Wednesday, December 9, 2009
So what's new, you ask? I'm moving! I'm closing the shop in Annapolis, putting my house on the market, and moving to Florida to be near my sister & her family. I've been completely obsessed with preparing the shop for the pre-holiday madness, preparing for the new shop and somehow trying to get my house neat and tidy so some kind soul will want to buy it!
Knitting? What knitting? I did finish the Hello Kitty hat, and am halfway through the Imperial Storm Troopers hat. Pix soon.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Shannon's hat is going to be the Hello Kitty Hat and hopefully she is going to love it. I seem to have a big problem trusting that knitting designers know what they are talking about, when they say to only cast on 76 stitches for a child's hat. Being me, I cast on 87 instead. And guess what? Its too big!!! Its even too big for me. I am, seriously, rolling on the couch laughing as I think about what a dope I am to not follow the directions. I mean really, what are they there for???
I am already halfway through the decreases, so you know the light is at the end of the tunnel. Once I determined that it was going to be too big for a five-year old head, I thought how much I would hate to frog it. Ok, its just a simple acrylic hat in stockingette, but still, that was a few hours work.
(Isn't my fall teapot cute? Its not a very large teapot so the hat probably appears even larger than it really is. My teapot is holding my caramel candy corn at the moment. Yumm! But ... I digress.)
Anyhow, I was thinking about how sad it would be to frog the hat, and then I thought, "duh - finish it and give it to charity." It was a total lightbulb moment for me! So that's my plan. I'm going spend maybe another 30 minutes and then find some place to donate it. That makes my heart happy. The next time I think I might frog something, I am going to try really hard to remember this is an option!
Saturday, October 17, 2009
I have been eyeing the Star Crossed Slouchy Beret pattern for some time now, but kept finding other projects to cast on. The temperature dropped down to 40 degrees during the day this week, and its been drizzling non-stop and I really wanted to wear a hat! What else could I do but cast on for a pretty pink one with my MMMMMMalabrigo worsted in Cactus Flower?
I love the pattern - the cables are graceful and each row is easy to memorize. The hat works up so quickly, I think it would make a great last minute project a night or two before you really need to be gift-giving. I used size 10.5 needles on the band to get started, and then switched to size 11 so I don't have exactly the same proportions. The pattern called for size 10 and then size 11. I finished it at work today, and will probably wear it home and then block it later. My Buddha at work graciously agreed to model for me - at the moment I look like a giant pink headed mushroom wearing it! I think I messed up some of the cables, but I can't really tell. These photos don't do justice to the color either - it is beautiful!
This is the first time I've used Malabrigo before, and oh my gosh, it's so soft and lovely. I have done two projects in different alpaca yarns, but this feels even softer. I really wish I had started knitting a long time before my mom was diagnosed - all I ever knitted for her was a scarf out of Homespun. She loved it though, and wore it daily. I wish I could have made her a whole wardrobe of Malabrigo hats. And maybe pajamas too - it is so soft, and the weather is so yucky here today that the thought of pj's made from Malabrigo is just heavenly. Ooh - maybe long underwear?!?!?!
So, two thumbs up on this Finished Object - I knitted it to completion in a little over 48 hours. Yay. I'm not sure what I will do with the left-overs. Perhaps a coordinating cowl?
AND GO SCHEDULE YOUR MAMMOGRAM OR DO A SELF-EXAM! Please. It can save your life.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
I have an hour commute in the car to my little shop, so I have started listening to podcasts, specifically knitting podcasts. After a little research, I discovered a couple podcasts that I am really enjoying. First there is Cast On with Brenda Dayne. Her story is quite interesting - she's an American living in Wales. In addition to discussing her knitting projects, she tells charming tales of her community and even such mundane things as the weather in Wales seems a little more romantic than the weather here in the Mid-Atlantic. Her website, blog and podcast can be found at Cast On. She's taking a little break from the podcasts at the moment, but old episodes are so worth a listen. I love how she produces a series all based on the same theme. I especially enjoyed the Make Do and Mend series, beginning here. The current economy has us all tightening our belts, and spending more wisely, and its a natural extension to be more careful in our crafting or to craft new uses for items rather than spending on something new.
Another podcast I have enjoyed is Never Not Knitting (what a great name!) with Alana. She has a blog here, with links to her podcast episodes, some beautiful children's patterns and lots of interesting knitterly things to pass along. She does a product review which I appreciate - its always helpful to get someone's honest perspective on something, isn't it? Listening to a few of her podcasts recently helped me get through a day of cleaning in preparation for house guests. It was nice to be in the world of knitting in my head, while busy vacuuming and tidying up.
Both of these are available through ITunes. Just type in knitting in a search of their podcasts, and a whole list pops up for you. I have downloaded some others as well, but these two are my current favorites. Grab an easy project, and have a listen!
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
I've finished a Harry Potter House Hat - in Gryffindor colors of course. I originally started a House Scarf in hopes that I could wear it to the Half Blood Prince movie, but it was taking way too long, and I was frustrated with the color changes (one edge of the scarf is not very neat as you change colors). I frogged it, and started the hat instead. Took considerably less time, and although it is a wee bit too long for my head, I'm quite happy with it. No errors! This one is more burgundy & gold, than scarlet and gold, so it'll make a nice hat if I get to go to any Redskins football games in late fall. I may knit the scarf at some point - I loved the quidditch scenes where everyone was wearing them.
I also frogged a shrug I have been working on for a little while. It was about half finished, but I am not crazy about the way the colors were turning out, and I was sure I'd never wear it. Life is too short to waste time completing a project, if your heart isn't really in it, isn't it? I'll return to the pattern with a different yarn choice at some point, and return to the yard with a different pattern. I have also been working on two gift scarves, which I aim to finish by the end of July. Of course, the recipients won't need them for several months but I'd like to get them off my plate, so to speak, and get on with something new!
Next up on the needles will be Hermione's Cable and Eyelet Hat from JL Yarnworks. After seeing the Half Blood Prince movie, I must, Must, MUST make one! A big thanks to JL Yarnworks for sharing! I loved the movie - all in all, I think they did a great job. Its never easy to condense a book that size into a mere two and a half hour experience. The best part from the knitting perspective, was of course when Dumbledore came out with the knitting magazine and said "I do love knitting patterns." The best! There was a nice range of knitted items to think about - I loved Hermione's sweater with the two different stripe patterns on each sleeve. Unique!
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Instead, I will share my glorious hydrangea - I just love the large deep green leaves on hydrangea plants in contrast with the gentle pink of the blossoms. I have never tried changing the pH of the soil to get blue or true hydrangea colored blooms. I'm just happy with what I get naturally.
My garden fairy with a normally beautiful hosta that is now being eaten by something evil. Anyone have advice on helping it? Yes, when you own a garden decor shop, you can have beautiful things in your garden! Isn't she lovely? I've named her Ophelia.
And the grass, yes, grass growing in my birdfeeder. Apparently when you go away on vacation and it rains a whole lot, the seed mix sprouts its own garden goodness. I have cleaned it out now, but I haven't seen my cardinal couple in a few days. I hope they forgive me and come back soon!
My shop has been very busy with the 'social media' lately - I set up a Facebook page and I've been Twittering like a madwoman. In an effort to get more attention on Facebook, I have another giveaway going on now through Sat. June 20. Either be our friend on Facebook or leave a message on our blog and tell us something about butterflies. I'm giving away a 'Create a Butterfly Garden' Gift Pack - a butterfly feeder with a starter pack of nectar crystals (they like the same sugar water as hummingbirds), a great little book called Creating a Butterfly Garden by Marcus Schneck, and a jumbo pack of seeds that has about 14 different flowers that butterflies like to visit. The seed pack has enough seeds to cover 45 square feet.
Yes, I am trying to buy new friends on Facebook with the chance to win a prize, but you can also enter to win (or enter twice!) by leaving a comment on our blog, so the Facebook thing isn't strictly necessary.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Skipping forward to the present, I have a friend who grew up in Detroit and is an impressively fierce fan of all Detroit professional sports teams. He and I often bet on who's hometown hockey or football team will make it farther during a season, or who will score the most points etc. We've also done fantasy football against each other. (I am quite proud to admit that my football prowess won me the Fantasy Football Super Bowl title one year, in a league with 9 guys. Yup. Got their butts kicked by a girl!) Anyhow, I owed him a trophy of some sort for some bet or other, and decided to make him something. I found a neat website where you can upload a graphic and it will give you a grid in return, making for an easy-peasy knit / purl pattern.
So here we have the Detroit Lions NFL Mascot cloth. I have yet to write up the pattern, but if anyone is interested, send me a message and I'll make a concerted effort to put it on paper. I altered it a bit from what the graphics program gave me, and have ideas on how to make it a little more defined after seeing the finished product. This was just the basic Sugar & Cream cotton in Cornflower Blue. Go Lions!
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
How can I amuse you? Let me see - how about the preemie pumpkin hat? Hats this size are fairly quick to make, and I am hoping it looks as sweet as I think it does. This is the Seamless Preemie and Newborn Pumpkin Hat that I found on Ravelry (big surprise there) by Cathy Gilroy. I love, love, love the way she has crafted the decreases at the top - they make a lovely shape - see them in the second photo. I've done two now.
[caption id="attachment_118" align="aligncenter" width="183" caption="Preemie Pumpkin Hat"][/caption]
This is going to be part of the group of hats I send along to the Helping Kids at Hopkins Group on Ravelry. If you're a Raveler, check out the Brag and Vote discussion thread to see some really cute hats!
Ok, back to work for me. Check out my shop blog and register to win an excellent gardening tool - leave me a comment before April 25!
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Another lovely quick project! I really enjoy doing small pieces like cowls - this one is called The Darkside Cowl, its by Sarah Fama, and I found it on Ravelry. (All roads no longer lead to Rome - they lead to Ravelry!!!) I used some pea green yarn that was given to me by a former knitter (she overdosed on scarves for Christmas gifts one year and & has sworn off knitting for a while. She very sweetly passed along her leftovers to me.) I think its acrylic, but I might be wrong. Its very stretchy, which I guess makes it good for a cowl so it will stretch over the head easily.
Anyhoo, I love this pattern - its easy to follow and things keep changing so it stays interesting. Not to mention, it makes for a lovely finished object! I think next to cables, anything that resembles basketweave is my second favorite thing to knit.
[caption id="attachment_111" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="the Darkside Cowl in algae green"][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_112" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="totally scrunchable!"][/caption]
And speaking of basketweave, I have started a new scarf in a gorgeous deep forest green, in alpaca. I officially adore alpaca - this is Misti International Misti Alpaca Chunky and it is the softest yarn I have ever used. It reminds me of the satin bindings on my blanket when I was a little girl - the ones I rubbed so hard they wore out. How I loved that satin binding. There is just something terribly comforting about rubbing something soft on your cheek. This pattern is Basketweave Scarf by Ann Budd, also available here from Knitting Daily. I really like how the sides undulate with the basketweave, and its an easy pattern to follow. Its good for semi-short-term knitting too, since the repeat is only 18 rows. I think I am doing this for a friend of mine who wanted a soft scarf to wear with his topcoat, but I just might keep it for myself. It would be a nice color for a Michigan State Spartan's fan, but he might not be so lucky! I'd made him a cabled scarf out of some Noro wool/silk two years ago, but he thinks its too scratchy, so I started this.
[caption id="attachment_113" align="aligncenter" width="257" caption="Super Soft Alpaca Scarf"][/caption]
And I learned that I really need to find a better place to photograph my projects, instead of the dining room table. The chandelier makes huge shadows!
I also finished another berry sweet preemie hat - used the circs this time, so the main portion of the hat went super quickly. Not bothering with a photo, as I don't want to bore you to tears. Also did one that looks like a pumpkin. I am really enjoying the i-cord stems. What a neat trick!
Thursday, March 26, 2009
On the other hand, I have finished unloading the ceramic mushrooms that arrived yesterday, gotten them all pricetagged and displayed, and they are cheering up the shop immensely! Nothing like yellow and red and blue and green and purple and orange (you get the picture) ceramic mushrooms in all shapes and sizes to brighten a girl's day! I don't sell them on the website, since there is such variety and I would hate to have a customer disappointed with a 'sight unseen' purchase, so you can have a glimpse of them here instead ...
[caption id="attachment_108" align="aligncenter" width="250" caption="ceramic mushrooms"][/caption]
As they'd say on Friends, "could they BE any cuter?" Ceramic mushrooms add a great splash of color to your garden, especially under trees or in shady areas where it is hard to add color. These are hand made by JJ Potts in Salt Lake City, Utah and come in five sizes. If I were in the shop trying to buy a few, it would take me an hour to pick them out!
Monday, March 23, 2009
A cardinal couple continues to come and visit, and I'm pretty sure they are the same two birds. The female seems to like the tree that doesn't have any feeders or houses, and I am wondering if she might be building a nest in there somewhere. There was also a chickadee checking out one of my birdhouses yesterday. I wonder how close birds are willing to have a nest to another nest. I need to do some research on that, and luckily I have the resources at my fingertips! I just ordered a new book by Sally Roth, called Backyard Bird Secrets for Every Season, and I am really looking forward to reading it. I need to know, so I can recommend things to customers, right? Wink, wink!
I do like mourning doves. There is something very intriguing about them.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
I make a decent replica on the grill, but I don't grill in my ski coat, so this time of year, I just cooked the beef & veggies in a grill pan on the stove. I used my favorite BBQ sauce - Sensuous Slathering Sauce from Dinosaur BBQ in Syracuse, NY. Its an awesome place - part biker bar, awesome music and of course with BBQ to die for. Their sauces and some refrigerated BBQ entrees are available at Wegmans grocery stores in New York state, and maybe elsewhere, and of course their own website above. If you are ever in Syracuse, you must, MUST go. They also usually have a concession stand at the NY State Fair, so you can taste there too! Their creole potato salad is the best potato dish I've ever tasted.
Here goes the recipe - serves four.
Approximately one pound beef, cubed
1 green pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 onion, cut into 1 inch pieces
16 oz. fresh mushrooms (use them whole on kabobs, or chunk them for the grill pan)
8 oz. cherry or grape tomatoes (or cut up one large beefsteak sized tomato into pieces roughly the same as the other ingredients)
one family sized package of yellow rice
For grilling kabobs - just load up your skewers, brush on BBQ sauce, and grill till the meat is cooked to your liking. Prepare the rice as directed. Using full cherry or grape tomatoes reduces the messy factor, and they don't get mushy as quickly.
For grilling on the stove - use a grill pan or large skillet, on medium heat. Start the beef first, then add the veggies after about 10 minutes. Use a pastry brush to brush on BBQ sauce.
[caption id="attachment_84" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="steamy!"][/caption]
Put the beef & veggies on a cheerful bed of yellow rice and enjoy!
[caption id="attachment_85" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="dig in!"][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_77" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Dragonfly Tube Feeder from Dragonfly Garden"][/caption]
Within minutes, there were chickadees on the tree branches, chirping away. I had scattered some seed on the ground, in order to entice anyone flying by, and was rewarded with a cardinal couple. Mr. and Mrs. came to munch on the seeds all over the ground. Mrs. had a few, and then flew up to sit on the fence post, while Mr. continued to eat. Then I saw him pick up a black sunflower seed, fly up to the fence post where Mrs. was sitting and chirping, and he fed it to her! It was amazing. I have never witnessed such a thing, and I got to see it twice. Didn't get the camera to react quickly enough of course, but that's okay. Here are my new friends ...
After they flew off, I had another visitor. This one had a fluffy tail, a furtive look and was carrying a peanut. I am really enjoying the new camera - this shot was a digital zoom from the original. I love technology!
[caption id="attachment_79" align="aligncenter" width="510" caption="Mr Peanut"][/caption]
All in all, Katie & I had a nice morning sitting out there watching the wildlife come to our backyard. I was tickled to see that the birds would come to the feeder, even with me sitting there, and with the dog sitting there too. I am really hoping to have a nest built in one of my birdhouses, and maybe I can see cardinal babies later this spring. The past few mornings, I have been watching, and have seen chickadees, sparrows, mourning doves and a male and female cardinal. I don't know if it is the same cardinal couple, but I'm hoping it is. The mourning doves took a splash in the birdbath yesterday - its turning into quite the social gathering place!
Monday, March 2, 2009
Since I had a snow day today, I thought it would be a great chance to get in some extra knitting. Bonus! I did a wee bit of cleaning & work for the shop too, but the knitting was the most fun. :)
First there's the Berry Baby Hat from randomstitches ...
[caption id="attachment_63" align="aligncenter" width="448" caption="Wee Berry Hat"][/caption]
And then there is the Lots of Eyelets Preemie Hat from P2Designs. Love it too! Its fun to try new patterns on such tiny pieces - I'd love to borrow this border for something else sometime. The border is not so easy to see in this photo, but its lovely.
[caption id="attachment_64" align="aligncenter" width="448" caption="Eyelet Preemie Hat"][/caption]
Wonderful things come in little packages, and I am hoping that these little hats will keep some little packages warm and toasty during their time at the Children's Hospital.
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Back to the customer- he said she always has a project in the works, and once we started chatting you could tell he was proud of her work. It was actually very sweet. She sounds like my kind of lady!
I suppose there are people out there who think of knitting as an activity for the older generations, but it is for all ages who want to create, and I am glad to have learned. Knitters are all ages - from senior citizens to seniors in high school. I've had teenage girls chat with me about patterns, a little shyly at first, but you can tell they enjoy it too. I think its wonderful that knitting is coming back into vogue and is garnering the respect that any handcraft deserves. I've told lots of knitters about Ravelry, and even met a few who already knew and we chatted about how awesome it is to have such a resource of patterns, expertise and camaraderie right at your fingertips. There is something quite theraputic about following a pattern, and not thinking about the trials and tribulations of the world, and after a while you have something to show for it. A lovely handmade item that you can treasure yourself, or give to someone you love, or just give away to someone in need. What could be better than inexpensive 'me' time that produces an actual useful thing? Although I am not Catholic, I have been chatting with friends about taking time during Lent to reflect, and knitting is a great opportunity for that.
Can you tell I am in a knitting happy place today?
So what's new on my needles? I'm starting a new scarf for my dad, in Brooks Farms Solo - a 100% wool DK weight and it is a joy to knit. Soft and smooth, and hopefully it will turn out as beautifully as I expect it will. I am trying The Prismatic Scarf from Feather and Fan - I can't wait to see how the colors work out. She has alot of lovely patterns on her site - I am looking forward to trying more!
[caption id="attachment_60" align="aligncenter" width="510" caption="Prismatic Beginnings"][/caption]
Monday, February 23, 2009
[caption id="attachment_37" align="aligncenter" width="510" caption="First One Is Done"][/caption]
I've been knitting at the shop when it gets quiet, and I am amused at how many people are interested and politely ask questions. I have met some nice knitters, and told some people about Ravelry. Its such a fun community of knitting knowledge.
I am using Plymouth Yarn's Galway and am really enjoying it. I wanted a yarn he could toss in the wash without worrying about it felting. (Don't I sound like I know what I am talking about? I don't really, but I am learning!)
[caption id="attachment_38" align="aligncenter" width="510" caption="Love those cables!"][/caption]
I told you I'm crazy about cables!
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Is there anything prettier than cables? I am making fingerless gloves for my sister. They were supposed to be to keep her hands warm this winter, but winter is fading fast in her neck of the woods, and I only have one finished. It is just so pretty though that I had to share...
Aren't they lovely? This pattern is Fetching, from Knitty.com. The cables all swirl in one direction on the right wrist, and in the opposite direction on the left wrist. Very demure. I'm using Lion Brand Cotton Ease for easy care. I don't know how they'll stretch or wear, but we'll see. This is a perfect blue for Elizabeth. Looking at the photo though, I seem to have done one cable row, one row too soon. Ergh.
It really is a fabulous pattern - easy to read, and an easy on-the-go project too. I love, love, love this patter, and I am curious to know how many people have knit it. On Ravelry alone, there are 10,371 pairs listed. TEN THOUSAND! How cool is that? Plus several "Fetching-inspired" projects and patterns available too. A big thanks to author Cheryl Niamath for her inspiration, and for sharing!
My photos do not look as crisp as some others I have seen on blogs. I am still learning how to use my new camera, and hopefully things will improve.