Sunday, February 28, 2010

Blocking Mainly

My whole life is measured by Sundays.  I live for Sundays, just surviving from one Sunday to the next, and then looking back on the last Sunday and saying, One More Week Down!  Two years ago, my light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel was the weekend.  "Just have to make it to the weekend, and then I'll be okay!"  Last year, I only had to make it to Thursday, and from there on out things were easier.  Now, I say, "I just have to make it to Spanish class, and then the end is in sight!"  Sad?  Perhaps.  But I'm managing all right. :)  

And of course, Sundays help.  Since I work on Saturdays, Sunday is my one REAL R&R day, my one day to do enjoyable things and hang around.  Church is always lovely, just a grand time to refresh the heart and check in with friends and have a stretch of God-time, which I don't often get all in a row during the week.  And then Sunday afternoons, the most unproductive few hours of my week, are so nice, involving books, writing, tea (LOTS of tea), etc. etc.  

Anyhow, I did get a few (awful grungy) pictures last night, when I had a block pinned out on the board.  I'm at the tail end of blocking these sets of four now, just pinned the last one out actually.  I've never blocked anything before, so this was new and I was a little wary.  But it's very muchly Worth It.  It changes it somehow, makes it less lumpy and more polished.  Ah well.  

My method does not include soap or detergent or starch or anything.  Just plain old water.  I use a generic spray bottle with the nozzle twisted to almost-closed, to get a (fairly) light, even spray.  
I don't have a board or anything fancy, just a collapsed cardboard shipping crate with a clean car-washing towel folded up on top of it.  My pins are long rust-resistant sewing pins, with big colorful heads that are prettyful. :)

The first set-of-four-squares Big Square that I blocked out was really wonky, but crochet is pretty forgiving, and it looks fine now.  I found that pinning the first corner down so the block sort of nests in the corner really helps with getting the edges straight (see above picture).  Then I use a long sewing ruler, and measure out my corners so that they're 16 inches apart and more or less in a square-like position.  Then I lay the ruler along two corner pins, gently tug 
and pull the edges out to the ruler, and pin them down.  Do that on all four sides, spray down with water, with extra spritz on the edges where the pins are, until it's fairly wet all over but not soaked.  Then I let it dry.  It usually takes only a few hours, because I have my board laying in front of a door and beneath a ceiling fan.  Lots of air circulation, which is good.  

Oh, oh, oh, and BEFORE all of this blocking business, I joined these 4 squares together using the join as you go method from Attic24, on the fifth round of the Warm Colors blocks.  It.  Is.  Marvelous.  SO much easier than after-the-fact assembly, yarn-conserving, speedy, etc.  I'm THRILLED with it.  I will NEVER stitch my Grannies together again!

There is another method of blocking, where you actually soak the item, lay down on a table or ironing board covered with an old towel, and iron it on a low setting, to set it.  I don't like how flat this makes the work (crochet is chunky and twisty for a reason, peoples!) but I did use it on this project:
Fiber Arts homework = a smallish sweater, made with a sock monkey in mind, but I don't actually OWN the sock monkey, so I had this toy horsey model it for me. :)  I blocked the main body part of the sweater before I stitched in the sleeves, and it worked well enough.  At least it cut down on the curly-edges problem.  But still, wouldn't use this for crochet.  And I'm always afraid the iron will melt the yarn.  

Because, yes, I'm cheap, and I buy whatever I can get for the cheapest, including acrylics and synthetics.  Sorry y'all.  Beggars can't be choosers, they say!!  :)  I make do.  It's the color that counts, in my eyes.  

Anyhow, long informative post.  Ending....NOW!  :)  Enjoy the rest of your weekend, while it lasts!  Although the Brits reading this are probably already at the end of theirs. :)

AMZi x x x x x

Saturday, February 27, 2010


That's a long, drawn-out sigh of contentment.  Contentment's a jolly thing, doncha know?  It makes life SO much more enjoyable, when you're not fussing about what you don't have.  I'm very thankful that God's decided to let me learn the secret of it at such a young age.  Some people never find it.  And I'm sure, the actual technique of Contentment is different for everyone, depending on who you are.  Me?  I'm a little bit of everything, and honest to goodness that's the truth.  I've never found a subject that I don't like.  I'm somewhat of a Domestic Girly-Girl, somewhat of a Rough-And-Rowdy Tomboy Country Girl, somewhat of an Intellectual Straight-A Girl, and somewhat of a D*v!l-May-Care Girl.  Depending on the hour, the season, and (strangely) the weather. :)  So personally, my secret of Contentment is the proper perspective.  Take this little simple scenario: bathroom towels.  On the one hand, the towels could be lush and gorgeous and soft and fluffy and *gasp of pleasure* HEATED!  Who wouldn't love that?  I'd enjoy that immensely!  On the other, the towels could be small, rough, scratchy, and cold.  All I do is think how raw and rustic and invigourating it is to rub down with those solid, down-to-earth rags, think how tough I'm being, and VOILA!  I love it just the same!  I sure won't turn down the nicer things, but I don't need them to be very happy with myself and my Situation and my Outlook.  Very interesting concept, at least for me.

Where were we?  Ah, yes, I'm Content.  And looking at this picture, it should be no surprise...
Aren't you just jealous of me?  :)  This picture is actually misleading.  The REAL course of my day was something more like....

5.42am Wake Up for No Apparent Reason.  Try to decide whether to fall back asleep or bound out of bed.
5.44am Go for the Bounding.  Go to pull pins out of blocked Granny Square-of-Four in the dark.
5.46am Climb back in bed to give the Granny Square-of-Four some practice being a blanket.  Try it out over feet, shoulder, pillow.
5.50am Get up and fetch laptop to do some writing
7.07am Surface from The Deeps, with Ch. 6 checked off checklist (*cheers!!!!*)  Potter about tidying, crocheting, blocking, etc.
8.00am Head Down Stairs for breakfast and suchlike
8.47am Take off out the door for work!
11.20am Marvel at the speed of time today!
12.22pm Arrive home and munch mmmmmmmmmmmmMMmmm!
12.54pm Go upstairs and potter about knitting (this is the knitting+ice coffee part)
2.00pm Go shopping for camera
2.55pm Go to different store for camera
3.17pm Arrive home, still camera-less
4.00pm Head upstairs to snap photos, blog, crochet, etc.
4.17pm Compile list on blog of Daily Doings. :P

Speaking of that ice coffee!!  That was DeLightFul!! Simple, too, just make a weak brew, pour it over about half a packet of Stevia [[sugar equivalent=1 tsp]] and add ehhh, two inches or so of milk (or ricemilk, soymilk, whatev').  Add lots of ice!  Stir up and add more ice.  Best if served with a sunny windowseat, and some Crafting To Do.

That there is some knitting, on DPNs which I adore, a set of 5 which you generally can't get here in the US, and bamboo what's more!!  And THAT there is a Fiber Arts project's Homework, and it arrives at a most inopportune time, when I am again obsessed with crochet and crochet alone!

And I don't have any pictures for you of the Progress of Granny Square Secret-Which-Is-No-Longer-Secret, because all the times I've been crocheting and blocking, the lighting has been terrible (or else I've been lazy).  So soon, soon, my precious!  And I've never blocked anything before, so there will be discussion of that in future, as well.

Here's something to tie everything together, from haberdashery (DUDE, WORD!!) to Old Things to Jar-like "fetish" as it was called in a comment. :)  (And let me take this opportunity to say how seeing that little "1 Comment To Be Moderated" message completely makes my day!)

Hurricane lamp + button collection = SQUEEEEE!!!!!!  Closer look?  Of course!
There are quite a few reddish and Candy Cane buttons that I got for Christmas in there on the top.  It's a nice collection, mostly spares, but some that have come off of old clothing of mine.  A lot of fun to play with and sort out and count.

And that windowseat seems to be the backdrop for most of my photos.  Not my fault!  That's where the lighting is best, or at least sufferable, and it's my favorite place probably in the whole house.  So no apologies. Too bad!  :)

Hope you have a Weekend that's Lovely and full of Contentment!
AMZi x x x x x

PS  Dude, yesterday I had this idea that will drive any Granny-Square-er BONKERS.  Bonkers, I tell you.  It's SO exciting!  Be on the lookout!

Friday, February 26, 2010

A Few Updates

Hey y'all!

Hope you're having a nice day, with lots of sunshine.  Boy, I'll tell you, sunshine does me in!  I'm cool with all kinds of weather, really, I adore fog and rain, and thunderstorms, and snow, and even that peculiar grey November sky with the black tree branches against it... but you keep the sun Behind Closed Doors for too long and I go BONKERS.  ComPLETEly batty.  So, this sunshine's come Just In Time and Life Is Good once again!

Icicles all gone!  They were little lumps yesterday, not meriting a picture, but here's the branch bare for reference.  Now we start coaxing it into bud and flower and leaf.... It is a charming twig, pressed up against the window like it is, trying to come inside with me.  We'll be seeing more of him.  :)  This tree is a redbud, though more of a white-bud, if you see what I mean, and it puts out these vivid green little scaly buds, and then blossoms into tiny white flowers that the house sparrows love to chew up and spit out (????).  Ah well.  It's a nice tree--the only suitable climbing tree available!

Check this out :: Told you I was fast!

The Warm-Colors set of squares is finished.  I like how the green will tie between the Warm Colors and the Cool Colors in the finished blanket.

*HUGE GASP!*  Did you hear that???  *claps hands over mouth*  How unceremonious!  The Granny Secret is OUT!!!  Yes, yes, I confess.  I am working on a Granny Square Blanket.  These Warm Color squares and the Cool Color squares will be cobbled together into a sort of--what I call--"Windowpanes" pattern.  Two of each to a larger block.  You might be able to see this if you click on the paper in that other post and look at it full size.

Let's put the two sets of squares together and see how they get along, shall we?

Well, I like them.  I think they're jolly.  And that's Something, because I've never made an afghan before with colors that I like and choose myself.  I've been restricted strictly to Scrap Afghans.  And though they're still crochetery and ergo Lovely, they are not Amzi.  Know what I mean?  Anyhow!  In joining these to each other, I will be putting another edging round the pinkish ones, and in the course of that row, joining as I go courtesy of Attic24's Brilliance.  Possible problem though :: my Granny technique is slightly different from Lucy's, but we'll all hope for the best and frog [[rip out crochet]] when we don't get it. :)  I remain optimistic.

This was my very very first-ever doily made, involving teeny tiny crochet hook and teeny tiny thread and a big, beautiful pattern book.  Since then, I've made many, and enjoy them immensely.  But wait.  There is a downside to prolific crafting...  I am faced with The Situation:
I have many many many pretty doilies...and not enough Surface Area to display them on!!!
So I moved that one out to the hall table, where Padre (who apparently has not yet noticed the, oh, five or six of these scattered around) discovers it and proceeds to GUSH.  Seriously. I must say it DID make me pretty happy!  So I showed him the others (which are all much better than that one) and he suggested that I might frame one or all of them, and so solve The Situation.  I'm not exactly sure...  If anybody out there is reading this (then <3 <3 <3 to you) please comment and tell me what you think.  I have an issue with sticking crochetery into a glass (prison) picture frame, but it does sound nice....  With a dark background, they'd really pop!

Ah well.  I've been informed Cambridge is "completely superior in every way" to Oxford.  Eh?  We'll just have to see!  May have to take that up with Whoever's In Charge of such matters and see just exactly where I'd like to go.  Think of it :: a Yank in her junior year studying Across The Pond.  Can you beat it??

So long mates!  Must run now!
AMZi x x x x x x

Thursday, February 25, 2010

More Crochetery...And Socks

Afternoon, folks!  

Want to see what I've been doing?  Here's a lovely picture.  I'd spend all my time right there on that seat if I could...  Alas, Real Life often intrudes, you know. 

And the fact is, I haven't even been working on that towering (not really) pile of Grannies, because I've been commissioned for a project for MY Real Granny.  She just got a new phone, and wanted a lime-green case to go with it.  I've been making iPod cases forever, so this is easy-peasy, right?  And it was.  Quite enjoyable.  And GREEN besides!
There's a little kind of button-loop thingie that crosses the open end (see picture) and it wraps around this tiny white flower.  The flower is a lovely little number designed by Lucy at Attic 24, where you can find the tutorial/pattern with VERY helpful pics if you're not used to working in rounds.  And apologies, Lucy, but white is all I had (yarn's sparse these days) and if I make more flowers THEY WILL HAVE COLOR!  ;)  

Work on the Granny Secret is progressing rapidly (due mainly to nights of American Idol watching, which I CAN'T do with my fingers still!).  Be on the lookout for pictureful clues and status updates!  This project is a lot of fun to work on, but I feel like it's a Morning Project.  One that I work up a little in the pale hours, 6:30-7:00am ish, before the day really gets up and running (and I go chasing after it like a loony...).   I will say, however, that Granny Squares are a perfect way to start the day.

But Hullo Hullo Hullo what's all this???  
A Boring old Ordinary Grey Sock?  How dull and drab!  How un-jolly and lack of exciting!  But wait!  *points* Did you see that??
Can it be???  
Yessss!!  It is!  Secret red hearts that nobody knows about!  Just you, me, and the socks!  Shhhhhhh!  It makes me happy to know they're there.  Kind of like, yes, you think I'm sane and collected, but you don't know about what's on the tops of my socks!  *insert evil laugh*  Go out and get yourself some silly socks.  It'll make you smile to put them on.  And think of it this way: they're SO much easier to match up properly in the laundry!

And while I'm dishing out orders, go open your window and take a deep breath.  Notice the SMELL?  So funny that Winter can smell in its own way, same as Spring or Summer!  Now think about your fantastic olfactory system, that takes those volatile [[airborne]] molecules and whooshes them up to the glands in your nose, which can translate THAT code into <3 <3 <3 <3 in your fantastic brain!  (Said brain should be boggled by the glory of this by now)  Days like this I walk outside and breathe and just think, "Almighty God, you made all of this for ME?"  So thank Him.  :)  That also makes me happy.

Oh, and I wanted to say a big Thank You to all of you lovely folks who have commented on my posts and read my *gasp* BLOG.  I already feel so welcome!  Thank You All!!

AMZi x x x x 

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

*Hands Over Mouth*

MmmmmMMMMMmmmMMM!!!  I can't!  I can't!  I give up!  Uncle!

*takes hands off mouth*

I WAS planning on only posting once a day.  One long, rambling post is plenty for just 24 hrs, right?  And three days into *gasp* BLOGGING is pretty early to be ditching my own rules...but....

But, but, but, I can't wait!

*collects self*  I have control.  I am measured and scientific and...a big rotten liar.  But I won't tell you much.  I will only say this :: I am not at ALL ashamed of spending $29 even on this.  (And if it comes to that, I'm not at all ashamed of spending $1 on that doughnut either.)  What you ask?  Shhhhhhhhhh, it's part of the Granny Secret!

There, I made it Extra Large.  Feast Your Eyes.  Ain't ya jealous?  This is Lionbrand Homespun yarn :: Gee-Or-Geous Sooooooft and Fluffy Yarn.  SO lovely to work up.  I use a size K US hook (personal favorite).  Two Warnings though:  I don't recommend this for a beginner because 1) it's hard to tell by looking at where you are and where you're going.  Use this yarn after your fingers know what they're doing, and don't need your eyes' help anymore.  And 2) it falls apart rather easily.  Hard to pull it through the loops cleanly on the first try.  A real splitter.  But it's SO pretty.  Worth it, right?  Of.  Course.

And this is why.
You're dying to know, right?
A while longer, just a day or two.
I promise, I work fast.
I mean, quickly.
And I'm a stickler for grammar to boot.
Check back soon!
I solemnly promise I will whip this up and show it to you ASAP. [[which means Acting Smart And Persnickety, right?]]
And I will keep that promise better than I kept my promise about random photographs and about posting only once a day.


x x x x x

Okay, I Lied.

More pictures!  I'm addicted to this photography business!  Anyhow, (hopefully) a quick-ish post today before I dash out.  Just a few things, mainly crochet-related, needing sharing. :)

I am in a crochetery phase at present.  I do knit, and enjoy it immensely (will have to put up pics of my knitted lobster, Cid, sometime) but I remain loyal to the Banner of Hooking!  I learned crochet first, for one thing, when I was about 7, and that does a lot to bias you, apparently. But I do think crochet has some advantages over knitting.  Faster (at least for me), easier to put down and pick back up (without losing a dozen stitches), easier to correct mistakes, and the general work-as-you-go, see-as-you-go nature.  I create with crochet.  With knitting, I follow patterns and hope it'll come out in the end!  When I crochet, I call it "sculpting," because as I go, I can see where I am, and adjust accordingly.  When I make a change, the results are almost immediately visible.  Makes it a lot easier, when I'm doing wonky shapes such as teapots and teacups and various food items.  (Yes, I crochet food.  Not my fault!  I needed it to go with the crochet teaset that I made!  Want to see pics of that?  Just holler and I'll do a page on the Stringy Foodstuffs.)

Hmmm, that sounded like a spiel.  Now that I've bored you to sleep, let's put some pictures up that might make up for it.  Or at least lessen my deficit!
First off, here's the status of those icicles from yesterday.  We've had pretty full-on sun, but they're clinging tenaciously!  I want them to go away!  Get warm!  Get green!  Grow leaves, twig!  But they are pretty while they're here.

Anyhow, I promised crochet.  And while the granny squares have been bumped off to the side (waiting to go get more yarn) I have some little projects.  It's the month of birthdays here: two Small People and one Big Person have birthdays in quick succession.  Presents?

That bit of blue in the corner is actually the edge of the OTHER Small Person's slipper, but that one's knitting.  What you DON'T see in this picture is said Small Person walking into the room without knocking, and me scrambling to shove everything behind me under the bed before they look!!  Timing, timing....

Want to see something horrendous?  Of course you do!
Ouch!  Isn't it frightful?  I love the granny squares, obviously, but what a color!  And look at that collar, and those cuffs!  This is from an old little pattern booklet, full of these outdated pictures.  Here's a granny shawl:
Meeehhh.  I'm not so into fringes.  A few tassels, I can handle, but on a garment?  Ah well.  Something to be said for the little booklet, because I THINK there's a gem in here.
I love it.  Granny squares.  Nine patch.  Green, too!  Is it not the sweetest?  Or maybe I'm just weird... :)

Also got to look through an ancient book of doily patterns.  I love doilies, and have made many (will show you those too sometime), but some of those just didn't cut it in my eyes.  I like Old Things a lot, but they have to be a certain type, a certain feel.  Ah well.  I think I prefer taking the Old Things, and the Old techniques, but making something fresher and newer and less...frumpy?  Maybe that's the word.  Ah well.  Still like the bag. :P

Last but not least, here's a few pictures of this lovely old jar I just acquired!  I love jars, of all sizes, types, you name it.  Get this--You can put things in them!!  Can you beat it???  Ah well.  Wanna see?

But that's not all!  Nooooo, look!!!

An old old old sticker!  In such nice shape!  It's SO lovely!  Sorry if you don't share me love of jars and them old label bits, but you have to admit, receiving the price of this jar of whatever-it-was in Purple Ink is pretty dang awesome.  What?  You say it isn't?  It's just strange?  Lame?  Psshhh.  *fingers in ears*

Loving how *gasp* BLOGGING has made  me keep a weather eye out for lovely things.  Makes my days so much nicer to be noticing all of these things.  So much harder to get mad and crabby...and tea helps when all else fails. :)

I didn't say Hello properly, but I'll say Goodbye!


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

On Just About Everything...

Hey y'all!  Or wouldst thou prefer: "Salutatory Expostulations"?  See, see, I told you so!  Hey Y'all don't sound so bad now, eh?

I've been putting this off all day, making myself wait, just for the joy of anticipation.  I'll have you know right now this is floating my boat.  If you think I'm too weird for you, bail out now.  But I am so enjoying looking around and snapping pictures and finding these things that make me happy and might do the same for you!  :)  So I had so many ideas of what to *gasp* BLOG about, aaaaaand so I ended up with a big long list of just about everything.  I'm putting some things off.  They deserve posts of their own.  But this is a cobbling mis-match of loopy bits.  Get used to it. :)

How 'bout that!!  There just HAPPENS to be this tree outside my window, and it just HAPPENS to have this branch that thinks it'd like to become part OF my window, and that little branchy bit just HAPPENS to have the biggest icicles of the entire tree!  Shloop--up go the blinds--Bang--up goes the window--*grunt grunt grunt*--the screen is frozz [[Amziism=frozen/cold]] shut...  Keep working at it, and snap up goes the screen and (thoroughly frigid) I snap two pictures.  I love this one--if you look close, there's gorgeous fiddly bits at the base of the ice.
And there is ice elsewhere as well!  I actually wanted to go get pictures around 8:07 in the morning, when the ice was thicker and the trees out back looked like they were growing glitter...but I had places to go and people to see and violins to play (well, just one).  But this consolation picture later in the morning is still pretty cool.  Look at the shiny spots at the tips of the branches!

But I was snapping this morning around 7, when there was hardly any light to see by.  Look, look, look at this!!  This makes me so happy!  Seaglass = the most amazing stuff ever!  Lined up on the windowsill?  With pebbles in between?  AAAAHH!  <3 that speckled stone.  My favorite one.

And this is my tea.  Black tea, though not so black, because this is the third cup I've made out of one teabag.  Yes, I'm cheap.  No, I don't care.  Yes, you may thumb your nose if you're so inclined.  For a Yank, I drink an insane amount of this stuff.  You can see a bit of the shine from the camera in the reflection of the tea there.  And sticking out is my own personal tea spoon.  Can you beat it?

I don't use tea cups, though they're often gorgeous, because... well... my excuse is, I have big hands (I kid you not, have gone through most of life looking like I'm wearing rakes instead of arms) and I can't wrap them around a teensy tea cup to get warm.  Either that, or I'm just greedy....

And finally, to wrap up a really boring and lengthy post (I promise random photos won't be half so ubiquitous in future), here are my two favorite pics of the day!  Number one: I like because of the reflection in the glass ball, and the patches of light and shadow on the snow.  Number two: I like because as the granny squares radiate from the center, so does the color.  The real life squares are colored all the way through.

Granny squares you say?  Hmm?  What are they for?  That's My Little Secret, isn't it now?  Mum's the word!  At LEAST till tomorrow!

Valedictions, (I mean, So Long, mates!)
AMZi x x x

Monday, February 22, 2010

Here We Go!

Hey y'all! (Yeah, get used to that for a greeting.)

Thanks to the (brilliant, refreshing, exhilarating) Lucy at Attic 24, I have been ITCHing to start my own blog.  I love the way putting your daily thoughts on paper makes you think about things... The Little Things.  And I get riDICulously excited about The Little Things.  So anyhow.  Here's what to expect from Here On Out:

  • Notes on how pathetically happy I am about certain weather
  • Photos and patterns and descriptions of my latest fiber art projects 
  • The books I happen to be reading right now (and my opinions on these)
  • Excerpts and teasers from whatever novel I'll be working on at the time
  • Numerous quotes, idioms, and sayings
  • Various words, sentences, or even whole paragraphs in other languages (because that's how I think--all in wonky bits, yes--but rest assured, I will include translations!)

I'm looking forward to this, really.  I keep seeing little things around and about in my life and thinking, "Wish I had a blog, because I would post about THAT, or THAT, or maybe THAT because... it makes me happy!"  At present, the pics will be slow in coming, as I don't have a camera of my very own precious, but that will happen soon, I promise!  And then prepare to be inundated.  Wave your hand and holler if you're drowning.  I just might leap into the swirl of jpgs and fish you out. :P

As for the name of my blog: amAMZIng!  Obviously, I go by Amzi. Amamzing is a word coined and used by my friends to describe my various hazanas (heroic feats).  I think it has that fresh snap, like a shot of cold air in through a window.  Fierce.  Gripping.  Pure and bracing.  Love it.

Anyhow, hope you enjoy this as much as I'm planning on enjoying it!

So long, mates!
AMZi x x x x
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