Category Archives: knitting

Having an Etsy shop is addictive

I’ve been to a few knitter gatherings around town lately, and finally ran into Kristin of Craft Leftovers.com.  I found her site a while back, have chatted  with her through Ravelry to get the inside scoop on fiber activities in Ames, and had heard about her from others, but we hadn’t met until a couple weeks ago.

At that point, I had just started working on my Etsy shop, had maybe 3 items listed and hadn’t sold anything yet.  We were talking about Etsy and she warned us to “Watch out, Etsy is addictive”.  I was skeptical at the time, but now I see why.

It is such a thrill to get an e-mail in my inbox telling me someone has purchased my creation.  It has made me want to make more, make them better, come up with other products and generally spend all my time in my craft workshop.  A few sales was all the encouragement I needed to start a full time obsession.  In general, I’m as happy as I can remember being in a long time.  Even though Scott has to work such long hours and goes back to work after dinner every day, being busy makes being alone a lot less lonely.

I’d say I should have started this earlier, but this is the first time we’ve moved in 10 years that we don’t think we’ll be moving again soon.  Having time and space to develop something counts for a lot.

I’m very thankful for the sales I’ve had so far, and it has driven me to list new items.

Shameless promotion time:

A notions pouch in black, white and red paisley.

An organizer set for hat and mitten sized DPNs

And my newest set:

The Sock Knitter Set which includes 6 dpn holders, cards for recording sock recipients’ foot measurements in a custom holder with grafting instructions on back, a stitch marker holder and a work in progress (WIP) holder.

I think next I may change gears and work on another holder design, rather than stocking the shop.  Or I may just make another one of each of these in a different fabric.  I guess it depends on if the creative juices are flowing, or I’m in a production mode.  The flexibility of a little online shop really suits my work style. 🙂

I think I’ll end this rambling post, but heed this as a warning: Etsy Shops are addictive!

There’s always a learning curve…

Well, I have a long way to go before I’ll be comfortable saying I run a business, but I’ve learned a lot already.

I’ve learned there is a lot to be done to get things made, photographed, posted, and ready to ship.  I can tell I am still just ramping up, since I have been knitting for pleasure and sleeping 8 hours.  🙂

Taking photos that measure up to the Etsy average has taken a lot of time and learning.  I built a collapsible light box from this Instructables tutorial, that has definitely helped, but I could still use better lighting.  I’ve read a bunch of articles on Etsy about taking better pictures and have fiddled with my camera until I finally got something decent and then I fixed the white balance some more with Gimp.  I’m still learning, but after a couple of photo shoots, I got pictures I was content to use to list new items. Here are a couple examples.

As you can see, I got some new fabric (with a gift card from my mom to Crafty Planet in MN) that happens to have a 1 inch pattern that lends itself well to the top edge of the bags.  Getting the color right in the photo is still a tricky proposition and the real color is probably somewhere between these two.  The second item is my latest addition to what I hope to be a set of tools for the serious knitter.  🙂  I have a lot of double pointed needles, and I don’t want to carry them all around, so I use these little individual pouches to just carry what I need.  This set is for the mid-range needles, used for hats and sleeves and mittens.  I hope to make a set of smaller pouches for smaller needles some time this week.

Smaller needles have been on my mind since I got my book “New Pathways for Sock Knitters” by Cat Bordhi on Saturday.  This  book has been on my mind for a while, ever since Larissa got it and was excited about it.  I resisted a while, but I finally broke down and bought it.  This book was mentioned by the Yarn Harlot on Nov. 14th 2007 and it has been on my mind ever since. As the Yarn Harlot states:

” I think “There has got to be a simpler way” and Cat thinks “Screw simpler – get curious. There has got to be ANOTHER way.” and then all of these door swing wide open and it turns out that there really are whole new ways to knit stuff that you I thought were pretty firmly established.”

This is my kind of knitting.  I don’t really like doing the same thing over and over, even if socks are small and utilitarian.  This book has 8 different sock architectures with master patterns and tables of numbers to help you get the perfect fit.  She has different toe and cuff patterns to mix and match, too. I was so excited, I even used Inkscape and MS Word to make these little cards to store people’s measurements.

Card to be printed on Avery Business Card 8371

Card to be printed on Avery Business Card 8371

I plan to print a sheet of  business cards to carry around and get family foot measurements if they express an interest in wearing hand knit wool socks.  Want to use these cards yourself?  Try downloading the  Foot Measurement Cards-corrected pdf for a full page of business cards. I used Avery Business cards with template 8371, but plain paper would do.

ETA: My Cut and paste technique had some problems that have been corrected.

I’ve got one sock from the “Riverbed Architecture” nearly finished and I think I will try a different architecture for the other sock.  As long as they are the same color and the ribbing looks the same, who’s going to notice?   I may never make a matching pair (for myself) again.  🙂

Well, I guess I should get back to work…

New Experiences

I’ve jumped into the new year with both feet.  On my list of things to do:

  • Start an Etsy Shop
  • Eat better
  • Exercise More
  • Look for Work

With the exception of the last one, I’ve made progress on all of these things.

Etsy Shop

I’ve gotten my Etsy shop started, though my inventory is still small.  I need to learn to take better pictures and make more things to sell, but at least I’ve got a few items listed.  Check it out at stellarb.etsy.com.  So far I have a couple of cacti for sale, in case there are people out there that like Claude the Cactus, but would rather buy him than make him.  Since these cacti are made with different materials and are larger than the original, I have named the boys Clyde and the girl Cora.  Cora is sporting a flower that is as near as I can get to an actual Barrel Cactus Flower.  Here’s a picture of the love birds cacti.

I’ve also got the first in what I hope to be a series of tools for the knitter or crocheter.  I’ve been a serious fiber fanatic long enough to have made myself several custom accessories.  I hope to make the same tools for sale in coordinating fabrics on  my Etsy shop.  The first and most valuable tool I have is my vinyl pouch and stitch marker holder.  I never leave home without them.  I only have one fabric choice at the moment, but lots of other fabrics waiting to be used.  I also plan to make double pointed needle holders, and possibly a circular needle pouch, though I haven’t found a style/method I really like yet, so it could be a while.

I would appreciate any constructive feedback on the shop including pricing and shipping.  It is all new and I want to get it off to the best possible start.

Eat Better

Moving to a new place is always stressful, and I’ve never been good at creating routines, so it is no surprise that Scott and I have been eating out more than we should.  There is a restaurant here in Ames, called Hickory Park, that offers good food at reasonable prices and can feed my carnivore husband with all the meat he can handle, since I don’t have much meat in the house.

This is about to change.  With the house, we inherited a large chest freezer in the basement.  So large in fact that, though we requested they take the freezer out of the house because it was old and we knew it was going to be hard to get out, they tried the night before closing and couldn’t get it up the narrow stairway.  Long story short, we’ve had this freezer plugged in to keep the compressor running without any food for several months, and I figure we might as well use it.

Though I’d prefer to eat fresh, locally grown food, there’s not much to be found in the middle of winter in Iowa, so I’m going the freezer meal route this winter. I’ve known about the book Frozen Assets for a while now, but I finally picked it up from the library and am going to give it a try.  The basic premise is to cook enough meals for a month in one day by preparing several meals from several recipes amd freezing them.  The book has a proposed grocery list and all the recipes you would need for 30 days of dinner entrees.  I don’t plan for us to eat completely from the freezer for a month and then start all over, but I am going to use it to “open the bank account” in our freezer.  I picked up another book titled Don’t Panic, Dinner’s in the Freezer, that suggests recipes that you just triple as you are making dinner to have two more in the freezer, and I hope use that one to supplement the Frozen Assets meals.  Couple this with the fact that my grandpa gave me his old Foodsaver vacuum sealer when I saw him at Christmas, and I’m ready to go.

The original Frozen Assets book has traditional comfort foods like meatloaf, meatballs, and ham and scalloped potatos that make it more calories than a lot of people would make for themselves these days, and as I was looking up the amazon link I found she has the Frozen Assets: Lite and Easy book coming out in June, 2009.  I think I’ll look into that one when it comes out.

So anyway, yesterday I went grocery shopping with the list from the book.  Just to get a feel for the quantity of food we are talking about, I bought 3 whole chickens, 9 lbs of ground beef and 2 lbs of bulk Italian sausage.  That’s just the meat.  🙂  I’ll start the cooking today, but I don’t know if I’m actually going to do it all in one day.

Along with all that food, I also bought the ingredients to make granola from scratch.  I’ve been eating oatmeal for the last couple years, and I’ve finally gotten sick of it, so I was looking for a way to make it tastier without paying large amounts of money for cereal.

I found this recipe with a google search and decided to make it.  IT IS DELICIOUS!  Even though I forgot the sesame seeds, I did add toasted almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds, toasted wheat germ, coconut, raisins, dried apricots and dried cranberries.  It was really easy to make and they even have a video to make it simpler.  I’d  recommend this to anyone!

Here’s a picture from their post, just to make you want it more.  🙂  Scott really likes it, and he’s not a fan of sweet things, so you know it’s not too sweet.

very-large-spoonful-of-granola

And finally…

Exercise

This one hasn’t gone quite as well as planned, but we do have a treadmill in the basement I use every so often.  Shovelling snow and walking downtown have been my primary activities lately, and considering how often it snows, I exercise at least 3 times a week.  🙂

Sorry for the incredibly long post, but it’s been a while and I’ve been busy.  I’ll let you know how the massive cooking and freezing experience goes.

Blogging makes shoveling more fun

We had another snow storm today, and blizzard conditions tonight, but taking my new canon powershot camera with me to do the shoveling made things more fun.  I can’t really remember a winter here quite like this one.  Snow piles have gotten to the point that you can’t see if cars are coming at the intersections.  Almost every day it seems we wake up to more snow to shovel!

It is often easier to walk than to dig the car out, so I’ve been playing around with a hat pattern for those occasions.

I like my cloche, but it has the distinct disadvantage of not having ear coverage.  Out here on the prairie, the winds can really get going and my ears really ache after a walk to Main Street on a cold day.  The brim on the cloche really helps with the bright sun, so I started another bucket hat.  I used my Barbara Walker Treasury 1 and some math to come up with a stitch that would make a stiff brim and a pattern that would make a fun band.  I wore it on a walk once and realized that even though it fit closer to my head and was knit so I could shape it over my ears better, it still left my ears too exposed.  Solution?  Add 1 x 1 ribbing under the brim using short rows to cover my ears and still have the brim in front.

And after shoveling today, I can finally say I have found my winter hat.

Part bucket hat, part stocking cap.

Part bucket hat, part stocking cap.

At least that was one bright spot in the latest round of shoveling. I’ve got other pictures of the winter weather on my Flickr site, and here’s one that shows the size of the piles.  There is a lot of lifting involved to get the snow on top of the massive pile.

Yes, that pile is higher than the fence, and I threw most of it over the fence myself during the last couple months.

In other news, I have been slowly moving toward opening an etsy shop, mostly as a diversion to pay for my own yarn, etc.  I’ve got my resume tuned up too, so I am trying to get my job search rolling.  Only so many options in a town as small as this one.

Let’s hope the snow lets up for a little while so other things can get done!

ETA: Here’s a shot just to compare with the last post.

Stunning!

Well, there I was going about my business on the computer, taking a break from knitting by checking e-mail, browsing Ravelry, and making a wish list of seeds at the Seed Savers Exchange, when I decided to check in on my blog stats.  It is always fun to see the 50-80 hits a day and know that people are using my patterns and checking in.

Much to my surprise, the blog stats that wordpress provides said that I had over 600 hits to my webpage, specifically the Mock Cable Neckwarmer pattern.  And it keeps climbing!  My blog has over 1000 hits today and I have no idea why.  It seems that a lot of the viewers are being referred by an e-mail, but I have no idea who sent it or what it said.  My curiosity is killing me and I’d love to thank the person for the referral.  If any one of those viewers would like to leave a comment to let me know what is going on, I would greatly appreciate it.  It could be a good last minute holiday gift pattern, so I’m assuming that was the reference.

I have been knitting continuously the past few days, even though I told myself I wouldn’t make so many gifts this year.  The biggest project has been finishing a sweater for Scott that I started over a year ago without a pattern and only a vague notion of what the final product would look like.  I knit a 3x 2 rib in the round up to the armholes, but it took 3 tries(including one with a partial sleeve that had to be ripped out) before I got it right.  Ever since I got two books: Designing Knitwear by Deborah Newton and Sweater Design in Plain English by Maggie Righetti in December of 2007, I have been planning this sweater.  Maggie Righetti is a big fan of circular needles and even outlines a method of using short rows to create the sleeve cap for set in sleeves.  I used this method and the sleeve cap math from Deborah Newton to finally get the sleeves right.

I worked a couple of full days on it last week and as soon as I cast off the collar, he wanted to wear it.  I took it back to weave in the ends and haven’t touched it since.  I hope to block it and he would like the sleeves to be a little longer (so I will probably pick up stitches and add the same ribbing I used on the collar) but I have no idea when.  I also hope to get a picture with him in it but I was planning to block it first.  🙂  The 5 inches of snow and high temperatures of 8 degrees F make his first and only wool sweater very attractive.  He has worn it to work every day this week.

When I get photos I will add the other knitterly details.  Now I must get back to weaving in ends, blocking and felting gifts that will be revealed after the recipient knows about them.

Happy Holidays, and good luck with your last minute preparations.

Mock-cable scarfette: the neckwarmer revisited

I have been hanging onto a skein of gorgeous Catalina Baby Alpaca/Silk since I knit my urban necessity mittens after getting the yarn from my parents on our trip to Lake Placid, NY. I had probably 50-60 yards leftover from the mittens plus one whole skein. Since knitting those mittens, I realized that alpaca wants to stretch an drape and that hats and mittens don’t work that well with alpaca/silk. So it sat for a long time as I pondered what to do with it.

When I went to the knitting group at the Ames Public Library a couple of weeks ago, I was wearing my mock-cable neckwarmer for a little more warmth, not thinking much about it. Well the ladies there noticed it, and that got me thinking about that neckwarmer again. I had also just finished my St. Vincent cloche, and wanted something burgundy to go with it.

I started rifling through my boxes of unorganized stash, and with the leftovers from the mittens, I started another neckwarmer. I got about 2/3rds of the way through when I ran out of yarn. I liked the texture and drape, but it was a little too narrow and way too short.

I thought that this might be just the stitch pattern for a one skein scarf using that whole skein that had been waiting for a project, especially if it had buttons to hold it in place. I looked through a couple stitch dictionaries for a different stitch, but kept coming back to this one. So the mock cable scarfette was born.

The pattern is just a riff on the neckwarmer that can be pulled up to keep you chin and nose toasty. I cast on 10 more stitches ( 2 repeats) and knit until I ran out of yarn for a length of 40 inches( I used some of the skein to finish the neckwarmer, so I was probably 30 yards short of a skein). If you knit it longer, button it up higher and allow the end to hang down further.

Download the PDF

Here are the directions:

Needed: 1 skein of worsted weight alpaca yarn(~180 yards). I used Catalina Baby Alpaca/Silk.

Size US 6 needles and at least 2 ea 5/8″ buttons

Gauge: ~19 st/4 in stockinette ( I didn’t actually swatch, and it is not critical for this pattern)

Pattern:

Note: psso= pass slipped stitch over (in this case over the two knit stitches and off the needle)

yo= yarn over – (just wrap like you were going to make a stitch, but without a loop from the left needle)

CO 38 st.

Row 1: s1, k2, p2, *s1, k2, psso, p2*, repeat * * 5 more times, k3 (42 st on needle)

Row 2: s1, p2, k2, *P1, yo, P1, K2* , repeat * * 5 more times, p3 (38 st on needle)

Row 3: s1, k2, p2, *k3, p2*, repeat * * 5 more times, k3

Row 4: s1, p2, k2, *p3, k2*, repeat * * 5 more times, p3

Repeat rows 1-4 until yarn runs out or you have at least 40″ length.

Final Dimensions, 40″ long x 4″before blocking. It will easily be an inch wider after blocking, but I don’t know about the length until i block it myself. 🙂

Sew buttons to second and 5th “cable” on row 5 ( the first cross). Wrap around your neck once and button into yo holes along the other end.

Where has the time gone?

I suppose now that we have lived in Iowa for 2 months, it is time to update my blog. Although it is impossible to list all that we have done, here are my highlights.

When we got to Iowa, we had a couple of days before we closed on the house and were fortunate to stay at my aunt and uncle’s house in West Des Moines (~35 miles from Ames). They are both ISU alum and big Cyclone fans. They actually went to the Iowa vs. Iowa State Game in Iowa City that weekend. All the potential for a good football season got me excited about ISU, and I knit a scarf while I was sitting around and Scott was on campus working.

Now you see it...

Now you see it...

...and now you dont.

...and now you don't

It is an illusion knit scarf using the basic instructions found at Wikihow and the ISU Chart (pdf download) I created. I also added 3 stitches on each side that I knit in garter and slipped the first stitch in each row. After I did the letters once, I switched to wide stripes ( 4 chart rows wide) that can only be seen at the sharp angle. The yarn is Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Worsted from the Rose Tree Fiber Shop in Ames. One skein of each color made a scarf 8.5″ side by 61″ long without blocking. The garter stitch edging seems to curl under, so if I made it again I would probably omit that and just knit the chart as written, slipping the first stitch of each row. That would make it 7.5″ wide and quite a bit longer.

I also finished sewing the buttons on my Central Park Hoodie and have been wearing it continually this fall.

Since then, I’ve knit Christmas stockings from the Cascade pattern that reads like a “choose your own adventure”. They are knit in Cascade 220 Heathers of Shire and Cranberry and Cascade 220 Natural.

I’ve knit and felted a St. Vincent Cloche, also out of Cascade 220.

This was taken today at the beginning of our first sticking snow storm.

This was taken today at the beginning of our first sticking snow storm after I walked back from the knitting and crochet group meeting at the Library.

I finished my first pair of socks from the pattern Charade out of Red Heart’s Heart & Sole in Tequila Sunrise. I had some trouble with the fit of the pattern and ended up decreasing an extra 4 stitches on each side of the gussett to get it to fit my foot better. Next time I will probably pick a pattern that lists a gauge so I know if I’m in the ball park. My gauge was ~ 5 st/inch.

I just sewed the buttons on my February Lady Sweater, which is one of those viral knits on Ravelry that ~3000 people have made. This is out of 5 balls of Cascade 220 Heathers in Cranberry. It was a pretty simple knit and the lace stitch got a little tedious. It required just enough concentration to make it hard to multi task, but not enough to be interesting by itself. I did have to rip back every now and then when I let my mind wander. I’m still going to look for buttons, these were just what I had in the house this morning.

I have a couple Christmas projects in the works, but only those specifically requested. If any of my family have something in mind they would really like me to knit them, they should let me know now… otherwise the will be getting purchased gifts this year. 🙂

In addition to knitting, I’ve obviously been unpacking. We don’t have good pictures of the house yet, but I did get a picture of my craft room in the basement. The biggest drawback is how cold it is down there, but at least I have my stuff organized and it has gotten me excited about finishing UFOs (unfinished objects) and thinking about how to use all the scrap yarn I have left from other projects. Fun!

)

To be fair, the top and bottom shelves are not craft things, just extra blankets, etc that are being stored. In other words, I still have room to expand. 🙂

We are currently living only in the downstairs of the house while the upstairs gets some work done. My parents came in early October while Scott was still in NJ to help me rip carpet out of the back bedroom upstairs. We are now stripping paint from the baseboards, and when that is finished we will sand them and see where we are. They may be white again or we may try to stain them. Then on to the next room, hall and bathroom. Once our work is done we will have someone in to redo the wood floors. It will probably be a year before we are in the bedroom upstairs, but we will certainly have learned a lot. 🙂

We’ve done more, but that’s enough for one post. I will try to post more often after the holidays.

Packing Procrastination Project practically phinished

Okay, it has been an embarrassing long time since I last blogged, but I’ve got a good reason…I’ve been knitting.  😛

Seriously, I have been doing other things, but knitting is a very nice diversion with all the chaos.  I’ve been finishing up projects that had been in the “weave in ends and block” pile and chose a project that I figured would carry me through to Iowa.  As Scott predicted, once I start something I can’t put it down, so today I finished it.  To be fair, I have done a lot of packing too, but there is only so much you can do in a day before you want to run away screaming.  We are getting closer, which is good, because our shipping container arrives tomorrow and gets picked up next Saturday.  At that point all the stuff has to be on its way.

The project I have been working on is the Central Park Hoodie using Cascade 220 Heathers in a color I believe is called Shire.  I love it and I plan to live in it this fall.  I still have to find buttons, but I plan to buy them on line when I get to Ames.

We close on our house on September 15th, we’ll unload the container and then Scott will return to NJ for a while to finish up his work at Rutgers before coming back.  I hope to get us settled and get some routines established before he starts work.  Just for kicks, here is a picture my Dad took of us in front of our new house on our second walk through.

It’s getting exciting now, though the packing is very tedious.  Now that the knitting is done, I have no choice but to finish the work to get us out of here.  Probably a good thing.

The next post will be coming to you from Iowa.  Crazy to think about.  Ciao.

Gifts and a Tip

I think I may be raising the bar pretty high for myself, but with the time I’ve had this year I’ve made a lot of gifts. The move will probably change things, but I’ve really enjoyed it, so maybe not.

For Father’s Day, I made small things that I mostly started after our return from SF.

My Mom’s Dad got Danny the Daffodil who was waiting for a home, and my Dad’s Dad got a coaster that I double knit and felted with the 89th Infantry Division “rolling W” symbol as the design, but I forgot to take a picture.

For my Dad, I crocheted this silly little turtle using a pattern from Roman Sock. He turned out pretty well. I used Lily Chin “Chelsea” yarn and my only mods were to add an extra row of 5 stitches before decreasing for the top of the mouth. I also crocheted the pink mouth parts and sewed them in. The instructions for the underside were a bit vague, so I crocheted my “circle” with increases of 5 stitches to match the shell symmetry. His underside is a bit more rounded as a consequence. I stuffed him a lot so that the wires in the body wouldn’t be felt.

Turtle turtle mouth

For Scott’s Grandpa, I made another lamb. I had made a lamb in a sweater just like the first one for his Grandma for Mother’s day, so I knit the reverse from fuzzymitten‘s pattern for Father’s Day. This one I put in overalls knit from some unknown yarn I got at Stitches east in a market class.

Farmer Lamb

A note about eyes

I thought I’d share how I put eyes on my various creations. It is a technique that I learned from Debbie Kesling’s book How to Make Enchanting Miniature Teddy Bears back when that was my hobby of choice.

If you are using beads, the eyes are added after the head is stuffed and attached to the body. I usually use at least 4 strands of thread to secure the eye. I run the thread from the back of the head at the base of the neck on the opposite side up through the position I want the eye, thread the bead and go back to where I started (with some fabric between the ends). I then tie a single knot at the back of the head, thread the other eye, and then pull tightly on the threads to make the eye set deeply and double knot the threads to secure the eye. After knotting a couple more times, I thread the ends back through the head and trim off. Here is a graphic that tries to show this process.

You can do something similar with safety eyes if the post has a hole in it. I partially stuff the head, thread the post with the ends of the thread coming out near the neck opening, stuff the head, sew it onto the body, then pull and knot those threads. It can be a little tricky, but usually helps with facial expressions.

Update

Wow, I’ve been a delinquent blogger. Let’s see if I can do a quick recap…

1. Maryland Sheep and Wool

We saw Sheep, ate lamb, bought wool, went to the Ravelry party. It was enough to satisfy even the biggest fiber fanatic. I can’t speak for my companions ( Scott, his brother and sister-in-law), but I thought it was great! Here’s a picture tour. Scott took most of the photos with his phone. Click to see the big picture. 🙂

More photos on Flickr if you’re interested.

2. My Birthday

Scott got me a Bond Ultimate Knitting Machine, so I spent some time working with that and managed to make this tank top to match the shrug I made from Twisted Stitchers Swap yarn. The pattern is Berroco’s Sharon tank top with Quatrefoil Eyelet at the bottom to match the shrug, and single crocheted edging and straps.

3. Trip to San Francisco

Scott and I flew out to the San Francisco Bay Area for my high school friend Neha’s wedding. While we were there, I got to see my NASA cohorts in Mountain View, visit with folks from Scott’s research group at Berkeley, visit Stash in Berkeley and spend a day in Japantown with Scott, in addition to the 3 wedding events.

The wedding parties started with a Toast and Roast party on Thursday night, where Neha and Samir’s friends and siblings shared embarrassing stories about them. It was a fun night and a good place to catch up with people I hadn’t seen in years. On Friday night, they had the Mehndi party where they had 2 artists applying henna to guests’ hands. After applying the paste of henna, lime juice and oil, the artist sprinkled glitter on the paste. After it had dried, a mixture of lemon and sugar water was applied to “set” the dye. After 3-4 hours it was safe to scrape it off and apply oil. I only had the quince lotion the hotel provided, so I used that. It seemed to do the trick.

The wedding itself was a beautiful and elaborate event with the groom riding up on a horse, a ceremony outside looking out to the vineyard, and a wonderful reception with bride and groom’s first dance and even a slide show of them as kids and with friends. Here are a few pictures, more can be found here.

I managed to finish knitting, on the airplane, the shoulderette I had started the previous Saturday to wear at the wedding. It worked perfectly, since the weather was a little chilly when the sun went behind the building.

I changed the lace pattern to “Vine Lace” from the Barbara Walker Treasury. The yarn is Knit Picks Shine Sport, a cotton/ Modal blend. I had a lot of shedding from the yarn, which is my one complaint.

And finally…

4. Scott has an offer on the way from ISU!!!!

Scott got word that they intend to offer him a position in the Materials Science and Engineering program at ISU. We had to choose a start date before the offer would be sent, so he will be starting some time in November. So far that is the only detail we know, the rest will be in the offer.

Since he got the news, I’ve been struggling to remain focused on tasks at hand, like cleaning or updating the blog. I have spent too much time looking at houses on the web and reading about Ames. I think I’ve looked at everything I can find at least once, but it doesn’t stop me from looking again at my favorite houses.

Scott thinks it is interesting that we arrived at ISU in the fall of 1993 after the last major flood of the area, and now much of Iowa is flooded just as bad or worse, right before our return to Ames. Lets hope that means the state is done with floods for at least another 15 years. We’ve got family in eastern Iowa surrounded by floodwaters. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.

It is very strange to think that Scott will be a professor in the department where we got our undergraduate degrees. He will be on a first name basis with all the people I only know as Dr. So-and-so. Weird.

So I guess that’s the abbreviated version of the news, I hope to not get so far behind next time. I’m currently working on the Swallowtail Shawl from Interweave Knits with Kaalund Yarns’ Classic Two in Silky Oak that I got at Stash in Berkeley.

Clutter reduction is also an activity high on my list of things to do, but daunting enough that it has barely started. Gotta make sure there is room in the moving truck for all the yarn. 🙂

It’s all about the warm fuzzies…

The fiber arts are by nature solitary activities. Only one person can hold the needles/hook/roving at a time. Even if each person knit an arm of a sweater, it is unlikely that they would be the same in gauge, etc. That being said, one of the things that drew me in and continues to amaze and inspire me is the fiber arts community.

I got started on crochet when my friend Suruchi came over to my apartment around 2000 and showed me the basics. After showing me, she found an e-bay seller that had a bunch of random crochet hooks for cheap and got them for me. We made hats and scarfs for a while, then I put it down. Work, etc. were more pressing and at the time my main hobby was making miniature bears. These are just a few examples.

Santa Bear Travis' dog Gardner bear

I did pick up the crochet hooks and yarn a few times to make a couple afghans for myself and Scott and a couple of scarves for christmas, but I also tried my hand at watercolor and took a stained glass class with Scott. In 2004 and 2005, we spent many hours working on glass projects, since northern California has perfect weather for outdoor glass work.

It wasn’t until we moved from CA to Texas and I wasn’t working, that I really started to get into crochet. It was too hot to do stained glass for very long outside ( and the mess is too much for an indoor project) and I spent a lot of time on the internet. By then finding patterns on the internet was easy, deciding what to make was the hard part. Since I had so much time that summer and fall, I started making afghans. I had gotten a book from Scott’s Grandma and tried a couple patterns from there. I made 4 afghans that fall, and though the warm fuzzies I got from giving my handmade gifts were fantastic, I was pretty exhausted with the big projects.

Lion brand afghan B & W afghan

My family obviously knew I was hooked (pun intended) and my brother and girlfriend got me a Crochet Pattern-a-day calendar for Christmas. In there was a ThreadTeds pattern for a bear. This brought me right back to making bears.

razbeary gold bear

At the same time, I found Flickr and started posting and browsing pictures. Through Flickr and blogs I learned about amigurumi and was particularly inspired by Elizabeth Doherty’s work. I started reading crochet blogs a lot, and finally started my own infrequently updated blog. I was happy with crochet and didn’t see the point in knitting, in fact some of the ladies at NASA tried to teach me to knit in 2003 for a co-worker’s baby, and I refused to learn. I crocheted a teddy bear instead. 🙂

In the fall of 2006, a confluence of events caused me to take a new look at knitting. I looked for a couple of books online and settled on the Stitch ‘n Bitch Handbook and Knitting Rules by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. Those two books got me into knitting. When I got Knitting Rules, I had never heard of the Yarn Harlot! I found her blog, read her book and never looked back.

After several years on my own, I had finally tapped into this huge community of witty, talented, inspiring people willing to share their experiences and funny stories. It was still a community tied together by links and web rings. There was no good way to find all those little blogs or people’s patterns unless someone had linked to them. Through that network, I found out about Ravelry. On July 3, two months after moving to New Jersey, I got my invitation to this amazing web community.

Using this awesome resource, I have found patterns I never knew existed, learned from others about yarn substitution and found a reason to blog more often. It is the warm fuzzy feeling I get when someone leaves a comment or “favorites” my project or pattern that inspires me to do more.

Being able to see that 42 people have “favorited” my Claude Pattern and that 18 people have it in their queue is such a great feeling. To think that my little warm fuzzy could generate so many warm fuzzies for me, is just amazing.

Speaking of warm fuzzies, I guess I should show you my most recent project.

Little Lamb Little Lamb

This little lamb is a pattern by Barbara Prime at Fuzzymitten.com. The pattern is very well written and makes me rethink my previously held belief that crochet was the only way to make toys. It seems that if you know how to use knit stitches for shaping well enough, you can make very elegant patterns. I’m not at that level, but using someone else’s pattern was great fun. You do have to worry a little bit more about stuffing knit toys, since they tend to stretch a lot more than their crochet siblings.

The yarn for this project is Lion Brand Fisherman’s wool in Natural and Nature’s Brown. The sweater comes from the Natural Fisherman’s wool I dyed with Kool-Aid. I made the top down raglan cardigan for him on size US6 needles without a pattern. Garter stitch neck, button bands, bottom and cuffs, made it pretty simple to make. I used yo button holes so that the cardigan really can come off.

His eyes are hematite beads.

I’m so pleased with how he turned out, that I decided to keep him, rather than send him off as a gift. I have almost finished knitting a second lamb who will take the journey instead. 🙂 This time I kept track of how long it took to make and after adding it all up, it took 5 hours to knit and assemble the lamb without accessories.

People are always asking how long it takes me to make something, so I have decided to start keeping better track of time. Obviously I don’t knit things because it is cost effective, but it is interesting to track.

I also made myself a summer hat. After looking around and not finding a pattern for a cotton cloche, I decided to make my own. I haven’t really settled on the hat band yet, so this one is not attached.

hat front

The hat is crocheted with two strands of King Tut Cotton I got from our Twisted Stitcher’s Yarn swap . I used a size I hook with the yarn doubled so that it has more structural integrity.

I have written the pattern in spreadsheet form here if anyone is interested.

The band is knit using the pattern for this lace headband, but I would definitely add a garter stitch edge if I made it again. It just curls too much, even after blocking. The flower is the Spring Daisy on this page.

The brim increases start just behind the ears and go out just beyond the edge of my glasses. I like the style of cloche hats and look forward to wearing it this summer. It is also easily stuffed in a bag, which is another requirement when I look for hats.

Catch up post: featuring FOs and dying

At the end of March, there were a couple more birthdays, and here is what I sent.

For my Dad, there was another Claude the Cactus.  This one was made with Lion Brand Jiffy in Avocado and  Fun Fur.  The fun fur I used on the first  Claude was probably 5 years old, and it seems that the product has changed somewhat.  The new Fun Fur seems to be a single thread sticking out, where as the old stuff had 2 or three threads twisted together.  This means that the new stuff is much finer and higher density, which hides the green.  To counteract this, I gave Claude II a haircut.  I trimmed ~1/4 to 3/8″ of fur off all over his body to make sure the green could be seen, and I trimmed even more around the eyes.

I also found some novelty yarn at AC Moore that worked perfectly for gravel and freestyled a pot for him out of some TLC acrylic, as well.  I put a little bit of stuffing between gravel and pot bottom, but not much.

Dad's Cactus

For my Grandpa Z, I knit a teddy bear from the Prima website.  I used Lion Brand Fisherman’s wool for the body and some green mystery yarn I got at my Market class at Stitches East in Baltimore last October for the sweater.  The only modification I made was to lengthen the legs.  Where the pattern says to knit 9 rows of reverse stockinette, I knit 13.  I used a 30 mm doll joint to connect the head to the body so that it would turn, and I string jointed the arms and legs with yarn.  Eyes are onyx beads and nose is embroidery thread.  I dreaded sewing the pieces together by hand enough that I stitched the head and body pieces together on the sewing machine.  In retrospect, back stitching with yarn isn’t so bad, and I could have done the whole thing without too much trouble.

Grandpa's Teddy Bear

More recently, I tried dying yarn with Kool-Aid.  I had about 67 yards of Lion Brand Fisherman’s Wool in Natural from a project I can’t blog about until June, and I decided to experiment with dying.  I read a little about dying with Kool-Aid, and when I went to the laundromat, I stopped into the grocery store nearby to buy some Kool-Aid to play with.  The flavors were limited, so I got Tropical Punch, Cherry and Grape.  I wrapped the yarn around the dining table and chairs to make a really long loop.  I then soaked the yarn for a while in a bath of woolwash and water for about 15 minutes.

I set up my 3 plastic tubs with 2 packets of kool-aid each and distributed the skein between the three.  After  4  two minute heat cycles in the microwave (with ~ 10 to 15 minute breaks between) all the color was absorbed and it looked like this:

( clockwise from left: grape, cherry, tropical punch)

Kool Aid dying, after the color is sucked up

I then let it cool, hung the skein on the curtain rod to dry, and then wrapped it into a skein around my swift.

Kool-Aid Dyed yarn

Still not sure what I will do with the yarn, but it was a fun experiment.

Last Thursday, I went to our Twisted Stitcher’s Meetup  where we had our quarterly yarn swap.  I didn’t take very much in, but I did bring a bunch home.  One was this intriguing DK weight yarn of unknown composition that belonged to someone’s mother.  I had no good way of knowing how much was there, so I decided I would knit a shrug.  I swatched some fancier lace patterns, but they got lost in the coloring of the yarn, so I ended up choosing a simple eyelet pattern from the Barbara Walker Treasury, book 1.  It is Quatrefoil Eyelet (pg 171) and I used the Lace Rib (pg 48) pattern for the edging.  I used standard raglan shaping  ( knit in front and back on either side of stitch marker on every knit row).

I haven’t blocked it yet, but I’m afraid it is going to grow.  I probably should have separated the sleeves earlier, but it looks okay right now.  I will post new pictures after I block it, but I couldn’t help wearing it today.  It was 67 and beautiful outside, so Scott took these pictures.

Swap Yarn Shrug

Swap Shrug, Back

Without posting about the project I’ve been working on as a gift for a friend, I think this about catches up my fiber endeavors.

Purse Pictures

Just got the pictures from my parents of the purse I sent for Mom’s birthday.

Knit beaded purse

Knit, beaded purse detail

Purse is from a Swallow Hill Creations kit called Lissa that I purchased at Stitches East.

I used 000 circular needles from Hiya Hiya with Perle cotton size 8 and seed beads. The large bead is hematite that I purchased separately to hold down the point that was one of the flap options but not pictured on the kit. I used half of the beads given, but I don’t think I will be using the extras to make a second purse.

Happy Birthday!

Whew, another frenzied gift making time nearly wrapped up. I’ve been out of touch but definitely busy making gifts for a string of birthdays at the end of February and beginning of March.

Today is my brother Brian’s birthday and he got his gift on Friday.

Bender Bending Rodriguez

It was Bender Bending Rodriguez crocheted from the pattern here. He’s in worsted weight yarn, so he is roughly 22″ tall, rather than the 13″ that the pattern author got in DK weight. Big enough he can hold his own beer. 🙂 I sewed a small round “pillow” out of scrap fabric that i filled with poly pellets for his bottom. I’ve had trouble in the past with the pellets falling out of the crochet holes, so I figured this was the safest approach. There are no poly pellets in his feet or hands.

I’ve also fallen head over heels for Shrinky Dinks (plastic that shrinks to 1/3 of it’s original size with 9 times the thickness) and made this card with a magnet on front by tracing a screenshot from Futurama onto a sheet of Ruff n Ready Shrinky Dink that I purchased at Michaels.  I played with pre-printed Shrinky Dinks as a kid, but only recently sought them out for general crafting.

Shrinky Dink card/magnet

For my Mom’s birthday on February 27th, I knit a small purse from a kit (called Lissa) I purchased at Stitches in Baltimore from Swallow Hill Creations. Stringing the beads and knitting on 000 needles probably make this a one of a kind project. Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures of the purse and the card, so hopefully I can update you with a picture from my folks.

For Scott’s Grandma’s birthday on the 24th, I made a little melon ball kitty from mercerized fingering wt. cotton from this pattern, and free-styled a cupcake container. I also made a Shrinky Dink card.

Littlest kitty Shrinky Dink birthday card

The first birthday was my Aunt Carolyn’s on the 21st. and she got a melon ball kitty named Whimsy in his cupcake house. This was based on the idea that everyone needs a little whimsy on their birthday. He has a Shrinky Dink name tag.

Whimsy and his cupcake house

I’m also working on a sweater for Scott out of Cascade 220. I’m hoping to get it done before it is too warm for wool, but since I’m working without a pattern, it could be a trick.

At the prospect of winding all the yarn I would need for his sweater, I decided to invest in a yarn swift and ball winder. In addition to being fun, it has already saved tons of time that I would have spent winding balls by hand. As you can see it doesn’t clamp on every table, but I managed to find a place to use it. 🙂

Swift and Winder

I haven’t been very good at writing a narrative and I do hope to improve, but in the mean time, I do have lots of pictures. 😛

I have not forgotten the improved knitting bag sewing instructions, but the day I was working on that, I was called by a recruiter for an interview and things have been crazy ever since. I hope to have some time in the upcoming week to get that finished and posted.

Happy Valentine’s day!

These little guys were the February project for a “Project of the Month” group on Ravelry.

The pattern is from the Mochimochiland blog found here.

Fun to knit, but not so fun to sew, I modified the pattern to knit it the round to the V.
Mods as follows:

Requires 4 or 5 dpns

CO 8 stitches, divide evenly between 2 needles.
Start knitting in round.
R1: *K1, knit front and back of stitch(Kfb), knit back and front of stitch(Kbf), K1*, twice.
R2:Knit.
R3: *K1, kfb, knit to last 2 stitches, kbf, K1*, twice.
R4: knit
Repeat rounds 3, 4 until there are 16 stitches on each needle.

Beginning of next round:

K1, K2tog, k5, turn.
P2tog, P2, P2tog, P1, turn.
bind off these 5 stitches. Cut long tail (~1 yd or more) and pull through last stitch.
Weave tail down to bottom of V.
K5, K2tog, K1, (on next needle:) K1, K2tog, K5. Turn.
P2tog, P2, P2tog, P1, : P1. P2tog, P2, P2tog. Turn. (you’re working on the needle furthest from you or you have all stitches on one needle)
Bind off 10 stitches and pull tail through last stitch.
Weave tail down to bottom of V.
K5, K2tog, K1, turn
P1. P2tog, P2, P2tog, turn.
bind off last 5 stitches.
sew up bottom point, stuff and mattress stitch the top closed.