Sunday, April 30, 2006

the weekend report

Oh, Claudette! She was so close.

Saturday night we watched a cheesy James Bond movie (Never Say Never Again) and I finished the front of Claudette. She looked great! All I had to do was sew the front & back together, put on some little cap sleeves and my fancy neckline and - voila! I was sure to be wearing her to work on Monday.

Sadly, Monday will come and more than likely I'll be wearing some cute but utterly seen-before thing I got at the clothes swap.

Oh, woe of all woes! Somehow in the transition from ribbing to body, I forgot to change my needles to the bigger size. The whole body of the front was knit on size 3 needles instead of on 5's. Waaaaiiiiillllll!

The front seems to be about 15% smaller than the back overall. HWWLLB suggested I just "sew in a strip," but it just ain't that easy. And so, frog frog frog.

If I were a turbo knitter like Miss Saun, I would have just stayed up til 3 am re-knitting the whole damn thing, and be wearing it to Sunday brunch the next morning. Alack and alas, I sat around moaning instead about my misfortune and stupidity, and then went to bed. Today I ripped half-heartedly, wound yarn-cakes half-heartedly, and knitted 6 or 7 pathetic rows before giving it up completely to work on some socks. Whine!

But the whining stops here, I swear. Some VERY GOOD THINGS happened over the weekend.

Namely, HWWLLB and I went to the eye doctor on Saturday. And behold, these old dogs will never grace my sweetie's visage again:

Not only that, but I got some new glasses, too:

I've always wanted red glasses. Now I'm a grown-up and I can wear whatever G-darn glasses I want to. Hoorah!

Now I know it's Use What You Have month and all, but I went out and bought some stuff to make Mother's Day gifts, and I hereby announce that you may steal my brilliant idea if it amuses you. I bought a mess of silk flowers and pin backs at the craft store, pulled out the hot-glue gun, and made a pile of silk flower brooches. These things are going to keep me well-stocked in birthday and holiday gifts for a long time to come.

They do look pretty garish all lumped together like that, but individually they make classy little pins for your lapel or purse strap. I also made some pretty hair thingies with the smaller flowers. They are going out as secret prizes this week - I hope the recipients like them!

And last but certainly not least, the pride of my week: I reorganized my closet. I even sort of color-arranged it. Not that there's much color in there really. But I did my best. It's still in garment-type groupings, but I've eliminated the system I used to use, where within the category "shirt," the shirts would be grouped according to weight, sleeve length and relative dressiness. Now shirts are all lumped into one big group and sorted by color. I hope it works out... I am terrified that in my usual morning stupor I'll be unable to locate any of my clothes and end up going to work in a scuzzy old rock & roll t-shirt and pyjama/yoga pants (that is strictly a Friday-only ensemble).

By the way, congrats to Paloma, Angelia and Ellia for winning cell phone cozies in last week's anniversary post! I really appreciate everyone's kind words & encouragement.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

100 posts, 3 prizes

Today marks post #100 here on the f.pea blog. Hooray! (Where I am sitting, confetti is falling. You may want to shred some paper and toss it into the air to festivalize the atmosphere where you are).

Rather than reflecting on why this blog exists or the relative meaninglessness of the previous 99 posts, I'm going with a gimmick! To celebrate my unchecked verbosity, I am presenting you, dear long-suffering readers, with a prize. Well, three of you anyway.

The first three of you to leave a comment on this post asking for a prize will receive a felted cell-phone (or i-pod nano) cozy, made by yours truly. All three have great vintage buttons and are 100% wool. Two of them have windows so that you can see your caller ID (or whatever it is that those fancy little i-pod doodads have on the outside). Here they are:

#1 - black with yellow button and caller ID window. the window is on the back side, close to the bottom. taken!

button close-up:

#2 - pink with white floral button; window on the front side taken!

check out the caller ID action:

#3 - black with crystal button; no window taken!

i think this one has the best button:

Make sure to say in your comments which cozy you want, and leave me your email address so that I can get up with you about where to send it. These prizes are first-come, first-served. Good luck! All three cozies have been claimed. Thanks for playing along - pattern coming soon!

For those who don't win a cozy, take heart! I will be posting the pattern on a Free Pattern Friday coming up soon. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


The verdict is in - I can't crochet. Not much, anyway.

But dammit, I am going to learn, and I am going to become a master crocheter of dainty lace edgings so that I can achieve the beautiful vision of the vintage-inspired Claudette cap-sleeve top that was originally intended for Jay's Celebration Challenge and is now simply a quest. A quest that I must fulfill soon!

Despite all my foot-dragging (hand-dragging?), the actual knitting part of this project is almost complete. I really want to put a pretty vintage lacey edging around the neckline of this thing, and crochet seems like the sure way to go. In planning this project, I think I got a little over-confident about my nascient crochet skills after knitting up the Cable-Eight top from last spring's Interweave Knits for my sister's Xmas present. (It's a great project, by the way, and I used & loved the Pakucho organic cotton yarn). Anyway, that pattern involved a little crochet edging on the neckline & armholes, and used crocheted seams. I looked at a crochet book, reflected on rather-blurry childhood memories of crocheting with my aunt, and whipped it up. No problem! I remember boldly telling everyone at Stitch & Bitch how easy crocheting was. Like falling off a log, I probably said.

Apparently the fiber goddesses have increased the difficulty of crocheting since then just to thwart me. Gray La Gran was kind enough to lend me a booklet full of fifty fancy crocheted edgings to help me find one for my project. There are plenty that would look wonderful -- but none that I can do! I pulled Simple Crochet and used the instructions on how to crochet a picot edge to do some practicing. I won't show you my first attempts with the actual project yarn - they were a little, um, discouraging - to say the least.

So I got out some overly-fat practice yarn and tried again. This was the first go:

Somehow I confused 'single crochet' with 'slip stitch' and it came out all misshapen, tight and evil. I got straight on the 'single crochet' thing and tried again, with better results:

a giant oversized section of picot made with giant oversized practice yarn. not quite the vintage-inspired delicate look i'm going for...

So it's coming along. It better come all the way along soon, because I want to actually wear this top this summer! And then once I get my crochet skills in order I will be able to make such useful things as string grocery bags, and contemplate perhaps maybe making one of the killer-sick-cute Camilla Engman animals in the new Happy Hooker book. And by the way, take a look at Gray La Gran's excellent crochet work! I am also loving her little knitted bug.

Monday, April 24, 2006

reptile sightings

Happy Earth Day to all of you out there who don't work for environmental groups! To those of you that do work for environmental groups, have a cold one on me tonight (I'll pay you back later).

I love the earth, I really do, and I want everyone to know how they can do their part by recycling and not using pesticides and riding a bike and not buying so much stuff. But spreading the word can get tiring. April is always such an exhausting month for an enviro, because we go to our normal office jobs Monday through Friday, and then we go "celebrate" Earth Day at community events every weekend.

This weekend I "celebrated" Earth Day by working Sunday at a children's earth day fair about 3 hours away. And it was fun, it really was. Next Sunday I will "celebrate" Earth Day again at a church here in town, while my co-worker hauls it to Fayetteville to "celebrate" out there. We are celebrating our tuchuses off, but the only hangover I have is the hangover of the introvert who has talked cheerfully with too many festival-goers.

Despite all my belly-aching, there were some really good parts of the earth day weekend extravaganza: a huge thunderstorm on Saturday (the real official Earth Day holiday), wildlife sightings, and the crazy dream I had Saturday night.

First, the wildlife sightings: On the way in to the state park where the festival was held, I had to stop so as not to run over a big black rat snake who was sidling down the road. He was about 7 feet long, making big S shapes with his body. Then while we were at the park, HWWLLB saw lots of cute lizards sunning themselves in the woods (I missed them). And then afterwards, we took a country road home, and I had to stop again so as not to run over a huge snapping turtle who was crossing the road. He was all covered in red mud as if he had just emerged from underground hibernation, clacking his giant claws on the street as he crossed, looking utterly unconcerned with us. He was the size of my next-door neighbor's poodle (and I'm sure he would have enjoyed a poodle for lunch).

The crazy dream: First it involved yard sales and swapping, where I met a new friend. My new friend asked me if I would mind taking her dog for a walk that evening while she was away. Naturally, I said yes, and then we took the dog out for a preliminary walk so that I could meet it. Except... it wasn't really a dog. I don't know what the heck it was. It was sort of like a very large bat with a long tail, and it was friendly. As we walked it swooped all around us in the sky, and then she called it over to give us "kisses," which meant that it clung to our necks with its claws (like a bat!) and sniffed our faces all over the way Simon does when I've been eating tuna fish. Yech! It was very strange. The bat/dog also communicated a message to me (I'm not sure how - telepathically?) that it appreciated some public comments I had sent in to the EPA the year before arguing for better protection of endangered bats from toxic pollution. I guess this was a very civically-engaged bat/dog.

So was this an Earth Day dream, brought on by festival fatigue? HWWLLB thinks it was the result of the delicious dinner we had on Saturday night. See, after coming home from the grocery store, he left the fish out on the counter by accident all afternoon. Does unrefridgerated fish cause crazy dreams? Or maybe it was Simon snoring next to my pillow, making snurfling noises like a bat/dog giving kisses. Or maybe the little ladybug temporary tattoo on my hand is infusing me with hallucinogenic toxins.

I'd really like to celebrate Earth Day by becoming a decent crocheter. Then I could crochet those string grocery bags out of torn fabric strips or plastic bags and be an even better enviro. I'll have to post the annals of my pathetic crochet attempts soon. Til then... don't buy anything. It's bad for the earth.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

even the frogs get it


It happens quickly, and it will be ninety degrees before too much longer, but spring in North Carolina is a beautiful, wonderful thing. All over the place the giant piles of pollen, birds singing their hearts out, and squirrels wrassling on tree branches are screaming, "It's spring! Let's reproduce!" And they are doing it. Doing it everywhere you look.

HWWLLB loves spring because he's a flower gardener (he took that pretty picture above). Our backyard is truly lovely this time of year, before the long, blasting hot summer comes and wilts and withers all the living things that right now are busy getting busy. All this nature sex makes me think of that great White Stripes song, Instinct Blues, about all the things in nature that get it (so why don't you?). Of course, you get it. Right?

This year the best thing about spring for me is vegetables. I finally joined a CSA, thanks to the smarts of Miss Billie, and this week we got our first bunch of goodies from Hilltop Farm. To celebrate, I made this giant salad with the romaine, red leaf and red bibb lettuce, radishes and spring onions we got from the farm this week.

For dessert I had a piece of the pecan pie I baked over the weekend with pecans from the tree in our friend's yard. Tomorrow, we feast on pac choi.

Have you heard of CSA? It stands for "Community Supported Agriculture." What it means is that you buy a seasonal share in a local (usually organic) farm, and then get a big box of fresh seasonal produce every week, all throughout the growing season. Here in North Carolina we have a nice long growing season, though the horrible heat of late July/early August sometimes means not much to eat for a little while, but lots of fresh foods most of the year. Here's a list of all the CSA farms you can join in North Carolina.

Next week we'll have strawberries! I can hardly wait to bake a strawberry-rhubarb pie.

Monday, April 17, 2006


Me-ow! Y'all, meet Fluffy. She's the newest sock monster around here. I made her from a pair of knee-highs that I bought on clearance at Old Navy a while back planning to wear myself some time and never did. They look much better on her than they did on me, anyway. Here she is keeping our back door free of unwanted vermin.

Fluffy is an ingratiating little kitty. She's been spending her time trying to snuggle with Simon and Jackie, who are so far somewhat reluctant to accept her into their tribe. I think they may be put off by all the glitter. That hasn't stopped her, though. One reason I think they are annoyed with her is that she won't stop messing with their stuff.

chasing simon's yarn ball

climbing into jackie's hutch.

Simon and Jackie can rest easy, however, because Fluffy won't be around for long. I'm going to be sending her off to my swapping buddy in the Use What You Have "made stuff" swap. Fluffy will be getting her vaccinations soon for a long international flight.

I have lots of sock left over from Fluffy, since she began as a pair of knee-highs, so I'm planning to use these great socks again in comination with a pair of striped socks my sister gave me recently. I like the idea of a striped sock monster wearing a striped sweater.

If you're thinking high fashion (as I obviously am), you know you need to boogie over to Bugheart and check out what's on offer FREE this week on the Great Monday Give-Away.

peace out, y'all.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

she hit the wall

I'll admit that after the exhilirating victory of the Knitting Olympics, I was a little cocky. Maybe a bit full of myself. Maybe a little over-confident.

Jay's Celebration Challenge seemed like a stroll in the park... a knitted garment covering the upper body, with over a month to get it done! Shucks, no problem, I told myself. I can take it.

Well, the deadline has come and gone, and apparently I could not take it. Apparently one big knitting challenge per year is about all I can handle. It wasn't so much the deadline as the focus... just working on one item, to the exclusion of all other knitting projects, is something so challenging that it can only be done once a year, I now realize, as I lay in a crumpled heap on the couch, various craft projects (including the unfinished challenge project) strewn about the room. Above is a shot of the unfinished item in my knittting bag.

The back is done, and the front is, um, coming along... I have every intention of finishing this blouse, as I have every intention of wearing it this spring and summer... just not wearing it to the Celebration Challenge international after-party.

The good news is, during the Challenge time-frame, lots of other things got done instead: a couple of monsters, a bear, some socks for my spoilee Secret Pal, a beer cozy or two, and a secret project I can't tell you about (don't bother trying to pry it out of me - I'll never tell!). I am loving this Use What You Have month, and I think I may extend it through May. My stash is slowy depleting, and my bank account is unusually cushioned this month. Hm... any connection?

Are any of y'all joining the Use What You Have thang in May, or extending the April fun? For May, I'm planning to make a big funky kid's sweater with some amazing bright yellow yarn sent to me by my spoiler Secret Pal. Big collar, giant buttons, exra-long - I can hardly wait to get started on it. Just as soon as I finish the Celebration Challenge project...

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

chocolate anonymous

Ms. Pea is out this week performing her civic duty to the state (jury service). In her place we bring you a much-requested commentary from guest columnist Flems.

I can see that many of my chocoholics in arms, "Hello my name is Flems and I am addicted to chocolate," need the savvy that I have learned through trial and error over the years about how to destroy the evidence after a good chocolate binge.

I cannot guarantee this advice because there are many different kinds of chocolate in the world, from single origin bean to Hershey's syrup. I will try to group all this into three main categories of stain removal: Dark Chocolates -- like the kind you get and leave in your purse or pocket too long; Milk Chocolates -- consumed rather quickly but when melted are drippy; and the all too well known chocolate sundae varitials -- that can be used on ice cream or in naughty places in the dark. Once you have established what kind of chocolate stain this is, there are several ways you can deal with the unwelcome remembrance of a fun dinner or comfort snack left too long in the sunlight.

All chocolates from all groups should NEVER be WASHED and DRYED in THE DRYER! Either kiss your clothes goodbye, or know they are going to have a stain and find a nice flower pin to place on top of the stain (if you dropped the chocolate in your lap -- best not to cover with a flower.) At this point you can go to your local dry cleaner and beg them for mercy -- but many will laugh, shake their heads, give you a little "tisk-tisk," and say they will do what they can. You will receive your clothes back in two days with a little card on the hangar featuring a balding cartoon man with his arms outstretched as if to say, "We're sorry, we did all we could -- you're f&*ed."

First and foremost my pets, chocolate is a greasy bean! That shiny beautiful color comes from the natural oils in the plant. The greasier the chocolate bar, the fresher the chocolate. Therefore, against all you may think, water from your glass at dinner will make things worse! It will spread it out into your fabrics and leave a stain that will hurt you every time you see it because you can't comprehend why on earth that little drop of chocolate could have made such a big stain. Seltzer water, on the other hand, is some magical elixir that has emergent grease fighting powers ... bubbles, salt, water ... I don't know, but if you can't find it ... DON'T USE PLAIN WATER. (side note: Water has harsh chemicals and water hardeners and stuff that will ruin your clothes too ... that's why detergents have water softeners in them.)


75%-100% Silks -- Do not pass go, do not collect $200, and go directly to your local dry cleaner. This means skip the seltzer and let the stain dry where it is. Remember that part about grease? Well this is where you can leave it with confidence and texture will stay the same in your clothes. It will not dry out. I know we all care about mother earth here, but dry cleaners are a necessary evil to keep harmful dry cleaning chemicals away from the hands of teenagers who would otherwise inevitably find a way to get high off these things and force us all to give up red wine, chocolate, and breezy summer silks. We can't have that now can we? These chemicals are not sold on the retail market, and there is nothing that you have at home or in some Mother Jones article for cleaning without chemicals that can work like the dry cleaning stuff can. Enviro-friendly dry cleaners will also use the stuff for spot treatments, so you can take your precious items there and know they are safe for you and future generations.

Wool/Silk Blends -- Delicate and touchy area, because most of them say that the fabric is dry clean only. I made the mistake of reading an article somewhere about how the fashion industry had gone into cahoots with the dry cleaning industry to put "Dry Clean Only" onto all women's clothing and that you could wash pretty much anything. This was not true, and my favorite wool skirt never forgave me for this betrayal of trust, and today hangs solemnly in my closet taunting me to put it on. Needless to say, no amount of steaming, pressing and lord only knows what else will ever put that skirt back into shape, but I can't bring myself to get rid of it. On the other hand, what does hold true is that you can "spot treat" a Dry Clean Only wool/poly/silk blend if the area you are cleaning isn't the size of the whole sleeve. Some people will tell you to soak the stained area. I don't think this works, and it ruins your clothes. If you put a nice cotton hankey, folded into quarters, behind the stain, and take a little seltzer and palmolive dish detergent and work in a circular motion with another cotton hankey, you will start to see results. Working a stain from both angles, front and back, always helps release the stain from the fabric. If you need to let the stain "soak" do so by leaving the cotton hankey behind the stain and the soapy area on the stained part overnight. Also I can't stress enough how important the hankey is to the stain removal equation. It keeps the fabric in shape, water from spreading, and other things like dish towels and paper towels can leave bits and pieces when you scrub too hard, or worse -- another stain.

The first category of Dark chocolates are most definitely going to need a little help from some dishwashing soap, but possibly depending upon quantity, milk chocolates can come out with seltzer and some good hard elbow grease. Cheap syrups like Hershey's have sugar and things in them, which can make them harder to get out. Do not be disappointed if you cannot remove the stain from these items 100%. The dry cleaners can finish it off, or you can yourself with some Dry-el stain remover. I love this stuff. It just got out soy sauce out from my BRAND NEW white jacket that I wore out to dinner with my boyfriend for sushi last night. I was flabbergasted (to be honest though, I had pre-treated with a Shout scrubby stain remover thingie).

Hang to dry and steam the garment back into shape. Wait a few days before you wash it or take it to the dry cleaners thinking that you have removed the stain completely (sometimes stains have a shadow residue that comes out later when the fabric is completely dry). At this point, you will need to take the garment to the dry cleaners for stain treatment. Here's the thing though: they need to know about the stain and you have to point it out to get them to treat it.

I hope all this helps! This information parlays into other food items as well: soy sauce, strawberries, and for those of who consume meats, the detritus that comes from the drunken haze of a perfectly cooked filet mignon.

Happy Stain Removing my friends, and I hope you will consume your chocolates more enthusiastically knowing that only you or your dry cleaner will know you had it -- not your weight watcher's circle.

Flems is a Raleigh-based fashionista who served as Johnny Depp's personal stain-removal consultant on the set of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. She still bears the scars. But hey, you don't see a mark on that burgundy velvet suit, do you?

Monday, April 10, 2006

dinner plus

I made such a yummy dinner tonight that I have to share the recipe with you. But first... look what came in the mail!

Swapped paper thingies, all the way from France! This was my haul from participating in the Sweet Pea paper & ribbon swap. Thanks to Sofia who sent me a wonderful package full of scrapbooking paper, lacy ribbon and vintage postcards. I can't wait to use them!

So here's what I made for dinner: Tasty Sesame Noodles Plus (the plus stands for mushrooms plus asparagus). This is the kind of thing I can only make when HWWLLB isn't around (he's on his way home from a trip tonight). Both asparagus and sesame are apparently morally offensive to him, as are so many vegetables. *sigh* Luckily he's cute. Anyway, this was a simple dinner but muy tasty.

Serves two as a main dish.

You will need:
1/2 lb noodles (whatever kind you like; I used linguine)
1/4 lb shiitake mushrooms
1/2 lb button mushrooms (or whatever kind you have)
1/2 lb fresh asparagus

Sesame Sauce (this sauce is from Anne Jackson's wonderful Heart of the Home cookbook)
4 Tbs. sesame oil
4 Tbs. tamari sauce (soy sauce)
2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
a few dashes of tobasco or hot chile sauce
1 Tsp. brown sugar

Mix up the sauce and put your noodles on to cook.

Slice the mushrooms and throw them into a hot wok with a little oil. Turn the heat up to med-high and stir the mushrooms til they start to sweat. Before too long the mushrooms will be giving off lots of liquid. Keep stirring til the sweating starts to subside (a few minutes). Turn the heat down to medium-low and pour about two tablespoons of the sesame sauce into the pan. Stir well.

Wash and trim your asparagus. You can cut them down to 1/2 inch long pieces if you want to. Once the noodles are finished cooking, dump them into a colander to strain, and then put about an inch of water into the bottom of the same pot, and bring it to a boil. Once it's boiling, put in the asparagus, cover, and steam for about 5 minutes (til tender).

Now stick your noodles, the rest of the sesame sauce, and the steamed asparagus into the wok and mix everything thoroughly. You've got a simple and tasty dinner for two. If you want to serve it to company, you could double it and perhaps add some fried tofu or if you're into this kind of thing, some chicken marinated in the sesame sauce.


I also wanted to respond to all the comments from the last post. For those of you who are dying for the chocolate removal techniques, I'm going to have Flems work up a fuller version and do a guest posting some time soon. Apparently this is a common problem. And thanks to Miz Gray La Gran for the crocheted edgings tip!

By the way... it's Monday, so don't miss out on Bugheart's Great Monday Give-Away. If you're looking for a great new spring vintage wardrobe (and you're a size 6-8), you'll be delighted.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

complaints division

My horoscope did not warn me that this would be the week to not touch anything. Especially don't touch any technological anything! Nothing new, shiny or expensive should pass through these hands, apparently, but the astrologers told me nothing about it. Not even a fortune cookie. Where can I file a complaint?

I'll get on to the story of the messed-up new stuff in a minute, but first, my favorite topic, and yours too, I hope... knitting!

First of all, this bear. As of now the bear remains nameless. It's a slight adaptation of Jess Hutch's free bunny pattern (but with bear ears and a sweater). Pretty cute, huh? So the increases show up as big gaping holes in the knitting, his eyes are two different colors and the nasal embroidery is, well, less than perfect. I think these things all just add character, myself. In the true test of whether a stuffed animal has character: Simon doesn't like it. He gave it a sniff and then ran off during the photo shoot this morning. Character test, passed!

And now, just to prove I've been working on it, the back of my project for Jay's Celebration Challenge. Over the weekend I took advantage of the gorgeous spring weather to sit out in the backyard and finish the back (no, I haven't started the front yet).

the deceptively-simple stitch pattern, close up (from far away it looks hard)

I'm still trying to figure out how to do the vintage lacey neckline. This may be a job for a crochet hook (oh, the humanity!). Does anyone know of a good source for crochet edgings, particularly of the lacy variety? I have very few crochet references around the house.

So really, a crochet hook is the level of technology that daunts me. Computers... that's another dimension of scary. I can use them if they are working properly. If there's something wrong with them, well, I'm scrooged, as my mom would say.

We got some brand spanking new computers at work this week. The new desktops around the office are all fired up and raring to go. My new laptop, however, is back in its box, because either I fried it or it fried itself during the setup procedure last night. People, I had barely gotten past what language it was supposed to talk to me in, when the damn thing went haywire. It was a terrifying nuclear meltdown that left me stupidly facing the silent gray screen with no thought in my head but a glass of red wine.

I turned it off and left it overnight to rest. Thinking it might all have been a bad dream, I came back in this morning determined that I had just thought the wrong thoughts during the setup yesterday and there was really nothing wrong with the machine. But alack, oh woe... the badness came back again with a vengeance during the setup rigamarole. It was horrible, horrible. I don't think I can talk about it anymore.

Meanwhile, my old laptop struggles along, running out of memory for all the demanding tasks I apparently give it to do, like 'save' and 'edit.' I must be such a task-master.

To make matters worse, I got chocolate on my pants yesterday - my new suit pants. I was wearing the beautiful heathered tan wool/silk suit I got from the clearance rack at Banana Republic last week. I knew my bourgie decadence would catch up with me! It's jeans and t-shirts for me from now on while eating. No more snacks while dressed in anything above business-casual!
Thank the goddesses of fashion that Flems is always just an email away. Her sensible chocolate-removal-advice kept me calm in the face of meltdown... get it? chocolate? melt... oh, you got it. Sorry. Speaking of which, I think I have some more of that chocolate right here in my desk! Hooray! Luckily, the packaging isn't too high-tech, otherwise I'd be forced to call in a consultant.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

dispatch from the hump day

Y'all, it has been so weird here lately. There is too much going on, and I can't seem to keep myself healthy for more than a week before another strange bug comes along and knocks me backwards. Hence, very little crafting happening, and not all that much to say...

Luckily I'm not the only crafter around here. So let's take a little tour, shall we?

First stop: MagKnits. Saun has done it again - another great pattern for us, and just in time for the gorgeous spring weather. And the special bonus is a ridiculously cute bunny-shaped egg-cozy. Yes, it's an egg cozy. And it's a bunny. Have you had enough of the cuteness yet?

Next stop: The Great Monday Give-Away. Okay, it's Wednesday already but there are still a few delicious vintage finds available from Bugheart the Intrepid Thrifter. Yes, she's giving it all away for Free-Fifty, so don't miss out!

Last stop on the crafter's express: Anne's crafting space. Anne is one of the craftiest, cookingest, coolest women I know. This week she sucked it up and sent me a picture of her work-table, which, I have to say, makes my work space look really organized.

It's a sign of genius, people
Tomorrow, I will post pictures of the Jess Hutch NotABunny-Bear that I just knitted, if I can get his nose embroidered at Stitch & Bitch tonight, as well as the thing I'm making for Jay's Celebration Challenge. It's coming along... slowly...

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

you need a pal

Don't you?

The sign-ups are on for Secret Pal 8, so maybe you should head over there. I had a great experience during Secret Pal 7, as evidenced by the amazing prizes (prize 1, prize 2, and prize 3), letters and emails from my wonderful Secret Pal, Becky, and the super-cute package-opening posts of my spoilee, Paloma.

So don't mess around! Get yourself a Secret Pal and discover why they keep the US Postal Service around, despite the reign of the internets.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

free pattern fridays

supernatural2 george3 vest-ruffle cloche1
Howdy and welcome to the Free Pattern Friday Archive.

Click on the image to get your free pattern. If you have any problems or questions with these patterns, tough luck - they're free. Just kidding! Check out the new Free Pattern FAQ page. If you don't find what you're looking for there, you can email me at: f.pea [at] airpost [dot] net. Important note: Don't forget to make a gauge swatch, people! Getting the right gauge is important, using the same needle size I did is not important.

non-commercial bit: These are free patterns and you are welcome to use them for all the non-commercial purposes you like. However, you may not reproduce the patterns to sell, and you may not sell what you make with them. You may donate what you make with them to charity, and you may use them for charity fundraisers only if 100% of the proceeds are donated to the charity (and by charity I don't mean your kid's college fund). Thanks for understanding!

scrappy doll [10.29.10]

Dolls are easy to make from whatever you have on hand, and fortunately children are easy to please when it comes to a new toy. This sweet felted doll is no different - she is made from leftovers and stashed bits. Find a handful of worsted-weight wool leftovers and you're ready to make a snuggly felted doll for your little one.

materials: less than 1/2 skein of worsted-weight 100% wool in each of three colors; size 8 (US) double-pointed needles; stitch markers in at least 2 colors; less than 1/2 skein of yarn for hair; embroidery floss for eyes and mouth; embroidery needle; tapestry needle; sewing needle & thread in color to match hair; small amount of polyester fiberfill (or stuffing of your choice); sewing machine (optional).
about 4.5 stitches/1 inch
sizes: one size
skills needed: Knitting in the round on double-pointed needles, increasing (Kfb and YO) and decreasing (SSK and K2tog).

soxxy dress [11.26.10]
for the scrappy doll! a simple pattern in leftover sock yarn. enjoy!

sundrop [5.14.10]

This sweet sun hat will take your baby or toddler from the playground to the beach and back again. The brim is worked in a tight gauge to give it some firmness, while the body is knit in a looser gauge with a simple but pretty eyelet lace design that adds a little ventilation. Add the optional ties if your little one likes to yank off hats (and who doesn’t?). This is a fun, quick summer knit. Find a bright summer color that you like, and use a firm, washable cotton or cotton/linen blend yarn.

materials: 1 ball Lion Cotton or similar worsted-weight cotton yarn; US size 3 double-pointed needles (3.25 mm); US size 7 double-pointed needles (4.5 mm); US size 7 crochet hook (4.5 mm); tapestry needle; stitch markers in 2 colors.
larger needles: 15 stitches / 24 rows / 4 inches; smaller needles: 20 stitches / 29 rows / 4 inches
0-6 mos (6-18 mos, 18 mos – 3 years, 4-6 years)
skills needed: Knitting in the round on double-pointed needles, increasing (Kfb and YO) and decreasing (SSK and K2tog), simple crochet chain.

bumpy jacket and hat [9.04.09]

Time for some fall knitting! This baby jacket and hat set uses an old-fashioned looking stitch pattern for an elegant look in a relatively simple pattern. Suitable for a boy or girl, the Bumpy Jacket uses organic cotton and is knit all in one piece for quick finishing. Use some vintage buttons for the perfect touch.

materials: Blue Sky Alpacas Skinny Dyed Cotton, 150 yd / 137 m / 50 g per skein; Color A: 1 skein [shown in #301, Glacier]; Color B: 2 (2, 3, 3, 4) skeins [shown in #308, Mallard]; size 5 needles, DPN and circular (or size to get gauge); size 3 needles, DPN and circular (or size to get gauge); five 1/2-inch buttons; stitch markers; tapestry needle; sewing needle & thread.
size: 0-6 mos (6-12 mos, 18 mos, 2 yrs, 4 yrs)
gauge: 22 stitches / 28 rows / 4 inches
skills needed: knitting in the round on circular and DPN's, increase, decrease, pick up stitches; working 2 balls of yarn at once.

scrappy socky stripey cardi [2.20.09]

This baby jacket is a great way to use up leftover sock yarn and make a fun little sweater at the same time. The pattern uses three different leftover yarns – one is a solid, one is variegated, and one is self-striping. You can mix yours up however you like. I also varied the width of my stripes as I knitted – make yours as varied or as regular as you like.

leftover sock yarn in 3 colors; size 2 /3.0mm needles (circular and DPN); size 1 /2.5mm needles (circular); size 1 crochet hook (2.35 mm); 2 buttons (3/4 inch); sewing needle & thread; tapestry needle.
size: 0-6 (6-12, 12-18, 24) months
gauge: 7 stitches / 9 rows / inch
skills needed:
increasing (Kfb), decreasing (K2tog and SSK), knitting in the round on DPNs, picking up stitches, simple crochet chain.

cowgirl butterfly astronaut vest [6.16.08]

This vest is an homage to all the girls in clacks, who want to be frilly while they play outside. I imagine it being worn over a T-shirt and jeans, while they play cowgirls or astronauts or whatever else they want to do, and look good at the same time. It's knit all in one piece, bottom-up, starting at the ruffle, and finishes with a ruffle as the cap sleeve. Have fun making this for your favorite dress-up girl.

1 (1, 2) ball/s Cascade Sierra (color B) 100g/192 yd; 2 balls Cascade Sierra Quatro (color A) 100g/192 yd; size 7 (4.5 mm) circular needles; size 5 (3.75 mm) circular needles; tapestry needle; 3 (three) 1/2-inch buttons.
size: girls' 2 (4, 6)
gauge: 16 st / 26 rows / 4 inches over the K4, P2 rib (lightly stretched)
skills needed: increasing and decreasing, pick up stitches, short rows

bootielicious [3.13.08]

This is not an orignial design, but a review of four widely-available free bootie patterns for using up leftover sock yarn stash. From left to right: Baby Eyelet Socks by Cynthia Hall, Plain Baby Socks, adapted from Cynthia's pattern, Basic Circular Seamless Baby Bootees by Megan Mills, and T-Strap Booties from KnitSimple. All you need is some leftover sock yarn and maybe a Netflix to keep you company.

st. vincent cloche [2.1.08]

I love the fashions of the 1920's, especially the hats, and have always wanted to make one. After searching in vain for just the right pattern, I decided to just design one myself. I named it after one of my favorite female icons of the era, the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay.

materials: 3 skeins Knit Picks Merino Style (123 yd/50g), Color #23460, Nutmeg (color A); 1 skein Knit Picks Merino Style (123 yd/50g), Color #23456, Coal (color B); 16" circular needle, size US 8 (5.0 mm); DPNs, size US 8 (5.0 mm); stitch markers in 2 colors; tapestry needle; pin back; sewing needle & thread in matching colors.
size: women's one size (the hat is knitted in one size - giant - and felted until it fits the wearer snugly).
(before felting): 9 stitches and 12 rows/2 inches.
skills needed: Increase and decrease, pick up stitches, knit in the round on DPN's.

pumpkin vine socks [11.9.07]

I've had a ball making these lacy, comfortable socks and thought you might like them too. You will need to use a stitch counter and a little cheat sheet to keep up with the 12-row lace repeat, so sorry, no knitting these socks on the sly at a meeting or in class. But on your couch with a cup of tea, they are divine.

materials: 2 skeins Shibui Sock (100% merino, 50 g / 191 yd); US size 1 DPN's (2.5 mm); stitch markers in 2 colors; stitch counter; tapestry needle.
gauge: 7 st/inch in stockinette. 8 st/inch in lace pattern.
size: Womens' XS (M, XL)
skills: reading a lace pattern; increasing and decreasing using several types of stitches; picking up stitches.

cris the critter [9.14.07]

Cris is short for Condyluria cristata, and if you haven't already read about what those 22 nose tentacles are for, and how Cris is the only semi-aquatic rodent species, then by all means learn more here. Ready to knit and felt him? All you need is a sense of humor and a couple of free evenings - this is a weird knit, but not a difficult one at all. Enjoy!

materials: Less than one skein each of Lamb's Pride worsted and Cascade 220; US size 8 DPN's (5 mm); US size H crochet hook (5 mm); stitch markers; tapestry needle; two 1/8 in buttons, black or gray; sewing needle & thread to match body yarn.
gauge before felting: 4 st and 6 r / inch
size: one size
skills: Knitting in the rnd on DPN's; making I-cords; crochet a sc.

elph cozy [8.17.07]

Everything shiny needs a case. I love felted cases for gadgets because they're durable, thick and cushiony. Felted cases provide a bit of shock-proofing for gadgets that rattle around in my daybag bumping up against keys and whatnot. This is a case for my tiny new camera, so it's likewise tiny and takes only an evening and a some leftover stash yarn to make. It is sized to fit an itty-bitty Canon Elph, but you can adjust it to suit whatever sized gadget you have.

materials: less than 1 skein worsted-weight 100% wool; size 8 (US) needles; size I (5.5 mm) crochet hook; one large button (around 1.25 in); sewing needle & thread; tapestry needle.
gauge before felting: 16 st and 24 r / 4 in
size: one size
skills: Basic decreasing (SSK and K2tog); crocheting a sc

super-natural stripes [7.20.07]

Revised 4.17.08 with 2-3 yr size added
Once I started knitting this little baby cardigan, I couldn't stop. The color changes are worked on the wrong side, to accent the interplay of naturally-occurring colors in this great undyed organic cotton yarn. This is a quick little knit - perfect for a summer baby gift. And of course, organic cotton is a great choice for delicate newborns.

materials: 3 skeins (1 each color) Blue Sky Alpacas Organic Cotton in sage, bone and nut; size 7 (US) needles, circular and DPN; size 5 (US) needles, circular and DPN; size G (4.0 mm) crochet hook; one 1-inch button; sewing needle & thread; tapestry needle; stitch markers.
gauge: 16 st and 22 rows / 4 inches
size: 0-6 mos (6-12 mos, 18 mos)
skills: increasing (Kfb), decreasing (K2tog), knitting in the round on DPNs, picking up stitches, simple crochet chain.

george [6.22.07]

the vitals: My grandfather had a real soft spot for octopi. Every story my grandfather told us inevitably contained an octopus, even if it was just a walk-on character. Maybe because of him, I have always loved octopi, with their many legs, their pacifist ink-blot self-defense system, and their crafty ways. This felted octopus was named in honor of my grandfather George, who always loved a new toy. I hope you have as much fun making it as I did!

you will need: 2 skeins Cascade Quatro (shown in color #9440) 100g/220yd, 100% wool; size 10 needles (US) - one set of DPN's and one 16" circular; size J crochet hook; tapestry needle; sewing needle; stitch markers in multiple colors; polyester fiberfill or other fluffy stuffing; small amount of scrap or craft felt in contrasting color, and matching sewing thread; sewing thread to match the main-color yarn; two 3/8-inch buttons; and pinking shears.
gauge (before felting): around 4 st/in
skills: knitting in the round on DPN's and circulars, pick up stitches, basic crochet (single-chain st), basic hand-sewing.

footies [4.27.07]

the vitals: The footie is my most favorite sock style, probably because I wear a lot of cropped pants and skirts with clogs or sneakers. Better than going sockless, the footie lets you show a little colorful sock, avoid blisters and bare your ankles to the warm spring breeze, all at the same time. They're also great for lounging around the house in your PJ's on a chilly morning. Best of all, no yarn purchase is necessary. Just use up some of the leftover sock yarn from your stash. Did I mention they're twice as fast as regular socks?

you will need: around 200 yards superwash sock yarn (more for men's size), fingering weight; size 1 or 2 DPN's; stitch markers in different colors; tapestry needle.
gauge: 7 st/in over stockinette stitch
skills: knitting in the round, SSK, K2tog, P2tog, pick up stitches.

organic guernsey [3.16.07]

the vitals:
I really like neutral colors on babies. I also really like knitting with organic cotton, especially when making garments for little ones. This little pullover features both, with some simple detailing to make it special. Buttons at the front collar make this easy to get baby in and out of, and the basic shape makes it work for a girl or boy.

you will need: 3 skeins Blue Sky Alpacas organic cotton (100g, 150yd) in color #82; US size 7 circular needles and DPN's; US size 5 circular needles and DPN's; 3 3/4-inch buttons; tapestry needle; scrap yarn to hold sleeve stitches; stitch markers.
gauge: 14 st and 22 rows / 4 inches
skills: Knitting in the round on circulars and DPNs, YO, seed stitch, pick up stitches.

mossy jacket

the vitals: Whenever I see a pattern for a baby something-or-other that says it's a very special something-or-other for baby, that usually means it is hyper-ruffled, tied with 100 ribbons or made from artisan-spun cashmere. I think this little jacket is a very special baby gift because it's like, really nice. It has a funky off-center button band, it's cute, colorful, fairly quick to knit and made from merino wool - just a little bit chi-chi but not ridiculously so.

you will need: 3 skeins Classic Elite Beatrice (100% merino; 63 yards) in color A (#3428); 1 skein in color B (#3285); US size 9 circular needles and DPNs; US size 10 circular needles and DPNs; scrap yarn to hold sleeves; two 1" buttons; stitch markers; tapestry needle.
gauge: 3.5 st and 5 rows / inch.
skills: knitting in the round on circulars and DPNs, increasing (Kfb, YO) and decreasing (K2tog), sewing on buttons.

quickie cowl [12.22.06]

the vitals: Just three more knitting days until Christmas... Need a lightning-quick last-minute gift? Break into your stash and find just one skein of something soft and chunky, and you'll have this little cowl wrapped and waiting under the tree come Christmas morning.

you will need: about 100 yards of any very soft, chunky weight yarn (I used one skein of Misti Alpaca chunky); US size 10.5 needles; tapestry needle.
gauge: 3.5 st/in
skills: YO

wildflower socks [11.17.06]

the vitals: The days are becoming short and gray - just the time to knit up some bright socks that make you want to dance! These socks are named for the "wildflower purl" stitch pattern (from Barbara Walker's Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns). The stitch pattern is easy to memorize and very forgiving - if you do make a mistake, it will be practically invisible, especially with variegated yarn. If you do use variegated yarn, you will get an impressionist effect of single-color "wildflowers" on a multi-colored background.
you will need: 2 skeins Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock (shown in "Gold Hill" colorway); size US 1 DPN's; stitch markers; tapestry needle.
gauge: 7.5 st/in in stockinette stitch
skills: knitting in the round on DPN's (or with 2 circulars or the Magic Loop); picking up stitches.

intro to socks [10.6.06]

the vitals: If you've never made a pair of socks before, but you've been wanting to try it, here's your chance! In honor of Socktoberfest, here is an easy pattern for a pair of simple winter socks, knitted in a large gauge so the project goes quickly. I used a superwash merino yarn that is super-soft and nicely stretchy, to make a pair of comfy, warm winter socks that you can wear with boots or just around the house.

you will need: 3 skeins of Bingo Chine (100% superwash merino, 50g/88yds); US size 6 DPN's; US size 7 DPN's; stitch marker; tapestry needle.
gauge: 4.5 stitches to the inch in st st on size US 6 needles.
skills: Knitting in the round on DPN's, picking up stitches.

baby om [9.22.06]

the vitals: This is a versatile, colorful sweater with a simple intarsia motif. I chose a lotus, both because prenatal yoga was important to the sweater's recipient, and because the theme seemed to resonate with the strong colors I had in mind. Peaceful, calming symbols just can't hurt when you have a new baby in the house.

you will need: Around 500 yards of a DK-weight wool or wool blend yarn. I used two strands held together of Peruvian Baby Silk. US size 6 and size 5 circular needles; US size E crochet hook; one 3/8 inch button or bead.
gauge: 5 st/inch on size 6 needles.
skills: Basic intarsia, single-chain crochet stitch.

raging fingerless gloves [8.18.06]

the vitals: These fingerless gloves are lightweight, knit in a lace rib that’s very easy to memorize, and can knit up in a flash. You can buy your yarn on Saturday afternoon and wear them out on Saturday night! I also find them to be a great accessory for working in an over-air-conditioned office (like mine). They only use about 1/2 skein of Cotton Fleece (around 100 yards), so they’re a great project for using up leftovers.

you will need: About 1/2 skein of Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece (80% cotton, 20% merino), shown in color #CW730, Raging Purple; size US 6 needles, straight or circular, and one set of size 6 DPN’s; tapestry needle; stitch marker.
gauge: 5 st and 7 rows / inch (in stockinette st).
skills: Knitting in the round on DPN's, YO, K2tog.

organic baby wrapper [7.7.06]

the vitals: This baby wrapper & hat set makes a great new-baby gift. I especially love using organic cotton for newborn items. Blue Sky Alpacas organic cotton is about the softest yarn you've ever felt, and of course it's grown without pesticides and other nasty chemicals - good for the environment and a delicate new baby. The openwork pattern used here is also easy to memorize, so it looks fancy but is simple to work.

you will need: 4 skeins of Blue Sky Alpacas organic cotton (3 in sage, 1 in bone), size 7 (US needles), 16" size 6 (US) circular needles, size 6 (US) DPN's, stitch markers in 2 colors, a tapestry needle, and a size G crochet hook.
gauge: approx. 4.5 st/in over stockinette st.
skills: Knitting in the round on DPN's, YO, K2 tog.

beer cozy [6.16.06]

the vitals: Now that the hot, sweaty days of summer are upon us, it's time to share one of my favorite patterns with you: the beer cozy. I particularly like this project because you can get a bunch of them out of just a little scrap yarn, they make great gifts (real last-minute gifts), and it takes no longer to whip one up than one episode of MI-5.

you will need: Any worsted weight yarn in wool or acrylic (leftovers of Cascade 220, Lion Brand Wool Ease or Plymouth Encore worsted are all very appropriate), US size 7 or 8 double-pointed knitting needles, one stitch marker, and a Tapestry needle.
gauge: approx. 4 st/inch
skills: Knitting in the round on DPN's (optional)

cell phone cozy [5.5.06]

the vitals: Besides keeping your phone warm on cold days, this little pouch will keep it from getting nicks & scratches in your purse, and protects it from shock when you drop it on the pavement as I seem to do at least once a week. You can easily adapt the pattern to make cozies for your iPod, Blackberry, or whatever other space-aged gadgets you've got that need an old-fashioned cozy.

you will need: Cascade 220 (about 1/4 skein ), small amount of contrasting-color yarn (if desired), US size 9 knitting needles, one 5/8" button, and a tapestry needle.
(pre-felting) 4.5 st/inch.
skills: Decreases, yarn-over (YO), felting.

the glamour scarf

the vitals: This is a deceptively easy scarf that dresses up any outfit. The lightweight yarn makes it suitable for almost any weather, too. Finished scarf measurements (before tassels): Approx. 5 in. wide and 50 in. long.

you will need: 2 skeins of Berocco Mosaic FX (or any equivalent ladder yarn) and one ball of Royale Crochet Thread, size 3. US size 13 knitting needles.
gauge: Approx. 4 st/inch on size 13 needles.
skills: Garter stitch, making tassels.

More free patterns coming soon!