Friday, October 28, 2011

Not Quite Time to Panic

Thanks to Toni in FL (who pointed out there are less 60 days until Christmas) and Valerie at Wandering Cat Studio (who not only pointed this out to Toni, but came up with the downright scary number of only eight weekends until Christmas), I have been catapulted from my dream of finishing afghans directly into holiday planning mode.

Actually, when I tore my gaze away from the calendar and started contemplating what I actually have planned, it wasn't that bad. I've already got a bunch of gift knitting complete and several others in process. The bad part- none of them are actually actively being worked on at this time. Oops. This weekend I will have to pull out the WIPs, take a serious look at my list and come up with a Plan. My initial thought is that I'd like a sane plan...but what fun would that be? Caution: insane crafting ahead!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Afghan Logistics

(I'm afraid this is going to be a really trivial post on sewing together afghans. Please feel free to skip down to the cute cat pictures.)

So one of the things that has occupied my mind as I have been sewing afghan blocks is how to do it.

My first thought was that I wanted to minimize the number of ends to weave in. So I started thinking in terms of working with pieces of yarn as long as I could sew with. My first thought was to sew the squares in zig-zag pattern:

But after joining only a few that way, I could see that I was going to have trouble keeping them lined up. But I was reluctant to sew them in rows because joining all the squares together in a row would mean a lot of short pieces of yarn between the blocks all in a row. Which of course has led me to wonder how other people do it...most of the internet information I've seen is on the mechanics of sewing, not the order of assembly.

Then I had a brainwave. Who says I have to weave in the ends of the yarn joining the blocks? If I left a long tail, I could sew all the second row of blocks to the first (with one edge attached, they looked like a giant fringe); then I could use those dangling tails to sew the blocks together.

And that's what I did. The main downside is that the cats loved the dangling tails. I actually wound up finishing the second afghan first...oh, yes, I haven't shown you the second afghan yet, have I?
It kind of looks like the lining for an Easter basket. It's all the pastels.
Biscuit w/afghan

It's all sewn together and I'm on the border, so I'll get a better FO shot shortly. Where were we? Ah, dangling tails. Biscuit of course loved them:
Biscuit helps with the afghan

And Cookie couldn't resist joining in the fun, though his primary interest in afghans is sleeping on them (the one underneath him is one my grandmother made me).
Cookie helps with the afghan

So, what, you may be wondering, happened to the first afghan? The trouble with the first afghan is that I wanted to sew the squares such that no two identical squares were adjacent. Which meant laying them out on the floor for Biscuit to roll around on them. But once I'd done that, I needed to keep them in order. I considered pinning (too laborious), just stacking them (Biscuit would have had them spread randomly across the floor again in a trice) and then I finally hit on it. I stacked each row of blocks in the order they'll go on the afghan, ran a length of yarn through them, and put a tag with a row number on it.
afghan rows in waiting

They stay in order, and as long as I use the rows in sequence, I'll get everything in the order I had it laid out on the floor. All is well.

So, the first afghan is only about a third sewn, but at least it's off the floor, and the second one is being bordered. I was trying to figure out how much yarn I've used the other day and realized I should have counted the skeins at the start--it's a lot. I'm already through all the yarn I had in my own stash and two of the three bags my mom gave me. The orange is still in time out--I haven't decided what to do about it yet. Except that if there is an afghan number 3, I think it's going to wait a bit. I expect once these two afghans are done, I'm going to be afghaned out for a while.

The only problem...I'm going to have almost as much pastel yarn left as I had when I decided I had to make an afghan to use it up...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Everything Takes Longer Than You Think It Will

aka:  The Afghan Report.   Sewing together is happening rather slowly, because I've had such persistent help.  
Biscuit helping with the afghan

You think this isn't so bad?  That's only because I didn't get any photos of Biscuit a) rolling around in the squares, b) digging under the squares, c) attacking the yarn threaded through the needle as I sew the squares together or d) sitting on the squares I was trying to sew.    I'll try and get more pictures as there is still rather a lot of afghan to sew together...

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Things I Have Discovered Today

1.  You really can stain a large deck in one afternoon if you're willing to smother your inner perfectionist with a pillow and concentrate on completely covering the decking, and not worrying about what else is getting stained.

2.  A 12" stain spreader does not fit easily into a 9" wide paint tray.  You have to dip it one side at a time.

3.  Extra-large paint trays are ridiculously expensive- 10 times what a disposable 9" paint tray costs.

4.  No matter how carefully you swept beforehand, you will still find leaves and acorns on the deck while staining. 

5.  Watching humans stain decks is wonderful cat entertainment.

6.  A highly motivated cat can pry open a sliding screen door so as as to inspect your staining more closely.

7.  When you turn around and spot the more timid of the two (indoor) cats, curiously exploring the deck, catch him, and pitch his fluffy butt unceremoniously back inside, you should also check on the whereabouts of the bolder cat. 

8. When a handsome black and white gentleman cat is having a Big Adventure in the vicinity of deck staining, he will not be spotted until after he has paced over a section of freshly stained deck.

9.  Cleaning deck stain off a cat's paws with alcohol is not fun for either the cat or the human.

10.  When a gentleman cat is thwarted in the pursuit of a Big Adventure, and then subjected to Terrible Indignities (having his paws cleaned with alcohol) he will naturally feel that he deserves a restorative snack in compensation.  And be rather miffed when instead his human departs to continue staining the deck.

11.  No matter how carefully you calculated, you will run out of stain because an extremely weathered deck will soak up more stain than you think it will. 

12.  As much as you may dislike ugly big box stores, having a hardware superstore three blocks from your house is darned useful at times.

13.  As grateful as a person may be to finish staining a deck;  it does not make the prospect of starting the pool closing tomorrow any more appealing...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I Don't Know, What Do You Think?

Another busy week at Chez Robin...I've been alternating turning a bushel of apples from my sister's trees into applesauce, crocheting afghan squares, killing maurauding wildlife (these ghastly little worms that I think I inadvertantly brought in with the apples, though no one else seems to have been similarly afflicted), and confusing the cats, not that this is difficult.  In order:

1.  The applesauce is delicious, but I've had to stop making it until I can clear out some more freezer space to store it.  (I know lots of people can applesauce, but I hate the way the flavor changes.  Whereas applesauce that has been frozen tastes exactly the same as fresh to me.)

2.  I have completed 108 afghan squares, which I calculate will make a slightly larger than 45 x 60 afghan and still leave some of the anchor yarn for a border.  I'm currently weaving in ends on those blocks that still need it.  (Since I'm eager to get it sewn together, I'm forcing myself to do the ends first.  I know better than to leave them all for the end.  So to speak.)

3.  Robin 673, Worms 0  (I hope.  I'm almost sure.  *looks furtively around with a crawly sensation on the back of the neck*  Really, I'm postitive.)

4.  As for how I broke Biscuit's fuzzy little brain...well.  When a cat sees a bowl coming out of the kitchen in the morning, extensive prior experience suggests that it will contain cereal.  With milk.  When the bowl comes out full of peach cobbler...well, he was quite non-plussed.  Especially after he declined to believe the evidence of his nose and insisted on tasting it.  (After I was done, I hasten to add- he gets to lick the bowl only after I'm done.)  But I restored his faith in the goodness of the universe this morning with a return to cereal.   But only because the cobbler was gone.

5.  In addition, I am amused by the link Biscuit's Aunt Cheri sent me...a retrospective of bra styles.    I'm just as happy to not be wearing these myself!

6.  I'm checking the weather reports approximately seventeen times a day, since after a whole month with either rain on or immediately before the weekend, I'm getting increasingly anxious about finishing my deck project- it has to be dry so I can stain.   Also, I have to get the staining done so I can close the pool before it fills with oak leaves and acorns.  It's long past time- there's a frost warning tonight.   Think dry thoughts for me.

7.  And last but not least, in between weaving in ends on the pink afghan squares, I tried out some of the other yarn in a slightly larger square for the 'green' afghan.  I have six skeins of the pastel green, which makes it basically the only choice for the anchor color of the second afghan.   And, it's well...take a look. 
new afghan square

What I had vaguely recalled as being a bright yellow turns out to be a practically iridescent glowing orange.   Which would be fine if my anchor color were say, beige.  But with the green....I'm trying to decide whether this is the most hideous color combination ever to desecrate an afghan, or if it's cheery in a manic harlequin-sherbet sort of way.   I could boot the orange and matching variegated yarn out of the afghan I suppose, but I was kind of hoping to use all this yarn up. 

I don't know.  What do you think?