Monday, November 30, 2015

Keeping busy and a big finish

The blog might have been quiet last week but a lot was going on. Enough to probably do a blog post everyday this week. I have a few finishes to share and Wednesday will be my what I read in November post. Let's get started.

Floyd helped me crochet a Christmas gift. He's holding one of the big one pounder skeins from JoAnn's. The afghan I'm working on used almost 3 whole ones. That's a lot of stitches.

The older kids only had 2 days of school last week.  Wednesday was supposed to be a cookie making day but we only got 2 batches done since I ran out of flour. Oops. We even had to use some bread flour for both of these recipes. Next time I'll double check ALL of my ingredients before starting a cookie day. We also did some gift making which I'll share later this week.

We decorated our little tree on Saturday.

And I did more crocheting beside it. 

And I finally finished it! Only took me a few months but it sat a lot of that time. The Tardis afghan is a free pattern and can be found here. Not the best picture. I might have to take another one. But now that it's done, I can cast on several more Christmas gifts. Look for more progress pictures later this week.

How's your holiday crafting going? I'm still optimistic I'll get everything done. That includes 3 kid sweaters (only 1 is started and I still need to wind yarn for one, too)  and 3 more quilts. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

A Friday Finish : A Quilt

Last Christmas, my mother requested 3 holiday quilts for her bed and 2 guest beds by this Christmas. I finished the first one earlier this year, which you can see here. I finally finished the second one on Monday. 

This is the quilt that will go on their bed. I used a special ruler to cut the flying geese pieces so it went together easy. 

The black fabric has cardinals. The majority of the green fabric has holly. I used black thread to loosely go around each bird. Then used green thread on the green fabric and red thread on the red and did my go-to free-motion quilting. I had enough of the red fabric that I was able to use it for the binding as well.

The back. Some holiday fabric. Some that fit the colour scheme, plus some blue (their bedroom is blue).

I put it on our bed and it fits well. My mom didn't want it big enough to tuck in, more of an extra quilt  for the bed. It's gone through the washer and dryer now and has fluffed up nicely. Feels good to cross another item off my list.

I did more quilting yesterday and finished off 2 spools of thread.

And here's my NaNoWriMo update. I tried to get to 50,000 words by the end of Sunday. All the quilting I did interfered with my writing. I made it to 44, 375 words Sunday night, which is still pretty good. 

I persisted and Wednesday evening I passed the 50,000 word mark. This is definitely the fastest I have ever reached this milestone. The novel isn't finished yet so I am still trying to write everyday until it is complete. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

I've been Quilting. And some knitting too.

My quilting mojo, which has been missing for most of the year, hit me hard about a week ago. Since then I've finished one quilt (which I'll share here tomorrow). Ironed, cut fabrics and started piecing two more. I also basted and started quilting another quilt. I also pulled out fabric and planned another.

I finished piecing this top in Idaho in 2011. I had planned to quilt it and put it on our bed but never did. I finally pieced a back for it earlier this year but it has been sitting crumpled in a heap under my quilt table waiting to be basted. I laid it out on our bed for a day hoping that would be enough to avoid yet another ironing. I've ironed the quilt top several times thinking I was going to quilt it soon but didn't.

I had to use almost a whole nap time to baste it as I had to redo half of it, but here it is waiting to be quilted.

And under the needle. I am doing all over free-motion quilting with white thread. Not sure I'll have enough white thread to finish but my fingers are crossed. I'm probably going to give this as a gift this Christmas. I love it but I'm okay parting with it.

Here is Floyd "helping" me when I took it out to see if I had to iron it.

And helping me put the binding on the quilt I'll show tomorrow.

Here is the beginning of the third Christmas quilt my mother requested. There will be 15 of each colour.

The beginnings of a wintery quilt for us.

 I've squeezed in a little knitting too. This is the beginning of clue 2 of Jen's Mystery KAL. I'm not even going to try and explain what's going on but it sure is fun knitting.

And I started a pair of fingerless gloves for my daughter's stocking. Pattern is Cobblestone Mitts in Jen's latest book, Sock Yarn Accessories

And don't worry mom, I'm still working on my NaNoWriMo novel. I'll give an update on that tomorrow, too.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Finished Pair of Socks #11

My goal was to get these socks done to post today. I finished them around 11:30 this morning and took pictures right away. I love them and if they weren't for my mom, I'd keep them for myself.
Pattern: Cusp by Cookie A. Looks way more complicated than it actually is. I may have to make myself a pair in January.

This view just doesn't do them justice. 

Love the lace. The yarn is Serenity Sock Yarn by Deborah Norville found at JoAnn's. Haven't washed them yet but they feel soft. I've knit socks with this yarn before. Makes nice, light socks. Found they got holes sooner than Kroy sock yarn but I wear my knit socks a lot and put them in the washer and dryer.

More beautiful lace on the back.

Couldn't help taking pictures. 

All wrapped up and ready for mom.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A Writing Wednesday Post

     As you can see from the picture above, my NaNoWriMo novel has been growing. I like staying above the curve. It really helped that I wrote around 7,000 words on the second day which gave me lots of wiggle room on my daily word count. I'm aiming for another 7,000 words today as I have challenged myself to finish on the 15th. I know that's crazy but I haven't written anything since last year's NaNoWriMo. I've been focused on editing this year and it's been really nice to just write. 

     How I feel about the novel changes every 100 words. Sometimes I think its good. Sometimes I think I should delete the whole thing. But I just keep writing. I can decide later whether it is any good. I admit that I deleted the novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo 2013 because I didn't like it. It was a complete rewrite since I didn't want to save any of it. But it felt good to write then since I had my third child just 6 months before. Now, I want to write something that is good enough to edit. A first draft that is worth keeping. So I am keeping myself focused. Not reading much so my novel stays in my head. And I think about it a lot. I think I might even kill one of the main characters, which I've never done before. Although that might change if I get too attached him.

     And this year, I am loving the badges. There have been badges other years but for some reason I really need them to keep me going this time. I really pushed to get that 25,000 word badge this week. If I add to my word count every day of November I get that last calendar badge so even if I reach my crazy goal of 50,000 words by the 15th, I'll still keep writing but probably not as much. Just for a silly badge. It's weird how our brains work.

This guy has been enjoying a lot of PBS in the mornings so I can write. He's not complaining but he's never far away. If I write at my desk instead of the couch, he sits on my lap to watch tv. 

And to distract me from my writing, Jen's latest Mystery KAL shawl started today. I forced myself to write 2,000 words before I could cast on. I'd like to write another 5,000 words today so I might have to limit how much I can knit (although I cast on while waiting for pictures to download from the camera). If you're a knitter, you can find the pattern here

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

What I Read in October

Last month I enjoyed everything I read. Lots of graphic novels as I am making my way through the Fables series. Here's what I read.

I was very excited to pick this book up from the library. I loved the first 3/4's of the novel but I'm not sure about the last 1/4. I can't explain why it bothers me. The ending is so... happy? hopeful? I guess I wanted more punishment or different punishment for the bad guys. If you like Atwood, you have to read it. I stayed away from reviews and interviews until after I read it which was good but would have given me a heads up on the ending. Atwood is a great writer and I'd read anything she wrote but I don't think this book would go on my top ten of her books. Maybe I need to reread it? Would still recommend it, as it is Margaret Atwood, and she's the best.

Other bloggers had discussed this book enough that I decided to read it. I really enjoy the idea of essentialism - cutting things out that aren't important, setting priorities and questioning what is important right now. I think I've been moving towards essentialism for a few years but didn't realize it. The mindset definitely helps purge stuff, especially kid toys. I'm working on a post about how essentialism will affect Christmas this year but I'm not sure if I'll share it here or not. Every year I try to buy less, especially for my own kids, but then I have that guilty mom feeling take over and feel like I have to get them more and spend too much on stuff they don't really want or need. I highly recommend this book. It might even be a book I'll eventually buy so I can reread it every year or so to help me refocus on what is really essential.

Below are all the Fables I read last month. 
Fables: Storybook Love

Fables: March of the Wooden Soldiers

Fables: The Mean Seasons

Fables: Homelands

Fables: Arabian Nights (and Days)

I'm still really enjoying this series. A nice break when I want to read something but don't want to commit to a novel. My brain really needed to process Atwood's novel for a couple weeks so the graphic novels were good to read until I was ready to start reading another novel (I'm almost done Jeanette Winterson's latest one - loving it!). There are 22 volumes plus spin-offs of Fables. I like that I know this isn't a long term commitment. If you've wanted to give graphic novels a try or were looking for one that wasn't full of superheroes, you might enjoy it. It's fun to see characters from fairy tales interacting. Think I should start watching the "Once Upon a Time" tv show.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Socktober Results plus a new WIP

Socktober is finished and I think it was a great success for me this year.

Here are all the socks I knit last month. 2 complete pairs (at the top) which are Christmas gifts. Bottom row is the first finished Frankensock for me and the first finished Cusp sock and almost half of the second. 6 socks in a month is pretty good.

Wrapped up the socks with ribbon instead of stretching out the cuff. 

My mother gifted me some red yarn for Christmas last year to make a red scarf for charity. She had suggested the Red Scarf project in southern Ontario which brings awareness to AIDS. But I have also discovered that there is a Red Scarf Project in the States in support of Foster care. I think I'm going to send my scarf to the Foster Care one which means more to me - I have family that used to be Foster Parents and played with several foster kids growing up. I am doing the Wheat scarf by Tin can Knits which is a free pattern. Side note - I'm using straight for the first time in a long time and it feels really weird.

And I had no plans to do NaNoWriMo this year but when an idea came to me just before midnight, I decided to write. And write I did! Just over 10,000 words in 2 days! Trying to keep the momentum going but I'm a little concerned what's going to happen to all my gift knitting/ quilting if I spend this whole month writing. Time for my husband and kids to do some of the crafting this year? 

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