Plain Jane Knits Up A Storm

A few musings about my needlecraft hobbies - knitting, crocheting, quilting, & cross-stitch along with my other love, genealogy. While growing up, I used to HATE the term "Plain Jane", but when it comes to knitting & crocheting, I've realized that I really *am* a Plain Jane in that I don't use fancy yarns.

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Location: Northern Detroit Metro area, Michigan, United States

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Another Year Gone

New Year's Eve and another year gone by. It's been a fairly busy one for me. In October of 2004, a group of us formed the Krazy Kool Knitters & Krocheters (the K4s)at the Lake Orion Senior Center. We started out with just a small stock of yarn that had been previously donated to the center and a desire to do something to help the community. Thanks to generous donations from knitters both local and across the country, we've been able to keep our needles & hooks busy for the entire year.

When I started this blog last January, I began to use the sidebar to keep track of what I was working on and what I'd finished. For charity the totals are Hats: 148; Scarves: 97; Afghans: 4; Baby Afghans: 14; Baby Booties: 10; Garter Stitch Shawls: 8; Shrugs: 2; Washcloths: 36. Personal projects included Fingerless gloves for me; two Clapotis [Clapotis 2005 KAL]; a pair of worsted weight socks [1st Socks KAL]; Red Feather & Fan Vest [Knit Red KAL]; Lime Green Leaf Lace Vest for Mom (this one needs to be reworked); two pair of Brown Fuzzy Feet; Six Button-hole bags of various sizes [Rekal 2005, Just For Me KAL]; one cream colored Aibhlinn [Aibhlinn KAL, Just For Me KAL, ReKAL 2005 & Thrifty KAL]; a Feather & Fan Baby Afghan for a grand-nephew [Baby Knit Along]; Tivoli t-top [Just for Me KAL], a Yellow Raglan Pullover for Matthew and a Turquoise Blue Pullover for Megan. No wonder I didn't get much housework done!! But with all the knitting time, I was able to finish reading 93 books this year.

It's been a fun year. Knitting for charity has let me both keep busy & feel good about what I'm doing. By joining the K4s, the KALs and visiting other blogs I've made a number of good friends who have enriched my life by their presence in it. Looking ahead to 2006, I plan to continue knitting as much as I can for charity and to learn some new skills - like LACE. Sallee, aka Knitnana, is my enabler on this one. My DH got me two new books - Folk Shawls & A Gathering of Lace for Christmas and now I'm just trying to get up my nerve to order some yarn and attempt one of the simpler lace shawls. To everyone reading this, may I wish you a Happy New Year filled with health, happiness & lots of crafts.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Are Ecuadorian Sheep Sanforized??

The felting of B5 did not go well - i.e., it didn't felt despite over 90 minutes in hot water and agitation. The black stripes which were the same yarn that formed the body of "little brother" Big Bad Bag, felted but only a few areas of the grey yarn did and I think they may be the ones that got hit with boiling water from the teakettle as I began to get desperate toward the end. Not even two trips through the dryer helped get those stitches to shrink and meld together. It's still usable, I guess, though I'll have to tie some loops in the shoulder straps as they're too long and carry needles and hooks in a smaller bag inside so they don't fall through. If I had a large enough kettle, I think I'd put it on the stove and boil it to see if that would make it felt. I double checked the labels that came off the grey sweater and it is 100% wool so I'm confused. I wonder if the sweater was ever dry cleaned and if that could affect it's ability to felt?

In other news, I turned in five more hat & scarf sets at the K4 meeting on Thursday. I had two more that were done except for running yarn ends in, but I forgot to pack my little tin with yarn needles and scissors and no one else brought any either so I'll have to turn those in next week. All our other hats & scarves have been distributed to Head Start & FISH to be given to people in need.

On Wednesday, we were in Port Huron, home of the big Mary Maxim store, and I got to shop there for a while. I found a set of size 13 double points that will let me decrease the tops of the double strand caps instead of finishing them all off straight across with a 3-needle bind-off. Mom picked out a couple skeins of black worsted so I can make her another vest. I'm also going to frog the lime green one I made for her earlier this year and see if I can get the armholes to fit better. Tonight I get to start browsing the two lace books that I picked out for Xmas (we always open gifts on Xmas Eve) and I'm sure that I'll be able to find some new lace patterns that can be adapted to the front panels of the vests. Amazon came through and sent the last three books overnight FedEx!!

Monday, December 19, 2005

How BIG Is It??????????????

The Big Bad Bag's Big Brother (aka B5) is finished except for felting. This bag in it's unfelted size just might make Santa jealous! The bottom is 11" wide & 24" long, width of the body at the midpoint (with 4 rows of 4 stitch increases after picking up around the bottom) is 31" (so the circumference would be 62") and the height from where I picked up stitches to the top edge is 21". The shoulder straps are 40". See why I call it the Big Brother? It's difficult to tell from the photo but the bottom of the bag is actually lying on the floor because I didn't have a taller chair. When I put the straps over my shoulder, the bottom of the bag comes to about mid-calf.

In order to get something big enough to put it in for the felting process (I almost wrecked my washing machine felting BBB by putting it in "nude"), I folded a twin sheet into quarters and basted two of the open sides closed. I'll use safety pins to close the open side once B5 is inside. The silk & wool basket will go into a pillow case and be felted at the same time.

In other news, the boxes for Matthew & Megan with their sweaters are sitting in the post office out in Crestline waiting to be picked up. The USPS tracking service is sort of neat - it costs 45¢ and doesn't provide the detail that UPS or FedEx does, but I received an email yesterday morning that the boxes had arrived. I added DD#1's email address to the notification so she knows that they're waiting.

On the other hand, I'm still waiting for notification that the other books from Amazon have been shipped. The one, Folk Shawls, was in Pontiac yesterday (more neat package tracking) and should show up today. Then the question becomes do I immediately pick out something to knit or be a good girl and wait for Xmas Eve & Santa??????

I've finished 4 hat & scarf sets for our K4 project and have a 5th set almost done. Knitting class is this afternoon, so I'll take everything along and get the ends run in. For now, I'm heading down to find safety pins and give B5 it's hot water bath. Wish me luck!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Deja Vu All Over Again

Last Thursday, I titled my post Stormwatch and it would be an appropriate title again today. Last week we got about 4" of fluffy snow, very light weight & easy to shovel. Today, the prediction is for up to 9" of heavy wet stuff. I'll spare you another photo of my backyard with the lilac bushes bending down from the snow and the birds mobbing the feeders, but there are some similar photos back in the archives - probably February or March. It's nasty enough out there that I stayed home instead of going to the K4 meeting. OK, I'm a wuss when it comes to driving in bad weather, nothing new there. {g}

Yesterday was dedicated to running errands in advance of the predicted storm. We stopped by The Michigan Animal Rescue League in Pontiac to pick up our yearly supply of Christmas cards and visit the kitty rooms. Everytime I go there, I'd like to bring a kitty or two home with me. This time it was a huge yellow tiger with white markings named Moose. There was also a lovely Himalayan in another cage.

We also went to the post office that was on our route over by Rochester where I picked up two of the flat rate priority mail boxes. These have to be one of the best kept secrets around. The boxes are good sized and you can mail anything you can fit into one up to 70#s for $7.40. I stuffed them with books and the hand-knit sweaters plus some little goodies and we got them to the local post office this morning before the snow started getting bad. The boxes were heavy enough that regular priority mail would have cost over $14 each, but with the flat rate boxes it was only around $15 to send both - plus the boxes themselves are *free*..

There's an Indian market right next door to the Rochester post office - if you need any of the spices that normally go into Indian dishes, these markets are the place to shop. Seven ounces of turmeric for $1.99 instead of not quite an ounce at the grocery store. The market smells so good when you walk in with all the spices. I stocked up on crushed chilies, the tumeric along with a package of curry powder (extra hot) and garam masala. There's more curry in our future.

Around all this activity, I really have been knitting. The Big Bad Bag's Big Brother is almost finished. I should be able to finish binding it off this evening, then it will be on to the felting project. I'm on my third hat & scarf set for the K4 project and I have enough yarn for two or three more sets. I know what I'm getting for Christmas!! Last night, we sat down and ordered books we wanted as our gifts to each other. Tom is getting The Minimalist's How to Cook Everything & I'm getting A Gathering of Lace & Folk Shawls. We're getting Mom the Million Word Crossword Dictionary.

I had a comment on a past post asking about recycling sweaters. The How To Recycle A Sweater site explains it far better than I ever could, but the main things to avoid are 1) serged seams anywhere but at the shoulders & 2) wildly multicolored patterns. The latter do provide more shades of yarn, but it's not worth the hassle (IMHO) of taking one apart. Unless you want to do some lace knitting, I'd also avoid fine knit sweaters as the yarn is closer to lace weight. As a rule, yarn is usually thinner than it appears in the sweater. One color bulky sweaters are ideal if you want to recycle the yarn into felted bags.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


Stormwatch is the name of a Jethro Tull album I've always liked (and haven't heard in far too long) and an appropriate title for a day when Lower Michigan is waiting for a new winter storm to hit. The noon news predicted 4 to 8" for our northern Detroit Metro region and radar shows it storm creeping ever closer. Fortunately, it held off until I got home from the weekly K4 meeting and - crossed fingers - I'm hoping that it won't start until I'm home from my after dinner visit with Mom around 7. The morning started off at 3° - it's up to 23° now, but that's still chilly.

At the meeting today, I turned in three hats & six scarves - all of them packed up already to go to FISH. I brought home enough yarn to make at least four more sets.

I'm also working on the new felted bag - it's about 25" from side to side and about 14" deep now. I'm planning on maybe 5" more before I start the shoulder straps.

Monday, December 05, 2005

The Weeks Fly By

Here it is, almost a week since my last post and I'm once again sitting here wondering where the time went. At our K4 meeting last week, we packed up another dozen hats & scarves to go to FISH and then adorned the Christmas tree in the Senior Center lobby with child sized sets that will go to Head Start. I once again brought home way too much yarn, but I've finished a scarf to go with an already made hat, a hat & scarf set and the hat for another set (the scarf to go with it was cast on a few minutes ago). I'm also working on the BBBBB or the Big Bad Bag's Big Brother - this one in mostly grey with black stripes. It's about the same size around that the BBB was before felting, but I'm planning on half again as deep. I'll post a photo when I'm finished.

Acrylics Anon/a