Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Amendment

Hmm, the reaction to my stash diet was not as I had expected. Rather than agreement, I've gotten nothing but grief for my decision. Regardless, this feels good and right to me, so I'm going on as intended...knitting and spinning from stash for the first 3/4 of 2010. I'm going to make two amendments though. 1. Gift certificates, should I happen to get any, can be used freely and without guilt if I feel I need a treat. 2. For each sweater I finish (I've got 3 currently on needles and at least 2 in the wings), I can buy something. But only if I'm going to use it. No stash yarn. Ok, do you all feel better now?

I finished the Charlotte's Web shawl over the weekend. To my abject horror, I discovered a huge hole when I laid it out to block.It took several hours to dry in which time I was able to screw up my courage and fix the hole. I was able to ladder up the stitches and secured them with sewing thread. The fix is not perfect, but it is barely perceptible if you don't know what you are looking for. I wore the shawl to work this week to rave reviews. Promise I'll get a picture of it on sometime soon. I adore this pattern and plan to make more of these shawls. I might choose a different yarn next time. I used the Koigu KPPPM that is called for in the pattern. I used every inch of colors 3, 4 and 5. I've seen some lovely shawls done with Socks That Rock, that might be a someday option. I think it might also be nice done in one color rather than 5.

That being finished, my current projects are as follows:
1. Vanilla socks...3/4 done with the first sock. Made a ton of progress during the excruciating New Moon movie last weekend.
2. Twilight socks...just started the gusset on the first sock. This Crown Mountain Farms BFL is amazing. So so soft. Can't wait to see how these wear. As soft as they are, I hold little hope for longevity.
3. Skully take 2...about to decrease for the armhole on the front (back is finished).
4. Nutkin mittens...nearly done. I'm working the thumb on the second mitten. I don't like the way the first thumb turned out, I messed up the decrease, so I think I'm going to pull it back and reknit the top of the thumb.

A few weeks back I mentioned I applied for a FLP library card. I'm happy to report the card arrived in less than 2 weeks and I had no difficulty getting on the website and finding audiobooks. They use Overdrive rather than NetLibrary and it's taken me a while to get used to the interface, but I've found a bunch of books. The great thing with this system is it lets you create a wishlist. So I can go on when I have time and search for books and then when I'm read for a new read, I can pick something off my wishlist. On the downside, it doesn't look like the eBooks are compatible with Kindle, but I'm still trying to figure out the eBook thing so I could be wrong. Regardless, if you are looking for a source to borrow audiobooks, it looks like Free Library of Philadelphia is a good, inexpensive option.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Stash diet redux

In late 2007 I went on a yarn diet. At the time I was trying to save money to buy my spinning wheel. I went 4 full months without buying any yarn. Now I'm once again contemplating dieting. Not necessarily to save money, although that will be a very happy side effect of the diet. I'm not an excessive stasher. I don't buy tons of yarn the way some knitters do. My trouble is that I tend to buy yarn for a project but then never seem to actually get to that project. I've got 3 sweaters on the needles that need attention. I've got yarn for at least 2 more sweaters, 4 or 5 shawls, umpteen balls of sock yarn and enough fiber to spin for maybe a dozen projects. It's time to knit/spin this stuff up. So I think I'm going to declare a freeze on yarn & fiber spending for most of 2010. Here are my intentions...

1. I will not purchase any yarn or fiber from January 1 through September 30, 2010. This will take me up to vacation time when I will sure want the freedom to shop.


2. Should I get any gift certificates for yarn shops, I will allow myself to use them for yarn if they would expire before 9/30/10. Otherwise, I'm going to try to hold off using them until the end as well.


3. I'm going to finish (or at least make a good stab at finishing) the 3 sweaters I've got going before starting anymore sweaters.

This diet is also going to apply to indie perfumes. My collection has gotten way out of hand. You've seen the pictures (and the collection has grown since the last pictures). You know. Those tiny little bottles are like crack to me. Well, no more. I've unsub'd all the mailing lists and dropped off the BPAL board.
I've got plenty enough perfume to keep me sweet smelling for the duration of the diet, if not longer.

Just writing all this down seems liberating. Knowing I won't be spending money on stuff I don't really need is a relief. I don't think I'll feel deprived (most of the time). I think it will be nice to rediscover all the exciting projects I had planned in the past.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

First snow and knitting round up

We had our first snowfall of the season yesterday. I'm truly not a snow fan, but this was one of the good ones...gorgeous big fluffy flakes that fell gracefully and stuck to the grass and trees but melted off the sidewalks and streets. Just enough to make everything look pretty.
Today is supposed to be sunny and mild so it will probably all be gone by tomorrow.

Remember a few weeks back I posted about my aunt who gave me her Pfaltzgraff dishes? Well, being a knitter, you just KNOW what my thank you was going to be...The pattern is Monkey (no purl variety) and the yarn is Socks that Rock medium weight in Lagoon. The colors don't come out very well in the photo...they aren't nearly that glaringly bright. The socks have been sent off and I'm hoping they are keeping her feet toasty warm.

Since this blog has been sadly devoid of knitting content of late I thought I'd post some photos of my current WIPs.

First up are the Nutkin mittens. These had been languishing in the bottom of the knitting basket for months. With winter now here, I decided I better get in gear and finish them. The pattern is quite easy to memorize. It is actually a sock pattern that I'm modifying to mittens. These should be finished in a week or so.

Next are my current socks...
Stonehenge socks. This is the Twilight pattern from 2 at a Time Socks and the yarn is my handspun Crown Mountain Farms BFL. They are so soft and the colors are gorgeous. I'm in total love with CMF. I've heard people rave about how fabulous their fiber is and I must add my voice to the chorus. I believe the prep is top rather than roving so it drafts like butter. There are virtually no slubs or imperfections of any kind. Plus they give you a generous 8 ounces of fiber.

My other purse knitting is a pair of plain vanilla socks in JL Yarns Savlia. The yarn was super cheap and is quite fine in weight. I'm knitting them on US 1 since that's the smallest needle I had available. But I'm thinking I might go down to a US 0 for the next pair.

The final project I'm working on is a Charlotte's Web shawl.I am totally enamored with this shawl. I'm using 5 skeins of Koigu KPPPM as the pattern calls for. This is sock weight yarn so it's a bit heavier than the lace weight shawls I had been working on. Something about cold weather calls for knitting with heavier weight yarns. Lace weight seems to me to be better suited for warm weather knitting! Many folks knit this shawl with Socks that Rock and I do think that would be stunning, but it's cost prohibitive for me at the moment. The pattern is extremely easy to knit and goes fairly quickly despite the nature of triangular shawls with each row getting longer than the last. I'm about 14 rows from the end. I'm going to have to start thinking about what type of edging I want to do. There's a crocheted edging or a fringed edge. I love the look of the fringe, but I hate actually doing fringe so I'm still thinking about it.

Once I finish up the shawl I'm going to go back to the Fylingdales sweater I was working on last winter. I think I'm better than 50% done with it and should be able to finish it up this season. The Colour Your Own Philosopher's Sweater is still hiding in my closet too. That's a much more daunting prospect as I'm only midway done with the first sleeve! But I'm sure it will see action at some point this winter.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

audiobook update

I was noodling around on Ravelry the other day and discovered a group for audiobook lovers. Here I uncovered a thread regarding library downloads. Seems I'm not the only one who enjoys the download services offered by libraries. I also learned that there are libraries out there that will allow you to purchase a membership and enjoy their services even if you are out of the area. One such library is Free Library of Philadelphia. They offer a paid out of state membership for only $15 a year. I thought this sounded like a very reasonable price so I clicked over to check it out. Turns out if you've got an Access Pennsylvania library card (and mine is) you can join for FREE! So I filled out the application over the weekend and hope to have my card by next week. This should give me access not only to NetLibrary but to another service called OverDrive that I am unfamiliar with. Fingers crossed it works out. I'll be sure to post how I make out.

For now, since I finished Scarlet Letter (great book btw) I broke down and went to the library and borrowed an audiobook cd. I was disappointed to discover it's the abridged version. Why is this even allowed? I want to hear all of the author's words, not just those the producer picks and chooses. You do get the major points of a story, but it always feels like something's missing.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Audiobooks?

Thanks to our new Pennsylvania budget cutting funds, our library has had to drop NetLibrary. NetLibrary was my main source for audiobooks for my Zen. I've found audiobooks to be the perfect companion for knitting, riding the exercise bike and while doing computer input at work. We can still checkout audiobook cds from the library, but it's time consuming and not entirely failproof to move them to the MP3 player. NetLibrary was great because you could get the audiobook all in one file. I'm hoping this is only a temporary thing, but for now, I'm looking for alternate sources for free/cheap audiobooks.

I've subscribed to CraftLit again and am listening to The Scarlet Letter. I'm fortunate to have resub'd after the book was finished so I won't have to wait for new chapters. The nice thing about Craftlit is that Heather gives some explanation to each chapter. For a non-literary type like me, this is extremely helpful in understanding the finer points of the book.

I'm considering treating myself to a Kindle for Christmas. I'm fortunate to have saved enough money this year to afford such a luxury. I'm just not entirely sure how much use I'd get out of it. In case you haven't figured it out, I'm cheap with a capital C. So how likely am I to spend the $10 a pop for most Kindle books. I know there are free ones out there and I'll be doing some investigating before I make a final decision. The thing I like about the new Kindle is that it now offers text to voice so the thing will actually read to me. How cool is that? I'm sure it's just a computer generated voice, no Jim Dale or George Guidall. Jury is still out. Anyone have one? Any thoughts?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Generous

A few weeks back I as talking with mom about having found some old brown Pfaltzgraff dishes at the flea market. The pattern is called Gourmet. They are dark brown with a cream colored, often mottled band around the edges. My Grandma Miller had these dishes so they kindle a real sense of nostalgia in me, fondly reminding me of scrumptious meals at her house. The pattern is fairly easy to find at flea markets and not terribly expensive. So I've picked up a few pieces here and there. So I'm telling mom all this and she said she recalled one of my aunt's mentioning that she had a set of these dishes she wasn't using and had been looking to get rid of them. She said she would inquire if my aunt still had them and let her know I was interested. As luck would have it, she did still have the dishes and by further luck, my folks were planning a visit to see her (she lives a few states away).

So my parents got back from there trip and today dropped off the dishes. Now I was expecting maybe 4 or 5 place settings since my aunt had said she knew some had been broken over the years. So I was blown away when dad opened the car trunk and I found
2 boxes and 2 tote bags full of dishes. My aunt sent me not only the dishes but all of her serving pieces.My mind is reeling at the shear generosity of it.The pieces are gorgeous and I will put as much of it to use as I possibly can. Some of the larger pieces may have to be stored since I don't have much occasion for their use. But I guarantee each piece will be cherished.

When I asked my parents was she sure she didn't want anything for all this, they told me her reply was simply "maybe she'll think of me when she uses them". This, I promise, I will!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The most wonderful time of the year!

Ah, it's that time of year again. There's a nip in the air, the leaves are aglow in bright reds and yellows, Halloween is just around the corner and C and I are on vacation. As I'm sure I've said before, we are staycation people and this year is no different. The week leading up to vacation was a bit hectic so this week of relaxation was even more welcome. I'm relishing in complete self indulgence.

Friday we started off with a trip to some of our favorite stores. We didn't find anything at Comics and Paperbacks but had fun looking around, he at comics and I at the mystery books. Then it was off to Yarn Love in Hummelstown. I got to look at and fondle all the gorgeous yarns they stock and was thrilled to see knit samples of Clapotis and Damson on display. It's all well and good to see photos on Ravelry of yarns and knitted items, but nothing compares to seeing them in person! I bought a skein of Dream in Color Smooshy. Gorgeous gorgeous yarn. The colors are so intense. I met the owner of YL, Pam. What a delightful person. We chatted about yarns and patterns and she made me feel so at home. I've been impressed with this store every time I've been there. We finished up the day at Olde Factory Antiques again. My mother in law spied the Jello Halloween molds I managed to miss when they were in the grocery store and I've wanted for soap making. I also picked up some small glass dishes for soaping.

Speaking of soaping, I ordered the Swirl Soap kit from Brambleberry to lea
rn swirled melt and pour over vacation. You can see a video of the technique on SoapQueen tv. That's on the agenda for later today.

I've finished a few knitting projects. A pair of No Purl Monkey socks in Katsara Panda yarn.
This is a fast knit and comfortable sock pattern. I'm not as into the pastel colors as I was when I purchased this yarn a few years back. These may end up being gifted to someone.

Also finished a Burnished Leaves cowl.
This was knit in Knit Picks Shadow yarn. Soft and light as a feather. Not too warm, just enough to keep my neck warm when my hair is up. This too was a quick and easy knit.

On the needles:
Skully, take 2. Yes, I'm making a second stab at the Skully sweater. I'm actually using the modified drop shoulder sweater pattern from Knitter's Book of Sweater patterns and only using the skull & cross bones chart from the original pattern.

Vanilla socks. This is my current purse knitting. JL Yarn Salvia in a green, yellow and red colorway.

Grandma's Favorite washcloth. Been knitting these like potato chips, one right after the other.

And various other projects that get a row or two at a time. It's delightful to have such a variety of things to occupy my time!




Sunday, September 27, 2009

Score!

I had a few days off this week and one day hubby and I visited one of our favorite antique stores in Hummelstown, Olde Factory Antiques (no website, but you can find directions here). It's an old 3 story factory loaded with whatnots and their prices are usually pretty good. On the second floor I found an old Singer sewing machine for $5. I looked twice. Made C come over and look. Yep, $5! I love vintage sewing stuff but generally it's too pricey for my frugal nature. But $5, there was no way we were passing this up. The thing weighs a ton and was filthy. But we bought it.

We got it home and I worked on cleaning it up. The decals are very worn and there's a good bit of rust, but it cleaned up pretty nicely. We did a bunch of research on the Internet and found out it is a Singer 27 vibrating shuttle. Manufactured in 1906 in Elizabeth NJ. It is a handcranked machine. Some pictures show an actual crank you could turn. This one has a wheel making it feel a bit cumbersome to crank for me. The machine could be mounted on a treadle stand and driven with a belt by the treadle (so I'll keep my eyes open for one!)

The bobbin is unlike any I've seen before.
It's long and thin and rides in a bullet shaped shuttle.
The bobbin winding mechanism seems not to be working.
It won't hold the bobbin and there isn't a band to drive the mechanism. So far I've not been able to locate instructions or pictures of how it is supposed to work.

The machine does appear to be in working order. The crank turns easily and quietly. The spool pin is missing but would be easy enough to replace. We are fortunate to have a sewing machine repair man a few blocks from our home. He serviced my Kenmore this summer. He works from his home and is a wealth of information. C and I chatted with him about old sewing machines for nearly half an hour when we picked up my machine. We plan to make an appointment to get his opinion on the machine in the near future.

I don't really plan to use this as a working machine. Although I would be tickled if we could get it into working order. Just for the joy of saying I got a sewing machine for $5! For now it's strictly for decoration.

I do have my eyes open for an old Singer Featherweight in working order though. They are works of beauty and I understand they are fabulous little sewing machines. We often see them at the quilt shows for anywhere from $200 to $500. Someday....

Sunday, September 20, 2009

It's a knitter's love fest

I'm riding pretty high on the knitting mojo right now. I finished the Heroine jacket and could not possibly love it more.It felted beautifully in one machine wash cycle in hot water with 2 pair of jeans. The collar is rather big. Where I to knit it again I would definitely rework the collar. But I find if I fold it back it's not too bothersome. I've sewn the bottoms of the lapels down so I've got pockets. Although the jacket is rather bulky it offers the ideal amount of warmth. I've been able to wear it as a blazer at work on chilly mornings and it works equally well as an outdoors jacket. The final count was 26 balls of Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Current and 8 celtic cross buttons from Buttonsgalore on Esty (go buy from her if you need buttons, she's wonderful to deal with!)

I finally finished the Heart and Sole toe up socks I started back in April. I'm not really that slow a knitter. But I am an easily distracted knitter and other projects just seemed to keep pulling me away. I love Wendy Johnson's pattern for the slip stitch heel toe up sock. I still enjoy my top down socks. However, if I want to knit toe up socks, this will be the pattern I use.

I've been spinning again. Finished two skeins of superwash mill ends
that I got from Jen. She sent me a whole bag full months ago to try to encourage me to spin enough yarn for a sweater. After sampling and test knitting I decided I liked the look of 3 ply for this yarn so it's taken me some time to spin. The fiber is a joy to spin and the yarn is lovely. But as I said, I'm easily distracted and although I DO want to spin enough yarn for a sweater....someday.... my current obsession is to finally spin a good 3 ply sock yarn. I've been reading Intentional Spinner and am hoping to pick up Spin Control soon to improve my spinning knowledge. And I've been practicing on some Ashland Bay merino top. I moved to a smaller ratio on my Minstrel (8.5 to 1) and it made a world of difference. I am proud to say I have finally successfully spun what I consider a fair-to-middlin sock yarn.Granted it's only maybe 30 yds, but it's a start. I'm ready to jump in and use the "good fiber". And check out all the new Good fiber I've got to choose from!!!The big lump on the left is Crown Mountain BFL in Stonehenge. 8 (that's E I G H T) ounces! In front 4 ounces of BFL in Swamp Flower from Liberty's Yarns. And all those lovely batts came from Jen. I'm so happy to let you guys know Hanks in the Hood is back in full force. Her Etsy shop is chock full of gorgeous custom blended batts and her handspun yarns.

I finally broke down and treated myself to a knitter's purse. I lusted after a
Jordana Paige for ages but could never bring myself to spend the considerable amount of money one costs. Especially since I've heard from more than one person that they aren't the best made purses you can buy. A mention of her Rio bag on a podcast got me thinking about and jonesing once again for a cool knitter's purse. So I started combing the internet for the perfect bag. I found it in the Namaste Newport bag.The color is Peacock and is a rich teal blue. The bag is the perfect size to hold all my purse stuff on one side and my knitting on the other. In the center there's a full length pocket to keep wallet and such secure. My only complaint was that there's only 2 pockets in the purse. I'm an organization FREAK when it comes to my purse. I hate things running around loose in there. So I sewed up a pocket organizer (good instructions here, takes less than 1/2 hour to sew) and I was all set.Now everything has a place, my bag is super organized and I've got knitting with me wherever I go. I got mine from Hip Mountain Mama (click the bag link to go to her site) since she had the best price and came highly recommended on Ravelry. I too can heartily recommend her site. Service was excellent. I ordered on Labor Day weekend and had my bag by Thursday!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

We are blessed with cooler temperatures this weekend and with September only a day away I'm really getting excited for fall to arrive. I've been working on Heroine nearly exclusively and finished the body last night. I've had major issues with row counting on this sweater. I don't know if my clicker is getting bumped in the bag or if I'm just brain dead but all 3 pieces I've knit so far have had to be ripped at least once. Thankfully it's a fast knit so it wasn't heart wrenching to tear back 10 rows and reknit them. After the fact I discovered I'd misplaced one of the buttonholes on the left front. I had already finished the piece when I discovered the mistake and there was no way I was ripping back that far. Since the jacket is felted and the buttonholes aren't technically functional, I decided to duplicate stitch over the errant buttonhole and will hand sew in the correct buttonhole after the jacket is felted. Hopefully I won't regret this decision. I steam blocked the parts and stitched up the shoulder seams just in time for Quinn to claim the jacket for her afternoon nap.I'm now knitting the sleeves and have decided to do both at the same time. This slows things down a bit, but when I'm done, I'm done. I have to be careful when I set my work down to be sure not to stop between the two sleeves as it's really hard to tell which sleeve I stopped on.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A change of perspective

Two things happened yesterday. Well, that's probably an understatement. Lots of things happened. One pretty big bad thing happened early in the day which set my mood switch on "very bad". And it stayed stuck there all day. Then, in the evening when I had time to sit down here at the computer and scan some of my favorite blogs and catch up for the week, I came across this post on Crazy Aunt Purl's blog. She talked about how it's so easy to dwell on the negative, but sometimes what we really need to do is concentrate on the good. So in that spirit, I've decided to post ten things that make me happy rather than whinge on about the bad stuff. Here goes, in absolutely no particular order....

10 things that make me happy.
  1. Knitting. Who couldn't have guessed that. It not only makes me happy, it makes me calm.
  2. My cats
  3. My garden
  4. Audiobooks and podcasts. Listening to someone else tell me stories is a joy instilled in me from when I was a wee sprout and mom would read Nancy Drew to my sister and I.
  5. Cozy mysteries. Sure someone died last week, but we REALLY need to plan this town dance!
  6. Chocolate. The more the better. I don't think I've had a day without at least a bite of chocolate in the last year, at least.
  7. My friends, family and my hubby
  8. Sitting on my porch with a gentle breeze blowing and Garrison Keillor on the radio
  9. My huge collection of sniffies (perfume oils). BPAL though art my love.
  10. Getting a package in the mail. Am I the only one who gets a thrill when they see a brown box at the door?
Next time you are having one of those days and you feel like Eeyore or Oscar the grouch, try Laurie's trick and take a few minutes to think about the good stuff. You might realize things maybe aren't all as bad as they seem and there's still good around you.

Much peace to you today.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A lot going on

It's been busy here. Summer always seems so full. The garden harvest is in full force. I've done 16 pints of tomatoes and 7 pints of pickles. We froze peppers, lima beans and okra. For once the zucchini has been coming in at a nice slow steady pace, about 1 or two per week. I'm not a fan of frozen zucchini so it's nice when it comes in so that we can eat it right away. We did dehydrated tomatoes this year which are super tasty. I'm out of canning jars so I think I'll end up dehydrating or freezing any more tomatoes that come in. We are starting to get kohlrabi (only planted one row.) Our cranberry beans, brussells sprouts and broccoli are all looking great (although we are having problems with some kind of caterpillar eating the leaves so we have to keep up with spraying. The red calypso beans are apparently extremely tasty to bunnies. The little rabbit ate all 16 plants clear down to the ground! At least he hasn't touched anything else so I guess I can live with it.

On the crafty front, I have been industriously working away on a myriad of projects.

I finished the foulard.Egh, not thrilled with it. Being knit on the bias it stretches like the dickens and just looks sloppy to me. It's also much smaller than I expected, even though I made the large size. It'll be fine for keeping my shoulders warm, but it's not a pattern I would knit again.

The sweatshirt jacket I bought the pattern for at Quilt Odyssey is coming along spl
endidly.The body is finished and I wore it embellished to work this week.Here you can see all the embellishments that need to be finished and applied. I need to make somewhere in the neighborhood of 80-90 yoyos. The Clover YoYo makers have been a godsend. I made the first few yoyos the traditional way and had decided it wasn't worth the hassle and was going to skip the yoyos all together. Then mom introduced me to this gadget. Wow, you can't believe how easy it is to make yoyos. I can make 3 in like ten minutes. If you need to make yoyos, I HIGHLY recommend them.

After knitting laceweight yarn all summer I suddenly got the urge to knit somet
hing heavier. I think the fact that September is just one page away has me longing for fall! Ever since I saw it in last winter's Twist Collective, I've had my eye on Heroine. Suddenly I decided now was the time to make it. I purchased Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Current and got started right away.This jacket is knit at a larger gauge then felted down to size when it's completed. I was careful to swatch and measure before I started since felting is such a finicky process and I would hate to put all that time and money into a project and not have it fit! I had to adjust my needle size down and knit the size larger than I first thought, but I think this should work (fingers crossed). After only two day's work I'm halfway up the back. I'm pretty sure I'm going to need to order more yarn since I'm having to knit the next larger size, so this is my main priority knitting at the moment. I want to get far enough along to see where I stand and try to order more yarn right away while I might still be able to get the same dye lot.

I was a big winner recently! Our local grocery store gave away a gas grill and yours truly was picked the winner. I was tickled pink since only a few weeks before I was lamenting to C how much I would love a gas grill, this on a night when the charcoal grill was refusing to light. I'm still getting the hang of cooking on gas and am still a little nervous I'll blow myself up.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Quilt Odyssey recap and One Pretty Thing

This weekend was the Quilt Odyssey quilt show in Hershey. It's become an annual tradition for mom and I to attend. This year it looked for a bit like we might not make it due to car trouble, but in the end we were able to go and had a great time. The show was excellent as always. This show always includes modern quilts as well as a selection of antique quilts (my favorites). Much of the show did not allow photography, so I didn't get any pictures. There were some absolutely stunning exhibits of outstanding craftsmanship. My quilting is firmly grounded in the utilitarian and I don't aspire to 12 stitches per inch in hand quilting. But I sure can appreciate the skill required to achieve such fine results. Even some of the machine quilting could take your breath away. The merchant mall was fun and tempting as always. I was a pillar of restraint and walked away with only a nifty compass type tool for drawing every size circle imaginable and this gorgeous button jacket pattern. Mom and I are both planning to make this sweet tog. I was on a mission to get wool quilt batting for the quilt kit I completed from last years show. Didn't find any at the show, but was able to order it online. We topped the day off with lunch at Houlihan's and some shopping at the Hershey Outlets. Despite getting soaked in the rain, it was a truly enjoyable day.

Looking for a daily dose of crafty inspiration, check out One Pretty Thing. This blog became an instant favorite when I discovered it some time ago. I always stop by at least once a week and always find something I would love to make.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Wormwood, HP and, yes, some FOs

The fantabulous weather continues here in PA. Low 80s during the day and cool nights, perfect for sleeping. I finished the Summer Sweater (based on Sally Melville's Favorite Sweater) and had the great pleasure of wearing it yesterday.The cotton/microfiber blend yarn is wonderfully soft and drapey. The large, open gauge of the sleeves and lower half of the sweater make it cool enough for warmish days and warm enough for coolish nights. I'm very pleased with this sweater and am contemplating knitting another one.

I finished a hat and booties to go with the baby cardi for C's friend.Baby stuff is just so darn cute!

I'm still knitting away with my laceweight yarns. I've now got 3 projects go
ing...the stole I showed you before, this beaded triangle shawl (which is actually quite a bit further along now; this picture is from a few weeks ago), and a square garter stitch shawl called a foulard. The downside to laceweight yarn is it takes forever (at least for me) to show much progress. This is also the upside, though, since it means I get the pleasure of knitting the project for quite a long time.

The garden is going like gangbusters. We got our first zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers this last week. We've harvested most of the storage onions and all the garlic and have them hanging in the garage to cure. Last year we dried them on screens on our patio but ended up losing a bunch when they got wet from rain. This year we've installed cup hooks along the garage rafter beams and are hanging everything in bunches to dry. So far this seems to be working exceptionally well. I'm hoping the Candy onions mature soon. The pumpkin plants are trying desperately to take over that end of the bed. In the spots vacated by the alliums, we now have dry beans (red calypso and cranberry) and brussels sprouts and broccoli. I hold my breath every morning when I venture out to see if the rabbits have eaten the broccoli, so far we've been lucky. After last year's debacle, I wasn't sure if I wanted to try again.

I must share with you my newest obsession....Wormwood. No, not the absinthe variety, but the podcast. Wormwood is a serialized mystery in the style of old radio drama. It's actually a few years old. Seasons one and two are available in their entirety and season three is set to start soon. I've only completed the first season and just started season two. The story revolves around Zander Crowe, a mysterious psychiatrist with ties to the occult who is drawn to the town of Wormwood by visions of a drowned woman. There's murder and mayhem, weird cults and oddball characters. The voice actors do a great job, particularly the guy who does Crowe. If you're a fan of radio drama, be sure to check it out.

I had the opportunity to see HBP yesterday at the MoviEtown cinema. I love this theater. It's an old car dealership building that's been reoutfitted to a state of the art movie theater. The seats are comfy, the sound system is great and, best of all, you can get coffee at the concession stand. There were lots of previews before the movie. I was somewhat excited to see there's a new Sherlock Holmes film coming out, but the preview doesn't really leave me dieing to see it. I do like Robert Downey Jr (go see Ironman!) but this portrayal of Holmes seems so far out of character. It's definitely Holmes for the new century.

Obviously, as we've seen with the last few HP movies, the movies can in no way do justice to the books. The movie folks pick the highlights and go from there. HBP was no exception and is by far the most altered. Overall, I liked the film alot. This was my favorite book of the series. It's the book of explanation. The movie could never live up to my perception of the book. I'm not going to go into any detail since I want to wait until I have a chance to see it and discuss it with my number one HP buddy, my sister. My advice, if you haven't read the book first (and shame on you if you haven't), but if you haven't, see the movie first, then read the book. You'll find the book so much richer.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Back on Etsy

After several months off, I'm finally back on Etsy with hand dyed sock yarn and small tote bags. Click the link at right to see what's in my shop.

Now that it's
July and summer is officially here (although it doesn't feel like it with temps still in the very tolerable upper 70s and low 80s), it's time for a garden update...

We had a delightful June. Moderate temperatures and lots of rain. The garden is flourishing.
The peppers are all loaded with fruit, the pumpkins are eagerly attempting to overtake the garden, the limas are starting to set pods, the snow peas are nearly done.Although this looks rather shabby, it's a great sign that our garlic and onions are nearly ready to harvest. Once the tops drop and start to wither, we'll pull these out and hang them to dry. I'm currently looking for some short season shell beans to plant in here once the onions are out to keep the bed active until fall. This bed has proved perfect for the alliums and we'll definitely replant them here this fall.

Our tomatoes are growing like gangbusters.
No signs of red yet, but we'll have tons once they start to ripen. And we finally got a zucchini plant that's starting to show some buds.

The mums and lavender I experimented with starting were only mildly successful. None of the lavender seems to be rooting, but most of the mums seem healthy and are starting to show some roots. In then center I've got some broccoli and Brussels sprouts starting for fall planting. At the moment I can't tell which is which since the marker I used to write on the tags was apparently not waterproof.

We've got bunnies again this year, but so far they've been far less destructive than the ants have been.
This little dude is so tame I could nearly reach out and pet it. I found it munching away on the sweet peas, but since they are nearly done anyway, I figured I'd let the little fellow have its treat.

Earlier this week we had a rather strong thunderstorm that l
eft us with this display of beauty.The double rainbow was so bright and perfectly arched we imagined we could actually drive to the end of it!

Friday, June 05, 2009

SoapQueen TV

I love making soap and was excited to see that Anne Marie of Brambleberry was going to be producing soap making videos this summer. She's got 6 episodes up so far and they are great. So far she's only dealt with melt and pour soap and I'm not sure if she'll be covering any other methods in the future or not. If you are at all interested in soapmaking, be sure to check it out...http://www.youtube.com/user/soapqueentv

Sunday, May 31, 2009

The sweet little baby sweater is finished.As I was knitting it I listened to the KnitPicks podcast about knitting for babies and one of the ladies (a new mommie) said never to use the cutesy buttons because they are too hard to do up with a squirming baby. Since I already had the buttons, I chose to ignore this advice. They do seem to slip through the button holes easily enough. And they are just so cute!

I'm still happily knitting away on the summer sweater and shawl, but there's not a lot of visible progress, so no pictures.

We had a week of showers and the garden is doing wonderful as a result. So are the weeds, unfortunately. I hate weeding, with a passion. But I did try to get the majority of the big ones out while the ground was soft. It looks like we are losing the cherry tomatoes I planted to replace the first cherry tomato plants that died. I'm really wondering if I'm just not supposed to have them this year. I picked up another plant at the flea market today, my last ditch effort.

My latest gardening experiment is to try to propagate some lavender and mums for a bed that runs along side my house. This bed gets full south sun all day and tends on the dry side. Lavender seems to thrive there and I'm hoping to get enough plants to root to go the length of the bed. I'm also trying to propagate mums for the fall. The instructions I found said you could either start them in water or in soil with rooting compound. The water method did not work for me...they just rotted. So I took a bunch of new cuttings today and am trying them with rooting compound. Fingers crossed it works. Could save a good bit of money in plants if it does.

It is absolutely gorgeous here today. The sun is shining, its in the mid 70s with a light breeze. The plan for the afternoon is knitting and catching up with my podcasts out on the porch. I recently got a new Zen Mozaic after getting tired of fighting with my Zen V+ and it's sticky play button . I love the Zen MP3 players. If you like audiobooks they are a dream since they allow you to set bookmarks. The new Mozaic even has a built in speaker so I can listen wirefree.