Saturday, December 19, 2009

Inspiration

I've been very restless since yesterday. Part of it is because of my episode with the online orientation for my school district (which I'm still avoiding finishing), part of it is because I'm nervous about starting my job in January and part of it is because I don't have anything exciting on the needles right now. I will work more on the orientation today and prepare myself as well as I can for work in January. Those things are easy to work on. The lack of knitting excitement is another story all together. I don't want to start a shawl, since I'm participating in 10 shawls in 2010 next year and anything I start now won't count. Unfortunately, all the patterns I'm interested in right now are shawls! I have a lace scarf on the needles that's been hanging around my closet, trying to guilt me into finishing it for ages, but it's not very fun to work on. I did a few rows of it today and was bored almost immediately.

I decided that I needed to come up with a knitting goal that is personal and just for me. I wanted something that inspired me and had no time restrictions on it. For a while now I've been wanting to challenge myself to take a knitting book and make every pattern in it. I have a ton of knitting books here, but only a few would be suitable for such an endeavor. After perusing my library, I decided that I want to take the Knitted Socks East and West Challenge.



This challenge, which I have entirely made up myself, consists of knitting all of the socks in Judy Sumner's beautiful pattern book, Knitted Socks East and West. I have never been inspired by a knitting book like I have been inspired by this one. All I have to do is crack open the pages and I'm instantly lost in the beautiful photography and interesting commentary. There are thirty wonderful pairs of socks here, using distinctive Japanese stitch patterns. There are several new stitches to learn, all of which look exciting. I have really wanted to get into sock knitting, and this seems like the perfect way. I will be learning all about sock construction while creating some beautiful and unique pieces.

This challenge will be very loose. There are only two rules:
  1. I have to knit all the patterns in the book
  2. I have to knit them in the order they are presented
I will take as long as I want to do this and I won't try to power through all the patterns right in a row. I will be knitting loads of other things in the new year besides my challenge socks, so I wont get burned out on the project. This is a very long term goal.

I already have the yarn for my first pair, Konnichiwa. I hope this will be the perfect way to get myself out of my knitting funk and cure my restlessness. I'm excited to get started!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Lacy Little Bookmark

Today has been a really restless day for me. I had grand plans to power through as much of my county's online orientation as I could today. Those plans fell apart when I realized how terrible the program was. It's so fiddly and broken that I can only handle doing it in small chunks. I got a good portion done, then I got to a point where I just couldn't do anymore. I had to take a break. So I did some chores, made a grocery list and took pictures of the bookmark I knitted my mom for Christmas.



Pattern: Flourish Bookmark by Nina Casey
Yarn: Rowan Purelife Organic Cotton 4-ply
Mods: I stopped knitting i-cord at 8 inches instead of 10 because the tail was long enough.



I'm very happy with how this turned out. It was a very quick pattern. Of course, it took me a week to make because I made a mistake in the lace at some point and decided to just start over rather than fudge around with it anymore.



Blocking this piece made all the difference. It looked okay when I finished knitting it, but it didn't look at all like the project pictures on Ravelry. Giving it a nice soak and pinning it out really finished the piece nicely. I ironed it once it was dry to flatten it out a little more. It looks great!

Now I'm off to choose a book to gift to my mom along with it!

New School

I went to visit my new school on Wednesday. It was a very enlightening experience.

First, let's talk about the classroom. It's huge and beautiful! It's located in a brand new building which houses the sixth grade. There's only seven other teachers in there with me, and everyone seems really nice. It's like we have our own little club, completely separate from the rest of the school. The classroom is a "smart classroom," meaning that I have a sound system, a digital projector, a laptop and a Smart Board, which is a giant touch screen for making presentations. It's all top of the line stuff and clearly too good for me. I can't believe I lucked out like this. The teacher who is vacating the position is leaving most of her stuff in there for me. Decorations, lesson plans, tests, assignments - basically everything I could ever want is being provided for me. If I wanted to, I could completely coast by on the materials she left until the end of the year. Of course I won't do that, but it's nice to have some prepared things in case of emergencies.

I also got a chance to observe some of my students. I didn't introduce myself to anyone, I just sat in the back and watched a few lessons. Here's where I saw what my trouble is going to be. Their current teacher lets them run wild. She calls her teaching style "controlled chaos." From where I was sitting it looked more like regular chaos, but that's just my opinion. She goes out of her way to be a friend to the kids and wastes a lot of class time having non-academic conversations with them and repeating herself over and over (because they all won't stop talking). We have completely different views on what is appropriate in the classroom. That's perfectly okay - her way appears to be working for her and the kids absolutely love her - but I can't run my classroom like she does. Those kids are in for a rude awakening once I take over. I can already tell that my biggest problem is going to come from them fighting me on my rules and procedures. They will be going from an environment where the rules were very lax to an environment where the rules will be fairly strict. It's going to be a rough transition because they have so many bad habits.

So that discovery made me a little nervous, but I'm still ridiculously excited to start working. I have to go in there and be true to myself and my style as an educator.

I had to make the tough decision to drop out of my Villains swap this morning. I didn't want to, since I have been waiting for this swap for a long time, but I realized that I wouldn't have time to make a good package and learn to be a good teacher all at once. I'm bummed about it, but there will be other swaps.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Gift Cavalcade!

In between being excited/terrified about my new job, I've been knitting Christmas gifts like a fiend. I decided to knit as many gifts as I could from my stash this year, to save on money. All the people in my family that wouldn't appreciate a knit gift will get a tin of homemade cookies, which also saves money. You see, my husband and I would rather spend what Christmas money we have on each other. It's a little selfish, but this will be our first ever Christmas morning alone together and we want it to be special.

We've been together for about 8 Christmases now, but some were when we were kids in high school, some were when we were in college and were staying at a parent's house for the holidays, and the last one was when we were living with my mom. Now that we have our own place, this will be the first Christmas where we'll wake up in the morning and be all alone. I'm so excited! We've got all kinds of plans for a present-filled morning followed by a huge breakfast. The rest of the day will have to be spent with family, but at least we'll have the first part all to ourselves.

Anyway, I have a couple of gift projects to post about today. First up is the scarf I made for my MIL.



Pattern: One Row Handspun Scarf by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
Yarn: Vanna's Choice in Cranberry
Mods: None



This was probably the most painless scarf I have ever made. As the pattern implies, there is only one row to memorize for this scarf. It is reversible and was very fast to knit. The single row of the scarf is easy enough to knit very quickly, but interesting enough to keep you from being totally bored while you knit it.



As my MIL is shorter than me, I knitted until the scarf was a little over 5 feet. It took about one and a half balls of Vanna to get it to that length. It lays perfectly flat, so there's no need to block it. However, I think I will run it through the washer and dryer as Vanna becomes wonderfully soft after going through that process. I think the scarf looks classy - almost expensive, and the color is perfect. I hope my MIL likes it!

Next up is the hat I made for my cousin -



Pattern: Rib-A-Roni by Jane Tanner
Yarn: Vanna's Choice in Black and Silver Gray
Mods: I made the adult large size, but stopped knitting the body at 6 inches.



This is probably one of the most boring hats I have ever knit. It's for a teenage boy though, so that kind of comes with the territory. It's not like I could experiment with wild colors or a lacy pattern. He is your typical teenager and his tastes in clothing run to the simple and the black. At least I got a gray stripe in there for some visual interest.



I made the adult large. I don't think he has a particularly big head, but I haven't seen him in a year and he's a growing boy, so I didn't want to take any chances. The whole hat is ribbed, so there's a lot of forgiveness in the sizing. I stopped knitting the body at 6 inches, because the hat looked tall enough at that point.



The resulting hat is a little big for me, which should be perfect for my cousin. I took care to knit it in a machine washable yarn too for ease of care. He lives in Massachusetts, so he will actually be able to use it! I think it actually looks pretty nice, despite how boring it was to make.

Last for today is the hat a knit for my dad:



Pattern: Armando Hat by Gina House
Yarn: Malabrigo Worsted in Oceanos
Mods: I added an extra body repeat.



If this hat looks familiar to you, it's because I have made it before for ym husband - in this same yarn too, no less. This is the naughty yarn with all the bad spots in it that frustrated me so much a couple months ago. I cut out the bad parts and used the rest of the yarn to knit this. When I was finished, I threw away the yarn that remained. I'm glad I found a use for most of it and got rid of the rest!



I chose to knit this hat again because I already knew it was fast, easy and looked good in this color yarn. The only change I made this time was to knit the hat with size 9 needles instead of size 10. The pattern calls for size 9, but the first time I knit this hat I didn't own that size, so I knit it with 10s instead. Since that time, I've purchased a Knit Picks Harmony 16" circ in size 9 (which I love), so I decided to give the hat a try using it. It came out smaller that I would have liked, so I had to add an extra pattern repeat into the body. If I was going to knit this hat again, I would go back to the size 10s. I should have left well enough alone I guess.

I also finished a lacy bookmark for my mother. It came out really nice, and I'm hoping that blocking it makes it even nicer. I only have a few more gifts to finish up in the next week, so I'm right on track to finish everything by Christmas. Whew!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I Got the Job!!!

The title of this post says it all- I finally got a job!!!!! I had completely given up hope on getting this job after what I felt wasn't a very good interview. The principal said that they would be making a decision last Thursday, so when I didn't hear anything last week I figured that they went with someone else. I was SO surprised to get the job offer today! I won't start until after the holiday break, but I'm officially a 6th grade English teacher now!

This couldn't have come at a better time. I was getting to a very bad place emotionally. I was depressed about not being able to find a job and subbing was turning my brain to mush. I did not expect my life to stagnate this badly after college, and seeing the bright side of things and remaining hopeful was becoming increasingly difficult.

With this job I can see so many more possibilities for me. The world is in color again. We'll have money. We can go places and do things. We can save for the future. We can start planning for a family. My real life is about to begin and I couldn't be happier.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Cranford Mitts and Cowl

Well, I had my JOB INTERVIEW today. It was absolutely terrifying! The principal and assistant principal I interviewed with seemed very nice, but that did little to help my nerves. Although I did the best I could, I came out of it feeling like I didn't do very well.

They asked me a lot of specific questions like, "How would you teach reading?" and "How will you help your students prepare for standardized tests?" How am I supposed to know any of that? I haven't seen the textbooks the kids will be using, I haven't had the opportunity to attend the workshops teachers get to attend on strategies, and I haven't had to plan an actual lesson, ever! I could only answer questions like this in the vaguest of generalities. I felt like I wasn't being clear when I was answering just because I didn't know what to say. On top of that, I actually forgot the name of the school I interned at. Seriously. I did that.

I was a little depressed when I got home because I figured I blew the whole thing for sure. Then, my MIL called me. She knows this particular principal's wife through her job. She told me that the principal actually called his wife and told her that I had the best interview so far!

So now I don't know how to feel about the whole thing. Frankly, I'm just relieved that I didn't come off as a total idiot. Even if I don't get this job and I never hear from this guy again, I will be happy just knowing that I am capable of interviewing well.

What I do know for sure is that I need to stop obsessing over this interview! Time to blog about knitting!

I just learned yesterday that my swap box arrived safely to my partner in Canada! She seemed to like everything in it too. Now that she's seen all the knitted goodies, it's time to blog about them. I made her a mitts and cowl set in the colors of her Quidditch team, the Appleby Arrows.



Pattern: Cranford Mitts by Jane Lithgow
Yarn: Crystal Palace Yarns Panda Cotton in Deep Water and Rowan Purelife Organic Cotton in Oak Bark
Mods: None



I am very pleased with these mitts. The pattern was well written and very easy to follow. I always get nervous when it's time to pick up stitches for the thumb on projects like this, but I found that I didn't have to worry. The holes from the lace pattern disguise any little holes around the thumb gusset perfectly - they blend right in.



My partner in this swap has a lot of allergies. She can't wear any animal fibers, so selecting the perfect yarn for these mitts was a challenge. I knew I wanted to go with a cotton yarn, but I was afraid that a thick cotton like Peaches and Cream would be too stiff and bulky. I ended up picking a cotton, bamboo and nylon blend sock yarn for the body of the mitts. The nylon gave the yarn some nice stretchiness and the bamboo gave it some extra softness. The gray yarn at the top and bottom of the mitts is a pure cotton and it was a dream to knit with. So smooth and soft! I didn't know cotton could be such a treat. I will definitely use both of those yarns again.

I wanted the cowl I was sending to match the mitts perfectly, so I ended up improvising my own pattern using the same lace from the mitts.



Pattern: Custom Cranford Cowl by Smartcinderella (me!)
Yarn: Yarn: Crystal Palace Yarns Panda Cotton in Deep Water and Rowan Purelife Organic Cotton in Oak Bark



This was my first time creating my own pattern. I wouldn't call this a truly original design, because I borrowed most of the pattern from the Cranford Mitts, but I did apply what I borrowed to a completely new format. I'm very happy with the results. The mitts and cowl look like they belong together, which was my goal.



Now how's that for a professional looking swap gift, huh? A lot of time and thought went into these, and I'm very glad that they were a success with my partner.

And with that, my round of swaps is all done! I won't be working on any more packages until January, when I will get my partner in the Villains! swap. I'm totally excited for that, but for now I'm happy to take a swap vacation.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Another Ribs and Ridges

I mentioned in my last post that I was thinking of making another Ribs and Ridges hat for my sister, since I liked my own so much. I remembered that I had the PERFECT colorway for her in my stash last week, so I just went for it. Luckily, this fit the requirements for my last class in the House Cup. I got to double dip - House Cup goodness with a Christmas present.



Pattern: Ribs and Ridges Hat by Pren Wilcox
Yarn: Malabrigo Merino Worsted in Citrus
Mods: I'm pretty sure at this point that the pattern does have errors, so I had to modify it a little bit. You can read the changes I made here.



I'm happier with this hat than I am with my last one, since this one is mathematically correct. Not having to fudge stitches is a great feeling. Now I'm kind of sad that my original Ribs and Ridges is messed up. It's not messed up in a way that anyone can see, mind you. Only I know it's messed up. It's bugging me anyway.



These colors are so happy. It kind of looks like a candy corn puked, but I like them. They represent my sister's personality perfectly. She's loud and cheerful, all oranges and sunshine. I hope she likes this.

Right now I'm freaking out a little because I have a TEACHING INTERVIEW tomorrow (yes, that event really does warrant all caps)! I'm practicing potential answers I'll give tomorrow and preparing myself the best I can, but my stomach is in knots.

This job isn't exactly ideal. It's further away from home than I'd like. I'll have to bum rides off of someone every day since I don't drive. I can make it work though. God, I'd do anything for a real job. It would be so nice to have some extra money, especially around the holidays. Not having to sub any more would be divine.

But now I'm working myself up. It's just an interview, it's just an interview . . .

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Ribs and Ridges

It's been ages since I properly blogged! I have been working hard on the projects for my final swap, which I mailed out last week. My partner is in Canada, so she hasn't gotten them yet and that means I can't blog about them. I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise.

However, I can blog about the awesome hat I made for DADA. It's one of my favorite hats of all time. I brought it to Disney last weekend on our impromptu vacation and it did a nice job protecting me from the rain.



Yarn: Malabrigo Merino Worsted in Whales Road
Mods: Either the pattern has an error, or I made an error (more likely). I ended up having to completely fudge the placement of the last set of ribs. It's an easy pattern though, so doing this was just a matter of moving them over a few extra stitches.



Let me just say that I LOVE this hat. The pattern was simple and completely addictive (and free!). I finished the entire thing in half a day because I couldn't put it down. It fits perfectly too.



The pattern is an excellent choice for variegated yarns. The ribs and ridges are chunky enough to stand out against a mix of colors that would obscure a more subtle pattern. I'm one of those knitters/crocheters that loves variegated yarn, but never knows how to show it off in a project. I think that the Whales Road (which is a mix of all of my favorite colors) was the right choice for this project. It looks great!

In other knitting news, I finished my February Lady Sweater last night! I bought some buttons for it this morning. All I have to do is block the thing and sew them on. Of course, the yoke is still too big so the darn thing looks horribly bunchy under my arms, but at least it's done. Maybe the blocking will help improve this problem. I'm taking it as a learning experience. No one's first sweater comes out perfect, right? It's a lesson for next time. Don't make the yoke "just a few rows bigger, in case." That sounds so stupid when I say it out loud. Why did I do that??

Monday, November 16, 2009

Little Lamb

I've been in swap mode for the past few days. I got one package out in the mail today and I'm feverishly working on another. When that one is done I'm taking a small break from swaps. I need some "me" time. Odd Ducks is doing a villains swap in January though, and I HAVE to be a part of that. So, the break will be small, but it will be nice.

I have a surprise finished object to post about today! I say it's a surprise because I didn't know I would be making it until this weekend. I thought I had my favorite animal swap package all done. Then I received MY package in the mail. It was so good that I figured I had to do one more thing for my partner. She had Christmas ornaments on her wish list, so I went with a little sheep for her tree.



Pattern: Sheep in Sheep's Clothing by Frankie Brown
Yarn: Knit Picks Palette in White
Mods: I used a fingering weight yarn and size 0 needles



This little lamb came out really cute! The pattern was easy. The body and legs are knit in one piece and the head, ears and tail are done separately and sewn on. Embroidering the face was tricky. It took several false starts, but I made some admirable french knots in the end.



The head was the only difficult part. You knit it flat (it looks like a diamond shape), then make a running stitch along the edge of the piece and pull tight to gather it up into a round shape. I had to do it twice because my first attempt looked like a piece of chewed bubblegum. I got it eventually though - the trick was to be really careful to make your running stitch neat and even and to gather the stitches with a light touch. Stuffing the head with a little bit of batting helped as well.

I have another project done, but that is for a swap partner who knows who I am so I can't post pictures here! Now to get back to being productive . . .

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Restless

I'm feeling restless today. I had a really hard week at work last week, and coming off of all the stress from that has left me feeling drained and lost. I'm finding it hard to muster the energy to clean, cook and find jobs. I'm just so tired- not quite physically tired, but emotionally tired. I'm trying very hard to stay positive and keep going about my usual routine, but it's just a down week for me.

I know I'm depressed because I'm reading The Great Gatsby again. That's my go-to novel for when I'm feeling sorry for myself.

My February Lady Sweater is disappointing me. I made the yoke too big and now it's looking all bunchy under my arms. I'm foolishly holding out hope that blocking the sweater will fix it. Like pinning it out will magically erase all of its imperfections. I'm totally bummed because I really like this pattern and I didn't want my FO to look amateurish. I'm thinking that if I really don't like the look of the sweater once it's finished I'll make another. This one will be like a test run.

I finished one project for the House Cup and I'm about to start another. Again, I'm not particularly enthused about the assignments this month. I'm certain now that I won't be participating in the next term. I will miss it, but I need a break. I am looking forward to pursuing some different projects that don't really fit in with the Cup.

Now, back to knitting and Gatsby.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Luna's Traveling Bag

My illness is almost gone. The only symptom I have left is a terrible nagging cough that hurts my chest. I was able to go into work yesterday. Of course, I forgot to bring my cough drops and had a major coughing fit before first period was even halfway over, but I made it through the day. I was actually subbing for my FIL, and I know where he keeps his supply of reward Blow Pops. Those worked pretty well as substitute cough drops, so I was okay for the rest of the day.

I have a project to post as well! I was going to save this post for after this object arrived at its destination, but the end of the month is coming up quickly and don't want to wait too long. I'm worried about the status of the swap package this project is a part of. It should be at its destination by now. I hope nothing bad happened to it, because it cost an arm and a leg to mail. Seriously. An arm and a leg. That would be just my luck - for it to have completely disappeared along the way somewhere.



Pattern: Ilene Bag by Hannah Ingalls
Yarn: Lion Brand Cotton Ease in Gray and Light Blue
Mods: I added 5 extra reps of the mesh pattern into the body of the bag, for length. Because I altered this, I had to alter the handle set-up row as well, knitting 22 stitches at the beginning instead of 10.



This is the first market bag I have made and I'm pretty darn happy with it. It's a decent size, it stretches out nicely without looking like it's about the break apart, and it was all done in one piece. I love projects with no seaming!



This was very easy to make. The only tough part was picking up the stitches around the bottom of the bag. I had to be careful to space them out perfectly, so the bottom of the bag looked even and not all bunchy. I'm getting a lot better at picking up stitches though - I don't really get nervous when I see a pattern that requires it anymore. I'm pretty sure that this is my first project requiring me to pick up such a large number of stitches. It came out well!



Those are Ravenclaw pins embellishing the bag. This package went out to a Ravenclaw, hence the name "Luna's Traveling Bag." The theme of the swap was the Hogwarts Express, and I could picture Luna carrying a bag like this on board, packed full of stuff to do. I hope that swap package is okay! I will be seriously bummed if this package is lost.

I have another project to post later on. I have to take pictures of it first. Perhaps I'll get to it later today. This illness has put me behind in everything!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Angry Cat

I have been so sick this week. I've missed a ton of work because I don't have my yelling voice. I can't sub if I can't be VERY LOUD. Plus I have a nagging little cough that is driving me crazy. At least I have the free time to knit in my convalescence. From this free time that was both highly enjoyable and incredibly miserable, an abomination of crafting was born. Meet Angry Cat.



Pattern: Marmalade Ginge by Donna Wilson
Yarn: Morris Empire 4ply in orange and cream
Mods: None



Believe it or not, Angry Cat wasn't meant to look so angry. I think my miserableness subconsciously transferred to him during the crafting process. This little guy came out so serious looking! I meant for him to be cute, I swear it! This is for a swap, so I hope the person who eventually receives him appreciates his unique personality. I like him a lot. However, I have a nagging fear that my partner will unwrap him and exclaim that he's the ugliest cat she's ever seen. His expression was just too funny to rip out and start over. It's a work of art.



Let's talk about the construction on this project. The cat is knit in three pieces - the front, the back and then the tail. Everything has to be seamed up at the end. Of course, the whole thing is knitted in stockinette stitch, so all the pieces curl up like nobody's business. It was a challenge to put him together, to say the least. He's also striped from the bottom of his paws to the tips of his wonky ears, so neat finishing was a must. Stitching him up sloppily would be really obvious because the stripes wouldn't match on the sides. Look at that side seam though! I did him up right!



This pattern is from the Knitted Odd-Bod Bunch book. I like how he came out. It was a real challenge to put him together. That super-long tail that I thought was so cute (120 rows of stockinette knit flat and seamed) was a huge pain in the ass. It was worth it in the end though! I kind of wish I was keeping him.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Kitty Toys and Crafty Earrings

Well, I finally figured out what to do for my Charms assignment. Try as I might, I just wasn't feeling this class when it was first posted. I had no idea when to make for it. I didn't want to make useless junk, and I wanted to somehow fit one of the swap items I'm working on into it. Luckily, the perfect projects came to me yesterday.

The assignment was based on the Reducio charm. We had to make something, then make a miniature version of it. Only a genius like me would come up with a cat toy/earrings combo for this (kidding . . . mostly).

First up, the cat toys.



Pattern: I made it up myself! I'm not patting myself on the back too hard though, it's just a crochet ball.
Yarn: Lily Sugar and Cream in Yellow and Hot Blue
Special Materials: These are stuffed with a healthy amount of cat nip.

I crocheted these out of small amounts of worsted weight cotton with a G hook. Yellow and blue are my favorite color combination and I'm really happy with how cheery these came out.



Of course, I have no idea if I put in too much cat nip or not enough. I think cats are completely adorable, but a life of hair all over everything and stinky litter boxes isn't for me. I figure that if I can smell it from outside the toy (which I certainly can), then a cat will be able to. I hope my partner enjoys these once I mail them. Well, more accurately, I hope her cats enjoy them.

Next, the earrings:



Pattern: Again, I made it up myself! It's almost exactly the same as the toys.
Yarn: JP Coats Crochet Thread in Golden Yellow



These came out really cute. I made the yellow beads using the same pattern as the toys, minus a set of increases and a body row (and the cap nip). I think that was a good call as they are verging on being too big.



I'm excited for these since I can actually wear them out regardless of how hot it is. Too many of the things I make are relegated to a drawer until winter comes.

So, my mission of fitting a swap item into this assignment is completed! Now I have to move on to completing herbology and getting started on arithmancy! I have too much on my plate this month. I'm sick too now. I've got some kind of cold that has me dried out and stuffed up. I'm hoping that it doesn't get any worse tomorrow. :(

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Flies

So, I haven't blogged about this particular topic yet, but I I think we're at a point where this bears reporting.

For the past month, my husband and I have been living in a fly-infested apartment. It was terrible. There were flies everywhere. Every time one of us would make food or get a drink we'd be slapping flies away from it. We'd try to make dinner and flies would be buzzing around our heads, driving us crazy. It was BAD. They were EVERYWHERE.

Obviously, we had a big problem. It goes without saying that our number one priority was getting rid of the flies. Our problem was that we could not figure out where they were coming from. We saw most of them in the kitchen area, which happens to be right around the corner from my bunny's cage. I keep Weatherby's cage very clean on a regular basis, but I started to clean it every single day just in case that's where the flies were breeding. I didn't think that the flies could be coming from him, because I never saw any flies or maggots in there, but I stepped up the cleaning just in case. It didn't make a real difference. That's not where the flies were coming from.

So then we moved onto the kitchen. We looked everywhere for the source of the flies. We thought that maybe a potato had rolled into a corner somewhere and rotted or something. But no, there was nothing unusual- and there was no rotting smell anywhere. We started taking our garbage out every single night just in case that's where the flies were spawning. This didn't make a difference either.

It was driving us absolutely crazy. We are not dirty people and we keep our apartment VERY clean! It just didn't make sense. There had to be a breeding area somewhere that we were just missing. We were on the point of calling our landlady to look into it when I found where the flies were coming from.



This is our new rice maker. My husband received it as a birthday present about a month ago. Curious coincidence, right? We use it all the time. I had noticed flies hanging out around it before, but I thought that they had just happened to land there, because flies can't possibly be breeding in the rice maker, right? WRONG.



On the back of the unit is a little plastic reservoir that catches excess water from the steam produced when rice cooks. As I was packing my husband's lunch last night, I happened to catch a glimpse of this plastic cover out of the corner of my eye. It was FULL of wriggling little maggots. I had no idea that this cover existed, that it was removable or that I was supposed to be cleaning it. It isn't mentioned in the instructions for the rice maker, which I read from cover to cover when we received it. It's on the back of the unit, so why would I ever think to look for it? When you clean the rice maker, you just remove the interior pot where the rice goes. You don't wash the base at all.



So I snapped off this cover (which came right off, because I'm apparently supposed to be cleaning this piece whenever I make rice), and got rid of the maggots. Now I am a little wiser about rice cooker maintenance and our fly problems are (hopefully) solved.

The real victim in this is poor little Weatherby, whom we all slandered by assuming that he was the cause of the flies. Sorry buddy!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Till Death Do They Part Wreath

Well, I promised a wreath update, and here it is! This thing came out stupidly well.





This was made on a 12" wire wreath frame. This is the first time I've ever attempted a wreath and I wasn't sure how to attach all the pieces to the base. I didn't think that glue would be a very good idea, so I used yarn scraps to tie everything on. It's been holding together very well so far, but it isn't the studiest construction job I've ever done. It might be worth picking up a book on wreath design or searching for more information online.

I can definitely see myself making other wreaths for different holidays. I should get cracking on one for Thanksgiving next.

I have another project done for the House Cup, but it's part of a swap I'm in so I won't be posting it until my partner receives it. I have three more projects for the House Cup and my OWL to do in the rest of this month. I'm still struggling with the class assignments. I'm just not inspired. I don't think this is the fault of the teachers. Maybe it's me that's changed. Perhaps once this term is over it's time for me to take a break from this. I still have to think on it. I could just be in a midterm funk.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Some Halloween Crocheting

I was not as inspired by the House Cup projects this month as I usually am. They aren't bad assignments at all. It's just that none of them are jumping out at me. This has led me to be more creative in finding projects to apply to the different classes. I figured that I can combine DADA and Transfiguration this month to make a nifty Halloween wreath for my front door. I'm not double-dipping on projects, because that's against the rules. I'm making two separate projects, which I will turn in for the classes. Later, I will combine them to make an amazingly impressive decoration (I hope). See? Creative.

First up is Transfiguration. We had to transform something from real life into a yarn version. I crocheted some purple yarn roses.



Pattern: Centifolia Rose and Irish Leaf from 100 Flowers to Knit & Crochet
Yarn: Vanna's Choice in Eggplant and Caron Simply Soft in Dark Sage
Mods: I used worsted weight and a J hook for both patterns



The roses were very easy to crochet. You make a long strip of stitches and then roll it up, sewing it closed as you go. The rolling part took a little getting used to. By the second rose I had it pretty much down. They key is to keep the back of the rose completely flat and not concave or convex.



The leaves were a piece of cake. It only took one day to make all of them. The pattern was well written and it yielded a perfect leaf, just like I wanted. They look very nice up against the roses.

These are meant to go around the wreath. The middle of the wreath will showcase my next project - a skeleton bride and groom.



Pattern: Skeleton Bride and Groom by Needlenoodles
Yarn: Red Heart Super Saver in White and Vanna's Choice in Black.
Mods: I used 12 mm safety eyes instead of making the clay eyes that the pattern suggests



I am SO FREAKING HAPPY with these. That's right, my joy has transcended my ability to type in lowercase. This is the first pattern I have tried out of my Creepy Cute Crochet book. It was easy to follow and turned out such an adorable final project. I can definitely see myself making a lot more of the little guys from this book.



Let's talk about the bride first. The toughest part of the construction on her was definitely the tulle veil. I may be able to crochet with the greatest of ease, but a master seamstress I am not! I attached it once, decided it sucked, did it over and decided I could live with the look of the second try. It's not perfect, but it's good enough for a wreath where people won't be seeing her backside.



Now the groom. He was easy-peasy. The only tough thing I ran into with him was trying to crochet at a tight gauge with black yarn. I felt like I was going blind. In the instructions for attaching his hat, the book instructs you to "attach at a jaunty angle." What do you think, jaunty enough? That made me laugh.

My project for the rest of today is to assemble the wreath. I'll update when I have it finished. Once thing's for sure - it's going to kick ass.