Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Japanese Garden Shawl

And here we see a picture of the Japanese Garden Shawl (by Wendy D Johnson) finally blocking. I've been calling this the "two week shawl," because that's about how long it took me. It wasn't so quick because it was super-easy, or small, it was quick because the lace patt was memorable and I had hours of dedicated knitting time when I was flying to and from CampKIP. I didn't do a lot of knitting on it when I was at camp because I was too busy being social and doing other things. But plane rides....those are just made for knitting lace off of a chart. Oh, and if you're wondering what those white blotches are - that's sheets of paper I shoved between the shawl and the blocking squares so that you could actually see the lace pattern in a picture. Does help, doesn't it? And in case it doesn't help enough, below are a couple of additional pictures of the lace (more of the close-up variety) so that you can see both more of the lace pattern and the hand spun yarn that I made it out of.

Now, on to something which has to do with crafting, but not fibre. Strange, I know. Below is a craft project that the finacee has been working on for me for my Steampunk Wonder Woman outfit. What you see in this first picture is a picture of the bracers, the practice, and the raw material.

 This is his practice piece. What you can see in this picture is a bit of the pattern on the raw material. The raw material, by the way, is an old cookie tin that we picked up at Good Will. It's a thin metal with some sort of raised paper overlay - not that we could tell that at the time. The Fiancee - GMan, took some metal snips and cut the bottom out and discarded it. Then he took a portion of it off and tried different ways of putting holes into it. Since we determined that my bracers should be lace-up with leather thongs, there were two things we had to be able to do: Accomodate the width of the thongs and also give them somewhere to lace that wouldn't shred them. That meant grommets. So he worked on the material with a few different tools to find a way to drill the holes without damaging the paper overlay which had the floral pattern. He also had to think of a way that I would be able to wear the bracer without having my arm and wrist be shredded. The solution was to turn down the sharp edges he had cut as well as possible and then cover them over with superglue. Very inventive - but then, that's why I love him!

And here is the final product!
Is this amazing or what?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Weekend Shenanigans - Cooking!

So, I had a fairly action-packed weekend. The Friday Night Potluck was Scottish food and So I Married an Axe Murderer - an early 90s movie starring the very young Mike Meyers. He's so young. It's flipping adorable. The Friday Night Potluck usually means that I end up sleeping in longer than I intend on Saturday - and this weekend was no different.

So, after getting up and grabbing some breakfast at The Breakfast Place, we drove out to Oakland to the theater where G-man's group (brass farthing)  is holding rehearsals for the upcoming Harmony Sweeps Nationals Competition. After that, we stopped by a costume shop where I scored a military outfit (a REAL ONE) for $10 - and then to the hair shop where I got a couple of new hairpieces for upcoming costumes. I'm not making promises, but one of them, which I'm going to use for my Steampunk Wonder Woman, would be perfect for a Deanna Troi costume if I ever could see myself putting on a cat-suit.

Then it was suddenly Sunday and I had to get up for yoga after giving the fiance Easter candy in bed. Everything is better with pink peeps - that is a genuine fact.  After yoga, there was a long coffee and knitting session with my Feff, Jasmin. The outcome? I ended up hitting the store for a few ingredients and then spent the day cooking - mostly to use things I'd already bought but that were going bad too fast to be used in dinners. What did I make? A quiche! What else would I make with a billion of free eggs from the neighbors? What would you have made?

I made one big quiche with asparagus, onions, sun dried tomato sausage, and garlic - and then muffin-sized quiches (the fiance's idea) with asparagus and artichoke hearts.  These are pictured at right, in their pre-egg stage. you can also see the huge bowl of cheese ear-marked for these babies! After they were done, the fiancee and I ate the big one for lunch, for dinner, and probable for dinner again tonight (with salad, of course). The muffin-sized ones were breakfast treats this morning - and probably for the rest of the week.

And then, well, I had a lot of zucchini I thought I'd use, but didn't - and it was getting.....ummm.....not appetizing. I figured, why not make zucchini bread? It can't be that hard, can it? And, besides, I should probably point out that I have been cultivating some zucchini plants from seed since Feb - I think 6 or 8 of them have survived and not been given away. If you've ever had zucchini plants, you know that if they produce, I'm going to be have enough zucchini for a small country.  I'm kind of looking forward to it. I made this loaf from a free recipe online, so I won't be sharing it. But I did have to cut down the sugar -WTF does one loaf of bread need 2.25 cups of sugar for? About 3/4 of a cup did just fine, thank you. And it was super-tasty. I'm going to be taking a few pieces in to work tomorrow for taste tests from co-workers. The rest will probably be gone on or before tomorrow. Good thing I already have the next batch if zucchini grated and ready.

Friday, April 22, 2011

New Neighbors and what's on Spindlina

 So, those of you who have listened to episode 100 of my podcast ( know that I'm very big on community - on making connections with others based on shared interests or other characteristics. Let me talk for a moment about neighbors.

I put "New Neighbors" in the post title - but that may be a little misleading - Smartest Monkey (my future spouse) and I are the new ones to the neighborhood. We ARE the new neighbors. But that doesn't change the fact that all the neighbors in the 'hood are new to me. When we were buying our amazing house (yet to be named), we were warned about having some nosy neighbors and had their house pointed out. These neighbors have since done the following:

  • Given friendly waves and smiles when we see them
  • Introduced themselves when we moved in on Halloween and they were taking their son trick-or-treating
  • Left a welcome present when the house became ours of a card and a nice flowering plant
  • Left homegrown peppers on our doorstep
  • Left us a Christmas card and an assortment of home-made cookies
  • And, yesterday, I came home to this:

Given these events - and that even our one next-door neighbor doesn't really seem to like to interact, I think I'll take the "nosy neighbors" over the others any day. FRESH EGGS - more than a dozen of them - waiting for me after work, for free? Yes, please!

Since we live on a corner, across the street from a nice little elementary school turned park and community center, we only have one next door neighbor and one back yard neighbor. The houses on our street all face the park, like ours does (which I like to take walks in and which cheers me up by seeing kids play in every day with their responsible and engaged parents - but that's another topic). I've noticed that, except for the nice neighbors which are leaving us occasional cards and food, there isn't really a sense of community in our neighborhood, and I want to work on that. I know some people won't care or want to participate, but others might. Since I grew up 4 houses away from my childhood best friend and always had a place to go for help when any disasters came up - I'm a firm believer in knowing your neighbors and who belongs in your neighborhood and who might be coming in to deal drugs, hurt children, or rob houses. Communities should know each other, take care of each other - keep an eye out for each other's kids/pets/homes/emergencies. That's what I want my community to be. So, that's my new goal. I'm going to enlist the present-leaving neighbor and see if she and her family are willing to work on building that community with me - starting with barbeques and potlucks. I want my future children to know the names and phone numbers of thier neighbors and who they can go to if they have a problem. I want my neighbor's children to know they can come to me if they need help someone breaks in, etc. (Can you tell I stumbled upon the aftermath of my house being robbed as a child?)

/end rant

And in AMAZINGLY BEAUTIFUL news, I give you the most recent bat I've been plying from Susan's Kitchen.

Now, I think this may be a little too warm of a pink for me - but it really is fun to spin. It's basically a touch of dark grey with a ton of warm pink and warm pinkish purple. Just like her other bat that I spun which I called my Storm Cloud - this has a neat blend of fibers and a ton of sparkle-appeal. I have two more bats from her left to spin - one is a mix of colors and sparkle that looks like a peach. The other looks like a green apple with dew on it., They are both terribly pretty.  I have to spin more.....quick, someone find me more hours in the day!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Daybreaking My Heart

Alright, so I'm holding a Daybreak knitalong on my podcast (Brass Needles)( which is part of a larger knitalong that came out of CampKIP.  The Daybreak is an amazingly beautiful pattern by the extremely talented Stephen West.  The reason this knitalong came about was that at CampKIP, a number of people has made and were wearing their Daybreaks. A number of us decided we wanted to have our own - and thus a knitalong was born. Mr. West even gave us a discount code for $2 off the pattern (good until the end of April '11 - you can find it by listening to Brass Needles ep 100).

So, diligent knitalonger that I am - I purchased the yarn at CampKIP and then cast on about a week after I got home. The pattern is fairly simple - very straightforward and well written. But that didn't stop me from messing it up. Best mess-up ever:

ME:  *breaks yarn for color A*
FEFF: Why did you break the yarn?
ME: Because I'm done with it. I'm done with the stripes.
FEFF: Done forever?
ME: Yeah - I'm done with the stripes.  *gloats*
FEFF: Really?
MeE Yeah. I'm done with the stripes. I did all of them.  *looks at pattern*
PATT: Do X amount of stripes of each color.
ME: Huh - well......I guess I WILL be weaving in ends on this thing. *looks ruefully at pattern like it might change*

But, well, how could I be upset? Look at how wonderful this little piece of heaven is turning out! But it is (day)breaking my heart to have to do the same amount of stripes again - the rows are only getting longer. And I have to contact the yarn manufacturer (who will remain nameless at this point) - because the yarn is not fully saturated with color - it is not as important with colorways like this - especially in a pattern like this where variegation is a plus. However, this was pretty damn pricey for sock yarn (as in twice as much as I usually pay), so I am unhappy with the quality of the dye job. I shouldn't be able to find undyed parts in the core of the yarn.

This is twice now that I've had the same problem - and that's both in the same month! First it was with the Japanese Garden Shawl pattern by Wendy D. Johnson. It has three charts - and I foolishly assumed that I finish each one and BAM! am done with the shawl. So, after finishing 2, I realized there was a problem, went back and read the pattern, and found that I had to do the chart 4 MORE TIMES. I think this is a basic flaw in my personality - or loose wiring in my brain - or something! I also have the problem that I can't seem to follow recipes for cooking either, which seems pretty similar to me......

 But, you know what, don't worry. After one can be too broken up when they have shoes like this to look forward to wearing tomorrow:

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Knit Vacation :)

So, as some of you may know, I spent the first week of April on a knitting vacation.  Below are some of the images and good times from that vacation. We were in Missouri! The purpose for the time and place of the vacation was an event called Camp KIP (Knit in Public), organized by Jackie, who has a podcast called KIPping it Real.

Image one: the St. Louis arch! You can't get the full majesty from this picture - and for that I apologize. What can I say? It was from the car.

This second image is from a cute bistro in an adorable old part of Missouri where we were having lunch!

This picture was taken in a divine place called Bailey's Chocolate Bar. I decided on a chocolate and pumpkin dessert which came with cinnamon ice cream on the side. Who knew that Missouri was soooo tasty?

This is a picture from the actually knitting camp where I met Roue, one of my favorite podcasters. She's a sweetheart!

And now on to the knitting! This is the Japanese Garden Shawl by Wendy D. Johnson. I started it the day after steamcon and finished it the day after   I got home from the vacation. It was a super-fun knit. And also, the lace was easy enough to do while on the plane and talking to others. Someday I need to block it so the lace is visible.

This is the newest pair of socks for the finacee. They are getting close to done, which is good because otherwise the selfish index for this month is going to off the charts!

At camp we saw a ton of Daybreak shawls (Stephen West aka Westknits design) and fell in love. So, a bunch of us podcaster types decided to have a knitalong. I purchased yarn for my Daybreak while at camp on the day the vendors came onsite. Below is the beginning of my Daybreak.


And, lastly, here is a picture of my poor living room as we ramp up our costume and prop-making for BayCon this year........lord have mercy on our souls

Friday, April 15, 2011


In this photo are the fabulous Ava, Roue (Knitcents), Manda, Amy, Deb, Jasmin (Knitmoregirls) Me!( Brass needles) and Carin (KnitWits)

I have so much to say about CampKIP, but I also have to go tidy up a little for company tonight. Consider this to be your teaser :)

More tonight if I get the chance - or else on Saturday when I record ep 100!

Sunday, April 03, 2011

March Project Round Up!

Well, some of you might be wondering what all I made in March....well, so am I! I will try to capture it here as best I can - and there will even be pictures of some of it (yay!!). Now, I know I haven't been very good at blogging for the past month. There are a couple of reasons. The first one is that I was sick for a couple of weeks. It's been hard to be awake! The second one is that I work a lot. I've got some really great opportunities at work, and I'm trying to grab them! What? You don't care? Ok ok, on to the goodness!

 The projects finished in March:
  • 1 pink woven scarf (short) 
  • 6 pairs of baby booties/some premie (not all had pictures taken before being given away)
  • 1 pair socks (for Smartest Monkey)
  • 1 French Press Cosy (my own design, and out of handspun)
  • 3 huge skiens of maroon 3ply!
 9 total (yarn does not really count as a finished item because it still needs to be spun)
1 project  for me (the scarf - I can't count the french press cosy since I'm not the coffee drinker in the house)
8 projects for others.

Selfish index: 12.5%
Not doing as well as last month - but ok! Baby booties really skew the ratio.

See that? that's 6 premie booties on one circ.Or, you can call it 2 pairs and 2 extra. I finished all of these, plus the mates for the 2 extra and one more half pair.

Here is some more of the Debbie I've been spinning. I think I'm about 4 oz in. Not sure if I'm going to do a 3 or a 4 ply yer. She spins like butter!

Remember that blanket I was making out of scraps of my handspun? Well, it had a little growth spurt last weekend. I added some little balls I did which aren't really fit for a project and also left overs from some other projects. The purple there? It's like IRON. It's my first Navajo Ply.  The hot pink and turquoise? That was my first dying experiment.

Below is the fibre I left the Nova Albion Steampunk Convention with. The middle one is a crown mountain job called "San Francisco Nights" The left one is another crown mountain. The right one is a Purlesence one off.

Because the finacee had noticed that I was having trouble with spindle spinning because of the constant filling up the shaft and having to wind it off, he bought me this beauty.
 See the three interchangeable shafts? Now I can spin onto all three and then ply onto a different spindle or my wheel!

But that won't change the project I'm currently working on. I do this mostly at breakfast while we're waiting for a seat on Saturdays at our favorite cafe.

Next up, what am I weaving? Well, a gorgeous green scarf for the MAID OF SCIENCE for my wedding. She loves the color green, so this was my choice for something that she'd like.

Remember this pink weaving? This is my first Cricket project?

And look, it's done! Here it is with a pair of socks for the finacee.

Gotta love the weaving porn shots.......

But wait, what have I been working on lately? Well, here a bunch of fake flowers that I've hot-glued hair pins too. They are working well. I'm wearing one of the ones I made right now so it isn't featured. I'm starting to veer toward an orange place and that scares me very much.

Last, but not lease, the Japanese garden shawl - this was a pattern that one of my listeners gifted me over on Ravelry. I thought it was so sweet that I grabbed some handspun that I call my "raincloud" and cast on. It's different than most lace I've done in 2 ways:
1. It has some stitches which are purled on the front and knit in the back.
2. It starts on the big side and tapers down instead of starting at the point of the triangle and growing. This seems very cool to me since it means that the closer to done I get, the faster the shawl will go. What a great idea!