well as represent the stigma in the hibiscus flower.

What makes this project a bit more challenging is that I'm choosing to do it all in watercolor. There isn't much room for error with watercolors, so sometimes when I'm stuck on a color decision, I'll make little color studies. I didn't know what color to make the words, "California" so I took a picture of the unfinished postcard and made a sheet of them so I could color in different possibilities.
I texted this picture to a bunch of people and everyone like a different option. I went with #4.

I've had real fun with this project and I've looked forward to seeing Heather's postcards each week. We are both posting on instagram under the hashtag "#5050postcards". Heather is also posting her postcards on her blog.

I've realized with this project that there are a bunch of states I know nothing about. If anyone has any ideas of what symbols make you think of a particular state, I'd love to hear about it. I'm particularly at a disadvantage with East Coast and Midwestern states. I'm embarrassed to admit that some of those states seem so similar to me that I'm worried I won't make a distinct enough postcard for them. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
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