Sunday, November 15, 2015

Your monthly blog post


G'day all!

Apparently I can no longer blog more than once a month.

Mea slacka, I admit.

So what's been happening here?

I've done a lot of knitting recently.  Ahem I may have bought a fair whack of yarn too.  So much for not spending money.

I've been sick as a dog this week.  Gah.  I haven't been really ill with a virus for years - last time I was this sick was six years ago.  Man that was a fun month, DH having lost his job whilst we were getting new visas in Oz for said job, having to pack up and move everything we wanted to keep from the States, sell off the car, get rid of stuff.... all with me coughing my lungs up.  And the lymph node that came up that I thought was from a chest infection actually being breast cancer...  oh joy oh bliss.

I even went to urgent care (the walk in, no appointment needed doc in a box that you see when your GP is booked out) cos I felt so crappy.   He confirmed it was probably viral and threw a heap of meds (not ABs) at it.  I had to sleep on the couch for three nights cos I couldn't lie down flat on the bed (my back and neck thank me...).  Anyway, I seem to be getting better now.  Still sick but I managed to walk 10,000 steps today and only coughed my lungs up from the tickle four or five times instead of half the day... but still I'm at the point where everything in my chest and guts and back hurts from the coughing.

If only I had a voice!  It went again and it's getting worse after the tickle coughing fits.  I can whisper more loudly and reliably than I can talk but they tell me to try to talk normally cos whispering is bad for my voice.  LOL  The tickle and the laryngitis are most likely linked.

I've not done much quilting recently - I've got a quilt on the machine at the moment but it seems that I'm more interested in knitting quick warm woollies for myself.  Me me and me only.  DH hasn't asked for anything.

I'm doing the current WestKnits knitalong.  Spoilers follow, though my pics are not up to date with my progress.  I'll be interested to see where the next two clues go from here.

The start was intriguing

The middle enticing
But by the end of clue one, I was ready for a rest!

My yarn choices so far are Madtosh Cosmic Wonder Dust and Coquette.  I have to add a third yarn to the mix, and am tossing up between an intense purple or a bright leafy green.

I'm also knitting Tin Can Knits' Harvest.  I've had some yarn sitting around for umm well I bought it in 2009 (Stonehedge Mill Shepherd's Wool in light turquoise)  and it is lovely and I've been thinking to do a cabled jumper in it but that is too much effort.  Instead, I'm making a simple, classic cardie in it.

Swatches of stocking stitch.  Pity I can't aim the
phone straight.  LOL

The shoulder

Front band

I've also been busy knitting other stuff, like these fingerless mitts and cowl in Knitted Wit's DK weight yarn in 12th Man.  Why yes, they are the local American football team's colours.  No I have not been converted to actually following NFL but a) I like the colours and b) if I barrack for any teams around here, it has to be the local ones.  I take an interest to see how their season is tracking cos it is important around here, very important.  BTW this yarn did not marinate in stash for years - I bought it and started winding it the same night and the things were done in less than a week.

I really need a modelled shot of the cowl but
I've been crook and look manky.

I also knitted myself a nice cowl in a week.  I need to weave the ends in and block it and get shots of it.  For the nonce, here's detail of it.  (Sweet Georgia DK in umm erp...I'll find the label at some point and Madtosh silk wool in Cosmic Wonder Dust)

Pretty. I guess I should make some mitts to go with it.

You might be noticing that there's not a lot of pics of the landscape.  I have a gazillion pics of autumn leaves that I've been sharing on google photos/G+ - anyone remember that?  I am sure to haul some out for you.  But I've been nowhere very interesting over the last month - we've either been busy or the weather has been lousy or more recently I've been crook.

Spotted these on today's stagger, ahem, walk

To be honest, the weather has done the usual November thing and gone pretty manky.  Today is the first nice day we've had in a while - it wasn't that bad early in the week but today we saw sun after three days of rain that dumped about 100mm on us.  November is a hard hit - not only does the weather go totally feral but we lose daylight saving on the first Sunday in November.  Sunset suddenly is before 5pm and oh does that cut down on the apparent length of time you have to do stuff during your day.  At least it didn't rain all day long on my birthday...

We're finishing up on these

And the leaves are nearly gone from most trees

It makes this the worst month of the year for me, following other months of frantic Oh No November is Coming as I realise the weather is slowly degrading into greyness and rain.  The days are under 9 hours long, if you get to see the sun which isn't guaranteed by any means at this point, and depressing.  Hence the frantic knitting of colourful and bright stuff and liberal application of vitamin D3 capsules.

The most gorgeous little Japanese maple

Who needs to go to Portland with this beauty here?

BTW, do yourself a favour if you are a geek and get along to see The Martian.  I have to say if my botany tutors had been like him I probably would've done botany as a major rather than doing it as a hobby.  (Yes, I see some guys as being attractive.)  After seeing the movie, I devoured the book.

The local bike path was lined beautifully

A lovely path at the zoo

Autumn leaves breaking hearts

The last month or so has involved a lot of dithering.  Dithering is boring, and gives no good stories to tell.  It's also annoying because I was not getting the information I needed to make a decision until DH stepped in and told the information owners to pull their fingers out.  Now I'm two months behind on something that is pretty important simply because noone bothered to give us a timeline (and still haven't, they've just given us dribs and drabs).

Sunset tonight.  First one in ages!

Note that I have not mentioned recent world events.  I don't tend to talk politics on my blog and this is politics at play.  I'll just say I would've thought previous guerilla wars would've taught vital lessons but maybe not.

Anyway, have a good week (or rest of your week since it's already Monday in most of the world), and


Thursday, October 15, 2015

By popular demand

G'day all!

This post is brought to you courtesy of my friend A.  She told me I'm not posting enough.  She is correct!

So since my last endeavours at posting... Umm... Yes I've been making lots of stuff!  Lots and lots of making!  Alas not so much photographing of things I've been making because the weather went a bit manky and getting shots in good light was not easy, then I forgot all about getting pics when the weather was better.

Let's see what we've got in the vault.

I bought a crap tonne of acid dyes.  These will dye protein fibres such as wool and silk (and nylon).  I foresee many happy hours playing with the dye pot.

I am sure you cannot tell which company
supplied these dyes. 

My big sewing machine is eating up quilts.  It is so much easier to free motion quilt things on it, and when I fix up the table so it doesn't rock around, it will be even better.  I won't be able to blame the wonky bits on the table moving with the quilt then, it will be all my fault instead.

Icky quilt.  Will be given away.

I've managed to catch up on a number of quilts that needed quilting, which is excellent.

Don't ask me what I was thinking,
I was practising loops.

The quilt below is one that I started a couple of months ago, probably three months ago, some time ago - I guess I should document these things, shouldn't I?  Anyway it is super lurid and is awaiting its turn in the washing machine and then under the camera lens proper.

This one is eye searing and I love it!

I've started not just one but two new shawls, from the one pattern (Picea sitchensis) using my handspun.  Of course now I am having the devil's own job spinning yarn to match the same weight...

The plain part of Picea

The lovely white is about double the size of the variegated yarn, but the white is so squooshy!  But too heavy.

My handspun yarns.  And knitting.

I think the saga with my handspinning needs its own blog post...

Sunset at my fave place.  With boat.

September finished in a blaze of colour and glory.

Leaves were really ramping up the red.

Leaf cutter bee on a sunflower

And we even got to see a full moon and eclipse!  I admit that this shot was taken on the big camera and I was super pleased that I've worked out how to make the colour come up instead of it being washed out.

Total eclipse.

DH took off to NYC for work at the start of October, so I took off to the coast.  (Pics below are in reverse order, which will explain why the green top is getting shorter as we go down the page!).

Baby top and the Strait of San Juan de Fuca

Stopping at this view for a couple of beauty shots (actually I was stuffing my face with two hard boiled eggs that would not come out of their shells and decided I should enliven the picture with my knitting projects rather than an annoying egg or two) made me feel a bit homesick.  The strait reminded me of a calm day on Port Phillip, the bay that my home city surrounds.   The strait often is much more excited that this day but it was lovely.  And I had stopped to visit Dungeness Spit, which turns out to be a spit of sand that sticks out about 5 miles.  Uh, no, I didn't want to walk out to the lighthouse five miles away....

Sock and the strait

My knitting and I visited the most northwesterly point of the lower 48 US states.  We saw a whale!  (pics will follow in the travel report, when I do that...)

Canada is in the distance

I walked on wonderful beaches and saw lovely sights, and sat and knitted for a while whilst soaking up the sunshine.

Knitting and Second Beach

Sock and Second Beach

Oops, I left the ball of yarn behind

We had a few days of pretty average weather - got an inch of rain on Saturday I think it was.  We were both glad that we were wearing rain coats because some of that inch fell on us - we had gone out for breakfast and a bit of a walk and the heavens opened!

A very determined cat

But the weather cleared up again and I sat outside a couple of days this week and did a bit of spinning.  Not Our Cat was completely set on sitting on my lap even as I spun yarn.  When she was determinedly napping it was fine but every now and then she decided she had to bite at the yarn and claw it.  Not so good, puss!

Hand carding top to blend it.

I'm a bit peeved that all my effort in carding up a gradient yarn is useless because I didn't spin the right weight.

(Don't tell DH that I'm planning to buy a drum carder at the fibre festival on the weekend if I find any good deals... using hand cards for the amount of yarn I want to spin up is a PITA!  Plus I have a bunch of fleece and more time than money to deal with it.)

I picked up a bit of fabric (a mini charm pack) of squares on my travels and decided to make something up immediately.  I spent some happy hours with my Me and My Sister fabrics from various collections and have built another quilt top and back.  Then I got the new batting out and discovered it is hand wash only.

New quilt featuring Hi-De-Ho fabrics

Really?  Like really?  For batting?  For a quilt?  It never even occurred to me that it would be hand wash only.  Okay, it is wool but... nope, hand wash only.  No wonder it was such a good deal - nobody wants it!  So now I have to watch out for good specials on batting cos I am pretty much right out.  I bought some at a local place but one lot of queen size batting in scrimless 100% cotton cost $40.  Ouch.

Anyway, my Modern Quilt Guild (Seattle) now has 8 yards of hand wash only batting to make some quilts that will probably never be washed.  They needed batting, I supplied it!

Some improv blocks

My guild put out a call for "improv" blocks in certain colours so I looked up the required colours, found I had matching stuff in my stash and built some blocks.  Hope they are useful....

Sunday's amazing clouds.  Stripes!

Have I ever mentioned that Seattle has amazing clouds?  There's so many levels and so much depth to them (when they are not sitting about 500m up and drizzling.  ugh).

And mammatus clouds in stripes!

And Jacob's ladders over the Sound

I leave you with one last taste of summer.  Two weeks ago one of the stalls at the farmers' market had the last locally grown strawberries of the year.  I don't normally like strawberries but these were delicious!  I made jam with a bunch of them and made a crumble, the best crumble I've ever made with the rest.  Oh they tasted like summer.... yum!

Totally delicious!  Divine strawberries


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A finished object - Chemo quilt

G'day all!

It is now six years since I started quilting.

Six years!

I blame Dana from OldRedBarnCo.  She started a quiltalong that was going to be easy for beginners to do.  I already had a stash of fabric even though I didn't make anything bar the odd project bag for knitting.  Okay, so I was already itching to learn how to quilt but I needed an excuse.  She led me to the Dark Side and I've never looked back.

So I've got a few quilts under my belt now and a machine that is pretty good for machine quilting on now that I've worked out the kinks (aka buy good quality high speed sewing machine needles, tweak the bobbin tension and get smooth multiple ply thread).

It was time to finish off an old quilt.  One that had given me problems through no fault of the lead of that round of the quiltalong (JayBirdQuilts - yep part of the way she got her start was through Dana's quiltalong).  Nope, it was me who cut half the blocks out one way and half of them another way, and ne'er the twain shall meet.   The blocks were so simple too - just sew two 2.5" strips together and then cut them into 60 degree triangles, then arrange as you fancy.

I was on chemo at the time and that is my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

Therefore I call this my Chemo quilt.  It looks quite good from afar

Sorry about cutting the last row off,
I'm not quite tall enough...

And some of the blocks look quite fine

See, that's not too shabby

And others, umm, well... oops.

Oh dear

But on the whole, there are lots of nice blocks in this quilt, and I had a super fun time quilting it.

Nice flowers and feathers

Some of the quilting looks quite regular and nice - flowers and feathers and stuff

See?  Nice!

Then I deliberately wonked some of it up - just like on chemo when you think you have everything worked out and your act in gear, you realise that in fact you aren't holding everything together and you are at the brink of collapse.  The feathers look beautiful for a while then they become less regular and start doing their own thing.

Wonked up and jaggy.

Just like on chemo some days you feel okay and other days everything is jaggy and wrong.

Label.  Yep, I put a label on this one.

But even then, you still try to make life beautiful.

Random stippling

I must thank someone (whom I can't remember now, dang chemo) who gave me all of her scraps when I ran out.  I must've thrown out the good bits (danged chemo) and kept the scrappy bits because I only had rubbishy little bits and I needed more blocks.  She had already sewn hers into a rail fence and strips.  I pulled some apart to make the blocks I needed and the rest feature on the back of the quilt.  Thank you whomever you are, I really appreciate your generosity.

I cut the end off the back too in the photo.  Oops.

Thank heavens I'm five years out and counting from finishing chemo.  It certainly gave me a new appreciation for life and for those who have to go through chemo and the crap that cancer brings.  Chronic illness too.

The red end of the quilt does exist, see?
Also the stitching seems to stick out.
Don't you love optical illusions?

I've been giving away a lot of my quilts but this one I am keeping.  It is a record of where I was then and it also is a bright and cheery quilt.


Don't try this at home.  I missed my finger 8-)