Friday, December 31, 2010

I think I'm ready, are you?

Finished the Diamonds and Pearls shawl this week. I was able to add in six extra rows and still had a bit of the skein left. I tried iron blocking it, but think I'll try spraying it and pinning it to dry. My pictures are with me wearing a burnt orange sweater, not the best for showing off the shawl. I'll try to do better, oh and wear makeup. ;-)

Broke even on the number of books read this year. Using Shelfari (right side bar) it's been keeping track and telling me all year that I was ahead of my pace until this week. I was one short of last years reading of 108 books. Thankfully I had one book left to finish and I was able to get it wrapped up Thursday night. I tried to sneak one more in, but no time! Oh well!

I spent the morning playing on Ravelry. I have tabs organized for the four groups I'm playing with this year in my queue. Thankfully there can be overlap in goals with some of the groups. I couldn't do a tab in my stash for the handspun that I want to get spun this year, but I could number them and that helped bump them into order. The overall plan is to knit from stash. I do need to spend a bit for the spinning.

Okay, here's my wild goal with spinning to be able to enter skeins at Black Sheep Gathering (I actually have to make it to one, hopefully this is the year!), Washington County Fair (have done this but want to fill more categories than I have in the past), Oregon State Fair (new) and Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival (new).

I'm going to have to buy some small amounts of fiber to spin for the State Fair. I get to take advantage of a 20% off that Cindy is going to have in her shop for the Seattle to Portland Yarn Crawl coming in a couple weeks.

A new set of print cartridges were picked up so I can print out patterns. A number of gallon sized bags are available. I don't think it will be until Sunday that I'll be able to start getting them all kit up.

So I'll have a year long sock, shawl and fiber club. I'll be working on Christmas gifts with monthly goals, and also trying to knit a cardigan for myself finally.  I shall be flabbergasted if I manage to keep up with all of them and get them done. Fingers crossed!

The day turned out to be bright and sunny and thirty degrees, so we popped Leeloo into her hoody sweater and took the dogs for a walk around Rood Bridge Park. Only half of the park is currently accessible due to winter flooding of the Tualatin River. We get creative and still manage to get a full walk done by doing two loops around the different paths.

Leeloo had managed to squirm out of her harness earlier in the week and chewed on one of the straps. Little brat! So was in need of a new harness. Norbert's is at least eight years old and showed the time when he was younger and nibbled a bit on one of the straps also. A stop in at Petco and trying out different sizes showed that the XS really was the best fit for Leeloo and a S for Norbert. Leeloo also needed a new collar, so a matching one to her harness. She's sassy in red and Norbert with his manly blue. They're all set for the new year walks.

A bug must have gotten in my bonnet because I came home determined to start the new year with everything all cleaned up. So started laundry and then washed dishes. This made it easy to make the Key Lime Pie and get the eggs boiling. Brandon was busy making some cheesy bread, but once he was at a point I could pull him away, I got his help stripping and remaking the bed with fresh clean sheets. More dishes were washed as things were made. William was scooped up by his friends to go to other friends apartment for movies and games for the next couple of days. I'm almost finished with the laundry. It's amazing how you think you've found everything and turn around and there's a batch ready to go.

So Brandon and I are having our first child free New Year celebration. Someone had a Mary Poppins song stuck in his head so I got a copy from the library. There's also The Princess Bride in line. Snacky food for dinner and movie watching. Different from the last few years where we've had William and Luke and played games on the XBox.

The 11 Shawls in 2011 had the new year officially start at the CET time, which meant I could have started my Haruni shawl at 3:01pm (PST). As mentioned above, I was a bit busy. So I'm going to get a few rows started in a few minutes, then wait for midnight to cast on my Orion's socks.

Tomorrow is a drive down to Salem to visit my side of the family - Bridges, Tibbets and Silbernagels for a potluck, game playing and for some of the menfolk - football watching. Cheesy bread, deviled eggs and the key lime pie will go down with us. Monday we're going to take advantage of the kids going back to school and a day off to see a few matinee showings of Tron and Harry Potter.

Good bye 2010. You were a difficult year with losing my sweet Nessa girl. You brightened up with little Leeloo, but left me way behind on my knitting and sewing. Deep cleansing breath and here we come 2011!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Great deal

Thought I would help a local dyer with her shop sale. Everything is 25% off and she has some gorgeous silk singles as well as her fiber club included. Just remember to use her code when you check out. Lorajean will be going to TNNA with Pico-Accuardi, so if you're 'local' to that event you'll want to get your order now and see all the new colors she'll be bringing along.

I'd definitely buy the fiber club, but I'm trying to spin down my stash before I add more to it! ;-)  I mentioned how tempting the silk singles are. That gold is just dying to become a lovely cowl.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

I made it!

I didn't accomplish everything that I had hoped, but everyone still got the basics of what I intended. I even managed to get the items that needed to be shipped to Seattle, Sparks and San Mateo off in time to arrive before the great day. A couple of days to spare even. So success!

I shipped off three pairs of Amy March Slippers by Tiny Owls in three sizes to fit 8, 9 and 10 inch feet:

I also finished Brandon's Dragon Pouch. It's for him to wear with his SCA garb. It's loosely based off of the idea of a sporran:
There's enough room in the pouch to hold his cell phone, wallet and keys. I'll have to knit him up one of the Monk's Travel Satchel for extra carry ability at events.

Nephew Cole's birthday is the beginning of the month so knit him some socks and a Gnomey hat. The socks were just a basic k2p2 rib in the Stitchjones Liger colorway.

Cole being held by Grandma Jeanne, sitting next to dad Scott
I had showed the Baby Surprise Jacket that I had made for baby Alyssa. Then I saw all the red hair she was born with and worried that it might clash a bit. Plus we didn't get to see them at Thanksgiving, so she's now nine weeks old and I was crazy enough to decide to do a new one for her. I was going to start with a baby weight fingering yarn, then decided that wasn't going to help me get it done. So went back to Ravelry to look through my stash and found a pretty combination, though it turns out I had enough of the pink to do it all just in that, of purple and pink in the Vanna's Choice yarns. I found three purple buttons in the stash and had it all knit by the time it was time to go over Christmas Eve. Shannon thinks it looks about six month size and Alyssa is currently wearing three so she'll have some growing room in it. I didn't get a picture of her in it, hopefully mom will do that for me.
 Alyssa and daddy Kyle napping Christmas day
Before the buttons were put on. I add to sneak the sewing in while getting dressed. We were running later than Brandon wanted to be there. (We were actually fine on time.) Pattern is Elizabeth Zimmerman's Baby Sweater on Two Needles (February).

I've received three skeins of pretty yarn as gifts, so it will be nice using those in the future. Two are sock yarns and one is a skein of hand dyed mohair. 

Took the opportunity last night to start a project for me from, the Diamonds and Pearls Shawl that friend Shelia designed. I'm using a pretty red mohair and silk yarn and its knitting up quickly. I was through row 44 out of 79 before bed. I haven't knit any today, yet, but if it gets done today, okay. ;-)  

I've been planning out the knitting for the next year. I hope to be more successful with the Monthly Make Ahead group than I was this year. I still have things in the box (yarns and patterns together), but I did dip in and steal some yarns, so I'll have to check that to see if I still have a workable plan. Also joined the Socks from Stash group. I have more than twelve sock yarns and patterns, so printing out the patterns and putting them in ziplock bags with the yarns is the next step. Then the goal is to do a pair each month for my own sock club. I also realized that I have more than twelve shawls and yarns so joined the 11 Shawls in 2011 group (name changes in January if you check out the link). They're more flexible in their time line. You have all year to get them done. I think they also have some KALs and group contests, so that will be fun to possibly participate in. I'm also going to tackle at least one sweater for myself. I have one planned for mom but I have yet to knit a full sized cardigan for myself. I'm also setting up a goal of spinning a skein a month. This will help decrease the fiber stash and increase the yarn. ;-) Cause I also want to knit more from the handspun stash. The shawl knitting will help with that goal.

I hope you were able to make your holiday knitting goals too! Have you set any for the new year? Trying out a new stitch pattern? Knitting a pair of socks or shawl for the first time? Doing a sock or shawl club?  Or am I the only crazy knitter out here? ;-)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

We have a piano!

I guess technically we always had one, it was just living in a different house. ;-) Brandon has been reunited with his boyhood piano that they got back in the late 70s. It was already 'old' before they got it. A little research says that its probably about eighty years old. It has been living with his mother, Judy in her house until today. Judy though sold the house and the new buyer takes possession on the fifteenth.

How is this knitting related? Well the new location of the piano is the family room area of the house that I had taken over as my crafting room. Long table for cutting out fabrics and a sewing machine setup. Table also worked for having the swift always up and available to use the ball winder with. My chest of drawers with sewing notions and fabric was also in that room. Then there was the former corner TV stand that Brandon had made that I took over with stashing some of my yarn stash. All of those plus my bins of yarns and fibers had to be moved out of the area.

This meant that the third bedroom we call 'the den' had to be reorganized to accept some of this overflow. I had really hoped she wouldn't move until William had moved out of the house, this would have all been so much easier then....  So the den had to be emptied out and rebuilt. A couple bookshelves came into our bedroom to make way for my fabric chest and allow for better flow in the room. Then things put back in. Bonus? Lots of cleaning out of books and donations made to Goodwill. I still need to get the books to a used bookstore for credit and what they don't take to the library for their book sale.

I also ended up cleaning and reorganizing my pantry because I looked at the floor under the bottom shelf and saw the possiblity of storing my bins there and still keep them easily accessible then under a desk in the den.
The baskets will come out and be artfully arranged near the piano so I don't have to worry about things falling into my yarns. I'm amazed at how much I was able to hide tuck away under there. ;-)

The piano sounds like it did while at Judy's. Not badly out of tune and still playable but I'm sure it will be happy to be tuned. I've been told that it needs to live in its new house for six months before tuning, so around my birthday I guess?

A boy and his piano reunited:

A rug is going to go underneath of it and he said something about making casters for the feet. So more decorating will happen. We also have a couple of pictures that William had but no longer wants that will look nice on the wall.

What kind of piano? Ivers & Pond from Boston is on the front. They were bought during the Depression, so that it was made in the twenties or early thirties. I think technically its a Baby Grand, though Judy calls it a Grand. It's a little over five feet long if that helps?
Leeloo in her Christmas t-shirt (says "Wreck the Halls") wondering what's up with all of this?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Freakishly Fast Knit

I started the Amy March Slippers (Ravelry link only available one) yesterday afternoon, I was 'done' with them within a few hours (watched two movies while working them). I used Judy's Magic Cast On ala Cat Bordhi's video guide to get going. This is a super easy cast on, once you get the flow going and do it a few times. I even did it with dpns! ;-)  I found for me since I don't have two sets of US 10 circs that using dpns was the way to go. I also found it easier to be successful if I did the first nine rounds on the cast on dpns.

The pattern just flowed from the beginning. I made two modifications from the original pattern. ;-) My Mods - 1) I followed a standard short row heel instead of trying to do the clusters. I’ve done them before so it was just easier for my brain to wrap itself around a known concept than her clusters.
2) Instead of letting the ribbon hold all those live stitches and be how the slipper is kept on the foot. I followed another knitters idea of picking up the side stitches then put the instep stitches on and picking up the opposite sides stitches and then knitting one round. The next round was a yo, k2tog around and then a knitted bind off. I think with the ribbon and cinching to fit the foot, it gives a little ruffley edge.

Do you always knit a pattern as it was intended the first time or go ahead and make changes as you deem appropriate?

The slippers still need to have their two ends woven in. Yes, just two ends each! Nothing like the French Press Slippers (FPS) that you have to seam together, then all those many ends to weave in. I have some t-shirt paint that I used on the FPS to put on the bottoms so that there's no danger of the giftee sliding and falling while wearing these on hardwood floors.

 Showing I still need to weave ends in.
 What they look like on and without ribbons to make them 'fit'.
 I wove in the ribbon on the side, obviously I need to do it from the front to get the bow there.
 I think the front definitely needs the bow over the instep. Not sure if they'll need something else.
These are some of my ribbon options. The really loose one is the one I used to take pics with (left). I also have some to the right that have wire in the ribbon, not sure how well that would work but an option. and then I have the two different satin ribbons that could be done singly, but I think would be better together. I don't have 'lacy' ribbon in the house, but could buy some. 

Which ribbon(s) would you pick?

An overall satisfying knit. I plan to do one more pair for someone. I think I can do the second pair from the same skein of Lamb's Pride Bulky. How awesome is that? The FPS needed two skeins to get one pair as a comparison point. Since I have two skeins of bulky and I like purple, I can make a pair for myself and maybe for the person I got the yarn from. (Are you peaking Tammy? - If you are, how long is your foot?) ;-)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Catching Up Again

Let's see, a few weeks ago I stopped in to see the Blue Moon Fiber Arts Barn Sale:

There were lots of lovely temptations and I do admit that a few of them seemed to leap into my arms and come home with me. I even helped out friend Rachel and brought home a few skeins for her. She really wanted to go to the sale, but with a small child, its hard to sometimes do stuff like this on a weekend. 

I left the sale and went and met up with an SCA friend to learn how to do a fitted Gothic dress (scroll down to the Building a Feminine Silhouette). The class was held in Longview and on the drive home Gail gave me a call. Tina had donated a couple of boxes of yarn to Dina's BSD Project - knitting for Beaverton's Homeless school kids. Gail's problem was she didn't have room to store both boxes until we could get them to Dina at our regular knit night. So home they came with me.

On the knitting front I wanted to knit a couple of hostess gift dishcloths for Kristen to say thank you for hosting the family Thanksgiving dinner at her house. So I started knitting a couple of dish cloths and got on a roll of getting all my cotton knitted up. Knitting with cotton usually hurts my hands but I must have built up some muscles there because my hands didn't hurt, my upper arms did. 

The dishcloths:

There was one 'dishcloth' that seemed a little big, so I'm calling it a hand towel. I also made a bib for nephew Cole who turned one today. He'll get it with his Christmas.
Can you see the Santa face and the Snowman?

The last cotton item knitted up is a sewing pin cushion. I finished it up tonight, but Brandon has the camera with him, so no pics until tomorrow.

I have the piano move schedule for this Tuesday. I had to pack up all my craft stuff and reorganize where things were going to live. It also meant a major reorganization of the extra bedroom we call 'the den'. A couple bookshelves moved into our bedroom and my chest of drawer went into the den. I reorganized the pantry and made room on the floor of it for my bins of yarn and fiber. I figure it would be more easily accessible there, we'll see. 

I found through moving things around an almost completed crochet project. The Easy Ripple Shawl a free pattern from Lion Brand. I was using Lion Brand yarns, so it only made sense. I had kind of created a pattern with the yarns that I hadn't considered when casting on, so had started the 'starting' end again. There were just a few rows that needed to be done so I finished those up and have it all attached. I now just have to deal with all the ends that need to be woven in. I've definitely learned a lot about those and how to deal with them better from learning how to knit. This was one of my last crochet projects just as I was learning how to knit. 

Pics of the shawl before I finished up the end:

I also had a Tudora that just needed a button sewn onto it and it would be ready for gift giving. Its sat in this sad state for a year and a half. I finally got them together and its ready to be wrapped. So where I was feeling stressed because I hadn't been doing all of my planned knitting throughout the year for gift giving, I have been able to throw out those plans, adapt them and just have five things that I *have* to knit and only three of them need to get done in the next week and a half. They should go quickly since they are done on size US 10 with bulky yarn for two of them. I don't want to be overly optimistic and jinx the projects though!

Its been a hectic wheel dealing with family things, Facebook friends are aware but I'm not going to post here. It only took rewriting a paragraph a couple of times to figure that one out! ;-)

Leeloo is almost ten months old - on the eleventh. She's had her first snow and thought it was fun to frolic in it. It ended up not being much deeper than what can be seen here. It stuck around for a few days as the temps dropped into the teens for us. Rather unusual for our part of the world! Leeloo's getting Norbert to play with her a bit more. He's definitely going outside with her more often. She'll check into the backyard through the patio door and let him know if there are squirrels out in the yard for them to go out and chase up a tree. He's also gotten more interested in food since she's been around. He never used to come hang out by the kitchen but does now.

I have ideas for future posts to share, so there will be more in the next few weeks than there have been!  Anyone local to the PDX area want a kitten? I know of some really cute ones in need of a home by this next weekend.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Know These Mushrooms?

The last couple of afternoons Leeloo and I have been walking around the neighborhood for exercise and to expend some energy for her. ;-) She's loving the solo walks, but it really shows that I have made absolutely no attempt at loose leash walking. She's on a flexi and she's here there and everywhere. I'm paying close attention to cars, so that I can shorten the flexi and keep her out of the road. The last couple of days have been in the low 50s so she's walking without her t-shirt on.. I still need to knit her up a second sweater and want to sew her up a raincoat. The raincoats I have are too big for her. Should bring one over to Tammy to see if it fits Lily if they're interested in continuing their walks through the fall/winter weather. ;-)

In three different yards we've spotted different types of mushrooms. I have no idea what they are, so thought I'd take the camera today to capture them and put them out here for people to help identify them. I don't think they are edible, not sure if they would work for dyeing. I'm just curious.  Can you help?

 For some reason this one just seems like it should be edible, like a chanterelle.
 Almost flowery in the waves of the caps.
 Flat yellow-brown, along with the brown with white under sided one above. The cap is flairing up too.
 I don't know if it fell over on its own or if it had help. Yesterday it was upright and probably about six or seven inches tall and just as wide as you can see. Its a red-orange with white spots and then there are the white round balls to the left of them.

Three clusters of these in the lava rock.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Kind of like potato chips.....

I've used up all the handspun samples that I had on hand. Turns out they made a total of seventeen blocks. Fifteen of them are 6-1/2x6-1/2 inches, one a little bigger and another a little smaller. I'm sure they'll balance out once I get more samples or leftovers from using stashed handspun.

Here's all the blocks:

 Biggest one in upper left, smallest in lower right. I didn't even try to get them that way....
 The oranges or lighter colors.

 The brights along with the natural yak/merino 

The blues/purples
I'm ready for something with larger needles. I have the yarn, pattern and needles in the bag to start Leeloo another sweater. The temps have been dropping down into the mid-40s this week, so she could use another.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

BSJ and a new addiction

With the many kind suggestions, I started a Baby Surprise Jacket for the cousin-in-law's baby. Her name is Alyssa and she was born on October 22nd in the afternoon and everyone is doing fine. The Ravelry group for the sweater is awesome! I joined the monthly KAL and with the help of the their wiki and helpful suggestions for each stage (its broken into five), the sweater zipped along. There was a bit of boredom but I trudged along and soon things were interesting again.

I showed my WWSiP day samples all spun up in the last blog post. I was trying to find something to do with them and others that I have in my stash when I was reminded of doing the Barn Raising Quilt blocks for Sock Summit 09. I've been busy knitting them since completing the BSJ. Perfect TV watching project or knitting with the ladies. Their kind of like potato chips right now, can't stop at just one. I've used up all the mini-skiens from this year's WWSiP:
I have a few small skeins left to become blocks and then the project will go on hold until more join the stash. I'm spinning up a 7.9 ounce batt of Spinner's Hill. Its a combination of wool-mohair-silk in a gorgeous burgundy color. I'm going to try to finish up the first bobbin this afternoon. There's Portland Spinnerati Tuesday night, Wednesday spinning and Spinning Bee next Sunday, so lots of time to get the second bobbin done.

At the family dinner a couple weeks ago we found out that it had been decided not to the family exchange, so that helped with some of my knitting. I have some other craft ideas in mind for gifts that don't involve knitting. I'm also considering quick knit projects for those that do, like slippers.

Our spinning group had fun this last week. We all brought pumpkin items to share. There was pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin curry soup, pumpkin cookies and bread, pumpkin pie and pumpkin fudge. I made pumpkin pie from a roasted pumpkin that I pureed. It was the third such pie from that pumpkin. I had already tried out Bobbie Flay's Throwdown pies and everyone liked those. The recipe as is made two pies for me. Brandon took one to work for their Halloween party and it was gobbled up. I had half of one left so took that along with the Pumpkin Struesel I tried out. I had enough filling that I filled a few ramekins. This made it so that Kim who is on a gluten free diet could have some. If I do the pie again, I'd make sure that I had pecans on hand (had to sub in almonds) and some more butter so that it would actually kind of caramelize. We enjoyed our pumpkin potluck so much that we've decided to do something similar for December. Maybe a cookie one? 

Still some roasted pumpkin leftover, so may try out these pumpkin drop biscuits. Have you tried using roasted pumpkin that you've made?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Why not?

I appear to be in a knitting conundrum. I have lots I'd like to knit, but I have several things I *should* knit. One of them a baby sweater for a baby due any day by the cousin-in-law. I have the yarn, I have the pattern - Baby Surprise Jacket, that I've never knit. Pretty yarn too. So why am I not knitting?

With the cold I've had the last week, I could blame it on excessive napping, and foggy brain. I really hadn't been knitting much before the cold though, not like normal. The cold is just down to a stuffy head, some late night coughing and a HUGE cold sore on my upper lip.

I don't think I've done a lot of knitting though since Nessa. Depression, then getting Leeloo and having a small puppy to keep an eye on. Leeloo though is now eight months old and lets me do things more often. I'm way behind on what I wanted to knit for people for Christmas gifts. So I'm trying to remind myself I can let go of these expectations of myself and come up with other things.  Probably good to shake things up a bit. I can then start on the bin of projects in the new year.

I have been spinning though! I've spindle spun half of the World Wide Spin in Public samples and chain plied them. The other half I spun up over a couple evenings and then chain plied them at the first Portland Spinnerati meeting in its new location, Urban Fiber Arts. I've even come up with a plan for the samples, making up Barn Raising Quilt squares. The World Wide Spin in Public Samples:

In other spinning news I had been working on three two-ounce bundles of what I think are a 50/50 merino/silk blend that I had gotten with my wheel purchase from Morgaine of Carolina Homespun.  I have two more similar bundles to spin up, but they were just different enough in color that I didn't want to spin them together. I put each bundle on their own bobbin and then took a few days to ply them together. I opted to use the bulky flier and more treadling rather than trying to force them all on to one of the four ounce bobbins.

So I ended up with 953 yards of three-ply lace weight yarn. I think I'm going to do the Torreyana Shawl with the yarn. I may need to find some pretty lavender beads to go along. I think there's another Gem Faire next month to help out with that.

I did end up with twenty yards of leftover single. Picked up a drop spindle and two plied it for a little over ten yards to play with.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"Coat" for Leeloo

Rachel at OFFF Saturday afternoon gave me a little red 'coat' for Leeloo. It didn't fit her family's Yorkie, but Leeloo is a little smaller in the chest. It's a tiny bit snug on her, but its given me tons of ideas on how to make more for her. Some that can match my garb and some just because. I just need to get or make some bias tape. I think I have some D rings.

Leeloo all bathed and modeling it:

Very cool fabric!

Thank you Rachel!!

PS: The ears are down here, but usually the right is up and the left is down. Then there's the 'full alert' mode when both are straight up. I tease her about her lazy ear, she just sniffs.