Monday, May 20, 2019

A New Shawl

I haven't been posting much of my own work lately. This is partially because I haven't sewn much for myself,  partially the "Great Sewing Room Clean-up" and mostly, because I have been frantically knitting.

You see, I sort of volunteered to be a test knitter for a designer I follow. The project didn't look too complicated (not like 1001 Nights) and I had lots of wool on hand that I could use.

The shawl was 303 stitches across. Each row took a long time to knit, and it required careful attention to detail. I needed two contrasting yarns to make the shawl, and I had one I thought would work, but nothing to go with it. So, I needed a trip to the yarn shop. When I started knitting, there wasn't enough contrast between the two for the pattern to show properly. I ended up buying another skein of yarn.

After much knitting, I finished the shawl before the due date, although my hands and shoulders were not happy about all the knitting. It is now blocked, and ready to wear.

The Big Reveal:

This is Tyche by Claire Slade.

After blocking, it is lovely and long. It does take awhile to start to see the mosaic pattern, but it goes much faster after you figure it out.

You can tell I was pining for some nice spring weather when I started this. The yarn is Indigodragonfly Cariboubaa in colourway Guppy Longmockings and Sublime Baby Cashmere Silk in colourway Pinkaboo.

While I was gathering supplies for this, I discovered the required needles were lounging in a forgotten UFO. It was a scarf I started in 2015, then ran into difficulties when I realized I didn't have sufficient yarn in my stash to finish the scarf. The yarn was a sale bin purchase of a discontinued line. This is when it is good to have friends. My buddy Cheryl of Grandma Coco fame had rummaged through the same sale bin and had a skein of the yarn in the same dye lot. While waiting for the yarn to arrive in the mail,  I moved on to other projects, and this one got forgotten. It last appeared in my blog in January of 2016.

I spent a great deal of time on Saturday, figuring out where I left off in the pattern (one should always store a UFO with a marked copy of the pattern). So, I am working away on this scarf. Since I am optimistic that scarf season is over,  it can go into the gift box, for next Christmas.

I do find that 39 stitch rows go much faster than 303 stitch rows.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

RFID Protection and Other Scams

Mystique - Because she is just so cute!

I have been asked, more than once, if I put RFID shielding into my wallets and bags. The answer is no. I have never seen the need. My Geek Girl qualifications are now invoked. I have spent most of my working life in technology. I taught computers to woman before everyone owned a computer. So I understand how this stuff works.

I have seen the demonstrations on TV and on the internet, showing how easy it is to skim a credit card with an RFID chip in it. Most of us (at least in Canada) have cards we can tap to pay for our purchases. I tap to pay all the time. It is quick, easy, and I don't have to remember the PIN number for that card.

When a video made the rounds on the weekend, with the subject "Why You Need an RFID Protected Wallet", I looked it up again. Although it is certainly possible for criminals to get the information from your card, the information is encrypted. They would also have to know how to translate it into something they can use. As well, if you have more than one of those cards in your wallet, they will cancel each other out, confusing the reader, and serving as a shield. I checked my wallet. I have four cards with RFID on them. When I travel, I add my passport, which has one, too.

RFID shielding of your bag also blocks phone calls and messages to your cell phone. Of course, if you don't want to be bothered when you are out...

The biggest reason I don't use a shield in my bags is because NO ONE HAS EVER REPORTED HAVING THEIR DATA STOLEN THIS WAY! It has just never happened. It is too much work to collect the data, figure out how to break the encryption, and produce data that can be used. The only people profiting from this supposed threat are the people selling wallets and other products with RFID shields in them. Next time you see one of these demonstrations, ask yourself what they are selling.

If you want more information, check out this article.

It is far easier for scammers to ask you for your information directly. Everyday, I get phone calls and emails, trying to get me to volunteer my credit card information, either by offering me a fabulous interest rate, or trying to scare me, by telling me my account will be closed. This is much less work for a scammer, you do all the work for them.

These days, I provide computer support for a small number of (mostly) seniors, who trust me to solve their tech problems and like the way I explain things to them. I keep being asked to clean up computers when someone has clicked on the wrong thing, or believed someone who has phoned them to tell them they have a virus, and now they really do have something. It is not my favourite job to fix, because I have to assume that something bad has happened and prove it hasn't first. It takes hours of slow, careful work, before I can declare the computer clean.

My best advice is to never click on a link in an email, if you are unsure of the sender. Never give your credit card number to someone who calls you. NEVER EVER give access to your computer to someone outside your house. Once someone has remote access to your computer, they have access to all your information.

Instead of spending money on an RFID shielded wallet, find yourself a computer tech you can trust. Preferably one who didn't call you to offer their services. Her services are worth the price.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Spring and a Quilt Show

Spring seems to have arrived although the sun is still at a premium.

 The daffodils are outside, not in a pot on my counter.

A few tulips made an appearance for Mother's Day.

We planted this forsythia, not long after we moved into this house. over 25 years ago. It was beautiful with a lovely shape and it always bloomed right to the top. About 10 years ago, the city had to dig up the watermain, and they learned that it isn't on the city easement, where it is suppose to be, but instead goes diagonally across my yard, right under my fence. I asked them to be careful not to disturb the bush. However, that wasn't possible. They were going to toss it and get me a new one, but I asked them just to move it, roots and all, away from the digging. We carefully covered the roots, and put it back in the hole, after they were finished.  It has taken nearly 10 years, but it is back to near its original glory. It also has a new companion on the inside of the fence, that grew from the root that was left in the ground.

Meanwhile, Spring means Quilt Show, around here.  So Friday, I went with friends, to check it out.

My friend, Barbara Karim, took Best of Show for her wonderful Civil War Bride quilt, hand appliqued and hand quilted.

Here are a few of my other favourites.

I obviously have every broad tastes in quilts. I think I like the paddles, best.

Meanwhile, Spring Cleaning 2019, continues. Today, I started attacking the drawers in the sewing machine table. Over the years they have become catchalls for things that don't have a home. In my 30 minutes, today, I got one drawer done.

Now it just has things I use at the machine. Sewing machine needles, wonder tape, glue, and room for my clips.

This is another drawer, tomorrow's project.

I have no idea what is in there.

Monday, April 22, 2019

A Joyous Easter

Winter decided to hang on through all of Lent, despite how late Easter was this year, so it is nice that spring seems to have arrived with Easter.

The forsythia came from my bush. If I cut it on Palm Sunday, I can force the flowers for my Easter table. The tulips were from the chancel at church. If one was on cleanup, yesterday, after church, one got gifted with a handful of cut flowers, so they could be enjoyed a little longer.

I made these place mats years ago, for my mother's table, but Mom liked to save things for "good" so I found them, unused, in her linen closet, after her death. It makes me kind of sad that she didn't feel a cup of tea in the afternoon, with a friend, was "good" enough. Quilting is an art to be used, so yesterday, when a friend was coming to join us for dinner, I pulled them out and put them on the table.  By the end of the meal, there had been coffee spilled on them, but they enjoyed by the diners, and the coffee washed out. The place mats were made from a free pattern from Jenny Beyer.

I made my favourite little boy an Easter Egg.

It has cats on it, because he loves cats.

I made it entirely from materials from my stash, and used the sewing of the egg as my reward for my 30 minutes of tidying. The pattern was suppose to be "easy" but there was some very tricky parts.  My vintage Singer 15-91 was very useful for the sewing of the thick sections. That machine does a fabulous job on things too thick to go through my Husqvarna.

Eggs at Easter are said to be symbolic of the empty tomb, or something that appears to be dead but is actually alive, or they are a pagen symbol of new life (depending on who you consult). So of course, there is a surprise inside.

He fits very nicely into the egg. There is even room for some chocolate. The pattern is from So Sew Easy.

My snowbird friends are returning from the south. So some fabric I ordered from a company that doesn't ship to Canada, came back with the snowbird.

I have a ridiculous 8 yards of this, because I didn't know how much I needed.  I am pretty sure I can find things to use it for.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Spring Cleaning - Week 2

I put in my 30 minutes, yesterday, and I found a long forgotten project.

I started this quilt longer ago than I can remember. My memory said that I set it aside because it was too "Christmas". Why would I put a lot of work into a Christmas quilt?

I pulled it out and looked at it, yesterday. I realized that I had done a good job on the piecing, and if you take away the green border, it doesn't  look very "Christmas" at all. The fabric is actually much more cream than the picture shows. It was a very grey day when I took the pictures. I can replace the green border, with a red, tone on tone border. Best of all, someone has asked for the finished quilt.

So it has moved from the give away pile to the "to be finished" pile.

I purchased some "mini bolt boards" also known as comic book boards, to wrap my fabric around and make it tidy. Some ironing may be required. I bought 100, I wonder if that is enough.

I see that my toss toward the wastebasket missed and you can see a discarded envelope in the background. I've since picked that up.

I am test knitting a shawl for a designer, more on that later, but this is the start.

Winter just keeps hanging on. Apparently we are on day 157 of discernable snow on the ground. So brightness is required.

 Currently blooming in my kitchen! I am also forcing some forsythia so it can grace our dining room table, on Easter.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Spring Cleaning Begins

My sewing studio (sounds better than kid's former bedroom) will never grace the pages of a magazine, but when I lost my straight pins, something had to be done.

So, yesterday, I started on the 30 minutes to tidy project. Nancy Zieman taught me about 10, 20, or 30 minutes to sew, and I thought that could apply to this project.

Two days in and I have made significant improvement to my space.

The cutting table is clear. My current project is piled on one corner. Like the neon green zipper? I have room to move.

This is the right end of the  serger "table" (a board om two file cabinets). I was embarrassed by how old some of the stuff on there was. I found two notebooks, that I am sure I have been missing for months. The rubber glove is the best thing I have found for clearing the lint out of my cutting mat. The bag is filled with selvage edges, that I am waiting for the perfect project. I see I set my camera case down and forgot to move it as I took the picture.

Left end of the serger table, with my tablet stand, my tool bag, some thread and my coaster for my coffee cup. Might still need a bit of work but it is much better.

The best part is that there isn't any stray fabric. Big pieces are in one place. Smaller pieces are in another. The pieces that are small enough that I won't use them are here.

They are packed up and ready to go to the local kindergarten for their art projects. I asked the teacher if she would like them and she was thrilled.

My serger table had 5 coasters on it. Why?

These three I made, and have never used. So, they are just sitting on my table, cluttering up the space. Obviously a new home is required.

The treasure of the day is this.

A package of barrette backs from a store that went out of business in the 1990's, I think. The only time I pin my hair back is at yoga and I use bobby pins. I have started a collection of things for the give away table at quilting.

In case you are wondering, Mysti has decided to be a bit more social. Still very cautious, but she has started to play and get in touch with her inner kitten.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Just A Quick Post

I am trying to post once a week, in order to see some progress. So, here is a summary of the past week.

The baby set got finished and delivered. Bear wanted to model it before it left. I didn't get a closeup of the buttons, but they are tiny hearts.

Bear is playing hide and seek, and is "It" so is counting to 100. I took the opportunity to take a picture of the back of the sweater.

The sweater is Another 5-Hour Baby Sweater. I made a couple of modifications and knit the sleeves in the round.

Since I had yarn left over, and the DPN's were already out, I made a seriously modified version of a ruffle baby hat. The original pattern was done on 2 needles and always needed some elastic thread to keep it on. I checked my gauge, and it was dead on, so the problem is the pattern. I started again, my own way, and came up with a result I liked better. I will have to wait for a report on whether it fits.

I was asked for a copy of the pattern. I may write it up and post it here, but I will need to knit another one or two, maybe in bigger sizes. I need to make sure my sizing works.

The yarn is King Cole Cherish DK, a gift from a friend, a couple of years ago, so I don't know if it is still available.

I made a sock, back in October, and needed some TV knitting. So I decided it was time to make the mate.

The Pattern is Crazy.  The yarn is a cotton/wool blend with a bit of elastic for stretch. You will notice I am intentionally making fraternal twins.

We got a new foster, this week. She is a bit shy, so our pictures aren't great, yet.

That is the back of my dryer. Yesterday, we pulled out the dryer, cleaned back there, and worked on a way to keep her out of there while still allowing her to hide. The current arrangement is working better, and I will try to get better pictures. She was named Mystique, but I am calling her Mysti.

Though you can't really tell, she is a brown tabby.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Disappearing Pinwheels

On Friday, the church quilting group is going to make Disappearing Pinwheel blocks. A kindly unknown quilter was cleaning out her stash and gave us, among other things, a package of 10" squares. So we are going to use those with some contrasting fabric to make these blocks.

If you look on line you can find more than one explanation on how to make them. Last week, I created a sample and we spent the morning arranging the blocks in a way that we liked. I believe that there are at least 11 arrangements of the blocks that produce something pleasing.

So I sewed around the edges of 2 squares from my stash, and cut them on the diagonal.

I cut the pinwheel block (after sewing) into 9 blocks.

After we played with them, we ended up with this.

Yesterday, I took the good fabric and made 2 more.

My camera was not doing what I wanted. The dark fabric is royal blue with dots of shades lighter blues and turquoise. The precut blocks are yellows greens and blues.

I see a seam I think I need to straighten, a bit.

I still see snow everywhere. I am tired of boots and heavy coats so I invited some spring in.

Amazing how much pleasure $3.99 can bring.

A friend asked if I could make a sweater for a baby girl arriving in her world, soon.

This is the 5 hour Baby Sweater. I have no idea how long it actually took, because I wasn't knitting continually on it until it was finished, but it was pretty quick. I need to steam it a little to get the button bands to behave. Then I will add buttons, and it will be ready.

The foster cat is learning how to live the good life. I found him stretched out in a sunbeam, this morning.

I hope you find a sunbeam, this week.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Knitting in Hope of Spring

After a hint of spring, we were back in the freezer, last week. My sewing consisted of working on the church quilt.  However, chilly afternoons are perfect for spring knitting by the fire.

First up are some fingerless mitts. It may be spring, but it morning walks will still require a little warmth for hands.

They still need blocking and their ends woven in, but they are wonderfully soft. The pattern is Barn Swallow Fingerless Mitts by Cheryl Toy.  The yarn is Drops Baby Alpaca Silk. It is always fun to make a project from one ball of luxury yarn. This yarn is very soft.

This spring, there will be lots of water as all our snow melts. Little boys need to wear rubber boots, and rubber boots need warm boot socks.

I should have them finished, today. The pattern is Purl Soho Toddler Socks. The yarn is Opal Sock Yarn, left over from some big boy socks. I am currently playing yarn chicken to finish, but I have some similar yarn I can use to finish the toe. I need a second pair for when the first pair gets wet.

I have returned to my Wild Swan Shawl.  I made a mistake and I didn't have the brain power to find it, previously.  I recently pulled it out, and found the mistake, fixed it, and it is proceeding, slowly.

I am hoping the yarn will show the pattern better, after it is blocked. However, you can kind of see the feathers starting to form.

I should have chosen something lighter in colour, but this was in my stash. I am trying to knit down my stash and use all the lovely yarns I have. My bins seem to be full, so I shouldn't need much for a while.