Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Jane Austen Knits hat pattern

Once upon a time I bought every new knitting magazine I could find. Knitting became more popular again (yes!!) and new magazines appeared. I became selective in magazine purchases when the number of magazines outgrew their designated space in my craft room. I'm better about tearing out patterns that I might use one day and putting them into binders, but they still accumulate and guilt nags me when I look at new issues in the store.

Jane Austen Knits magazine debuted in 2011. The patterns that I have glanced at in various issues have been pretty, but not my personal style. Sometimes a photograph doesn't do justice to a project though, and a hat called a Modified Mobcap from the Summer 2012 issue was an example of a photo I saw and dismissed.

Enter the knitting group at my local yarn store. One woman made the cap. Ooooh, that was nice. Then another woman made it. And made it again and again. I was hooked. I needed to make one too. I had Misti Alpaca Tonos Worsted yarn, color TW11 (Shanghai Wedding) that wanted to become a hat so I obliged. A mere two night's of TV watching while knitting produced this:
(Don't you love my patient model?)

The color is actually redder than it appears in these photos. I'm having trouble photographing red indoors lately, probably due to gloomy days. With a flash, the red shows up orange. Oh well.

This isn't the most flattering style for me to wear, but if it is cold enough for me to wear a hat, I'm most likely not in the mood to care about appearances. I'd rather be warm than utterly adorable. I'm ok with merely adorable.

I know that I will use this pattern again. The pattern in the band is a variation on the linen stitch. After that comes an increase row, a few rows of plain knitting, and then the decreases begin and the cap speeds toward finishing. This pattern is going to make great gifts!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Holy cow, this cowl is huge!

I recently participated in a mystery knit along. All I knew before beginning was the weight and amount of yarn I would need; needle sizes; and that the finished project would be a cowl. Directions are given in installments in a mystery knit along.

A cowl can be loose and drapey or more close fitting to the neck. Usually gauge is important, but when making something that doesn't require an exact fit, such as a scarf, the pattern may not give a gauge. I am a very relaxed knitter who knits loosely. I usually have to go down a size in needles to achieve the correct gauge when one is given. Not knowing what the finished project was going to look like, I followed directions as given.

The cowl was knit on circular needles with the size changing along with the pattern stitches. The cowl began and ended with a linen stitch. The second and fourth of five sections was done in herringbone, and the middle was plain stockinette. When these were complete, the short ends of the cowl had stitches picked up and knitted in ribbing, one end with button holes, the other to have five buttons sewn on.

Sounds good, right? But alas, it looks lousy on me. First photo is the cowl, flat and buttoned as intended.
Taking photos of myself wearing this, I wasn't able to get one worn buttoned that way without it being all bunched.  In the next photo, I have it open and flat. That doesn't work either.

The last two photos work in theory, either partially buttoned or buttoned askew with button #1 in button hole #5, but I don't care for either. Partially buttoned might work if the opening around my neck wasn't so enormous.

I like the yarn used, Marble Chunky by James C. Brett. It works up nicely in a very simple scarf that I haven't photographed yet. I will spend TV time ripping this out.

Tomorrow I will show you a knit project that did turn out well, proof that nothing everything this month has been a downer.

To leave this entry on a positive note, I am positive this cartoon does not represent yours truly. If my husband says otherwise, please know he has been known to exaggerate.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Happy Answer Your Cat's Questions Day!

Can you believe this is actually listed as a daily observance?

Maybe you need to be a "cat person" to get this. I'm not. I thought cats were aloof and knew everything, so why would they bother to ask a mere human a question?

I have a question for all of you who do own are owned by cats:  Is this the way you dry a cat after bathing them?

I hope your day is just purrrrfect!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Today I choose happiness

January has been doing its best to beat me up and wear me down.

Back to back colds, internet fraud attempts on credit cards, trouble with Blogger and an email server all had me down and agitated. Then the adult daughter of a couple we know was found dead in her home, cause still unknown. My heart aches for her parents and brother. Someone very dear to me was hospitalized with excruciating pain that seems to have been from a kidney stone. The sister of one of my son's classmates committed suicide. Two relatives have had their mothers pass.

Many years ago we had a January like this. We knew of 13 deaths by the third week of January. I was afraid to wonder "what next?" because good news was in such short supply. I was beginning to think this month was trying to rival that year.

Yesterday, while performing a mundane task, I realized it was a glorious day in my immediate world. By that, I mean the part of the world I can wrap my arms around. My husband, sons, daughter-in-law and grandson. We all have worries, but we have each other and our love is both fierce and gentle.

I don't have an answer to why so many are in physical or emotional pain, or why some resort to violence against others or themselves. I don't think the answer to that exists on this level of our existence.

So what can we do? We can choose to count our blessings. We can choose happiness. Some days we may have to fake it initially but I know that when I smile, by face feels different. That difference registers internally. If I smile and say hello to a stranger, they usually return the same, sometimes in surprise. It is the simplest and least expensive Random Act of Kindness that we can share. I hope sharing this video will make you smile.

 photo smilebeforepeace_zps204225a9.png

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Look out, I'm mad!

This is exactly what I would look like if I were blond. And had a gun. And smoked.
Yesterday I went to Target and shopped. A lot. Things we needed. Things I just plain wanted. Retail therapy after being sick for so long. With a very full cart of bagged items, I ran my Target Visa through the machine. Denied. WHAT??? I tried it again. Nope, still denied. The store is remodeling and the customer service center is presently closed. In order to find out about this I had to get in line again at checkout #1. They couldn’t tell me anything. I would have to call the number on the back of my card and give them my SS#, billing address, first born’s middle name and tell them which came first, the chicken or the egg.

I knew I hadn’t done anything to warrant this so I fumed on the way home. I was going to need to clear this up over the phone and return to Target before closing to have that transaction voided and then re-rung on my Target card to get the 5% savings.

Just last week I wrote about credit card fraud here. Well, guess what? It happened again! I had just used the Target Visa the day before, late in the afternoon without a problem. That evening, 4 attempts were made using this account but without valid billing info and expiration date, none went through. My account was locked. One of the attempted charges was for 78 cents. Here we go again.

The gentleman I spoke to was apologetic for the inconvenience and told me that the 5% I would have received had I been able to use the Target card was being applied to my account without returning to the store. I didn’t think to ask how long the company was going to wait to notify me of this. He asked if someone would be home this morning to sign for delivery of new cards. They were here shortly after 9:00 am.

I told him this had happened to me recently with another card, and also to a friend, both with 78 cents being used. He told me it was most likely an automated program that someone is using, trying to find a number that will go through and allow them to charge their evil little heart’s desires.

While relieved that we hadn’t been personally targeted by someone at a store or trusted website, I am annoyed to think that this could happen again and again. Thank goodness the credit card companies have been vigilant, but how does anyone stay a step ahead of the bad guys? This didn’t happen because of lax security. So in that photo above, the gun would be pointed at the bad guys that I can’t see: the one who wrote the program.and those who use it.

On another note, I’m none too happy that Blogger STILL hasn’t fixed the problem that would allow me to upload photos from my computer but I’m not ready to take aim at them. Not just yet. Apparently this is an IE problem. I’ve already changed from Firefox to IE because of other compatibility issues and I don’t want to change again. I am using Windows Live Writer to compose posts but that isn't my preference. My trigger finger is getting twitchy.

I want to look like this woman. Brunette is better for me. Non-smoking. No weaponry needed.
happywomanAnd that slim, belted waist wouldn’t be bad either!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Creating without Photoshop

One of these days I will get Photoshop  or a similar program and learn to use it. Until then, I manage to manipulate photos using Word, Picasa and/or Photobucket. Obviously this has limitations, but I can usually achieve my intended goal.

I made a card for my younger son’s birthday. I had taken a photo of him on Christmas day wearing a hat that was a gift from my other son and daughter-in-law.
I knew I wanted to print use black and white for the graphics in the card, adding a touch of color with colored pencils. I used Picasa to crop his face and to create a pencil sketch version.
 Billy Card Project
I wanted to superimpose his head onto other figures, but I wanted to accomplish this easily (for me) without a learning curve of a new program required. I know “layers” is a term used in photo manipulation programs, but to me, layers refers to how tall a cake might be, or how many shirts and sweaters I need to brave cold weather.

It is easy to change the size of a photo in a Word document, either by clicking on the corner and moving the sizing dot in and out, or using the format photo box and specifically addressing height and width.

The various bodies I used in the card were all from internet searches. I placed those images in Word under the photo of my son and played with sizing both images until I got something that I liked. The images were printed and then physically cut and pasted, not merged or magically cut and pasted in a program. This isn’t perfect, but for a humorous card, the process works.

For display here, I’ve blocked out the sentiments on each page using Photobucket, the “doodle” option, changing the color to gray. You can also do this through Picasa. The card was a hit with my son. The images supposedly depict how he sees himself, how his brother, friends, nephew and lastly, how his parents see him.
2     3-002 4-001   5-001   6-002
The back of the card had this stamped image ("Just think, with every birthday you're even closer to being more like your parents" - hehehehe)
The front of the card has this 3D sticker that flashed when a button was pressed
I hope this shows others what is possible using programs on hand (Word) and free programs (Picasa and Photobucket). Go forth and have fun!

Friday, January 11, 2013


Huh # 1:  Three quarters of a dollar plus three cents

Our credit card company contacted us because of a possible fraudulent charge. They were correct. The card was canceled and a new one has been ordered. What triggered their suspicion? A 78-cent charge to a construction company. Seventy-eight hundred might not have been suspicious at all, not when it comes to construction. We shook our heads, annoyed by the inconvenience and moved on.

A knitter from the group at my local yarn store tried to check her credit balance online. When she couldn't, she contacted them. Her password had been changed, but not by her. After verifying she was the authorized user, they investigated. A fraudulent charge appeared right after the password change. The charge was for 78 cents.

Huh # 2:  Mystery knitting pattern is truly a mystery

I'm participating in a mystery knit-along, knowing only that the finished project will be a cowl. If you aren't familiar with knitting, you may want to skip this and go to Huh # 3.  The directions to a mystery knit along are given in increments. No reading ahead to visualize what the outcome may be. Fun!  Or frustrating!  A cowl can be a hood (think of a monk's robe) or a scarf worn at the neck without long tails associated with most winter scarves. Some patterns have you create them on circular needles, forming a tube that doesn't require seaming when done. But this is a mystery and we don't know the ending yet.

The pattern calls for three different sizes of circular needles to be used with various stitch patterns. Cast on 106 stitches and work 12 rows in a pattern called Linen Stitch. The directions do not say to join the stitches and knit in the round. The directions do not say to work flat (back an forth as if on straight needles). I've not done this particular pattern before. What to do? Listen to my instincts? Of course I didn't. I joined after the cast on to knit in the round. On the third round of slipping the same stitch in each row, I had my duh moment and realized this can't possibly be right. I will start again, working flat, today.
Huh # 3:  ......-....
Did you read those dots and the dash correctly? Today, January 11th,  is Learn Your Name in Morse Code Day.  Those dots and dash aren't my name, but according to the site, they say "huh". Feel free to go see what your name looks like, or maybe a phrase like "TGIF" or "I love you" or "why am I playing here when I could be wasting time looking things up on Pinterest?"  I doubt you can use strikeout font in Morse though. Those dashes would really get confusing.
Your day surely feels more complete now, right? You are welcome.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

My meandering mind

During the course (two courses) of having the coughing crud, I envisioned doing things differently here and tried a second blog. It made sense at 2:30 one morning, but doesn't now. I've felt like I was without direction here and sometimes in my off-line time as well. I don't mean moral compass, spiritual or what-the-heck-day-is-this direction, just that I haven't been putting my time to good use.

Not that keeping one's backside warm while soaking one's tootsies is a waste of time.
I don't make New Year Resolutions, but I quietly resolve from time to time to implement a good habit. Often within hours of this quiet resolve, the you know what hits the fan.
Healthier meals in January? Not yet. That will come though. Hubby cares enough to keep me fed when I am down, out and under the covers, so I am certainly not complaining.

Getting up and active earlier in the day? That doesn't work well if you haven't been able to get to sleep until 4 am or later.

The list goes probably have your own list that gets derailed often.

None of this amounts to much in the long run. While it is good to have focus on healthier choices and daily schedules, it is also good to be flexible and bend rather than break. Many of my friends and relatives lost a loved one within the past few weeks, and most have been unexpected losses. I also have friends who deal with constant pain and frequently occurring health issues. I've been trying to crab about my own self less and focus more on what their lives are like. God bless them, it sure isn't easy.

Here is some humor while I clean out the other blog and rearrange some computer files.  If you made resolutions, I hope all is going well for you. If you didn't, c'mon over for some coffee and one of the cute cupcakes in blog header. Don't forget to bring your own Kleenex though...just in case.
Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Socks, Boxy Cosmetic bags and maybe a Shaving Kit

Two long time friends and I go out to dinner or lunch once per month to keep in touch with each other's lives. One's name begins with a T, one with an L and mine begins with a C, so our group is TLC. Usually at Christmas, we include a play, concert, or special destination to our dinner date. This year was only dinner, but a marvelous dinner it was. We exchange gifts after our meal. This year, I made each of them socks and presented them inside a "boxy cosmetic bag" that was also handmade.
I prefer to knit socks on two circular needles, from the toe up. My favorite basic sock pattern is from Wendy Johnson's book, Socks From the Toe Up (shown here on Amazon). The green socks above used Berroco Sox Metallic 1364, a color called Kiwi.
These socks were knit using Ty-Dy Sock yarn, color #1520 called Arizona, from Knit One Crochet Too. I did a little lace work in three columns on this pair from the toe up into the ribbing. I didn't think to try to photograph that before packaging the socks, but that accounts for the difference in appearance.
I saw this on Pinterest and used Made by Marzipan for my directions. Many tutorials and videos are available if you search for "boxy cosmetic bags". This fully lined bag was easy to assemble with the only hand sewing being closing up a few inches of the lining that had been left open for turning the project right side out.

When they were finished, I excitedly showed my husband who looked at them and cautiously asked whey I was making shaving kits. I had to laugh...yes, they do like shaving kits and would make a great gift for men in a suitable fabric. Using vinyl for the lining would make them even more like a traditional kit.

Christmas cards (and a cowboy vest)

I started card making too late in the season to make cards for everyone on my list this year, but hopefully that won't be the case this coming December. I did make a dozen or so of one card this year, and two of another style.

The first card used Tim Holtz Sizzix SNOW FLURRIES & SNOWMAN Texture Fades Embossing Folders 656944 for the white background (the snowflake folder) and the candy cane is from Sizzix Sizzlits Die Set 3PK - Christmas Set #6 (655522)
The candy canes were colored with Copic markers and embellished with a bit of Stickles glitter glue.
I really enjoy coloring, so the time spent on these was not a problem.

The other cards were made for my once-a-month dinner buddies. The Santa is Sizzix Die 380233.
The white glitter paper was from two different sources and weren't the same white, so Santa's beard and eyebrows were cut from one, the hat trim and his mustache from another.
Reversing the images wasn't planned...that was an oops when it came to cutting the glitter paper.

There isn't much to say about the cowboy vest I made for my grandson, so I am just tossing that in here with the cards. I used felt that I bought when making the play house which made the project super easy. No lining, no stabilizing, no hemming and no finishing seams!
The Prince of Sweetness showed no interest in it Christmas morning, but then again, what little boy cares about clothes when there are presents to open and one of them is a horse!

Time to saddle up my imaginary horse (it has short legs which is good since I am afraid of heights!) and get busy on a new craft.

Cards, coughs and a chuckle

Today on the craft blog I wrote about Christmas cards and a felt cowboy vest for Colton. That can be seen here.

In news that you won't see in your local paper or hear on TV, I have a cold again. The cough that nagged me for three weeks returned two nights ago on New Year's Eve. I saw the doctor this morning, not wanting this to get as deeply rooted as last time, and will be picking up prescriptions in a few minutes. I don't consider myself sickly or prone to anything and I haven't been out among the hordes shopping pre or post Christmas sales. Where did this crud come from? I don't expect an answer, but would like to pass on unsolicited advice: since there is so much of this lingering cough infused virus in Michigan, please don't wait to seek medical intervention if your sniffles become more than an annoying drip.

It is way too cold in Michigan to golf, even for my husband. It is never to cold for golf humor though, so here goes:

A man came home and was greeted by his wife dressed in a very sexy nightie. "Tie me up" she said in a sultry voice, "and you can do anything you'd like".
He tied her up and went golfing.

 (Rim shot for the lame joke)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Mohair scarf

A while back, I posted a sneak preview of a scarf called the December Scarf from Sheera, available here on Ravelry.
I used Kidsilk Haze yarn from Rowan, color 00636 called Mist. It is a very pale grayish lavender. The color seems to read a little different depending on lighting and backdrop. Against white, it looks less blue than in the above photo.
Looking more gray here
From a distance, against this dark chair, it looks white.
The pattern was not difficult if you have a little lace experience and are comfortable knitting from a chart. Kidsilk Haze is 70% mohair, 30% silk. The openness of lace knitting made this project a little slippery on my Harmony needles. Stitches were accidentally pulled off the needles a few times, but no little ears were around to hear the words that escaped my mouth. I usually curse quietly anyway.
I used one skein of yarn which was 25 grams, approximately 229 yards, with a small amount left over. I might try this pattern again in a completely different yarn. The drawback might be that the wrong side of the scarf will noticeably be the wrong side when a different yarn is used.

Happy New Year!

Blink...just like that...2012 is done!

Are you making resolutions? I sort of do that, but they are more along the lines of reminding myself to do what is good for me and for my family, and to remind myself that there is more good in the world than bad.

I hope to craft more this year, not just to use up supplies (and justify buying more of them), but because working on crafts is relaxing and satisfying to me. I won't try to explain why I felt the need to begin a separate blog that will only be about crafts, but that is what I've done with I Made This! Maybe it is a silly idea that will run its course with me and everything will become combined at a later date, but isn't going to hurt to try it. Maybe keeping this blog for personal observations and humor will be a good thing. Here's today's observations which also happen to be humorous. One or more is bound to apply to everyone!