Wednesday, April 30, 2008

6 days and counting...

Oh, did you think I meant til the big May 6th primary?? I guess I meant that too... But there are just 6 days left until someone wins THIS:

obamabrew
well, 6 of these actually

This is a beautiful cooler bearing Les's delicious Obamabrew, a hand-crafted Belgian style golden ale that will be presented (in six-pack format) to one lucky winner of the Crafters for Obama T-shirt rally!

I sampled some of the golden goodness on Sunday, and people let me tell you, if you like beer, you want to win this contest.

The other night at PeaceNic & Les's house, we got down to some local crafting for Obama while raising a little money for the campaign. We ate a lot of soy-based fake meat product, chased toddlers around in the rain, and then a bunch of folks put some stencils and a Bedazzler to work & made themselves some T-shirts. It was my first time out modeling my sparkly, sparkly new Obama T-shirt:

sparkly obama shirt
don't be blinded by the hope

You know I'm going to be wearing this shirt every chance I get! I used an old rock & roll T-shirt, bedazzled the outer ring & inner stripes and then hand-sequined the inside. I won't say how many hours it took... all I can say is that I'm really glad that I like the final product better than the original Erase Errata T-shirt I had to mangle to make it. Three cheers for sequins!

The sock monster is almost done, the other prizes are piling up, the T-shirt models are flexing their chest muscles, and the t-shirts are making their way to the Flickr group! And by the way, check out the other incredible crafts on the Flickr group while you're there... y'all amaze me.

P.S.
If you didn't sign up yet but you still want to enter a T-shirt... go ahead! Just join the Flickr group and make sure you include the words "Rally Entry" in your T-shirt description. Tell us how you made it, because you get bonus points for recycling and repurposing your T-shirt and supplies!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

running backwards, underwater, with holes in my pockets

Argh, work! Everything is so frustrating lately. I can't seem to get anything accomplished.

another work sock

Except this sock. I did manage to finish knitting a sock during a conference call yesterday. And lookee there -- that 8 or so inches of yarn coming off the toe? That is the very end of the yarn ball. How perfect was that?? I was sweating out the last few toe rows, though. I think this about sums up my workplace productivity this week.

It's not that I'm not trying. In fact, I'm trying very, very hard. But lately it seems like every week there's a new massive setback. So I freak out, drink tea, regroup, get a new strategy, start to get some traction and then... SPLAT! Another massive setback. It's so frustrating.

But the garden is doing marvelously, so I really can't be too upset. We just noticed yesterday that the bok choi is growing splendidly in a completely different place than where HWWLLB had remembered planting it. The last few days he's been moping about how the bok choi didn't grow, and then yesterday we found it humming along in another bed. Hooray!

And the wonderful CSA deliveries started this week!

And there is now a cupcake-seller at our weekly farmer's market!

And the weather is glorious!

....so what was I complaining about? Oh yeah, work. And I need to go there in about 30 minutes. [deep, mournful sigh] Perhaps things will be looking up today. Maybe next week will be setback-free. It is Friday, after all.

radishes
and there are radishes waiting at home for some love

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

cloudy and quiet

It's been awfully quiet around here lately.

april showers 2
sunday: partly cloudy with a chance of big double-rainbows

I'm not sure why I haven't been posting as often. Is it the cloudy weather with a chance of showers? Is it that I'm spending all my time watching plants grow instead of typing out my thoughts?

Cloudy weather makes me slower. It also makes me more introspective, which you'd think might lead to more writing... and it does, except maybe not to more sharing. I have actually been writing a lot and thinking a lot about things to write, but in my introspective moods, I also feel very introverted, and I like to keep my little secrets to myself.

Today will be a busy work day, cramming lots of tasks into the daylight hours, then rushing home to make it to yoga class on time. I love my yoga class. Then home, ravenous, moving as fast as I can to eat something tasty and quick, too late for dinner and too close to bedtime. Then I will do some chores, play with the cat, talk with HWWLLB about how our days went and what's coming tomorrow. Then maybe some reading and then collapse into bed.

Wake.
Rinse.
Repeat.

And tomorrow will be another busy, cloudy, quiet day with a chance of showers. But maybe with a little more time for watching plants grow.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

frustrated stitches

another morning teatime

Good morning, friends! [yawn, stretch]

I apologize for the infrequent postings lately. I am trying to sneak one in during the early hours today. I guess I hadn't felt like I had all that much to share lately, because I've been having so many frustrations with the knitting of late... but you know, maybe sharing the frogs is just as interesting or useful as the glorious FO's?

Anyhow, this post might could be my second installment of knitting tips & tricks. Here it is: Don't use Superwash yarn for felting. And a related tip: When you keep yarn leftovers, keep the ball band, too!

superwash

This was supposed to be my new felted cell phone cozy. After several trips through the laundry, it's still looking remarkably un-felted. I finally clued in after the third trip through the hot cycle that this was Superwash yarn. Oops. Back to the yarn stash... anyone need an elongated and not-felted pouch?

My main knitting project right now is the colorful little vest that had me so captivated a couple of weeks ago (this is the design I dreamed, and had to cast aside all other projects to start).

cowgirl blues progress

When I design something, I sketch it out and make a basic plan of attack, but things always change as I start knitting and the fiber starts to take form, and I'm led down different (and usually better) paths than the one I first imagined. So it's normal to have some stops and starts. I've definitely had those normal stops and starts with this little vest. No biggie.

But I'm also having arithmetic problems. Arithmetic (even when calculator-assisted) tends to give me troubles. This project has also been plagued by me thinking or calculating one thing, and then writing down and knitting something completely different. How does that happen, I'd like to know? Maybe there's something interrupting my more advanced thought processes - maybe a rogue idea that disrupts the process. I don't think I can blame it on drinking while knitting (though I have really been enjoying Big Boss's releases of Bad Penny and Helles Belles this spring -- y'all in the Triangle know what I'm talking about, right? If not... get to the Quickie Mart, pronto!). But I digress.

Hm... maybe that's how it happened. Rogue beer thoughts. Speaking of Rogue, did anyone anticipate the winners over at Beersipper's Pale Ale tourney?? Terrapin! I really would never have called it.

What were we talking about?

Oh right, the vest thing. Long story short, I've knitted and ripped this thing back half a dozen times, and in the closing stretch I got antsy and started measuring and realized that somehow, some way, instead of knitting a girls' size 6, I'm knitting a 2 year-old size. But you know, I'm okay with that. I know some 2 year-olds. One of them is going to be getting a really cute vest (and maybe a 6-pack of Bad Penny).

I do actually have an FO to show you:

superbright

This is the super-bright version of Super-Natural Stripes. It's been done for a while, but I didn't get a chance to take its picture until it was headed out the door as a new-baby gift last week. It was really fun, and I used Blue Sky Alpacas Dyed Cotton, which is just the dyed version of the Organic Cotton natural colors that I love so so so much. Why, oh why won't Blue Sky Alpacas hire me as their in-house designer and send me gobs of free yarn every week?? (Just thought I'd ask). I'm going to be adding a larger size to the current version of the Super-Natural Stripes pattern later this week, so if you've enjoyed that pattern, stay tuned for an update.

Now it's off to the showers. A big busy Wednesday awaits, and the downtown Farmers Market reopens today - hooray!

Monday, April 07, 2008

didi

didi3

Didi is a wise little cat.

She is the oldest of a litter of one hundred kittens, so she knows all about being a big sister. On Wednesday she'll go to live with her new best friend, who just became a big sister, too. Being a big sister can be tough.

didi1

Didi knows about the pressure of having someone smaller who looks up to you all the time, and to never ever bite, scratch or hiss at your younger sister, even when she is a total pain.

didi5

And she's a very good listener.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

knit tip #1: casting on a bazillion stitches

Howdy, friends. Today's post is a bit knitterisch.

Over on the Ravelry, I tend to get a lot of questions in my message box. Mainly they're questions that at first blush seem to be questions about my specific pattern designs, but upon reflection, many are really turn out to be general and interesting knitting questions. Like, what in the hell does PSSO stand for? And I don't understand what you mean by "set-in sleeve."

So even though there are a lot of incredible sources for knitting tips and advice out there, I figured what the heck, I'll add another. Starting today, and happening every... oh... once in a while, I'm going to post a knitting tip or trick. I hope that some of y'all will jump in and add your two (or three) cents to the topics, because I know there is a wealth of knitting expertise out there among you, and I want to know your tricks, too!

Today's knit tip topic: Casting on a bazillion stitches.

Casting on a bazillion stitches is very difficult for me, for two reasons: one, I don't have that much patience, and two, I can't count past twenty without losing my place. So I use stitch markers to help me find my way. It goes like this:

caston

Cast on 20 stitches, put on a stitch marker. Cast on 20 stitches, put on a stitch marker... and so on until you reach your desired extremely large number of stitches. Instead of counting stitches, you can count markers, and then just multiply by twenty (yes, this involves math. Sorry I didn't warn you first).

I used to be very frugal and cast on something like 50 stitches at a time, because I didn't have that many stitch markers. Then I discovered the greatest and cheapest stitch markers in the world: Sc√ľnci hair elastics. They come 24 or more to a pack in a rainbow of colors, for 1/10 the price of dedicated stitch markers. They're also soft & flexible, which I find nicer to work with than the rigid plastic things that cost ten times as much.



Of course, you can cast on 50 stitches at a time if you want to and you can count that high. Or if you are counting-challenged like me, you can cast on 10 or even 5 stitches per marker. There are no rules in the world of hair elastic cast-ons!

This technique has been used more than I would like this week. First I had to cast on the 336 lovely stitches you see above, but after knitting for about 6 inches of sweater, I checked my gauge and found that the gnawing "this looks too big" feeling in my stomach was right, as always. So I ripped it all out and cast on the more appropriate 248 stitches last night. I should have made a much bigger gauge swatch - but I guess that's a topic for another post.