Monday, November 30, 2009

Mostly "Mum" Monday

This is a pic from Mom's house in the recent snowstorm. So pretty...

Here is Mom modeling the hat made of wood that we found at the Craft Fair at Phil Long's Expo Center this year. The lady explained it is the expandable wood filler that is used in airplane wings. Hmmmm.....

Mom is modeling one of my secret gift knits after it was assembled this weekend. I think she looks great in it. I hope this hat gets to see lots of great sites this holiday season as it is doing some international traveling.

I hope everyone remembers to celebrate their moms throughout the year.
Love you, Mom!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Felting Friday - Bring In The Clogs!

The last step to the felted clogs is to felt them. We met at the laundromat in Woodland Park for an impromptu lesson on felting.

What you need is a top loading washer, hot water, a lingerie bag to catch all the fuzzies and a little mild detergent (not Woolite). Each washer will do the job differently so you will have to stop the first wash cycle a couple of times to look at the clog to see how it is doing. What you are looking for is no visible lines of knitting. The final product should look like it was NOT knitted.

We even tested some foot forms to measure and fit the clog around for those feet that could not participate in the felting event.

The first time you do this is a little intimidating because you don't want to ruin all the knitting time and yarn cost. The last thing you want to happen is either it will not felt, or it felts into a wadded mass. Neither of those things happened today (thank goodness!)

We also felted a hat from a pattern by Fiber Trends. It turned out really cute and will look great with some knitted flowers on it.

I hope everyone had some fun things to finish this weekend!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Turkey Day!

I am thankful for the time to reflect on all the good things in my life. I am thankful for the ability to provide hearth and home for myself and my precious pussycat boy, Pedro. I am thankful for my folks and friends, near and far. I am thankful for enough yarn and patterns to never be bored or without a project. I am thankful for my blog readers. And, most of all, I am thankful for this great country that we live in, the freedom and the bounty.

I hope everyone has so much to be thankful for that they cannot express it all, just like me.

Yummy Pumpkin Layer Cake

The last thing you should think about doing on the morning of a big holiday feast is to try out a new dessert recipe. Or at least that has been my general rule until now. I found this yummy recipe on Kraft and had to try it.

It was super easy to make and looks like you slaved over it. That is my kind of company dinner dessert recipe. I have added a couple pics from the building of the cake event. And the link to the recipe and video is here.

The cake was yummy! If you want to make it lower fat and sugar you can substitute a lower sugar cake recipe, I used one by Betty Crocker, lowfat cream cheese, and nonfat whipped topping. The cake was light and not too sweet which was wonderful after all the other yummy things we had for dinner.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving meal!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Turkey Day Prep (and knitting)

This is the secret knit to date. Ssssh, don't tell anyone. I am really enjoying this knit. I will be interested to see how it turns out after it is soaked and hand-patted into place. The instructions say do not block with pins. I guess that is to not stretch it out of shape.

Once I get it to that stage I will take some more pics. And will expect pictures from recipient when opened. Notice my fun little penguins cavorting on the ends of the dpns. These are for sale in my Etsy shop and I am going to be running a Holiday sale soon, buy one pair get a pair of smiley dpn holders free. If you visit the shop before I get the announcement up just mention you read it at my blog and I will honor it early.

Tonight I will be in the kitchen doing my part for the family dinner tomorrow. I am baking the triple berry pie that my mother loves (she is baking and bringing the pumpkin ones) and a pumpkin layer cake that is a first time recipe for me. I will be sure to take pictures and blog the results. And if the recipe for the cake is to die for I will post the source as well.

I hope everyone is getting ready to gather with their loved ones and express their gratitude for all the wonderful things in their life. I know I am.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Mostly Wordless Monday

Too much knitting and not enough time to blog, or think of anything worthwile to say, so today I bring you some pictures:

Some knitters I know have other talents, like making dolls. Isn't she pretty?

And, my partner in crime, has found new ways to play with his scratching curl. However, you cannot see him when he is doing this, because he thinks he is invisible.

Happy Monday to All!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pre-Thanksgiving Flurry

This weekend is all about getting ready for the upcoming holiday. I learned a long time ago that there is no fun in shopping for the Thanksgiving meal components the night before.

This morning I hustled out to the grocery store and bought the items I needed to prepare that I will be taking to family dinner on Thursday. I found lots of sales this year which is good. I will be doing the veggie portion of the meal and baking the pie that Mom wants to make but not transport 45 miles down the mountain. My house will smell so good on Wednesday night.

And I spent the rest of the day knitting, comfortable in the knowledge that on Wednesday evening, after work, I came come straight home and start cooking without a visit to the wildly crowded grocery store - priceless.

Note: best picture I could add was one of Pedro outside after our latest snowfall, digging in the snow. He likes it for about 15 minutes then his paws get cold. Maybe I should knit him some felted kitty booties...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Sign of the Season

So far this is my favorite decorations for the holidays: Flamingos - 'nuff said.

This flower shop is on my way to work each morning and usually there are the geese and flamingos outside year-round. By September the scene begins to change and they add black flamingos with glow-in-the-dark skeletons for Halloween.

This is the first year I have seen the Pilgrim and Santa motifs. I love them. To me they say: Red Alert! Holidays Are On The Way!

I hope everyone has found signs of the season in their world.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What I Knit To - This Week

This was a quiet week in the watching arena. Mostly I watched episodes from Season One of Bones.

I did mix it up with viewings from my personal shelf, Cheaper by the Dozen 2 - did you know the young man who is playing the werewolf role in the new Twilight installment - New Moon, Taylor Lautner, played Eliot in CD2 as the first crush/love interest of the tomboy daughter? Very fun to see him in a younger, more innocent role.

I also watched Insomnia, The Perfect Storm, and Nights in Rodanthe. As you can probably tell I have a very eclectic collection.

I hope everyone has fun ways to entertain themselves!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Nearly FO: Some Assembly Required

This visor beanie project is a secret gift so I should not talk about it too much. It is pictured here in its parts, ready to assemble.

I knit it in Cascade 220 Tweed and it is will be embellished with silver buttons. I am trying the addition of a band that covers up the area where the visor is joined to the hat. I saw that idea on a KnitPicks kit and in some ready-made visor beanies. I think it will give it a really nice finish.

The plan is to knit some more of these as gifts for Christmas this year. They do not take that long and I have lots of fun buttons to personalize them with. So look out young and old, this may be your funnest gift this year.

Happy passionate pursuits to all!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Finished Object: You Are A Star - Fair Isle Hat

The Fair Isle hat that I just completed is for a class in January that I am offering to learn how to do the two-handed Fair Isle method touted by Ann of Philosopher's Wool. I taught it to myself when I took a Fair Isle class a couple of years ago and it was being taught in the traditional method.

I really like the ease of keeping your dominate yarn color under control and consistent with the pattern. Along with this sample knit, I designed my own pattern to make the hat have stars on it. And I used a tweedy effect yarn as the background color and a shiny, soft yarn for the stars. It turned out really cute and it will be at the shop for display after Thanksgiving weekend. The other hat pictured, the green and yellow one, will be on display as well and is done with aspen leaves.

My next ideas are to design a snowflake hat that is open at the top so it can be convertible for neck and head warmth and a barnyard of animal shapes to march around a hat for kids (and adults) for the farmer in you.

I hope everyone is finding great ways to pursue their passions!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Progress Report - Pretty Thing

I have finished Pretty Thing and been wearing it with lots of compliments. All the non-knitters I know think it is very clever to warm without scarf tails to drag around and slam in car doors. I have to agree with them.

Cowls have become my favorite thing to wear in winter. One of the reasons is where I do my dayjob likes to keep the office too warm for me to wear turtlenecks, so I wear short sleeve, scoop neck shirts under my suit coat. The cowl effect is something I can wear all day and not be too warm. It is just right, like in Goldilocks.

I plan to knit another of this pattern but this time some more luxurious yarn like cashmere or buffalo. I will see what I have in my stash and get back to you. It may have to be a special Christmas purchase for myself.

I hope everyone is finding fun new ideas for their wardrobe!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Great Beginner Projects

When I caught the knitting bug, I was reading Sue Henry's The Tooth of Time. It is the third installment of the Maxie and Stretch series and in this one they are travelling to Taos to find materials for a ruana. The more this item was described the more I wanted to learn how to knit.

The gist of the book was around weaving and the shop Southwest Weavers but the idea of knitting this traditional Celtic shawl was too much for me to resist.

I ran out to the local craft shop and bought a Lion Brand beginner knit kit, called my mother for pointers and looked up some information online. There has been no turning back.

Truth be told, I finally own the pattern for the ruana however I have not knit it for myself yet. But I have knit lots of things that maybe, as a beginner, I was testing my boundaries, like socks only eight weeks into my adventure. No one had told me that socks should be difficult or for more advanced knitters. I was just like a sponge and soaked up anything I could find about knitting techniques.

I tried all kinds of projects the first year to find my favorite things. So far these include hats, socks, handwarmers, felted clogs, cowls, scarves, and any version of adding texture to the knit fabric.

One of my favorite things I knit early on was blocks for an afghan that lays over my couch in a kitty theme for my favorite boy, Pedro. I found different textures that created designs in kitties, hearts and even an alien. It was a fast project with lots of learning involved about what it takes to create designs.

I believe that anything can be a beginner project if you are open-minded enough to believe that you are capable. I know someone that tells about her first knitting project, it was a cabled vest. Again, no one told her that it should be difficult.

Some tips for anyone who wants to get started: find a knitting magazine and browse through it for something you would like to learn, take a class at a knitting shop - you will find like minded people, google beginning knitting and see what you find, and have a good time learning something new.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What Did I Knit To - This Week

This week I am on Fast Knit. I have two gifts to finish by December 5th and two shop samples to complete and deliver by December 1st. This is not from procrastinating, this is from waiting to buys supplies and deciding what classes I am teaching in January.

So while I knit and design patterns I watched, with one eye of course, the first episode of Mad Men...I don't get it and won't be watching the rest of season 1. Then I continued with episodes of season 1 of Bones. I like that show. It has very interesting information as well as fun dynamics.

And I have done some armchair travelling with the Passport to Europe and Samantha Brown. She is a hoot. This week I have been to: France, Italy, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

I am already dusting off my passport and looking for my acrylic, TSA friendly knitting supplies. Maybe I can carry her camera bag on some of her ventures. Anyone know her email addy?

I hope everyone is having a great week doing things that they love!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day

I urge you to say Thank You! to a soldier today, no matter if they are a veteran or currently on active duty. Consider this: without them where would we be?
Thank you one and all!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Weekend Update: Holiday Gift Knitting - Ready, Set, Go

Yesterday Mom and I braved the crowds to attend the annual Holiday Gift Festival at Phil Long Expo Center. The place was mobbed but we were lucky and found a parking spot nearby and managed to get in. I noticed that the hall was only 2/3 full of vendors which must be a sign of the economy. It looked like folks were shopping which was good. There was lots of things to see and folks to talk to.

I took a couple "illegal" pictures while I was there. (no signs were posted telling anyone that pictures were not allowed but one of the vendors was sure to tell me) The flamingo balloon hat was the best thing I saw all day and could not help myself. The gal is also wearing a shirt with a flamingo theme on it and shared with us that her bathroom is done in hot pink and flamingos. I like the way she thinks.

We also got to see the mini airshow that happens here every weekend they have a home game at the Air Force Academy. This weekend was the big game against Army and included F-16s and two B2 bombers, plus the Golden Knights jump team. It was fun to see all the activity in the skies.

We even had time to shop for yarn so Mom can start a beaded head wrap pattern, part of her holiday gift knitting, that she has been wanting to try for a while, and then found the matching beads at the Bead Gallery.

I had time this weekend to clean my desk and table area, reorganize my holiday project list and get a Fair Isle hat sample designed and the first sample almost completed for a class. I have a couple fast knits to do for gifts so they can get in the mail and have the patterns and tools lined up, just have to find the yarn this week in the requested color. I think I made some good progress this weekend. I hope everyone had a fabulous weekend!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

String Theory and the Benefit of Stash

This past week I spent in a fog about my knitting. I had finished all the projects that were on my list and came to a standstill. I know that seems impossible but I was stymied for what to start next. I ran through all the ideas and with the holidays coming on you would have thought the date on the calendar would be enough pressure all on its own.

The deadline pressure finally won out and I gathered up the stuff to begin the special gift for my sister in law that has to be mailed to Germany in 3 1/2 weeks. Nothing like a deadline to get me moving.

With this going on I discovered that I do have a method to my madness that correlates into what I am calling my String Theory. It goes something like this. If I have the materials readily available I will always have a knitting project in the wings. It does take some organization on my part. I keep a binder with the patterns that I am most interested in knitting in the very near future, and plenty of other patterns to look through if necessary. When I buy yarn it is for a particular pattern, so when I get it home I package it in a ziplock bag with a copy of the pattern and any notes about tools that I will need, and a notepaper with the name of the project so I can quickly shuffle through the bags and know what is waiting for me to cast on. These bags go in a plastic tub that sits in a readily accessible place.

I find there are benefits to this method when the holidays are approaching rapidly. Last year I was further ahead with my gifts because of Ravelympics, however this year I have created a lot of samples for the shop where I teach. So I have been knitting just not for gift giving.

I will admit that there are some WIP's that got set aside because other things took precedence. Some of them are samples for future classes and others are things that I wanted to make for myself and have not gotten back to.

The benefit is that I always have something to work on. I do not have to run out to find a pattern and the materials to knit something. That is like having more money in the bank. I hope everyone has plenty of stash to keep them energized about the things that they love. :-)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Gosh Yarn It - A Review

Free Fingers by Nina Wexler was recently touted on Daily Candy. Nina, a breast cancer survivor, got through her various treatments by knitting, lots of knitting. While she was doing this she struck upon an idea to raise awareness and money with her knitted handwarmers.

Currently she has sponsors that supply yarn and needles to she and her volunteers. The handwarmer mitts that they produce are sold through Blue and Cream online with 100% of the proceeds go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

It was heartwarming to see how one person was inspired to create something that would help others while she herself was in need of help. I hope all of us can aspire to do that in our own way, in our own corner of the world.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Progress Report: Fair Isle and Pretty Thing

Pretty Thing has come in the house and will be on the finishing list for this weekend. It has been a car project for two weeks or more now and I need to finish it to see what it will look like after it is blocked and how it will fit.

It is a very nice knit and I think I want to make a couple for gifts this year. Better get this one done and off the needles.

The other knit I have been working on this week is the Fair Isle Hat that I started with my student last week. I have discovered that I tend to knit tighter as I get more comfortable with the two-handed method. So I will be trying the next hat on one size up on needles to see what size hat that will get me.

One downside of Fair Isle knitting that I find is that to determine your gauge you have to knit a sample in the round, so the hat I am finishing right now is really my gauge swatch. That is a lot of knitting to find out that I am knitting tighter than I usually do. The upside is, there is always someone who needs a hat to wear.

The two-handed method that I mention is from the Philosopher's Wool DVD and mentioned in their book that is pictured with the hat. I taught myself the method over another hat project that I blogged about in February 2007.

I really like the technique and find that it makes a lovely fabric where woven dominates the scene in this stranded knitting technique. The floats are found in the two-color ribbing and, because they are consistent through the ribbing, look planned versus you missed weaving them.

My favorite part of the hat is the two-color long tail cast on. It is the one thing I had to practice over and over again to really get the hang of it, but the result is worth it. My next Fair Isle project is going to be the We Call Them Pirates Hat from Hello Yarn. It was the pattern that got me interested in learning Fair Isle.

I hope everyone is making progress on their best-loved projects. Happy Friday!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

National Friendship Week

I want to wish all my favorite people a very special Happy National Friendship Week!

You know who you are and I appreciate you each and every day.

All my best wishes go to you.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What Did I Knit To - This Week

This week I finished watching the last of the spooky movies in my collection. Netflix offered me Easy Virtue with Colin Firth and Jessica Biel - great little Brit flavor movie done in 2008. Kirstin Scott Thomas plays the perfect frustrated wife, mother, matriarch and Fast and Furious, the third version, reunites Vin Diesel and Paul Walker in another wild ride. The part with the tunnels at the US/Mexico border makes you gasp and wonder.

I am still listening to Inkspell. This is a great sequel to Inkheart and Brendan Fraser is am amazing reader.

While I am entertaining myself with movies and audio books I am knitting on Pretty Thing in the car and working on my Fair Isle hat with aspen leaves. I think I will be using this one as a shop sample and offering the class in January. I am really doing well with the two-handed method and enjoy how it flows on the needles. I did have to switch to Susan Bates Quicksilver circulars. I started the hat on my Denise needles and because the 16-inch circular cable combo actually equals about 17.5 inches it made the knitting much more difficult.

I am looking forward to finishing this one and I am considering starting the pirate hat that got me interested in Fair Isle in the first place. I will keep you posted.

I hope everyone has a great week pursuing their favorite things!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

November Days to Celebrate

November starts off with a bang and musical celebration of Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos). I even sent a card out to my folks complete with dancing mariachi skeletons. It was lots of fun.

Quickly follow National Devil Eggs Day and Daniel Boone's birthday on the 2nd. We celebrate all of our brave servicepeople on November 11th with Veteran's Day.

Next up is Marooned Without a Compass Day and Button Day on the 16th, followed by World Peace Day and my mom's birthday November 17th.

Plan to kick up your heels and do si do on the 20th when we celebrate Square Dance Day. And when you are tuckered out you can begin plans for November 22nd when you can Start Your Own Country Day.

Then we can celebrate all that we are grateful for on Thanksgiving, slated this year for November 26th.

To round off the celebrations are ones that are celebrated all month, Apple and Vegan Month. Then plan to celebrate the 2nd week of November with the Pursuit of Happiness Week and Random Acts of Kindness Week.

No matter what you choose to celebrate this month, do it with abandoment and joy!