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

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Thursday Blogging

At least I don't have to worry about a blogging topic on Thursdays because it's Booking Through Thursday again. This week's question:

"What’s the most desperate thing you’ve read because it was the only available reading material?

If it was longer than a cereal box or an advertisement, did it turn out to be worth your while?"

Hmmm.. When I'm at home, I can usually find something to read. I'm keeping the book Wild Swans as a back-up for those times the library books run out before the next library run. But where I run into trouble is waiting for a doctor or dentist appointment. Is it a given that the magazines in medical offices are always 5 months minimum out of date? Sometimes I'm lucky enough to run into a Smithsonian or National Geographic which is just as good years after publishing, but often I'm stuck with the latest magazine on pregnancy (I'm WAY past that stage of my life!) or a sports magazine. Neither of those ever turn out to be worth my time. The latter doesn't even provide me with information for conversation because, if anything, my DH is less sports minded than I am. I'm considered the family jock because, for the most part, I know which ball goes with which sport - never mind how many players on a team or the rules of the game.. If it's white & dimpled, it a golf ball; if it's bigger, round and has black splotches, it's soccer; and so on.. Anyway, I guess it serves me right not to have toted along my own book if I'm stuck with nothing to read.

While browsing the other answers on the BTT list, I found a new summer reading challenge, Beach Blanket Bonanza. The challenge is to read three books between July 1st & September 1st. That sounds like something I can handle {g}. I'll put the button over there in the sidebar for anyone else who wants to join.


Sunday, June 24, 2007

A Well Turned Heel & Other Goodies

I did it!! I turned the sock heel!! After almost a year of hemming and hawing, I got up my nerve and did it in less than an hour!

So I finally have a sock on the foot photo like so many other bloggers.. Doesn't it fit nicely? If you remember way back, the first attempt was too wide and I frogged back and reworked the toe to a narrower size with a more gradual increase rate. It seems to have worked. There are only 52 stitches around the foot - this is with Sassy Stripes and size 3 needles. I'm working the leg in a K2,P1 rib. I'm not sure if sock knitting will ever be something I love to do - the small needles are hard on my hands - but it feels good to finally accomplish something.

It's a little difficult to get a good photo at this angle but you can see that the heel fits and there is only one tiny loose stitch at the spot where I joined the heel stitches to the instep stitches - and there are NO HOLES where the short rows terminate. I'm so proud of myself {g}...

On to other goodies, it was a good week for garage sales & finding yarn..

This bag with a new 8 oz. skein of worsted weight, an almost new (after I frogged the original project) 6 oz. skein of variegated and a skein of fluffy yarn that I probably won't use came with all the tools you see here - 2 CroHooks, a set of size 8 DP needles, a size G crochet hook and a tool for measuring gauge & sizing needles - all for $1.

I still need to frog the afghan, but I think I'll have at least 3 and maybe 4 skeins of variegated when I do - for 75¢..

And for 50¢, I found 2½ skeins of Sugar & Cream cotton yarn to use for Cloths For Crisis. Doesn't that pattern look a lot like the Ball-Band one in Mason-Dixon Knits?

There are 4 other skeins that I didn't photograph - two different variegateds in worsted weight and two skeins of bright red sport yarn for 25¢ each. A very GOOD week!!

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Tagged Again

Crazy Cat Lady (love that "handle") just tagged me for the Birthday MeMe:

The rules are: You go to Wikipedia and type in your birthday (only the month & day). Then you copy out three events, two births & one holiday, and then you tag five friends.


  • 1216 - King John of England lost his crown jewels in The Wash, probably near Fosdyke, perhaps near Sutton Bridge - I always thought that John was an idiot to try to take his treasury across such treacherous territory, but then he wasn't the brightest bulb in the chandelier of British Royalty..

  • 1492 - Christopher Columbus's expedition makes landfall in the Caribbean, specifically in The Bahamas. The explorer believes he has reached East Asia .. I loved it as a child when my birthday was always a "red numeral" holiday on the calendar and then they changed it to always be on a Monday.. BOO!! HISS!!!!

  • 1986 - Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh visit the People's Republic of China - ah.. a history making event for the countries that I studied most in college.


  • 1537 - King Edward VI of England (d. 1553)

  • 1951 - Sally Ride, first American woman in space


  • Columbus Day (traditionally) - United States.

I was surprised that there weren't more names than I recognized in the births. In the deaths, John Denver died on October 12th 1997 - I always liked his music.

I'm not going to tag anyone by name, but if you wander by and haven't been tagged by someone else yet, consider it done. Leave me a comment so I can read what happened on your special day over the centuries.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

School Days, Golden Rule Days

It's that time of the week again:

Since school is out for the summer (in most places, at least), here’s a school-themed question for the week:

Do you have any old school books? Did you keep yours from college? Old textbooks from garage sales? Old workbooks from classes gone by?

Yes, I have many of my history books from college, especially the ones on Chinese History. I picked up an elementary Spanish book last year from a free box at a garage sale in hopes of picking up a bit of what I learned in college - not that I was very good at it.

How about your old notes, exams, papers? Do you save them? Or have they long since gone to the great Locker-in-the-sky?

I still have my senior research project paper - 100 pages on 4000 years of land tenure and land reform in China - along with an art history paper on African equestrian figurines that my professor said was the equivalent of a master's thesis. I'm still kicking myself that when we cleaned out the attic of my parents' house five years ago, I let a big box of exams and other papers go to the curb. I might have been able to find my papers on the divorce of Henry VIII, the reign of Queen Ann, the importance of English trade to Russia, and the career of "Chinese" Gordon. I was tired after two days of packing and just wasn't thinking {sigh}


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Washcloths, Rag-Tags & Short Row Heels

I didn't feel like knitting anything serious this week so I worked on the epitome of mindless knitting - garter stitch washcloths for our Cloths For Crisis group. I finished nine of them since last Thursday and have another one on the needles.

For "TV Time" - Dr. Who & Little Mosque on the Prairie on CBC; Ballykissangel, History Detectives & Nature on PBS - I worked on the latest rag-tag afghan and finished it. I have about 8" done on another one. After all the afghans I've made, I still enjoy playing with the colors.

My BIG accomplishment of the week was finally sitting down last night and trying one more method of working short rows for a sock heel. This is sort of my own method dreamed up one night when I couldn't sleep and started thinking of ways to do short rows without having holes. The sample looks good, but the acid test will be the sock itself. I picked it up again last night and started working toward the point where I'll start the heel.

The sides don't look identical - probably because I'm knitting together on one side & purling on the other, but it seems to be working!

I hope it does work because I picked up another skein of sock yarn at a garage sale a couple weeks ago and I don't want to feel as guilty about that purchase as I have about the current socks being on the needles for well over a year. After several tries, I found a toe-up start method that works for me, but have been stymied by all the practice short row heels I've sampled looking messy until now.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

K4, Shawls & Flowers

Our K4 meeting was today. Lots of fun, as usual..

I turned this shawl in at the meeting. It's the feather & fan pattern again but this time without the row that's knit on the wrong side to form a ridge.

In the close up, the left & right slanting decreases can be seen - if I'd used the K2tog six times that's used in the version with ridges (the baby afghan pattern over there under free patterns in the side bar), I don't think this stockinette stitch version would have turned out as nicely as it did.

While I was out on the deck, I took a couple photos of the cabbage roses. I should have done this a couple days ago when they first came out as they're starting to lose petals in the heat we've been having. These roses were on the farm when my parents & grandparents moved there in 1940. In 2002, when Mom & Dad were moving over here, I managed to dig out three little bits of root that have, despite being moved several times, spread.

They're even coming up through the cracks on the deck!

Here is this year's garden. Please ignore the weeds between the tomato plants as I haven't had time to get out there with the hoe. The weed-free aisles between rows are courtesy of our next door neighbor with his smaller rototiller. There are three clumps of basil in front with at least 5 plants in each clump - pesto on the hoof! The rest is taken up by 32 tomato plants - 12 Grape, 4 Early Girl, 4 Big Boy, 4 Super Beefsteak, 4 Goliath & 4 Celebrity. The grape tomatoes are already blooming and everything has had a growth spurt in the heat we've had the last few days following quite a bit of rain.

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Booking on Thru

Booking Through Thursday

Do you cheat and peek ahead at the end of your books? Or do you resolutely read in sequence, as the author intended?
And, if you don’t peek, do you ever feel tempted?

No I don't cheat - that would take all of the fun out of reading a book as the story develops. Sometimes, when I have the feeling that I may have read a book before (it's happened more than once), I may read a random paragraph ahead to see if it also sounds familiar. I'm much more apt to page *back* and re-read sections if I'm even slightly confused about what is going on in the story.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Edward M. Dunham, 1917-2003

I tried to write a post a week ago on the 4th anniversary of when we lost him, but just couldn't bring myself to do it. Today would have been his 90th birthday and I can't let it go by without celebrating the most wonderful Father in the world. He was a gentle man who fell in love with my Mom in the 9th grade and celebrated their 63rd anniversary not quite two months before his sudden death from a heart attack. Dad was computer savvy and made greeting cards for family - the anniversary card he made that year for Mom read "The best part of loving you is knowing that you love me back!" I found an acrylic frame that it fits into so that both the outside and inside can be read and it sits of top of the TV at Mom's house. My daughters always called them "the Love-Birds". Dad, I can't tell you how much you're loved and missed every minute of every day.


Thursday, June 07, 2007

Thursday Dreaming

This week's Blogging Through Thursday topic is a good one for dreaming:

"Almost everyone can name at least one author that you would love just ONE more book from. Either because they’re dead, not being published any more, not writing more, not producing new work for whatever reason . . . or they’ve aged and aren’t writing to their old standards any more . . . For whatever reason, there just hasn’t been anything new (or worth reading) of theirs and isn’t likely to be.

If you could have just ONE more book from an author you love . . . a book that would be as good any of their best (while we’re dreaming) . . . something that would round out a series, or finish their last work, or just be something NEW . . . Who would the author be, and why?"

I can think of three authors who have passed away - Ellis Peters (pen name for Edith Pargeter) and her Brother Cadfael mysteries, James Michener with his awesome volumes that combined history & fiction so seamlessly, & Robert Heinlein, the Dean of Science Fiction and author of Stranger In A Strange Land, I Will Fear No Evil, & (my all time favorite) The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress.

I think I've read every book that Heinlein ever wrote (with the exception of Job, A Comedy of Justice which I just couldn't get into despite several attempts) and many of them two, three & even five times.

I've read all the Brother Cadfael books - and enjoyed the episodes for Mystery on PBS with Derek Jacobi as Cadfael. Edith Pargeter also wrote The Heaven Tree Trilogy under her own name which was excellent.

James Michener's books are legendary. My personal favorite is Hawaii which I read (along with Exodus) the week of my high school senior finals. There are still a couple huge volumes on the shelves in the other room that I'm saving - sort of like desert.

So, to chose just one book by one of these authors? That's difficult, but I think I'd have to chose a new Heinlein, maybe a follow up the TMIAHM.


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

A Few More Shawls

Finally, some sunshine after almost a week of rain, drizzles & grey skies. I finally got the camera charged and took the latest shawls out on the deck.

This is the same *easy* lace pattern as I did a couple weeks ago - YOs combined with right & left decreases to slant the diagonal lines out from the center. The wood on the deck is rough and grabs onto the yarn, so the shawls aren't as perfectly straight as they might be.

This is a close up of the pattern - this side of the center line was YO, K2TOG.

The Old Shale or Feather & Fan pattern - I like the way that the edge scallops from the lace. I think I could almost do this one in my sleep after all the baby afghans I've made with the stitch. This version, however, only has one row of knit on the wrong side rather than the two rows per repeat used on the baby afghan pattern (it's over in the side bar under Free Patterns if anyone is interested).

And the requisite close-up. For the shawl I'm working on right now, I'm doing the Feather & Fan in all stockinette just to see how it turns out.

Addendum: If it appears in the photos above that the purple shawl is smaller than the dusty blue one, that's because it is. Inflation has hit. The new Red Heart & Bernat Super Saver type skeins of acrylic have been downsized from 8 ounces to 7 ounces - a 12½% decrease while the price has gone up slightly. The purple shawl is knit from a 7 ounce skein and I used all but maybe 8 yards of the skein.


Acrylics Anon/a