Sunday, January 12, 2020

Branching Out

In my last post, I hinted that I'd be returning to the studio this week to begin new art work -- and I've done just that.  😊

Those of you who've followed my work for some time will know how fond I am of the sky and the trees in this part of Alberta.  A couple of years ago I did a piece entitled When I Look Up in the Spring, which was bought by my dear friend Jenny from a SAQA Benefit Auction:

When I Look Up in the Spring (C) 2018


Ever since then, I've wanted to make something else like this...because I keep looking up at the trees around here, tiny top branches silhouetted against the sky.

Like this one (from my last post):



Then there's this one:



Well now...hmmmmmm...

I began with the second photo, sampling with a piece of synthetic fabric that I hand-dyed. Polyester or poly-cottons (this was an old sheet so I suspect it was the latter) dye much lighter than 100% cottons do.

I decided to trace the branches out on Sulky Tear-away interfacing (light, thin), sandwich it and quilt it -- using free-motion, and Superior Thread's King Tut -- colour #979 ("Obsidian") in the needle.  I used a light-weight white backing, with Superior's "So Fine" in the bobbin.

NOTE: The tear-away worked very well...but tearing it away from tiny branches is a bit of a pain!

I was happy with the thread painting...but how to create the hoare frost??  I had 3 choices: two different threads...and paint:



In the end -- as you can probably tell -- I chose the paint (Seta Color 'Opaque' in a lovely opalescent or pearly white).

Lest you wonder, I auditioned the thread with hand-stitching.  For one thing, I don't do bobbin work because I find working upside-down unsettling -- and the thread on the left (YLI's "Candlelight" metallic yarn in "Rainbow") was too thick to go in the top (needle).  The thread in the centre (Sulky Metallic 142-7021) could have done so...but it was too thin to give the effect I wanted.   Using a very fine brush, the paint worked out very well!

Here's how the piece looks with a bit of a "frame" around it:



I've auditioned some very tiny beads -- Mill Hill's Petite Glass Beads -- in a browny-red (colour #42012) to create the berries for the full effect of the photo.

Then I wondered...what if I combined the branches from the second photo with a deeper blue sky (sort of like in the top photo)?

Why not just trace out that top photo and interpret it?   Well...I'm impatient, and the tracing takes work!  😉  Plus I think that top photo would look better as a larger piece and I haven't the fabric on hand for the sky; I'd have to dye it...or see if I could find something commercially that would work.

So I did this -- BUT instead of tracing the design onto tear-away stabilizer (tearing it away was no picnic the first time 'round!), I printed it out directly onto my fabric, using the 'freezer paper method' and my HP inkjet printer.  I stitched it this time with the same thread BUT I used 'regular' stitches with my Pfaff Performance 5.2, which has a built-in walking foot:






And yes...I like it.  Here it is..."framed"...with some "regular-sized" Mill Hill glass beads just resting on the surface for the moment...



Now...the question for you, gentle readers is...to bead or not to bead?

NOTE: the first piece will have beads.  That's a done deal.  But the second piece?  Should it be beaded too?  Or should there simply be hoare frost?

Let me know what you think by leaving a comment...recognizing full well that I'll do what the piece wants, one way or the other!

NOTE TOO: Finished size of each piece is 4" x 6" inside the mat -- matted to 6" x 8" by the folks in charge of the SAQA 2020 Spotlight Auction...or by me...whichever one goes and whichever one stays...

And in other news...this week I've...

  • Finished the socks commissioned for a gift;
  • Signed the contract with the City of Lacombe for "Featured Artist" at the Art Show & Sale in April; and
  • Switched out my art exhibit at the Alix Public Library -- installing the six remaining pieces from "Inspired by Scotland".
Dear Nina-Marie is in what she describes as "a mess" this week...so be sure to stop by Off the Wall Friday and give her some love.  I'm linking there now...and wish you all a good week!

(We're in the Deep Freeze up here... minus twenties with wind chills near the minus forties -- and that's Celsius! -- so stay safe, stay cozy, keep calm and craft on!)

Saturday, January 04, 2020

A Serious Case of 'Startitis'

It happens every year around this time: I catch "startitis".  You know, the urge to start something new...but not just one 'something'.  No.  Multiple somethings! 

It hit me when I was roaming around YouTube, clicking on video podcasts from yarn shops.  The first one I looked up was at the recommendation of a customer who was in the Shop last week.  She and her daughter were joining a Mystery Knit-Along (MKAL) originating with the gals at Cozy Up Knits out of Grande Prairie (Alberta, not Texas; you can tell because of the "e" in "Grande" 😊)  I checked it out and decided to take a pass, but if you're interested, it's not too late to join in.  You can catch it on YouTube HERE.

Not so interested in the Cozy Up project, I checked out Must Love Yarn -- shop owners in Vermont, who have an hour-long (or so) video podcast.  No MKAL that I could see, but their friendly chatter is pleasant background entertainment for quilting or knitting or whatever.  From there I hopped to The Knot House Podcast -- another video podcast from a yarn shop: this time, from Maryland.  These clips last only about 1/2 hour, which I found just right, because I can use them as timing devices.

Say what? 

Well...one of the symptoms of startitis is that not only do you have to start multiple new projects, but also you find yourself compelled to work on each one all at once.  Having a 20-to-30-minute video to enjoy while you work makes it easier to do this -- especially if you have a series of video 'casts lined up that you've never seen, so you can watch them one after the other.  You simply spend one video's worth of time working on one project; when that 'cast ends, you switch projects!  You have an opportunity to get up and stretch -- get more coffee or a glass of water or whatever -- and move to The Next New Thing. 

Pattern: Stepping Stones - Clara Parkes
Yarn: Jawoll Magic Degrade
Colour #85.0074
There could be one fly in this ointment, though.  I've been commissioned by my daughter to make a pair of socks as a birthday gift for one of her friends.  I have to have them finished within the next ten days or so, to get them into the mail to my daughter on time for the birthday gift exchange near month-end. 

Uh-oh.  They're not a New Thing.  I began them a few days before Xmas.  😞

But wait!  I finished the first sock of the pair last night!  That means I can start the second sock today.  And technically, I could consider the second sock a New Thing!  Reprieved!


So...start it I did.  As well as starting a Plain Vanilla sock in an old yarn from stash -- because, yes, when startitis hit, I rejoined "Socks from Stash" as a way to satisfy some of the urges, while simultaneously using up stash yarn.  And that's a Good Thing! 

Yarn: Fortissima Colori "Socka Color" - Colour-way: 9070.
Pattern: my adaptation of Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's "Good Plain Sock" from her book, Knitting Rules. 


Between the two pair of socks -- and the latest two clues in Bonnie Hunter's 2019 Mystery Quilt, and the fact that I've resolved to start at least 2 new art quilts come Monday (January 6 being the official end of my self-imposed "holidays") -- you'd think my startitis would be cured...or at least tamped down! 

But no.

One more thing.  I needed one more thing.  After all, the birthday sock was really only Somewhat New, and the Mystery quilt has been going on since American Thanksgiving (near the end of November) so...yes.  One more thing.


The gals on the Knot House podcast had me looking at patterns they'd made up for their shop, including Eowyn Mittens by NeedleRogue, and "Bonjour/Hi" from Espace Tricot (yes, the shop in Montreal that I couldn't get to when I was there in June because it was closed for some sort of emergency). 

Smitten by both, with thanks that they were free patterns that suited yarn I own, I've downloaded them. But...I was also reminded I needed to look at my Ravelry Queue.  And there, near the top (for ages) was a Nora Gaughan pattern I'd lined up -- with the yarn, a cotton in shades of red -- the "Rhodocrosite" wrap from her Volume 7 collection.  I'll be using "Lara", a cotton yarn from elann.com's Endless Summer Collection, colour #335...bought in another place (Calgary) in another time.  Both the pattern and yarn had been lined up for far too long.  It was time for them to be used!

As a result of this hefty dose of New Things, I've managed to put my startitis under control.  With the ongoing quilt mystery, and new artwork on tap for Monday, I should recover nicely by mid-month, don't you think?  😉

I'll close with a few photos from the quilty side of things...

First...from the Mystery Quilt project:

Clue 4 finished

Clue 5 finished

Clue 6 -- in process!


And...some photos I'm considering as inspiration for new art work...to be sorted and printed and planned out come Monday...







And there are more to come.  I've got a SAQA 2020 Spotlight Auction piece to create, and then a series of small pieces (6" square up to 12" square) plus another larger piece -- painted whole cloth, already auditioned...

So you can see I won't lack for New Things to keep my startitis at bay!  How about you?  Do you suffer the same affliction at this time of year?  Or ever?  Let me know how it affects you...and what you do about it!

I'm linking this to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday...and turning my attention to casting on that Nora Gaughan pattern through a third episode from the Knot House.  Later there'll be another walk in the winter wonderland that surrounds my wee hamlet.

Here's to startitis, to inspiration, to New Things in a New Year!  May we all be so blessed!



Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Where To?

It's a new year; we're on the way in to a new decade.  It struck me this morning that a mere twenty (20!) years ago today, many of us turned on our computers with 'bated breath, wondering if they'd crash!

It seems a bit silly now, with so much water under the bridge since then, and so much more roiling and churning beneath our bridges nowadays.

That said, with every new year comes the hope and promise of a better, brighter era.  That has some folks pondering a 'word of the year' -- but this year, I've seen very little of that.  Perhaps it's a fad whose time has come and gone.

Ah well.

Last year, I didn't want a word -- but I 'got' one.  Like it or not.  That word was "MORE" -- but not as in "stuff".

Prairie Quintet -- the Wall-to-bed
Project - September 2019
How did it play out for me?  Let's see...
  • More peace. More quiet. -- some;
  • More time in the studio. -- Yes!  Including that "Wall-to-bed Project" that had me working in the studio very solidly for three months!
  • More fruits and veggies. -- maybe...
  • More water. -- yes!
  • More rest. More sleep. -- well, more rest in the form of sleep -- I went to bed early most nights, and I think I may have even taken more naps!
  • More giving (away). - Yes, actually -- including three quilts for a refugee family and one more for a neighbour burned out of his house, and a collection of paintings by artist Wadim Dobrolige to the Kuhl Centre in Edmonton.
  • More fresh air. More long walks.  -- hard to say.  Our relatively mild winter is meaning more walks in recent months, but perhaps that only offsets our rainy summer that saw me indoors more than I'd like.  
  • More poetry. - Yes -- I even wrote a bit!
  • More finished projects.  I think so -- especially with respect to knitting UFOs that are now finished: two sweaters, a Shetland shawl and two pair of socks -- not counting new things started and finished this year.
  • More connections with friends and family. - Yes -- largely due to a visit home to Quebec in
    Presenting CVR High School
     graduates with a family-founded bursary
    -- 50 years after my own graduation
    June 2019
    June, a visit to friends south of Calgary in August, and seeing my kids a bit more often.  
  • More love. -- hmmm...well, I've felt loved more often this past year...and I hope I've shown it as well, but that's hard to tell.
  • More forgiveness.  - probably not. 
  • More patience. - maybe...
  • More kindness. More gentleness. - well, let's just say I made more of an effort to be kinder and gentler.  And that took patience! 😉
  • More self-control. - a bit.  But only just.
  • More people remembered. - I hope so. 
  • More letters written. - Not by hand...but perhaps by e-mail.
  • More sweet memories made.  - Well, there were sweet memories made -- this last Xmas being part of that -- but more than before?  Let's just say, "more than in the last two years" -- and leave it at that!
  • More joy. - not sure.
  • More prayer. - Definitely!
  • More contentment. - a bit, yes.
So...where to for 2020?  Is there another word following me around, nagging at me to be spoken into the new year?  A word, yes, but it expresses an attitude, one that I want to live into in 2020:


HOPE.

I choose to live in hope.

I want to weave me some sunshine into every day...

And then perhaps more of what I sought last year will appear

in my life -- and in yours!

Happy New Year, Gentle Readers...

Let's join hands and go forward in hope.*




*Sending New Year's wishes to my friends and fellow-makers on WIP Wednesday over at The Needle & Thread Network.  

Saturday, December 21, 2019

In Bits and Pieces

Little by little, it's all coming together as it seems to do, year by year.  There's the usual knitting (as you, Gentle Readers, well know!)  The Xmas Socks are now finished altogether.  You heard the saga of my son's HERE.  Lessons learned...these are for my daughter.  That said, I continue to wonder if they're not a bit big...


Gina's Xmas Socks - in honour of her cat, Princess
Yarn: Reinvent from Ancient Arts Fibre Crafts
Colour-way: Maine Coon Kali
Pattern: A Good Plain Sock - Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
(my fave 'plain vanilla sock')


My neighbours, John (aka "My Handy Guy Nearby") and Edna invited me over on Monday past for a glass of wine, coffee and conversation...and I took them these, in appreciation for all their help (especially from John!) over the past year...

John's How Quiet Mitts
Yarn: Vintage DK from Berocco
Colour: #2107 - "Cracked Pepper"
Pattern: How Quiet Mitts
Designer: Helen Stewart

Edna's How Quiet Mitts
Yarn: Finn from Universal Yarns
Colour #107 - "Jam"

With all of these finished and either given away or (almost) wrapped up, I've turned to other knitting...such as a pair of socks for a friend of my daughter's -- a commission that I won't speak much about just yet.  Let's just say that the item has been cast on and progress is being made! 😉

Then there is the Annual Mystery from Bonnie Hunter -- and as you might know (or at least guess!) -- once again I am smitten!  While participants don't have to use Bonnie's colour palate, I love this year's selections, and have a fair amount of the fabric already in my stash, so I'm sticking with it!

I posted about Clue #1 in my last postSince then I've completed clues #2 and #3 and am working away on #4:

Clue #2 finished!

Clue #3 finished!

I like working on my own, but often Mystery Quilt sections are fun to do when you're sewing with a friend.  This past Monday, my friend G and I spent the better part of the day together -- each of us working on our on projects.  She was turning a fabric bundle -- a panel and several matching fabrics -- into assorted wall-hangings.  She'd never before worked 'by the seat of her pants' (i.e., without a pattern) so we had fun as she auditioned the matching fabrics and the two of us consulted about how she wanted to feature the larger blocks vs the smaller ones.  In the end she created a wall hanging with great colour co-ordination and design lay-out -- and she's ready to work out the others that lie waiting for her creative juices to flow!

While G. was working out her panel/hanging, I finished Clue #3 in the mystery.

Today I moved on to Clue #4:

Clue #4...under construction!

"Under construction".  Yep.  I need several dozen "packets" of units...and have (or so it would appear!) a paucity of fabrics in Bonnie's colour palate -- the one I want to use!  😟  And -- my LQS is closed until the new year!!

Hmmm...methinks I'll just have to go with the flow...make up what I can make and shop (!) come January!

Blessedly, I'll be working in the Shop part-time through January and into February (after the doors have been shut) to ensure inventory is accurate and to pack up what is being kept in the online Shop and for pop-up sales, so I won't have to make extra trips to town for "missing" fabric.

In addition to the Mystery, I've continued sorting scraps using Bonnie's Scrap Users' System.  The pile has gone from this:




to this...


It really is smaller -- it's not crammed in there, just 'resting'!

Sorted and sliced strings

Sorted squares and rectangles
-- lights, mediums and darks in several sizes

And the past few days, I managed to finish cutting enough blocks in my Postage Stamp Quilt Project to begin assembling the top!  I have 81 blocks -- currently 6 1/2" unfinished -- that will turn into a top (before borders -- and there will be borders!) measuring about 54" square.  Here's what's assembled thus far, hanging on my design wall with sibling blocks nearby:



Now, Gentle Readers, I recognize that little (if any) of this work qualifies as "art" -- certainly none of this work will produce studio quilts...BUT all feed my brain with colour, keep my hands busy, and allow me to ponder away at assorted photos I've taken in the last few weeks, just readying themselves to be recreated in textiles.

This "stuff" I've been doing is my down time, my relaxation.  New work is in the offing -- after Christmas.  

Meanwhile I work on this quasi-utilitarian colour play...and wish you and yours a very Happy Hanukkah and a very Merry Christmas!

I leave you now with these wishes, with a link to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday...and with these few thoughts I penned earlier about my current process...

In Bits and Pieces

 Christmas is coming 
in bits and pieces.
That's how I'm living my life this year.
  
Things are getting done --
 a bit here, a bit there.  
All that is necessary:
cards sent
gifts wrapped,
several mailed.

The creche is up
sans Magi, who don't 
show up
till Epiphany.

The wee tree
will go up the morning
of the Eve 
of Christmas, 
so my children, though grown
can decorate it.

Groceries...
yes, those await.
I go to town tomorrow.

There will be a roast
and vegetables
and wine
and sweets;

there will be Scrooge,
popcorn, 
board games
and sleep.

There will be the Queen
and long walks,
a pancake brunch
and long talks.

All under the dome of Love
that came down 
over two thousand years ago
to show us who 
we could be,
if we would only 

believe.

Saturday, December 07, 2019

Waiting, Wondering, Working

The Seven Deadly Sins and 
The Four Last Things
Hieronymus Bosch (ca. 1450 - 1516)
It's the Season of Advent...a time of waiting and wondering about the meaning of life; to whit, death, judgment, heaven and hell -- also referred to as "The Four Last Things".

Christian eschatology is pretty heady -- and heavy -- stuff!  And as the days in this hemisphere get shorter and darker (literally as well as figuratively!) I've decided that spending too much time contemplating such things is not a particularly good idea for me -- at least, not this year!

So I've turned to Fabric, Fibre and Floss Therapy.  It keeps my hands and mind occupied, and soothes my soul.  😊

My weeks are punctuated by hours of work at The Shop, and my days are filled with knitting, stitching and quilting -- mainly, but not exclusively, focused on Christmas gifts.

My son's socks are finished -- as I showed in my last post -- and my daughter's pair is 50% complete.  My neighbour John will soon have a pair of grey "How Quiet Mitts" to match the purple ones I knit for his wife.

And I stumbled upon 3 embroidery patterns a couple of weeks ago -- ones I'd put away years ago -- simple and fun, and not yet done!  So...I'm making them up as gifts for various friends.  Alas, Gentle Readers, some of them read this blog so...no photos!  No peeking till Christmas!  😉

What I can show you is what I've been playing with in the fabric department.  Since the quilts for the latest family of refugees have been finished and given away, I decided to try to sort out the remains of my scrap box, calling on  Bonnie Hunter's Scrap User's System for help. 

As a Born Organized Person, I tried to incorporate this some years ago, and got side-tracked by what were -- at the time -- Far More Interesting Things to Do.  So while I have a collection of zip-lock bags with some semblance of a Carefully Cut & Curated Collection of Scraps, the rest of my scraps have been gathered in a deep cardboard box that could have been called "Mount Scrap-More"! 

"Enough of this!" I told myself, and dumped it out on my studio floor:

"Mount Scrap-More"


Now...look at that carefully, eh?  See the sharp corner at the top right of the pile of scraps?  Let your eyes follow to the left and down to the right toward the floor.  Maybe you can even see the ridge along the top of the pile.  That's the sign those fabrics have been stuffed in that box for far too long! 😆

The remedy?  Well, for the past 10 days or so, almost every day, I've been taking a handful of those scraps and dealing with them: ironing them to get out the folds and wrinkles, and then cutting them into squares or rectangles in some of Bonnie's recommended sizes -- ones I know I can use for future charity quilts.  I stack them in Light/Medium and in Dark piles, and put them in labelled zip-lock bags.  Though I'm determined to keep as much as possible out of the land fill, anything that's too tiny or too narrow to sew with successfully has been tossed.  I resolve to keep this up till that pile has been eliminated!

In addition, Bonnie has announced her 2019 Quilt Mystery, this year entitled "Frolic!", with colours that are not only right up my alley, but also in my stash.  So...I am following along and have finished the first clue:




True to form, bit by bit this Fabric Therapy has calmed me...along with the aforementioned knitting and stitching.  All of this ironing, cutting and piecing gives my mind time to ponder art pieces to make in the New Year.  Earlier this week we had some of that powdery, sparkly snow.  When I went out to clear the walks and fill my bird feeders, I was struck by the beauty of it on the trees, just waiting to be captured in stitch:





And one more thing on the art quilt front: this week I received the photos from my daughter that she took last month -- beautiful shots of the quilt I planned to enter into the SAQA all-Canadian exhibit, "Colour With a 'U'".  The online entry process opened December 1, and on December 4, my entry was in.  Done and dusted!  Now to wait...notification is in mid-February.

While Gina was here to take the photos, we took a tour around my new lot and she tried to get photos of the birds -- who didn't cooperate.  She did manage to take some wonderful shots of my Miss Pookie, though, so I'll end this post with my favourite one...and a link to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend...







Monday, November 25, 2019

Christmas is Coming!

Part I: How'd that happen?!

I know; I know.  It happens on the same day every year.  It's just that with every passing year, the months seem to evaporate more quickly.  Here it is November 25, over 3 weeks since my last post -- and I was going to try to post more often.  Ah well.

It's not as if I've been idle all that time!  A full ten days was spent at home because we got a Bag of Nasty Mix from Mother Nature: rain, followed by freezing rain, followed by snow.  And not once, but twice!  The roads were turned into snow-covered skating rinks and the County's sanders and ploughs couldn't keep up.  As I write, we're experiencing milder-than-usual temperatures, and much of the snow has melted.  The main streets and highways are in good shape -- bare and dry -- but the side streets here in my wee hamlet are treacherous with ice, making going for my usual walks an interesting adventure, to say the least!

So while the weather remains top of mind in conversations at church, in the Post Office and at the Shop, I've tried to focus elsewhere.

This week my daughter came to drop off her artwork for the Under $100 Art Market that happened in Lacombe on Thursday evening and Friday.

She had a good market with her photography, selling a large framed print, a good-sized photo-on-canvas, a matted print and at least a dozen of her lovely photo-cards (with envelopes).

Autumn at Cranna - SOLD!
Me?  I didn't fare quite so well.  After the initial excitement of selling one of my matted minis early on the Thursday evening, well...the other nine were admired but ended up coming home with me.  Ah well.  As artists we must live in hope, eh?

While she was here, Gina took several shots of the piece I want to enter into "Colour with a 'U'", and I expect she'll have them off her camera (a real one, with lenses, and a timer, used with a tri-pod -- the whole nine yards!  😉) and in the e-mail to me in the next day or two.

We had a lovely afternoon!

I've also been working to finish the last two bed quilts for the Syrian family that arrived -- as far as I know -- in Toronto on Tuesday.  They were to fly to Edmonton on Wednesday to be met by a contingent from the five churches (including mine).  I spent several of the 'iced-in' days finishing the sashing on the second string quilt, while my long-arm quilter, Sylvia, did a beautiful job of the one top that wasn't "Quilt As You Go".  I picked it up last week and finished the binding on it yesterday.

A QAYG quilt is simple to create, and ideal if you don't have the space to quilt a throw-sized (or larger) top on your own sewing machine -- but it is a tad time-consuming, because each section must be attached together using sashing.  It can be machine-done on front and back, but I don't care for the look of a machine stitch line on the front sashing, so I choose to hand-stitch the sashing on the back.

The photo below shows my 8" blocks, and a stack of sashing arranged in pairs.  The front sash is cut to 8" long, and is 1" wide.  The back sash is 8" long and 1 3/4" wide, but has been folded over and pressed in half.



You layer the top sashing, the edge of a block and the back sashing -- with the raw edges aligned -- and sew them by machine.  Then you press the top sashing toward the edge, layer it with the next block in the row, and sew that by machine.  Once that's done, you turn the pair over, and press the back sashing from the first block toward the second.  You pin that down and hand stitch it.  This is done until all the rows are created.


Rows of blocks in various stages of assembly
on my "design bed".  😉

Then you use the same technique to attach the rows together, and finish off with binding in your usual fashion.  I've never added borders to these quilts, but you could -- layering and quilting them first and joining them with a "zinger" (narrow sashing) in the same way.  Here's the second string quilt -- intended for a 10-year-old girl, and measuring about 50" x 65".


Altogether now!

And here's her mom's quilt, beautifully quilted by Sylvia, my long-arm quilter.  
She even donated the batting for the project!


"Chain Rail Fence" - 63" x 72"

Quilting detail

Between the Wall-to-Bed Project and these three quilts, 
I think I've had my fill of piecing for a while!  


Part II: It shouldn't be this hard!!

Now it's time to begin the Christmas Knitting in earnest -- and this year it's been 'one step forward; two steps back'!  First, about socks...

The Shop carries 'Reinvent', a yarn composed of 'everything but the kitchen sink' -- and I was able to purchase two skeins from the "Meow" and "Woof" collections:

"Border Collie"
and

  
"Maine Coon Kali"

My son has two Tuxedo cats, so I cast on the Border Collie using my favourite 2.75 mm needles, and 72 stitches -- my usual for his feet.  AAAARGH!!  The first sock came out 'way too big:

Sock for an Abominable Snowman
who's part zebra... 😆

Clearly an adjustment was needed!  I didn't change my needles but I did reduce to 64 stitches, and the result was much better:

More like a Tuxedo Cat! 😌

I frogged (rip it, rip it, rip it) the Abominable Zebra sock and knit it over again with 64 stitches, finishing it up on Saturday.  I've washed the pair now...and they're still rather light-weight and could be a bit large.  We'll see.  For Gina's, in the "Maine Coon Kali" colourway (honouring her aged 'Princess'), I'm dropping to a 2.5 mm needle and 60 stitches.  Fingers crossed!

In other knitting...I am making fingerless mittens for my neighbours this year, and chose "How Quiet Mitts", designed by Helen Stewart.  I'm using a yummy yarn -- "Finn" from Universal Yarns -- that was a shop sample passed on to me by my employer.  It's a Merino wool/Acrylic/Alpaca blend that is very soft and rather drapey, but it's proving to be lovely for this pattern.  And it's in this delicious colour:

Universal Yarns "Finn"
Colour #107 - "Jam"

Here's my sad story about this project:

I made one mitt and let the project sit for weeks and weeks while doing other things.  When I returned to it...I'd forgotten how to do the increases for the pattern on the back of the hand...Here's what I wrote about this on my Ravelry Projects page:
I’m finishing the second mitten of this pair -- having started it four times!!! First, I cast on the wrong number of sts (32 instead of 36). slightly_frowning_face Then I discovered I wasn’t doing the “m1r” correctly and had a pucker -- and it took me three (count ‘em!) tries to figure this out. Sigh.
I don’t know why the second mitten was so difficult, save to say that after I finished the first one, I tucked the project away for several weeks (I said I started it in October, but it could have been earlier) as I was busy with other things.
Now that I’ve figured it out, the “mantra” for the increases is becoming lodged in my brain and I should be able to make another pair easily. (I want to use the same pattern for my neighbour’s husband, using a grey DK.) Let’s hope!
Here's the first mitten, waiting for it's ends to be sewn in.  Note: it's hard to take a photo single-handed! 😣




Surely to goodness it will be all downhill sledding from here -- and all will be finished and wrapped in time for the holiday.   After Christmas...yes, there will be new art in the sewdio!

I'll leave you with a link (late as usual!!) to Nina Marie's "Off the Wall Friday" -- and another to WIP Wednesday over at The Needle and Thread Network -- as well as a wish to all my American readers for a Happy Thanksgiving.  

"...whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world." -- Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, 1927.