Friday, February 29, 2008

leap day

What did you do on Leap Day?

I took the day off work... yay! So I got to do a few fun things with my free Friday:

Went out to lunch with my sister and stuffed myself with Indian Buffet (that's her reaching for more rice pudding):

Made a Pay it Forward gift for someone who likes recycled things. This is a grocery bag made from a bunch of old plastic bags fused together (I had been wanting to try the technique for a while):
recycled bag 1

Watered the little sprouts in the greenhouse:

Now I'm making tea and waiting for HWWLLB to get home. We're going off to have dinner wih some new friends tonight.

New friends are always sort of a scary proposition for me. What if I say something offensive? What if they say something offensive? Or, worst of all, what if we really really like them and can never find the time to hang out with them again??? This friendship thing is fraught with peril. Makes me want to crawl into bed and read a novel instead. But I can always do that tomorrow...

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

obama t-shirt making rally!

[updated 3.12.08]

i can't tell you how much fun this logo was to make. i [heart] elmer's glue!

I know y'all love to make stuff for yourselves, as I do, so I thought it might be fun to have a little challenge. Who wants to get on board with an Obama t-shirt making rally??? This is a chance to get creative, get recycling, and to show your support for Barack Obama in 2008!

Want to do it? I know you do! And I really want to see everyone's amazing designs!


- Entry fee: Make a donation in any amount to the Obama campaign (this is optional, but strongly encouraged because hey, we're trying to get this guy elected, right?)
- Sign up for the Crafters4Obama group - instructions below.
- Make your own Obama T-shirt.
- Thrifted, hand-made or repurposed T-shirts only -- no buying anything new for this challenge.
- Make your own design.
- Hand-decorate your own shirt, using whatever craft medium suits you, from screenprinting to crochet to bedazzling to embroidery.
- Rally winners will be announced on May 6 (the North Carolina & Indiana primaries).

The crafty prizes so far include:
a sixer of Obamabrew homebrew from Beersipper!
a Lomester Democrat
an f.pea sock monster
...and a mystery prize from India*Romeo
Thanks prize-makers! Additional prizes are now being accepted... please let me know if you'd like to contribute a hot crafty prize!

How to sign up:

Send an email to me: f.pea[at]airpost[dot]net
In the subject line, write "Crafters4Obama"

In the body of the email, write:
YOUR NAME (the one you use on the internets)
YOUR FLICKR ID (If you have one)
YOUR BLOG NAME & ADDRESS (if you have one)
THE DATE OF YOUR DONATION TO THE CAMPAIGN (will be kept confidential. You're on your honor, and if you've already donated, I'll count that).

The only info I will publish from this list is your name & blog address in the list of participants.

Once I get your info, I'll invite you to the Flickr group (you can also just go join it yourself!). There you can post pictures of your designs -- make as many as you want! Some impartial celebrity judges will sift through the Flickr pics to choose a winner for the T-shirt rally.

If you don't use Flickr, include that in your sign-up email and I'll send you instructions for submitting your photo directly to me to post on your behalf.

If you donate your entry fee via the Crafters for Obama group on the campaign website, we'll be able to track how much money we raise!

Okay crafters, start your glue guns....

* * * * * * * * * * * * *
participant list so far:
Kate A
Kate Digs
Tracey W

Saturday, February 23, 2008

relaxing with the ball-winder

The other day when I got home from the conference, there was not only wonderful home-made food waiting for me, but also some yarn. Yarn! I love the postal service. Here's what I got:


Four skeins of Blue Sky Alpacas Dyed Cotton, which is their wonderful organically-grown cotton, dyed with brilliant color. These colors all have botanical names, but they remind me of popsicles.

I couldn't wait to sit down with them and wind them into balls. Yarn-winding is an incredibly relaxing activity for me.


After seven days of work travel, relaxing at home with the yarn-winder was such a treat. And now I have four pretty yarn-cakes to gaze at.


These are going to become a sweater for a sweet little girl who is about to come into our lives. Friends of ours are adopting, and she will be here this spring. Yay! This is a really exciting time for our friends, and the color scheme felt joyous and welcoming, just the way I feel about this new little person.
I'm making a super-bright version of Super-Natural Stripes. This will give me a chance to work out some of the sizing issues that I think I had during the design phase -- thanks to everyone who's been sending me such constructive feedback about the sweater.

The other thing I'm wanting to make right now is an Obama T-shirt. Since I took the Wardrobe Refashion pledge, I can't buy one, and I reeeeally reeeally want one. So I'm going to make my own. Actually, I've been kicking around the idea of an Obama T-shirt making contest, and a few folks have told me they might want to do it. Anyone else interested? It could be very fun! I'm thinking it may finally be time to break out the Bedazzler that's been collecting dust on my craft shelf for years. Time to sparkle!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

the tragedy of southern baptist cuisine

Y'all know I am out of town at a non-profit training this week for work. We are at a lovely little conference center tucked away in the North Carolina woods. I must say, this training is excellent. The other participants and the trainers are all fabulous people, and we're all learning a lot.

There are even other knitters here (you know how we pop out at meetings).

conference knitting 2
Shelly is knitting a hat

conference knitting 1
Jenny is knitting a shawl with locally-grown & dyed yarn

my sweater is making some good progress in this good company.

But the thing here that is not good, that is in fact very, very bad, is the food. It's helping me understand something that has been weighing on me.

When I got here, I was unhappy to find out that the conference center is owned by the North Carolina Baptist Convention. The reason this made me unhappy is that I care pretty deeply about gay rights, and the NCBC has been rather unfriendly towards gay folks in the last few years. You can read all about it some time when you feel like having your blood pressure spike.

This always really gets me upset. It's just mean. Plain old cussed mean. I have never been able to stomach the mean-spirited intolerance among some right-wing churches that leads them to turn people out for just being who they are.

After spending a few days with the NCBC, though, I have to say I finally understand it. It's the no-fiber diet. There is not one ounce of fiber in any of the food here! These poor people must have a BM on a bi-monthly basis. No wonder they're so dang mean and cranky - they must be perpetually constipated!

Really, there are 2 seasonings in the food here: sugar and salt. If it's salty, then it's butter- or meat-based. If it's sugary, then it's white flour- or milk-based. Dear heavens! The things they do to the vegetables are criminal. If a sweet potato has whipped cream and a cherry on top, I think that's a sign that somebody doesn't get the "vegetable" concept. And let me tell you, nobody around here looks very healthy.

I seriously think I started to suffer from malnutrition after a couple of days. Thank goodness one of the other students brought digestive enzymes with her -- I won't go into details, but it was a good thing.

We have been moping a lot at mealtimes, and I think the cooks noticed and took pity on the out-of-town liberals. The salad bar became a bit more colorful later in the week. Then somebody found a health food store in town and I bought some vitamins, peanut butter, granola and oranges to get me through the week. The trainers felt so bad for us that they took us out to dinner at a restaurant in the little two-horse town nearby, which lifted the general morale greatly. I almost stopped whining about the food entirely!

But I'll tell you what, I can't wait to get home to whatever HWWLLB is cooking.

please let me in
All week this little guy has been meowing to come in, while silently I have been meowing to be let out.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

kindness and prizes

I'm a bit behind. This week I'm away at a training... and I'll have to save a description of this um, singular conference center for another post.

Last week was a whirlwind. I completely missed several wonderful things, including Textile Week over at Mecozy, and Random Acts of Kindness Week with Ileana.

If you have ever been to my house, you know that I am crazy for textiles. Knitting is one of the manifestations of this love, as are the many tribal carpets and kilims around our house. This is one of my favorites:


It's a Kurdish kilim from Southeastern Turkey, if I am remembering correctly. It's a spectacular (IMHO) piece of nomad hand-weaving. The black ground is all undyed black goat's hair, and if you look closely you can see two large beads sewn into the center. It hangs on the wall in our guest room/my studio, where I love to gaze at it.

So I guess I didn't completely miss out on Textile Week, I was just late.

Anyhow, since I also missed out on being randomly kind last week, I thought I'd Pay it Forward this week instead. A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to get on Marsha's little list of giftees (I can't wait to see what this will bring!) So in return, I will pay it forward by making hand-made gifts for three people. Just sign up in the comments, y'all -- first come, first served. Here is the Official Blurb:
I will send a handmade gift to the first 3 people who leave a comment on my blog requesting to join this PIF exchange. I don’t know what that gift will be yet and you may not receive it tomorrow or next week, but you will receive it within 365 days, that is my promise! The only thing you have to do in return is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog.
Nice, eh? Random and kind. Making stuff for people is the one of my favorite ways to show love.

Now it's time to scurry back to class. They are keeping us hopping here at the alcohol-free Baptist Convention Center where my non-profit training is being held. No beer, and definitely no vegetarian options. *sigh*

Sunday, February 17, 2008

peeping out

Hello! I am peeping out from behind a very large stack of work. How are you?

Look at what else is peeping out today:

peeping kale
tiny little kale sprouts

peeping broccoli
itty bitty broccoli sprouts

Today the very first sprouts broke through the soil in the greenhouse. It's actually working! I'm so excited!

Cross your fingers for the sprouts, because I'm about to go out of town for several days. HWWLLB has to remember to go out there and vent it in the morning and seal it up in the evening, and water all the sprouts just a little... I know he can handle it. But still, I'll be crossing my fingers for the sprouts and hoping that they don't get forgotten while I'm away.

I've just come back from a 2-day out-of-town meeting yesterday, and today I go away for a training for 5 days. *sigh* A less-than ideal weekend. But there is internet access at the place I'm going, so hopefully I'll be able to check in a couple of times while I'm away. I'm hoping that knitting will be possible during the training sessions, and if so maybe I'll post updates on my progress. I'm working on a little girl sweater that I think is going to be really cute. It's had lots of re-starts, since I'm designing as I go, but I think I've finally got the structure in my mind how I want it. Here's the beginning picture:


Hopefully it will be farther along by the end of this week of trainings! Til then... have a wonderful week. Watch to see what is peeping out around you!

Sunday, February 10, 2008


It's so windy today that the power has flickered a couple of times. HWWLLB and I just got back from a walk, on which I did think for a minute that we might actually blow away. Big swirls of leaves kept blowing up around us, and every here and there we'd stop to pick up some random thing -- a big stick, a trash can, a cardboard box -- that had blown into the street, and drag it back to wherever it seemed to belong.

Our greenhouse is blowing around a bit too, even though I weighted it down inside with cinder blocks. It's moved about 8 inches across the back patio in all this wind.

Today is a day for lists. I did lots of little things this weekend - cozy little things around the house - so I'm going to share a couple of them. On Saturday, I started seeds in the greenhouse. Here's what will be (hopefully) poking its head through the soil soon:

Kale, White Russian
Pole beans, Kentucky Wonder
Edamame, Sayamusume
Spinach, Barksdale
Lettuce, red romaine
Lettuce, bacarole
Lettuce, summer mix
Broccoli, early green
Melons, sugar nut
Watermelon, sugar baby

Those last two are sort of extra-hopeful. I'm imagining big, strong, ready-to-fruit melon plants as soon as the soil gets warm this spring. Last year the melons did absolutely nada (I think I started them too late), so hopefully this year will be better. We already have a cool-weather lettuce mix in the garden, and I'm hoping that in another couple of weeks we'll be able to start harvesting it - it's already looking pretty good. I can't wait for a fresh salad! All the lettuce at the grocery store has seemed kind of droopy lately, though it might just be my garden-lettuce anticipation making it seem inferior, when actually it's perfectly repsectable lettuce.

Today I spent most of the (windy) day sitting on the couch knitting, working on various baby gifts for friends. There seems to be another big crop of babies happening among our friends right now. Between stitches I was burning some CDs for a friend who is going through a tough time (and is about to have a baby as well). These are the CD's I burned. They were both close at hand - sitting on top of the stereo - and things I thought she would like. They are some of my most favorites right now:

Juana Molina: Son
Marisa Monte: Universao ao meu Redor
Sharon Jones & the DAP Kings: 100 Days, 100 Nights
Amadou et Mariam: Dimanche a Bamako
Fiona Apple: Extraordinary Machine
Cesaria Evora: Café Atlantico

I think these albums all have wonderful songs on them, but they kind of run the emotional gamut from really fun, happy songs that make you bounce (Amadou et Mariam) to songs you play when you want to wallow in your very bad mood (Fiona Apple). I know that some people think that when you're unhappy, you should listen to happy music to cheer yourself up, but I'm one of those people who enjoys really wallowing in whatever emotion I happen to be feeling.

But I'll tell you one thing you should definitely knit if you want to cheer yourself up: baby booties. They are so damn cute I can't help squealing when they're finished. Not to mention they're really really fast, and also not to mention I am sorely in need of a large pile of baby gifts, pronto. A couple of weeks ago, I asked about what folks did with their scrap sock yarn, and most of y'all who answered said baby booties. I think I'm going to bootie it up on the next Free Pattern Friday, which may be right soon, because this has been a fun bunch of little projects.

Friday, February 08, 2008

don't miss the VM!

What are you doing this weekend?

I'll be at the Vagina Monologues show on Saturday. The night show is sold out, but you can still get tickets for the matinee. Maybe I'll see you there!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

refashioning in 2008

Hello everyone! First, I have to say that I am very excited about the fact that our state will actually get to vote in a Democratic primary and it will matter! This is the first time in my own personal North Carolina presidential history that my vote will actually count towards anything! Usually, Late Primary + Red State + Electoral College = Why do I bother? But not this year! Woo hooo!

Okay, enough of that. On to the topic of today's post...

At Stitch+Bitch on Monday night a friend was asking whether we knew anyone taking the Buy Nothing for a Year pledge. I don't think I know anyone personally who is, but it really got me thinking. This is the year that I want to drastically pay down my student loans, and I've been fiddling with budget numbers to try to see how I could make that happen. I also made a New Year's Resolution to cook & eat much more of our food from the CSA and the garden (which will be challenging in this awful drought). Then there's the impact of overconsumption on the environment, labor and pollution problems from garment manufacturing... you know all this.

To get right to the point, I'm not going to buy any new clothes or shoes this year. I sure as heck don't need any! You ought to see my closet, it's ridiculous. I will make occasional allowances for thrifted or maybe even consigned clothing, and perhaps once in a while a hand-made thing from a wonderful local maker like this one, but the Banana Republic is going to have to survive the consumer slowdown without me.

I'm going to be leaning on y'all for support! I just signed up for the next round of Wardrobe Refashion (sign-ups through February 15th!) -- and I went for the Big Mama 6-month pledge. That will get me through the summer, and then I'll have to re-up for another round to get through the year (or fling myself into an H&M waving my credit card and begging for mercy).

This is going to be tough, because I really really want an Obama T-shirt, but I guess I'll just have to make one of my own.

The Pledge:
I, fawn pea, pledge that I shall abstain from the purchase of "new" manufactured items of clothing, for the period of 6 months. I pledge that i shall refashion, renovate, recycle preloved items for myself with my own hands in fabric, yarn or other medium for the term of my contract. I pledge that I will share the love and post a photo of my refashioned, renovoated, recylcled, crafted or created item of clothing on the Wardrobe Refashion blog, so that others may share the joy that thy thriftyness brings! Signed, fawn pea.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

super DUPER!

It's SuperDuper Tuesday, y'all!

Here in my laggardly home state, we won't be able to vote in a primary until May, so I have been half-hoping that today's contest would be an even split, keeping the Democratic bid wide open long enough for us to actually play a role in the decision for a change. That would be really amazing.

But really, what I'm hoping for is that Barack Obama sweeps the country off its feet. Damn, I love this guy!!! His campaign video makes me cry! He's such a wonderful speaker, and policy differences aside, after listening to the Shrub's pathetic attempts at complete sentences for the last eight years, we deserve a president who can speak. And hot damn, can he speak.

Anyhow, last week I joined the Ravelry Knitters for Obama group (who, by the way, are having a raffle) and have finally decided to show you all my stripes after many months of resisting talking about the primaries on this here knitblog. I won't babble on, though... plenty of other bloggers have plenty of eloquent things to say today.

To all of you who live in New Jersey (my birth state!) or any of the other lucky SuperDuper states today, I wish I could go vote with you today!

today's lucky states:
alabama, alaska, arizona, arkansas, california, colorado, connecticut, delaware, georgia, illinois, kansas, massachusetts, minnesota, missouri, new jersey, new mexico, new york, north dakota, oklahoma, tennessee and utah.
Wish I were there!

Friday, February 01, 2008

free pattern friday: st. vincent cloche


For her birthday this year, my sister requested a 1920's-style cloche hat to go with her sassy flapper haircut. I was more than happy to oblige! 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.

This hat is knitted with a plied 100% merino wool for a very smooth, soft finish and uniform felting. Substitute other yarns with care.

[EDITED 10/15/08 with one correction]

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

  • 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
note on materials: You will only use a tiny little bit of skein #3 in color A. Please don't hate me. You can use the rest to make a felted cell phone cozy or something.
note on method: You will begin by working this hat flat on the circular needle. It will be joined later to knit in the round.


begin with the contrast brim
Using color B, CO 130 st.
Work 5 rows flat in reverse st st (K odd rows, P even rows).
Row 6: Change to color A. K to end.
Row 7: *(K1, P1). Rep from * to end. (This row stops the brim from further rolling)
Rows 8-13: Cont in st st (K even rows, P odd rows)
Row 14 (dec row): K10, K2tog, K to last 12 st, SSK, K10 (2 st dec).
Row 15: Purl.
Dec 2 st on every RS row in this manner until 10 st have been dec (120 st rem). Purl all even rows.

join the slit & knit in the round
Next RS row: K10, K2tog, K to last 12 st, SSK, K to end. CO 2 st using the backwards loop method, place marker, and join to knit in round (120 st rem).

You will knit this hat in the round from here onwards. Cont knitting in st st until hat measures 11.5 inches from the brim.

Next row: *(K10, place marker). Rep from * to end. You will have placed 11 markers, evenly spaced throughout the hat, for a total of 12 markers -- make sure that they are a different color from the marker that you used to mark the start of the rounds.

Next row (dec row): *(K2tog, K to next M, slip M). Rep from * to end. 12 st dec (108 st rem).
Next row: Knit.
Cont in this manner, dec 12 st on every other row, until 12 st rem. Remove all M.
Next dec row: K2 tog to end (6 st rem).

Cut a 6-inch tail of yarn, thread through rem st and pull snug. Bring tail through to inside of hat, knot securely and weave in end.

contrast edging on slit
With RS facing and using color B, pick up and knit 17 st up the left selvedge, pick up and knit the 2 cast on st, and then pick up 17 st down the right selvedge.
Row 1 (WS): P16, P2tog, P2tog, P16.
Row 2 (RS): K15, K2tog, SSK, K15.
Row 3 (WS): P14, P2tog, P2tog, P14.
Row 4 (RS): BO 13 st, cont to BO as you K2tog, SSK, BO to end.

Weave in and trim all ends.

hat band (optional)
Using color B and DPN's, CO 4 st.
Knit an I-cord about 40 inches long.
Tie off, trim ends.

flower (optional)
Using color B and circular needle, CO 20 st.
Row 1 and all odd rows: Purl
Row 2: Kfb every stitch (40 st)
Row 4: Kfb every stitch (80 st)
Row 6: Kfb every stitch (160 st)
Row 7: BO, leaving an 8-inch tail.

Coil the work into a rosette. Using the yarn tail and a tapestry needle, sew into place. Weave in ends.

cloche2 cloche3
hat band; rosette -- um, not to scale

(Find basic felting instructions here)
Place the hat band and rosette into a zippered garment bag, and place the hat into a separate pillowcase and tie shut. Felt (along with additional items for agitation) for one or two ten-minute cycles in your washer. Check all the items to see how they are progressing. You will probably want to remove the hat band and flower after the first or second cycle. The hat may need additional cycles until it fits snugly.

Try the hat on after each cycle until it reaches desired snugness. While wearing hat, smooth the crown completely. Tug and stretch the brim until the whole hat is nicely shaped with a smooth crown and flared brim. Stuff with plastic bags and place over a vase or other item to dry in shape.

Tug, stretch and smooth the rosette and hat band into shape and allow to dry.

drying on top of a vase

Once all the items are completely dry, it's time to trim your hat. Sew a pinback onto the rosette. Pin onto hat if desired.

Put on your hat, and then tie the hat band into place. You may tie a bow, overhand knot, or other decorative knot as desired. Sew or gently needle-felt the hat band into place if desired -- but please remove your hat first to avoid injury. Ouch!

Put on your sack dress and fishnets, and have a great time dancing at the local speakeasy in your new hat!


important notice: This is a free pattern and you are welcome to use it for all the non-commercial purposes you like. However, you may not reproduce this pattern to sell, and you may not sell what you make with it. You may donate what you make with it to charity, and you may use it 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!