Thursday, August 31, 2006

Happy Birthday Brother!

Happy freaking birthday Joe - aren't you giddy! I hope you enjoy your day - try not be too naughty.

(brother-in-law Joe is always a good sport at children's parties - hates to disappoint this wee ones - another success buddy!)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Getting "Felt Up"!

I finished my Noni medium size carpet bag, just wrapped up the flower tonight while watching Rock Star...yes, I have fallen victim to a hideous reality show...with Tommy Lee on it - egads! My dd was eager to model my bag sans felting, a nice hat perhaps, a laundry sack, a bunting...

It has felted up nicely - I am always so impatient to toss those huge pre-felty things into the wash. It does not cease to amaze me how these guys shrink up so nice and become a stand up (literally) product. I used 2 strands of Cascade 200 throughout as the pattern suggested - I do think I am a more avid fan of Brown Sheep though because I can use one strand and it is still very firm. However the flower - I think I made it too darn big. I followed the pattern for the largest Camelia flower and it could have come out a bit more "dainty". Maybe the Brown Sheep could have made this particular flower more firm to keep it from flopping over or curling up once it is fastened to the bag. As another option I have the unfurling rose pattern, perhaps it would be more any case, I think the purse itself rocks and I will sort out the flower once it is absolutley finished - until then my next task - to locate the perfect lining.

It was good to dip back into felting in between socks - I have the Fiber Trends felted clogs in queue as a holiday hopeful. Maybe I'll just have to make a test pair and schlep around in them - man, nothing like snuggly slippers to kick off some crispy fall weather. Bring it on! (I hate to wish away summer, but felted clogs can do that to a girl!)

Monday, August 28, 2006

I'm in!

Woo hoo - I have at last joined an exchange - the International Scarf Exchange - at last I am not too late to join! I'm hoping to also join Secret Pal 9, but I thought this smaller scale exchange would be the perfect jumping off point. And truth be told - I was the kid in class jumping up holding my arm thinking "pick me! pick me!" when pen pals were being doled out. This seems like a grown up version of the same - only much more fun, there are gifties involved! Come on people, give me my "pal" because I am ready to get this party started!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

To dye for...

My knitting accomplice and I tackled dying today with some real bonafide dyes - no kool-aid for us thank you! (or so we thought...)

We have been planning this adventure for weeks now, today it rained, and rained - but we darted back and forth between the house and garage overhang. It all turned out very well despite it was our first run.

First we ran along a 24-foot fence line to wrap our "skein" - this must have looked ridiculous to the neighbors which made the experience all the more delicious. Then we laid out table length after table length of saran wrap where we spooned the dye onto our yarn in the desired scheme, wrapped it up and tucked the whole pile into a large zipper bag. Then off to the rummaged microwave...cook 2 minutes, rest for 1...4 times. Then up to the sink for the ridiculously tedious saran wrap removal process. In the process I managed to slice a couple pieces of yarn I hadn't meant to, oops! (I learned a few lessons today - I hurry and I shouldn't)! We used RIT and Dyelon, we determined that the pinks and reds bleed a lot! It took many rinses to get the pink to come clear but ultimately it was true to color.

My dyeing pal had a great concept of using lime, yellow, orange and some brown spots to create her inspired sunflower motif. I decided to try to re-create the STR "Lucy" colorway but replaced fushia for the blue. In retrospect, I wish I had gone for a paler pink but next time right? Once I unknot my mass of yarn (due to slightly frantic rinsing) I will post my little cake of hand-dyed.

The ultimate lesson here, we decided, is that kool-aid may be the way to go for us greenhorns. Our yarn is just for ourselves, for fun - and kool-aid means my 6-year-old could help me (God, help me) and I would not need a "dye only" microwave. But, I need to give credit where credit is due - the RIT made for gorgeous vibrant colors where the kool-aid seems to be less intense and concentrated. In the meantime, I think I'll stick with Yarntini to provide me the bright colorways. Or maybe I should look in my stash of goodies - I'm starting to think The Yarn Harlot's strategies for hiding yarn may need to be implemented. I will not buy yarn, I will not buy yarn...


Friday, August 25, 2006

Eye Candy is in the eye of the beholder

Hence, my big ole lug of a cat, Earnest.

He was being especially lazy so I could not get a picture with his big green eyes open, but you get the idea. I'm drunk in love with this ridiculous loaf. And he matches my couch!

Tilted head, look of utter confusion...

Have you ever tried to explain blogging to a non-blogger? Especially why you blog about knitting? I have tried to explain this phenomenon to a couple of trusted friends and still I get the weirdest looks - which makes me back pedal with embarrassment - like I've told a super secret I wasn't supposed to share as I lamely try to cover up the faux pas. The impression I get is that they look at me like:
#1 I am from another planet
#2 I am a complete and utter nerd
#3 They nod and patronize, "Oh sure Stacey, that!"

I have yet to meet a person face to face who says "Hey, I'd like to be doing that!" What are these people missing? Meanwhile I skulk away and wonder if I should keep my imaginary world of knitting friends to myself...and then I think "Good Grief people! This is the millenium!" Meanwhile, where are you bloggers...why haven't I happened upon one of you in the flesh somewhere? Are many of us newbie bloggers hiding in the closet with our wool? Are we all in secret, intimidated by the reactions to our "hey, I blog" disclosures? I decided today that I think I will keep my blogging to myself until perhaps I find a kindred spirit whose admission of the blog will be met with my delight! Hurray, we can huddle and talk about the people that just don't get it - shake our heads, paralyzed by utter confusion.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

It was a good mail day!

Check it out - I received the "Lucy" colorway from Blue Moon - based on Wendy Knits' cat Lucy. It's even more gorgeous in person, I can't wait to knit with it. I have so much sock yarn right now - what to do?

And speaking of felines, another chore for the to do list must be a picture of my cat - it seems unnatural to not have the silly oaf posted. I'll work on that - maybe Eye Candy Friday - because he truly is a pleasure to come home to and we often share an evening snuggle. Man, cats ROCK! (Well, most cats, I must confess that I do have a slightly deranged old Tom that hides in the basement 99% of the time, the other percent he is meowing incessantly for nothing.)

I also got Denyse Schmidt's quilt book. Wow, I have been away from quilting for awhile, I used to sew very regularly and was the youngest person in the quilt guild...then I had children and retired my sewing machine - forced retirment we'll call it. Anyways, I was creating log cabins and nine patches last I checked and now - well, her quilts simply leave me breathless - so modern yet homey - kind of like Target (per Yarntini)! I really like the simplicity here, that needs to be the mantra for working moms, hell, working people of all kinds, and by God stay at home moms for that matter, how do they do it? Repeat after me (inhale) *keep in simple.* (exhale) blog yoga...

Now I am still waiting impatiently for Amy Butler's book In Stitches to arrive, to put yet another project in the queue. I feel though like these books are pure inspiration, like picture books for a child - I love to fondle the pages and imagine - sometimes that's all I feel I have time for and you know, I'll take it!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Can I reel my mom in for a Cosmo recipe?

I've been bragging around town about Scout's awesome Cosmo Recipe - now I am being hounded for my mother!! So do you think she'll get tech geekster and troll the blog? Come on mom, dare ya!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Hooking up with an old friend

I was able to meet up with my sewing machine yesterday - we used to spend so much time together making countless quilted wallhanging, soft sculptures, bags, folky I have missed her. In the past several years I've merely dusted her off to make a necessary mend or an occasional Halloween costume, our friendship has been replaced with knitting, a more portable, mommy friendly type craft. So yesterday I went off to the LQS in search of some coordinating bits for the tiered skirt found here, instead I was beckoned by a siren - some fabrics that said "Chelsea Bag" - I have had this Amy Butler pattern for a few weeks now and have been working my way towards getting the notions together, but that fabric simply said "now". And so it was. (I have adult ADD, really I these tangents seem a bit hard to avoid, it's like trying to stop a speeding train..."Chelsea! Chelsea! Chelsea!")

SO I brought my goodies home and rushed down to my machine - "look, honey I've brought us some fabric!" Usually we just pick up where we left off, happily whirring our way to somewhere - yesterday sewing was not quite like riding a bike...more like a freaking 3 legged horse. Good grief, I thought, "this is a bag" - this is not rocket science - so I was harried as usual and stumbled on these damn handle openings. No other bloggers were bitching about this plight so I was alone. I could not, cannot figure out how to make them neater - I was unable to pull the fabric back and topstitch it into place without bits of frayed raw edge peeking out. I used some stiff sew-in interfacing, my first choice would have been fusible but the LQS had none, apparently sew-in vs. fusible may have been the turning point. Perhaps the stuff the pattern called for in "option 1" would have had more give which may have made it easier to pull the fabric to the inside? Well, in any case from far away (FROM-FAR-AWAY) my bag is cute. The fabric was right, it is right for this bag. But I am saddened by the crappy looking handles, so my Type A self will likely stuff it in the back of my closet.

But I am also stubborn, I think I will try this pattern again, but I will prevail - that's a challenge Chelsea - I'm going to win! It's not whether you win or lose, it's whether you win dammit!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Just the project I needed

Ah, I finished Flora - in record time - what a simple project that is so nice and portable. As portable as socks without 5 needles to wrestle with in the car! I chose three yarns that may have been too similar - a Mod-ea chenille fuzzy thing, some Chewy Spaghetti handpainted Cherry Cordial fingering weight and a thin sparkly red thing. I loved the look and then got to the flower - you can barely see it kind of fades into the rest of the scarf, which is too bad considering all of those twisted up stitches - but I like it anyhow. It is a little itchy - another bit of "failure to think ahead" - however I am thinking with my wool peacoat this winter I should willing to itch a little for fashion. I was able to catch a shot with a special highlight from Friday's post - I am thinking I need to hide in my kitchen with another Cosmo tonight...I even turned down a Culver's Sundae (egads!), "um, no honey, I am thinking of something a little more *hiccup*..."

Next on the sticks - a Noni Carpet bag in the middle size.
I have jet and black Cascade 200 - I had considered grey and pink but then...I reconsidered - I want this to be "practical" and the big honkin' flower can satisfy my pink fix, and I think it is removeable - so I can funk-i-fy when it suits me. I think I may be on an official sock hiatus

Friday, August 18, 2006


I say this because I found a fabulous Cosmopolitan recipe on Scout's Knitted Swag:

"Scout’s Kick-Ass Cosmos"

6 ounces Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Cocktail (trust me and only use this kind!)

4 ounces vodka

1 ounce Rose’s Lime Juice

2 ounces Triple Sec

Pour all ingredients into a martini shaker filled with ice. Shake your booty and shake the shaker. Rim two martini glasses with some sort of sugar rimmer and pour into two glasses.

I promise you it will be the best cosmo you’ve ever had.

I gathered all of the ingredients and decided, oh hell, I will try another Cosmo recipe...up to now I had been disappointed with the results. Wowie wow wow - this recipe is so good - I promptly left a praising comment and Scout replied almost instantaneously a warning that they are "super easy to suck down"...I can attest to that - good lord, it was as close to Sex in the City as I've come - bless bloggers!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

SGS seeks SGS - warm and wooly, like to hang out and show off my leaves, unwoven in ends okay...finished socks - the variegated and now the Opal Gems in the Embossed Leaves pattern. Pros of the variegated is again, the feel, very soft - the Opals are a little thicker than the pattern calls for but I don't typically wear socks unless it is chilly out, so justified. (for now) It is interesting to see the difference fingering vs. sport makes in the size - the Koigu one just eeks on my foot while the Opal leaves room for a little shrinkage, good to know for future reference. I'd like to do Sockapalooza sometime but I am afraid I wouldn't be able to size a sock to someone's else's foot - unless it were an awful close match to my own.
My goal is to get another green one on the sticks tonight - a mish mash of Brittany and Lantern Moons ebony in #2 to account for the broken soldiers - so I can keep on this project and get the pair done - I find it annoying to have a single sock laying around - taunting me. Or I was thinking I could start a simple something like Flora just for distraction and to throw it in my advanced planning pile. A break before the potentially dreaded "second sock".
I have also been feeling a bit drawn to my sewing room to work on some cute dolls from wee wonderfuls or the tiered skirted found at the Kuky Ideas blog. There are so many vibrant amazing little projects out there. I've also been feeling a little inspired to make a "recycled" pincushion for the Pincusion Challenge found here. As many other crafster-working moms...if only there were more productive hours in the day, or if I could survive on 2 minutes of sleep...

Saturday, August 12, 2006

In search of double pointed needles...I am such a tight knitter - I break every kind of dpn I get my hands on. I have tried Crystal Palace, Brittany, even ebony Lantern Moon - paid over $20 bucks for those and tonight, *snap* - what is a sock-a-holic to do? I really like natural materials, the warmth they emanate - but maybe I need to go to cold, hard steel, or would I just bend those too? I even use #2 where the pattern calls for a #1 because my gauge is so snug - great for long wearing socks - just not for those fragile needles apparently. I have "Googled" many searches for "that" needle with no avail, no clear winners out there in my mind. I guess the Brittany's lasted the longest, so maybe they are my best chance, the ebony one lasted um, one day...I am little annoyed, I need to check into this "magic loop" thing I've seen little teasers about - take the dpn out of the equation? I have made a pair of simple socks with Cat Borhdi's method with two circulars, but I really like the salt of the earth dpn method. Damn. To the drawing board.

Just sitting here enjoying my Boardwalk... Yarntini of course. This skein makes my mouth water for cotton candy...and can you smell those carnival smells? I live in the Midwest so we have some pretty lame carnivals...but I imagine the Worlds Fair of old, the carousel music and vendors, the Ferris Wheel and girls in pig-tails...okay maybe I am romanticizing the whole gig - but it's a nice thought right? But instead of going to the carnival to be hounded by toothless carney people - (terrible stereotype, I'm sorry) I think I'll research some nice self-striping friendly sock patterns and add this vivid, delightful yarn to the queue.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Holy Awesome Service Batman!
I was reading the Wendy Knits blog last night and saw that she had gotten some Socks That Rock yarn in a colorway named after her cat "Lucy". So I put in a request to Blue Moon Fiber Arts thinking I at least want to get on a waiting list for this tantalizing stuff. Well, I came home today to an invoice from PayPal - my Lucy will be here soon! Now, that is some incredible service!

And my interpretation of Eye Candy Friday...a lone flower we spotted in foliage at Olbrich Gardens.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Blooming and my daughters went to Olbrich Botanical Gardens today. It is only 30 minutes away but we've never been there before. It was stunning, and I have staked out a new knitting spot. Can you see me knitting there...but that was just the selfish part of our visit - me picking out where I alone will be coming to knit.

My oldest daughter, Lib was like the pied piper - only for butterflies. She had several in her hand at once. It was magical watching her face light up when one would land on her hand - a flicker of pure joy - I felt like a lucky voyeur watching her from afar. Several folks asked her if they could take a picture of her hand where three butterflies had come to rest. She was glad to show the "three-feet-and-under" set her amazing gifties. We only struggled a little with the listening ears today - she is such an independant soul - hard to reign in sometimes. I'm sure it is a double edged sword - while her confidence can be awfully frustrating to me now - it surely will serve her well later.

I think I may suggest a year membership to the gardens for Christmas - that is if I can wait that long - Quilts in Bloom is coming in September! It was a joy and would be well worth it to be blessed with a year of aesthetic wonder. It was refreshing to have something natural provide us so much pleasure - no carnival rides, no toys, no Happy Meals (or unhappy meals as they often are)to stimulate the family, just nature, peace, a meditation blanket to wrap ourselves in. Thank you God!

Monday, August 07, 2006

I opted to use the Opal Gems for the Embossed Leaves sock - the sport weight is a bit thicker and while it is not as luxurious as my Koigu I can see the leaves forming which was my ultimate goal here. I decided I could not possibly need more green sock yarn - so I took the Wildfoote back with the initial thought of exchanging it for the same of another color. Then I decided I did not like 3rd grade purple or brown-red any better but THEN...I saw this Trekking. I seem to be drawn to the same colorways, see the sage-y green in there? (well, and of course pink, I LOVE pink!!)Anyhow I have been reading other people raving about this Trekking and I saw an opportunity and took it! So where does this go into my sock line up? I'm thinking another pair of Jaywalkers could be on deck...we'll see.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Plain Jane Green - Wildfoote Mistletoe (left) or Opal Gems Willow (see right). The Wildfoote is fingering while the Opal is closer to Sport Weight - but I like the color and feel of the Opal more - there is a "sproingy" quotient unmatched by the Wildfoote which is more "cozy", more wool-like. I figure I could use both on the sock foliage addiction I have going on but we'll see. I think I'm going to head down to the yarn swift and make me a "Willow Cake", mm mm...

The Nancy Bush book is an added bonus of the lys trip just happens to further support the foliage fetish. Is there a 12-step group for this?

The first Embossed Leaves sock is off of the needles...I really like the heel on this sock - which I imagine is plain so as not to take from the lace pattern throughout - I have only done ribbed heels before while this one is just smooth stockinette with a garter edge, I'm a simple girl. I am still not thrilled with the way the pattern has disappeared in the veriagated yarn BUT I absolutely love working with Koigu and these socks will make a wonderful gift - for a non-knitter who would respond to my disappointment with "What pattern? Where?" So all is not lost. I'll gladly make another...after I crank out a pair for me in a nice plain jane green to showcase the leaves falling down the leg onto the foot. I think I'm a little over zealous about leaves now as I have located two other leafy patterns I'd like to try. This is my first shot at a lace sock and I think I really enjoyed it because it kept a potentially dull sock experience interesting. I had to pay a little attention - but not have hundreds of stitches to read as it can grow to be in a shawl. My chance of screws ups goes WAY up with a shawl. Not that there's anything wrong with that...

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Finished project! Dyed, dried, delivered - oh yeah! I ended up dyeing it twice because the first time I was a little too "careful" and the first fibers to hit the water grabbed up the most saturated color, leaving a little bit of it lighter than I wanted. A second run darkened everything - so it is slightly graduated, though I think it looks more intentional that it actually was. Overall I am pleased with the end result of my first dye-job - well the first without Clairol or an annoying little plastic bonnet and crochet hook anyways!