Saturday, March 21, 2015

Catching up

Well, it's been quite a while.  This blogging thing is tough to keep up with, but for posterity's sake I figured I should document what I've been up to.  So without further ado, here goes.

I finished two projects for Christmas presents this year.  Both were received with almost-tears, so I think that was a success.  First was for my SIL's mother, Stacia, who has basically adopted us all into her family.  This piece just screamed her name when I first saw it.  She's been going through some health issues, but has had a really great attitude through all of it.

Dance in the Rain (c) Lizzie*Kate
30 ct natural linen
started 9/19/14, finished 9/26/14

Next was another Lizzie*Kate (these make such great gifts!) for my friend Christine, who is such a dog person.
Dog Lessons for People (c) Lizzie*Kate
32 ct raw natural linen
started 9/27/14, finished 10/14/14

Like I said both were received very well which makes all of the work worth it.  I'll need to get framed pictures of each, since I totally forgot to do that before I gave them away.

What I DIDN"T finish for Christmas was the Family Sampler for my brother and Janelle.  But since it's going to cost me a small fortune to frame, I think it really needs to be a wedding present (which hopefully they will get around to eventually).  Here it is at 100 hours.

Family Sampler
(c) Little House Needleworks
32 ct vintage buttercream linen
3/21/15 - 100 hours

Next time I'll be charting out the family and name so that should be fun.  And speaking of time, I've decided to make this a 5 hour focus piece, which means I'll work on this for 5 hours in-between all of the other pieces which I'll work on for 10 hours apiece.  That way it should get done relatively quickly (and hopefully they'll be getting married in the near future!)

Next up - Antique Shoes!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Orts to the Rescue!

When I bought the Family Sampler, I bought all the supplies from 123stitch.  Not really a kit, as everything was seperate, but I bought everything they listed as needed.  I saw my first minor problem when I realized the fabric they sent was more like 30 count.  I finally made sure the whole design will fit (just barely), so I'm safe there.  The next almost catastraphe was with the Classic Colorworks overdyed floss the sent with the pattern.  The green and 2 colors of pink were sent with more than one skein, but the "Roasted Chestnut" (for the house) only had one.  And it ran out 23 (!) stitches from the end of said house.

Enter the ort jar:

Now I really don't know why I keep all my thread scraps (or why they're called orts for that matter), but I suppose it's a little neater than having scraps everywhere.  And anyone who knows me know neatness is always my first priority (sorry, can't even type that with a straight face).  Anyways, I was looking for a few scraps I could maybe hobble together to finish and found one long piece that was a little tangled. Luckily once it was straightened out it was more than enough to finish the house.  Crisis averted!  Not that having to go to the cross stitch store is really a crisis, but those overdyed threads have dyelots that are notoriously hard to match.

Which leads to the Family Sampler at 70 hours (there's a picture on my project page at 60 hours, but I figured it was getting a little boring showing the same project over and over...)

Family Sampler (c) Little House Needleworks
32 ct vintage buttercream linen
started 7/8/14, 8/23/14 - 70 hours
It's coming along quite nicely I think, but it's definitely huge.  The flowers in the border go just past half way.  I can't even imagine what it's going to cost to frame!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Back Again

Well this was a pretty productive weekend, at least stitching-wise (one day it'll be productive cleaning and laundry-wise, but I'm not holding my breath.)  Toby went to a Beer Fest on Saturday afternoon, so it was just Marley and I for the day, which meant a lot of crafting time.  She even finished a knitting loom scarf that she's been working on FOREVER (I just need to get a picture of it).  We rounded out the day with a trip to Northampton for Local Burger (her favorite place up there) and GoBerry (which Toby doesn't like so we took advantage of the fact that he wasn't there).  It was a pretty fun day.

 I've reached 50 hours on the Family Sampler:

Family Sampler (c) Little House Needleworks
32 ct vintage buttercream linen
started 7/8/14, 8/17/14 - 50 hours
The more I work on this, the more I like it.  It might actually be hard to give it away in the end.  I just need to hurry up and finish the personalization on if for my brother and SIL so I won't have a choice!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

We interrupt our regulary scheduled programming...

And now for something a little different, I finished 2 sets of Christmas potholders today.  They'd actually been finished for a little while, but I just got around to sewing them up today.

A friend from work gave me a set of these potholders when we bought our house.  My husband (who does all of the cooking and therefore uses them the most) raved about them being the best potholders ever.  Not to be outdone, I told him I could totally make them myself, and have since made 21 (!) sets (they're the perfect little gift).  The only change I made is to make them a little bigger, which he seemed to like better.  I also don't add any sort of hanging loop.  Like I think I said before, I want to make them for the ladies in my office for Christmas this year.  I would need 16 sets - there's some girls I don't know as well and wouldn't mind not giving a gift to, but I'm not sure how that would look, so I'm going to shoot for all 16.  We'll see how it goes.  I have a set in progress in my car, at work and at home, for whenever I can steal a few moments to work on them.

I'm still plugging away on the Sampler, but I'm learning I need to take a break after every couple of hours.  Even with my new stand my elbow's been bothering  me.  Just need to learn to pace myself I guess.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Bored Yet?

I almost am! Here's the Family Sampler at 40 hours...still pretty much the only thing I'm working on. The good part is that at least with a sampler design what you stitch keeps changing with all of the little motifs - keeps it interesting.
Family Sampler (c) Little House Needleworks
32 ct vintage buttercream linen
started 7/8/14, 8/13/14 - 40 hours

And I think this proves what I've thought all along - I'm a pretty slow stitcher. I may get a lot done, but that's only because I do it so often. But I'm okay with that, I guess. We're watching Hell on Wheels again and that keeps sucking me in. We watched it once before (the first 2 seasons) and I was annoyed how season 2 ended and stopped watching. But I'm giving it another chance, and last night we got through to where we had stopped before. Luckily Toby also likes it (he'll pretty much watch whatever I want, but he reserves the right to make fun of a lot of it!)

In non-boring, more-fun news, we had a great long weekend at Hampton Beach the past weekend. We went up Saturday night after Toby got out of work and spent Sunday at the beach with his parents. The water wasn't too bad, and the three of us had a lot of fun in it (no pictures of that though, I never remember pictures at the beach).

But I DID take a lot of pictures on our whirlwind tour on Monday. Marley (and Toby and I) love to walk around some of the towns in NH, so we visited both Exeter and Portsmouth (our favorites) before ending up in Kittery for dinner.

Here's Marley and Toby in Exeter, and a crazy turtle nursery sign...

And Marley outside her favorite bookstore up there...

In Portsmouth we stopped for lunch at Popovers, which is one of our all time favorites, and of course had to have (share!) their HUGE sundae afterwards.

We also visited the Life is Good Store, the game and puzzle store, and relaxed a bit on the main square...

Finally, after a little rest back at the camper we went up to Kittery to visit the Kittery Trading Post and eat dinner at Bob's Clam Hut...

And that just about sums up our little mini vacation. On Tuesday we mostly just relaxed and did most of Marley's school supply shopping. A lot of stuff crammed into a couple days, but I think everyone had fun. I think it surprised Marley how many pictures I took (I'm notoriously bad at this) and she asked her father "Why is mom taking so many pictures? Is one of us dying or something?" That just cracked me right up.

I didn't really stitch at all over the weekend, but crocheted instead. I find that's much easier to do "on the go". I had the bright idea that I would crochet potholders for all of the girls at work. This seemed like a brilliant idea at the beginning of the year, but I haven't gotten to far on the 16 (!) sets I need to make. But I figure I work much better under pressure anyways. A couple of years ago I made them for EVERYONE for Christmas, including Toby's extended family and somehow got them done. They were a big hit, so I think the girls here will like them as well. Between those and the Family Sampler, I think I'll be quite busy!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Family Sampler (still!)

So I'm still slogging away at the same piece. I've decided I'm really not cut out for one-at-a-time stitching, I'm starting to get a little antsy with it. But I'm really trying to stick with it and have reached 30 hours:

Family Sampler (c) Little House Needleworks
32 ct vintage buttercream linen
started 7/8/14, 8/8/14 - 30 hours

At least it's easy stitching, if not a little boring.  But I think it will definitly be worth it in the end.  You can see that I'm back to using my Needlework System 4 stand.  I had a problem with the original q-snap piece (it wasn't rotating correctly on one side).  After how long it took to get the stand originally I was a little miffed that I had to deal with it again, but I contacted the manufacturer directly and it couldn't have been easier.  They sent out a replacemet piece (postage paid) and will send UPS to pick up the defective piece (again, postage paid by them).  I was pleasantly surprised at how well it worked out.  This piece rotates perfectly.  The whole thing is just a bit wobbly sometimes, but I think that might just be the nature of the beast.  I still haven't perfected stitching with both hands and revert back to one-handed.  20+  years is a hard habit to break!

Even though I'm not stitching anything else from my rotation, I do cheat on the sampler a bit from time to time (like when I'm at Angie's or my mom's...or any time I just don't feel like turning the timer on).  My other project at the moment is another Little House Needleworks design, Louise and Henry.  I figured this is what happens when knitting and stitching combine - cross stitch sheep! (I actually have another sheep piece that I really need to get to the framer.)

Louise and Henry (c) Little House Needleworks
32 ct. chestnut linen
started 7/26/14

This one doesn't look like all that much yet (those are sheep legs just needing a body!)  but I should get quite a bit done over our long weekend in NH since FS is just too big to bring anywhere.  I plan on stopping by the XS store up there as well at some point, which could prove a little dangerous.  There's a Lizzie*Kate kit I really want to get and I'm definitely hooked on these Little House Needlework designs...

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Family Sampler

So I've decided to concentrate on the Little House Needleworks Family Sampler that I'm making for my brother and SIL for Christmas. I realized Christmas isn't that far away (in crafting terms) so I'd better get moving. Plus this thing seems huge! Not difficult though, so that's good. Seeing as Janelle isn't my actual sister-in-law, I'm kind of hoping this might end up a wedding present instead. We'll have to see about that...

Family Sampler (c) Little House Needleworks
32 ct vintage buttercream linen
started 7/8/14, 8/5/14 - 20 hours

I've hit a couple of minor snags already. The square in the upper left corner is supposed to have an "R" in it, but the "R" in the large alphabet included with the chart looks weird to me. Kind of cartoony, and nothing like the other letters. So I think I'll have to figure out another "R" to use, which shouldn't be too hard. And the other thing really isn't a snag as much as just an annoyance. The leaves on the vine next to the square are supposed to alternate between a DMC floss and a Classic Colorworks overdyed floss. But in real life there's hardly any difference between the two colors. I think this is either due to the fact that the floss is dyed differently between when the pattern first came out and when I got around to making it, or it's just the photography. I run into this a lot when picking fabric colors. Usually whatever the background looks like on the pattern isn't anywhere close to what the fabric actually looks like. (Case in point, this fabric is actually light yellow - not whatever it looks like in the phone above.)  But as for the leaves, I didn't really notice the (lack of) difference until I had stitched more than I'd want to frog, so it is what it is. I don't think anyone else would even notice.

I guess there's really 3 snags - I bought this fabric with the pattern from 123stitch, as it was what was called for. It's supposed to be 32 count, but I think it's really more like 30 count. It doesn't sound like it should make that much of a difference, but the chart barely fits on this piece of fabric. Hopefully it won't be an issue when I go to frame it!

In other news, the PMC has come and gone, and it was really a much different experience this year. It poured!! I don't know if I've ever been that wet. But as I was standing there (absolutely soaked) cheering in the riders as they hit the finish line in Bourne, it really put the whole thing in perspective. Usually the weekend is a lot of work and very tiring, but mostly fun. This year was not quite as fun - too cold and wet. But I figure it was not as bad as actually riding 192 miles, and absolutely nothing compared to what people like my boss Tom are going through in their fight with cancer. So I sucked it up and cheered my little heart out. Toby was grilling this year (bbq chicken) and really enjoyed it. It was the first year he felt he was really productive (and nothing to do with the fact that the grills were pretty close to the free beer tent, I'm sure!) We'll definitely do it again next year (it'll be my 5th year, his 4th), but I really hope it's sunny!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

My Lady's Garden

Well I finally finished the first 10 hours on My Lady's Garden.  Between the dark fabric and my new stand it seemed to take forever.  I'm still not 100% sold on the fabric, but it's growing on me (plus I figured it's already paid for - why buy more?)  It's actually much more green than this picture shows (again with the crappy photo skills).  It's tough when you get a color in your mind that you want for a project and no one seems to make it.  But I think this will do.

My Lady's Garden (c) Mirabilia
32 ct tumbleweed linen
started 7/21/14, 7/29/14 - 10 hours

So I realized that it's almost August, and as any crafter knows, that means almost Christmas!  So I think I might need to put the rest of my rotation projects on hold for a little while and work on my brother and SIL's Family Sampler.  It's huge!

I probably won't get much stitching done this weekend - it's time for the PMC!  I will be volunteering on Friday in Sturbridge and Toby and I will be volunteering in Bourne on Saturday.  This is a really great weekend for a great event.  My company's Team Grodsky is well on their way to hitting their goal of $200,000 this year, which would bring our total for the 4 years we've participated to over $600,000!  Pretty cool!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Teeny Tiny Tardises (Tardii?)

I feel like I'm on a roll, at least with these small finishes.  On Saturday I finished Disappearing Tardis for Marley.  We're all "Whovians" and love Doctor Who, so as soon as we saw this design on Etsy I knew I needed to make it.  She just got home from a week away and I thought this would be a nice welcome home gift so I hurried up to get it done in time.  It was supposed to be a bookmark, but Marley had said she'd rather frame it, which made more sense to me anyways.  The only changes I made were to do the backstitch outline 2 shades darker than the Tardis for each one - one shade darker just didn't show up in my opinion.  I also (unintentionally) changed the spacing between the last 2 - the pattern had put an extra row between them, but I just did it the same as all the others.  Maybe it was a typo?  Anyway, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out (less happy with my picture taking skills - I need to work on that!)

Disappearing Tardis (c) DaleksTeaHouse
32 ct antique white jobelan
started 7/15/14, finished 7/26/14

In rotation news I'm still slogging through my first 10 hours of My Lady's Garden.  Between the dark fabric and trying to get used to my new stand it's pretty slow going.  Not to mention the distraction of a few new non-rotation WIP's that are, quite simply, just more fun!

Friday, July 25, 2014

New Toys

Well this has been an exciting week here at Chez Gonsalves.  First, on Wednesday my new Needlework System 4 stand came in.  I've always wanted a cross stitch stand, but never could justify spending the money.  But lately my wrist and elbows have been making it clear that I need to change something.  So after seeing Angie's, I knew it was time.  I found one for a great price, but with not-so-great customer service.  But 3 weeks later I finally got it (ignore the box it came in in the background, haven't gotten around to getting rid of that yet!):

I'm still trying to get used to it.  I've stitched the same way for 20+ years and now it's like I need to learn all over.  I keep forgetting to stitch with both hands - I'm good for a little while, but revert back to one handed eventually.  I'm also stitching on the darkest fabric I think I've ever used which is not helping matters either (tumbleweed linen for Mirabilia's My Lady's Garden).  But I think with a little practice I'll get the hang of it. And actually I've found a way to deal with these giant Mirabilia charts (at least as long as I'm working on the bottom half of the frame!)

And secondly, I FINALLY got my new car this week!  After a month long wait after the dealership somehow sold me a car that wasn't actually theirs to sell, my car finally arrived.  Luckily I had a free loaner for the month so it really wasn't that bad.  Who would have thought that the Honda Fit would be so hard to get?  Here it is - a teensy little car that's just perfect for going back and forth to work...

I also had one little finish this week.  I've been wanting to try my hand at some different finishes for small pieces (a la The Twisted Stitcher and Stitching Dreams) so I tried this little freebie from 123 Citrouille.  The blog is in french, so I asked my coworker Stella (from France) to translate some of it.  Apparently it means 123 Pumpkin!  She chuckled at the name saying after living here for so long she probably wouldn't have remembered the french work for pumpkin until she saw it written down.  Anyways, the chart didn't have any colors called for so I used GAST Chives, Cherry Wine, Sarsaparilla and Midnight.  I also changed the pot a little so it would be symmetrical (remember my whole OCD post?)

Flower Pot (c) 123 Citrouille
32 ct antique white jobelan
started 7/10/14, finished 7/23/14

I did make a tactical error with this little piece.  I decided to cut my small piece of jobelan in half in order to get two projects out of it figuring this would fit fine on one half.  And it would have been perfect - if I had stitched it in the right direction.  Instead I stitched with the design going horizontally across the shorter width of the fabric, which means I have about an inch on either side of the design (and tons of room at the top and bottom).  Rookie mistake!  I guess that will impact what type of finish I end up using.  I'm thinking maybe a little pillow?  We'll see!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Anyone else have this problem?

Whenever I sit down to craft, be it cross stitch, knitting, whatever, I end up with a lapful of this...

Sunny the Cat - "Why yes,  I do need to be all up in your business, why do you ask?"

Monday, July 21, 2014

Round and round...

For those who know me, it comes as no surprise that I can me a teensy bid OCD about things. But just certain things – my house can be a complete disaster, but certain parts have to organized. Like my stitching for instance. Once I heard about the “rotation method” all those years ago I knew it was the way for me. Basically each project in my rotation gets 10 hours and then I move to the next one. I used to go all old school with a little binder with pages for each project, but for this cross stich resurgence I’ve upgraded myself to an app for my phone (I use “Office Time” for my iPhone – it’s not perfect, but it’s pretty good). The only problem I have is I’ve found myself forgetting to turn the timer on or off a couple of times and then I have to guess. Really rubs my OCDness the wrong way, but what can you do.

I’ve set up pages for each of the WIP’s in my rotation (over to the right). I’m sure I have pictures for the beginning hours (somewhere), but I just started with where ever each was when I picked it up after my years-long hiatus. My current rotation is:

1.  Antique Shoes © Bucilla – this was a kit I loved the picture for and waited till it went on sale at Michael’s to buy. I switched out the aida for some jobelan and like it even better than the original project photo. This really reaffirms my hatred of kits though. They give you a project card to store your floss – what a mess! I keep all my DMC on little plastic bobbins all in order (see OCD above). And I’ve already run out of one color. Luckily I found a conversion chart online so I was able to find the DMC equivalent. If I had known about the conversions earlier I may have just used DMC originally. Oh well, live and learn I guess.

2.  Chat Noir © Mystic Stitch – this is for my husband, who loves the original poster. This is my most “stitch intensive” piece. I never knew DMC made so many tan/cream/yellow colors until this piece, which seems to use them ALL. I read somewhere that the best way to deal with the (9 page!) pattern is to tackle 100 stitches at a time (10x10 squares) and this seems to work pretty well. The squares around the cat’s head were rough - I think some of the background used 100 different colors in those 10x10 squares! I live for working on the actual cat. Straight black might be a little boring, but it’s much less stressful. Whenever I’m working on anything else my husband will look over and say “that’s not my cat…” I don’t think he has any idea how long it’s going to actually take!

3.  Family Sampler © Little House Needleworks – this will be for my brother and sister-in-law for Christmas (hopefully they won’t read this!) I’ve just started it and am loving it so far, especially after a Chat Noir stint – it’s very relaxing stitching. I’m a little concerned with how big it’s going to be. I think the fabric is more like 30 ct instead of 32, and it just seems huge. Luckily they have a pretty big house, and seem to love “Americana” type stuff, so I think they’ll really like it. There’s an option to stitch a family to mimic theirs, so that will be fun.

4.  Convent’s Herbal Garden © Chatelaine – this will be my forever project I think! I remember buying this years ago and actually had to go on a payment plan to pay for all of the silks and beads. Lots of stuff going on with this one - I had to insert the Family Sampler in between Chat Noir and this one to give myself a little break. Some of the specialty stitches might be the death of me. It’s pieces like this that make me appreciate my rotation. After 10 hours I need a break! I’m convinced the final product will be worth it though…

5.  The Sanctuary © The Drawn Thread – this is a new start for me. I was supposed to stitch something else, but the fabric is backordered so I pulled this one out of the stash. I was a little Leary of stitching it as directed (1 strand of silk over 2) but am loving how it’s coming out – very dainty and elegant. This seems to have quite a few specialty stitches as well, so hopefully they won’t kill me. Here I am at 10 hours. The “reverse cushion” stitches in the border are much prettier in person. It’s hard to capture the sheen of the silk in the picture.

(c) The Drawn Thread
32 ct linen
started 7/18/14, 7/20/14 - 10 hours

And that pretty much sums up the state of my rotation at the moment. In the past I’ve usually kept it to 5 pieces, but the little plastic drawers I use to keep them in actually have room for six, so I think I might add My Lady’s Garden © Mirabilia. Since finishing Gathering Eggs and Touching the Autumn Sky I want to make sure I add one of hers back in.

Oh, and I have a couple little projects going at the same time, for those times when I don’t want to work on something big or worry about timing what I’m doing.

Whew – that was quite a post for the 2 of you or so who are actually reading this (one of which isn’t even a stitcher – hi mom!). But I’m glad to get all the information down in one place – for when I forget what’s going on!

Friday, July 18, 2014

I'm Back!

Well, I’m back, and stitching with a vengeance! After quite the cross stitch hiatus, I've finally dug out my old WIP’s (and of course started some new projects.) I've been knitting and crocheting away for years and that’s taken most of my crafting time. But every now and then I get a little bored with knitting and want to try something a little different.  Not that cross stitching's "different" since I've actually been doing it longer, but you get the idea.

Strangely enough this renewed interest actually started on a knitting get-away. Angie and I drove down to Baltimore for the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival in May and made a long weekend of it. We discovered something interesting over the weekend though – we are really not “yarn festival people”. We lasted about 3 hours at the actual festival - it was hot and crowded, and everything starts to look the same after a while. So we switched to what we actually like best, and shop hopped! We had stopped at a number of stores on the way down to MD (one in each state I think), and after the festival we googled yarn stores in the area and ended up at Cloverhill Yarn Shop. After not buying ANY yarn at the festival, I did at least buy some yarn there. Next door to the yarn store was a cross stitch store, The Stitching Post. For old times’ sake I wanted to just check it out and Angie ended up buying the cutest little knitting hedgehog pattern (I may have been a slight enabler in that decision). Over the rest of the weekend I helped her get started on her project and the itch to get back to my old projects totally kicked in.

So out they came – I realized I hadn't done any stitching in years, but I had kept everything, knowing the desire to stitch again would come back eventually. I had to decipher a bit where I was with the rotation that I had been using, but was able to figure out where I was. I realized that some of my WIP’s went all the way back to the end of 2001! Yikes! The great part was I was pretty close to finishing a couple of Mirabilia projects. So in no time at all I finished:

Gathering Eggs © Mirabilia
32 ct bay leaf jobelan
started 1/22/03, finished 5/20/14 (103.5 hours)

The funny part with this one is that everyone who I showed it to asked why I 
didn't finish the lower left corner. The pattern left that unstitched, and it didn't bother me at all. Apparently most people think it looks a bit unfinished. Oh well, I like it.

I also finished:

Touching the Autumn Sky (c) Mirabilia
32 ct wedgewood blue lugana
started 12/23/02, finished 5/25/14 (102.75 hrs)

This one has a slight problem. A long time ago I wrote about how I had snipped a fabric thread near her hand. You don’t really notice it (unless you look close or I point it out), but I’m a little nervous about what will happen when (if) I get it framed and they stretch it. All I can imagine is it running like a run in nylons! The helpful lady at Thistle Needleworks suggested I pull out the snipped thread and then anchor and weave in another thread from the edge. This makes me a little nervous as well, so we’ll see what happens.

This brought up another kind of sad point, in that quite a few of the projects I had finished back then as well as some of my WIP’s had been started when Marley was very young and intended for a little girl’s room. Seeing as she just turned 13 (!) things in her room have changed a bit since then. So now I have to figure out what to do with some of the “little kid” projects. 
I've already picked out a spot for Gathering Eggs in my hallway, but I’m not quite sure about Autumn Sky. I don’t have much free wall space, so I’ll have to think about it a bit.
My latest finish this year is:

Punkin Season (c) Full Circle Design
32 ct cream lugana
started 3/18/07, finished 6/15/14

I officially started this in 2007, but had only completed the border. In the past I had shied away from small finishes because I didn't know quite what to do with them (as far as framing, etc.) Luckily I've discovered some great cross stitching blogs like The Twisted Stitcher and Stitching Dreams, where they show a lot of “smalls” and Vonna at The Twisted Stitcher also has some great finishing tutorials. So I think I want to try making this into a cube. I’ll have to raid my MIL’s fabric stash and see how it goes.
Whew – well I guess that’s enough for my first post back. I have some new (and old) WIP’s to show you, but that will have to wait until another day. I updated the pages listed on the left with all of my knitting finishes (Ravelry links), a page for each cross 
stitch WIP and a page for each year’s cross stitch finishes. It took forever one night, but I like having everything in one place to see (even if some of the early pictures are really awful!)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Christine's Outside the Box Clapotis

Once upon a time (2006, maybe?) Katy and I decided to buy outside of our normal color zone at Rhinebeck. I still bought some Brooks Farms Four Play (my favorite yarn!), but instead of my normal Rhinebeck-red, I bought a lovely skein of mauve, green and cream. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but unfortunately didn't work out the way I planned. Basically it sat in the stash for a few years until I finally decided to do something with it. I decided to make a Clapotis, since I think that yarn and that pattern were pretty much made for each other, but still wasn't too gung ho about it. As pretty as it was, it just wasn't "me". So imagine my surprise when my friend Christine came to work after Christmas with a new coat in a perfectly matching shade of green - it was perfect for her. And luckily, she loved it!

Pattern: Clapotis
Yarn: Brooks Farm Four Play
Needles: Size 7
Started: Sometime in 2011
Finished: 1/8/12
My Ravelry Link: Christine's Outside the Box Clapotis

Mark's Striped Scarf

My brother and I don't exchange gifts for Christmas (just for the kids), but for Christmas 2010 I decided to make both he and Janelle scarves. I chose the Noro Striped Scarf pattern, which I love - I think this makes the 4th one I've finished, with one still in progress and plans for a couple more. I just love the way it looks, even if it takes a while with all that ribbing.

Well I finished Janelle's on time, but his languished for a year unfinished. In my current finishing frenzy I finally got around to finishing it this week. I figured since the next "special occasion" wasn't until his birthday in September I'd just give it to him now. He seemed to like it!

Pattern: Noro Striped Scarf
Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca in Gray and Black
Needles: Size 8
Started: Sometime in 2010
Finished: 1/10/12
My Ravelry link: Mark's Striped Scarf

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Marley's Jane Hat

Since I decided that the Boystown Beanie just wasn’t cutting it for Marley, I decided to try a Jane Hat, using the same grey color since Marley loved it. This was a very fast knit, even though I decided to change to larger needles about half way through (started with 7/9 as per the pattern). The sewn in brim took a while for me to be satisfied, but it was totally worth it in the end. On a funny note, when I got to the decreases I wanted to magic loop it, since I didn’t have any size 10 dpns. The only 40” size 10’s I have are in my addi Click set, but when I went to get them I realized that I was missing a pair. Unfortunately I had put on one size 9 and one size 10 tip, so now I have two sizes of Clicks I can’t use. I started to tear apart my disaster-of-a-craft room, but no luck so far. Hopefully they will show up soon! (And I now own a cheap pair of size 10 dpns!)
Pattern: Jane Hat
Yarn: Lion Brand Vanna's Choice in Charcoal Grey
Needles: Size 8 & 10
Started: 1/6/12
Finished: 1/9/12
My Ravelry Link: Marley's Jane Hat

Monday, January 9, 2012

Toby's Boystown Beanie

I started the year thinking I would be doing a little more charity knitting, so I figured I’d try out the Boystown Beanie, one of She Makes Hats patterns. The jury’s still out on the whole charity-knitting concept, so at first I gave the hat to Marley, who loved the color (it matches her fleece and the grey in her winter jacket perfectly). I don’t think it really works for her (more on that soon, hopefully), so I think it will be for Toby. It was a fun knit which I actually finished in one day, but it was a Sunday, and I knit A LOT that day. But what a great way to start the year off, huh? I had picked this pattern specifically for a charity hat since the ribbing would fit a lot of head sizes, but it really is a lot of ribbing (and I knit ribbing pretty slow). I think I might like to try something with a little more stockinette in the future, although I think the ribbing does make for a pretty warm hat, even if it is just acrylic yarn (hey, it was Sunday – Webs was closed!)
Pattern: Boystown Beanie
Yarn: Lion Brand Vanna's Choice in Charcoal Grey
Needles: Size 9
Started: 1/1/12
Finished: 1/1/12
My Ravelry Link: Boystown Beanie

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Back for the New Year with a New Goal

With New Year’s having come and gone, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about what I’m knitting, for whom and how I’m tracking it. I will admit now, I’m a big tracker. I like logs, and keeping track of how many, and how long and how…anything else I can think of. This was very evident in my other life as a cross-stitcher. I don’t show many people my tracking methods for those projects, since very few people can even grasp how crazy it all is.

I’ve found I’ve slacked a bit with my knitting and crocheting projects, and quite frankly, it really bugs me. I like looking back and seeing everything I’ve made and who I made it for. And with a tool like Ravelry, there really is no excuse for how lazy I’ve become. I usually blame it on the fact that I really despise taking pictures of stuff (I never really learned how to do it well), but I can usually coerce my mom into taking pictures, so this really shouldn’t be an excuse. So I’ve decided that this year I will start being better about this. I know I’ll appreciate it down the road.

The other thing I’ve been struggling a little lately with is who I’m knitting for. Like many knitters, I’ve seen the allure of knitting for charity. We have a romanticized view of some poor child in Africa or homeless person downtown receiving a handknitted item and being overwhelmed with the fact that someone somewhere cared enough about them to knit it. Problem is, I don’t think that’s necessarily the case. I’m sure people appreciate things, but someone who is either not a handcrafter or closely connected to a handcrafter (and therefore stuck listening to why handcrafted items are so special all the time) will probably never appreciate a handknit the way I want them to. Some people are perfectly fine with this. They know the value of their work and that’s all that matters. Or, they figure I’m going to craft anyways, why not for a perfect stranger? But I will admit right now, I’m sort of selfish. I WANT MY HANDKNITS APPRECIATED. There, I said it. I like knowing people like what I make. And knitting for someone you love is part of the fun anyways.

That all being said (and 100 crocheted squares for Knit-A-Square in Africa later), I realized that I do love to knit for other people, it just has to be people I know for the most part. I love to follow Robyn of She Makes Hats (who is an incredible charity knitter), and she loves to set goals for herself (like 10,000 hats for charity, friends and family in her lifetime – WOW!). So I’ve decided to borrow her idea and start tracking what I’ve made for other people.

This was a pretty wordy way of saying I’m making more lists, huh?

I would like to keep track of project totals by year – although the early years are a bit fuzzy. They’re over there ----> in the sidebar, with links to Ravelry pages if I have them. Starting this year I’ll try to document them here as well.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Too. Cute. For. Words.

These are a pair of baby pants aka "watermelon pants" that I knit as a sample with my friend Rue's handpainted yarn. She is going to start selling the yarn and needed a sample of something other than socks. Her yarn is absolutely amazing - the colors are gorgeous and this yarn has a bit of tencel in it which gives it a beautiful sheen. She's going to sell the yarn as 2 half skeins, 1 of each color, tied together. So when I wound the ball the inside was pink and the outside was green. Most people would knit from both ends, striping the yarn, but all I got out of that was a tangled mess so I had to separate the 2 balls and then I flew through the knitting. The pattern is loosely based on Knitty's Cargo Pants, adjusted for the gauge of this yarn (7 stitches to the inch I think?) I hemmed the bottoms and the top to enclose a drawstring ribbon and I think they look very "tailored", as the cargo pattern claimed they would. If I was going to do them again (say, for a new little boy!) I would probably use a thicker yarn since there was a lot of knitting involved with the small gauge, but I think they came out perfect - even if my mother laughs every time she sees them!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Random Musings from McDonald's

1. People who use a handicapped parking spot who have a handicapped tag with a picture of someone who is obviously not in the car really irk me. Kind of like the people who insist on flying down the breakdown lane when traffic is stopped on the highway. I'm convinced there's a special place in hell for those people.

2. I realize that McDonald's is basically one of the only places where you expect to find somewhat obnoxious children, and can't really fault them or their parents for being there. I took advantage of this often when Marley was that age. I forget this sometimes though, when I'm looking for a quiet place to eat and read my book at lunch time.

3. It's a good think that they don't serve Shamrock shakes all year round, since I might end up as wide as I am tall.

Saturday, January 31, 2009


Well today was Day 1 of the Big Move. We actually haven't even closed on the house yet - the seller didn't get the license to sell in time for the bank to start the paperwork on Thursday, so our closing was postponed from Friday to Monday. I know that the people at the bank do this day in and day out, but I wonder if they realize that someone is waiting on the other end with baited breath? Couldn't they just have worked a little later on Thursday?? Oh well, I guess in this instance the bank holds the power and if we want the mortgage we just have to deal with it. Fortunately, the seller did let us start bringing stuff over this weekend (although the realtor had to keep the keys and let us in and lock up after us - even he thought it was weird). I've heard that a lot of sellers don't allow this, so I guess we were pretty lucky.

It was pretty nice to be able to bring over some of the packed boxes. Our kitchen and Toby's book room were basically all packed, but we were tripping over the boxes so it was great to get them out of the way. We made 3 trips with both of our trucks - they held a ton of boxes. Unpacking was pretty slow since most of the stuff in our pantry hasn't even been used in the past four years and was horribly dusty, so everything needs to go through the dishwasher over there. I hate this part of moving - trying to figure out where everything is going to go. Who am I kidding - I hate every part of moving! I just keep telling myself it will be worth it in the end.

All in all it was a pretty productive day, just very tiring (and I'm sure it was way worse for Toby and his dad since they're the ones who actually moved most of the boxes!) Unfortunately I think we have many more long, tiring days in our near future!!

PS - Want to know the really worst part of moving? Coming back and having to stay at the old house when all you want to do is stay at the new house!

PPS - After listening to my mom and I for a while, Marley decided she wanted a blog - how cute is that? Of course she thought she would need 2 - one to work on at Grandma's and one to work on at home. We convinced her to start with just one.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

25 Things About Me

I’ve always wanted to do a “100 Random Things About Me” and I got tagged in Facebook for a 25 Things one, so I figured I’d start there and eventually finish all 100. This was actually a lot of fun to do!

1. I’m a complete and utter slob at home. I’m hoping owning our own home will change that.
2. I’m very organized at work. I’m the type of person who needs everything on her desk lined up (and I’ve been known to do it to other people’s desks as well).
3. I’m pretty compulsive about my checkbook and people who aren’t make me twitch.
4. I was told by a boss once that I pay attention to the details I think are important – not all of them. I think I fit this to a tee.
5. I have a degree in Chemistry that I’ve never used. I set my sweater on fire once in Chem lab and figured lab work probably wasn’t the best vocation for me.
6. I love crafts and making stuff – all kinds of stuff.
7. I don’t understand the point of nonproductive hobbies like video games and sports.
8. I like working for a construction company because I like to see the stuff we’ve “made” (even though it’s piping and I can’t really see it – I know it’s there).
9. I lived in the same house until I was 23. I’ve lived in 2 states and 7 apartments since then (I’m hoping buying a house changes this too!)
10. I’m scared of heights.
11. I’m also scared of open water since I saw a movie as a kid about a ship that sunk and the injured people were just set adrift for the sharks to get them. Freaked. Me. Out.
12. I’m a terrible speller and an even worse proof reader (this is not conducive to the job I have!)
13. I’m a pretty logical person and like logic-type problems (I even liked “word problems” as a kid!)
14. I’m married to and the daughter of 2 of the smartest men I know. This is at the same time very convenient and somewhat annoying.
15. I married my high school sweetheart (although we took a few years off in college before we got married).
16. I have an only child and am okay with this (although she and her father really are not).
17. I’m thinking about getting my nose pierced.
18. I like the idea of being near the ocean, but I’m not really a beach person. I’ve been to the beach a lot more since my daughter was born – she loves it.
19. I would love to live in Portsmouth, NH.
20. I don’t really like to watch documentaries or “learning” TV. I enjoy mindless entertainment much more.
21. I prefer action movies to “chick flicks”.
22. I’m pretty tall (5’ 10¼”) but people usually think I’m taller.
23. I’m horrible at keeping in touch with people and answering e-mails. If I owe you an e-mail, don’t take it personally.
24. I can be obsessive about collecting things – so I don’t let myself collect anything anymore.
25. After 13 years of marriage I’ve finally become a marginal baseball and basketball fan – but I still don’t like football.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Crafting For Those Buying A House (i.e. The Brain Dead)

Things have been a little stressful this week a Chez Moves A Lot. Aside from entering the we’re-closing-this-week-and-still-have-a-million-things-to-pack stage, I was also involved in a couple of minor auto incidents this week. Of course “minor” is a relative term, as in not really an accident per se, but still going to cost me a fortune. Needless to say, any type of crafting that takes stringing together more than two thoughts at a time is more than I can handle at the moment. I tried cross stitching a little, but it took waaaaay too much thinking and concentration. I also toyed with the idea of making some of the tulle produce bags I read about on Katy’s blog and then had to research for a while, but I figure dragging out my sewing machine might not be the best use of my limited resources at the moment (if I could even find a surface to put it on!) But at the same time, during those times I do need to just sit and not pack anymore I need something to keep my hands busy. So I’ve been making a lot of washcloths, and cat toys.

The washcloths I really like to use as facecloths, but honestly, how many can one person really need? So I had to start making them for my mom too. Unfortunately the cotton yarn really does a number on my hands, so these can only be worked on for so long.

Enter the toys. Now I have not really ever had any use for knit/crochet toys in the past. In my opinion they were basically the epitome of everything wrong with handmade. They had a million fiddly little pieces that needed to be put together, and mostly the seemed…well, kind of hokey to me. But the soon-to-be, much anticipated arrival of Baby Boy Radtke happened to coincide with a new Lion Brand catalogue I got that featured some crochet animals, so I found myself scouring the web for cute toys to make. Now believe me, there is really a lot of uggg-ly stuff out there. But I was able to find a few cute ones as well. Lion has some really cute ones on their website (who knew?) And then I found these. Too. Cute. For. Words. (Go ahead – click the link, I’ll wait. You’ll be happy you did!) The problem is, although these toys are all super cute, they’re still pretty fiddly with lots of little pieces. This didn’t stop me from buying a few patterns and a ton of colors of 2 different yarns. But even these patterns are beyond me right now. I do have a finished snail body without a shell or face – actually kind of creepy. Hopefully once things settle down, I’ll come back and finish it.

So now I’m down to cat toys. I’ve made these and Sunny the cat seems to love them:

I see a few more of these in my future, seeing as they are ridiculously easy and we have a multitude of spoiled cats in our family. My mother’s already asking where Izzy’s is. I stuffed a little catnip in for Sunny as well, so he’s pretty happy. Of course he won’t leave me alone while I’m making them, which is a little annoying.

While searching through Ravelry for some other ideas, I found the Korknisse. I know Melissa had made them before, and at the time I just didn’t really get it. I think maybe I didn’t realize there was a cork with a face on it in there? But for some reason it just made me smile, so I had to try it. It took no time at all and just cracked me up. My friend Christine and I were talking about having to have “Happy Toys” on your desk at work to make you smile, and this fit the bill perfectly. We even have a few corks at home, so I’ll be able to make a few more – and I’m sure Toby won’t mind opening a few more bottles of wine to sacrifice the corks.

So all in all, it was a pretty productive weekend, in little tiny ways. I really should be packing more, but I’m sure it will all get done. And at least Sunny will have a few new toys to play with at the new house!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Like father like daughter...

I've finally figured out the secret of getting Marley to put up with doing errands on a Saturday - lots and lots of books! I've been using this same trick on her father for years. Toby's pretty content to schlep me all around as long as he has something to read while he's waiting. Looks like Marley is following right along in his footsteps:

Sorry for the crappy picture - it's not easy taking a picture of the backseat from the front seat while you're seat belted in and waiting at a red light. And yes, my car is filled with boxes. My whole life is filled with boxes - packed boxes, empty boxes, half filled, half empty (depending on the day and my mood). I hate moving! But I sure will be glad when it's over. It will be totally worth it.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


It has not been a fun week at the Gonsalves house. Marley started getting sick at my mom's on Sunday and that lasted through the night. Then I came down with whatever she had yesterday, and that lasted pretty much through this afternoon. The kind of sick where you can't even knit or cross stitch or do anything except pass out on the couch. Oh yeah, Toby also has a wicked cold and had a root canal yesterday. Sounds fun, huh? Marley did call down last night after she went to bed to offer me her bucket if I needed it (sorry, TMI probably - but isn't she sweet?) Needless to say we haven't done much on the packing/moving/getting rid of crap front. Hopefully this weekend will be better...

In better news, Mark and Janelle found out they're having a boy! It's nice to be able to say "he" and "him" now instead of "Baby Radtke". Not really sure how to deal with baby boys though...this should be interesting. I think Marley was disappointed for about half a second that she wouldn't have someone to play dress-up with, until she remembered that the little boys at daycare also like to play dress-up. Of course I had to ask what they dressed up as (and I'm sure Mark will love this)..."Princesses - with tutus and everything!"

*Does anyone else even say "4F"? My mom has all kinds of weird sayings!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Touching the Autumn Sky - 100 Hours

This is actually my oldest WIP - started on 12/23/02 (yikes!). It is by Mirabilia, and I was pertty scared of her patterns for awhile - they just seemed so intricate. But after starting this and one other (Gathering Eggs), I realized that they weren't really that difficult - just kind of big. Her shading and the way she can make the fabric in the dresses look like it's really moving is just amazing. But she also has quite a few large blocks of color in her designs which make them much easier - nothing like the constant starting and stopping in Chat Noir. I find that when I'm working on this for a while I tend to lose sight of the big picture - the colors in the shading don't really work, but as soon as I step back a little, it looks wonderful.

I almost had a complete disaster with this piece. You know how when you decide to do something, and even as you're doing it you realize it will probably lead to disaster? Well, the other night I was looking at the skin in her hands and face, which I had originally stitched "over 1". This means for every one of the "normal" stitches you see here there are actually 4 little stitches instead. I read somewhere that it made the skin look more "delicate" or some such nonsense. Well, I was never really happy with it (the shading just didn't work for me) so, in a fit of absolute lunacy, I decided to undo it. Now unstitching or frogging regular XS is a pain in the neck, but taking out those extra tiny stitches is all but impossible. Instead of picking it out, you actually have to snip it with scissors. Figure out where this is going? Yep, while snipping the floss on the first hand I accidentally snipped through the background fabric. I just kind of sat there for a minute, kind of numb, trying to figure out if I had actually done what I thought I had. Now I've done a lot of crafts, but for sheer disaster, this sort of takes the cake. I had already logged almost 100 hours on this piece - just starting over wasn't an option. AND, I had the other hand and the whole face to go - a million more potentials for disaster. But I figured at that point I had nothing else to loose, so I would keep going and see what happens. I was able to unstitch the rest with no problems and then restitched it with "normal" sized stitches. Now most people who know me realize I am a perfectionist in such things - and even I can barely tell where the problem is. It's here - to the left the backstitching around her knuckle:

See that little bit of weave that looks like it's missing it's horizontal piece? (No idea what that's called in the weaving world - Melissa? Any idea? Ask Gene...) But this picture is waaaay zoomed in. You really can't see it at all in the big scheme of things. My only fear now is that when the piece gets stretched for framing it will be kind of like a run in your nylons and just zip all the way across. So I think I'll have to discuss this at the XS store where I get it framed beforehand. I already have a sort of solution in mind - a little key charm she looks like she's holding in her hand, a la The Secret Garden - my favorite kid's book. Doesn't it look like a scene right out of the book? All in all, I'm very pleased that the disaster was mostly averted.

And I had to post this - my parent's ridiculously spoiled cat Izzy, playing Apples to Apples, Jr. with us - thank God she wasn't as competitive as my brother was!