Wednesday, January 28, 2009

New Toy

While still feeling confident after conquering my first pair of socks, I have decided to start on a project that I have been wanting to make pretty much since I first started knitting. I'm certainly not the only one, Ravelry has 9753 project listings for the Clapotis (from Knitty). This scarf/shawl has lots of stitches that I have never used, increases and dropped stitches. It is also started at a corner instead of an edge. I think it will be just the right challenge. Between and my mom I'm sure I can figure out the stitches, I just hope it's as easy as everyone says it is once you get started. Which brings me to what I did today! I got to break out my new yarn winder that my mom got me for Christmas. This is the same little winder that is used at the yarn shop where I have sock guild and is lots of fun. There is something very satisfying about taking a twisted skein of yarn and turning it into a nice neat ball ready to be knit.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Socks! Woohoo!

(please disregard my goose bumps, it was quite chilly this morning)

I feel as if I have finally made great progress on my knitting journey, I finished my first pair of socks! Now, I was impressed with myself when I whipped up Jay's hat for Christmas, but I am really a bit too excited about this whole sock thing. It is strangely satisfying even though people keep asking me "why don't you just go buy a pair of socks?". At least if modern industry completely melts down I know for sure that my family will continue to have warm feet. These socks were just a basic pattern provided by my local yarn shop at sock knitting lessons and they are knit with Sheep Shop Yarn Company yarn in sheep number three color G152. They actually have quite a few free patterns on their site I just discovered, you have to click on the different yarns (the different sheep) and then they have a button for free patterns using that yarn. Oh, and last night I came across Knitting Pattern Central which lists tons of free patterns from all over the web and I also found an awesome Sock-u-lator that if you put in your measurements it gives you a basic pattern for whatever size you need (you can customize how long you want your sock and other stuff). I was looking for child size sock patterns because of course the girls want socks and I have a lot of leftover yarn from these ones. She also has all kinds of other calculators here.

So, lots of beginning knitters say they will never knit socks, I have to admit I kind of scoffed at the idea at one time, but they really are fun. Also, you look really cool using four needles at once. I also just bought a book about how to do two socks at one time on circular needles and am very interested in giving that a try, I think finishing two socks at once would be downright joyous! Socks are also a very portable project. I knit these:

-while watching movies
-at sock guild
-at the bus stop
-on the chaise bird watching with the cats
-while the girls took very long baths
-at Melissa's dinner party (I was cramming for sock lessons the next day)
-at quilt guild
-while driving Jay to work when the squirrels ate his car (well, he drove, I knit)
-in the drivethru line at the bank
and who knows how many other random places.
One row takes me two and a half minutes, so really they are easy to pull out and get a bit done just about anywhere.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Jungle It Up - Phase Two

When we first moved into our current house two years ago, my oldest daughter wanted her new room to have a "jungle vibe" to it. I let her pick her wall color, which of course turned out to be a very vibrant green, and I made some kind of meager efforts at bringing in the jungle feel like letting her have a jungle themed canopy over her bed, some pictures and some animal print bed stuff. Also, Grammy made her a perfect jungle fabric pillowcase. Well, fast-forward two years to me receiving the Hancocks of Paducah catalog a few weeks ago. They were featuring the cutest Laurel Burch jungle animals panel and accent fabrics. Finally some fabrics that actually inspired me to "jungle it up" some more in her room. I sat the child down and really discussed with her if the whole jungle theme was a passing whim or something she was committed too. After her reassurances that she was still all about the jungle look (and reminding me that I had bought zebra fabric to cover her vanity stool and never got around to it) I ordered the fabrics. I have been so pleased with them. I finished up the panel wall hanging last night and got it hung today. I tried to get pictures of all the hot-fix crystals I put on it, but of course they are almost impossible to photograph. Also, it was cloudy and overcast all day while I was trying to get pics and then when I sat down to do this post the sun came streaming out. It was hard to not go take down the wallhanging and retake pics, but in the interest of actually getting a post done today I resisted. Here are some closeups of a few of the great animals (the snake is by far my favorite):
Here is where it now lives (her walls are much greener than the picture conveys, the cloudy light kind of washed them out)...

Phase three will involve finally covering her vanity stool in the zebra fabric I already have, another pillowcase made out of coordinating fabrics to the wall hanging, and I am also going to put the same fabrics in the glass fronts of her drawers on her armoir, they currently just have a kind of generic green fabric behind the glass. Then I think I will be done! Even though some jungley storage cubes to go in those top squares of her bookcase would be cute and help hide clutter, and there are soooo many good tutorials online...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Change I Can Believe In!

Ok, the day's festivities were great fun and wow can our new president deliver a speech, but I have other very important change to talk about here people! Mainly, a new recipe that has forever changed two of my most beloved desserts... brownies and chocolate chip cookies. Did you know that you can actually combine the two?!! I came across this post at Bakerella and have been dreaming about it ever since. Then, after seeing the patriotic cupcake medallions on Crafty Crow I came up with a perfect excuse to make Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownies. Festive occasions always deserve festive desserts in my book (and champagne). Seriously, I don't know if I will ever make the two separately again, they were that good. I highly suggest throwing your new year's resolution out the window and indulging in these as soon as possible!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

This is... the obsessive compulsive thing I do to start off the new year.

Jennifer was all talk at quilt guild last week about getting our "This Is..." weekly meme going again. I had my doubts that she really would because she has been on quite the blog hiatus, but by george she did and wrote about her insane new-year-fridge-cleaning that she undertakes each January. I have to admit, the only time my fridge gets that thorough of a cleaning is if something sticky and disgusting gets spilled down the back wall, and even then I try to ignore it for quite sometime beforehand.

However, each January I do embark on a very thorough nest cleaning and reorganizing. Ahem, my "studio" is always in need of a major revamping after the flurry of holiday activity and thanks to my mother's crafty gifts and gift certificates I often have new stuff that I need to find room for. Well this year I didn't just straighten, I undertook an all-out room reorg. I share my nest with the girls' playroom/craft area in a huge finished bonus room over our garage. Before now all of "my stuff" was sort of in the middle of the room, on the largest wall (I KNOW I have a picture of my area before, but of course I can't find it anywhere, next up organize pictures on hard drive). Now I have rearranged things so that I have a whole corner and really half of the room to myself. Everything is within reach and I even got my rulers hung on the wall, something I've been meaning to do for ages. Jay says that when I wear my pink sweatpants and shirt he can't even find me over in my nook (he says this to pester me, the pink walls drive me crazy but the girls are emphatic that I am never allowed to paint over them. We'll see about that.). Of course by the time I took this picture I was well into my first project of the year, so it isn't so neat anymore, but just being able to see some of the table is quite impressive!

This is the rest of the room... now all over there:

And here is a peak at what I am busy working on... love these Laurel Burch jungle prints. Loved them so much that the 7 year old is getting a new wall hanging for her jungle themed room just for the heck of it.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The first project of the year...

...was not completed by me. And really, my oldest didn't need nearly as much help as I thought she would. We covered the very basic fundamentals of piecing, layering and quilting. I thought I was being super clever by convincing her to put minky on the back so that we didn't have to put any batting in the middle (I thought two layers would be much easier for her to handle for a first quilt) but I forgot that minky is really quite slippery and a little tricky to maneuver. So, I did the sewing around the edge of the quilt before flipping it inside out, but she did all the layout, piecing and quilting. She did learn a fair bit about unstitching and our friend the seam ripper while doing the piecing, and in true meticulous first-child fashion she often ripped and resewed pieces that I thought were fine. We are both very proud of her first creation with her new sewing machine. Now I just have to teach her to be sure to label everything she makes (unlike her often slack mama).

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2008 Completed Projects

Wow, it feels so productive to group everything together! I'm really looking forward to 2009 and all the craft/sewing/knitting possibilities it holds.