Friday, March 22, 2013

penguino and mr hat

Poor little Seely Boy.  I've had to cajole him into his bathtub over the past 10 days or so, because his bath buddy, Penguino, the rolypoly penguin that used to be sold as a bird toy, split his little head open when he fell on the kitchen floor. Let's not even think about how that happened. Was it the amorous advances of a verbose parakeet (budgie) or a human accidentally bumping it?  We'll never know. All we know is that his noggin is cracked. Penguino isn't replaceable because he and his ilk were manufactured with lead weights in them, and now that's verboten.

Seely's play pal, Mr.Hat, has a cracked base, which has put him out of commission, too.  Same deal: lead weight inside.  

So what's the keeper of a parakeet who needs a friend to bathe with to do?  The short term solution is standing at his cage, playing with his lukewarm bath water in the morning until the splish splash sound becomes so irresistible to him that he ventures in and takes a proper budgie bath.  But some mornings it's not opportune. 

While trolling Ebay, I found some substitutes that I hope will work for him.  Penguino was a small little toy and Mr Hat was very slight. No matter where I look, no one has the lead-weighted penguins.  I've been keeping pet birds my whole life and every bird I have ever had, had a penguin and loved it's movement.  Enter the infamous Weeble.  I found a few online for a reasonable price, bid on them and won them.  They arrived today.

They're bigger than Penguino and Mr Hat, but they move and they're colorful.

Seely's first reaction was a high sideways glance.  He hasn't kissed his new buddies yet, but he isn't exhibiting any fear of them. More like indifference today (they just arrived in the mail today).  I hope he will warm up to them.  I'll have to take one with me wherever I am in the apartment, so he gets used to the idea that they're here to stay and to play with him.  


The post title is not what you think.  I've been working on my Jungle socks - Jungle being the name of the color way, not the  pattern.  I have made several pair of Cat Bordhi's Sidestream socks and this is yet another pair.

I was merrily knitting along on them, admiring the colors - I don't have any green socks so I'm looking forward to wearing them. When working Cat's sock patterns, I use her Master Numbers sheet to track where  I move from one part/phase of the sock to another. For this pattern, I originally  had D - the midfoot stitch count as 46, E- the length of first section of the toe-up sock as 4 inches and F - stitch count after heel expansion as 68.  I looked at my Master Numbers sheet because the first section of the foot was looking too long. Somehow and for some reason, I modified the Master Numbers.  I don't remember doing it and I really don't know why. Maybe my gauge was a little tight after the first few inches?  But the changes were radical.  My first section of the foot was increased by .75 inches - and that's a lot.  The stitch count after arch expansion jumped to 80. They were way too loose and to long. I was using my CountMeme app, so it was easy to determine how many rows to rip back. (If you have to keep track of pattern, repeats, rows etc. in a single or multiple patterns, this is a terrific app to have on your phone.  No more chicken scratch row counting!!)

It wasn't as frustrating and disturbing as frogging my whole Money Pit (AKA Appalachian) Shawl.  It didn't take long before I was  working on the  proper foot circumference to the proper first section of the foot length.  

This is going to be the first pair of socks I'm making with an afterthought heel. Every pair of socks that I've knit for the past 2 years, I have planned to make an afterthought heel, and in each and every case, I have chickened out and done my usual wrap and turn heel.  Now that I've posted it, I HAVE TO make the after thought heel.  I like the aspect of being able to easily replace the heel if it gets hard wear.  I also like the thought of knitting uninterruptedly on the sock, all the way up to the cuff.   I have EZ's instructions for an afterthought heel as well as  KnitPicks instructions.  I should be fine and I hope I become  as comfortable with it as the other heel treatments I have used since I began knitting socks.

Can't wait until they're done.  

no real dilema

When Janie told me she wanted to make a baby blanket and hat for Rossi's baby girl, due in the summer, and asked me what I thought of the "easy" pattern she chose, I was a little conflicted about telling her I am planning to crochet a baby blanket for the most welcome little girl, too.  I didn't want Jane to feel like I'm trying to upstage her, as a new crocheter,  but I usually crochet for babies to whom I'm not closely related. It's quicker than knitting and it's durable. I didn't tell her until last week.  She didn't seem bothered and I'm glad.

I made 2 Candy Cable Baby Blankets last year, for the women who work in the office of our apartment, and they were very well received.

Now, the third woman in that office is expecting and I will probably make another one for her baby (so as not to show partiality) because I enjoyed this pattern. It's not a traditional baby blanket and it stitches up quickly until the last outer rounds. They take forever.

But, for Rossi's baby, I was inspired by Edie Eckman's book Connect the Shapes, which  I reviewed a few posts ago.  In that book there's a sweet baby blanket that looks just right for a summer baby, aptly called Summer Baby Blanket.

I know the busy young family into which this new little one is coming, and I know this blanket will not receive any special care. So, rather than making it from the prescribed yarn, I'm making it in an acrylic in these colors:

I like the model so I will use white as the main color and the other colors for the flowers.  Not only will this be a pretty baby blanket, but I will get a chance to use JAYGO for the first time in a project.  I will start it soon.  I'd like to finish my Trailblazing Tote and my Jungle socks first, so I guess I'll start in April, some time.  

janie's 2nd project

Right around Christmas, I taught Janie, the cousin of our beloved late friend, Dottie, how to crochet.  She's recently disabled and at home a lot of the time. She's also a new grandmother.  I don't recall whether I offered or she asked to learn to crochet first. It doesn't matter. 

I don't have a photo of her first project, which was a scarf.  Although her initial attempts were rife with her hook going the wrong place, I assured her that once she relaxed and could actually read her work, she would put the hook just where it belonged and her production would be very satisfying.  She has realized the liberation of being able to just rip out stitches that aren't correct and redo them.   

We have a mutual friend who is expecting a baby girl in  July. Janie wants to crochet a pattern she found online, for Rossi's baby. She chose Red Heart's  One Ball Baby Blanket and Hat

Janie has decided to use a variegated Red Heart yarn that is various light shades of lavender.  Because she's a newby, I thought the multicolor-ness of the yarn might make it even harder to see her work. I only see her once a week or less than that, and I thought she might need a little more guidance than that, to work on this project. So, I worked some samples for her.

On 1 copy of the pattern, I marked color of the row, so she can see the stitches clearly.   Pink the chain and row 1.  Yellow is row 2, blue is row 3, cranberry is row 4 and cream is row 5.  Then I did a repeat of rows 2 - 5, which occurs in the pattern 16 times.  My representation is about one third of the size of each row.   I used the sample to explain to Janie how to measure gauge. It doesn't matter much for the blanket, except in terms of finished size and her yarn yardage requirements.  But, I reminded her that when it comes to making the hat, for which I will also make a sample, the gauge is all important. If she ignores it, the hat may not fit.  Back to the samples.  I also crocheted a little rectangle and again, with pink, crocheted the single crochet for the row 1 of the border and used yellow for row 2, so she could see them. 


I've been working on my Trailblazing Tote by Lily Chin for a couple weeks, alternating with a few other projects.  I'm making this first "prototype" out of cotton and rather than using a short double ended crochet hook, I'm using cabled interchangeable crochet hooks from Knitters Pride. For the first couple of rounds, I wasn't sure I was doing the joins correctly, therefore,  I am counting the stitches every couple rounds to be sure I'm not increasing or decreasing by mistake.  This is the first Tunisian crochet project I have attempted.  I like using the cable so I can work a single pass in one direction and then the return pass in one direction, rather than doing a short hook worth of Tunisian Simple Stitch and Tunisian Knit Stitches and then the return pass, then the tss-es and tks-es on the short hook again and the short return pass etc.  

bottom and first rows of the body

This project would go faster if I were a monogamous crafter, but alas, I am not. This is an easy pattern after the first 2 or 3 rows of the body. It's intuitive and the instructions are simple.   I think I'm going to like the FO, and if I do, I will probably make some others, perhaps with different shaped bottoms.  

a little farther along

This will be a large tote. I haven't determined how I will stabilize the bottom. Perhaps I will sew in plastic canvas and/or run the straps all the way under the tote and up the other side.  We'll see when I get there.

I'm using HandiCrafter in 3 solid colors (navy, gray and red) and 1 ombre that's a peachy color that moves from very pale  to a beige and a darker peach.  The bag would be lovely in a nice superwash or wool blend.

everything old is new again

When I received one of the illuminated D wax seal pendants as a gift, earlier, I knew one would be great to wear as a on a chain of varying lengths, but I had no idea what I was going to do with the other. 

About a week ago, I was looking for a guitar pin to wear (that has quite a story), when I came upon some old pins of my mother's, that a silversmith in Greenwich Village made for her in the '30's.  One is a very cool, rough cut, large amethyst in a free-form silver setting and another was a pin from which hung a small chainmaille coin purse that has a few broken links.  I never wore the latter because the little purse, though adorable, was very heavy to be pinned to a garment.  But its begged to be worn. 

So, here's my new old pin. The scale of the seal and the pin are just right for each other.  I wore it to teach this week rather than one of  my usual seal necklaces. It got a lot of comments and complements.

greeting cards? check!

Because I'm a sealing wax and seal user, I send cards for the big holidays and birthdays. No e-cards for me, unless it's impossibly late and I've had a lapse.

My 2 biggest card sending times are Christmas/Hanukkah and Easter/Passover. I send cards to family, friends and students.  I worked on the latter variety for a couple nights and have them written, addressed, stamped and sealed....early, for a change.

I used one of the cross seals I have for the Easter cards.

I used a Magen David seal for the Passover cards.

But, what to do about the family in whose single envelope will be both an Easter and Passover card?  Go generic, with my You've Got Mail seal.

Because I was making a large number of seals, I used my low temp glue gun and the genuine wax  sticks that fit into it (not the colored glue that some people use for decorative scrap booking and other crafts). Silver wax sticks were already loaded so I sealed the Passover cards first. I hoped they would require all the silver wax so I could use a pretty pastel purple wax I have for the Easter cards.  It didn't run out, so the light purple wax will be for upcoming spring birthday cards, for which I also use the glue gun.  I write all the birthday cards for a given month, at the same time.  It saves time and I'm more likely to get them posted at just the right time.

winter dies slowly

Uncharacteristically, I taught a guitar student last Monday night - it was a make up lesson, which needed to be spaced far enough away from that student's usual, Thursday night lesson, or it wouldn't be practical.  Monday was March 18th, just 2 days before spring.  I'd heard the threat of some kind of precipitation, so I left earlier than necessary so as to arrive in her environs before anything significant could accumulate. As I arrived to teach her at the appointed time, big fat flurries were swirling.  It looked pretty and I doubted it would stick. Yeah, right.

Fast forward an hour and a half later...

Here's our parking lot in the dark, with snow teeming down.

Welcome, spring!  The views from our windows still reveal snow-blanketed woods, but the birds are all back, trying to find their nests and making a racket for the past few mornings.  They know it's spring and I'm glad  they're never wrong.

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