The Pratchghan

In December, a few of us (if you can call about a hundred knitters and crocheters from Ravelry’s Ankh-Morpork Knitting Guild a few) decided that after hearing that our favorite author, Terry Pratchett, was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers we should all do something to show our support. Different ideas were bandied about, and then it was decided we would all contribute a square to an afghan… which soonly was named the Pratchghan.

The rules were simple, a 6 inch x 6 inch square with anything you wanted on it. It could be plain, or discworldy, it just had to be made in washing machine safe fibers.

All of the squares were sent to one very determined lady, cherryred (as she’s known on Ravelry… or just Shirley to everyone else) in Scotland who collected all the squares, sewed them together, and backed the whole Pratchghan. She added more rows when more people wanted to join in, and kept careful count of how many squares she had- that alone is pretty impressive.

At the Beginning of August, the Pratchghan was finally finished…


Then, on August 16th, something really really awesome happened… Shirley was able to hand over the Pratchghan to the Pratchman… in person… (at the Edinburgh Book Festival)…






And then a great giggle was shared by all as Shirley tried to fold it up…


Then the letters we had all sent with each square and the Pratchghan were all put away with Terry…

And after he signed Shirley’s copy of Thud!, he left to go get miked up for a reading, but not before saying “I still aten’t dead” (which seems kind of morbid if you haven’t read his books… but I assure you its very very funny).

Now that we know the Pratchghan resides happily with the Pratchman, we happily dream of him slumbering beneath it. We giggle when we wonder when he’ll discover that the Luggage square MamaGrouch made actually opens and has clothes inside. We’re curious if he’ll show it off to his friends, or if he’ll tell people about it. But most of all, we all now feel as though we have massively group hugged a man who is important to us all, a man who has made us laugh, a man who has made us dream, a man we hope the world never has to do without.

* Pictures used with permission from Shirley/cherryred. If you are a non Ravelry user and would like to see a closeup of some of the squares, go to the Pratchghan 2008 flickr site.

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I Haven’t Forgotten That I Am A Knitter…

Seriously, I haven’t. Sure, most of my knitting stuff is still packed, and I’m still trying to find a place to store my stash… but I can still drool over new yarn when it comes to my house…

With the flash looking more like it really does…

Nummy new yarn from Yarn Treehouse. She has so much more that I want to buy so I can up and stash it away for a rainy day… or a cold day in winter when my heat’s not working and I can snuggle down in its yarny goodness to keep warm. I also received a set of 6 stitch markers from sunneshine’s etsy shop

… Ravenclaw orbs, bought in celebration of moving into the new house. The Mister’s and My first place together (since I had already lived in the old apartment when he moved in). Love my stitch markers 😀

Yesterday we went to the Three Rivers Art Festival. Sadly I forgot my camera, but know that the chocolate covered strawberries were … AWE-SOME.

The Beige Bear Movement

I’m thinking of starting a movement.

Mind you, I’m no revoloutionary or radical- “movement” just sounds right…. far far better than Project or Idea (the Beige Bear Project, the Beige Bear Idea… see?).

Lately, Sam has been feeling a little down in the dumps and a little twitchy. His teachers at school describe him lately as being High Strung. When something goes awry the first thing he says is that he’s a dumb kid, something we have never called him- but he declares all the same. He misbehaves as 5 year olds do, yet sometimes he does it so much that its no longer mischief but a sign.

While at home we refer to the kids as Monkeys… stinky monkeys, silly monkeys.

Then, by complete coincidence I heard this song by Jonathon Coulton and it was then that I had my epiphany about the situation (lyrics below):

My Beige Bear (by Jonathan Coulton)

Taupe mouse, top hat on his head
Thinks he looks so good
Puce cat won’t get off the bed
Even though she should
Indigo monkey’s hiding underneath some other monkeys
Nobody even knows she’s there

My beige bear doesn’t care that he’s old
My beige bear still has four paws to hold
When it’s dark and it’s cold
I reach out for my beige bear

Tan horse, dusty on the shelf
Too breakable to touch
Jade snake, happy by herself
Won’t cuddle very much
Indigo monkey’s making trouble when she should be sleeping
Everyone wants to go to bed

My beige bear doesn’t care that he’s old
My beige bear still has four paws to hold
When it’s dark and it’s cold
I reach out for my beige bear

Beige bear says that some monkeys might just be lonely
Beige bear says that no monkeys WANT to be bad
Beige bear says that some monkeys misbehave only
Because they’re sad…

Mauve dog gets the bed just right
The pillow sinks down deep
Cream cow moos a soft goodnight
Now everyone’s asleep
Indigo monkey’s lying peacefully with arms around her
Next to a wise and kindly bear

My beige bear doesn’t care that he’s old
My beige bear still has four paws to hold
When it’s dark and it’s cold
I reach out for my beige bear

So I’ve decided that Sam is getting his own beige bear, and few extra hugs and kisses. Everybody who needs a little extra love should have a beige bear.

Bubby

Kate (add bear details)

Finger Puppers (to make everyone from the song)

Knitting and sewing patterns for bears

Jess Hutchison Bunny Bear (just do bear ears)

Sewn bear (w/ fur!)

The Yankee Doodle Bear

Mohair Teddy Bear

Pumpkin Teddy Bear

The 15 Minute Break Of Doom

Right now I’m taking a break from knitting, not for anything major really. I need to pack more stuff and my holding out from packing all of my knitting stuff has come to the inevitable conclusion… I actually have to pack it up. Not that we’re any closer to moving mind you… I just have alot of it and it needs to be packed away.

I did leave my embroidery box out though. A girl like me can’t go craftless for long, or weird things start to happen… things you don’t ever want to see- trust me on that.

In that regard, the Mister brought me home a new bag. The man knows I’m a sucker for a good plain all black bag. I have no idea why I have this thing about black bags, considering that every bag I’ve had since Sam was born has been a black bag… I think we can call it a thing. I mean, already I’ve packed away 3 black bags in various styles and sizes, leaving out 3 more black bags (My crafting almighty bag [it has my sketch books and my current knitting work in progress in it], my purse, and my big duffle bag I take as luggage).

The Mister had noticed that with my purse [which is neat, its convertable from a one strap over the shoulder into a back pack type dealie] I was managing to fill it to the brim with stuff I actually need to take with me. While nice, it had thin little straps which were digging into my shoulders something awful. As well, it never had quite enough room when we went out as a family… me being the mom, the designated pack horse.  He also noticed that I favored the back pack style conversion and went out and got me a plain old black back pack (Eastsport – Skater from Walmart for the tidy sum of $19.88). Its twice the size of the bag I was using with wider shoulder straps and a kitschy air bag for lower back comfort…. oh, and a mad amount of pockets- even a little velcro thingy on the outside to put a bus pass in and flash it to the driver without having to get it out.

The fact that it has Steeler detailing colors is just gravy really.

BUT- see the thing about actual backpacks… its a compulsion I cannot stop… I cannot keep backpacks plain…. they must have… patches… or writing… preferably patches.

Now, this compulsion can usually go one of two ways…. cutesy patches that have Tinkerbell or teddy bears… or Hot Topician patches which are far too emo to really be something I like most of the time. I’m a mom if four in my early 30’s… I could go in a lot of ways. Yet, there doesn’t seems to be a big patch market for moms in their early 30’s who have a weird compulsory need to decorate backpacks. This is where the post comes full circle… since my embroidery kit is what I have left out, I’ve decided to make my own patches. I did one 2 years ago for the WWKIP thing where I made a “Steph” patch to put on a hat that I wore there. which I already put on the backpack over the Eastsport logo….

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And earlier today I finished another patch that will be going on the bag… somewhere… (the scan of the patch makes it look deceptively HUGE, in actuality the patch is the size of half a business card)…..

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I know it has wonky edges, I like it that way. Now I just have to get some HeatnBond Iron on Adhesive stuff….

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that I’ll put on the back… not so much to make it a patch/applique, but really more to adhesively bind all the knots and ends on the back- I tack patches down. I never rely on the adhesive on patches, having been burned over the many years of LARPing by symbols peeling off of costumes because they weren’t tacked down.

In any case, anyone can make them. I’ll give you the handy dandy Stephieface 10 step tutorial….

Materials:  Muslin (a yard will last you forever with patches), an embroidery hoop (you can go small, my favorite is the 4″), some embroidery floss in whatever colors you desire, you can use embroidery needles or just standard hand sewing needles (nothing with too big of an eye), some HeatnBond lite iron on adhesive and you are go to go…. oh and scissors.

 Step one: Pick a design, personally I love words and names in fun fonts, celtic knots, and really simple images.

Step two: Get a piece of muslin and cut it in a square bigger than your hoop… not crazily big but give yourself some overhang

Step three: Trace your design onto the muslin with pencil. You can do this a bunch of ways, my favorite is to tape a piece of paper with the image on to a window in a nice sunny space, then tape your muslin square over it… the sun will make the design show through so that you can trace it…. ghetto lightbox baby.

Step four: Put muslin with design in the center of the hoop, tighten outer ring over inner ring to keep in place.

Step five: With whatever color floss you are using cut an 18-20″ strand. Seperate from 6 strands into 2 three strand pieces.

Step six: Attempt three or four times to thread needle before ultimately being victorious. If you are still having trouble, cut a small length of sewing thread and fold in half, placing the floss in the “fold”… then thread the ends of the sewing thread through the needle pulling the floss through…. ghetto threader baby.

Step seven: Put whatever knot you like (or none at all) at the end of the floss. Then start coloring in your picture (think paint my numbers) with your floss using the Satin Stitch (with big spaces I keep it all going in one direction, with celtic knots and borders and such I follow the space around [see the square of the robot’s belly and the outside of the patch border]… not that it matters, that’s just what I do.). Make sure to to anchor your floss ends when you are done with them with knots or whatever, make sure you work stays in one piece.

Step eight: You can iron out your patch to make it nicer if you like. Cut a piece of the iron on adhesive to the size you need it (it need not be perfect) and iron it on to the back of your patch.

Step nine: Cut around the outside of you patch getting as close as possible without cutting your stitching.

Step ten: Peel off the paper backing and iron on to whatever you want to attach patch to, or just tack it on, or iron on and tack… whatever you like- and voila!

If you make some, let me know- I want to see them!

Persnickety Pixies

Since Thursday, each night when the Mister and I sit down to watch House on DVD (he recently came home with Season 2) I’ve been working on the Pocket Pixie.

First, I wrote up a new pattern for some gutchies (underwear)…

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These do not require the use of a drawstring, and look less like a diaper.

Then I started on a leaf skirt…

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And I decided that, although cute, it just wasn’t “skirty” enough for me. So I added another leafy layer in a different color green…

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Which I find much more agreeably “skirty”. Believe it or not, each leaf has a sweet little point at the tip, its just rolling up so you can’t really tell. Next on the agenda is a shirt/top of some sort (most likely in pink) and then the hair. The hair still has me stymied a bit which is why I’ve been holding off. The last doll I made the hair took a long time on its own, and while the pixie is considerably smaller than her… I’d still be attaching the hair strand by strand as I did before (because I like a certain look for doll hair… even if its a home made doll).

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On Saturday, the Mister and I went to go see the new Rambo movie. My Mister loves Rambo (and Rocky for that matter… and really anything that stars Sylvester Stallone…… yes…. even Judge Dredd) which is why I tagged along.

First off, if you are the type who really dislikes violent movies… don’t even think about going to this movie. Sylvester Stallone himself stated on The View that  this is the bloodiest & most violent Rambo movie to date. He also stated that he intentionally picked Burma for the setting because of warring going on there. The first 5 minutes, during the opening, you see tons of blood and death. The movie itself was still extremely good, though I could have done without the up close and personal killing of children done by the “Bad Guys” in this movie.

I was a little disappointed in the female lead in this movie,  Pittsburgh born Julie Benz, who I most recognize as ‘Darla’ from Joss Whedon’s “Angel” and “Buffy”TV series.  Not because of her acting, but mostly because she seems to just be there as a justification for the movie… much like the Holy Grail in the third Indiana Jones movie, she’s there to be retrieved by the hero. I wish the writers had given her more to do.

On the other hand there were two other characters that I really liked other than Rambo in this movie, Matthew Marsden’s sniper School Boy , and Tim Kang’s mercenary En-Joo. Marsden has to lug a 50 caliber sniper rifle (link is for Mythbusters episode where they are shooting it into a pool) through the jungles of Burma…. the thing is huge, it would be like lugging  a gun the size of my 11-year-old everywhere with me.

Anyways, the movie is good- just avoid marinara before going.

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On the Home Search Front… still nothing, though we have some more leads. The one house were looking at before, we discovered would be too much in the end. The newest place we were looking at has its own designated driveway… which is sweet since that would mean we wouldn’t have to endure the Parking Wars anymore.

The Parking Wars are the battles my neighbors wage on one another trying to park in front of my house. They will scream and yell at one another (and once there was rock throwing) over who gets to park there, when its right in front of my house. We live there and we have to park elsewhere because all the parking is taken up. It would be nice to not be awakened at 5 in the morning by neighbors wanting to know if “that car” there is mine and would I move it because I’m in their spot. These are the same people who take up all the parking in front of my house and then get angry when I quickly double park long enough to unload groceries/laundry/children so that I’m not carrying aforementioned things all over the place.

I seriously can’t wait to move

Can’t You Spare A Square?

I’ve been working on my square for the Pratchghan 2008, and although its nothing but a wee 6in by 6in square that I can do whatever I like with…. the task has been daunting. Just so you know, knitting an explosion is difficult (I’ve already redone it 3 times now, and still no luck)… you shall know no more than that! The idea was concocted by Ben, and it is an awesome idea- its just the execution that I am finding difficult.

By the way, I may start a dating service. Why? Here in Stephieface land I have mostly (okay… all) guy friends, the internets is really the only way that I know that other girls exist. I am asked constantly to fix my guy friends up, and I’d love to… if there were girls I knew somewhere. So ladies, if you are looking to meet up with a History major that currently attends Pitt, and can translate and conjugate latin, who likes most of the same things I do, and appreciates the value of a knitted rat… let me know (bonus, he likes kids enough to still want to come over to my house after having met my children [and having dealt with me throughout all of my pregnancies]… and he’ll hold babies….. willingly…. and not at arm’s length).

In other news, we’re still looking around for a new house.- trying to find one that is well within our price range. We’re still packing stuff that is not currently needed (like culottes and sprinklers) but we’ve run out of boxes. I discovered earlier this week that to get boxes from one Walmart I’d have to loom inside their store for a few hours, stalking the employess as they stock the shelves, then when they least expect it I’d have to snatch the box away and disappear with my now ill gotten gains. I am exaggerating slightly, it is that way but with less snatching and more maniacal laughter. Apparently they destroy the cardbox boxes immediately after emptying them. I thought that perhaps, like my old place of employ, they stacked them up in a bin until later in the evening when they would be crushed then….. and until then sat there unfolded in a chaotic stack. If any Pittsburghers reading this know of a secret awesome super ninja store that has an insane collection of cardboard boxes that I can have for free without having to stalk anyone- please let me know in the comments!

When Okay Boyfriends Go Baaaaaaad

If you are a crafter, especially a crafter on a tight wad budget, you have more like than not visited Walmart for your supplies. Outside of KnitPicks and yarn farming recycled sweaters, the only other place I routinely got yarn was Walmart(we’re talking Peaches & Creme, and Bernat Softee Chunky usually). Walmart was, without a doubt, the absoloute only place I bought fabric from. Even JoAnn’s pitiful 40% off coupon wasn’t awesome enough to lure my butt into any other craft store.

But then Walmart, like an “okay” boyfriend, went very very bad. No doubt you may have had an “okay” boyfriend… someone who was nice enough, and cute enough, but may just not have been bad boy enough, or romantic enough, or exciting enough,  or whatever enough…… he was just “okay”.

Then one day he does something completely jacked.. like shave your cat because he’s allergic, buy you G-strings because your granny panties aren’t cutting it and he really liked it when his ex wore them, or insults all of your friends so that they don’t want to come around anymore…. a complete out of blue jacking. That is what Walmart has just done to me. It got rid of all its fabric, and eighthed its yarn selection…. and if that wasn’t enough it haphazardly merged its weaksauce craft department with the party supplies and office supplies. By haphazard I mean that one row is  yarn/thread/needles/sewing notions and the next is envelopes and pens, then the next row is beads and camp craft project supplies, followed by a row of posters and pinatas. Walmart, how could you do such a thing?

So, Walmart is no longer my craft mecca, but Walmart and I did have a crafty ‘our relationship is over bootie call’ ……

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Red Heart Yarn in (from L to R) Earth and Sky, Lipstick, and Monet.

In other news, I received my blessed by Terry Pratchett’s creative touch socks from Fyberduck this weekend…. pictures will be forthcoming.

I also watched a very unique movie this weekend called Night Watch, which I only just discovered today is the second movie. Now I have to find and watch the first.  First, its in Russian so you’ll have to try and find a dubbed version. Second, now that I know there is a first movie (and even books) the bajillionty questions I have can be answered. Third, Russian movies are awesome and wierd all at the same time (a vampire/dark one sucks out your energy by means of a juice box…. I can never now drink a juice box without thinking about that).

She Works Hard For The Ummmmmmm…..

So, I finished my Discworld swap package and sent it off earlier this week- to which my partner received yesterday. So now I can debut what it was I was working on……..

First….. A Samuel Vimes’ badge tote bag with the all important (at least to dwarves) honor of “Blackboard Monitor”…..

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Free hand painted on a black tote. Acrylics and Textile Medium.

Next up, I sent my partner stripey knitted socks with the DEATH of Rats skull and crossbones duplicate stitched on….

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I used KnitPicks Wool of the Andes in Heathered Amethyst and Iris. The D.o.R is duplicate stitched on with embroidery floss. The socks are sized for US women’s 8.5, and I used almost all of both skeins… I had a wee bit left over to send along to my partner for darning when she needs it.

And now, the project that was making me crazy, certifiable, nutso, ‘touched’. I sent my partner her very own Swamp Dragon. The difference being that this swamp dragon was improved upon by an Igor and has a zipper in the belly. I was able to stuff him with 2 decks of cards, a small notebook, a little plastic skeleton that jiggles when you pull the string, and a pair of plastic glasses with the fake nose and mustache on…..

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And a picture of him stuffed with the aforementioned items;

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He was made with worsted weight Yarn from my stash from a recycled sweater, a 7″ zipper, and was my first experience with plastic toy eyes. When I started Flynn (that’s his name, he’s cousins with Errol) the head initially began as his body. However, when I knitted so far I discovered his body was head shaped… not body shaped… so then Flynn quadrupled in size when I realized I now had to make a body to go with the now head. Here you can see part of my madness…..

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Its a crap picture, but I had 8 pages of notes, college ruled madness. But he’s done….. and the pattern for him is located to the right there. I wonder what I can make next?

It’s All Sent

Thank you all for your patience with my memory reverie.

Today my Discworld swap package was sent, now I just have to wait for my partner to get her package- then I can post the new pattern I wrote while making her things… I think you gys will like it.

Today is also Sam’s 5th birthday. The big 5. Gosh, I can hardly believe it. It seemed as if only yesterday…..

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See that smile? That is the smile of a good epidural.

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Happy Fifth Birthday Big Boy!

I Use Baby Socks As A Palet Cleanser

I’m still working on my big Discworld swap object, but as I’ve stated in the last couple of posts its making me a tad loopy. This always happens when I’m writing a pattern as I’m making something. Its mainly because the going is so slow and I’m an Instant Gratification kind if girl. This is why I have yet to knit a sweater for myself… sweaters are not instant. Sweaters can’t be done in a day or two, while I’m doing housework and fending off the Flying Diaperinis.

So, when I need a break from the project, I start knitting baby socks to keep myself sane….

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This is fortunate because of all the babies there are around. My cousin Peggy just had her first baby, a little girl, this past weekend. My SIL is due to have her third in December. The Mister’s Cousin’s Wife (I always feel like that scene in Spaceballs when I describe some people’s relation to me……..”I am your father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate”) is having a baby shower here soonishly. Being knocked up is in fashion I guess… Ha! I was cool before it was cool!Anyways that wee little sock up there (after I finish its mate today) will be heading off to the baby shower (with four kids of my own, money isn’t flying off the trees to buy other people baby stuff…. especially baby stuff nicer than my own baby’s stuff). I used the Ali’s Baby Sockies pattern with the yarn I used for my Blood Moon Socks. The only modification I did was to kitchener the toe instead of “drawstringing” it.

So…. I have a question… or rather what is your opinion……

If your Mister, boyfriend, partner, etc asked you to dye your hair a specific color and offhandedly mentioned buying colored contacts…. how would you feel and would you do it?

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