Sunday, January 29, 2017

A Little Quilting, Knitting, and My Back

I am really excited, I am finally getting back to working on a quilt.  This is block 3 of Esther Aliu's 2016 BOM.  And, yes, I am way behind.  Her applique quilts really challenge me and I am very careful to choose which ones of hers I try.  Well, this one is right on the edge.  This block was not too difficult and today I finished it, as far as I can go until all of the rest are ready to be put together.

 This is the next block and the last one I have ready.  I hope to start stitching the applique down this week and to get back to working on the next block.  I have all of the pieces ready I just need to put them together, not a little job.  And then there will be 7 more before it is ready to be completed.  Sometimes I really do wonder why I love quilting.  😏

While I was choosing which thread to use I pulled out this red.  Then I took the plastic off, that holds the thread together, and saw how it was discolored.  I remembered that I had a thread bleed on a previous piece and wondered if this was the same one.  And if it discolored the plastic what would it do on my fabric?

So I decided to throw it away and not take a chance.  I know that I was VERY upset when thread made such a mess of a project and was really upset today when I saw that it came from a well known manufacturer.

 This past week I made my first and second pillowcase.  Now I know that thousands of others have made millions of pillowcases but I hadn't.  I am not showing them because they will be gifted so I am showing the fabric I pulled to make two for me.  After I get these done I will start making kids pillowcases to go with the charity quilts I am planning.  I have to do these four because I can't seem to remember the formula for how to put them together: I have had to rip out 42" of stitches.  But after four I should have the thing down. 

This is my new knitting project.  I have another sweater going but I am not sure I like the yarn I bought so when this kit came in I jumped ship and started it.

I got it from Craftsy.  The yarn came in huge balls and since I am knitting both front pieces at the same time, I have to work with two of them.  It has been lots of fun, so far.

 This is how far I have gotten.  The sweater is knit from the top down so I have done the top of the collar and have added stitches for the collar extension, I think.  I really love how the color/value of the blue changes and I like the feel of this acrylic yarn.

And now for a personal *****.  If you have read my previous blog posts (here) you know that I am working on decreasing my back pain.  The above picture is how my back looks, minus the part that goes lower.  This is all a part of a trial to see if this will work for me.  I have a "wire" up my spine and all that tape is keeping it there and in place.  Then there is a plastic box taped there and a "belt" that holds another plastic box. Each of the boxes are attached to leads that are attached to the wire.  AND, I have a remote that allows me to choose different  "programs" of stimulations that are to ease and/or block the pain.  I am on day 3 of 7.  I think I am having some relief but I am not sure that it might just be a placebo effect.  But I do know that I have been able to stand for longer periods of time, both strength and pain free.  We'll see how it goes as I try more and more things. 

Have a great week, make the most of what you have,  Gari

Linking with Patchwork Times.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A Little AL Life

Yesterday was our 56th wedding anniversary.  When we were younger, and lived just outside of Chicago, we braved the very cold weather to go into the city for dinner and to see a play/musical.  We saw some great plays with some outstanding Broadway stars and had a wonderful time.  Now we don't live anywhere near that caliber of entertainment so I entertained my husband by cracking and eating King Crab legs and drawn butter.  As you can see by this picture, this was a labor of love, both for him (laughing) and for me (eating).

I recently started getting my nails done, again, and have had Christmas trees, a flower, and now a heart painted on my ring fingers.  I had the heart done for our anniversary but I don't think it will last until Valentines so I will have to think of something else.  I have looked at several designs online but most of them are so elaborate and at this stage in my life I am a little more subdued.

 The other day, as I was getting ready to take my morning's rations of pills, I looked at that long line and was seriously amused.  For all of my life I have been a really bad pill taker.  Even when I was on birth control pills, I always had at least one or two leftover at the end of each month.  And now look what my morning activity is.  I take these with a protein drink and by the time all that is down, I am not hungry for hours.  I haven't been able to eat a good breakfast for months.  But these pills are what is keeping me going so I am not really complaining, just commenting.  😃

And, once again, our plants think it is spring and are blooming.  It has been in the high 70s all this past week so we have been running around in flip flops: I haven't pulled any shorts out but I have thought of it.  I think it is going to be in the 60s next week but even that is comfortable and allows for time outside.  I try to spend some knitting time sitting on the deck each day cuz I know when winter comes back I will be stuck inside except when I "run" between the house and the studio.

Have a great week,  Gari

Thursday, January 12, 2017

First Knitting Finish

I am so excited.  These are my first finish for the New Year.  They were started several months ago but got put on the back burner.  They really are "leftover" socks, using leftover yarn from two previous pair but look pretty snazzy, if I do say so myself.  As I was finishing them I was concerned that they were too big but, as you can see, they fit perfectly.

And here I am, back to working on the back of my cardigan.  I wasn't able to knit a stitch during the 5 days we puppy-sat with our daughter's 2 month old doxie puppy (see previous post).  Since taking this picture I have knit 6 rows of stockinet stitch.  I have 12 more rows to go and the back will be done.

Previously we put all our outside plants inside so they wouldn't die in the below freezing temps.  Yesterday we put them back outside (they are much happier there) and this one showed her appreciation by blooming.  There is another grouping on the other side and another set of buds ready to pop.  Blooms in January are so much appreciated.

We are expecting company this weekend, oldest son and daughter in law, so we know we will be having fun and lots of laughs.  I hope all who read this also have a great weekend, and not too much snow.   Gari

Monday, January 9, 2017

Remember the Plan

Remember the plan, making quilts and knitting sweaters?  Well, it is amazing that the smallest things can undo the plan, at least temporarily.

The little thing is Dallas, named for the Dallas Cowboys.  And this picture is really a lie as Dallas almost never looks like this.  Doesn't she look sweet?

This is more like it, constant movement.  I have even given up most of my computer time unless I go to the table or a desk to work.  I really had forgotten how much time and energy it takes to care for a puppy.

Dallas is very loving, attention seeking, and energetic.  She has begun to fit in with the 3 older doxies who live with us: they were highly annoyed when she didn't go home last Thursday.  And one really good thing is that she is used to being in a confined space all day while our daughter is at work so here she goes down for "naps" a couple times a day.

My studio does not have central heat so with the temps in the 20s I have not been over there all weekend.  While in the house I have been collecting easy quilt ideas and have been drawing on the fusible for some applique blocks I will be working on. 

Prior to the weekend I did set up fabric for my first project.  I have never made pillowcases but had thought I would try.  I had the main fabric and just before Dallas and the freezing weather, I pulled the additional fabrics, watched a video and printed the directions.  Now all of that is waiting for me in the very cold studio.  It is supposed to be going up into the 60s tomorrow and 70s later in the week so I should be learning how to make pillowcases soon.

As I write this I am on the couch with hubby and 4 dogs.  All is quiet because Dallas is "resting."  But soon chaos will reign again and we will be laughing all afternoon.  Baby's can be fun.  I hope you all have fun this week, too.   Gari 

Friday, January 6, 2017

New Project

 I have started a new project, a bolero sweater.  Mine is really in blue: I will try to get a better picture later.  I found the pattern while I was working on organization in my studio.  It seems I liked it when I first saw it but didn't know enough about knitting to even attempt it.

 This is the picture of how the back of the sweater is supposed to look.  I am at the waistline with quite a way to go.  This is the first time I have worked a pattern that had me using three different needle sizes.

And this is what the full sweater looks like and, yes, that is a lot of 2x2 rib. 

If anyone is interested, this is where I found the pattern.  Look how long it took me to learn enough about knitting to work this pattern.  And I am really enjoying finally getting started on it. 

One of my Christmas gifts was a Spiralizer attachment for my KitchenAid stand mixer.  It was really fun to peel and core a bunch of apples to ready them for making applesauce in my Instant Pot.  I could hardly keep up with the Spiralizer: I had to cut the ends off of the apples before I put them on the Spiralizer.  And after I finished getting them ready I fed the peels to the chickens.  What a fun place I live in.

Well, except for last weekend.  It started raining Sunday afternoon and after 36 hours we had gotten 9" of rain.  I took this picture on Wednesday and it still looks like we have waterfront property.  I am not complaining: we love to have our trees well watered.

I am also still working on a pair of purple socks: they are about a year in the making, too.  I am almost finished with them and will post a finish picture next week.

We are babysitting our granddog this weekend (5 days).  She is a mini dachshund, about 2 months old.  She is quite a busy puppy and, of course, our 3 adult dachshunds are not quite sure what to make of her, or whether or not she should be allowed to be here.  We are going to have an exciting long weekend.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

I Have a Plan

I have been thinking, a very dangerous thing to do.  But 17 months ago I was diagnosed with cancer and told that it was incurable because it had spread throughout my whole skeletal system.  The cancer was found because my arm had spontaneously broken and was in such poor condition that it had to be surgically put together with a permanent splint.  At that time I was also told that my left hip was also in extremely poor condition and that I needed a partial hip replacement.  And while doing the preadmission tests for that operation my heart rate was found to be only 29 beats per minute and I was rushed into surgery for a pacemaker.  (This is just a preamble to what I really want to say)  It should be noted that up until that July I had never had surgery and was known to be extremely healthy so all of this was quite a shock to my system and psyche.  Although I never asked, the oncologist told the cardiologist that I probably had 9 - 12 months to live.  And, as you can see,  I am still going.  I, however, now suffer from back pain that has severely limited my moving around and participating in the things I love doing.  So this month I will be fitted with a device that may (read will) reduce my pain and allow me to stand and walk normally and to return to quilt making, a task I really do love.

So, here is my plan: I have a LOT of fabric that is folded neatly (?) on shelves where I can see it.  But I have not been able to stand long enough to cut it and make quilt blocks with it.  Also, there is the question "what will happen to all that fabric when I die?"  So my plan for 2017 is to make quilts out of as much of that fabric as I can.  I plan on making easy quilts to give away (charity, families in need, hospital patients, etc. )  and to have at least one special (applique, fancy blocks, fancy settings, etc.) quilt going at all times to stimulate my brain.  I really want to use up so much fabric that I HAVE to buy more to complete a current project.

I know I will still get tired when standing so I will continue to knit.  I really love knitting and it is so very relaxing.  I usually have at least two projects going, one in the studio and one in the house, so my hands can stay busy when I am off of the computer.

I don't know how much time I have but I really want to use it wisely and that my husband and/or family to only have to deal with the machines and other tools of my trade when I am gone.

I am very lucky.  When I came home from the hospital my husband took over ALL of the household chores.  And when I began to get stronger and no longer needed home health he told me that he would continue to do those chores and my job was to spend as much time in my studio as I wanted, to rest and read, and not worry about getting anything done. This has been such a gift.  Of course I  had to deal with feeling guilty but I have worked that out.  I did it all for over 50 years so 50 years from now I will take some of the chores back.  😇

The truth is that I need to feel a sense of accomplishment and with this plan I hope to feel it several times this year.  Wish me luck.