Sunday, May 31, 2015

Around the Web with a Cup of Tea

Here are a few interesting things I found on the internet this week. Short and sweet today. Enjoy.

Trying to decide what to read this summer? Here are a few suggestions.

I think I have to buy the ingredients for this. Yum.

This looks awesome. Found out yesterday that Anna is returning to Ann Arbor this summer - July 11th. Definitely going to see her again.

We might have to take the kids to Toledo for this.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Knitted Works in Progress

I've made a little progress this week. Knitting hasn't been my focus, so I'm not as far on these as I would like.

I spent one day mainly working on my Low Tide cardigan and was able to finish the left front piece and started the back. Hopefully by next Thursday all three pieces will be finished and blocked.

I was able to get 20 more rows of the Earth shawl knit this week. This is what I usually knit in the evenings after Floyd has gone to bed but I've been doing other things instead this week - such as editing - so progress on the shawl has really slowed.

And I started another hat for charity because I needed something I could pick up and knit whenever that didn't require a pattern. This is fingering weight yarn and is taking longer to knit than the other hats that were knit with worsted weight. There are 120 stitches. The other hats I've knit were between 80 and 96 stitches. It takes several rows before I feel like I've done anything on it but I'm almost ready to start decreasing for the top.

What have you worked on this week? I can start my Camp Loopy project on Monday, so there should be a new WIP next week. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

What I read in May

3 great books read this month. I'd recommend them all. 

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson

Even though I'd recommend this book, it is not for everyone. If you enjoy Jeanette's novels (and I do), this book will be of interest to you. It's about her childhood, her relationship with her adoptive parents and then finding her birth mother as a grown up. Part of me wishes I hadn't read this as I think it will influence how I read her work from now on. The other part of me likes knowing a little bit more about one of my favourite authors. Jeanette is a lesbian. Her adoptive parents, especially the mother, were evangelists. It was a rough childhood and she left home as a teenager. But I like how Jeanette looks back on it and can see the many sides of her adoptive mom. 

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

I've seen this author's name pop up on other lists, so I thought I would give her a try. I read it in a day and I guess I liked it. It's around 400 pages but one of the big little lies, I had figured out by page 100. Not sure if I was supposed to. I enjoyed this book more for learning the technique of writing. I pretty much knew the ending but I wanted to see how the author got there. Was it believable? There was only one little twist I didn't see coming but it made sense. An enjoyable book. I'd read another of hers.

Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science - and the World by Rachel Swaby

This was a great book and I might be buying one for every young lady I know. So many women ignored in history. I loved learning about them. This should be an assigned book in Middle School and each student pick a woman to research. Or find someone new. I knew a few of the women - Sally Ride, Ada Lovelace, Florence Nightingale - but a lot I had never heard of. So many of them went unpaid or were denied access to education just because they were women. We should be ashamed. Read it. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

I've been quilting

After writing a blog post about editing on Saturday, I looked around my desk, closed my computer and started quilting instead.

My Made in Cherry quilt has been waiting too long to be finished. I had grand plans for this quilt but couldn't completely decide how to achieve what I had in mind. I decided a finished quilt and an empty desk was better than what I had so I started free-motion stippling over the whole thing. I'm about a quarter of the way done and am liking it.

I'm using pale yellow thread so it's a little hard to see. I'm already on my second spool of thread. Lucky for me, thread was on sale this weekend at Jo-Ann's so I picked up a couple more. I would love to finish quilting it this week. Editing a novel is much harder than I thought and this quilt is providing a great way to procrastinate.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Around the Web with a Cup of Tea

Posting a little late this week as I choose a desperately needed nap over blogging. Here are a few interesting things I found on the internet this week. Enjoy.

New to Ravelry? Or want to know more about participating in threads? Shannon had a great post this week that could help.

How to make your own bias tape for sewing.

Our family had a rare vacation 4 years ago to Cannon Beach, so I had to buy this pattern.

Learn to knit faster? Yes, please. I've been thinking about learning how to knit continental but I might give flicking a try. Here are some videos to explain what I'm talking about. Or help you become a faster knitter.

My daughter becomes a teenager in just over a week. She has requested cupcakes but I haven't shown her this cake yet.

I've been turning the tv off more in the afternoon and listening to more podcasts. Elise's episode about Fear was one I liked this week.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Trying to Edit

I feel like I've been editing my novel for years. This particular round of editing seems to be taking much longer than my last but I've added over 18,000 words so I guess that's why it's taking so long. I've edited 14 of 31 chapters and would like to finish by the end of the month. I've given myself a crazy schedule of editing 2-3 chapters a day but I am already several chapters behind. Each chapter is taking longer than I thought and Floyd isn't really helping.

I try to get some work done while he naps or after he's gone to bed at night, but I also try to sneak in some editing while he watches cartoons. Unfortunately, he thinks he still needs to be with me. 

Floyd getting some cuddles while I try to work.

I tried to put him on my lap, facing the tv so I had two hands for typing...

... but he prefers being up. Got to admit I love the cuddles. 
I was able to finish editing a chapter this morning while he watched Saturday morning cartoons with his big brother. My reward? Writing this blog post. Now back to work, cartoons are done in 15 minutes.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

On the Needles - A Few WIP's

  I have a few things on the needles. When I pulled out projects to take pictures for this post I realized that they were all for me. Oops. Once these are done, I'll be starting Christmas sweaters so there will be less selfish knitting.

For Shannon's Tops, Tanks and Tees KAL (#TTTKAL on twitter and instagram if you're on those), I finally cast on Low Tide. I have loved this cardigan since I saw it. But once I actually started it, I began to doubt if I was using the right colour of yarn or if I should be making the pattern at all. All that doubt means I have made very little progress. I finished the right front bodice this morning, just so I had something to show here. The beginning of the pattern is a little finicky. I still need to make the left front bodice, than a piece for the back. Then they all 3 need to be blocked before I join them and knit the rest of the cardigan. I think making all the pieces is kind of slowing me down - kind of like sleeves. I'm hoping with one done I'll be motivated to finish the other two. 

This is the Earth mystery shawl by Erica at Fiddle Knits. The last clue came out a couple weeks ago so I shouldn't be spoiling it for anyone by posting a picture. I love Erica's designs but she does a lot of cables, which is a lot of work, so I waited until all the clues were out and I saw some finished shawls before I cast on. I finished the first clue Monday night and am 30 rows into the second. The third clue is my favourite and is the reason I decided to cast on. 

The shawl is knit sideways with "live" stitches for the border on the needles. I know most knitters know what I'm taking about and I could explain it here for you, mom, but it's similar to this shawl that I did earlier this year. Just know I am only knitting a small amount of those stitches every row.

And I totally forgot that I had started the Sierra scarf until I was looking at my WIP's while organizing. I admit I frogged 3 projects 2 weeks ago and it didn't hurt a bit. This one, I didn't frog. I put it back into rotation though and did 22 rows last night and another 22 rows today. The stripes are okay, right?  They don't look that defined in real life. 

So, what's on your needles? And why are there no socks in this post? I must get some on the needles quick.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Some new yarn

My yarn stash grew a little bit this month. 

My mother sent this yarn along with my son's birthday present. My hometown yarn store was having a sale so she picked this out for me. I definitely love it and am trying to find the perfect pattern for it. 

And my yarn for Camp Loopy arrived last week. I have to wait until June 1st to cast on, but I'll be making a summery top for me. 

I haven't knit with either of these yarns before so I look forward to trying them. Have you added any new yarn to your stash lately?

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Around the Web with a Cup of Tea

Here are some of the interesting things I found on the internet this week. Enjoy.

Since Mother's Day last week, I came across some mom stuff. The Yarn Harlot wrote a great Mother's Day post. And CNN posted this article about Midwives. All 3 of my children were born with the help of midwives (2 at home). I wish more people were open to the idea of midwives (our insurance didn't cover either of our home births but they were worth the money. Actually, I would have paid more for the excellent care I received.)

And I came across 2 reviews of this book this week. Looks interesting. One review here. And here is the other. Time for more cleaning/ organizing/ purging?

I think everyone has habits that they'd like to change. Here's a quick reference on how you might do it.
Or listen to this podcast about what is wrong with the concept of Time Management.

Now for some crafty links.

I love the idea of these buttons.

Support a new Canadian knitting designer.

Of course seeing this post, led me to this. A new hobby perhaps?

I was a little excited when I found out about this. My husband is allergic to cats so getting to hang out with them would be a real treat.

And yesterday was the anniversary of a very sad day, 25 years since the passing of Jim Henson. We should all watch Muppets this weekend to remember him. Here's a little something to get you started.

Friday, May 15, 2015

A Couple Finishes for Friday

This has been a week of making progress on several projects but not many finishes. I'll have to do a post next week of what I've been working on but here are two little projects I finished this week.

When I was reorganizing last week I noticed I had too much cotton yarn set aside for washcloths. I had made several with my mom a couple years ago while we were waiting for Floyd to arrive. As much as I like using them, I found they tend to stink. Or at least some of them do. It seemed each colour of yarn was different. We still have and use some of the cloths but some would smell as soon as they got wet and I threw them out. I decided not to make anymore so I needed to either donate the yarn or find something else to make with them. On one of the yarn bands was a pattern for a market bag and since I felt like crocheting something I made it. It took about 3 days but now I have a very bright market bag. I think it would also make a very good beach bag. I have enough yarn to make some more, maybe as gifts, or perhaps I'll donate it.

And I finished another hat for Halos of Hope. 

Once it's washed, it will be added to the box of finished hats. Not sure if I'll be able to fill the box, but I'm going to try.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Organizing and then Re-Organizing my Work Space

     A couple weeks ago we donated a small desk that mainly held stuff and wasn't being used as a work surface. Last Wednesday night, I thought I had finished putting away all the stuff the desk had held by reorganizing my table and shelf. I wasn't thrilled with the end result and even while cleaning I told my husband that it felt like I was just moving piles from one place to another. It was frustrating, but by the end of the night my table was useable with no piles.

      I took some pictures the next day. Not great. No piles of junk but no space to spread out while doing work.

This is my writing space. My computer doesn't even have enough room to sit the right way.

     Shelf still looked crazy with projects piled on top of each other. Bottom two on the left - fabric project throw up.

More piles. And more fabric.

     When I woke up on Thursday, I thought now I can get some work done. But I wasn't excited because there really wasn't any space to do work (writing/editing). And the space didn't really reflect me. Looking at the above pictures you'd think I was mainly a quilter. The sewing machine takes up more than half of my desk. There's obviously some yarn but the shelves are still full of quilt projects and fabric. 
     I still quilt and enjoy quilting but it isn't my main hobby anymore. I had bought or been given all this quilt stuff and felt I should use it. But I wasn't. I just felt guilty every time I looked at it. If my priority and job is writing and knitting is what I do to relax, then my space needed to show that. 
     So, Thursday afternoon, I started going through all my fabric, quilt projects and other craft supplies. I was ruthless. I had a real goal in mind this time. I emptied the bin of fabric that sits under my table and declared it the quilt bin and whatever fit inside, I would keep. By the end of the day I had filled two boxes of stuff to donate, another box for my sister and a trash can that was overflowing. It felt great.
     To help the future me who would have doubts, I collected all the garbage in the house and took it to the outside garbage can. I put one box of stuff to donate in the trunk of the car. The second one still had some room in it so I kept it inside. It is now full and waiting to be taken to the car. And I taped the box for my sister shut and labeled it as hers. If I wanted any of that stuff back, I would have to work for it.

     Not perfect but you can actually see the table. Sewing machine is pushed to the corner. I really need to finish quilting that quilt and then I'll have even more space. Until I start the next quilt.

     Pile of paper to the right of the computer are my writing notes and The Little Poem Project. I've forgotten a day here and there but I am still doing it. And loving it.

     It still looks full of piles put there is less there. I've been living with the space for a week and it's been easy to take things off and put stuff away since shelf spaces aren't crowded. I tried to keep it to 2 projects per space - usually one on top of the other. If there was space, a third beside them.
I obviously kept more than what fit in the bin. And the bin is full. The box at the bottom left of the shelf is the fabric for the quilts my mom requested. They are all supposed to be done by the end of the year so I don't really count that as part of my stash. They used to be kept on the floor between the shelf and the table so I'm happy that I was able to make room for them. The only thing between the table and shelf now is batting with small pieces of batting in the purple container you can see. I mainly purged small pieces of fabric from the stash (less than a yard). Anything over a yard I kept and set aside (in the box on the left, second shelf from the bottom) to make pillowcases for ConKerr Cancer. I might involve my kids in making the pillowcases this summer. There are also a few smaller projects that I hope to finish soon on the shelf.

     The big question is, is the space working for me now? And I would have to say yes. It takes effort to keep it cleaned off. I often throw things on it during the day when I have to quickly set something aside before Floyd gets it. But if I take 5 minutes while he naps and after he goes to bed I am able to keep it clean. Just a few weeks ago I wouldn't have had room for Floyd to sit on my lap and draw in his book while I did stuff on the computer.

     And if he's not on my lap, there's room for the toys he drops off and his crackers and a knitting project (a hat). And you can still see the table. I spend less time on the internet since the computer mainly stays on the table. I used to always use it on the couch and it was too easy to waste time. Floyd doesn't leave me alone for long when I sit at the table so I go on the computer, do what I need to do then return to him. My table is in the living room so I'm never far but for some reason Thomas the Train is more fun to watch from my lap. I even did some editing of my novel yesterday and I hope to do more today but it's taken me over an hour to write this blog post so my eyes need a break.

Have you been doing any purging? Doesn't it feel good to let the stuff go?


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Around the Web with a Cup of Tea

Happy Mother's Day! 

Here's some of the interesting things I found on the internet the past couple weeks. Enjoy.

This made my week. Or maybe even year.

There's a few KALs that will be starting soon. Very Shannon's annual Tops, Tanks and Tees Knit Along (TTTKAL) starts on the 13th. I think I'm finally going to make a Low Tide cardigan. I've been wanting one for a couple years. Bought yarn for it but never started. 
And The Loopy Ewe's Camp Loopy starts June 1st but you should order your yarn now to get a discount and for it to arrive in time. I ordered some bamboo yarn to make this tank. 

I found this quilter/blog during Sew, Mama, Sew's Giveaway Day last week. She's having a Mystery Quila Along starting in June.

Want to support an independent yarn dyer? I haven't decided which level I'm going to do yet.

An adorable free pattern released in celebration of the birth of Princess Charlotte.

Or perhaps you'd like to knit something a little bigger?

Friday, May 8, 2015

3 Finishes for Friday

I was able to get some little knits finishes this week.
First up is a stegosaurus for Floyd. My dinosaur loving son turns 2 tomorrow and I wanted to make him a little something. The pattern came as part of the Knitting calendar 2013 but is also a free download on ravelry, here. I received some criticism from family members on his appearance but Floyd knew exactly what it was and that is all that counts.

I also finished 2 hats for Halos of Hope. One with stripes.

And this mainly grey one. I still have some of this yarn left but probably not enough for an adult hat. Might make one for a toddler or child. It's sad that they are in need of that size as well.

Have you finished anything this week?

Thursday, May 7, 2015

What I Read in April

A week late in posting this, but here's what I read last month.

I read this in early April and should have written down my thoughts on it then. I requested this book because it was on a list of 100 Canadian books to read. But I don't think I liked it. Something I've noticed in several novels lately is author's not putting quotes around speech. Sometimes this works because the author writes so well that you can tell when someone is talking without the quotation marks. Toews did no quotes in this book but I don't think she did it well. I often went back to reread paragraphs when I realized someone was actually speaking. The book wasn't necessarily bad. The inside jacket talked about a surprise twist near the end and it just wasn't that surprising. When I was done reading I had to figure out what the twist was because none of what happened seemed surprising. I think this disappointment led to my not liking the book as my head was filled with different ways this book could have ended that would have been more surprising. If I hadn't been expecting a better ending I would have liked this novel more.

My daughter and I read this for our first mother-daughter book club. We're the only members and you can read more about our thoughts here. I still like the book and am happy that I finally read it. 

I went on a little Judy Blume bender in April. I read 2 of her adult novels... and they are definitely adult. I enjoyed "Summer Sisters" the most and enjoyed the little twists along the way. I liked the ending and would recommend it. I think I read it in a day - I was craving a slightly trashy paperback. This would be a great book to read on vacation. Or when you want to read a good novel but not one that makes you think to much.

The second of Judy's adult novels that I read in April. I was less impressed with this one and didn't really like the first half. I believe this is her first adult novel and sometimes it feels like she's trying too hard, wanting to put in all the stuff she can't in a YA novel. I liked the ending and am willing to read her other adult novels. I'm not sure if I'd recommend this one. Lots of sexual situations so if that makes you uncomfortable you might want to avoid this one.

Fun, light read for a busy week. I love the show and the comics are just as enjoyable. This is a collection of several issues. Recommend if you like the show. Rating says it's for teens and older but my 9 and 12 year old read it and don't seem any worse off.

Monday, May 4, 2015

1 scarf = 3 hats and 1 headband

     I'm back from reorganizing my work area; which is how I'm trying to think of the space, instead of  just a place to store all my stuff. Right now I am actually sitting at my desk with room to spare. Notes about my novel on one side. Family paperwork on the other. It feels great to have a useable space. Not sure how long I can keep it this way but I'm going to try hard and remember how much I enjoy being able to spread out when editing/writing. 

     When I was wasn't organizing and purging last week, I started knitting some hats. Jen of Knitting Like Crazyhosted a KAL/CAL last year to make hats for Halos of Hope to celebrate her dad being cancer free. Unfortunately, he passed away last week and I felt an urge to do something. Jen mentioned that she was going to do the KAL/CAL again so I started making hats for the charity. 

     When I was going through winter stuff, throwing away gloves that had lost their mate over the winter and setting aside hats that kids had outgrown last week, I came across a scarf I had made myself at the beginning of 2012. I liked the yarn and have a matching hat which I wore frequently this past winter. However, the scarf was a little too long and always peeked out the bottom of the coat. I thought of frogging it and redoing it but instead I decided to frog it and make hats for Halos of Hope. 

Here's the first one finished last Friday.

Second one finished on Saturday.

Third one finished on Sunday. 
As soon as I finished one, I'd start the next. I used this free pattern. The first one I cast on 96 stitches but it felt big so I only cast on 80 for the second and third hats. I still had some yarn leftover so...

... I made myself a headband. I used to own some but don't anymore and several times this winter I had wished I had something to cover just my ears. I've noticed that my ears have become very sensitive to the wind and just the short walk taking my son to school can make my ears feel like I have an infection for the rest of the day, if they aren't covered. Not sure if this is from having a really bad case of swimmer's ear when I was a teenager but I knew I needed to find a solution before next winter arrives. Problem solved. I cast on 80 stitches using size 6 needles and knit 2, purl 2 until I was almost out of yarn. It's perfect. I might make myself some more headbands as a great way to use up leftover yarn, if there isn't enough for a hat.

And this morning I started my fourth hat using the leftover yarn from the cardigan I made my nephew a few years ago. I have more yarn set aside for hats and am going to try and finish 10 hats to donate.

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