Sunday, November 25, 2012

Leapin' Lizards!

Last month, when I got home from that very fun Binky Patrol meeting, I was slowly putting things away, playing with the beautiful new fabric I received, and generally puttering around.  I was getting hungry for dinner, but too excited about fiber to sit down yet.

I had just tossed a finished preemie blanket on top of a project bag in the living room when I saw a dark shape dart under the couch.


It had a lizard-like look, from the brief glimpse I got, and I was hoping it wasn't a mouse, which would be even worse than a lizard, in my opinion.

Even if you're not a fiber artist, critters who belong outside are not welcome in, but when your couch is covered with projects in varying stages of completion, and you have seven project bags around it, and books and swatches for designs on the coffee table, and yarn yarn everywhere as far as the eye can see, lizards and their ilk are a particularly bad idea.  Not to mention mice.

Standard appearance of couch in my home
(Yes, that's a finished quilt, a blanket that needs its ends woven in, swatching for a design idea, three finished shawlettes that need blocking, a skein of handspun that needs winding, and a stack of fabric pieces.  And that's just the couch!)

I took a deep breath.  I knew I couldn't eat dinner or sleep until I got rid of whatever-that-darty-thing-was.  So, what would work best to get a lizard out of the house?  Calm was the first essential ingredient.  I told the lizard--if it really was a lizard--aloud, "Try to remain calm."  That was for my own benefit as well as the lizard's.  "I am trying to help you, to put you outside where there are rocks and bushes to hide under and food fit for lizard kings."

I got a broom and a metal bowl.  I moved the couch this way and that until the little critter ran out.  It was indeed a small lizard.  I cornered it here and there with the broom, cutting off its escape until it paused long enough for me to plop the bowl over it.

Phase One Successful!

Another deep breath.  Now, how to get the lizard from the middle of the living room over the lip of the doorsill and outside to freedom?  There was no way out of the living room without a nice hump of doorsill in the way.

I started sliding the bowl along the floor, slowly, so the lizard could run along with it, and I at least got it close to the door.  Then I gently slid one of those (expletive deleted) political flyers we were all getting every day last month under the bowl.  At last, a use for politicians!  ;-)  Or at least, for their mailings.

Phase Two Complete.

"Don't worry, lizard, you're almost there.  Stay calm."

I didn't think upending the bowl with the flyer on top so I could carry it outside would really work.  The bowl was too big, the flyer too flimsy; the lizard might leap out.  Onto me.  Not acceptable!

Lizards and mice and fish, oh my!

Oops, sorry for the interruption, some fish just swam by.

Anyway, it occurred to me to open the front door and slide the bamboo mat I keep there over the hump of the doorsill, making a kind of ramp.

Then I slowly slid the flyer with the bowl on top onto the mat, over the sill, onto the porch, over to the first step at the edge of the porch, and then a little further, and a little further, and at last, out plopped the little lizard, and it ran along the walkway, out, out, out toward the sidewalk!

Mission Accomplished!

I could just picture this lizard telling the other lizards about the adventure s/he just had.  They would never believe it.

"This flying saucer came down over my head," the lizard would say.

"Sure, sure," the other lizards would say, smirking.

"No, really, and as long as I kept moving with it, I was fine, but all I kept thinking was, I want to go home."

(Yes, I watched The Wizard of Oz again recently.  Excellent movie to knit by.)

Flying Saucer, or Lizard Removal System

At any rate, it was a consciousness-raising experience for me, because I stayed calm, and I can only assume it was consciousness-raising for the lizard as well.

I am making more of an effort to keep the couch clearer.  And I'm keeping the seven project bags in another room and only pulling out the one I'm working on at the moment.

This is not just because there are a lot of lizards in the neighborhood.  I prefer not to have chaos in my living room.  I think better when my surroundings are beautiful.  Yes, my projects are beautiful too, but not in cascading piles leaving nowhere to sit.

Someday I know I will have a real workroom with plenty of shelving, and bins for storage, and if any lizards get in, I know exactly how to get them out again.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Butterfly Project

In my first felting class a few weeks ago, we all hand-felted a swatch just for practice.  Mine came out with a vaguely hourglass shape and I thought, with a little trimming, it would make a butterfly.  I promptly trimmed it, and plan to decorate it after I take a needle felting class this weekend.  Pics to follow soon!

Surfing on Ravelry, looking at butterfly patterns for inspiration, I came across The Butterfly Project, something the Holocaust Museum in Houston is doing in memory of the children who died during the Holocaust.  So I crocheted this one to send to them; it's a free pattern on Ravelry.

You can check out the museum website here or take a look at the Ravelry Butterfly Project group.  Just spreading the word.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Magnetic Properties of Fiber

The Halloween Binky Patrol party was way fun.  A couple of people showed up wearing great costumes; next year, I might get it together to wear one too.  We shared lots of food and laughter, and bags and bags of blankets and hats to take to charities, and bags and bags full of donated yarn and fabric to use for our next projects.

I donated my Stripe Up The Band binky...

... and a couple of hats, including a Ribble:

... and the quilt I wrote about in my last blog entry.

I plopped myself down near the fan, as it was quite warm that day, and I had the chance to help several hilarious and talented people learn how to knit continental-style.  I love to share the joy of knitting, and they picked it up in no time.  Our fearless Binky leader, Sue, taught me how to knit continental-style several years ago.  And so the circle of life continues....

My official Binky Patrol tote was in as well.  Note the many fine pockets.  This bag behaves itself and stands up rather than falling over into a pile, as many totes tend to do, so I am already using it.  I also managed to grab some donated Bernat Cottontots yarn along the way.  It's 100% cotton, very soft.

I started crocheting a binky with it immediately--YIYO!

My friend Sonja and I have birthdays at about the same time (as does Susan D.--we miss you, Susan!), so now that I'm back in the neighborhood more or less, Sonja and I planned to celebrate together.  Naturally this meant fiber in some form was likely to be exchanged.  I gave her the Crest of a Wave baktus, a shawlette I had been knitting during my travels this summer.  It's a free pattern on Ravelry.

Two skeins of Colinette Jitterbug, out the door!  Success!  It was fun to make, a great travel project, not overly complicated but not boring either, and the yarn is squishy and delicious.

Sonja had decided to sort through her fabric stash, and gave me a big, honkin' pile of various remnants and fat quarters, and bits and blocks.  She has made some beautiful quilts, btw, and has a wonderful color sense, so I had hours of fun sorting fabric when I got home.

All of this fabric fit into one deceptively modest bag!  This picture doesn't do justice to the yards and yards of delightful patterns.

There are lots of cute kitty-themed fabrics; this is only one of them:

Fall Colors

More kitties!

Even more kitties!  I chose this fabric first and then grabbed some others that went with it.

I have already pieced together a top with these; it just needs borders, and then I'll be ready to start the actual quilting.

More pics when it's finished!

Let's face it, fiber has magnetic properties.  Bring a little into the house and it attracts more.  In fact, take some OUT of the house, and you will get double back.

There's nothing you can do about it, so you may as well sit back, knit/crochet/sew/spin/weave, and enjoy the ride!

A Spin-Win Situation

The amazing lady who gave me her spinning wheel deserves a big thank you, don't you agree?

I wanted to spin something special for her, as she is also a knitter.  She hasn't told me her favorite color; I asked a couple of times, and got no answer, so I decided not to push it, and I'm winging it color-wise.

Along the way, my friend Christina gave me a sampling of some alpaca she had bought.  Thank you, Christina!

As soon as I got the big wheel in my new home, I began spinning the alpaca.  It has taken a long time to finish due to various distractions I have blogged about previously, but I finally got it spun, plied, soaked, and dried.

It's a heathery grey, sport weight, and I have 196 yards!

Who would have thought that simple sample of fiber would make so much yarn?

I might send it as is, or I could knit a lacy cowl for the lady in question.  She is getting older and has lost some of her knitting skills.  I'm trying to get a psychic feel for what would please her the most.

With so many projects going at once, I'm also trying to resist starting another.  On the other hand, I found a lovely pattern on Ravelry....

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Building a Rail Fence

A couple of months ago, more free fiber made its way into my life in the form of fabric some kind soul donated to Binky Patrol.  I took it knowing I was about to take a quilting class, and if I liked quilting, I would make a charity quilt, and if I didn't like quilting, I'd return the fabric.

Well, I like quilting.  Of course, the cute free fabric covered with red hearts needed some other cute fabric to go with it.  Of course, I had to go shopping.  (Aw, too bad.)

I got some nifty white and black fabric at the local shop, and the owner, Joey, gave me some quick tips on how to make a rail fence pattern.  I went home and googled wantonly for pictures and inspiration.

Then I began slicing and dicing the fabric...

...combining the colors...

Strips joined together

Strips cut into blocks

Blocks laid together in pattern, in somewhat dark living room on dining room table, resulting in murky picture

Blocks joined together

...making the quilt sandwich...

Top quilted onto batting and backing

...and behold the delicious result!

Backing made with same red fabric

As a recovering perfectionist, I'm not bothered by the mistakes.  Yes, there's an occasional pucker where the fabric stretched without warning.  There's a shoddy joining of binding ends, because I forgot how Joey taught us to do it in class, and I was too eager to finish the quilt to go and ask for a reminder, so I followed directions that are written in foreign quilting language that lost something in the translation to English.

Truly, I am not bothered by these mistakes.  I'm a beginner, I'm cool with it.  But I find I still feel the need, as most of us do--especially women, I've noticed--to point out that there ARE mistakes.  We have to let each other know that we KNOW there are mistakes, lest you think we are not only imperfect, but stupid and/or oblivious, or worst of all for women in this culture, arrogant!

In knitting and crocheting, we call mistakes "design elements."  In quilting, I've heard it said that if you can't see the mistake while galloping by on a horse, then who cares?  So, hitch a ride on Secretariat and enjoy a quick look at my quilt!

It has already been successfully donated to Binky Patrol.  And did I come home with more fabric?  Of course!  Yarn too.