Sunday, August 31, 2014

Around the Web with a Cup of Tea

Some how this week with my husband away, my parents visiting and the U.S.Open starting I was still able to waste time on the internet. I'm impressed with myself. Here are some of the interesting things I found. This might be considered the Margaret Atwood edition. She has a new book of short stories coming out and has been doing some press for it. Enjoy.

Here is an interview with the great Margaret Atwood with some older pictures of her.

A review of the new book.

And this interesting collection of questions asked to Atwood via twitter.

You can order her new book here. I, of course, was the first to request it at my library. I look forward to its arrival.

Okay there are other things beside Margaret Atwood on the internet.

Like learning that Hello Kitty isn't a cat!

A great resource for all quilters.

Fun video of yarn being made.

Some questions for every author to ask about their characters.

And if you live in the U.S. but don't have cable, you can watch the U.S. Open online. I know I am.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Camp Loopy and SSKAL Update

I took this picture yesterday morning planning on doing a blog post but I never got around to it. My husband has been out of town since Sunday morning (gets back this Sunday) so I've been a single parent this week and some things have been set aside, such as blogging.  By Friday morning I only had a few decreases left before the neck shaping.

Oh, and the U.S. Open is occupying my computer which might also be affecting by blogging. Last night I knit on the sweater, watched tennis (Federer won). Twitter feed is on the right side, pattern is at the bottom.

Took this picture this morning. Finished the decreases and neck shaping. Now working on the collar. Have about an inch of ribbing to do then it is practically done. Have ends to sew in and underarm holes that need to be closed but that shouldn't take long. And tonight is my night to watch the Pride and Prejudice miniseries so... I think this sweater is DONE. Sorry the above picture is so blurry, I had to take the picture quickly since the baby was coming for the sweater.

Not sure if you can tell but I've done a little work on the test knit. I'm really looking forward to focusing on it once the sweater is complete.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Reading Wednesday: Books read in August

 I didn't read as much as I would have liked this month as I have spent much of my time knitting my sweater. September will be different though. Went to the library last night and picked up 4 novels. Look for more info about them next Wednesday.  I didn't end up reading a book I already owned this month but I hope to remedy that next month. 
Here are the books I read in August.
Blog INC. by Joy Deangdeelert Cho 
This was a really good book. I took some notes and hope to apply what I learned over the next few months. It was published a couple years ago. Some information is out of date but most of it is useful. For anyone who wants to expand the readership of their blog this is a good place to start. There are several interviews with"successful" bloggers that help make the book more interesting.

The Trickster's Hat by Nick Bantock
I've been reading his books for years. My mother is a big fan and she told me about this book. I requested it from the library and enjoyed it. Inside are 49 different creative exercises. I didn't do any of them while reading it but have tucked some ideas away for a rainy day. Definitely a good book for an artist or someone wanting to be more creative but doesn't know where to start. Some exercises would take less than hour while others can take as long as you want. And it's not just a list of creative exercises, Nick has written a little blurb with each one where he talks about this own creations. There are also many of his illustrations.

Knitting Under the Influence by Claire LaZebnik
A novel obviously borrowed from the library for it's knitting themed title. I read this book in one day - staying up until almost 2am to finish it. Not great fiction but a fun summer read. The novel follows three women who meet every Sunday to knit, the men in their lives and their jobs. I'd read more of the authors works but I'd borrow them from the library, not necessarily buy them.

Adventures in Sheep Farming by Barbara Parry
Don't worry, mom, I'm not going to start raising sheep but it was really interesting to read what happens on a sheep farm. She discussed everything from maintaining the fields, helping the sheep give birth, surviving an ice storm, sheering the sheep and how she dyes the yarn. There are also patterns for knitting, weaving, spinning and dyeing. Although I don't want to raise sheep myself after reading this, I'd really like to get to know a shepherd, help out if possible and then knit something with the yarn from their sheep. It would be really neat to meet the sheep where the yarn came from.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Around the Web with a Cup of Tea

Here's some of the fun, interesting things I found on the internet this week. Enjoy. I'm off to drink my morning tea.

I thought writing a novel in 30 days was crazy but in 3 days? Wow.

Kermit the Frog doing the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Interesting Stats about libraries. You know I love mine.

Today's the last day to donate to this great cause and with a chance to win some great prizes. I've made my donation, now go make yours.

This is fun and interesting to watch. Think I may need to read this book, too.

And I may have to splurge and buy myself this yarn.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Camp Loopy and SSKAL Update

Making progress on my sweater which I am knitting for both my August Camp Loopy Project and the Summer Sweater KAL. Since last Friday I've finished the first sleeve and started the second. I have about 42 rows left before the second sleeve is complete. I've also knit a few more inches on the body. Probably another 3-5 rows to knit before I'm ready to attach the sleeves. That's also all the yarn I have left so I ordered two more balls - which just arrived. I probably only need one more but I didn't want to be short. I think I can get this done by the end of August. 

This has nothing to do with Camp Loopy or the Sweater KAL but yesterday one of my favourite knit designers asked for test knitters for a new pattern. I said yes and am now working on a project for her. I can't show any progress but thought I'd post this picture of the yarn. Looking forward to finishing and being able to show it off. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Some Finished Sewing Projects

I've been busy the last couple days doing some much needed sewing projects.
My ironing board was in desperate need of a new cover. When I went to go buy one both my daughter and husband commented, "Can't you just make yourself a new one?" Ahh, the curse of having a sewing machine and knowing how to use it.

I've had this old sheet for several years now. I bought it used either for backing of a kids quilt or something similar but I never got around to using it as it was slightly faded right in the middle. I used this tutorial and made myself a new cover. I even had enough elastic so I didn't have to buy a thing.

Much better than the burnt blue I started with.

I used it today to iron 49 more 4 patches.

It worked great.

I also made a cushion for the little guy to sit on in the living room. I used this great tutorial (both tutorials were found after a search on pinterest) and had to use almost all my pins.

Finished late last night. Had to use the flash to get a picture of him the first time he sat on it.

Claiming it as his. He likes to throw himself on it.

Happy guy.

Slightly jealous?

But Floyd pushed him off and reclaimed his seat.

Love the smile.

Big sister had to try too.

I think that happy face is telling his older siblings to keep off.

One last quick project. My SIL made this quilt for Floyd when he was born. I knew as soon as he outgrew it, I'd add a hanging sleeve and put it up. Finished putting the hanging sleeve on last night and hung it up this morning. Love looking at it.

My SIL is a very talented paper-piecer. After she made the middle block I suggested it would look really good in a baby quilt and thus it became the central part. Thanks again, Michelle, for making him this beautiful quilt. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Writing Wednesday

Space on the library shelf? Must be time to check out  some more books.
I've been reading "The Writer's Little Helper" this week when I can. A lot of it is written as lists of do this or don't do that, which it turns out is exactly the kind of writing book I've been looking for. A list is good for quick reference, much easier than looking at paragraphs trying to find the bit of information you remember reading somewhere. It's really helped to focus my writing, especially the new one I would like to start. The book has also given very helpful suggestions on how to set up scenes of a novel. This week I have written (by hand) four pages of notes for the new novel. I like writing by hand, drawing arrows to connect ideas, crossing out bad ideas, asterisking the good ones. It's also easier to do at the table, while eating breakfast and entertaining the baby. I'm slowly coming up with character names and after a few ideas I think I've decided on how the novel will start and when some of the secrets will be revealed. I've even written a rough opening paragraph. It feels good.

So that's it for today. A nice short post since I need to get back to writing.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Quilting with my son

I mentioned on Saturday's post that I did some quilting with my older son on Friday. Here are a few more pictures from our time together. We worked quickly while the baby napped. He was making some house blocks for a secret project. Above he is sewing the first side of the door to the house.

He was nervous about getting his fingers at the end.

Super focused.

When he needed bigger hands to attach the house to the roof I helped out.

Adding the snowy sky by sewing on the diagonal line I drew on.

This is from Sunday (he's wearing a different white shirt) when we finished up his blocks. Then I couldn't get him to leave my sewing machine so I had him wind bobbins. I've been told that next time I need them filled I'm to give him a call.

Blocks all done. He is holding his favourite.

Here they all are, again. He did a great job. Most of his look better than mine. 

He stuck around to sew the half square triangles from the roof/ sky into flying geese. He was thrilled to learn that the block had a name. 
He was very inquisitive. He wanted to know how the sewing machine worked. How did it make a stitch? I've never really wondered that before. I'm just happy someone figured it out and that I have a sewing machine to quilt with because of them. I gave him my basic knowledge of how it all works but I could tell it wasn't really enough. He liked when I showed him all the different feet and how to put the feed dogs up and down. He really wants to use some of the different stitches my machine has. Think I might have him make a little quilt that he can then experiment with. I think that would make his day. And mine.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Around the Web with a Cup of Tea

Here's some of the fun and interesting things I found while strolling around the internet this week. 

Even museums can misplace important stuff.

After watching this video I really, really want to try book carving.

This got a laugh at our house.

This book looks like an interesting read. I've requested it from the library.

Woouldn't want to come across this guy on a cold night.

Anyone want to make some hearts for a good cause?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Friday Night Sew In Results

It's been a long time since I've participated in Friday Night Sew In but after spending last night at the sewing machine and ironing and cutting boards I thought I'd check if FNSI was still going on. Lucky for me I found it's new temporary home on Wendy's blog, Sugarlane Quilts. So here's what I was up to last night.

I've been working on cutting up my scraps into different size squares to make quilts for charity. These are my 2 inch squares that had been pieced into pairs. Last night I turned them into 4 patches. Here they are before being ironed.

There are 85 four patches in all. They'll make a good start. I also cut up some more scraps into 2 inch, 3 inch and 4.5 inch squares.

I took these two orphan blocks from a quilt top that I still need to quilt and turned them into potholders. They still need to be quilted. They will be a gift.

I ironed and cut some greens and purples for the middle panel of my Rebel Flock quilt.

And I cut up some white for a craft project with my kids.

Yesterday afternoon I showed my 8 year old son how to use the sewing machine and he helped make some blocks for a different project. He had a great time and wants to do some more. Guess I need to find some projects for us to do.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Camp Loopy progress for Project 3

He wouldn't stay off the blanket so he got to be in the picture.
I started crocheting the afghan above on August 1st for my third Camp Loopy project. It was going really well and I even ordered more yarn but by last Thursday evening I was starting to lose interest. I like the pattern. I like the yarn. But at some point I started wondering if it was the best present for my brother's family. And as my husband lovingly pointed out, "What makes you think they need another blanket?" I know they would appreciate the time spent and the thought behind the gift but would it become just another thing they'd have to store?

I measured it on myself and knew it would require a lot more time and yarn and decided to put the afghan in time out. I still needed a Camp Loopy project though. Good thing I ordered a sweater's worth of orange yarn.

Last Friday I cast on this sweater for myself. The body knit up quickly. The pocket took some time but is now attached to the body. I love how this pocket was made and may add it to different sweater patterns. The sleeve is taking forever. I started the sleeve Tuesday evening and it's still not done. I need both sleeves complete as they get attached to the sweater and then the yoke is worked. I still have about 4 inches left to knit of the body before the sleeves are attached so I have some time to finish them.

Shannon of Very Shannon also started her annual Summer Sweater KAL on July 30th. It runs until September 24th. I joined in. I hope to finish the orange sweater for myself, the Dundurn for my mom and this play sweater I started for the Little Guy. It's all made in one piece starting from the bottom front, stitches are added on for the sleeves, cast off in the middle for neck opening and then stitches are decreased for the back. It's a relatively quick knit. Hopefully I can get all 3 sweaters complete.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Writing Wednesday

This Zinnia has nothing to do with writing. It's just pretty. Picture taken at the Botanical Gardens in Ann Arbor.
It's been a while since I did a post about writing. I've written a lot about reading. Reading is supposed to be helpful and encouraged for an aspiring writer but I've been ignoring writing. I always have plenty of excuses. Kids are home for the summer. I have a toddler. I'm not getting enough sleep to think clearly. But plenty of other writers have lives way more hectic than mine and manage to write and publish. My excuses are lame. 
As usual, I've been thinking about writing a lot this summer. I've written down several novel ideas. Looked at some of my poetry to see if it is any good and started rereading my first NaNoWriMo novel that is over 70,000 words but still not finished. Writing, it turns out, is much like every other creative thing I do. Once I get close to finishing something or get to a boring part I want to move on. Start something new. Knitters call it startitis. Some people call it procrastination. It's basically how I live my life and it can be pretty frustrating sometimes. 
I've gotten better about forcing myself to do the chores I dislike (such as cleaning the bathroom) because no one else will. I can force myself to knit sleeves... usually. And I can get fabric ironed and cut for a quilt if the music is loud enough and the kids aren't around. But force myself to write? I haven't been able to do that yet outside of NaNoWriMo. I keep thinking I need to be inspired but who goes to work everyday inspired? If this is my job, I need to write. 
But write what? I could rewrite "Lucy". Finish writing that first NaNoWriMo novel. I could polish and submit some of my poetry. Or I could start something new. All of those options scared me. 

And then I received the fortune above. "A good time to start something new". How's that for an answer? So starting something new is exactly what I'm going to do. I've been playing with an idea and expanding on it for a month. I'm almost ready to start writing. I need to do a little more brainstorming but I have some idea of the direction the story will go. I've never written a novel outside of NaNoWriMo before and I'm a little nervous but excited. It will be nice to give the novel the time it needs and not feel rushed. I can waste a day rereading and tinkering what I've written because there is no deadline at the end of the month. I'm looking forward to this challenge. And if I decide I'd rather be doing something else, I have plenty of other options waiting for me.

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