Monday, December 28, 2009

Handmade Update

I realized that when I belted out a hat for my brother, I'd officially made something for everyone on my christmas list this year! My mom loved her quilted wall hanging and her thrummed mittens (which fit! and she, being my mother, didn't mind the wonky parts where I made my thrums too fat and unevenly spaced them!) My uncle seemed happy with his sweater - and it did fit him (although the sleeves were a little long and I think the shoulder cap could have been shallower - it was a little bunchy when I sewed it in and I thought I blocked it out alright, but I dunno) but I think one of my favorite things that I made were these Noah's Ark ornaments for my SIL - I'll probably make her more for her birthday in January!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Quilting for Christmas

My mother wanted a quilt top wall hanging for Christmas and I wanted an excuse to buy fat quarters, so it was a perfect combination! Unfortunately, she's kind of into the country primitive look lately, and she mailed me a couple pictures she'd clipped of the color combinations she liked - it's that sort of tea stained looking red, white and blue kind of look. Not what I'd choose for sure, but it'll make her happy!

I learned how to do the quick piecing method (where you cut the squares then sandwich them and sew two diagonal seams 1/4" from the center, then cut down that center line, to make perfect half squares, and then you can flip them and do it again for perfect quarter squares - you end up with fantastic triangles but never have to deal with sewing triangles together at all!) It was SO much fun!This is about 20"x20". I think I'll put some thin batting inside and put a back on it and use ribbons to tie it to a rod. Or, if I don't do that, then I don't actually have to quilt the thing. But the back isn't attractive, so I feel like I ought to do something and if I put a back on it seems silly to not quilt it, you know? I'll figure it out before Christmas!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

As cute as the day is long

A little stuffie I made my my youngest niece, for Christmas.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

I can talk myself into anything

Every year for my father's birthday I make him date bars from the recipe my grandma used when he was a kid. Every year, for nearly his whole life he's gotten date bars - there was a brief stint where my grandpa made them after my grandma died, but he forgot one year and my mom got a little miffed about it and the next time I saw my grandpa he handed me the recipe. I got the message. So anyway, I'll be seeing him on Sunday for his birthday dinner and I made the date bars Friday after work. Except that what really happened was that I made him fig bars. i know. The whole time I was making them I felt like something wasn't quite right, but I just kept going. This morning my eyes flew open at 7am and I realized THOSE WERE FIGS!

and the stupid thing is that i TOTALLY know the difference between a fig and a date - but I think I just had it in my mind that I bought a pound of dried dates and I couldn't shake it. This morning I dug in the trash can and found the wrapper and it did indeed say "figs" - it wasn't even like I needed to confirm it because, again, I totally know the difference. duh. So this morning I made Date Bars 2.0 after making a run to Meijer to get the right stuff. I'm going to give him both versions because it's not like the figgie bars are bad - just not date bars!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

branching out!

On Friday, instead of fighting the crowds to save a couple dollars, I got together with my friend Catherine to get a little embroidery lesson! She's fantastic with embroidery and I just bought pattern for embroidered felt ornaments, so I wanted so advice.

We met at a coffee shop and I showed her my fabric and quilt block pattern that I'm going to use for a wall hanging for my mother (more to come about that!) and she showed me a bunch of embroidered pieces that she'd made over the years and now plans to make into a quilt. We got some coffee and looked at some books she brought - one was a book that had stuffed animals and dolls in it and right on the cover was the doll that my grandmother made me when I was a kid! what are the chances!?! After that we got down to business and started making ornaments - mine was from the pattern, which I ended up having to freehand onto the felt because I couldn't get anything to transfer it well, and hers, because she's all artistic and can just draw things, was a bird based on some old school ornaments in one of the books. Mine was supposed to be nearly all satin stitch which seemed kind of difficult, and also kind of boring after looking at all the stitch patterns that she'd used on her stuff. I ended up just doing whatever I wanted to and didn't worry about filling in the spaces with solid color. Before we knew it, it was like 3 hours later! I didn't feel like I got a lot done there - embroidery always takes longer than I think it will! That evening though, I finished it up. And I love it! I wish I'd take the time to do stuff like this more often - diversify my craftiness a little instead of always letting my knitting win!

Monday, November 23, 2009


When I was blanching my swiss chard over the weekend, I noticed that the water was turning a fantastic shade of red so I decided, of course, to dump some yarn in it! duh. I put in some vinegar first for acid, then put in a skein of Lorna's Laces fingering weight that I'd never been crazy about the color of - it's called Aslan and it's kind of off white and tan. It got sort of red-ish, but not really what I'd imagined, so I cheated and put in about 8 or 10 drops of red food coloring. It turned out pretty great - much better than before. Of course I now have one skein of the original color and one of this red. I suppose that means I can make two fingering weight hats, or maybe do a striped sock with alternating bits of the original and the new red! I'm downright brilliant-ish!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

harvest in November - whaaat?

I dare you to find a more beautiful vegetable! Bright Lights Swiss Chard

So beautiful I almost can't stand it!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Cookie is Cool!

Correction, she's really cool! Yesterday's class was fantastic!

I walked in and Cookie was sitting up at the front table futzing with her camera and in my head I was like "whaaaaat? this is crazy!" but everyone just seemed so calm - they were sitting there knitting or whatever. I guess I didn't expect everyone to be standing and screaming like we were in the same room as the Beatles, but inside I kind of felt that way! There were only about 13 people in the class which was great because we all got personal attention! First she talked about all the calculations you have to go through before casting on - it was fantastically mathy! Oh, within the first hour I felt like I'd gotten the best tip ever and it wasn't even about sock design. Someone asked her what cast on she used, and how to make it stretchy - she uses the long tail and talked about how sometimes you'll hear that you should use a bigger needle to cast on so that it's not so tight, but that all that really does is make the stitch taller, when what you're really aiming for is more space between the stitches. She showed us how she just puts her thumb on the needle when she's casting on to create a little extra space between each needle instead of cramming them up so tightly next to each other. Duh! that's so intuitive, but it never hit me before! She also taught us how to "scientifically calculate" the "suckage" of different pattern stitches and figure out how many stitches your sock really needs to be - just because you normally do a 64 st sock, doesn't mean it'll work for everything. She showed us how to take a stitch pattern and chart it out to see what it does and how to combine things to get the number of stitches you need - and even how to expand or shrink a stitch pattern proportionally to make it do what you want and fit the target stitch number. Then she showed us how she designs the fantastic cuffs that she does - where they flow into the stitch pattern. Then we all picked stitch patterns and graphed them out and calculated our socks and she came around and talked to each one of us and gave us advice and told us different things we could do - she was so sweet and helpful and totally remembered all of our names and the stitch patterns we were doing. it was amazing! I feel like I copped out a little by picking a pattern that I ended up doing around the whole sock, instead of incorporating multiple patterns (although that is often more difficult to make work because the stitch numbers just might not be right and it's easier to combine columns that you can manipulate easier) and then I also tried to design a snazzy cuff, but when she looked at it she didn't feel like the stitch pattern had enough really strong lines to warrent it, and recommended a 1x1 twisted rib, so I switched to that (which is very pretty - I fell in love with it the first time I did one of cookie's socks.)

We all ate and knit for a few hours then she went over how to decided on where to divide your socks for the top of the foot so that the design flowed nicely - this is where I realized how much she remembered about what each of us was doing. She went through everybody's socks up in front of the room by drawing out the design patterns on the wall (pretty much all by memory - like saying "ok, Chris is doing something that has some alternating yarn overs on the edges, like this, and then increases and decreases in the center of a 5 stitch knit background, and it's a 9 stitch repeat") and suggesting where to split based on the repeats and how to make the edges look perfect and intentional. Oh, it was just great and I learned more than I really thought I would! Plus, it was so cool and informal and people could just ask questions and talk to her like she was a regular ol' person.
Oh, and while we were knitting she came around and took pictures of all of our handknit socks that we were wearing (Emily - I was wearing your Taylored socks, so you'll be famously documented!) and took pictures of what we were knitting! Here's Cookie taking a picture of MY sock! whee!

What a great day!!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ready Eddie!

Sock Innovation book - check. Stitch pattern chosen from Barbara Walker's Treasury of Knitting Patterns (what else?) - check. Malabrigo sock, lettuce, wound - check. Size 1 Knit Picks Harmony needles - check. camera - check. I think the only thing left to do is paint my nails - it just seems right for such a hand heavy day!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

lunchtime yarn binge

I'm taking a class for work all week down in Springboro and I tracked down Wooly Bully yesterday after lunch - it's a little LYS only 25 minutes or so from my house, but I'd never been there before! Today I packed a peanut butter sandwich so I could eat it on the road and spent my lunch hour yarn shopping! whee! It's such a cute little place and has a lot of yarns that I hadn't seen elsewhere. I got two skeins of Mirasol Miski (100% baby llama) for an Opus beret,This one is a pretty blue, with bits of purple

This one is navy, but it's hard to photograph.

And 3 balls of this Queensland Sugar Rush, just because it's made of sugar cane fibers and I don't have anything in my stash made of sugar cane!

and it's soooo shiny and purple - so why not? Oh yeah, not to rub it in or anything, but I'm going to be in the same room with Cookie A on Friday! woot!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Everybody needs to make these!

Goulish cookies - perfect for halloween and SO easy to make!! I swear I couldn't stop cracking up every time I looked at them! I didn't make these up, but here's my version of how to do it:

So it's just a basic shortbread cookie recipe (that's just butter, confectioners sugar, flour and almond or vanilla extract) and you roll pieces out into something kind of like a finger size, then just squeeze it a little in the middle for the knuckle and make little lines for wrinkles with a knife. Then take almonds (the recipe called for blanched almonds, but I only had the regular ones, and I kind of think that looks creepier anyway!) and press them in the end as fingernails. Bake them for something like 10 minutes or until they look done. The "nails" don't stay in the cookie on their own - they'll fall right out, so you just
mix up a little icing with a bit of confectioners sugar, water, and red food coloring, then take out the almond, run the back of it through the icing and press it back into the nailbed so that it sort of oozes out like blood. If anyone is going to a halloween party, you totally need to take these! Walk around with one hanging out of you mouth - it'll be both hilarious and delicious! (because really not much beats toasted almonds and shortbread in the delicious department!)

I love buttons

Yesterday the BF and I walked down to Remember When Anitques - it just a few blocks away, but I haven't been there in years. I love living in the city where you can walk a few blocks and hit something like a little antique shop! Plus there were leaves on the bath through the boulevard, so it felt like a fall walk ought to feel! The shop is in an old house and it's just packed to the gills with stuff - like so much stuff that you feel more than a little nervous walking through the halls lined with shelves of glassware, wishing you'd brought a smaller purse. There's one room with tons of kitchen stuff, all arranged by color (I love it when they do that!) - I managed to get through it without finding anything I had to have, even though there were tons of things I'd have liked to pick up. Then I hit the buttons. uh oh. I'm such a sucker for buttons! Most were $3 or less per set, so obviously I couldn't help myself!

I got these

and these

and these

and these

and these.

(I think I'm in the middle of a sparkle phase! I couldn't resist the rhinestones!)

Guess I'd better start cranking out more cardigans, huh?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

I can't stop taking pictures of this

Isn't this just the most beautiful geranium you've ever seen?

I've had it for years - first I put it in a pot on my porch, then brought it inside for the winter - then I take it back out to the porch in the spring and back in again. It's the most amazing color and I can't believe how much it blooms.

It seemed so happy on the porch in the sun, but I don't want to risk losing it if we get a particularly cold night (which is quite a possibility these days!) So now it's in my dining room and I'm sure I'll soon have an inch of geranium petals on the floor. I just had to take a picture one more time!

Despite my glut of Christmas knitting, I cast on for a scarf this week.

Maybe because I feel like I'm making pretty good progress on my Christmas stuff, or maybe because the mister so rarely asks for stuff, I decided it was ok. and I kinda needed an excuse to do something different for a minute anyway. He wants a black scarf and I nearly went out and bought something like wool ease for it, but then decided that it was ridiculous to have 800 yards of Adrienne Vitadini Trina in my stash and not just use that. Now you could also say it's ridiculous to use discontinued merino/cashmere on a guy who doesn't always take the best care of his stuff, but I figured it'd be nice for him to have something really soft around his neck, and even though I got the yarn with a project in mind, the chances of me getting to that project within the next 20 years is slim. seriously. Plus, it's nice to be able to knit with it - I mean isn't that half the reason we buy lovely stuff? It's seed stitch, which is simple but manly and if I'm making something for him, I don't just want to churn out a plain old garter scarf - even if he can't distinguish it from garter, he deserves more than that!

Friday, October 9, 2009

rockstars in Ohio!

I just signed up for a class with Cookie A. - I'm not sure I could be more excited! I'm not much of a class person, and what's even stranger is that this class is for designing socks from the top down and I assume that it's kind of an in-person version of the beginning of Sock Innovation where she goes through all that. and I do own the book so I could totally figure it out - but it's Cookie A. and I'll be in the same room with her. undoubtedly talking to her. i may well pass out. or worse yet, die right on the spot!

Friday, October 2, 2009

a different kind of needle, for a change...

My niece's upcoming birthday got me to put down my knitting needles for a minute and take up the needle and thread! Every time I sew I wonder why I don't do it more often - it's like I forget how much fun it is. Anyway, my mom is getting my niece, Savannah, an American Girl doll for her birthday (the whole American Girl thing kind of turns my stomach, but I suppose I begged just as much for a Cabbage Patch Kid, and got one, when I was her age so I really can't say anything) and I decided to make her some clothes.

These things crack me up - I don't know if it's just that little things are so darn cute, or what, but whatever it is, it's making me love sewing doll clothes! I think it's the little details that tickle me so much - like the fact that the shirts have set in sleeves, just like big people clothes! The little buckle on the corduory pants I found and sewed on (which I think must have been saved from a doll shoe at one point - it was in my grandma's button box and I had to pry it off a little leather strap) and the mock zipper flap on the jeans: I'm also pretty proud of myself that I didn't buy anything except for the velcro - the rest is all fabric that I reclaimed from clothing destined for the Salvation Army, or scraps from stuff I made in the past. Oh, I also knit her this little cardigan! I think I know what Savannah is getting for Christmas! I've got plans already - I could modify the patterns to make a party dress, or put a peter pan collar on the shirt! oh - she better not get sick of this doll anytime soon! (but I'm sure she will -she's a kid!)

Monday, August 24, 2009

The christmas knitting monkey... on my back! Even though I told myself I wouldn't get crazy with Christmas knitting this year, I feel myself doing it already. I planned the Rowan sweater for my favorite uncle plenty early, got the yarn, and started it - then got derailed by an irresistable test knit for Carol Feller. It's nearly finished. And now there's another test knit that I absolutely can't turn down - it's colorwork (hello? love!) and it's for Hannah Ingalls, and I can't wait to do it! I know it's still August, but still, the sensible thing would be to pare down my plans for gifts, but this time of year I just start adding them on, and on, and on! I definitely want to knit for my mom because she's the one who appreciates it and deserves it more than anyone else. I'm going to make her some thrummed mittens because she's got perpetually cold hands. However, that just doesn't seem like enough, you know? I fear that I'll make some rash decision to start on something like a 2000 yd. lace shawl for her 2 weeks before Christmas! Then there's my father's birthday on December 1st, which always catches me off guard because my mind gets fixated on the 24th. I want to make him a pair of socks because I can't ever think of anything else to get him - no wait! it's the standing gift of date bars (my grandmother's recipe) for his birthday, then socks for Christmas - ok, I just got a month back! Oh, and have you seen that new kit from Knit Picks for the ornaments and garlands? It's adorable. and so cheap! I ordered it. I'm already envisioning a strand of knit lights on my mantle! and of course that's also going to lead to little knit ornaments for my mom and sister-in-law too! I told myself I would not knit for the nieces or nephews - it's all just going to end up in a dog's mouth or on the garage floor eventually anyway. Buuut, my oldest niece is getting an American Girl doll for her birthday in October (and I decided I'd sew some clothes for her - pattern is in hand, but when am I going to get around to that? a week before? probably) and there are some pretty cute American Girl knit patterns on Ravelry. How long could that possible take? Gaaaaa! It's August - this is only going to get worse!!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Saying Goodbye

My sweetest little friend finally let go yesterday.

Margo, I'll miss you forever. I don't even know what to say. I know you're at peace now, and I like to think you're kneading bread on a cloud somewhere, with a brand new set of kidneys.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

what does a rock star need?

After a week of being on the road touring with Akillis Green, I figure the fella might like a square meal - all rock stars like steamed brocolli, right? and a little cake with a heart on it :)

An yes, I got to use my Pyrex split casserole finally! I'm glad he's home.

Friday, August 7, 2009

you know what would be really terrible?

getting hit by a bus tomorrow and dying having never knit up my Wollmeise.

So after my top secret test knit is finished, I'm casting on for a clapotis with my precious skein. I don't even care how long it takes me to finish, or how many other things I knit while it's on the needles, I just don't want to die with it still in a ziplock bag. life is short. knit with your good stuff.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Christmas in July!

Perhaps for the first time in my life, I'm getting started on Christmas stuff at a reasonable time! I've been wanting to make my favorite uncle a sweater and believe it or not, I'm going to start it NOW, in July, rather than in, say, November, which would be more typical for me (you know, when I realize I have no gift ideas for him and make a stupid decision to whip up a sweater that is sure to end in stress and gnashing of teeth!) This uncle is totally worthy of a handknit sweater just in terms of my love for him, but he's definitely not the kind of person I'd normally knit for because there's no way in the world he's going to handwash anything, and I'm pretty sure blocking is also totally out of the question. I think he stores motorcycle parts inside his stove - he's that kind of bachelor. But I didn't want to make him some acrylic sweater either - I decided that superwash wool was the way to go, but I'm still a little worried about the washing and drying thing - I mean can you throw superwash in the dryer? or is that asking too much of it? Anyway, I got some Lamb's Pride superwash worsted in a charcoal heather from Suzoo's Wool Works in Cali, which I only knew about because I saw a post on the Yarn Sales Rav board (god help me - I should NOT read that board!) - they had some crazy huge sale and I'd been on their site several times, filling my cart, then being rational and emptying my cart. And, as you might suspect, because I was getting John's sweater yarn there, I also threw in two sweater quantities for me - and left it in my cart this time! but get this - it's Nashua Creative Focus (single ply wool and alpaca - heavy worsted weight/aran) 220 yd. skeins for $1.99 each!!! whaaaat? I pretty much feel like I stole them at that price. And it's such pretty stuff!! I got black and red: Oh, the pattern I decided on for my uncle's sweater is from a Rowan book, which means all the people in the book are so beautiful, and the photos so picturesque, I'm never sure if I really like a pattern, of if I just want to live in the picture.

This sweater, Beau, seems simple and classic, and like something I think John would wear. Once he was talking to me about seeing pictures of old fishermen in those Aran sweaters, and said "well I guess they have people like you at home knitting for them." That was when I decided he deserved a sweater. 'cause he's the best.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Guess what I've got?

Do you see it? Yes, a nearly ripe tomato!!! and not just one, but three!!! It's a juliet variety.

And also wax beans, which I picked a bunch of yesterday:

(nice shot with a weed right in the frame, eh?)

And Swiss Chard (bright lights variety - do you see the ones with the yellow ribs? those are my favorites):

Yay Ohio!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Guess what I've never done before?

Quilt! Until Saturday, that is. It's for a baby - the BF's closest friend's wife just had her this past week and while I've only met the wife/mom a few times, it seemed like a great excuse to make a quilt. and I made it rather badly, I must admit. However, I had a swell time doing it!

I haven't put the binding on yet, and I haven't washed it, which I believe will even out some of the "quirks" (so says Helen, an experienced quilter, so I believe her. it's kind of like blocking your knitting I suppose.)

And best of all, it made me feel justified in buying all those fat quarters that I thought I'd never use! AND using them up, makes me feel justified in buying more!! whee! Oh, the biggest quilting lesson I learned? Do NOT get a rotary cutter anywhere near your toes. I refuse to take a picture of my big toe, but believe me when I tell you that rotary cutters are sharp, and big toes have little protection against them. blood was involved.

Oh, and I believe I food poisoned myself on Monday night. It sucked real bad. Yes Emily, I do realize this was totally karmic-ly due. shut up.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

il bello

I'm like this close to getting one of these:

It's an Il Bello from Fly Scooters. Having a scooter has been like my adult version of the childhood dream of a pony. I love that the styling is vintage and Vespa-like, but definitely without the Vespa-like price!!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Cats can't read

You know what the vet told me yesterday?  That cats can't read and that means they don't know what the blood test results are.  Unfortunately, the blood test results show that my sweetest little Margo is in kidney failure.  But the vet told me that to explain (and maybe also to be a little funny so that I wouldn't start crying again) the fact that ever since we brought her home from the emergency animal hospital on Saturday, she's been seeming so happy and alert and responsive and willing to eat (more than willing to eat!) and groom herself - it just didn't seem to jive with the fact that we know she's dying or that we'd spent the whole weekend sitting on the couch crying.  She said that sometime kitties surprise us.  sometimes, with a bit of TLC, and 100 ccs of transdermal fluids every other day, they can often be around, and have a happy life, for a good while longer.  and I'm willing to do that.  Because she's my little Marjorie.
I love you Margpie - more than you'll ever know. <3