Saturday, December 31, 2011

In Closing...

In closing, what I've learned this year...
1. Reconnecting with old friends is fantastic!
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2. I can host a birthday party of 4 year olds without losing my mind.
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3. Knitting is not the only hobby!
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4. Even with no knitting mojo, I can turn out socks (7.5 pairs this year):
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(Stroll Tonal in Springtime, 240 yards)
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(madelinetosh sock in some fantastically grey colorway, 270 yards)


5. Cooking is a gateway hobby to science.
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6. Vacations are a blast.
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7. Vacations at home are equally fantastic.
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8. My kids are old enough to enjoy camping and museums.
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(somehow I didn't get any pictures of the tent - just the kids' and the campground playground)

9. Pretty soon, not all my kids will be so grown up!
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Friday, September 16, 2011

Llama Llama Sweater!

This sweater has gone to its recipient, so I can now share it with you lovely people!

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Yes, those are llamas!  A good friend of mine recently finished vet school and is crazy for llamas.  Years ago, I remember sitting in a seminar with her when our favorite instructor came in wearing a a yoked sweater with llamas.  My friend and I quietly argued about who would be brave enough to go ask her about it, and we ended up both going together.  Our instructor was flattered, but hadn't made it herself.... So, eventually, I figured out how!

I found a great llama colorwork pattern on this hat, and adapted it so that the llamas would have saddle colors echoing the rest of the colorwork (Celadon, in Palette, if you're curious.  The main body is Charcoal Heather).  The rest is all EZ and Barbara Walker.  Oh, yeah, and the endless Palette Stash.  1820 yards.  Booyah.

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Friday, September 9, 2011

Icelandic Ninja

This was the sweater that almost  didn't happen. Nearly a year ago, Little Dude asked for another sweater.  Even though he has this one, and two others than aren't ravelled, it was hard to say no!  So I dashed through the stash, and started in with some handspun and vague ideas.  Ran short of yarn, screwed up the gauge, and lost half a ball of handspun.  That got thrown in the drawer, and out came some stashed Noro.  Again, ran short of yarn, plus the brown started to look much more purple than I anticipated.  That also got thrown in the drawer.

I wised up, scrolled through patterns on ravelry, and finally got Priscilla Gibson-Roberts book, Knitting in the Old Way, from the library.  I was drawn to the Sami-Inspired Tunic, but decided that that the Modern Icelandic Sweater 1 was a better choice.  I mucked about with Barbara Walker's Knitting from the Top down, a gauge hat, and a calculator.  Lo and behold...

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Planning works.  Here he is, doing his best icelandic ninja impersonation.

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I chose the colorwork in the yoke from a colorwork book I have, and would use a 2 stitch thick line next time.  One stitch just looks thin.  The yarn is, of course, Palette held double and on size 8 needles.  In other news, I'm finally making a dent in the crazy Palette stash, and this took another 1035 yards.  Just in time for them to release several new heathered colors...  Here is the sweater, ravelled.

Also, my recipe blog is coming along, though pictures are slow to be updated.  If you're curious, we had tilapia baked with sun-dried tomatoes with creamy tarragon peas the other night.  Easy. tasty, and really, really healthy!

Up next?  I can finally share a gift sweater with you, because its recipient finally got her hands on it!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Preparing for A Toothy Milestone

Yesterday I showed you my first embroidery pieces, which are still waiting for their binding.  Today, I bring you a tooth fairy pillow!
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The fairy is adapted from Aimee Ray's Doodle Stitching Motif Collection book. I changed the hair a bit, then freehanded the tooth itself. I got the book from the library, but have really enjoyed its cute motifs and may have to invest in my own copy.

 Sweet Pea has a loose tooth, and I rushed through this to get it done in time for the weekend (just in case)!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Most Pleasant Distraction

Alright, I'm going to confess another reason that very little knitting has occurred around here lately.
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That's right.  Embroidery.  Right before we left for vacation, I downloaded several fantastic tutorials from Wild Olive (to my hand little nook).  I dog some old pillow cases out of the crafting closet, grabbed some floss and a marker from Michael's before we left, and spent most of the car ride making these little sampler/birthday wall hangings for the kids.

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They're almost done - just a little binding and some hangers left to go.  Best of all, the kids' love them!  I'm hooked.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

An Abbreviated Tour

Tour de Fleece ended several days ago.  My mammoth undertaking included four project, looking something like this:
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My spinning was cut short by two things.  Firstly, all my running goals were a bit much.  I strained my soleus, developed tendonitis in my ankle, and other problems related to muscle strain and shin splints.  I had doctor's orders to take it easy for several weeks.  Thus, hours of treadling were verboten.  I did, however, manage to treadle my Julia with only one foot.


The second stumbling block was much more pleasant.
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We had a vacation!  There was some 11th hour googling of travel bags for spinning wheels, but I passed at the last minute and left the Julia at home.  There was enough swimming, pizza, and mini-bowling that I barely missed it!


All of that aside, I did manage to squeak out with this:
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Spicy Sparkles; 366 yards of 2-ply, and about 100 yards of chain ply of superwash with firestar.  Only a quarter of my goal, but enough to be going on with.  I have no idea what to make with it.  I did, however, try a new technique for spinning batts!  May I present... Faux-lags!

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I just unrolled the batt, and gently split away a strip of the fiber.
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 Roll them back up, and spin from the top of the roll.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Summer socks

What do you do when family visits for summer fun?  Other than disappear from the blog?

Make them model socks!
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These are 265 yards of plymouth Happy Feet in color 18, knitted in my own plain, toe-up pattern.  My mom got to take this with her as her modeling fee!
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These were a gift to a coworker with sufficiently small feet.  They're 269 yards of Knit Picks Chroma, in the New England colorway.  I used the same pattern, as above and below...
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These are 291 yards of Koigu.  Unlike the other two, these are already safely tucked away in my sock drawer, awaiting next winter.

All three of these are the same pattern, which brings me to an interesting point...  I apparently like knitting boring socks.  I began this year with an intention of knitting 11 interesting, different sock patterns.  Half of the year is gone, and I am precisely 1 sock + 1 toe into 1 pattern.  And everytime I pick up that toe, I mutter and set it back down.

I think interesting sock patterns are for others.  I've decided, instead, to try different yarns!  Knit picks stroll is my go-to sock yarn, but I'm going to branch out.  What are your favorites?  Which ones have you always been meaning to try?  Make my yarn shopping easier :)  Now opening the forum to suggestions...

Friday, July 1, 2011

Tour de Fleece 2011

Tour de Fleece.  Starring, in no particular order:

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  • Iced spice batt: Superwash merino with firestar.
  • Antarean brandy batt.  Merino and tussah with firestar.
  • Tsavorite Gotland braid.
  • Talisman Texel braid.
It's on, bitches.

Friday Favorites: Media edition!

Here are the music, books, and games that are making my week!
  • Gaelic Storm.  Fun band, funny songs, with lots of energy.  And a bit of Irish.
  • I just finished up book two of Patrick Rothfuss' Kingkiller Chronicles.  Here's a link to book on, The Name of the Wind.  It fantastic, epic, character-driven fantasy - my absolute favorite.  
  • Speaking of books, I've had a nook color for a couple months now.  I held out against e-Readers for awhile because I've always loved the smell and feel of books.  But, I absolutely adore it!  And I read 10x more often now that I've got books so easily available.  Also, if you're into classics, many of them are freely available on most platforms.
  • I'm currently reading The Winds of Khalakovo, another fantasy novel.  This one has a Czarist flavor, and I'm a sucker for the combination of interesting magic system paired with social commentary.  It's so engrossing that I missed my trainstop on the way home last Monday...
In other news, summer is revitalizing my interest in sewing.  Sadly, I can't seem to find a fabric store that isn't completely depressing, so this obsession is on hold for now.  I'm knitting socks in the mean time.  

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Gotta Get a Gotland

Tour de Fleece starts this weekend and I'm trying to wrap up 12 ounces of natural Gotland.
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Two skeins are finished.  One is soaking, here's the other hiding out in our garden.
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This is the last bit of fleece, and a final bit of two ply before the Julia and I are ready for the big event!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Crazy Weekend Fun!

It's Tuesday, and we are recovering from a crazy weekend of fun!

We kicked it off on Thursday with a visit from an old friend.  Tika, of Largely Unrepeatable, managed to squeeze in a visit to Philly!  In addition to being a great knitter and spinner, she also happens to be an old friend from high school.
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In addition to the requisite cheesesteak, we visited the Tangled Web.  There was a bit of stash enhancement (lace weight!  Whee!), a nice walk in the sun, and a bit if Hershey's ice cream at the market.

Saturday was Little Dude's birthday party, and much fun was had by all.  The house was awash with preschoolers.  They enjoyed making noise, making English muffin pizzas, and eating cake (in no particular order).  Sunday was another birthday party, this time for another friend, which involved just as much noise, pizza, and cake.  While it was all terrific fun, I don't mind telling you all...
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This was me within five minutes of coming in the door Sunday night!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bulky Montague Camping Vest

Last month we went on our first family camping trip. We spent a weekend in Hershey, PA and had a blast.  Before we left, I had just enough time to toss my copy of New England knits, random balls from my Palette stash, and size 11 needles into a bag.  I had my eye on the Bulky Montague Lace vest.  In the 'roughing it' spirit of the weekend, I passed on anything resembling a swatch and just had fun.  And... it was a fun knit!
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Does it fit me?  Not especially!  But, it fits Sweet Pea and she loves it.

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This is 513 yards of Palette, which was help tripled. I'd love to tell you the colors, but the ball bands have been gone for while. I think one might be celadon heather, and another edamame? Who knows? :) 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Running Break

I am now 2 weeks into my new running schedule and I have a worrying ache in my right foot, ankle, and shin, as well as slightly strained adductor muscles.  Awesome, right?

I may have started out with too much enthusiasm when I jumped from no treadmill running to 12 miles a week on the treadmill.  I'm going to spend a week back on my normal exercise routine (now with more yoga!) then try a slower incorporation of treadmill running next week.  To ensure that I'm not just giving up, I've picked out a present for myself once I get back on the treadmill.  If I do get back on after a week and stick with it, I'm getting myself this super-pretty yoga mat!  Or maybe this one.  I'll let you know :)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday Favorites

Here's a list of some of the fun things on my radar these days:
  • Sweet Pea just got her ears pierced and it excited about all the associated accoutrements.  Though she only has one pair of earrings, she's pretty sure she needs an earring holder.  Some time on Craftster brought this one to my attention.  Easy, and super cute :)  Though I might cover the felt with cute quilting prints. 
  • I have become addicted to Starbucks Via.  I never liked the taste of instant coffee before, but this is fantastic.  I avoid the flavored once because they come preloaded with sugar, but the Columbian is a fantastic, every day alternative to mucking about with coffee grouns.
  • Sweet Pea and I now have matching workout shorts, thanks to a sale at Old Navy.  They're $5 each, and the girls' XL was big enough for me (though I couldn't bring myself to get the hot pink Zebra...).  Matching might be a bit corny, but she loves it and they're only little once :)
  • Apples and peanut butter.  Hardly a recipe, but a great snack.  
  • For another fruit based snack, we're planning on fresh strawberries with creme fraiche.  Dorie Greenspan's Creme Fraiche (you can find the recipe here) has been on my to-do list for awhile, and I finally have heavy cream in the fridge!  Yippee!
That's all I've got today.  Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Languishing Scarf

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This scarf languished in the WIP bin for a ridiculously long time. Ridiculously.  The yarn is Casbah Sock (in Woodland colorway), which was a present from my mom (Hi Mom!).  It has enough cashmere content that I was a little intimidated at first.  I mean, what if I screwed it up?  So, it languished (and was petted) for nearly a year before I settled on a simple pattern that highlighted its pretty color changes without a distracting pattern.
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So, by the end of 2009, I had cast on as per The Commuter Scarf pattern.  The pattern is simple, and really great for variegated or handpainted yarns.

Then, I was whisked into the 10 Shawls in 2010, and this scarf languished in a drawer for an entire year!  I got it out in January, only to realize that a single skein would make a scarf that was a bit too short for my tastes... Luckily, I tracked the colorway down again, didn't bother with the dyelot, and managed to get 134 yards into a luscious scarf.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Fruit Fun!

We just finished a crazy busy weekend, which involved a fun party on Saturday night.  Since much of the earlier part of the day was taken up with family-goodness, I knew I wouldn't have time to make anything elaborate.  I opted, instead, to make a quick fruit tower  (which I'd seen in this month's issue of Food Network magazine).

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Less than ten bucks at the local produce store got us melons, strawberries, and grapes.  I dug the skewers out of the grilling bin, and we were good to go.  I cut off a bit of the bottom of the watermelon (enough so it sat flat), then halved it to make a nice, stable base for the skewers.  The one in the magazine had perfectly round melon balls, but that was a bit fussy for me.  I opted for cubed melons, halved strawberries, and good old grapes.  I think the different shapes gave it visual interest (and were waaay easier than messing with perfect spheres).

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Need two other bonuses to this project?  If you use a paper plate under the base, it's entirely disposable/recyclable.  So, if you're planning on heading to a party elsewhere, you don't have to worry about packing back your dishes.  Also, if you've got older kids (who can be trusted with skewers) it's a great project for making patterns!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Half a plan

Running a marathon is always one of those things I've wanted to do, but not been sure I had it in me.  Last week a friend asked if I wanted to run a half-marathon with her next fall, and I tentatively accepted.  Part of me was squeeing with delight, and part was utterly convinced that I could never pull it off (that's the self-doubting part).  I spent a week yoyoing between the two, and have dedicated this week to a feasibility study...

I grabbed several portable electronics, fired up the treadmill, and spent about an hour on the Runner's World training page.  I've run on the treadmill both Tuesday (3.65 miles in 31 minutes) and Thursday (2.58 miles in 24 minutes).  Today I also did a bit of Wii jogging as a warm up and cool down.  It's been years since I did regular, actual running and now I have that familiar tightness in my legs and am scrambling to remember all my old stretches!

I'm planning on a Saturday treadmill run, then next week I might look into some interval training  After a few weeks I'm hoping to get pretty comfortable doing 4 miles.  Then I might commit to a race.   After all, half a marathon is only half a commitment.  It should be half as intimidating, right?  Right??

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bark of the Spruce

I've dabbled in dyeing both my own yarn and fiber. Just after I got my wheel, I dyed and spun up this, my Spruce Sky Merino from Jan 2010.
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 I recently got a copy of Hand Dyeing Yarn and Fleece and wanted to dabble with a way of doing multiple colors in the oven.
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I used the fleeve leftover from my Spruce Sky superwash merino because it didn't have quite enough color to suit my tastes. The finished yarn was a little washed out, so I added more to these braids.
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Then I took one of those braids and overdyed it brown.
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I spun the singles up,
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... then plied the overdyed brown with the brighter orange and green. There's a bit more color, not too much of the orange.

There's a bit of barber-poling in the finished yarn, but I'm hoping it mellows as I knit. Now... what to knit?

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