Sunday, September 30, 2007

Eem Kvar, Az Kvar

In Hebrew, "eem kvar, az kvar" literally means "if already, therefore already." But really, the intent is more "in for a penny, in for a pound." Since, in honor of my sister's birthday, I dragged the old cross stitch hobby out of the darkened and locked closet, I thought I might as well show you some of my UFOs (UnFinished Objects), or as I prefer to think of them, WIPs (Works In Progress). The photo above shows one of them, The Wave. It's a kit by Dimensions, for those who might care about such things. I think I may have started it back in 2002. Might have been earlier. It's actually closer to being finished than the photo shows, but I haven't touched the thing in years. Sad, isn't it?

Now, this is my oldest WIP. I started this beautiful project (Mother's Arms, by Mirabilia) back in 1998, when Meital was just a little baby. My baby just had her tenth birthday! Obviously, I have a long way to go. I may have done a smidgeon more on it since this photo was taken (in 2003, for goodness' sake!), but not much.

These projects, and their companions in that metaphorical closet, have been weighing on my mind, even more so since I started the small house picture for my sister's card. I'm nearly done with the house, but I have been giving alot of thought to adding cross stitching back into the mix of my daily life. I wonder if I can manage it. Most likely, the hardest part will be seeing what on earth I'm doing. I need to invest in a good magnifier, I think. The old gray mare, she ain't what she used to be. If you know what I mean.

Maybe I did wake up that giant, because I keep hearing, in the back of my mind, "eem kvar, az kvar!"

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Don't Wake Up the Giant!

I have always been one of those people with more hobbies than time (or common sense, for that matter). One of my greatest passions, for several years, was cross stitching. It only faded into the background of my consciousness when I got interested in scrapbooking, and from there, rubber stamping. While I have renewed my interest in stitching from time to time, it has largely stayed on the fringes of my awareness for the last several years. Most likely, a contributing factor in this was the fact that as I get older, it gets harder for me to read the charts (which, of course, can be enlarged on a photocopier) and, worse, see the fabric. I have many beautiful projects, abandoned while in progress, that are very close to completion, if only I could work up the enthusiasm to finish them! But the more time passes, the less interest I have in trying. And that's just sad.

But, as you know, I am facing a challenge and a deadline. I still have 22 more cards yet to make in honor of my sister's 50th birthday. And since the theme of these cards is 50 Things I Love About Linda, and given my former passion for stitching, it seems only right that I include in the list the fact that my sister also enjoys cross stitching.

It occurred to me that there would be no better way to reflect that than to make her a card with a cross stitched insert. Luckily, I have a decent library of tiny patterns available, and I chose one that is only 25 x 21 stitches. Shouldn't take me too long to do. And who knows? It may even awaken the sleeping giant that is my love for this pleasurable hobby.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Hodge Podge

Here is the sock I am working on, for my niece Christine. The yarn is Fortissima Colori Disco. There's a bit of silver glitter running through the yarn. The pattern is the Better Than Vanilla Socks pattern, available for free at Knoxsocks Designs. It's an easy pattern to remember, and works up so quickly. I started this one late Monday night, and it's nearly to the toe decreases. I would be finished with this one by now, but I worked on cards for my sister most of the day.

The colors are completely off in this scan. The card base is a yellowy-orange, stamped with black ink to make tiny spatters. The checkerboard was inked with a yellow Marvy Matchable ink pad, then brayered over with orange. The checkerboard image is by Posh Impressions. I like the way some of the squares didn't stamp completely inked through, and you can see the background in them. The pumpkins are from an old Close to My Heart clear stamp set. I've never had any luck with clear stamps, but I finally realized that if I use either pigment inks or paint on them, I can at least get a fairly decent image. These pumpkins were done by painting Radiant Pearls onto the clear stamps instead of using ink.

Of course, when I'm in the midst of projects and obligations, the only sensible thing I can do is give in to my longing to begin yet another project.

Gee, I wonder what these are for??

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Tag and Pocket Card

I got the idea for this card from the Go Make Something website. She has some great free printables you can use to make something similar, but I decided to make my own tag from cardstock and use one of the library pockets I have on hand. The crumpled looking background paper is something I picked up at a local art store several years ago, and never got around to using, until now. My yarn stash is not the only thing I need to start using up!

Here is the tag, out of the pocket. This tag is a nice combination of gifts (the fibers, the postage stamp from Holland), found images from newspapers and magazines (the signpost and the compass), and an image from a bag of pasta (the head in profile). Depending on the kind of pasta you buy, you get small images of different Roman heads on the plastic package. I've been saving them for awhile now, knowing they would come in handy one day!
Of course this is a card for my sister. Today I worked on numbers 24 and 23, but they're not quite dry enough to glue together yet. I really need to whip up some fast & easy cards, because I'm starting to feel my deadline approaching at warp speed.
I spent much of the rest of the day working on the sock for my niece, and it's really coming along nicely. I'm nearly ready to start the toe decreases.
And Avi has saved the day, and given me his flat screen monitor. The old clunker I had is history. It's amazing how much more space I have on my computer table now.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Infamous Conwy Socks

Here, at last, are the %#@$ Conwy socks, from the book Knitting on the Road. Let me start out by saying that I'm mostly happy with the way they look, especially that gorgeous color! Yarn is Cherry Tree Hill, which I used to hate but don't anymore.

Okay, what was my problem with these socks? Why did I complain about them so much? First of all, I really hated the "knit into second st, knit first st, slip both sts off needle." It's fiddly, it's fussy, and each time I came to one of these jobbies (12 times every fourth round, thankyouverymuch), I had to try, try again, and try another two or four times before I could perform this maneuver without splitting the yarn. Then, two rounds later, I had to "knit into second st through the back loop, knit first st, slip both sts off needle" another twelve friggin' times, every fourth round. Same deal, try, then try again, to do it right without splitting the yarn. It would take me approximately ten minutes to do each of those two rounds.

There are 80 rounds in the legs of these socks. Just sayin'.

Then, of course, like a good little lemming, instead of freeing myself from the torture that was this pattern, I followed the instructions to carry the pattern down the instep. What a fool.

Looks nice, though.

But, then we come to the stupidest part of this pattern. The ugliest toe I have ever seen. This toe is shaped like the top of a hat, with four evenly spaced decreases instead of paired decreases like most normal socks have. (Sorry, I'm just a wee little bit biased, here. If you think this toe is the bug's ear, or the best thing since sliced bread, I apologize.)
So there you have it, all the things I despised, loathed and abhorred about these infernal socks. I don't think the way they turned out is really worth all the suffering, but I may change my mind with the passage of time. They're nice, but not as WOW as I'd thought they'd be, and certainly not worth all the hassle of knitting them.

Oh, and I wanted to show you what greeted me when I went back upstairs to my computer last night after my superb birthday dinner (grilled steak in a wine sauce, home made steak fries, and salad, for those who asked).
Not exactly the high note on which I'd hoped to end my b-day. At first we thought it was the card for the monitor, so Avi replaced it. Turns out, I need a new monitor.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me!

Another birthday, another year older. Sure beats the alternative! This year, I decided to do things a little differently. As usual, I shopped online several weeks ago, selecting the birthday gifts I wanted. But this year, instead of opening the packages as they arrived, I turned them over to the girls saying, "Give these to me on my birthday. They will be your gifts to me." Pretty slick, no?

This morning, this is the bounty that awaited me! The sock yarn from Simply Socks Yarn Company, check. The arty, stamping-type goodies from Sunday International, check. The birthday cards from my sister and my friend Beverly, both of which arrived yesterday and sat waiting to be opened today, check.

But wait! What else do we have here? A lovely handmade card from Meital! And what else?
Oh my! A lovely beaded necklace made by Liat! A beautiful pair of earrings, purchased by Meital! Wow. Just when I thought I'd made things easy for the girls, gift-giving-wise, they surprise me like this. In truth, the best gift I have in my life is these two wonderful, thoughtful, and lovely girls.

Okay, I'll stop gushing. For now. Because I also need to show you what I picked up at the post office today:
Books! Even better, knitting books! I've been eager to get my hands on A History of Hand Knitting. I mean, what could be better than a book about the history of one of my favorite things?! (After all, I was a history major in college). But even that pales next to the wonder that is Alison's book. I searched high and low for Wrapped in Comfort while we were in the U.S. this past summer. I am beyond thrilled and delighted to have this beautiful volume in my knitting library. I am not only eager to pick out a pattern and start knitting, but I am so looking forward to reading all the touching, superbly written stories in the book, told as only Alison can tell them. If you're a knitter and don't yet have this book, do yourself a favor and go get it! You won't be sorry.

But wait, there's more! I took the girls with me to the community center this afternoon, where we handed out candy to the kids while I explained to them that today was my birthday and I wanted them to celebrate it, too. It was great to see them, and I even got to see Ortal, a fifth grader I know from last year who wasn't there when I visited last week. And so, I got to add another gift to my birthday bounty.

Right now, Avi is making my specially-requested birthday dinner (and let me tell you, it smells heavenly!). And after dinner, I will finish up the last of the toe decreases on the cursed Conwy socks, and have them, at long last, off my needles.

And tomorrow, I'll tell you all about my experiences with these socks, and show you photos.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

It's Working!

Here's a card I just made for my sister, based on an idea I saw on Splitcoast Stampers. I wet the cardstock with a mister (recycled spray bottle), then stamped with a solid image stamp of a leaf using a rainbow ink pad. Once that dried, I stamped the same image again. Finally, I used the overstamp with the leaf veins on top of the leaf. Finally, I used a texture stamp (tiny dots) and the swirl stamp.

I got four cards done over the weekend, though one is still not ready to go out. I guess I was a bit overenthusiastic with the glue (Elmer's) and it's still not dry. When I talked to my sister this evening, she told me she'd gotten all the cards I'd sent (some were missing the last time we'd talked). Now she has #50 - #34. YES!! She said they really perk her up and brighten her day, so I think the plan is working. That's what it's all about.

Today I've been knitting like mad on my sock. I turned the heel, and am now about halfway done with the foot. I plan to work on it more tonight, and if all goes well, it will be finished tomorrow, right on schedule. Then I can get started on my older niece's birthday socks.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Call Me Crazy

I ain't trippin', ah
I ain't twisted, ah
I ain't demented, huh
Well, just a little bit.*

By now you know how busy I am lately. So naturally, the smart thing to do is focus, work intensively on the things that need to get done first, and concentrate on one project at a time.

What I did instead was put my Samus sleeves in time out and cast on for the Doll Bag from the Berroco website, for Liat. I'm nearly done with the first fairisle section (in purple-ish pink and orange).

I decided it might be a good wake up call if I put out all of my current projects and took a picture of them. Actually, looking at the picture makes me feel a little queasy. At least most of the items aren't on a deadline! By now the sock is alot farther along: I'm about to turn the heel. And I've worked more on the scarf, too. Those two things do need to get done as quickly as possible, so they're what I'm working on for now. Though why I would bother to start something new and not work on it is beyond me. I've already done that twice: with the Baby Surprise Jacket, and now with the Doll Bag.

Maybe I really am demented.

* from Breakin' Dishes, on Rihanna's new CD Good Girl Gone Bad

Friday, September 21, 2007

Busy as...

Well. I'm sure you get the idea. And I'm also sure you don't need me to tell you that this is another card for my sister. One of two I made today, with a third one in the works. Tomorrow will mark one month since I started this 50 cards project, and the card in the works will mark the half-way point. If I can keep up this pace, I will be finished in plenty of time for the Big Day, November 11.

However. (You knew there had to be a however, didn't you?). I just happen to have several other things I need to accomplish in the next few weeks. My oldest niece will be 18 in less than a month. Her card is made, but I haven't even started her birthday socks yet. As you know, I started the scarf for my sister, but I also want to knit her a pair of socks. My father's birthday is the day after Linda's, so he'll need a card and a gift, though not a knitted one, thank goodness! He's one of that strange breed, someone who doesn't appreciate handmade gifts (there's one in every family). Then my other niece's birthday comes a week after her mother's. She'll also be getting socks, if the knitting goddess smiles upon me with favor. I'd love to send out some Halloween cards to friends and family, too. And I have an ATC swap due in November, as well.

So things are starting to get just a wee tiny bit stressful, um... interesting around here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Belay That

Today is Talk Like A Pirate Day. If you've been keeping up with my blog posts for awhile (on Yahoo 360) you already know that in our house, every day is Talk Like A Pirate Day, especially if the pirate in question is Captain Jack Sparrow.

This is the latest card for my sister. I am pretty happy with it, except for the trouble I had with my new white pen. Oh well, nobody's perfect, right? I need to get busy and make some more! Twenty-nine to go. My deadline is November 1st, which should give all the cards time to reach her before the big day, November 11th. I also started making a birthday card for my niece, who will turn 18 (yikes!!) on October 20th.

I worked quite a bit on my Conwy sock today, and am now just past halfway done with the leg. I'm hoping to put in alot of time on it over the weekend. I still want to finish it by Monday (my birthday).

Another thing I did today was go to the community center to see the kids I'll be helping with English homework this year. There are alot of new kids, and they are just adorable. They asked me a ton of questions (What does this mean? How do you say ... in English? and so on). It was wonderful to see the kids I knew from last year, too. Two little boys, now in third grade, proudly showed me their English workbooks (they just started to learn English in school this year). I checked their work and told them what a great job they'd done. These kids don't get much positive reinforcement, and it always touches me how pleased and excited they are when I tell them they've done well. I'm really looking forward to working with the kids this year.

Now, if I can manage to work on the scarf tonight, that will make a lovely finish to a busy day.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Xs and Os

Here's a shot of the Besotted scarf I started for my sister last night. I hope you can see those Xs and Os. The yarn is Cascade 220 Superwash wool. I really love this yarn.

I worked on my sock on and off today, but haven't touched the scarf yet. I'm exhausted, as I spent most of the day in a unnatural (to me) occupation: cooking. A few days ago, Avi and Liat came home from the supermarket and told me they'd brought me a present. Oh really? I'd thought. Hmm, could it be Belgian chocolate? Heck, I'd settle for M&Ms! (we do have those here, in plain and peanut, yum). But no, I wasn't even close. The "gift" they'd brought me was... eggplants. Four of them. And along with the eggplants came the expectation that I would make something with them.

That's what I did today. I spent four (4) hours making eggplant parmesan. Once I'd done that and cleaned everything up, I made oatmeal cookies. I figure that's my Suzie Homemaker allotment for the month. At least.

Monday, September 17, 2007

When In Doubt...

... start another knitting project!

Yes, believe it or not, that's just what I've done. But wait. I DO have a good reason. In spite of the second Conwy sock, the nearly but not quite finished Samus sweater (darn those sleeves, anyway!), the Baby Surprise Jacket, the top-down bulky weight child's jacket, and a couple of other items which shall remain nameless, I really needed to start something new today. And not just the knitter's standard "I need to". I really, really need to start working on the scarf I want to make for my sister for her birthday.

Yes, that would be the same sister for whom I'm making all those cards. I've only got the one. After all, birthdays cannot be celebrated with cards alone, right? Of course, right! (Perhaps at this point it would be injudicious of me to mention the socks I am planning to make for her, as well. So we'll just skip right over that for now, shall we?).

I've started the Besotted Scarf, from Hello Yarn (please Google, I don't have the time to find the link for you - gotta get back to my knitting, don'tcha know?). The cables look like Xs and Os, so basically what you end up with is a super-warm, beautiful scarf that wraps you up in hugs and kisses. Which is exactly what I want to be sending my sis.

In other news, I have three more cards ready to mail, and a fourth (that would be #30, for those who like to keep track) in the works. Sure hope I can keep this up for another 29.5 cards!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Yes, D.E.A.R.

Sometimes, I get into these moods where all I want to do is lose myself in a book. I don't do any of my usual stuff: knit (well, maybe just a little bit), craft, or do art... After an intense day Wednesday, surrounded by people, busy helping out with cooking and cleaning up, knitting, and knitting, and knitting, and talking to people... Well, all I've wanted to do for the last few days is read. For a couple of those days, I didn't even turn on my computer. I read somewhere about a school that set aside time once a week for the students to read. It was called D.E.A.R. - Drop Everything And Read. And that pretty well sums up my last few days.

I did manage to finish my first Conwy Sock, and start the second. Haven't touched Samus or anything else, though. I am 95% sure I'm going to have to rip back those sleeves a bit, and redo the sleeve cap, and of course I'm avoiding it like the plague.

I have managed to get a good start on a couple more cards for my sister, but nothing is ready to go in the mail, including that black and mustard job I showed you a while back. There's still plenty of time, but I need to get back in the groove.

I did get these done:

The forgotten witches! (You may recall, I made three ATCs for the Witchy Halloween swap, forgetting that I needed to make at least 4). They're finally all done and on their way.

I've done a little more playing around with this technique (altered magazine images; I got the idea from Bernie Berlin's book), except of course I mostly use catalog images. I have alot of fun with it. But I need to get back into my normal routine, both art-wise and knit-wise. Soon I will be settling into my volunteering schedule for at least this semester, and I want everything else to be on an even keel first.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I Remember

On days like this, we all tend to play the "Where were you...?" game. Six years ago today, all four of us were at the dentist. It was late afternoon when we got into the car for the 30 minute drive home. The news was on the radio, and we listened in stunned silence to the reports coming in from New York. We raced to turn on the TV as soon as we got home, and watched the horrifying footage over and over, until late into the night. At one point, I called my parents in California, suspecting they hadn't yet heard the news. My father's immediate response to my question, "Have you heard?" was "Oh, has there been another terrorist attack in Israel?" Now that, to quote one of my favorite movies, is what you call ironic.

I've been thinking about that day, six years ago, all day. But because Americans, like Israelis, have learned to deal with what is, and go on, I have also spent the day in creative endeavors. Because only when we cease to live do we let the terrorists win.

These are the ATCs I have made for the "It's Greek to Me" swap at The backgrounds are altered newspaper. The women came from a circular advertising cosmetics, and the questions came from an IKEA furniture store catalog. Various other items (the bird, the lips, the green plastic circle) were either from "junk" mail or gifts received when ordering art supplies. I have to say, using and altering free stuff is my very favorite technique at the moment. I have some great images on my worktable that I am itching to get to once I finish up all my swaps.

On that subject, as I was on the verge of walking out of the house to mail my swaps today, I learned that I was supposed to make FOUR (4) witchy ATCs, not three! Back to the drawing board. I've had alot of fun working on the new cards (I decided to make two more, so that the swap hostess could keep one).

I've nearly finished up the card for my sister that I showed you yesterday. I need to make alot more! But that's not going to happen tomorrow. Tomorrow we are going to Jerusalem early in the morning, and won't be home until late at night. I hope to use part of that time working on my Conwy sock (possibly finishing it?!) and thinking of more card ideas. Thursday and Friday are holidays from school, but I hope even with the girls at home I'll be able to make a couple-three more cards to mail out when the post office reopens on Sunday.

To all who celebrate Rosh Hashanah, I wish you a shanah tova, a good year. A year of good health and much happiness. A year of peace.

Shalom, and I will "see" you on Thursday.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Well, wash my face!

Here is my first attempt at a washcloth (dishcloth?). I got such a kick out of this quick and easy project. I'm even more delighted with myself than I already was, because this summer I bought three small skeins of cotton for making wash-and-or-/dishcloths. I suppose if up until now I had been wondering, I can rest assured that I am, indeed, a process knitter. Why else would a simple, garter stitch w/d cloth (getting lazy here) give me such pleasure and knitterly satisfaction?

Once again the amount accomplished today seems ridiculously miniscule here at the end of the day. Well, it's not the literal end of the day, it's the "have a nice glass of Merlot and contemplate what you've accomplished (or not)" end of the day. Two loads of laundry (and why should that even count?) and various other bits of housework. Yawn.

I also worked on ATCs for another swap, and finished the front of another card for my sister's birthday (I'm up to #33 out of 50, for the "Fifty Things I Love About Linda"). It's not perfect, but I'm excited about this one because I not only used my new-to-me Micro Beads, but I tried (for the first time ever) the technique of stamping into a hot square of melted embossing powder. I'm thrilled with the detail that came through. I still need to work on the inside of this card, so it's not ready to send out yet. Tomorrow I hope to make at least one more quickie card to mail out with this one.

Wednesday is the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. We will be gone from home the entire day and late into the night. We will spend the day helping my mother-in-law prepare for the holiday (hey, knitting socks helps!), and the evening celebrating with Avi's parents, older brother and his family. Unfortunately, Avi's younger brother is currently working in Silicon Valley and won't be able to join us for the holiday.

The side-effect of this holiday is that there will be no postal service on Thursday and Friday. So I hope to make a couple more cards to mail out before things shut down. I also hope I can post again tomorrow, since Wednesday it ain't gonna happen. But tomorrow is honey cake day, so that needs to come before blogging (I can't believe I wrote that!).

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Witchy Halloween ATCs

Here are my ATCs (Artist Trading Cards) for the Witchy Halloween swap at I sponged color on the backgrounds and used rubber stamps for the moon, bats and trees. The "witches" are actually from a clothing catalog, and were all originally photographs of the same model. I just helped reveal her inner witch. Heh heh heh...
I turned the heel on my Conwy sock today, and am ready to pick up the stitches of the gussets and start on the foot. That's the only knitting I've done today! Aside from grocery shopping and other similarly-fascinating projects (including helping Meital write a project about Marco Polo for her geography class), I spent much of the day working on cards for my sister. Numbers 35 and 34 are all set to go in the mail, and #33 is in the works. I'm trying something new there: using those itty bitty hole-less beads that everyone in the world but me is already tired of using.
My sister has already received some of the first cards I sent her, though naturally not the very first card, card #50, the one that explains what this whole thing is about! She asked me, "What's with this #49, #47...?" Now that she understands, she's delighted, and looking forward to getting the rest.
And I'm looking forward to making them.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Refugee from Yahell

Welcome to my new blog! I'm packing my bags and running away from Yahoo 360 and their myriad photo problems. In this, my first post here at Blogger, I want to share with you the ATCs I recently received in trades. The top two cards were hand-painted by my friend Sandy, who made them especially to fit two of my interests, knitting and reading. The card below was made by my friend from 360, Sibylla. Aren't they both talented artists? I'm proud and delighted to have these ATCs in my collection.

In knitting news, I have finally started the heel flap on my first Conwy sock. I got to round 80, or about 7.5", and just couldn't take it anymore! I don't need 8" legs on my socks, anyway. It's a relief to have reached the heel, though the thought of doing the second sock already has me feeling depressed.

As for my Samus sweater, I plan to sew the shoulders closed and then take proper measurements, so that I can determine exactly how long to make the sleeves. I am not feeling the love with this project, either. I wonder how much my feeling of dissatisfaction with both of these projects stems from the fact that they are both for me. If that's the case, I need to do a little work on my attitude!