So much to write about!  I know it has been ages since my last post, and actually I've been quite busy.  Oldest projects come first I guess.
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Here is a photo of a sweater I made for my mom.  A very sweet friend chose to de-stash and gave me the proceeds.  This fuchsia mohair was just screaming my mom's name, so I dug around a little and found this pattern.  I have to say I was surprised how hard it was to find a reasonable mohair pattern.  I mean, I know all the arguments against it, it can be scratchy, and too warm, and sheds, but come on.  This was the only modern pattern I could find for worsted weight mohair.  All other patterns are either from the 80s or the 60s, and in either case most closely resemble ottoman covers.  Like I said, I get why mohair isn’t popular any more, but I also don’t get it.  This was truly a weekend long project, knit on size 11 needles.  It went so quickly, and after blocking, it has a very nice drape.  It has been reported to me that it was a success on its maiden outing. 
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Next are some more little mice.  These little mice, commissioned by my mom for a gift, are the country mouse and the city mouse.  I used the same pattern I've been using from Fuzzy Mitten and then used guess work to create some little clothes for them.  The country mouse wears a little hooded cape.  I did try to make an apron for her first, but these little mouse bodies are not really set up for clothes that cover the waist down.  The city mouse wears a little fancy hat. 
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I'm going to crow about the flower on her hat for a second.  It was done with sewing thread and a 0.75mm crochet hook.  I'm quite proud of it.  The city mouse also wears a string of glass beads.  These little mice represent my favorite type of project, riffing on an established pattern by making changes in yarn and embellishment. 
Next on the agenda for sharing are some repair jobs I did.  Both projects were completed for the same friend about five years ago when I was still pretty inexperienced.  I recently took them back to fix them after being unable to withstand the guilt of turning out lousy product any longer.  As I tell everyone, my projects are guaranteed.  If they fall apart, send them back.  I’ll fix them or make something else. 
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First, pictured above are the ill effects of whip stitching a granny square blanket together that was made from soft acrylic yarn.  The effects are quite ill.  The poor thing was washed once or twice and went all to pieces. 
Now here is my repair job.  I took the whole blanket apart and single crocheted the squares together using a yellow that was pretty close to the original yellow.  I think it looks better than before and I kind of want my own now. 
The second "repair" was blocking this poor scarf.  This is really my first successful knitted garment.  I chose the pattern and the boarder pattern from a book of 500 (or some such number) knitting patterns.  I didn't know doodly-squat about blocking when I made this poor scarf though, and as a result, for the last few years it has existed as a kind of thick neck sock, all rolled up upon itself. 
The blocking was really pleasant because I got to see the lace pattern open up.  Due to the fact that the pattern is knit all the way to the edges though, I'm afraid it will always roll up a little, but it is much improved.  The yarn is a cotton silk blend and was lovely to handle again. 
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Here is a quilt update photo.   I’ve gotten a little farther than this, but not by much.
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And finally, here is one of my kitties reminding me that if it is crocheted, no matter how small it is, it will be sat upon and kneaded by one cat or another.  How could I have forgotten that? 
 
  First off, a few little delicious tidbits from a few weeks ago.  The combination of knitting gifts and having this blog can be an awkward one.  I don’t want to post photos of gifts before they are given, and then by the time they are given, I’m too lazy to go back and post.  Here, however, are some photos of gifts.
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One is another little mouse.  This guy was also made with sock yarn, but with size 00 needles instead of 000.  The change in needle size made it much easier to make the little bobbles that are his feet and hands and don’t seem to actually have affected size all that much.  And the stuffing doesn’t come through the holes in the knitting or anything like that. 
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The second gift is a little nest pin cushion.  I have a friend who once told me how she thought the nest was a very nice symbol of home.  Ever since then when I see nests on necklaces or screen prints, I think of her, but my bank account doesn’t really allow for random silver nest purchase, nor, do I think, she would appreciate me filling up her house with nests.  However, when I saw this nest in Closely Knit by Hannah Fettig, and I probably saw it now about a year and a half ago, I thought of my friend and decided that some time, I would make it.  So, after a year and a half, the stars aligned, I had dark brown and egg blue in DK weight.  I couldn’t find all of my dp size 6 that the pattern call for, so I did try to make the nest on size 3 first (I’m sure if there is a way to use smaller needles and yarn then I will).  The nest itself is done in a pretty simple K2, cable 2, K2, cable 2 cable stitch.  You can’t really see it in the pictures, and you can’t even really see it on the nest, but it is ultimately worth it I guess.  Using the size 3s and doing the cables made the nest very tight and tense and hard, not quite the effect I was going for.  But then while doing a massive reorganization of my yarns, sorting by weight instead of date purchase J, I found the rest of my size 6 dpns, don’t ask me what they were doing away from their friends.  The next nest was much more successful.  I’ve seen on other blogs, that people felt the need to block the nest, but I did not feel such a need.  Mine had good structure (and I hate blocking anyway).  I used a little purchased bird as the directions suggested.  I did ponder making a knit bird, but in the end, I wanted to be able to send off the project and the little bought bird does give the nest somehow a more homey, thrift store type feel that I like. 
Also, no offence meant to the author, but I could not stand the directions for making the eggs.  I’m not sure if I’m just a sloppy provisional caster-oner, or if there is some other malfunction in my knitting, but casting on, and knitting in one direction, and then casting off and picking up the stitches in the middle and knitting in the other direction did not work for me.  If you want an easy egg, here  you go:
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Easy Egg

Materials: 4 size 6 dpns, a little stuffing, a little egg colored yarn

Onto 3 size 6 dpns, cast on 6 stitches, 2 on each needle.

Row 1: Knit 1 round

Row 2: *k1, make 1, k1*, repeat twice more (9 total stitches)

Row 3: *k3, make 1*, repeat twice more (12 total stitches)

Rows 4-8: Knit 5 rounds

Row 9: *k2, k2tog*, repeat twice more (9 total stitches)

Rows 10-11: Knit 2 rounds

It is a good idea to go ahead and stuff the egg now, as the next two decrease rows would make it hard to do so afterward. 

Row 12: *k1, k2tog*, repeat twice more (6 stitches total)

Row 1: *k2tog*, repeat twice more (3 stitches total)

Cut yarn, draw cut end through remaining 6 stitches on needles and pull tight.  Use cast on end to sew any hole remaining at the bottom together. 
I’m not sure what else you could do with knitted eggs besides put them into little nests.  They seem to make great, if short lived, cat toys, though this was not discovered on purpose.  Also, I must say, the nest makes a great cat sized bowler hat. 
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Other updates include the quilt which grows when I grow board of plums
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And the plums, which grow when I get board of the fact that you can’t carry a quilt around with you and whip it out at social gatherings.   The back is all finished and I’m at present working on one of the arms, in order to feel like I’m making more progress, working with fewer stitches, and also to gauge the actual amount of yarn this project is going to take by working exactly half a sweater. 
 
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This little buddy is also made with sock yarn and 000 needles.  I still have a strong desire to make a smaller one, but I'm going to have to discover smaller needles, which sounds like a bit of a task.
 
I was poking around today looking for a pattern for a knit bird and came across this total gem of a free pattern.  I will use the phrase "of course" now for those who know me.  Of couse I had to make it tonight, of course I had to make the beret, and of course I had to make it on my now favorite 000 needles with sock yarn.  Really, what isnt improved by making it with tiny needles and sock yarn?  He is 2 inches tall with his hat and is all set for a fancy night on the town.
 
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Here is a picture of a tiny sea seahorse I made recently.  He is the same size as some of the larger ones I saw at the aquarium, but he is by no means as tiny as I could wish.  I used sock yarn and 000 sized needles, and still he is like a giant. 
Also, as my husband’s fishing mittens are finally finished and he actually used them, here is an action shot.   They now smell like stream, which I guess is appropriate. 
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First, an update on the quilt, slow and steady.
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I have found that because I picked out these colors and combinations so long ago, as I build the rows I get to experience them all over again.  Also, little hexagons sewn together look much different from squares on a table. 

I don’t think I actually wrote about the process at all in earlier posts.  I’m doing the quilt traditional paper piecing style, except I’m using plastic forms for the inserts instead of paper inserts.  The hexagons are about the size of silver dollars, each side is one inch long.  I cut all my fabric into squares first, because I didn’t want to spend my life cutting out hexagons.  The process is as follows:

·         Pin the plastic hexagon form to the fabric

·         Snip off the corners of the square so it is more hexagon shaped

·         Fold over and base the edges of the fabric around the plastic form

·         Then, sew the based pieces together with whip stitch and when all six sides of a form have been surrounded, remove the insert

I’m working in rows because that uses the fewest amount of inserts at one time. 
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Next on the old agenda, another under the sea item.  A lovely crocheted conch shell.  I had the worst time figuring out the directions, especially for the point, but as you can see, I was finally successful.  Also, it makes a good home for another under the sea buddy. 
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Such a ridiculous time without posting merits an extra long “run-down” post.  So either sit back and get comfortable or plan to do this thing in phases.  One of the major barriers to posting (or at least I tell myself so) is that for a while I was working almost exclusively on Christmas presents.   And really, you can’t post pictures of Christmas presents, even on your blog that most people don’t read. 
Before I get down to the (k)nitty-gritty a few updates.  First is that that grey sweater from two posts down is toast again.  I got the whole thing totally done and it was looking super and then I sewed it together waaaay too tight, and then, for reasons that I can’t totally remember right now, instead of just cutting the seams, I took the whole thing apart and gave up on that darn sweater.  I’ve got other similar patterns in mind for the yarn, but part of me believes that perhaps I was just not meant to make a raglan sleeved sweater and should stick with yolk necks.  I can sew armpits together till the cows come home.  Shoulders, not so much. 

A quick list of things I made in this period of time that I didn’t take pictures of:

·         A charming green owl baby sweater
·         8 spherical knitted fair isle Christmas ornaments
·         A crochet Queen Ann scarf using handsome and inspiring home spun

 Onward to actual projects with pictures!
The Grandma's Flower Garden Quilt: I got lots of work done on my quilt, and then because I had put off Christmas knitting till the last moment, I had to stop.  Now I worry that my hands won’t know what to do once they get started again.  I did manage to take lots of pictures of the quilt though, in various phases, with which I will now favor you:
In these photos you can see the cutting table over which I labored with my hexagonal graph in the foreground; all my little square bundles laid out, because chance is for the insane; the morning the kitten found the scraps can; and finally about how far I got before Christmas descended like a craft time absorbing sponge.
One better documented Christmas project this year is the Santa’s Clothesline.  The pattern originally came from Mary Maxim, but Mary and I seem to have differing ideas about the correct sizing of clothing for a fireplace garland.  Or, more aptly, I have a skewed concept of how big a fireplace is and love a challenge.  I started to make the jacket and was horrified by the dimensions.  I sized down repeatedly until I ended up working with bedspread crochet thread and size 0 needles.  The results look something like this:
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In the end I made two medium sized garlands, one Mary Maxim sized one ,and one tiny one for personal use.  For those keeping score, that is 4 little jackets, pants, hats, scarves, and long johns, and 8 little mittens and socks.  Here is my husband with the finished MM sized and tiny sized, as you can see, the MM sized garland actually looks very cute:
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And finally, a Christmas gift that has been given and so can be posted about.  Mittens.  Two pair to be exact.  One for my father who favors deep blues (these are the only photos I have of them and were taken before the thumbs were finished.  In fact, they had complete and finished thumbs before they were given:
The second for my husband, who fly fishes, and requested convertible mittens with convertible thumbs so that he can tie flies, which apparently involves the thumb.  I used the same pattern as for my dad’s mittens, from Never Knit Your Man a Sweater, the unfortunately named and concepted book with some quite nice patterns.  Because I was using a thicker yarn than the recommended fingerling, a Rowan 4 ply soft,  I ended up having to use 00 sized needles to get the right gauge.  The ladies at knitting night said I was crazy, but really you get used to the tiny needles quickly, so that before you know it size 5 look like tree trunks.  Instead of doing the diamond pattern on the back, I wanted to make them more fish related.  Despite numerous drawings and graphs and consultations with real fisherman, I still ended up with something that looks like a dolphin.  Also, on the first mitten I made the design by doing pearl stitch on a sockinette ground, and after being dissatisfied with the detail definition, and because these are for my husband and he doesn’t mind such lack of symmetry, I did the second mitten’s design outlined in pearl stitches, but the design itself and the ground in sockinette.  One looks more like a salmon than a trout, and the other, as stated, looks like a dolphin.  Thankfully my husband loves me and is so thrilled about the thumb that he doesn’t care what is on the back.  The final mod I did was to do the palms in seed stitch, which seems to be everyone’s favorite detail.  My father in law was so taken with them at Christmas that there may be at least one final pair of mittens in my future. 
In non-Christmas related and exciting news, I was a finalist on the Mochimochi Land blog photo contest.  I made it to the final 10 with this charmer:
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I’m already planning my entry for next year. 
The icing on the cake is a wedding gift cross-stitch.  This is actually the most complex project I’ve ever designed myself.  Because I’m computer un-savvy, I used MS Paint zoomed all the way in the make the graph.  Changing Mario’s colors was the most challenging, and my favorite part is the shading in Peach’s bodice.   The finished product was framed in an oval of gold.  The happy couple’s names and the date were done below in block letters in dark blue.
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I think that is all.  In honor of the new year I will make attempts to post at least once a week, if not once a month.  We’ll see what happens.
 

Let’s get things rolling with a bang.  I’ve made another Hansi critter.  This time it is a very fine Angler Fish.  I am lucky enough to have a connection to one of the monster stashes of all time and so, this imposing fellow’s recipient provided me with some lovely ancient tweed teal stash yarn.  You can see images of this fearsome mini here.  Because I work on gifts most of the time, and with Christmas a scant 5 months away it will be almost all gifts, I’m going to start posting pictures to un-given gifts through links, so that non-recipients can check ‘em out, and recipients are, at least, responsible for spoiling their own surprises if they must look.  Also a little aside, Hansi has come out with a book.  It seems like the book has all the patterns that she sells on Etsy and some veggies.  All the same, I think it is very much worth possessing , personally, so that I can knit critters and watch movies on my computer at the same time.  (I’ve got Pdf directions and no printer.  C'est la guerre.)

Next I present the first of what I’m sure will be many appearances of the Domino Blanket.  It is looking lovely and while it may come first in my heart at the moment, it does not rank highly in order of priority, and so I don’t anticipate that it will grow quickly.  At present, however, it is very portable and will probably be making a journey on an airplane with me soon. 
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A non-photographic interlude about the benefits of knitting in public (with other knitters): I recently took this blanket with me to a meeting of Monterey knitters.  An brief aside from the interlude: I had the realization while I was there that it was the first time that I’ve really “knit in public” (they have their meetings in a Boarders Bookstore).  (Also, I say “knit in public” in quotes because I frequently knit/crochet/cross-stitch on planes/trains/automobiles and in airports/train stations/gas stations, but for some reason I feel that impersonal nature of traveling people provides me with an invisibility cloak.)  Back to the interlude: the meeting was quite lovely, and one of the added benefits that I hadn’t really considered aside from being forced to leave the house, was that nice crafty people give great tips.  I know there are communities of knitters everywhere, but only having knit around close friends, I guess I just never have experienced being in a large group of relative strangers who all know about knitting before.  Folks really liked the pattern and the double knitting.  Like mosaic knitting, double knitting looks pretty amazing but isn’t that complicated.  I do my best to prove this to anyone that will listen.  Now I come to my point.  One of the lovely knitting ladies suggested that I learn to knit two handed.  She knew the technique worked well for fair-isle knitting and thought it would speed up my process for the double knitting, which is done by knitting with one color while pearling with the opposite color.  Well, I found this video YouTube video of some disembodied hands, using the two hand technique to make two colored ribbing (around the 1:00 mark), which is just knitting and pearling with the opposite color.  My only concern is that in double knitting you have to keep the non-working color with the working color, bringing it forward and back for pearls and knits, so that might complicated matters.  But I’m willing to try anything once, and since every row on the blanket is 350 stitches long, any accelerant is appreciated.
Also, the little monster is finished.  I don’t think his future owner ever looks here, so I’ll chance it and post the picture unprotected.  I’m not sure he would have worked up in the 3 hours forecasted by the directions, but he still would have been pretty quick if I had been able to just stick to it.
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Due to reasons beyond my control I have the whole apartment to myself until December.  Certainly not in celebration, but perhaps out of spite, I’ve decided to drag all my craft things out of the closet where I can’t see them or get to them anyway, and arrange them in the living room.  I have a sense it will be a little like heaven, especially once I scrape together the cash for a sewing machine, I’ll let you know.  I’ve been recently trying to get a handle on my billion year task of making a grandmother’s flower garden quilt, the chronicling of which was one of the motivating factors for staring this blog.  I won’t be able to use the sewing machine for that project, but I think having everything in the living room might help it get started.
 
  Well, a long time with no posts. This is accounted for by the lack of finished projects I've had recently and the great number of crafting failures. I don't take these failures to heart, but I also didn't really want to post about them. But what the heck, everyone has them.
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 1. My sweater. I found thissweater pattern on Knitty perhaps almost a year ago. I got the yarn for my birthday (in October). It is Adrienne Vittadini, Natasha, in Truffle. It is the yarn used in the sample on the site. In general I am squeamish about changing the yarn used in the original project for reasons which will become clear further on. The benefit of using the fancy yarn recommended by a project months after the project has been designed is that the yarn is usually on sale by that point. The lovely folks at the California Yarn Company were able to supply me the million balls of yarn needed for this sweater at ½ price. I held on to the yarn for some time, making all the socks and things that appear here. I live on the California Central Coast, so it is cold in the summer, a perfect time to make and wear my new sweater. I knit a swatch. I don't know why I do this. Invariably I'm more careful when knitting the swatch then when doing my actual knitting and the stitches come out smaller than when I'm actually knitting. What this means is that for every project for which I've knit a swatch, no joke, I've gone up a needle size to accommodate my small stitches and ended up with a giant thing that I have to frog and start over on the originally recommended needle size. Well, guess what happened with my sweater... I got the back, both front pieces, and one sleeve done. I held that sleeve up to my arm and had flash backs to the first sweater I made, a fair-isle disaster that would have fit the chimpanzee President of the United States, but not a human with normally proportioned arms. Well, that was two weeks ago. Since then, I took a short break from the sweater and then went at it again with such gusto that my wrist hurts most of the time, but, i've got a back, two front pieces and most of a sleeve. I'm on pins and needles until that first sleeve is done.

 2.  I can't post pictures, but I've got some Christmas projects going. Let me just say that photographs are deceiving and that the photo of a Christmas thing that you think looks adorable and cute is actually going to be giant when it shows up at your home. And if you think you can solve this problem with smaller needles and smaller yarn without altering the actual number of rows and stitches, well then my friend, you are as misguided as I. Rows will have to be taken out at the very least. I'll let you know when I've had the heart to take my misshapen objects apart and try again. I hope it is before November.

 

3.  And though I don't find it to be a failure, that had ended up a little unsatisfactory.  The band never quite got how I wanted it.  Again I credit needle size, changing yarn from that recommended, and not blocking. You know, you can only take a project apart so many times before you can't anymore. Its recipient claims to be pleased.  I will say that if he ever decides to grow some hair, the extra room in the band might come in handy. 
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 In a nut shell that is what I've been doing for the past two months. On the up side, I did finish my family tree. Here it is in all its full glory. Not sure when I will get it framed, or how I will contrive to get back into it as my husband and I have little additions, but I try to remind myself that a sane person wouldn't worry about that now.
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 Despite the number of recent failures, the future looks bright. I would like to use this forum to say that the people at Jimmy Beans Wool are wonderful. I placed an order on Friday night, Friday! And on Monday it was waiting for me when I got home! The yarn is lovely, perfect for a little baby who's gender you don't know one might say.  Here is another project like the Christmas ones that I won't be posting pictures of until after it has been gifted.  Also, it is a wool/cotton blend, and claims it can be machine washed, also perfect for a baby.

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 I have found a new love for Jimmy Beans, mostly because they are such a more plesant experience than some other jerk craft supply companies, and if you've never ordered from them in the past you will perhaps be encouraged to by the fact that they send you candy. I've seen other people post about this as well, but I just thought it was worth mentioning and documenting. The last time I ordered from them the candies were Werther's and now they are Brach's.  The economic downturn effects everyone in its own way.
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  And just as a capper, two more projects in progress, both critters, one is a hermit crab (without a head for the moment) from Hansigurumi's Etsy shop, and the other will be a monster some day...
 

After being pretty sure and everyone in the world now has a blog, and that there are enough craft blogs in existance to ensure that even if every one else who had a blog quit, there would still be an extremley populous blogosphere, and after creating two blogs and not posting on them at all, and then feeling bad for taking what I considered to be reasonably good blog names out of circulation, I am now inspired to share my own little crafting adventures with the world.  

Part of the inspiration is my most recently completed project, a pair of socks made for a gardener friend of mine.   I had given her a card with one of these little slug guys on it, and as I described my desire to make her a pair of socks (with my crafting urge constantly saying "FEED ME" like Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors I'm always fostering new recipients of my projects), she promptly asked for socks covered in slugs and snails.  

The trickiest part by far was figuring out the "EZ-Shaped Instep" (what I've come to think of as V-sole) because the way I think that knitting directions should be written is often just slightly different from the way they are written.  On future socks I think I would start the V-sole sooner so that it created a little less of a diamond shape in conjunction with the toe.  Speaking of which, the toes came out a little more pointy than I would have liked, (and then the photos in the book lead me to believe they would).  My friend, however, is very appreciative and forgiving and found the point to be a wonderful ergonomic accomidation for her pointer toe.  

These cute little slugs and snails came from the briliant mind of Anna Hrachovec, the patterns are available free on her blog, and the sock pattern is out of Charlene Schurch's book More Sensational Knittend Socks.  These socks were knit on size 2 needles with Kertzer "On Your Toes" and Lana Grossa "Mega Boots Stretch Softcolor".