Day 24 The fall

Post by Sarah
February 18th, 2011

Day 24:  Monday, February 14, 2011.

This is the first day that I haven’t done any stitching.

I took my son to the doctor this afternoon, and on the way home stopped to fill up my car with gas.  Stupidly, I stepped over the gas hose (when the nozzle was in the gas tank of the car), and tripped.  I fell hard, hitting the back of my right thigh on the concrete block the gas pump sits on, twisting my right knee, hitting my right shoulder, and finally hitting my head on the pavement.  I had my sunglasses on, and they were driven into my head above my right eye, earning me a nice cut which of course bled profusely.

As you can imagine, this fall has really slowed me down this week.  I’ve been to the doctor and gotten a CT scan (which was clear), but I’m still hurting pretty good and spending a lot of time in bed sleeping.

But, on the bright side, Monday was the only day that I haven’t done any stitching at all.  I’m working away on Rabbit, mostly.


Days 17 & 18

Post by Sarah
February 9th, 2011

Days 17 & 18:  Monday & Tuesday, February 7 & 8, 2011.

More plodding away on Raspberry Lemonade.

That’s our kitty Frank, there, helping me out with the photography.  You know, ’cause cats are just oh so helpful when it comes to projects involving string!

There is progress being made, but it’s slow, and I’ve been really tired and grumpy the last couple of days.  I’ve had a bad case of the winter blahs, and my normal reaction to such a mood is to Start a New Project! (on the theory that nothing cheers one up like having a new project!), but I have forbidden myself any starting of new projects while so many old projects remain unfinished.  Bleh.  So I was good girl and worked away on the ol’ Lemonade.

A close-up:

And a close-up of Frank:

Awww.  Isn’t him sweet?!


Day 16 Super Bowl Sunday

Post by Sarah
February 9th, 2011

Day 16:  Sunday, February 6, 2011.

Today I worked on some knitting while watching the Super Bowl with my family. 

This is a baby blanket in the Knit One Below column pattern.  I bought the book Knit One Below soon after it came out, and just fell in love with this column stitch and the possibilities for it.  I started making baby blankets in this stitch, and so far this is my sixth one.  (Three finished, and three in progress.)

This particular blanket uses a cotton/wool sock yarn for the striping columns, and a cotton/acrylic blend for the solid orange columns.  I try to stick to machine-washable yarns when making baby things; I feel it’s not fair to expect parents of an infant or very young child to hand-wash anything.  I know I certainly wasn’t up to hand-washing anything when H was a baby. 

I’ve really enjoyed making these little blankets, and really feel that I’ve only touched the tip of the design iceberg here–there are so many possibilities with this stitch.  As I look at this, I find myself thinking about making one with two different but coordinating self-striping or handpainted yarns.  I have one in progress in which I’m making a checkerboard pattern with blue and orange, and the possibilities for design there are almost endless.

Another interesting idea:  I also bought Knitting Brioche: The Essential Guide to the Brioche Stitch not long after getting fascinated by k1below stitch patterns, and realized that it is essentially a variation on the brioche technique–really just another way to accomplish knitting brioche.  Nancy Marchant has come up with some truly intriguing brioche stitch patterns; it would be interesting to see if they could be accomplished using the k1below stich technique instead of the yo brioche technique.


Days 11 & 12

Post by Sarah
February 3rd, 2011

Days 11 & 12:  Tuesday & Wednesday, February 1 & 2, 2011.

We got hit hard this week by the “Midwest Blizzard,” so I’ve had a great deal of stitching time these past few days.  I couldn’t get to work Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday because of the snow and ice, and my son and I have been hanging out at home not doing much of anything but watching movies on Netflix, eating, and (in my case, at least) stitching.

I switched to working on Rabbit after getting a little weary of Zen Duck, and have gotten quite a bit accomplished. 

The light color is complete on the first page of the chart, and now I am filling in the dark color.

This is soothing work after Zen Duck, with all its many color changes and confetti.  There’s something very satisfying about working in two colors.  It allows me to concentrate more on the physical act of stitching rather than on reading a chart and keeping track of colors.  That might seem boring, I know, but I actually love the physicality of stitching, be it cross-stitch or knitting.  This two-color chart is the equivalent of garter stitch in knitting; it allows the process to take over and the mind to wander.  I can give myself up to the power of the stitch, over and over and over.


Days 7-10

Post by Sarah
February 3rd, 2011

Days 7-10:  January 28-31, 2011

I picked up another cross stitch project that I’ve been working on for awhile:  Zen Duck.  This is a chart from Heaven and Earth Designs, and it is beautiful, although maddeningly slow-going.  It has 90 colors in the chart, and lots of “confetti” as cross-stitchers say.  (One or two stitches of a color here and there, as opposed to large blocks of color.)

But I do love the way he stitches up:

You can’t see his hat in this photo, because it is rolled up in the frame, but that, along with his face, is the part that I have completed.

HAED recommends that their designs be stitched over one on 25-count linen, but I am stitching this on 22-count aida, and that is small enough for me right now.

A couple close-ups:

I find I can stitch on this chart for a few days, and then I begin to get a little frustrated and have to turn to something a bit simpler for relief.


Day Six

Post by Sarah
February 3rd, 2011

Day six:  Thursday, January 27, 2011.

A bit of progress on Raspberry Lemonade:


Days four and five

Post by Sarah
January 27th, 2011

Days four and five:  Tuesday and Wednesday, January 25 and 26, 2011.

Not too much to report.  Slow progress on Raspberry Lemonade.

I’m thinking I may change things up a bit this weekend and do some knitting.  The question is, what to work on?  The afghan?  The socks?  The baby blanket?  The shawl(s)?  Hmmmmm……

On the other hand, I have some other cross-stitch projects that would be fun to work on as well.  One of them is a two-color project from Artecy called Rabbit, based on a William Morris design.  I’m finding this restful because it is only two colors, so the amount of thinking I have to do is limited to the actual counting of stitches.  And then, of course, once I get the one color stitched, all I have to do is fill in the other color in the empty spots–no looking at the chart at all!

Clearly, I’m in initial stages with this project.  I’m stitching this on an 18-count linen in a dusky blue-grey.  I chose different colors than those in the pattern, and they are rather unconventional–a dark russet brown, and a light mauve-y pink that I really have no name for.  I think that together they look complicated and unexpected, especially combined with the blue-grey fabric.  I’m hoping I will still think so at the ending stages after putting in hours of stitching!


Day three

Post by Sarah
January 25th, 2011

Day three:  Monday, January 24, 2011.

Last night I worked on “Raspberry Lemonade” and watched Anthony Bourdain on the the Travel Channel.  Progress is slow, but steady.

A close-up:

Each of the four corners of the piece is the same, so no surprises here, and I can usually stitch away without much checking of the chart.


Days one and two

Post by Sarah
January 24th, 2011

Days one and two:  Saturday and Sunday, January 22-23, 2011.

This weekend I worked on a cross-stitch project that I started last summer.  It’s called “Raspberry Lemonade,” and is a design by artfulstitches on etsy.  . 

I really like this woman’s designs, and this is a very nice chart.  I have been eyeballing her other mandala designs ever since I purchased this one last summer.  Like many cross-stitch charts and knitting patterns found online now, this is sent as a pdf file to your email account after you purchase it.

I enjoy the way this chart is actually fairly simple and uses comparatively few colors (few enough to make this a portable project) but looks complicated.  Another nice thing about this design is that, because of its basic geometric design, I don’t have to constantly look at the chart.

Another, closer view:

My goal is to have this project be my first monthly finish of the year.  I’d like to have it done by Feb. 15, 2011.  I’ve decided that since I started by year-long project a little late in January, my goal date for monthly completions is going to be the 15th of each month.

Today:  more work on Raspberry Lemonade.


Stitching every day

Post by Sarah
January 21st, 2011

I bought this book for my new Kindle:  365:  A Daily Creativity Journal:  Make Something Every Day and Change Your Life.  When I ran across this book, I was in search of a daily meditation book I could keep on my Kindle, something like Barbara Crafton’s The Sewing Room:  Uncommon Reflections of Life, Love, and Work.  A creativity journal was not really what I was looking for, yet, as in all things, what I find is often not what I was searching for.  I’m not even really sure why I bought this book, to tell the truth.  It simply “spoke” to me.

Of course, I’m quite familiar with the concept of a daily creative effort and the way in which committing to such an effort can act as a spur to creativity, a path to discipline, and even a spiritual practice of sorts.  Growing up, our father got up every morning quite early before going to work and sat down to write.  When I was a small child, he wrote on a typewriter (accompanied by much cursing, as he was a poor typist).  Later, he upgraded to a DOS-based computer system and word-processing program, complete with daisy-wheel printer.  Now, of course, he has an up-to-date (well, fairly) computer with an ergonomic keyboard and laser printer.  There are times, however, when he goes out-of-town or stays with family, that he still writes in longhand with a clipboard, paper, and pen.  The point is, in the 40 years of my life, I could probably count on one hand the number of times that he has skipped his morning writing session.  Very few people have this kind of discipline.  As a child, I took my dad’s discipline for granted, but when I really stop to think about it, it is astounding and awe-inspiring.

So, with such an example before me, I really have no excuse.

My new book is written by Noah Scalin, a man who resolved to make a skull a day for a year.  He used all kinds of media.  Some of his projects were small, and some were very large.  Some were permanent, and some were temporary, recorded for posterity only in photos.  Some were solo efforts, and some he made with friends.  The only rule was that he would make one image of skull each day.  All other factors were variable.  He recorded his efforts over the course of the year in a blog, and now has written this creativity journal as well as published a book of the skull images.

Yesterday I sat down and did a little brainstorming about what my year-long project might be.  A number of things occurred to me, but with Scalin’s advice to keep the outlines broad enough to remain interesting and flexible, I decided on these two year-long resolutions.

1.  Stitch every day for a year.

2.  Finish one project a month for a year.

Number one is cheating a little, I admit, since I normally stitch every day anyway.  By stitching, I mean knitting, cross-stitching (which I have been doing a lot of lately), sewing, and quilting.  I am deliberately keeping my definition broad here so as to leave myself lots of room to switch media and projects at will–something else I typically do anyway.

But resolution number one leads me to resolution number two–something a little harder for a craft transient such as myself.  I have many, many unfinished projects languishing in dark corners, drawers, and bags.  You see, my vow is to finish, not just any project, but a currently unfinished project every month.  At least one a month.  In any medium.  There are many possibilities here–afghans, sweaters, socks, shawls, quilts, cross-stitch projects.

Let the stitching begin.