Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween - A Spider Canvas

I've been trying to get more into Halloween the past few years as this is my husband's favourite holiday. I've made Halloween themed quilts but the house needed more than that. I've been looking for something else to add when I came across this. Not sure if I found it on Pinterest or somewhere else, but I've pinned the idea twice and thought about it often so I decided to go for it. Sorry for the bad lighting in the process photos. Pictures were taken in the kitchen while I made supper.

I used a large canvas that had been used in a few failed projects. The background had already been painted blue and there were holes from a yarned twig project that just didn't sit right after being attached and was then taken off. I made some grey paint and quickly went over the blue but made sure some blue still peeked through. Looking at this template, I freehanded the spiderweb slightly off centre. If I were to do this again I would use a thinner brush and take more time making my lines. I had a toddler pulling at my legs so I had to be quick. I think adding just a little bit of glitter to the paint would also add to the spiderweb. 

This is the same spider from the website that inspired the project. You can find it and others, here. I printed it to fill the page but I still thought it was too small for the spiderweb.

The printer happens to be in the kitchen so I quickly enlarged it to 150% and had the size I liked.

I went over the spider pattern making holes with a metal needle. The tool used in the original tutorial would have been nice to have. This was the hardest part and my hand was cramping by the end.

Here are all the holes punched. I kept the spider to refer to as I stitched. I used worsted weight acrylic yarn that was in my stash. I cut long pieces of yarn, and tied the ends together after threading the needle so that the yarn was doubled. I tried with just a single and it wasn't enough. When I finished with each strand, I cut the yarn to get it off the needle, tied some knots, trimmed the ends and taped them down.

It took me a few hours that evening but the next morning there was something creepy in our living room.

His new home on the wall facing the side door. I used red for his eyes to make him look evil. I also outlined him (with yarn held double) to help define him.

I thought of adding red paint for blood dripping from his fangs but didn't. 

The messy back. I taped down my ends since I didn't weave them in. I don't think the knots will come through the canvas but I wanted to make sure they were secure.

This was a fun, quick project and if you don't have a toddler begging for attention you could finish it quicker than me. It took me most of the day. I'm already thinking of doing some wintry ones - perhaps a snowflake or snowman?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

What I read in October

October was popular book month. I started with "Outlander" and although I was enjoying it, I knew I wouldn't be able to finish before I had to return it to the library so I returned it. I am going to read it; just at another time. Maybe over the Christmas holidays or perhaps read the series next summer. I finished October by starting "The Goldfinch". I'm about 100 pages in (of over 770) and was due today. I returned it and have already requested it again. What I have read, I really enjoyed. 

Below are the books I did finish reading this month. I've included links to Amazon if you click on the title/author.

I really enjoyed this book. Good twists and turns with an interesting ending. Highly recommend. Might look into what else this author has written. The style was interesting. Written from the daughter's point of view but uses emails and letters to fill in the blanks. Definitely not what I expected. Glad I read it.

Collection of graphic novels that tells the history of other Slayers. An incredibly thick book but a fast, enjoyable read. If you loved the show, you'll love the book.

I resisted this book at first since it is Young Adult but so many people were raving about it that I decided to give it a try. It was a good, light read. Set in the eighties it was neat to have a book that involved walkmans and making mix tapes for the ones you like instead of cellphones and text messages. If you're looking for an easy read with a good plot, this is it. 

I've had this book out from the library for a long time and finally read it. It's an accordion style book with poems written by Anne Michaels on one side and portraits by Bernice Eisenstein on the other. Inside the cover of the book are mini bios of the people discussed in the poems and in the portraits.

Some of the poems.

Portraits. Most of them had a quote by that person beside them. The rest had quotes from someone else (one had a line from an Emily Dickinson poem).

I have read a couple of Anne Michaels books (LOVE "Fugitive Pieces") and some of her poetry. This collection of poems is also emotionally moving. Should be read several times and thought over. 

Never heard of this author until I saw the trailer for the movie based on this book. I thought it looked interesting so I requested it. I read the whole book last Friday. Stayed up a little late to finish it but worth it. I think I liked it. Still a little on the fence about it. Parts of it seemed one step beyond believable (if that makes any sense) which kind of wrecked it for me. Enjoyed the swearing since I tend to swear a bit in real life and it's always fun to read. I know others would dislike that. I haven't seen the movie so I'm not sure how much sex is in it, but there is a fair amount of it in the book and that may also bother some readers. I guess it's a good book and I'm willing to read other novels by the author to see if I really like his style. I don't read male authors very often (I had enough of them in high school and university) so this was a nice change. If you don't mind swearing or sex and a plot that's not completely believable you should read it. Has funny moments, sad moments and real-life moments. 

Lesson learned this month? Sometimes books are popular because they're actually good. Not classics but worth the time. If you have some to spare. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Around the Web with a Cup of Tea

Another week has flown by. This week is all about finishing up projects to make room for November and getting ready for the big push in making holiday gifts and perhaps writing a novel. Here's some of the interesting things I found on the internet this week.

I checked this book out from the library this week. Looking forward to reading it.

My mom asked me about this so thought I would post this Atwood news here.

Try saying this word 5 times fast or use it in a sentence.

Thinking about doing NaNoWriMo? Here are some success stories.

I might have to knit this little guy.

I'm loving this quilt block and the design possibilities.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Goals? What goals?

With only a week left in October I have concluded that this month totally kicked my butt. I don't know where the time went but I'm not ready for November or for the month after that. I feel like there is still so much to do before the year ends and I don't know where to start. I need to make a list to prioritize the crafts that need to be finished. Like the secret project that is nowhere near done that should be in the mail by the end of the month. Lucky for us the fall sport season is winding down for the kids with nothing on the schedule until next year. It will be nice to get our Saturdays back. 

And my goals for October? Yeah... the Pumpkin quilt still hasn't been touched. I've looked at it and have wanted to start it but there's too much other crap on my desk. Think I might start a UFO list for 2015. There are several quilts that are taking up space and need to be finished. After the holidays I think I'll be going on a stash diet, at least for the first 3 months. No new yarn or fabric unless necessary to complete a project (such as backing for a quilt or if I run out of yarn for a project). I'd like to see a real dent in the fabric and yarn stash so I can organize things properly and not just try to find room for everything. I'm sick of moving stuff from place to place. I'm also starting to think I have too many plans for 2015.

Onto better things. I started the right front of my mom's cardigan yesterday. It knits up fast and I am forcing myself to work on it. I'd loved to finish this cardigan next week and cross another Christmas gift off the list.

I knit a little more of the Savanna shawl I started for myself. The yarn is so soft. It's a delight to knit with.

And I wasn't going to do NaNoWriMo this year. I decided to give myself a day to work on ideas. To see if there were any that were wanting to be written. I found one and wrote the 5 page chapter outline above in a day. We'll see how I feel on November 1st. I may start it or leave it for another time. If I do start it next month, I may participate in the local writing group. The kick-off party is this Sunday at the library and there are several write-ins at the library next month as well. It would be neat to meet other writers crazy enough to do NaNoWriMo but I'm not really a people person or comfortable in a crowd so I'll probably chicken out.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Casting On and Off

I've been making progress on some knitting projects.
I finished the left front of the cardigan for my mom

My post-it to help me keep track of where I did decreases/ increases and armholes so the two fronts match up. 

I quickly blocked the left front, back and two sleeves so I could start putting the cardigan together. Above I am doing the side seam while my son watched Sesame Street this morning.

My seaming trick (although I'm sure others do it, I came up with it on my own). I do a really, really long-tail cast on leaving enough yarn to be used for seaming later. I knot it into a little bundle while knitting that is easily untied at the end.

Left front and back and left sleeve sewn together. I had to join a new skein just before the armhole on the front and those ends still need to woven in. They are causing the bump. 
Now I need to knit the right front and do the button bands and collar. So close to be being done that I'm thinking about buttons. Any idea what you would like mom? Black? Wood? Let me know.

Yesterday I finished the Reading Shawl which is a gift. I knew I wouldn't have enough of the purple for the whole shawl so I did the border in green. The body is all garter stitch and it still needs to be blocked. It does exactly what it's supposed to do - stay on your shoulders. I put it on after I finished and forgot about it until I realized I was getting hot with both a sweater and a shawl on. Perhaps one in slightly heavier yarn (dk or sport) would make a bigger/ warmer shawl for me. Someday.

All this finishing up caused a sever case of startitis yesterday. I got out yarn and needles for three different patterns. I started the Savanna shawl with some yarn my mom gave me 2 years ago for Christmas. I've been waiting for the right pattern to use it.

There are some eyelets in there. Hard to see right now but this shawl should look great after blocking. This one is for me and matches almost every coat I have. 

Crazy, messy desk after my startitis yesterday. Yarn, needles and patterns everywhere.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Around the Web with a Cup of Tea

I've been battling the cold that kept my husband home from work for a week and since I blogged my Friday Night Sew-In results on Saturday, I decided to take Sunday off and do my Around the Web with a Cup of Tea post a day late. So if you're having as difficult time as I am getting up and going this Monday, take a couple extra minutes and check out some of the interesting things I found on the internet this past week.

I had no plans to do NaNoWriMo this year, but than this makes me change my mind

Read the book. Interesting to learn how the idea started.

Who doesn't love learning even more about the wonderful Margaret Atwood.

Of the 8 books in the Anne series my favorite, after the first one of course, is the last, Rilla of Ingleside. Loved reading this article about it. I might have to reread it.

Now some crafty links. It is taking everything in me not to join this QAL. I would have a grey background with blues, white and a bit of green. Not that I've thought about it or priced fabric.

Look at all these safety eyes! I might need to get some.

I've been wanting to make some cosmetic changes to the blog for a while and been looking into how to do it myself. So if things look weird over the next couple weeks, be patient but feel free to leave a comment if things look too strange, aren't working or you find spelling mistakes. I'll be adding an About Me page and a different header as well. I think I'm looking forward to those 2 the most. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Friday Night Sew-In results

I felt like I did a lot yesterday for Friday Night Sew-In but I didn't even touch my sewing machine. A lot of prep work for two different quilts with a bit of knitting at the end of the night. 
Working on a secret quilt project with my kids. Had them draw some blocks yesterday afternoon after school. Bottom 2 are by my daughter. The one on the top left is by the little guy and the other two were drawn by my older son. Each one required 4 minutes of ironing to set the marker. I also drew 2 blocks but I didn't take a picture of them.

Here's a close-up of the little guy's block. He loved putting the markers back in the box and did that over and over again for almost an hour while I was busy ironing. It helped that the bottom opened and the markers would fall out. He'd just pick them right back up and put them back in the box. Adorable.

Finishing up this Advent quilt is one of my October goals. I really wanted to start a new project last night but I forced myself to work on this instead. All I was able to get done last night were the numbers. Cutting them out took much longer than I had expected. They are ironed on but I still need to stitch over them. Then I can attach them to their pocket backs. I am really loving this. We decided to make an Advent quilt since we have 3 very different kids, that are 3 very different ages and this will allow some custom advent gifts. Most of the days will be treats like chocolate and candy canes but at least one day will include a handmade gift (perhaps hats) and books will be given another day. I also plan on putting in some family activities. 

I was able to get 4 rows of this shawl knit. I only have 8 rows left in the border before this gift is finished but...

... at over 350 stitches per row it feels like it is taking forever to finish.

Friday, October 17, 2014

October Goals - Stocking done!

One of my goals for October was to make a stocking for my son to be used at my parents house. Since my parents were visiting for Thanksgiving this past weekend I wanted to finish it and send it home with them. A couple weeks ago I took some orange Cascade 220 and started knitting a big piece in stockinette. When I was finished it could stretch to about 30 inches square. I then felted it in the washing machine (took 2washes) until it was how I wanted it. 
I used the stocking template my sister offers and that I have used for other stockings in the past.

I used a sharpie to trace a stocking shape and sewed near/ on the line. I then cut off the extra fabric and turned it right side out.

I had a Great Gonzo appliqué that I attached using my free-motion foot. The stocking was impossible to take a picture of to get the true colours.

Here he is with his new stocking. He's happy with the Gonzo appliqué. Gonzo is one of his names.

We put toys inside to test it out. I think it will work. My mom is happy that it isn't too big.

And if you have time, tonight is Friday Night Sew-In. Go here to sign up. I'll have a post tomorrow of what I'm able to accomplish tonight.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Birthday Books

I used the Barnes & Noble gift certificate that my husband gave me for my birthday last month to buy a couple craft books. The crochet book I had out from the library and really liked so I got own copy. The Everyday Lace book was recommended by Jen of Knitting Like Crazy (whose new book comes out in January) and after looking at the patterns I decided to buy it too. Here are some of the patterns I really like from it.

I like the lace on this cardigan. Unsure about the neckline but like that it is unique.

A great summer piece.

A cowl with some detail.

These are my favourite pair of socks in the book. 

And there's something about this vest that I love.

This one too.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Finished Quilt

I got the binding sewn down on this quilt and have it hanging up in our living room. Since it's orange, it counts as a Halloween/ Thanksgiving decoration. 

I've haven't sewn binding down by hand in a long time. Doesn't look to bad on the front. 

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