Monday, December 31, 2007

Year in Review

Or, perhaps more accurately, This Year's Knitting in Review.

For the first time in my life, I have been keeping close track all year of my knitting projects. I know it will be fun to look back and revisit all my wooly accomplishments - heck, I'm already enjoying it! But the task has provided me with the added benefit of being able to amaze and delight (and possibly bore) you with my achievements.

My first completed project of 2007 was a pair of black wristwarmers for Meital. Just moments ago, I completed the gloves (in Koigu yarn) seen in the photo above, for Liat. I think it's kind of cool that both the first and last projects of the year were made to warm the hands of my two lovely daughters.

I have a feeling that my project totals for this year are by far and away the greatest I've ever managed. Unless I have made a mistake (very likely), I completed a total of 88 projects. Of course, this represents more than 88 individual items, because many of them were pairs of things (like socks). Here are more details:

5 hats
7 scrunchies
5 sweaters
4 purses
1 messenger bag
3 scarves
4 bracelets
1 pair wristwarmers
1 pair gloves
5 washcloths
17 various toys
1 bunny tail
1 pair kneewarmers
1 pair slippers
32 pairs socks

Not too shabby, eh? I'm pretty darn proud of myself.

Of the items listed, 26 were community knitting (donated to various organizations for distribution to those who have need of them). I'd like to up that number next year. Actually, I'd like to increase the totals all around, but I'm not sure I will be able to. We'll see.

May 2008 be a year of great happiness and good health for you and those you love.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Be It Resolved

It's the time of year when we stop and think about the things we want to change in our lives and our behavior. I actually came up with my Resolution for 2008 about a week ago, and have been practicing. What? Isn't one resolution enough??

My resolution is to stop procrastinating. No more waiting a week or more to answer e-mails and messages. No more piling the socks to be hand washed by the side of the sink, until there's no room for my toothpaste tube and hairbrush. No more putting off the multitude of annoying chores and irritating tasks that crop up on a daily basis.

Hand in hand with that is to try to keep up with things I would like to accomplish every day, like blogging and keeping up in my journal. Mostly I write about my knitting exploits of the day, though I do sometimes include other activities. It's fun to look back and see when I started a particular project, or how much I got done during a given week. The journal I have has room for eleven years worth of journaling. I like that there isn't a whole page per day; I could never deal with the stress of trying to fill up that amount of blank space. Four lines per day, with room at the back for longer entries as needed, is more than enough for me!

And in baking news, today I tried out these cookies. At first, Avi wasn't too excited about them. But when I left the kitchen for awhile, he went in and made coffee, then helped himself to a few more. He came to me, a few crumbs stuck in a rather endearing fashion on his chin, and confessed, "I just had about 5 or 6 more!" I guess that's a good sign... Right? I ended up with three dozen, so tomorrow I will be giving each of the girls a nice big bag to take to school and share.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

This and That

I probably did less knitting yesterday than I've done in months, but I *did* do some baking. In the morning I made lemon cake, then after dinner I made these peanut butter chocolate chip muffins. The recipe is in 365 Great Chocolate Desserts.

I realized today that I never showed you a photo of the bunny I made for Meital's friend. I'm not as happy with the way it came out, but then I'll confess I didn't take as much care with it as I did with Meital's. I made it in a rush, under deadline, and since it wasn't for my own daughter I put less effort into it.

I finished Liat's socks today. The yarn is Sockotta (cotton and wool). I've cast on for a pair for my mother-in-law, but what I need to do before I get started on those is finish up Liat's second glove.

Friday, December 28, 2007

In a Funk

Not a whole heck of alot going on around here, except a tiny bit of sock and glove knitting and alot of reading. Oh, and I started another sweater for myself. Maybe I should declare 2008 the year of selfish knitting?

I spent alot of time today on this website. I've printed out a few recipes, but so far all I've baked lately is my basic oatmeal cookie recipe and a lemon cake. Tonight I'm making peanut butter chocolate chip muffins... But as soon as I get my hands on some Cream of Tartar, I'm going to make the Can't Stop cookies from the website mentioned above.

I fully intend to finish both socks and gloves by midnight on 31 December... Stay tuned!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Samus is Finished!

At last. At long last! My Samus sweater is finished, though it could use a good blocking. That's okay, I'll block it after I wash it for the first time.

I had hoped and planned to finish this sweater, the first I have ever kept for myself, before the end of 2007. It took me a long time to make, two years by my estimate. I'm already looking forward to starting another sweater for myself!

In other knitting news, here is the fluffy scarf I made for Liat for Chanukah:

And here is the hat (don't have the URL, but the pattern is called the Blanche Hat, which appealed to me since my grandmother's name was Blanche) I made last week for my friend Miriam:

What's left on my needles? The second in a pair of socks for Liat (I'm working on the foot now), the second in a pair of gloves also for Liat (on the ribbing there...) and a bunny like the one I made for Meital not long ago, for a friend of hers.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Hello, Doll Bag

Unfortunately, in an all-too-common lapse in standards regarding organization and attention to detail, I failed to make a note on the first page of the pattern of the day I began work on this bag. Fortunately, I DID make a note in my journal: it was September 20th. Guess I can save the self-chastisement for another occasion. The photo above is, as you have guessed, pre-felting, with a notebook for scale.

Here's another pre-felting photo. If you've been reading this blog from the beginning, you've already read of the many trials and tribulations associated with the creation of this bag. Liat and I substituted Cascade 220 (a much more reasonably priced yarn) for the called-for Berroco yarn, and changed the colors, too. I struggled with the two-handed fair isle technique before figuring out a system that works for me. And by the way? The felting was done in a washtub, by hand (I do believe that qualifies me for a gold star, don't you?).

Close-up, post felting (forgot to get in touch with the notebook's handlers for another close-up, for scale purposes. Trust me when I say there is a significant change in the size of the bag). Liat wanted a messenger-style bag, so we eliminated the final band of colorwork as well as the gathered closure at the top. I knitted a rather wide strap directly from stitches on the final round of the bag. She may well decide she wants a zipper put in, but since the knitting, felting, and doll-making are done, I am calling this bag finished. Wouldn't you?

Next time: another big finish and some all-too-predictable grumbling about zippers.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Big Finish

It's now mid-way through December, and I'm thinking about the end of the year. I'm starting to summarize all I've done in 2007. I'm casting an eye at the remaining days on the calendar, wondering how much more I can accomplish before the year is over.

Today, I can add two more completed items to my list:

The Children's Bulky Neckdown Jacket by Knitting Pure & Simple (otherwise known as a "swoat" by Meital: sweater + coat = swoat) is finished! Believe it or not, I made the size 2-4 and it is loose on my admittedly skinny 10 year old. But instead of using the called for size 10 needles, I used yarn that calls for size 11 needles, so I used the larger size needles. Meital loves it, and it should fit her through this winter, at least.

Yesterday afternoon Liat asked me if I would be insulted if she bought a hat. We have been through the hat thing before. She looks at the patterns I've found and pronounces herself dissatisfied with all of them. But yesterday she picked out the Ribbed Caps pattern (check the hat listings at Knitting Pattern Central for the URL) from my binder full of hat patterns, then selected some yarn from my stash. By this morning, the hat was completed, and tonight she has gone off to a party wearing it. Gotta love that.

Back view.

And finally, in non-knitting news, I have finished up one of my revamped soapboxes. The orange/red/yellow one is gradually being given a coat of varnish and was unavailable for a photo op today.

And now, off to see whether or not I can finish Liat's gloves, my Samus sweater, one last pair of socks and the Doll Bag before midnight, 31 December 2007!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Catching Up, part 2

Here are Avi's Chanukah socks. They are, as per his explicit instructions, made with leftovers of other socks, hence the slightly nauseating combination of colored stripes. I made this pair using two sets of double pointed needles, working one color on the first sock, then working the same color on the second sock. It felt like it took forever, but the amazing part was that I finished the second sock the day after finishing the first sock.

I am not going to use that system regularly in the future, however. The sock I'm working on for Liat right now is in Sockotta, which comes in a 100 gram ball, so I am working one sock at a time. I'm getting close to the heel on that, by the way.

I heard from my sister that the gifts I sent to her and the girls have arrived, so as soon as they have opened them I can share that with you, as well.

I collaged a tag for our friend's birthday today. I'm not 100% thrilled with it, but at least it got me into the craft room and working in paper and ink. I have a number of ATCs I need to make, so with luck that will start happening tomorrow.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Catching Up

Where to begin? My computer crashed (again) and this time it really does seem to be The End. Avi keeps talking about buying me a new computer, and I think I may have to give in. I hate having to dig out my list of website user names and i.ds, but thank heavens the list does exist!

Anyway. Chanukah gifts were completed and have been given. I have no way to resize any of the photos on this computer, so this one is rather large, I'm afraid. It also appears that I can't upload more than one photo, so you'll have to wait until tomorrow to see the rest - sorry about that! Meital loves her octopus (pattern by Jean Greenhowe, whom I have mentioned before. She is, in my opinion, a genius).

Avi actually wore his socks, and while in his usual fashion he has not chosen to comment on the sheer wonder and unadulterated joy that is hand-knit socks, I think he likes them.

Liat was delighted with her fluffy scarf, and I hope to show you a photo of that soon, too.

I am still attempting some stealth knitting. Today I finished a washcloth for Meital, and worked on the first of a pair of gloves for Liat. I am using Koigu for the gloves, and I have to say that is one fabulous yarn! Most likely, on the last night of Chanukah I will put the unfinished first glove into a bag with a note telling her what it is going to be when it grows up.

I have resumed work on the long-abandoned child's jacket in bulky weight yarn. It's moving along quickly, and I hope to get it finished in a week or so. Liat's Doll bag has a considerable length of strap, but something tells me it isn't even half as long as it should be. Knitting a garter stitch strap is really not my idea of fun, but I am so eager to move on the fulling portion of our program that I will probably engage in a marathon session of strap knitting in the next few days, just to be done with the thing.

I managed to finish the baby hat in fingering weight yarn, and have started a pair of socks for Liat in Sockotta. So, lots of knitting going on around here.

No art work of any kind has been accomplished lately, but that must change tomorrow. We are going to celebrate a dear friend's birthday tomorrow night and I must make him a card.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Grab Bag

Here, at last, are the Opal Feelings socks I made for Meital awhile ago. She's already worn them two or three times, so I must be waaaaay behind on updating you. Please note that I broke with tradition and made them match!

Now, this is the next step in the process that began like this (scroll down to third photo in this post), then moved on to this (again, scroll down to the third photo). As you can see, I am moving at an inebriated and incapacitated snail's pace (a sober, healthy snail moves far, far faster than this) on this project. I always seem to get myself on the hamster's wheel with other projects, and certain things languish. I suspect that one of these days I will be seized with an uncontrollable urge to finish this project and it will, at long last, be completed. But not today.

And this is a lovely flower that appeared in our (once again) sadly neglected front yard (my knitting friends will not be surprised to learn I typed "yarn" before catching my error) this week. I think it must be some kind of lily, but truly I am clueless. Anyone?

I had a fabulous afternoon at the community center today. I helped a new girl named Rachel, who is in the 7th grade, with her English homework. Imagine trying to memorize (and understand) which preposition you use with which time expression. Does anyone know why we say "in the morning" and "in the evening" but "at night"? I have no clue, I only know what is correct and what isn't. I hadn't seen the kids for awhile (due to a previous commitment two weeks ago, and a migraine last week) and it was wonderful to spend time with them.

I have made a few Chanukah cards, and some gifts that I can't show you yet. Meital's octopus and Avi's socks are also nearly done. There may just be a chance I'll get everything done by Tuesday night. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Something New

I have been a lurker at the Gothic Arches challenge blog for awhile now, but have never made anything in this shape before. I've wanted to, but never got around to it. When I saw what this week's theme is, there was no way I could pass it up! Here is my very first (but likely not the last) Gothic Arch. The background stamp (which quite likely you can't read) says, "Hand over the chocolate and no one will get hurt!" I've had it for awhile and only used it occasionally. The images I used mostly came from back issues (circa 1993 and 1994) of Chocolatier Magazine, to which I used to subscribe. The text at the bottom comes from a cookbook I own called Death By Chocolate. See why I couldn't pass up this particular theme challenge? I probably own more than a dozen books (and cookbooks) exclusively about chocolate, including one highly technical tome entitled Chocolate, Cocoa, and Confectionery. This book not only includes all kinds of chemical equations, but diagrams for various machines used in the production of chocolate. Just a little crazy about chocolate? I'd say more than a little...

In other news, I am fast approaching the toes on both of Avi's Chanukah socks. And most of the pieces of Meital's octopus are complete (currently working on the scarf). I need to sew up the pieces, buy stuffing and stuff them, and sew the wee beastie together. With Chanukah about 6 days away, I'd say I'm in fairly good shape, but I don't want to anger the Knitting Goddess.

I'm also working on a couple of other things, and hope to share them with you soon.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

No Time

I'm barely holding my head above water, here. You may or may not know that Chanukah starts in less than two weeks... I am trying to make secret gifts for all three of the other people who live with me, and it's getting a bit crazy-making. Every time one of them leaves the house, I try to remember which project is for that person, and start knitting as quickly as possible. I've finished knitted items for my sister and nieces, but want to pick up a second component before those go in the mail. Gifts for Avi and the girls are: leftovers socks for Avi, fuzzy scarf for Liat (and the Doll Bag, if at all possible), and an octopus toy for Meital. I'd also love to make a London Beanie for Avi, some gloves for Liat in Koigu, and a washcloth for Meital (her request, believe it or not).

I did recently finish a pair of socks for Meial in Opal Feelings, but I haven't had time to upload the photo to the computer yet! I also had a productive period, art-wise, recently. Here are some ATCs I sent off for a swap:

The theme was A Play on Words. I had no idea what to do for the longest time, then one day while thumbing through an old bartender's guide, I found these drinks recipes. Perfect!

We've also been busy with translation work, which hasn't helped with the holiday gift-making. Reminds me of a sign my father used to keep on his desk: "I like work, but it sure breaks up the day."

Monday, November 12, 2007

I Dare You

I just took part in a kind of challenge + one-on-one trade over at ATCards. You agree to make a trading card for the person before you in the dicussion thread, who has challenged the group to make something on a particular theme. The woman before me dared us to make an ATC using a lottery ticket. I was the one who accepted her dare, and this is what I made. I used a brush to stipple color on the ticket, then found some images I thought fit the theme. The coin in the upper right corner is actually gold colored and very shiny.

The other part of the dare is, after agreeing to make the card for the woman who wanted a lottery-themed card, I got to dare the group to make a card for me! No one responded to my dare for a knitting-themed ATC (not sure I understand that... After all, doesn't **everyone** love knitting?), I revised it to an ATC relating to books. I got an immediate response, and a wonderful lady in The Netherlands will be making my dare card. I can't wait to see what she comes up with!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Happy Birthday, Linda!

Today is my wonderful sister's birthday. She opened the last of the 50 cards this morning. (You may recall that it was the square-shaped card in bright yellow and orange, with a stamped sun in the center). So I guess that endeavor can finally be considered complete. It was great fun for me, and I think I learned alot.

We worked quite a bit today on a translation project. But I managed to squeeze in some time for fun in my craft room, and here is the result:

These four gals are for an Artist Trading Card swap called Women with Wings, over at ATCards. Most of the examples I've seen so far are rather on the serious and artistic side, but somehow I was overcome with a sophomoric urge toward irreverence (no surprise there, eh?), and this is the result. If all goes well and the glue dries quickly, they'll be in the mail tomorrow. I only have three, no four, more swaps to get done. I can't seem to stop signing up for them. They're like potato chips, or something...

Aside from knitting a bit on Meital's sock, I haven't done any knitting today. Maybe later this evening. I have alot to do!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

No Visual Aids

I'm afraid I don't have any pictures for you today. In fact, a lack of photographic evidence has prevented me from writing and telling you what I've been up to for several days now. Today I've decided, the heck with that, I can always just jump right along to the "tell" portion of our program, and save "show &" for another day.

I've been doing lots of fiddling around in my crafts room, working mostly on cards for a swap called Women With Wings. My gals are nearly ready, and you can bet I'll share them here when they are ready to make their debut. I've also been doing a little bit of this and that, but don't have all that much to show for it, yet.

In knitting news, I'm moving right along on Meital's socks. Today we went to Jerusalem to see my MIL, which as you may know means Optimum Sock Knitting Time. I managed to finish the leg, work the heel flap, turn the heel, and start the gusset decreases on the second sock of the pair. If those words are meaningless to you, I apologize. I'm in a real rush to finish this pair, so I can start on the leftovers socks I am going to make for Avi for Chanukah. Over the summer, he finally, with great reluctance, agreed to let me knit a pair of socks for him. His single condition was that I am not allowed to buy new yarn in order to make his socks. So I've gathered up a bunch of copacetic sock yarn, and hope to turn out a respectable-looking pair of socks for him by the evening of December 4th. To make sure I have enough yarn to make the socks identical, I am planning to (for the first time ever) knit both socks at the same time. Today a turn on sock #1, the next day catch up to that on sock #2. We'll see how it works out! And of course I want to surprise him, so I have some camouflage knitting set up (a baby hat in sock weight yarn on double pointed needles) to work on the next time we go to Jerusalem, two weeks from today. If I didn't have any small knitting project to work on, he would surely notice, hence the slight of hand...

Liat's colorwork Doll Bag is also proceeding apace. I'm on the fourth of five bands of colorwork. I think I have figured out a workable solution to the two-handed knitting problem. To many I'm sure it would seem awkward, but so far it seems to be working for me.

I'm nearly done with the body of the octopus I am knitting for Meital for Chanukah. I can only work on it when she's at school or asleep, so naturally today I didn't touch it.

I really want to make gifts for my sister and nieces, too! Maybe I'd better see what I can come up with, because time is definitely running out. Too bad this is one of those years that Chanukah comes so early in December.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Too Busy to Blog?

Yeah. I don't buy it, either. I have been busy, though. Honest! The trading cards shown above are Meital's submission to an ATC swap we are both in over at ATCards. (I am thrilled and delighted to tell you that if you click on that link, you'll see a card I made.) The theme of the swap is Snowmen (or Snowwomen, or even Snowkids!). Meital's cards are, of course, hand drawn.

Here are my cards. Most of the stamps I used are by Dee Gruenig/Posh Impressions. Now I'm busy making more cards for more swaps and private trades. If you're interested, you can see many of the cards I've made over the past year or so here: My Flickr. It's not 100% up to date, but fairly close. I've got a ton of different things in progress on my stamping table, and will add them to the Flickr album as they are finished.

In knitting news, I have started the toe decreases on the first sock for Meital. I know, I thought I would have shared a progress photo with you before now. Sorry! I keep forgetting to photograph stuff during the day when there is enough light for a good picture.

Liat's colorwork Doll Bag is coming along nicely, though I'm still not enjoying the process much. My friend Joansie suggested a yarn thimble, which supposedly keeps the various strands of yarn separated. I am thinking about it, though I don't really see how helpful it will be... Any thoughts from experienced fair isle knitters?

Last night I started a new project, a baby hat knit from sock yarn. It came about through a combination of circumstances. One, I have been wanting to start something new for the community center, and Two, Knit Picks badly messed up an order I placed through a friend, and I ended up with some Bare Essentials tweed, when what I wanted was plain Bare (the yarn you can dye). So I got out my Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns and cast on for a baby sized hat.

And that's about all that's been going on here lately.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

More ATCs

For the first time in I don't know how long, I didn't knit when I got up this morning (don't become alarmed, I did later on!). Instead, I started working on ATCs. I finished up a few I had started yesterday. Actually, this one I started months ago, then sort of ran out of ideas. The background is a label taken from a bottle of juice. The Hebrew says "What's the bird?" which works as a play on words in Hebrew just as in English ("What's the word?"/"What's the story?" - the word "story" in Hebrew rhymes with the word for "bird"). Quite serendipitous, that.

This card is one I just started last night. It was done to fit the November theme at ATCards, which is White & Gold. The Hebrew says, "All the world's a stage." Background is white paper painted with gold Radiant Pearls paint. Masks came from a local magazine. The letter stickers at the bottom left are one of my new purchases this past week.

Now this card is one that uses a background I started long ago and didn't like. I simply added more colored walnut ink spray, and it really came to life. When that was dry, I added flecks of rust orange Radiant Pearls. The leaf and the butterfly are things I found at our local art store this past week. The image of the woman was purchased at Collage Stuff, and the text came from a clothing catalog that was delivered to our house a few years ago.

This ATC and the one that follows were inspired by the teachers' strike here, which has been going on for weeks now. This man is the head of the teachers' union that is out on strike. He is a real publicity hound, and I believe one of the reasons the strike has yet to be settled is that he likes being in the limelight too much. The words on his hat say, "Without education, there is no future." I asked Liat to write out the caption for me. It says, "Without the media, there is no life." The background and photo came from yesterday's newspaper.

This woman is the Minister of Education in Israel. The postage stamp features a popular character from a series of books used to teach children to read here in Israel. The word in the middle says "Indifference." Again, the background, the word and the photo of the woman come from yesterday's paper.

In addition to all of these ATCs, I also got back to work on a project from a month or so ago, and started another project. And, I started the heel flap on the first sock for Meital. All in all, a productive day!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Busy Day

May I present the Duck Family? They're from the Jean Greenhowe book, Knitted Animals. Meital is thrilled and delighted with them, so I'm very happy. I've already started another toy for her, an octopus. I have a list of six toys she wants me to make for her (for now). I could knit only for Meital and still be busy until the end of my days!

Here is what my ATCs for the Club Posh Winter/Glitter swap look like. The stamps are all from the Dee Gruenig Signature Designs (formerly Posh Impressions) Snowman set, for those who are interested. I had added little dots of glitter glue and considered the cards done, but my girls convinced me to add more glitter, so I I put it on the snowflakes. I'm not sure if you can see that here, but they are very sparkly in person.

I spent part of the afternoon making more ATCs. They were cards I had started awhile ago, then set aside, likely because I couldn't figure out what to do next. I got five cards done, and it feels great. I will show them to you tomorrow (the glue is still drying). I also took out a background I had done on heavy watercolor paper and not been happy with, and added another layer of color on top of what was there. I used colored walnut ink, and this time it looks alot better. Once that's dry, I can use it for backgrounds. I also added some gesso to a number of magazine and catalog photos of models, and soon they will be dry and ready to alter. I want to try out some more of my new art supplies, so I hope tomorrow will be a productive day, too.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

"Best ever!"

After last night's cookie baking party and ATC making extravaganza, Meital declared the day "The best Halloween ever!" I am one happy mama. The cards above are Meital's ATCs. She tried several new things last night and came up with some real winners, if you ask me!

I only managed to make these two during our art session, and I give full credit to Meital for coming up with the idea of the small shapes cut from black paper. I used some of her leftover pieces in my ATC.

I also managed to come up with an idea for the Winter/Glitter ATC swap I'm in over at Club Posh. I got my cards finished (all seven of them!) today. Except, my daughters think I was a tad parsimonious with the glitter. I had hoped to avoid the glitter-everywhere-until-2020 syndrome by using glitter glue, but the girls feel more bling is needed. So tomorrow I'll be touching up the cards. If they dry in time, I'll post one here so you can see what you think. That, of course, assumes that the glitter will actually show up in a scan or photo. We'll have to wait and see.

The knitted gift for Meital is nearly done, and barring unforseen acts of Nature, I may well have it all set up in her room by the time she gets home from school tomorrow. I can't wait to see her reaction!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

This is the card I made for Meital today. The central image came from a website with lots of great free vintage Halloween images. I filled the envelope with stamped candy corn, which fell out all over like confetti when she opened it. This afternoon she and I prepared sugar cookie dough, and after dinner we'll make cookies. Then we're going to make Halloween-themed ATCs. Should be a fun evening! Liat is invited, but doesn't want to miss "Grey's Anatomy." Maybe she'll join us after it's over.

Here are my niece's birthday socks, in the Oh So Nikki pattern, free at Knoxsocks Designs. I got the birthday package off to my niece Kim today. Last night I started a pair of 2x2 rib socks for Meital in Opal Feelings. It always seems to work out that Meital gets socks in Opal yarn! These are going to be very bright and cheerful, but because I'm doing them on 52 stitches, the stripes are very wide. She seems to like the way it looks so far, so I'm happy.

I'm nearly done with Meital's surprise gift, and it's beginning to look fairly likely that I will be able to give it to her on Friday, as promised. I'm looking forward to sharing it with all of you, too!

Yesterday, Liat and I went to a nearby store called Art Center. It's a great shop that I've been to several times before, usually with Meital. Liat browsed in the bead department and brought home some cool stuff. I found metallic alphabet stickers in Hebrew, and a nice-sized Hebrew alphabet stencil. I also got some skeleton leaves, something I am pretty sure is called German scrap, a jar of something that seems to be the same as gel medium (a kind of glue and lacquer together), and a small kit that makes things look like verdigris. Can't wait to try that out! Since I needed to wait a bit for Liat to make her selections, I had lots of time to really explore and see all the goodies there. When I go with Meital, I always end up keeping an eye on her and don't concentrate as much on what I might be interested in getting.

And the fun didn't stop yesterday! This afternoon I got a box of goodies from Sunday International, purchased with the $50 gift certificate they gave me for having a card made with stamps purchased from them published in RSM. I got a great winter-themed EZ Mounted stamp set complete with snowman, two ink pads, and two single EZ Mount stamps: a clown stamp and a leaf stamp set that comes with both a solid image and an outline. You can use them together or each alone. I love this EZ Mount system, because I don't have the bulky wood mounts and the storage problems they pose (not to mention added shipping expense!). They are so easy to use, too. No special cling film or other products needed, just a basic set of acrylic blocks.

So now I have tons of great new toys to play with! I can't wait.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Doll Bag Update

Here's a photo taken this morning of Liat's Doll Bag (free on the Berroco website - look under "felted or fulled" projects. For some reason, a seach of "Bags" didn't find it). I've started the third band of fair isle (there are four different bands, then the first band is repeated at the top of the bag).

It's easy enough to follow the chart, but I am still having a difficult time with the two handed method. I absolutely cannot understand how someone who knits Continental style can keep an even tension! Of course, my friends who knit Continental don't understand how I manage with the "throw" method, so it's all in our perspective I suppose.

We've changed the yarn for the project, and some of the colors are very different from those called for in the pattern. This photo gives you a good idea of the actual colors (unlike the last progress photo I showed you).

I'm close to the toe decreases on the second sock for my niece. I think I will work on that tonight, rather than the bag. I'd love to get Kim's birthday package in the mail tomorrow. The gift for Meital is coming along. Now I'm at the sewing together and embroidering part, so I don't approach the project with the same enthusiasm I do for the knitted portions. I'm saving some of the fun knitting parts for the very last, to get me through this next day or so.

I've been thinking about my ATC swaps, trying to come up with ideas. I tried out a sample today, but wasn't pleased with the result. Meital likes it, though, so I am going to trade it to her for one of her recent creations. A new idea is in the works on my stamping table.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Stealthy Progress

Yesterday, we drove to Jerusalem to visit Avi's family. As some of you know, going to Jerusalem means lots of sock knitting gets done, and not much else. I turned the heel on the second sock for my niece and am cruising along on the foot.

I've worked on Liat's Doll Bag, too, and it's progressing nicely. I will try to show you a progress photo tomorrow.

I've also been trying to work alot on Meital's surprise gift, and today I got quite a bit done, especially when you factor in the major headache I've had all day. I'm hoping I'll feel better tomorrow and be able to finish it all up by Friday.

And that's about all that's new around here.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Getting Things Done

Here is the finished Baby Surprise Jacket. I added a collar and cuffs. Joansie advised me, and I also looked at a couple of patterns for baby sweaters and saw what the recommended sleeve length was for the chest size I had. I hope it will fit someone! Now, how many of you recognize the yarn I used? (Hint, if you've read my 360 blog in the past, you likely will recognize the yarn). I only had three buttons in the size and color I wanted to use, so I closed up the bottom two buttonholes.

Another thing I got done was this ATC for a swap at The theme is penguins, but I'll bet you guessed that. These stamps are all by Dee Gruenig Signature Designs (formerly Posh Impressions). I call this The Dispute, because I think the penguins look like they're arguing over whose fish dinner that is going to be! Once I get these ATCs on their way to the swap hostess, I need to get started on the next swap I signed up for. It's called Play on Words, so I really need to put my thinking cap on!

I had another great day at the community center. The kids are so sweet and enthusiastic. I wish I had time to spend with each of them, every visit. But there are at least 14 kids there each day, and only one of me. Today I helped Ortal (5th grade) with a math worksheet and a worksheet on Yitzhak Rabin, the former Israel Prime Minister who was assassinated 12 years ago.

Now that the BSJ is finished, I'm going to get to work on Liat's Doll Bag. I'm about halfway done with the leg on the second sock, and I've been working on another surprise for Meital. It is alot more elaborate than Bun-Bun, and I think she will be very surprised and delighted by it. I would estimate I still have another 4 - 5 days' work ahead of me, so I'm shooting for a week from tomorrow for the big "reveal."

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


This is a reprise of a card I made for my sister in August. I'm showing it now because I learned today that it has been published on page 76 of the current (Nov/Dec 2007) issue of Rubberstampmadness Magazine! Whoo hoo! This has been a very happy day for me.

In other news, I have finished the Baby Surprise Jacket, but am adding cuffs since I have learned the sleeves are pretty short. Not sure how long to make the cuffs, and am awaiting a response from my knowledgeable friend Joansie. I hope to have a photo to show you tomorrow.

I finished the first sock for my niece and started the second. And, I started a new Jean Greenhowe project; an adorable duck family from the booklet Knitted Animals.

That's it for today!

Monday, October 22, 2007


That's it. Done. Neegmar. Finished. Finito.

One sister. Two months. Fifty cards. And a whole lotta love.

When I got the idea back in August to send my sister 50 cards for her 50th birthday, I didn't really understand just what an endeavor I was undertaking. There were times when I felt overwhelmed, uninspired, and lazy. Then the cards started arriving at Linda's house, and her response to them kept me going. In the end, I tried alot of new techniques and even dug out some stamping books I hadn't looked at in ages.

This morning, when Liat took the package containing the last card, the scarf and the socks to the post office, I felt relief. Now it's starting to sink in that I have time to get back into Artist Trading Cards. I have time to make cards for other people. I have time to not make anything at all, if that's what I want!

This is the ATC I made for Meital out of my test piece, which I made to be sure the products I have at home would yield similar results to those called for in the stamping book, before making the card at the beginning of this post.

One of the things I had time to do today was work on the Baby Surprise Jacket. It's nearly done, and I hope to have a photo of the finished sweater tomorrow. Now, I need to get back to that... and the socks for my niece.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Somebunny's Reading

I finished the reward I promised Meital for reading 8 books in English. We have a sign taped up on the door to the playroom, and the girls list the books they've read, in English and in Hebrew. Meital recently finished her eighth book, and I told her she'd get a surprise soon. It took about three days, with minimal knitting time per day. I could probably have made the whole bunny in one evening if I'd had a few free hours. Meital has named her Bun-Bun.

The pattern for this little cutie is found in the booklet called Jean Greenhowe's Toy Collection. Jean has a website where you can see all the booklets she has available (and all the designs contained in each booklet), learn where to buy them, and print out an adorable free pattern. It was the free pattern that convinced me to order four of her booklets. Now I want them all! Her instructions are very clear, and detailed, so that you know exactly how to put the toys together (and embroider the faces, always a problem for me before now).

I sent out a few Halloween cards today, including the one I showed you earlier. I was glad to be able to use that as a Halloween card, and not one of the 50 cards for my sister. Now she and the girls will have an extra card! I also started on the final card, but we got a rush translating job at about 5 p.m., so I haven't had time to work on it more. I really hope I can finish it up and get the package in the mail by tomorrow!

My younger niece, the one I'm making the blue striped socks for, (the yarn is called Aktiv Effekt, Bobbi), has asked if it's possible for me to knit her knee socks! I promised her I would, though not in time for her birthday. I think I'll send her photos of a few possible patterns, and see which one she likes. Heh, heh! Another convert to the joys of handknit socks!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Here is another card, finished this morning. This is a perfect example of those quick and easy cards I told you I make every so often, to speed things along. This was made simply by layering different patterned papers. These papers are from Keeping Memories Alive, but they're probably at least 7 years old, so I have no idea whether they're still being made. I doubt it, knowing the voracious appetite of the scrapbooking industry for our hard earned cash.

I also did a test sample for the last card for my sister. It uses a technique I found in a card making book, and since I've never tried it, I wanted to make sure it would work. Looks like it's a go, so hopefully tomorrow I'll get started on that.

Meanwhile, the scarf and socks are labelled and ready to go into the package. I got my father's gift wrapped and the card done, and that's all packed up and ready to go to the post office. I also started on the card for my niece whose birthday is next month.

And in knitting news, the sock is coming along nicely. I'm on row 90 on the Baby Surprise Jacket. I had a bit of a setback though, when I realized I did one too many increases before row 80. Instead of ripping back, I took the lazy way out and did K2tog to even things out before putting the sides on holders.

I've been working alot on the colorwork Doll Bag. At some point during the first or second round of the second fair isle chart, I decided I needed to try the two handed method of stranded knitting. But I am, and have always been, a thrower. I wrap the yarn around the left hand needle by taking my right hand off of its needle and wrapping the yarn around. Trying to use the Continental method (holding the working yarn in my left hand and scooping it up with the needle tip and into the stitch as I knit) is driving me crazy! I keep wondering if it will get easier. I also wonder if I'm finding it so difficult because it's my left hand. I tell myself not to worry too much, since the bag will be felted and hopefully any irregularies won't be too obvious. But I'd love to make other things with colorwork, like mittens, hats, vests and so on.

So I hope I can stick with it until it feels comfortable. Or at least until it feels like I've only got ten fingers, instead of 27.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Sky Colored Glasses

This is what I get for trying to take photos in natural light, without a flash, in a room with light blue paint on the walls. Or so I assume. These are the projects I have actively worked on over the past few days. There is actually one other project, but it's a surprise for Meital. We're going to draw the veil of secrecy around that until it's done and has been given to her. What you see above are, from left to right: the Doll Bag from the Berroco website for Liat, the Oh So Nikki sock for my niece, and a Baby Surprise Jacket for the community center.

Here's a close up of the bag. Please bear in mind that there is a definite blue-ish cast to the photo. For example, the towel the bag is resting on is, in fact, white. Since I took this picture, I've finished the hot pink stripe and started the second fair isle section. I feel very insecure about the fair isle; I'm keeping the floats as loose as I can, but still the colorwork pulls in a bit. Is that something that would work itself out after blocking, if this were going to be a sweater instead of a felted bag?

Here's the Oh So Nikki sock. I love those little floats and the way you can see definite vertical columns of knitting. I think this pattern is wonderful for striping yarns, because the design doesn't fight for recognition over the color changes. It just kind of goes with the flow...

"Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my closeup!"

And lest you think I'm slacking in other duties whilst I float peacefully on the Sea of Pleasurable Knitting, I present for your viewing pleasure:

Card #3!