Life Happens then you …

Machine and embroidery unit packed and ready for trip to Atlanta.

Machine and embroidery unit packed and ready for trip to Atlanta.

This past week I continued to research with the help of a trusty yahoo group the issue with my sewing machine/computer to no avail, I lugged it to Atlanta and was able to sit with a machine pro who watched what I was doing and we eventually figured out that I had the incorrect foot on to perform the hoop calibration, ( it was not specified in the procedure). And since I was there, we went over several items that I needed a refresher course on including the software that I am using to digitize a quilt design. Therefore the trip was not wasted and I even received complimentary tickets for the carload of people I am driving to Atlanta’s sewing and quilt expo next week. We reviewed how to calibrate and make buttonholes, oiling the machine and some other items that I had forgotten in the two years since I brought the machine home.  It ended up being educational, I then zipped home to take Maggie for a long walk as she is no longer used to being alone for such a long period of time.

Fair Isle knitting with color changes

Fair Isle knitting with color changes

Fair Isle Knitting, wrong side showing the carrying of yarn across the back.

Fair Isle Knitting, wrong side showing the carrying of yarn across the back.

I also, took the Fair Isle knitting class which was a great intro, and started today making the gauge swatch. I learned a great way to swatch when you are knitting in the round from Craftsy, reminiscent of the fair isle class in that using double-pointed needles you bring the yarn to the other end, looping without catching it, as you do in the above picture and just knit from both ends not catching it for big loops and better tension. This gives a better gauge swatch when you are knitting in the round as the knitting tension is more closely related than purling back in a stockinette stitch. A neat idea, and one I was trying to figure out this morning when I decided to check the Craftsy classes I am enrolled in. The Knitting in the Round Lab had the answer.

I am excited because we have a finish carpenter visiting tomorrow to help us figure out better space utilization. I would love to have my sewing studio in a useable state. This has not been the case for a while and only more complicated with the water issue over the summer. I am keeping my fingers crossed that we can come up with some workable solutions.

As this is tax time, I have spent an inordinate amount of time trying to tame paperwork of which I ignored too long. So my nose has been to the grindstone over this past week trying to establish some semblance of order. Taxes have to be done and paperwork has to be in the correct files to more easily do it. Today, I actually saw my cutting table’s surface for the first time since August.  This consumes my needling time and I want it done! Therefore, I have not completed anything just done some minor steps each day to move forward. Slow steps, but forward progress, nevertheless.

Almond trees are budding, our neighbor’s apple trees are as well so the balmy weather of spring approaches. Until next week, sew on!

Hope

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Meeting Challenges

This week has been starting, re-starting, stops, challenges. Nothing went very smoothly.

I have been working on the Veteran’s Quilt this week and finished stitching-in-the-ditch all the blocks. I searched for all the items needed to quilt the blocks in the hoop, but my sewing machine refused to calibrate the hoop. I have searched the internet, yahoo groups and called the dealer, there does not appear to be an easy fix, so we have an appointment in Atlanta. A weekday drive means six hours driving. That is not quite how I want to spend my time but is necessary to finish this quilt. I am happy that I was able to keep the blocks smooth, there are no pleats to have to frog (needlework term: rip-it, rip-it) any of the sewing for this issue. I worked on the quilt design for the blocks, one of which I bought specifically for these types of quilts. I am disappointed that I was unable to quilt it this week. I am still working on the design as I have to enlarge it to the block size and then ensure that the design works with the layers and thread I am using. I am trying to have everything ready for my return from Atlanta on Tuesday.

I did complete the cabled afghan I worked this week, I just need to gift it in the next week.  I decided it was more appropriate for someone in a wheelchair and will give it to a friend whose mother is in a long term care facility.

I also, finished the lace project started in class, I used up all the yarn and made it long enough for a cowl. Lace Cowl Completed

I am signed up for a class in stranded knitting. The cover of Winter 2013/2104 Vogue Knitting magazine has a Fair-Isle Cowl I am looking forward to working on, go here http://www.vogueknitting.com/contests/win_a_cover_kit.aspx to win a kit to make one.

Next knitting project.

Next knitting project.

I enjoy knitting because it is portable, but especially it focuses my brain on something positive and does not leave any room for stressing. When I work a complex pattern it so engages my brain that I have no way of thinking of anything else. When I lose focus, I end up in another frog situation, today at one time I knit the same row seven times, each time rip-it, rip-it was the activity of the moment.

These activities have me stay in the moment and leave me feeling content. Maggie and I have been walking at dawn this week. The weather is starting to warm up. The two almond trees in our front yard are starting to blossom. It is great to start your day and appreciate the beauty all around. Sew on, until next week.

Hope

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Never Let a Distraction Get You Down

Despite the requirement for me to put my nose to the grindstone of tax preparation, I have spent some time with needles this week <g>.  Persistence and procrastination with the mundane led me to extensively on my prayer afghan, the Cabled Afghan from the Lion Brand Site. Despite some un-knitting I am almost finished with it. I decided to meet the commitment to blog writing before completing it and know I will be done before the end of tomorrow. It is as long as I am and should be warm and comfy as wraps the recipient in prayers and love.

Prayer Afghan with Lion Brand Yarn Cabled Afghan Pattern

Prayer Afghan with Lion Brand Yarn Cabled Afghan Pattern

I also, went to a local yarn shop, Creative Yarns in Macon, 45 minutes north of here for a beginning lace class. This was fun because I actually learned in person to person sphere instead of deciphering you tube videos, books or patterns. Those modes of learning are great, but feedback from an expert in-person really is invaluable. I am glad to find this shop and found the Tammy and Kathy to be personable, warm and caring. Even though I have knit lace, I was able to pick up several tidbits of information that I will incorporate in improving my knitting.

Lace Knitting Class Pattern, One repeat completed in worsted weight cotton on size 7 needles.

Lace Knitting Class Pattern, One repeat completed in worsted weight cotton on size 7 needles.

The other thing that I found is a group of women that  if I can bring myself to trek the distance are caring and willing to share. The shop has groups three times a week for open knitting. I am looking forward to improving my knitting techniques.

Still to be completed is the Veteran’s quilt, I have worked on it, using stitch-in-the ditch for outlining blocks, I am probably 50 percent complete on this portion. I also, have the Give Thanks Cross Stitch to frame. I am anxious to complete all the filing and tax prep work so I can move on to more fun activities. Unit next week, Needle on!

Hope

 

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Knitting Weather

According to local news, Georgia is suffering the third worst winter in recorded history. It is not nearly as bad as we have weathered in our lives especially in Maine and North Dakota. I am savoring it for the times the heat and humidity sap the will and strength. Today the rain was so steady, Maggie insisted on us returning home before we walked by our neighbor’s lot, very unusual for her. We tried two other times during the day but she was not having it today and each time we returned we dried her soaking wet self off. It was a great day for knitting.

I have sewn, knitted, or cross-stitched at least five minutes since I last wrote. My completions are complicated by the fact that a lot of my supplies and equipment arImagee still  in storage due to a water emergency after I returned from the National American  Sewing Guild Conference in Washington DC.

I have started the process of framing the cross-stitch. I am lacing it, I had to buy a needle to do the lacing so it is set up waiting for the lacing to be completed. I wanted to finish this blog first.

The other thing I was able to make slow progress on is quilting the quilt for our veteran. I was able to find everything except an echo quilt foot to proceed and I started the stitch in the ditch from the center tonight.  This has made me feel great that I am moving forward on this one and will fill total relief when we complete it. I want to turn out great, it is only the second quilt I have quilted, the first is the one in the header of this blog. I have a lot to learn to become any good.

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This past weekend our Macon Chapter of the American Sewing Guild sewed up snugglies for the NICU at the local hospital, I believe we made 37 all together. I am working at making a pattern that we can post to make these so they will be easier to make for the next time. I think it is a great project that helps these tiny babies develop strength by bouncing their limbs against the sides mimicking the way their limbs bounce against the mom’s womb. It was interesting listening to how they are used by the nursery and why.  I will be putting this on my list to make more of after I finish a few other projects ahead of it.  There is a pile waiting that keeps yelling at me every time I visit the bonus room.  I will explain that project  as I get to it, more later.

As I find supplies and gather them in one place in organizing our home, I find stashes of yarn and found enough to make an afghan, this will be a prayer afghan for a family member ill with stage-4 lymes disease.  IMG_0056[1]This is rows of cables on size 13 needles. The color is called lagoon by Lion Brand Yarn in Homespun. I have finished 3/4s of it in the last week or so and hope to have it complete by next week to send off.

I am hoping to take a lace knitting class in Macon at Creative Knitting and am looking forward to increasing my knitting repertoire.  Until next time, Sew on!

Hope

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Completions Bring Joy

I am feeling pretty joyful. I completed the knitted afghan that I started over forty years go.  This quilt helped me develop confidence in ability to figure out the different patterns. When I started it I only knit the basics; knit then purl making innumerable scarves. I learned in Brownies how to knit from Mrs. Parmalee and then I didn’t have anyone in my life that knit. Ten years later Mrs. Harriet Jones and my Mom became friends and I watched her knit. Because of my interest she gave me scrap yarn, knitting needles and a sampler pattern for afghans. I started this afghan with those supplies and added the black yarn and years of working on these 48 blocks. It is a queen size afghan and was a gift to my brother. Mark received it today in the mail. It was fun putting it in a Space bag and sucking all the air out so I could send it in a small package. Mark's Quilt Completed

I also, completed the basting on the veteran’s quilt and tomorrow will start the quilting process.  This means a search for all the supplies required to put it on the machine. My studio is still in disarray from a water emergency over the summer and a lot of my gear is in a storage facility. So this means a trip over there to search for thread and other equipment. My sewing machines are here in the house just a matter of locating everything that was put in other locations so the floors could be redone;  Fun, fun to be had this upcoming week.Veteran's Quilt Basted

I am almost complete on the DMC Give Thanks cross stitch obtained from the DMC site, http://www.dmc-usa.com/Inspiration/Projects/Cotton-Floss-Cross-Stitching/Give-Thanks-Sampler.aspx but haven’t decided how I want to finish the piece; in a frame or pillow. I will cogitate on that in the next few days. I have to complete the turkey, the right side corn stalks and backstitch the cornstalks. I love the contagiousness of these completions.

Progress on Give Thanks Cross Stitch

Progress on Give Thanks Cross Stitch

To add to all my enjoyment, we had a snowfall in middle Georgia that stayed on the ground, I think we had maybe two inches. Here is a photo after midday of our house.

Snowfall in Middle Georgia!

Snowfall in Middle Georgia!

Until next week, stay warm and safe.

Hope

 

 

 

 

 

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Hiccups

Per usual, life has hiccups. Despite these I continue to work toward completion. Work progresses on three projects. I have completed nearly three quarters of the basting on our veteran’s quilt. The challenge here was that some of the blocks were not sewn correctly. I have been repairing them in addition to completing the basting. I want to honor the women that worked on this quilt with us but cannot let the errors stay as it affects the integrity of the quilt. The challenge is to find a creative way to incorporate these blocks into the whole as it is also our thoughts and prayers for the veteran recipient that are incorporated in the blocks that make up this quilt. It is our thoughts as well as our contribution that brings meaning to our work.

While I sat in the hospital last , I used up all of the floss for a cross stitch project. It always amazes me to see a picture take shape in this medium. It reminds me of pixels as I set every stitch into the fabric. I need more skeins of floss to complete and hope the cross stitching part will be completed before next week. This leaves the next task; deciding how to finish it.

The biggest task is finishing the afghan which I have a third of the rows stitched it together.  I worked on this in the hospital as well and most of the stitching was done there waiting for DH to be released. I find working with my hands a great way to deal with stress.

My focus on completions has definitely provided focus and I find myself scheduling time each day to do a little on each project. Despite not finishing any one thing, with each little step forward I feel a sense of accomplishment. It is a great feeling.

Here is Maggie, she keeps me company as I work around the house and ensures I take regular walks. Can you see her pleading with me? Until next time.

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Action Follows Commitment

The commitment to completions this year has propelled me into action this week. I know, only the first week but change only happens if you start. I tell myself that continuously. Despite some strong challenges, DH ill and a water line rupture due to the polar vortex extreme weather, I have been successful at working toward completions this past week.

The first is our neighborhood group veteran’s quilt, I completed the border and made the backing using a leftover quilt block and backing fabric. Next to complete on this is the quilt sandwich. My task for the next week as I typically hand baste the sandwich together before quilting. I am pleased with this progress.

Veteran's Quilt Back

Veteran’s Quilt Back

Another project I worked on is an afghan I started when I was 17. Harriet, an older family friend reignited my interest in knitting by giving me her leftover yarn stash, needles and a sampler afghan pattern. Over the last forty years I have worked on it a little at a time and finished the last block in September. This project has given me confidence to try new things and the internet has only made this more of an actuality. After teaching myself how to crochet by taking a Craftsy course, http://www.craftsy.com, I completed all the crochet borders this week and worked on placing the squares into a pleasing order. Harriet's AfghanI figured out today it is a queen size project and DH’s illness forced me to wait until today to do that portion. I use an I-pad, taking pictures and moving the squares around until I obtained a pleasing arrangement. Next up is putting all the blocks together, a challenge because the gauge was not consistent over the last forty years, (you think!) and finally sending it off to the recipient.

The other task I started this week is taking a Craftsy class (www.craftsy.com), I have numerous classes that I have enrolled in but have not completed. So this week I restarted the Brioche Knitting Class with Nancy Marchant (http://briochestitch.com/brioche/). I am currently stuck on the Italian cast on but know I will eventually figure it out. Here is my single color sample. I would like to complete one class a month. Knitting is portable and doesn’t require a lot of stuff so that is the reason I re-started this class.

Bioche sample

Sewing, knitting , most needlework are my rewards; I enjoy the challenges presented in accomplishing these projects. They have a meditative quality that quiets my mind, soothes the anxieties of the day and satisfies the need to successfully control something, anything in a chaotic world.

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